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Friday, 20 October 2017

Toby Young’s Oxford Giveaway

After Labour MP David Lammy observed that “10 out of 32 Oxford colleges did not award a place to a black British pupil with A-levels in 2015”, that “Oriel College only offered one place to a black British A-level student in six years”, and “Similar data released by Cambridge revealed that six colleges there failed to admit any black British A-level students in the same year”, he had harsh words for the two institutions.
As the Guardian has reported, “Lammy said the figures showed that many colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge failed to reflect the UK’s population, and called into question the universities’ claims to national standing … ‘This is social apartheid and it is utterly unrepresentative of life in modern Britain,’ Lammy said”. There was more.

He went on “Difficult questions have to be asked, including whether there is systematic bias inherent in the Oxbridge admissions process that is working against talented young people from ethnic minority backgrounds … there are almost 400 black students getting three As at A-level or better every year”. Very few apply to Oxford or Cambridge.
Lammy also made this comment on the Radio 4 Today Programme this morning: “Many more children coming from London and the south east, the children of bankers, judges, making their way to Oxbridge but children in our housing estates even if they get three As they’re not able to get in”. Even if they get three As.
For some within the establishment, Lammy’s criticism presents a challenge, while for others it is a chance to pooh-pooh criticism and claim that it is all someone else’s fault. The latter course was far easier for the loathsome Toby Young, who is skating on perilously thin ice when it comes to talking of those from a privileged background getting into Oxford. Tobes decreed that this was not the Universities’ problem.
Reason there are so few black students at Oxford is because too few apply. Falsely accusing the university of racism will make things worse”. If they aren’t going to get in, who can blame them? Do go on. “I wrote about why there are so few black students at Oxford here. Public education system to blame, not Oxford”. If they get three As or better, it’s got very little to do with the public education system.
Could Sir make an even more lame suggestion? As if you need to ask: “Best way to boost the number of black students at elite universities is to set up more free schools like this one”. But Tobes’ own journey to Oxford illustrates the problem.
By his own admission, he only got in due to the combination of an administrative error - and the personal intervention of his father, Labour peer Michael Young (author of the 1945 Labour manifesto, though Tobes would rather not talk about that). He did not get the grades specified in his previous conditional offer.

Toby Young does David Lammy’s work for him, showing why black students might have difficulty getting into Oxford - there won’t be so many places on offer if someone else has been effectively pulling rank. Might have been best to keep schtum on that one.

Arron Banks’ Soros Meltdown

The Parliamentary intervention yesterday by Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, where he wondered aloud how Arron Banks, the so-called “man who bankrolled Brexit”, managed to afford all those millions he put into campaigns advocating for a Leave vote in last year’s EU referendum, has met with an instant response from The Great Man himself, released under the auspices of the Leave EU organisation.
Here, Banks manages to achieve what Bradshaw did not - to reveal a deeply paranoid state of mind, to tell the world that he is increasingly worried about the activities of certain journalists, to deploy a series of characterisations that would not be out of place in 1930s Germany or any more modern far right movement, and therefore to commend his critics to continue their enquiries. It was an own goal of magnificent proportions.

Here’s what Banks had to say: “The ‘series of investigative reports’ Ben Bradshaw refers to were published by Open Democracy, a political website funded by none other than globalist George Soros, an expert in ‘dark money’”.

Globalist. Well, at least he didn’t say “Jewish”. But what of Open Democracy’s funding? It is true that Soros’ Open Society Foundation and Initiative have donated to this enterprise, but (a) if Soros was trying to exert leverage as a quid pro quo, many other Open Democracy donors would not be there, and (b) Open Democracy are, well, open about where the money comes from. Unlike Arron Banks and Leave EU.
As to the “dark money” expertise attributed to Soros, he can’t be very good at it if he donates to groups who are transparent about their funding. Still, on he digs. “If Mr Bradshaw is intent on following up on the conspiracies of the likes of Carole Cadwalladr, I suggest he starts with Soros, Goldman Sachs and the other corporates who attempted but spectacularly failed to scare Britain into remaining in the European Union”.

Goldman Sachs. But at least he didn’t say “Jewish bankers”. As to the dig at Ms Cadwalladr, this is  dead giveaway, as it was when the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog went after her. She was not mentioned by Bradshaw, so why does Banks do so? And good to see that Banks, while claiming to be worth all that money, is so peevish about organisations that really are worth a lot of money.

