Thursday, July 20, 2017

Theresa May's hypocritical outrage over BBC pay disparity


Theresa May has waded into the row over pay at the BBC to spew a load of faux outrage about gender inequality, but in doing so she's simply confirmed that she's only bothered about gender inequality when it affects the wealthiest people in society.

Of course BBC pay is ridiculous, not only for the fact that there's a huge gulf between the pay of the BBC's top earners, but also because a number of incredibly untalented people are earning absolute fortunes at the public expense.

Of course people have every right to complain about gender inequality amongst the BBC's highest paid employees, but they're clearly opening themselves up to accusations of hypocrisy if they've got a personal track record of discriminating against women.

Theresa May and the Conservative party have spent seven punishing years enforcing ruinous austerity dogma, 86% of the burden of which falls onto female shoulders.

It's an absolute disgrace to see Theresa May take a short break from 
her seven year campaign of loading the overwhelming burden of austerity dogma onto the shoulders of ordinary women, suddenly crying rivers over the fact that the likes of Claudia Winkelman and Clare Balding's six figure salaries are less than some of their male colleagues.

Boo hoo hoo, privately educated establishment-insider Claudia Winkelman has to subsist on a salary of less than half an million quid for whatever it is that she does that's so important, and meanwhile millions of ordinary women have suffered wage repression, tax credit cuts, child welfare cuts, closed maternity wards, Sure Start centres and domestic abuse refuges.


Fuck them though. Somebody has to pay for the mess the bankers made in 2008, and Theresa May isn't going to make the rich pay their share is she? After all the Tories would go bankrupt without all their donations from the City of London, the private health lobby and the landed gentry.

Then there's the WASPI women that Theresa May's Tory party are intent on robbing blind.

Nobody is arguing that the pension age shouldn't be equalised so that men and women retire at the same age, but forcing the change through so quickly that one group of 1950s -born women have to work six years longer than they were told they had to is manifestly unfair. Not only are six years of pension payments being nicked from these women, they're also being made to shell out an extra six years of National Insurance contributions too for their significantly reduced state pensions.

Still, the story is the same from Theresa May. She's crying rivers for Claudia Winkelman and Clare Balding because their bulging pay packets aren't big enough, but not for our wives, mothers, grans, aunties, neighbours, and work colleagues that her government is busy totally shafting.

Theresa may apologists might try to argue that she's somehow exempt from blame for these appalling policies because she didn't devise them, and that she's only implementing them because she's too weak and directionless to change direction away from these legacies from David Cameron's rotten leadership.

Of course they'd be right that she's far too weak and directionless to change direction (she's had a year to bin austerity dogma and do something/anything to help the WASPI women) but they'd be absolutely wrong to claim that she's just some passive bystander.

Not only did she repeatedly vote in favour of austerity dogma (even after it became very clear indeed that austerity was hurting poor and ordinary women a lot more than poor and ordinary men) she also devised one of the most sexist and discriminatory bits of legislation of the entire Cameron era while she was at the Home Office.

In 2012 Theresa May introduced a set of arbitrary income rules for British citizens wanting to bring their non-EU spouse to the UK. The rules are discriminatory in two main ways.

The first way the arbitrary rules discriminate is against people who live in poorer regions of the UK. The result is that 58% of people in London earn enough to sponsor a foreign spouse and two children, but just 36% in the North East 34% in Yorkshire and Humberside and 30% in Northern Ireland earn enough.

Arbitrary rules that discriminate against northerners, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish people by taking no account of the cost of living are bad enough, but when it comes to gender disparity the situation is even worse.


72% of males have a salary high enough to sponsor a non-EU partner under Theresa May's arbitrary rules, but just 43% of females earn enough, which means that Theresa May's draconian spouse visa rules women are far more likely to be forced into exile from the UK for the "crime" of falling in love with a non-EU citizen than men.

The fact that Theresa May has deliberately forced tens of thousands of couples to make the choice between living separate lives or living in exile from the UK is sick enough in its own right, but when it's more than twice as likely to affect women as men too, it just makes her rivers of tears for Claudia Winkelman and Clare Balding shockingly hypocritical.

Theresa May doesn't give a damn about ordinary women because her government has been actively and deliberately attacking them. But not only does she discriminate against them, she despises them too, and imagines that they're such gullible halfwits that they'll completely ignore her political track record and imagine her as some kind of feminist because she hasn't got a penis, and because she's making a fuss that Claudia Winkelman isn't paid enough by the BBC!



