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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Sun Sep 6, 2009, 11:57 PM
Number of posts: 4,954

Journal Archives

Arron Banks' private messages leaked by hacker

The Twitter account of Arron Banks, the founder of the pro-Brexit campaign Leave.EU, has been hacked.

The perpetrator has leaked thousands of his private messages to and from dozens of other people spanning several years.

In a statement, Mr Banks accused Twitter of taking too long to tackle the issue and said the social network had "deliberately chosen" to leave his personal information online.

Twitter said it had "taken steps to secure the compromised account".

"We will continue to take firm enforcement action in line with our policy which strictly prohibits the distribution on our service of materials obtained through hacking," Twitter said in a statement.


The stable door is well open, and a number of Banks' messages have already been posted on social media - unfortunately, along with some spoofs which will muddy the waters. The legality of re-posting any of the messages is unclear, though some of them have been made available on the Twitter hashtag #arronbanksleaks. Some journalists, including Carole Cadwalladr, who've started sifting through them have described them as "explosive".

Carole Cadwalladr

#arronbanksleaks Right. I've just been sent the first set of direct messages from the file. They're pretty explosive. What are the ethics/legals on this, world?

Ironically, one avenue Banks may have to prevent disclosure of his correspondence is EU legislation. The EU's Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhoftadt tweeted:

Guy Verhofstadt

Arron Banks is angry that his personal data has been breached. I believe the Brits have a good saying for this: What goes around comes around...

Who may be implicated and how much of all this will see the light of day with sufficient prominence and volume to have any effect on the election, we'll have to wait and see, though with pressure on the government to release the report on Russian electoral interference continuing, there may be some jumpy spads, politicians and journalists around at the moment.

How passing Johnson's agreement could still end in a no-deal Brexit

Experts warn the cliff edge would reappear in 2020

... Over recent weeks experts have warned that Johnson’s deal would not in fact take no deal off the table at all. That while it would remove the immediate risk, taking Britain into a standstill transition period, it would not prevent a different version of no deal down the line. This is because the deal handles withdrawal issues but does not firmly establish the future trading relationship. The transition gives us less than a year to negotiate that and the PM has insisted he will not seek to extend it.

If time does run out, what would happen? How would this “no deal two” differ from the no deal we have been warned about, and how serious would it be? Having discussed the issue with leading experts, they are increasingly worried about the risk.

Cabinet ministers of course are keen to downplay it. Home Secretary Priti Patel only this week suggested that a vote for Johnson was a vote to leave with a deal. The government insists that it can negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement before the planned transition runs out at the end of 2020. The PM has said we can have a “super Canada plus” deal, like the EU’s deal with Canada but with add-ons, ready in time.

Yet many experienced figures are far less relaxed. Indeed they are alarmed about the dangers ahead. For Philip Rycroft, formerly permanent secretary in the Brexit department, “the prime minister, having endeavoured to get out of one time trap, is walking straight into another one, because by saying ‘I’m not going to seek an extension,’ he’s putting the power over time in the hands of those he’s negotiating with.” For another former official of similar stature, “If you look at the dynamics of the coming year under a majority Johnson government and with the 27’s position as I believe it to be,” then Britain falling off a second cliff edge “is clearly a substantial risk in late 2020.” In fact, “to be honest, I think it’s quite likely.” For David Gauke meanwhile, now an independent candidate but until recently a Conservative cabinet minister, “Johnson is boxing himself in… a Free Trade Agreement will not be agreed and ratified” in time.


Johnson campaigning on a false prospectus that's almost guaranteed to unravel when faced with reality - well, there's a novelty.

Donald Trump confirms pre-election UK visit

US President Donald Trump has confirmed he will travel to London 10 days before the UK general election.

He will be in the capital with the first lady for the Nato summit between 2 and 4 December.

Mr Trump will also attend a reception at Buckingham Palace, which will be hosted by the Queen.

The president has previously been criticised for voicing his opinions of British political leaders, including Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

The White House said in a statement that the president "looks forward to meeting" the other Nato leaders and would "emphasize the need for the Nato alliance to ensure its readiness for the threats of tomorrow".


If Trump repeats his previous strong support for Johnson during this visit, it may not be a move the Tories' campaign managers appreciate.

Cost of housing homeless families rises to more than 1bn

Almost third of urgent housing budget is spent on emergency bed and breakfasts, data shows
A combination of soaring rents and more families without accommodation pushed spending on emergency housing to almost £1.1bn in England in the year to April 2019, analysis of figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shows.