Can he complete his selling of the pass? He certainly can: “Just like Crooked Hillary, Mr Bradshaw still fails to understand why his side lost, and thus continues to peddle this rather tedious myth of a Russian conspiracy. Sad!” And another giveaway.
Neither Bradshaw, nor Open Democracy, were linking Banks to the Trump Gang. But by throwing in that casual smear of Hillary Clinton, Banks volunteers the link for them. As for understanding why the Remain camp lost, that is the whole point of the exercise - and far from failing to understand, Bradshaw and others of like mind are now understanding the reasons all too well. Can it get worse? Yes it can.

The “tedious myth of a Russian conspiracy” is Banks’ own invention. Those investigating his activities have noted the presence of Russia-friendly people, but have not gone as far as that. Arron Banks should have heeded the words attributed to Denis Thatcher: “better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt”.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Arron Banks And The Dark Money

The coupling of the Brexit campaigns, and particularly those conducted with the involvement of Arron Banks, the √©minence grise behind former UKIP Oberscheissenf√ľhrer Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, with all that “Dark Money” sloshing around courtesy of a range of vested interests, has been covered previously on this blog. Also covered has been the dead giveaway of their interests by those seeking to rubbish the story.
Now, as the Brexit negotiations stall, some observers are once again looking askance at Banks, unofficially “the man who bankrolled Brexit”, and asking where he got the reported £9 million in donations and loans which paid for it all. Banks, like his pal Farage, was apparently not particularly well off at the turn of the millennium. He now claims to be worth anything up to £250 million. It is a most remarkable transformation.

What is also remarkable is Banks’ creativity. As Open Democracy noted, “Banks has claimed he was promoted and rose to lead his own sales team at Norwich Union … However [there is] no record of Banks ever having worked for Norwich Union. He has also claimed to have worked for Warren Buffett … We asked Buffett about this. He replied. ‘I have no memory of ever hearing of the name Arron Fraser Andrew Banks. He certainly never worked for me.’ Further checks across the Berkshire Hathaway group, made by Buffett’s office, yielded no evidence he had ever worked for any of his subsidiaries”.

But they also note that, at the time he was not well-known, nor well-off, “Banks met the woman who was to become his second wife, a Portsmouth-based Russian called Ekaterina Paderina”. She has long been rumoured to have been, let us say, an asset of the Russian state. His pal Farage, by complete coincidence you understand, has also recently been fingered as the possible go-between linking the Trump gang to Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the latter also now believed to be a Russian asset.

So it should surprise no-one thatA Labour MP has said there are ‘real questions’ about how much Arron Banks - the entrepreneur who bankrolled Brexit - is worth as he called on the government to investigate the possible role played by ‘dark money’ in the EU referendum. Speaking in parliament, Ben Bradshaw said there was ‘widespread concern over foreign and particularly Russian interference in western democracies’”.

Bradshaw, as the Guardian has noted, has asked “questions today over the real wealth of Arron Banks, the main financial backer of leave”. This may include his having seen the Open Democracy observation “Banks’ present financial status is then somewhat unclear, and sometimes dependent on buying assets from one company, in order to shore up another company he himself holds a stake in”.

Asking Banks to justify the claim that he is worth £100 million, or even as much as £250 million, brings either a reply via his lawyer, silence … or both. He has made what Open Democracy calls “A Lazarus-like recovery” and concludes “The value of his businesses are materially lower than Banks’ own inflated boasts and, while still a wealthy man, was he wealthy enough to give so much to the Brexit campaign, without some other undisclosed source of income?” Which comes down to the age-old question - who’s paying?

After all, whoever bought Brexit, it gets foisted on all of us, whether we like it or not. So who is behind the financial rehabilitation of Banks and his pal Farage? More later.

Laura Perrins Is Unwell

Some parts of the new media serve a very useful purpose: when they advocate for a particular point of view, or oppose one, it is clear that the best course of action for those who have brain plugged in and a hole in their backsides is to take the opposite stance. Many of these new media sources are out there on the right, and none exemplifies their wrong-headedness better than The Conservative Woman.
Laura Perrins is momentarily startled by the intrusion of reality

This site attracts many like-minded visitors, possibly because it is constantly plugged by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog. Sadly, the wider media world is not so enamoured of its co-editor, the droning and tedious not very good former lawyer Laura Perrins, who has not been asked back by The Andy Marr Show (tm), with her second Question Time appearance possibly being her last.