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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Tory strategy for winning the youth vote is hilariously inept


The Tories are terrified of Labour's appeal to the younger generations, but instead of trying to appeal to these demographics with some actual policies that would improve their lives in any way, they've decided to try to drive the under-40s away from Labour by lying to their faces and deliberately spreading links to hard-right propaganda sites where young people are treated with absolute disdain!

The lie

The lie that the Tories have settled on is that Labour are supposedly breaking an election "promise" by saying that finding a way to write off all student debt is an "ambition" rather than an official policy.



There is no policy in the Labour manifesto to write off all student debt, in fact the Tories have implicitly admitted this fact by harking on about an interview Corbyn did with the NME instead of highlighting the non-existent passage of the Labour manifesto promising to write off all student debts. 

The problem of course is that Corbyn didn't promise to write off all student debt in that NME interview at all either (as can be seen in the extract).

What Corbyn did say was that the massive debt situation is a problem, and that he's looking at ways of reducing the unsustainable and economically damaging student debt levels.

There is no inconsistency whatever between what he said about wanting to do something about the problem in the NME interview, and the subsequent statements from Labour politicians saying that a total write-off of all student debts in their entirety is an "ambition" rather than an official policy.

We'll win the youth vote with a dose of Guido Fawkes!



The official Tory CCHQ Twitter account has been banging on about this fictional broken promise for three days now. 

They even went as far as tweeting a link to the fanatically right-wing Guido Fawkes blog.

Just imagine being so out-of-touch with the youth vote that you imagine that sharing a link to a fanatically right-wing blog 
is going to win over the youth vote!
Just imagine thinking you're going to herd the youngsters onto the Tory bus by sharing a blog with a comments section full of bigoted, foul-mouthed, anti-intellectual, disgustingly right-wing Tory blowhards ranting on bitterly about how young people are
"idiots", "dimwits", "useless members of society" and "snowflakes" full of "entitlement" and "cultural Marxism"!

The under-40s massively rejected the muck-raking, shit-flinging, smear-mongering of the right-wing propaganda rags, but the Tories are so catastrophically out of touch with the public mood that they think that sharing a link to a fanatically right-wing blog that uses the exact same divisive smear-mongering tactics as the right-wing propaganda rags is a way to win the youth vote!

They're so immersed in their familiar right-wing echo chambers of hate that they're simply incapable of seeing how toxic these extreme-right cesspits of bile are to people with progressive social values, or even any kind of basic human decency whatever.

The senselessness of it

If the Tories had any sense whatever they'd keep very quiet indeed about student debt. Their introduction of £9,000 per year tuition fees has created the situation where students from the poorest backgrounds are leaving university with £57,000 worth of debt, and a staggering 75% of all graduates are projected to never pay off their student debts despite a lifetime 9% aspiration tax on their disposable income.

Labour have a policy of scrapping these extreme fees and implementing a system like Germany where education is considered a benefit to all of society, not just to the individual who receives it.

Labour have also said that they intend to do something about the shocking scale of student debt while the Tories are only making the situation worse by scrapping maintenance grants for low income students and scrapping NHS bursaries too.

Another thing the Tories would be extremely quiet about if they had any sense whatever is broken political promises. Not only did they begin tearing pages out of their own manifesto before the 2017 General election happened, there's also the scandal of their 2010 "Contract with the electorate" which they completely deleted from their website once it became clear that they had broken every single promise it contained!

Smug Tory superiority

One of the big problems with the Tories is their innate sense of absolute superiority over ordinary plebs like us


They think they can lie to us with impunity because they believe we're too damned thick to actually read the Labour manifesto or the NME interview for ourselves to check that what they said was an accurate account of what was actually stated, rather than an obvious deception.

Not only do they expect us to mindlessly believe their lies, they also assume that we're way too thick to remember the basic details of who created these mountains of unpayable student debt in the first place with their £9,000 fees, or the fact that the Tories have a shocking track record of actually breaking their own election promises.

The Tories have resorted to their tired old tactic of lying to the public and whitewashing their own disgraceful track record in actually creating the problem in the first place, which is an illustration of exactly why they're so toxic to the younger generations: They've got nothing whatever to offer us except more of the lies, and spin, and smears, and deceptions that we so firmly rejected on June 8th.