Almost a third of the budget (£344m) was spent on rooms in emergency bed and breakfasts, which are among the most expensive yet least comfortable forms of accommodation, particularly for families, according to housing experts.
Shelter’s analysis shows that a 78% increase in spending on temporary accommodation in five years has far outstripped the 45% increase in the number of homeless households needing it. Similarly, the number of homeless families housed in B&Bs has increased by 61%, yet the amount spent on their rents has risen by 111%.

Last month, the Observer found that firms providing temporary accommodation in England’s top 50 homeless blackspots received an average of £10,000 of public money for each booking.


A number of MPs, some of them prominent in government, are landlords:

According to Guardian research and the Register of Member’s Financial Interests, 196 MPs are currently declaring rental income. The majority of those are earning in excess of £10,000 a year from property, on top of the basic MP’s salary of £67,060.

The Conservative party has the highest number of landlord MPs, with 128 of their MPs renting out property. This means that 39% of Tory MPs are landlords. This is compared with 26% of Scottish National Party MPs and 22% of Labour. To put this into context, it’s estimated that just 2% of the general adult population of this country are renting out homes.

When you consider the figures is it any wonder that Generation Rent aren’t being represented in Parliament? Is it any wonder that the majority of legislation favours landlords and that there is a reluctance on the part of this government to properly regulate lettings agents and ban letting fees altogether? All of the main political parties, with the exception of the Conservatives, pledged to ban letting fees before the General Election last year.


Buy to let has become a major form of income for some boomers, more likely to vote Conservative, and as the OP article points out, provision of temporary accommodaion is a significant and lucrative industry for some, so it's no surprise that despite lip service over the years, the Tories are reluctant to do anything that might ease market demand for accommodation, and even the meagre measures they have enacted have been met by squeals of protest from private renting groups.

It's not just the raw numbers of provision, but where housing needs are concentrated and the demographics worst affected. The situation will only get far worse without intervention, and Brexit is obviously not going to help:

According to the latest figures from the English Housing Survey tenants in England now spend half of their pay on rent, while London renters spend 72% of their earnings.

Because renting is the new normal for young people today we need better regulation of the market, better renter’s rights and a fair deal for tenants. As things stand letting agents’ rule the market, and because of a lack of proper regulation and legislation can charge more or less whatever they like in terms of fees to tenants.


Towns fund boosts Tory-held marginals over poorest areas

The Conservatives have been accused of short-changing the poorest communities in favour of comparatively affluent towns to boost their election prospects.

The government promised that the multibillion-pound towns fund would “unleash the full economic potential of more than 100 places and level up communities throughout the country”.

However, 32 towns on the list fall outside the 300 worst-off in England according to rankings from the Office for National Statistics.

Analysis by The Times reveals the extent to which money has been directed towards wealthier areas that are marginal Conservative-held or target seats.


Just another example of how the long run-in to the election since Johnson became prime minister has allowed the Tories to use the levers of state for what they hope will be their own electoral benefit.

Revealed: Tory councillors posted Islamophobic content on social media

Exclusive: dossier on 25 current and former councillors adds to pressure on Boris Johnson to launch independent inquiry

The disclosure that 15 current and 10 former Tory councillors have posted, shared or endorsed Islamophobic or other racist content on Facebook or Twitter will increase pressure on Boris Johnson after he backtracked on a pledge to hold an independent inquiry into the issue.

Inflammatory posts recorded in the dossier, which has been sent to the party’s headquarters, include calls for mosques to be banned, claims the faith wants to “turn the world Muslim”, referring to its followers as “barbarians” and “the enemy within”.

In 2017, one councillor, who has been pictured with Johnson, endorsed a suggestion that all aid to Africa helping feed starving people should stop, allowing “mother nature take her course”. She replied: “It’s nature’s way of depopulation.”
Sayeeda Warsi, who has been calling for the party to hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia, said she was appalled by the comments in the dossier. “These further divisive and racist comments by elected Conservative councillors are a further indication of the issue of Islamophobia in the party,” she said.


Boris Johnson accused of 'outrageous' lack of concern about floods

PM to chair Cobra meeting after being criticised for not declaring national emergency

Boris Johnson has been accused of displaying an “utterly outrageous” lack of concern about the severe floods that have devastated hundreds of homes and caused more than 1,200 properties to be evacuated in northern England.
That criticism was echoed in the towns badly affected by the downpours, where 30 flood warnings remain in place including five “danger to life” alerts along the River Don in South Yorkshire.