To make up for her less than engaging personality, Ms Perrins has hit on the wizard wheeze of desperately trying to be contrarian in order to attract more clicks. Sadly, the even more tedious Brendan O’Neill has already cornered this market. But she is not downhearted, and today has brought forthThe rape culture created by the Left”.

This piece holds, roughly, that Harvey Weinstein being rumbled for decades of inappropriate behaviour towards woman means there is a rape culture, and that it was somehow created by the mythical “Left”. Along the way, we are told “The Mayor of London is going to ban advertisements of women in bikinis on the Tube”. No, me neither.

Ms Perrins tells that “the feminists” (whomsoever they be) have only one principle: “as long as there is consent, you are good to go. The consent must be real, cannot be coerced or tricked, but consent is all you need … There is no morality other than consent and ‘health and safety’. Make sure the sexual intimacy is sterile and safe, then be on your way. You don’t even have to know his or her name”. What’s she on about? Who knows?

Then, after being informed that what she just invented is an “amoral nightmare” that’s part of “a hyper-sexualised culture that displays a fair amount of soft pornography” in which “We bring up kids”, she then claims that “we” (Who? Don’t ask) give said children rules which, conveniently, she also just made up. These include “One night stands are also awesome”, “Drunken consensual threesomes mean you are smashing the patriarchy”, and “Female modesty should be scorned and was only ever a means of controlling women”.

Anyone not completely lost? Don’t worry, not far to go. After all that comes the scolding, patronising and judgmental “So why all the harassment, ladies (if I may call you ladies)? Why the rape culture? If the Left has had the culture for the last 50 years, and all you have produced is rape culture and pornography, then what does that tell you?

What “rape culture”? Someone in the USA misbehaved over a long period of time. Others may have done the same. That justifies neither “rape culture”, nor blaming “the left”. But Ms Perrins does want anyone not yet asleep to know that “we are awash, positively swimming, in pornography. The abortion rate is off the scale”. What scale would that be?

Jeffrey Barnard may be long gone. But we need not worry, because now we have Laura Perrins, who is also unwell. Sadly, she is also mind-numbingly boring, too.

Katie Hopkins Assassination Lies

Pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins is never backwards in coming forwards to give offence, incite a little hatred here and there, smear those whose views and lifestyles she does not understand, or otherwise promote her strange looking-glass world. But as with so many others in her position, she also conforms to Olbermann’s Dictum - “the right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood” - when she deems it necessary.
Viewers may still want to look away now

And Ms Hopkins has deemed it necessary to play the victim, as well as indulging her paranoia about the hated BBC and bending the facts beyond the limit of their elasticity, after she discovered that a musical entitled The Assassination of Katie Hopkins was to open in the new year at Mold’s Theatr Clwyd. What the presentation is really about does not matter to Ms Hopkins; merely that she plays the victim about it.
The new musical does not show the supposed assassination, and nor does it make any suggestion or invitation to any kind of violent act. This does not get in Ms Hopkins’ way. Her first reaction was to talk well, and lie badly. This she did: “The Assassination of Katie Hopkins. An invitation. In every sense” she whined. An invitation to what?

She suggested the Guardian was part of this “invitation”. So what have they said? “The Assassination of Katie Hopkins is a provocatively titled musical scheduled to open in spring next year which uses her fictional death as a way to explore wider issues of ‘truth, celebrity and public outrage’ … The rightwing Mail Online columnist divides opinion like few others. She is detested or loved. The show’s co-writer, Chris Bush, said she hoped the production would challenge audiences’ preconceptions about Hopkins”.
No invitation to anything, other than to go along and see a musical. Fortunately for Hatey Katie, someone else had not understood what the production was about, and after they Tweeted “‘Assassination of Katie Hopkins’ Play: the title is an invitation to kill Hopkins, but in the end BBC says ‘the intention wasn't to offend’”, thus perpetuating her lies, that meant she was right and, and as the BBC had mentioned it, they were wrong.
The state broadcaster promoting my assassination. Curious times” she mused, with many of her gullible followers entering nodding donkey mode and advocating the closing of the BBC, blaming the left, and saying it would have been different if the subject of the musical had been one of those Scary Muslims (tm). And we don’t have a state broadcaster.