Conclusion


Don't believe the Tory lies. 

Whenever you hear a Tory or any of their attack dogs in the mainstream media saying anything about a Labour Party policy, any other party policy, an interview, official statistics, the conclusions of a report, or whatever - the responsibility is on you to find the manifesto, that interview, those statistics, or that report, and check for yourself what was actually said and how it differs from the Tory interpretation.

The Tories think you're thick and gullible enough to outright lie to your face. 


They think you're too thick to use Google to establish the facts for yourself. 

They think you're too thick to realise they're not actually offering you anything except more austerity dogma, more student debt, more unaffordable housing, more wage repression, and more asset stripping of the national wealth to distribute to their chums at knockdown prices.

You can either accept this archaic view that you must be subservient at all times to your Tory lords and masters and never question what they say, or you can start from the more logical position of being highly sceptical of anything that is said by people with proven track records of lying through their teeth and speaking down to the public with a load of demeaning economic baby-talk as if we're a pack of absolutely gullible numbskulls.


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Monday, July 17, 2017

Tory Brexit is still an absolute shambles


Apparently the British negotiating team still had their papers in their bags when the photo was taken, but the confident Europeans with their stacks of briefing papers sitting opposite the Brits armed only with inane grins and misplaced confidence is a powerful visual metaphor for how the Brexit process is going so far.

The EU negotiating team have finalised and published detailed Brexit position papers on a whole range of different aspects of the Brexit negotiations, and their stance is universally backed by the 27 remaining EU states, which is no mean feat given that they range from the extreme-right governments in Poland and Hungary all the way through to Syriza in Greece and the Communist-backed government in Portugal).

It's a national embarrassment to Britain that our negotiating team is so chaotic. Not only are the British public still deeply divided on whether Brexit should even be going ahead after all the lies and dodgy dealings during the referendum campaign, the Tories who have been charged with delivering Brexit are all pulling in different directions.

Tory Brexit is turning out to be just as chaotic and damaging as almost all of the economic and international law experts predicted during the rushed referendum debate in 2016.


The problem isn't just that the Tories didn't even draw up a contingency plan for what to do in case David Cameron's EU referendum gamble backfired, it's that the governing party is still deeply divided on what they want to achieve out of the Brexit process.

The Tories aren't just split between two camps any more like they used to be (Europhobes and Europhiles) they've fractured into all kinds of factions, each arguing for their own agendas under Theresa May's weak leadership, and agreeing on one thing only, that the opposition parties and devolved parliaments should be given as little influence over the Brexit process as possible.

On Sunday 16th July the Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond made the extraordinary admission that there are some members of the cabinet who don't agree with his stance (brazenly one he just nicked off Labour) that protecting British jobs and the UK economy should be the first priorities of the Brexit negotiations.

We can have a good guess as to who these cabinet members are who would sacrifice other people's jobs and living standards to secure the hard-right extreme Brexit they crave. They're clearly the same ones who talked Theresa May into adopting her toddler tantrum Brexit strategy of endlessly repeating her give us exactly what we want or we'll walk away with nothing threats, that do nothing but massively increase the likelihood of an extreme "no deal" Brexit.

There's ginning David Davis, who is so clearly out of his depth it would be hilarious if our national reputation and the living standards of millions weren't hanging on his ability to suddenly and miraculously develop some basic levels of competence.


There's Boris Johnson who seems to have carte blanche to just make up whatever positions he likes, including telling the EU to "go whistle" during a parliamentary debate, for which he received the usual mild rebuke and no further action for what would be firing/resignation offences under the leadership of anyone but the weakest of Prime Ministers.

Then there are the absolutely clueless gibberish-spewing buffoons like Owen Paterson, who actually claimed that the UK could obtain the benefits of the Single Market by imposing import tariffs on EU produce, meaning he's apparently unaware that the main benefit of the Single Market is the lack of import/export tariffs!

Then there are the reluctant Brexiters, who know perfectly well that Brexit is going to be a social and economic catastrophe for the UK, and campaigned against it during the referendum debate, but who are now clearly prioritising the interests of the Tory party way above the nation as a whole by supporting a policy that they know will do severe long-term harm to the economy and to the national reputation.

Last of all is the almost eradicated Europhile faction which is now represented in the House of Commons by the solitary backbench figure of Ken Clarke (the only Tory MP to vote against invoking Article 50).