In the Nottinghamshire town of Worksop, scores of residents were evacuated and more than 200 homes and businesses were flooded on Friday after a month’s worth of rain fell in 24 hours.

Simon Greaves, the Labour leader of Bassetlaw district council, said Johnson had been “preoccupied with electioneering” when he should have been coordinating a national response to the disaster, which encompasses Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.


Worse, Johnson turned his visit to the already afflicted town of Matlock into a cheery photo opportunity by "mopping" the entryway of the town's Specsavers, leaving the floor in a worse state than when he started, amid suspicions the water wasn't directly from the flood, but deliberately spilt for the occasion:

There are benefits to being the incumbent party during an election (as long as you can persuade people to forget your party's been in power for the last 9 disastrous years) - and the Tories have been trying to make the most of them in the early stages of the election. But then events can veer round to bite you in the arse.

BBC criticised for using archive footage of Churchill laying wreath instead of Boris Johnson

The BBC is facing further criticism today over suspicions that it inserted footage of Winston Churchill laying a wreath on the Cenotaph, instead of scruffy-looking prime minister Boris Johnson.
One viewer, Simon Williams, told us, “I was just sitting on my couch watching the Remembrance Ceremony yesterday, eating Pringles and scratching my balls, when suddenly something didn’t seem quite right.
“I first suspected the BBC was up to something when the picture changed from 1080HD colour to grainy black and white footage, just as Boris Johnson was about to approach the Cenotaph with his wreath.”
“Although the biggest giveaway was that the person laying the wreath did so properly, and didn’t just chuck it on the floor upside down before walking off.”


That's from NewsThump, but the satire is barely stranger than reality, which on a relatively small scale resembles an outtake from 1984.

Mike Galsworthy

Apparently this is the wreath laying video shown on @BBCBreakfast this morning.

It starts with 2019 line-up, but then cuts to a smarter Johnson from a previous year laying a green wreath.

Compare with “scruffy” Johnson & red wreath 2019.

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

If you want to see the actual video from yesterday- this is what you need (video embedded in article):https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/remembrance-sunday-boris-johnson-pictured-20853195

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

I’ve now had it confirmed from different sources with evidence, with no-one providing evidence to the contrary.

So @BBCBreakfast really did use old footage (2016 it would seem) to replace scruffy wreath misplacing Johnson with a smarter-looking clip of Johnson.

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

So here is the video BBC were using yesterday, when Johnson had a red wreath, looked scruffy and placed the wreath upside-down:

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

And here is the fottage used on BBC Breakfast this morning (2016?) where Johnson has smarter haircut & posture and more dramatic green wreath:

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

In that last clip, listen to the audio (talking about Lib Dems’ “skills wallet” just announced- Google it) to confirm that it is BBC iPlayer footage from this morning.

So... this kind of sprucing up of the leader’s image is something worthy of

...a banana republic. 🍌

(Threadreader version here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1193820157241708544.html )

Any of our American friends reading this may not know that criticism of the conduct and/or dress of certain party leaders during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph is an age-old British tradition.

On this occasion, Jeremy Corbyn - criticized in the past for looking "scruffy" (shades of Michael Foot's "donkey jacket" of years gone by) and insufficiently respectful - was well dressed, the only muted criticism being that his bowing of his head as he placed the wreath was insufficiently deep (if he'd thrown himself prostrate, it probably wouldn't have been enough for some).

Johnson looked scruffy and dishevelled (contrasting with the slightly less dragged-through-a-bush-backward look he's been sporting more recently), awkwardly stepped out of line at the wrong cue, and juggled his wreath so it was upside down when he placed it on the memorial.

Would I normally give a stuff about any of this? Nope. I find the whole annual "Poppy Wars" and nitpicking about the Cenotaph ceremony utterly disrespectful to those they're supposed to be commemorating, and there are far more important current issues to get wound up about.

But selective doctoring of footage like this by the state broadcaster in the age of constant allegations of "fake news", and particularly in the run-up to a crunch general election, is disturbing, not least because the BBC's defence of how it happened isn't convincing:

BBC apologises for using wrong Remembrance Day clip

The BBC has apologised for mistakenly running an out-of-date clip of Boris Johnson laying a wreath of poppies.

It said a production error led to BBC Breakfast showing images purporting to be the prime minister attending a Remembrance Day service on Sunday, when in fact the clip was from 2016.