Not surprisingly, the Beeb had reacted strongly to Ms Hopkins’ casual defamation, pointing out “the Tweet you have issued on the subject is inaccurate and grossly misleading … misleading Tweets like the one you have posted on this subject do nothing to lower the temperature and make [real death threats] less likely”. Indeed, but Hatey Katie is not interested in lowering the temperature, far less being honest.
If lying and smearing - plus that victimhood - is what is required to secure More And Bigger Self-Promotion Opportunities For Herself Personally Now, that is what Katie Hopkins will do. Nobody is making threats or inviting murder. She’s full of wind and piss.

And that Mail Online contract expires next month. Sad, really.

Sun Branson Splash EIGHT YEARS LATE

The age of instantly available information retrieval has not been kind to our free and fearless press: gone are the days when they could perform screeching U-Turns, slip piffling “corrections” in to Page 94, or recycle old stories for profit without being called out by someone with access to the Web. And it is the recycling of old stories that has tripped up the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun today.
Worse for the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker, their latest attempt to pass off old news as happening now is all over today’s Sun front page. “F1 Star Jenson Button Speaks Out … Boozy Branson Touched My Wifescreams the headline. And, apart from Button no longer being involved in F1, and the young woman in question not being his wife at the time, the story appears reasonably soundly based.

But then the name on the by-line comes into view, and suspicions instantly arise. Leering Nick Pisa, the hack notorious for writing the “wrong” Meredith Kercher story, and telling readers of the Mail that Amanda Knox Was The One Wot Did It, is not exactly a fount of ground-breaking investigative journalism. And the rest of the Sun story shows that all he appears to have done is lift the story from Button’s new autobiography.

Shock claims made in F1 ace's new autobiography say Virgin boss Sir Richard stroked his girlfriend's face while he was away from the table … The clash during dinner at a top restaurant saw Jenson telling Branson, 67: ‘That’s well out of order … Branson was warned to back off after touching and trying to chat up F1 star’s future wife … Jenson, 37, squared up to the sozzled Virgin tycoon at an exclusive Japanese restaurant”.

Yeah, right. But when did this happen? “The incident took place in 2009 during the Australian Grand Prix … Details have emerged in Jenson’s new book Life to the Limit”. Wrong, Nick Pisa and Murdoch goons. The details emerged EIGHT YEARS AGO.
Nick Pisa - another payday he didn't merit

Make that more than eight years ago: Mail Online told its readers in July 2009 that “Jenson Button lifts the lid on showdown with Richard Branson after Virgin boss made play for his girl”. There was more. “Button said he had to give a stern warning to Sir Richard after he apparently made a play for pretty Jessica Michibata, 24, at a party to celebrate Branson's sponsorship of Button's racing team … Button, 29, says Branson realised he had overstepped the mark and was apologetic after the event”.

Can it get worse? You bet it could: the incident in question was first publicised in a GQ magazine interview with Jenson Button, and the interviewer was none other than Rebekah Brooks’ pal from long back in tabloid dark arts days … Piers Morgan. So today the woman who has ultimate charge over the Sun will be getting stick from the Good Morning Britain co-host over taking eight years to catch up with his GQ interview.

So that’s red faces all round at the Murdoch press. And another nail in the coffin of Nick Pisa’s remaining journalistic credibility. Now you know, once more … Don’t Buy The Sun.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Tories Tell More Uber Lies

Not content with shilling for driver and rider matching service Uber to the exclusion of all other London taxi and private hire operators - including those whose services can be accessed via an app - the Tories have now gone the whole hog and started to recycle the firm’s propaganda as well. This has not occurred to the gullible hacks at the Evening Standard, where Uber has never been known to do wrong.
So it was that the paper’s City Hall editor Pippa Crerar told readers yesterday'Londoners could end up paying £90m per year on black taxis if Uber appeal fails,' warn Tories”. Do go on. “Londoners could end up paying an extra £90 million a year in black cab fares if Uber’s appeal is unsuccessful, it was claimed today … London Assembly Tories claimed that if a deal was not reached, the consequences for the app’s users could be far-reaching”.

Yes - far-reaching enough for Londoners to realise they don’t need Uber to get around the capital. But where does this dubious-looking figure come from? Here’s the first hint: “The Tory analysis shows that, excluding surge charging, the cost of an average journey by Uber is 40 per cent cheaper that a black cab”. Very good - but surge charging is now a regular feature of Uber journeys, especially at busy time.
Indeed, some drivers have figured out how to induce surge pricing to kick in and therefore make a handy bonus - something for which it is hard to blame them, when many are making so little out of driving around scratching for fares. But there’s more. “With one million Uber journeys a week taken in London, and with black cabs making up 17 per cent of all licensed cars, the report calculated that Londoners would pay an extra £89.5 million a year if they used black cabs instead”. Except that is crap.