The source of this chaos is obviously Theresa May's feeble directionless leadership.

Instead of defining a clear position and making sure her cabinet members stick to it, she's allowing them to say whatever the hell they like, and contradict each other time and again, without taking any real disciplinary action whatever, even when they come out with outrageously confusing and counterproductive gibberish.


Either the Tory cabinet ministers are continually bickering and contradicting one another because they're as unclear about the official Brexit negotiating position as the rest of us are, or they do actually know what the supposed endgame is, but they're got such contempt for their own party leader that they feel free to defy her by claiming whatever they like with total impunity.

Whatever the causes of this chaos, disunity and infighting within Theresa May's cabinet, it's clearly an absolute embarrassment to the UK that while 27 politically diverse nations have come together to formulate clear, timely and transparent negotiating positions after having had Brexit thrust upon them, the Tory party that brought us Brexit in the first place are so shockingly disunited.

I know "I told you so" is not a good look, but anyone who imagined that the fanatical hard-right fringe of the Tory party would be capable of delivering anything but an absolute shambles must at least be feeling their misplaced faith evaporating away quite quickly by now.

These hard-right Europhobes had four whole decades of whinging to actually develop a plan for getting out of the EU, but incredibly they're still too busy fighting and bickering amongst themselves to focus on the job that they created for themselves, even an entire year after the referendum result, and with the Article 50 clock ticking away.

Options

There are four main options for the UK.

1. Just muddle along and pretend that Theresa May and the absolutely chaotic party she's so demonstrably failing to lead aren't slow-marching us off an economic cliff until the ground begins actually crumbling away beneath our feet. 
2. Demand a more inclusive Brexit that at least offers the opposition parties and devolved governments some proper influence over the UK's negotiating objectives (highly unlikely with a wannabe tyrant like Theresa May still clinging desperately to power). 
3. Demand a second referendum on the final Brexit terms. Whether this would act as a safeguard against Theresa May doing a catastrophic "no deal" strop would depend entirely on the EU, since it's up to them whether they would accept the revocation of Article 50 in the event of a "please stop this madness now" referendum vote. 
4. Demand another General Election, in which Labour would almost certainly make significant gains, either winning a majority, or taking enough Tory seats to form a progressive coalition. It would be unlikely that such a move would be enough to stop Brexit entirely, but at least it would hand the task of sorting out the mess to Keir Starmer QC, who is much more qualified for such a vital job than bumbling David Davis.
Obviously none of these options are ideal, but then we're the ones who voted to put ourselves in this ridiculous position last year, so we're just going to have to own the consequences. 

Obviously the first option is the worst of the lot, but unless there's some concerted effort to stop it going this way, the cliff edge is clearly the direction of travel.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tony Blair is trying to help the Tories by attacking Jeremy Corbyn again


Tony Blair has come out swinging at Jeremy Corbyn again, insinuating that his economic policies would somehow be worse for the country than the continuation of ruinous Tory austerity dogma, wage repression, and privatisation mania!

We all know that Tony Blair is an economic right-winger who continued the Thatcherite agenda of privatisation, tax cuts for the rich, a blind eye to tax-dodging, ridiculous PFI scams, reckless financial sector deregulation, bailouts for the banks when their deregulated casino capitalist gambling went wrong.

He offset this right-wing economic malice with policies like tax credits and investment in public services, but overall even the most staunch Blairite would have to admit that he won the support of the Murdoch propaganda empire with his policy of not reversing even the most botched of Tory privatisations. Not even the railways.

We also know that Tory Blair has a lot more in common with the Tory party than traditional Labour Party members because in 2015 he openly declared that he would rather that the Tories win the next election than a Labour Party that has returned to its democratic socialist roots.

In his latest article Blair has reiterated this view that he'd rather the British people suffer the consequences of even more Tory austerity dogma in post-Brexit Britain, rather than see Corbyn attempt to change direction with his policies of repatriating British infrastructure and services, rescuing the NHS and social care from Tory administered decline, establishing a National Education Service, and creating a national investment bank to drive an investment-based recovery.

Here's what he said:

"If a right-wing populist punch in the form of Brexit was followed by a left-wing populist punch in the form of unreconstructed hard-left economics, Britain would hit the canvas, flat on our back and be out for a long count"

The use of language here is telling. Instead of criticising Tory austerity, wage repression and privatisation mania as "hard-right economics" he's deriding a centre-left policy platform as "hard-left".
  • Free university education (or affordable administrative fees) are commonplace in western Europe (Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, France, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Scotland and many more).
  • Publicly owned energy grids are commonplace all over the world. In fact, Tony Blair is going to describe Corbyn's policy of having a not-for-profit democratically accountable energy grid as "hard-left economics" he's also going to have to describe Texas as a "hard-left" state, because that's exactly the system the have there.
  • If it's Corbyn's water company policies that Blair is ranting about, then he's going to have to explain how allowing the communist government in China to operate our water companies (as is the case now) is less hard-left than running them for the benefit of the British people.
What Tony Blair is trying to do is to perpetuate the propaganda narrative that Jeremy Corbyn is some kind of extreme-left communist type, when in reality he's a centre-left social democrat. 

Corbyn only looks very left-wing because Tony Blair and his Progress mob did such an efficient job of purging genuinely left-wing people from the Labour Party, and because the UK media is completely dominated by people who refuse to rock the boat by ever questioning the fundamental assumptions of orthodox neoliberalism.

The amusing thing is that Blair still hasn't realised that bitter divisive criticism from discredited figures like him, Alistair Campbell, John McTernan, and Peter Mandelson doesn't do Jeremy Corbyn any damage at all, in fact, criticism from that lot (who have refused to condemn Tory austerity dogma with anything like as much zeal) is just about the best endorsement a genuine Labour Party supporter could hear, because neoliberalism-lite is way past its sell by date.

The fact that Tony Blair keeps repeatedly aligning himself as closer to the Tories than Jeremy Corbyn and the majority of the Labour Party membership just helps to illustrate that the UK has had four decades of hard-right Thatcherite neoliberalism, and now it's well past the time for a genuine change.


I'm not going to lead you down the garden path by telling you what is motivating this kind of divisive wrecking behaviour from Tony Blair when Jeremy Corbyn is soaring so high in the polls, or why Blair keeps on indicating that he'd prefer the country to continue suffering socially and economically devastating Tory misrule, but the fact that Jeremy Corbyn defied Blair over Iraq, and has said that he would like to see Blair investigated for war crimes can't be an insignificant factor can it?  

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Someone should tell Theresa May that self-pity is not a good look


Theresa May has been prompted into admitting that she cried on election night when it became clear that she'd thrown away her parliamentary majority in a truly monumental display of hubris.

Image management

Theresa May has a team of new advisers, with the hated Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy forced out by a mutiny amongst Tory MPs and several others having walked out of their own accord, and their ploy is absolutely obvious: They're trying to soften her robotic uncaring persona.

They're obviously an inexperienced bunch because their first effort to soften her image was to completely reverse the "crush the saboteurs" rhetoric with an extraordinary appeal for Labour and the opposition parties to help her. This was such obvious ammunition for Labour it's incredible that nobody at Tory HQ pulled the plug on it. Jeremy Corbyn responded by sending Theresa May a signed copy of the Labour manifesto, and Emily Thornberry used it to land a couple of absolutely glorious sucker punches on Damian Green when the pair were standing in at PMQs.

The next ploy to soften Theresa May's glowering and aloof persona is this staged admission that she was so upset at the election result that she "shed a tear" when she realised what a monumental screw up she'd made of her opportunistic snap election.




Self-pity

Theresa May has obviously been advised to soften her aloof and scarily authoritarian persona, but talking about how she cried over the failure of her of self-serving power grab is so obviously not the way to do it.

Does she not have the wit and wherewithal to understand that self-pity is not a good look under the best of circumstances, let alone when the wounds were purely self-inflicted?

Perhaps her advisers were too inept to point it out to her? Or perhaps Theresa May has already built herself another domineering inner clique so that people with sense enough to see that self-pity is a bad look were afraid to raise their objections?

Narcissism vs empathy


Wallowing in self-pity over your own self-inflicted problems is not a good look, but wallowing like this when you're responsible for inflicting untold misery and suffering on hundreds of thousands of people is just ugly.
  • Think about all the people (and their families) to have had their lives wrecked by Spice. Theresa May was repeatedly warned that turning the entire market in novel psychoactive drugs over to the criminal underground would cause a surge in usage, just like it did in Ireland, but she ignored the expert advice and went ahead anyway, because her puritanical "ban it, ban it all now" attitude overrode all of the facts, evidence, and expert advice.
Has Theresa May shed tears for the victims of any of these Tory polices? Has she apologised for introducing Home Office legislation designed to rip apart so many families and destroy people's lives by handing the entire novel psychoactive substance market to unscrupulous criminals?