As black cabs make up only 17% of all licensed cars, the idea that all Uber customers would switch to them and ignore all the other private hire operators is just fanciful. The reality would be that most would use other private hire services. The additional revenue coming to the taxi trade would be nothing like the £89.5 million claimed.
The Standard also claims that the Tories’ report states “a permanent ban could also affect Uber’s 40,000 drivers, who face lost earnings of £864 million a year”. Two things here. One, if black cabs cost 140% of Uber fares, and £89.5 million is 40% of that 140%, then the 100% of London Uber fares is £224 million. And what the drivers make - 80% of the fare - is £179 million. The Tories’ own figures show they are lying.

And two, the accounts for Uber BV, the company registered in the Netherlands which takes the revenue, or at least most of it, show total 2016 revenue for all their Europe, Middle East and Africa operations of $650,662,000. That’s less than £500 million. Which means the claimed figure of £864 million just for London is yet more lying.
Perhaps Andrew Boff, the Tories’ London Assembly spokesman, got his decimal point in the wrong place. But if he did, then his “£89.5 million extra” claim is wrong, because that, as I’ve shown, gives the lie to that excuse.

London’s Tories would be more convincing with their Uber propaganda if only they could get their figures straight. But they can’t. So they won’t be convincing anyone.

Guido Fawked - OECD Fear Smear BUSTED

After the OECD passed adverse comment on Britain’s future outside the EU this week, the usual suspects out there on the right have been lining up to say how these foreign think tank chappies just don’t know what they’re talking about, how Britain is one of the world’s largest economies, and how we will get along fine if we just ignore their advice.
Milk, no sugar, hold the smears, thanks

In the vanguard of this movement have been the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, where newly anointed teaboy Alex “Billy Liar” Wickham has become so over-excited with himself that he has veered across the dishonesty line in no style at all to deliver a pack of lies that is, even for his outpourings, all too easy to pick apart. He titles his latest rubbishA Look At Some Of The OECD’s Previous Forecasts”.

The usual suspects are going mad about the OECD’s provocative claim that only having a second referendum and reversing Brexit will save the British economy from apocalypse” he tells, except that the OECD has not said that. As the BBC has reported, “Reversing the Brexit process would boost the UK economy, the international economic body, the OECD has said … A new referendum or a change of government leading to the UK staying within the EU would have a ‘significant’ positive impact on growth, the OECD said … It also warned ‘no deal’ would see investment seize up, the pound hit new lows and the UK's credit rating cut”. This part of Wickham’s propaganda is, though, merely misleading.
But he soon gets on to the downright lies: “This is an organisation that said the UK would receive ‘great benefits’ from joining the ERM”. You missed a word out, Alex. The OECD talked of “potentially great” benefits. And the OECD cannot be held responsible for “Shagger” Major shadowing the Deutschmark at an unsustainably high exchange rate.

Have another go. “They recommended we join the Euro”. Not even the Daily Mail has tried that one. Their best shot today isIn 1999, it said ‘the introduction of the Euro delivers a number of benefits’ and was understood to be keen that Britain … adopted the single currency”. So that’s two lies already. Could he make it three?

As if you need to ask. “They said there would be an immediate ‘major negative shock’ in the event of a Leave vote”. No they didn’t: as the OECD itself told, and the BBC accurately reported, the phrase “major negative shock” was not preceded by “immediate”. Indeed, we were told “By 2020, GDP would be over 3% smaller than otherwise (with continued EU membership)”. The OECD was talking of what would happen over a 3 year period.
And the UK economy has indeed been slowing relative to those of other EU countries, with Eurozone countries growing twice as fast as Britain’s for the first six months of this year. Wickham has once again been caught lying in his attempts to put the boot in on someone bringing inconvenient information. Even his post update is misleading.

Also worth noting that even the OCED’s most doom-laden predictions now still predict the economy will grow in the event of no deal”. Bugger all use if our neighbours’ economies grow more rapidly and we get consigned to the economic slow lane.

The Fawkes rabble can’t even lie convincingly. Another fine mess, once again.