No. Of course she hasn't. She's too busy crying over her own self-inflicted political woes to give a damn about any of the real people she's condemned to death, suffering, impoverishment, life in economic exile from the UK, spice addiction, and systematic abuse at the hands of the state.

She won't ever shed a tear for any of the victims of her policies because the only person she's capable of genuine human empathy towards is herself.


An unconvincing fantasy

Moving on from the contemptible way that she admits having wept over her own self-inflicted political failure, but not for the victims of real tragedies, another consideration has to be the sheer unlikeliness of Theresa May quietly weeping rather than having a temper tantrum.

We all saw her uncontrollable fury responses during the election when she wasn't getting her own way.

We all know that these uncontrollable facial grimaces and her tendency to erupt into bizarre temper tantrums ("nothing has changed. Nothing has changed!") are two of the big reasons she was advised to evade unscripted head-to-head debates with her political opponents.

I think we all, even those of us with some Conservative sympathies, can find it a lot easier to imagine Theresa May having a foot-stamping tantrum and shouting something along the lines of "how dare they disobey me" about the electorate that she so obviously holds in contempt, rather than quietly crying to herself in a corner.

Be wary

The first two efforts to soften Theresa May's robotic and uncaring persona have been absolutely inept. 

First they handed the opposition parties a load of political ammunition every bit as potent as Liam Byrne's foolish "no money left" note at the treasury, then they tried to make her seem human by getting her to portray herself as the kind of utterly self-obsessed narcissist who cries over their own misfortunes, but who doesn't give a damn about the much more serious sufferings of others.

The Tory spin machine not going to give up trying to soften Theresa May's public image, and they'll probably get better at it with practice. So just beware that they're going to try every trick in the book to make her look more human by pulling your emotional strings to feel some kind of empathy towards her, and don't be suckered in by it.

Until she feels enough human empathy to put an end British arms sales to Saudi Arabia so that they can use them to commit horrific war crimes in Yemen, apologies for her previous actions, and sheds genuine tears of remorse for her victims, then you shouldn't let her spin doctors elicit the remotest shred of personal empathy towards her.



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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It's one year since brick-gate


Today is the one year anniversary of brick-gate.

Anyone who followed up the story of "the horrible Corbynistas who lobbed a brick through Angela Eagle's constituency office window" (rather than just unquestioningly believing what they were told by the mainstream media) will know that there's no evidence whatever that the damage was done by a Corbynista, that the object wasn't thrown through Angela Eagle's office window at all but a stairwell around the other side of the building, and that the object wasn't even a brick!

The fact that this pack of brick-gate lies is still being endlessly recycled by the mainstream media every time they want to have a general dig at Corbyn supporters is a demonstration of the reason the mainstream media simply can't be trusted to give fact-based accounts of the political situation.

The mainstream media hacks had an agenda last year, which was deriding Corbyn and smearing everyone who supported him, and brick-gate fitted perfectly with this narrative, so it was uncritically reported at the time, and even now it keeps getting parroted by mainstream hacks long after the whole story fell to pieces.

Either the people who keep on recycling this fabricated brick-gate story know that it all fell to pieces after some rudimentary investigative journalism and some Freedom of Information requests to the police, in which case they're being deliberately deceptive by still harking on about it, or they don't know they're hawking lies, which means they're pitifully unfit to do their own jobs.

Whether it's incompetence, or sheer dishonest malice that keeps this unflushable brick-gate propaganda turd floating back to the surface, it's now doing far more damage to the reputation of the mainstream media than it is to Jeremy Corbyn or the people who support him.




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How did Damian Green's audition for Theresa May's job go?


The Tory First Secretary of State Damian Green stood in for Theresa May at Prime Minister's Questions and put on a very accomplished display of evasion to put Theresa May's charmlessness and inathenticity into perspective.

The press continually describe Green as a loyal Theresa May ally but today's performance popped that particular balloon. The relative competence with which he evaded answering all of the questions, and the confidence with which he wove several ludicrous narratives about how swimmingly everything is going made his performance look a hell of a lot more like a job interview to succeed his hapless boss than a man loyally holding the fort in her absence.