Nadine Dorries Brexit Terror Hypocrisy

The Brexit negotiations appear stalled. More and more MPs, and not just those in the Labour Party, are coming round to the idea that a “no deal” outcome would be bad for Britain, so bad that even if they’re Tories, they could conceivably end up either not voting for that, or even voting against it. With Theresa May enjoying the slimmest of majorities, and then only with DUP support, nerves are starting to fray.
Nowhere can this be seen to greater advantage than in the world inhabited by (yes, it’s her again) Mid Bedfordshire’s representative Nadine Dorries, whose detachment from reality and tendency to say things that are not true are legion. Ms Dorries has been reading the latest outpourings of Conservative Home and taking it as immutable truth, rather than the passing of opinion which may or may not prove true in future.

Here, it is assertedthat provision for this outcome [no deal] was written into the manifesto on which every Conservative MP stood. (‘The negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides, but we continue to believe that no deal is better than a bad deal for the UK’)”. That’s a bit of a stretch - what the manifesto doesn’t say is what will be done in the event of no deal being reached.
But the fragrant Nadine knows that this is not only bankable truth, but that those lining up against such an outcome are guilty of the gravest treachery. “Shame on colleagues who've joined forces with terrorist sympathisers. If they vote against Gov; their whip should be removed permanently” she blustered. Who may these “terrorist sympathisers” be? Would this be another of those routine defamations of the Labour Party?

Moreover, she’s got a nerve to demand others have the whip withdrawn, after her high profile excursion into that territory herself - she went off to Australia to pretend she was a celebrity and spend a few days eating intimate parts of ostriches. But this was only a small part of her hypocrisy: Ms Dorries appears to have forgotten who that small group of DUP MPs propping up her beloved Tories actually represent.
As the Irish News has previously told, “The DUP party has been criticised in the past for sharing platforms with representatives of loyalist paramilitaries … In 1996, former MP Rev William McCrea stood at a Portadown rally alongside LVF leader Billy Wright … The ruthless paramilitary group, which split from the UVF in 1996, was responsible for high-profile murders including the killing of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick”.
There was more. “The father of the DUP's Emma Little Pengelly, who has just won the South Belfast seat, is Noel Little, a Co Armagh loyalist and founder of Ulster Resistance … Little was one of three men arrested in Paris in 1989 in connection with a plot to exchange a missile stolen from Shorts for South African guns”. Oh dear, Ms Dorries!

Perhaps she should have taken the advice in one of her earlier Tweets: “Deleted last tweet - possibility that I may have missed it. Sure I must have blinked at some point”. Missed that she has no room to call “terrorist sympathisers” on anyone. Because she and her pals are in bed with terrorist sympathisers.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Uber - Tory Interference BUSTED

After Transport for London declined to renew the operator’s licence for driver and rider matching service Uber, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth out there on the right. The Tories attempted to personalise that refusal, claiming that London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who had not been involved in Uber’s licence renewal application, was personally behind the decision, along with anyone else connected with the Labour Party.
There was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks. TfL had made its decision for several reasons, mainly to do with Uber’s inability to play by the rules and keep its punters safe. But in Tory fairyland, rules are for the little people, and not allowed to get in the way of the entrepreneurs and their disruptive technology. Oh, and cheap prices, not that they’re cheapskates.

This was backed up by a petition - not a petition to get Uber to abide by the rules, sadly, but one supporting its wish to just carry on as if nothing had happened. The petition, as I noted earlier, was titled “GIVE LONDON A CHOICE”. It showed that Sadiq Khan was the baddy, and valiant Uber was definitely the goody. The thought that there was plenty of choice out there without Uber was not allowed to enter.

And there it might have stayed, except the Tories are now ramping up their shameless shilling for Uber. Mere online petitions were just the start: now has come a capital-wide leafletting campaign. You think I jest? Two upstanding Tories have taken to Twitter to tell the world about their part in this propagandising.
Take Dinah Glover, who claims that Black Cabs don’t have working card machines (wrong), that they won’t take people to Greenford (wrong), that there were “122 rapes by taxis and other PH drivers” (wrong), and that Uber cars are statistically safer (laughably wrong). For her, the lousy accident record, the tax avoidance, the VAT avoidance, the poverty pay of many drivers, the predatory pricing, and the increasingly poor customer service are as nothing. She is leafletting for choice. Or something.
Off out to deliver 'Give Londoners the Choice' leaflet #Uber, providing 40,000 jobs & serving 3.5m customers” she told her followers. She was not alone. Kirsty Finlayson also asserted “Record no. leaflets delivered in #Whitechapel tonight - 'Give Londoners the Choice' 40k jobs and 3.5m customers”. She claims to be a Tory Parliamentary Candidate.