Green is an accomplished liar who has a long track record of lying through his teeth in order to sell the toxic Tory snake oil that is austerity dogma, so it's no real surprise that he put on a competent display of evasion and misrepresentation as he provided a series of tangential and downright misleading non-answers to Emily Thornberry's six questions about the very real threat of a ruinous Tory "no deal" strop away from the Brexit negotiating table.

When he was asked what would happen to the Irish border if Theresa May decides to strop away from the negotiations with nothing, Green responded by claiming that that's not what the outcome the Tories want, as if claiming to not want something to happen is the same as explaining what the consequences would be if it did happen.

Thornberry pressed him again about what a "no deal" strop would mean, and again he evaded answering the question with a load of partisan political bluster as if it's perfectly fine for the Prime Minister to threaten to do something, then not explain what the consequences would be for jobs, the economy, international trade, peace in Northern Ireland, or anything else if she actually does it.

Green's blustering political attack on Labour provided Thornberry with the opportunity to land a glorious counter-punch; accusing him of not getting the Prime Minister's memo because "you're supposed to be building consensus man!".

It was a cracking riposte against the lame duck Tory Prime Minister, and it's absolutely telling that her supposedly loyal ally Damian Green could only sit there and chortle away with the rest of the house at ludicrousness of his absolute laughing stock of a boss.

Thornberry persisted with another question on the "no deal" threat, and instead of answering the question Green resorted to bragging about how the Tories have juked the unemployment statistics through an unprecedented campaign of wage repression, a barbaric sanctions regime that costs more to administer than it saves in reduced benefits, a bonfire of workers' rights, and an absolute explosion in low-pay, low-skill exploitative Zero Hours Contract, fake self-employment, part-time and gig economy jobs since 2010.

Thornberry tried to address the "no deal" threat yet again by bringing up the dreadful Tory inconsistency over whether there is actually a government contingency plan for a "no deal" nuclear Brexit strop, or whether Boris Johnson was right to claim that there is no such "no deal" plan the day before.

Again Green evaded the question in the kind of glib and effortless manner that David Cameron used to manage so easily, but which Theresa May struggles so badly with.

This time Green evaded the question by once again falling back on the juked unemployment figures that only total dipsticks could believe have come about through good economic management, rather than continual Tory attacks on wages, labour rights and working conditions.

Thornberry muddled her words in her final question, but had the good grace to laugh at herself in exactly the way that Theresa May would be incapable of if she'd messed up, and Green responded to the question with a truly fantastical fairy story about how the Brexit negotiations are going swimmingly, and how it's bumbling David Davis who is firmly setting the agenda, rather than the EU27.

We all know that the EU27 forced Davis to collapse his own negotiating stance in the first bloody meeting, and that the belated Tory offer on citizens rights was derided as an absolute insult by all other parties, but Green was enjoying his fantasy, and his moment in the spotlight so much that it didn't seem to matter.

My political sympathies are obviously with Emily Thornberry, but I thought Damian Green did well too under the circumstances (excusing the chaotic mess the country is in after seven years of ruinous Tory mismanagement is hardly an easy job).

Thornberry is quick-witted, engaging, actually funny at times (a rare trait indeed in Westminster), and definitely the kind of person you'd want on your side of a debate rather than arguing against you. She was one of the absolute stars of Theresa May's vanity election, and while the Blairites continue to skulk around in the shadows of the back benches, she's one of the Labour politicians continually building a bigger and better public profile by staying fiercely loyal to the wishes of the party membership.

Not only did Green do his job effectively by doggedly evading every single question without resorting to displays of sneering, grimacing, and uncontrollable fury responses like his lame duck of a boss, he also came across as actually having a bit of a sense of humour, which is not something that can be said of Theresa May (humourless glowering is more her forte), David Cameron (slick, but far too slow-witted to be genuinely funny), Michael Howard (his combination of creepiness and ineptitude was funny, but not deliberately so) or Iain Duncan Smith (about quick-witted as a fence post and about as funny as a terminal cancer diagnosis).

Green must have dramatically improved his odds of succeeding his hapless boss on the strength of this job audition, but given the absolute mess that Cameron and May have created between them, and the near-inevitability of another election before the summer of 2019, it looks like he'd have to make good use of that sense of humour from the opposition benches.

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