Quite apart from the “40,000 jobs and 3.5m customers” exaggeration - many of those customers are occasional ones, and Uber claim, let’s not forget, that they don’t have employees - I have a question for these august Tory supporters of alleged choice.
Why is a political party blatantly canvassing for one company? Seriously - there are other app based private hire providers in London, so why only Uber? If this were about choice, there would be no need to specify one company. When did the Tories last shill for one car manufacturer, one coach firm, one train operator, one airline? And while they’re at it, perhaps we could have an assurance that there is no quid pro quo on offer, too.

The ripe smell emanating from CCHQ needs addressing. And then it needs explaining.

Dan, Dan The Colonial Revision Man

As the Brexit negotiations continue to show that they are, for Theresa May and her embattled Government, a campaign turning out not necessarily to their advantage, so those who would oppose the EU to the ends of the earth have stepped up their own campaign, which consists mainly of lots of Vision And Boundless Hope And Optimism, together with plenty of Preventive Incantation when it all fouls up.
Showing the way forward in this endeavour, by making his own pointless gesture, is that occasional paragon of trust and honesty Dan, Dan the Oratory Man. Hannan has decided that if you’re going to pull a whopper, you might as well make it a spectacular one, and so has Tweeted to all his adoring followersWhat made us the world's richest nation? We removed trade barriers and so put money into ordinary people's pockets”.
This is the most wilful misrepresentation of British economic history that has emerged since the last wilful Hannan episode. And some of the comments posted in response show why he is talking out of the back of his neck. “Nothing to do with robbing gold from half the world? Or shelling our way into trade networks? Facile, simplistic and wrong-headed rubbish” was the first serious riposte. And there was a lot more.
Backing up drug dealers with gunboats and forcing opium on China? Free, that was” … “All under the guns of the British Army and Royal Navy” … “we reduced trade barriers at a time when we were the only significant industrial power. We are far from that now” were a few. And then came the telling “There were still plenty of internal tariffs within the Empire - particularly as far as colonial manufacturing was concerned”.
How free and fair was that? “We forced India to remove tariffs on UK made cloth, but kept tariffs on Indian cloth. Until Indian cloth industry went under”. Hannan is talking total guff about the supposed removal of trade barriers. Successive British Governments manipulated the rules of the game to their own advantage; some enriched themselves as a result. But the idea that this was free trade without barriers is nonsense.
Still, on he droned, about a meeting he opened in the City. “Alexander Downer: ‘Name one free-trading country that’s poor’. Jorge Quiroga calls on Britain to lead the world to liberalisation”. Haiti. Want some more? How about Armenia? Not to mention the occasional incidence of failed states here and there. And the USA is, overall, well-off, but is not free trading by any means (pace Bombardier).
Not going too well, was it? There was always the chance of a “look over there” moment, and Dan duly took it: “We finish with a visit to Gatcombe Park, where David Ricardo devised the mind-blowing idea of comparative advantage precisely 200 years ago”. When the Bank of England had not yet become a lender of last resort, modern transportation systems had yet to develop, and a purveyor of the Dismal Science whose work has since been succeeded by Marshall, Keynes and others. Yeah, right.

Daniel Hannan might not live the the real world. But the rest of us have to, thanks.

Football Lads Alliance INFILTRATED

Claims by those involved in the Football Lads Alliance that the group is about protesting all forms of extremism, and not just another bunch of Islamophobes, have been broadcast long and loud since the gathering and march in London recently. Organisers have sought to distance themselves from the likes of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson. But all this has already been in vain.
Lennon has declared that, as he claims to be a journalist - not sure many real journalists will agree with that one - he will continue to turn up at FLA gatherings, whether they like it or not. Worse for them, he has already shown that the FLA is riven with Islamophobia, Tweeting “Every lad that I spoke to yesterday was there to oppose Islam”.
And it wasn’t just Lennon and his anti-Islam views: there was also the Pie And Mash Squad. Who they? Well, this is yet another anti-Islam group. To quote Rational Wiki, “Officially, it is non-racist and peaceful; in practice, it is ultimately just the English Defence League all over again … The group is closely tied to football fandom, identifying itself as ‘uniting the UK’s football tribes against the Jihadists’ … The Casuals United blog praises Enoch Powell: ‘Who still thinks Enoch Powell was wrong? Only left wing anti white morons’, it says”. They were at the FLA gathering, too.
We know this as their Twitter feed has posted several images from the day, including one with the comment “FLA Veterans Against Terrorism Whitehall London”. The Cenotaph is clearly visible in the right background. Can it get worse still? Sadly, yes it can.
Far Right Watch has identified a genuine neo-Nazi as having participated: “A key 'name' in ‘We're not violent’ @lads_alliance is Frank Portinari, convicted weapons smuggler to Irish terrorists & member of Combat18”. Portinari was part of the Loyalist paramilitary UDA. He ran a website supporting former terrorists. So what has the FLA done after being informed that those outside its ranks know the kinds of people involved?
They have at least come clean and admitted he was involved, but now claim he has been “removed”. But what about his presence, and all the others, in the first place, as well as the Islamophobic hatred on their Facebook group? This was the reply: “All our platforms are managed appropriately … We will have 100,000 on the next one … People are simply fed up buddy. Realise that Jesus”. We realise who Combat 18 are, thanks.
Well, considering they claimed there had been 70,000 in London, where it turned out to be more like 10,000, those numbers can be taken with the proverbial pinch of salt. But what is already clear is that the FLA is already riven with infiltration - by individuals and groups who have an agenda that is variously Islamophobic, racist, neo-Nazi … and not at all peaceably minded. The protestations of innocence will just not wash.

Thanks to Far Right Watch, and those who have already infiltrated the FLA, we now know the exact nature of this beast. And so does anyone thinking of joining their cause.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Uber Britannia - You’re Having A Laugh

The disconnect between the revenue and profit declared in the UK by driver and rider matching service Uber is something that Zelo Street has covered recently - at least, the figures declared for its operation in London. From this, it was clear that tax avoidance on a significant scale was going on, with much of the revenue, and all of the VAT, either not being paid, or being paid elsewhere. So what of the rest of the country?
Uber has some sort of presence in around 70 towns and cities across the UK. These come under the aegis of a company called Uber Britannia Ltd., which has recently made its accounts available. These show so little revenue that it is clear someone is having a laugh with the authorities. Worse, those figures suggest Uber cannot possibly be maintaining an office in many of those towns and cities where it now operates.

How so? Consider the numbers for 2016: revenue has increased from just over £376,000 to over £1,021,100. After administration expenses of just over £941,000, that leaves a paltry £80,000 in operating profit before tax. And Uber Britannia is paying a mere £13,212 in Corporation Tax. This company is operating in around 70 towns and cities, and has around 10,000 drivers on its books, yet its profits are no more than £80,000.

Averaged out, it means a typical Uber operation outside London is making no more than just over £1,000 in profit. But it’s when the administration costs are broken down that we see the real mickey-taking being done here. Those total just over £941,000 - now divide that up between those 70 operations and you get little more than £13,000 each. A town or city can run its Uber operation for just over £13,000 - for a whole year?
Where is the office located that takes the bookings and then farms them out to drivers? For just over £13,000 a year, there isn’t one. But you know why that might be - the app does not need there to be an office. That, as Uber’s cheerleaders out there on the right will happily tell you, is so 20th Century. The inconvenient fact, that it’s part of the rules, does not, for Uber, seem to matter. For their mindset, the end justifies the means.

Where is all the revenue going that those 10,000 drivers generate? But you know the answer to that one as well. Either they’re getting not unadjacent to stuff all, or they aren’t getting it via Uber Britannia. If that gross revenue amount of £1,021,000 represents the 20% cut from 10,000 drivers, those drivers are averaging no more than £400 each. They would have to make sixty to eighty times that just to stay afloat.

As in London, most of the drivers’ income is not appearing on a UK Uber balance sheet. It’s being channelled through Uber BV, a company based in the Netherlands, which enables Uber to be, as the spin goes, more tax efficient. So while all those black cab drivers shell out their taxes, Uber ponies up no more in profit for 70 town and city operations than that gathered from a dozen proper taxis.

The bending of the rules beyond their limit of elasticity by Uber is not confined to London. And they expect TfL to just wave them back into the capital because they’re cheap and popular? Someone here is having a laugh. And that’s not good enough.