"This was a production mistake and we apologise for the error," the corporation said in a statement.


That's quite some "production error". Are we to believe an editor "accidentally" found an archive clip and inadvertently broadcast it instead of current footage? How and why?

On one hand, this is just another storm in a teacup among so many. On the other, it calls into question the BBC's editorial impartiality at a time when it's needed most.

Boris Johnson explains post-Brexit trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK

Here he is addressing a gathering of Northern Ireland Conservatives at the Tayto Crisps factory yesterday:


Manufacturing NI @ManufacturingNI

From tonight’s meeting with local Conservatives - @armstrong_irwin

Manufacturing NI

Most of the video (limited you 140 seconds) now uploaded

[Twitter video]

Predictably, if not inevitably, various people who know about these things have chimed in to explain that he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about, even if you can filter out all the waffling.

Here's Lewis Goodall of Sky News:

Lewis Goodall

Official documents from his own government say the precise opposite of what the Prime Minister is saying here. https://twitter.com/manufacturingni/status/1192564837345353728

Lewis Goodall

See my story from October 23rd. Checks in both directions. pic.twitter.com/E51cUwb9lq https://twitter.com/lewis_goodall/status/1187007504263405573

Here's the Guardian's Brexit Correspondent:

Johnson accused of misunderstanding own Brexit deal after NI remarks

Boris Johnson has declared he will not “implement” or “enact” checks on goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain despite arrangements for customs controls under the Brexit deal he agreed last month with the EU.

In a visit to Northern Ireland, he told business representatives that elements of his Brexit deal related to exports from the region were greatly “misunderstood” and did not involve physical checks of goods.
He said: “There will not be checks, and I speak as the prime minister of the United Kingdom, and a passionate unionist. There will not be checks on goods going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain because we’re the government of the United Kingdom and we will not institute or implement or enact such checks.

“The idea that Tayto crisps from Tandragee are going be vetted by some process is just nonsense.”


And here's Anna Jerzewska, a free trade specialist:

Dr Anna Jerzewska

Great example of why after #Brexit the UK won’t be able to just wave goods through and we will need #customs formalities AND checks, incl for NI to GB trade. Especially if we want to sign FTAs.

Short explainer on why customs matters

Some Chinese goods are currently subject to additional tariffs or anti-dumping measures in the US and the EU due to the local market practices being deemed unfair (e.g. selling goods below the market value etc).

Let’s take one example from the article, EU’s anti-dumping measures on Chinese bikes. They are designed to protect the EU producers against unfair competition from China.

The EU has also recently signed an FTA with Vietnam and currently grants preferential treatment to Vietnam in other ways.
#Rulesoforigin in these agreements are designed to ensure that only goods manufactured in Vietnam have preferential access to EU markets.

Such local content rules ensure that producers in other countries e.g. China cannot obtain access to EU markets without offering something in return (a bit of a simplistic take but that’s the basic principle).

Chinese companies set up fake factories in Vietnam to make it look like the goods are manufactured there and to circumvent EU rules, safeguard measures and taxes.

Obviously, Vietnam does not want to jeopardise its relationship with the EU and the new FTA. In super simple terms, it doesn't want to look like it can't be trusted as a trading partner.

So such practices by Chinese exporters are risky and damaging for both the EU and Vietnam. Not to mention would allow China to avoid paying the right amount of tariffs. That’s why Vietnamese customs authorities will be doing more checks and inspections.

Do you see where I’m going with this example?

Customs controls matter, customs checks matter. They don’t need to be done at the border but they are needed.

In order for customs authorities to do their job, they need to have information on what’s crossing the border, where is it from, who manufactured/produced it etc.

This is where customs declarations come in (paperwork). They are a way to declare this info to customs authorities.

Checks, of paperwork or of goods themselves (e.g. loaded trucks) are introduced to verify that this info is true.
As well as to protect the market from smuggling and dangerous goods.

Yes, we can be flexible and inventive when it comes to NI-GB trade. And yes NI will technically be in UK's customs territory.

But if we want to sign trade deals our trade partners will want to know which goods come from NI and which from ROI and we need to find a way to collect this info.
EU FTA partners will want to ensure goods come from the EU and not GB

And this is why customs is important in international trade.

It can be streamlined and improved, sure, but all the formalities have been put in place for a reason.



Others, including me, are asking why, if it's such a great deal for Northern Ireland and freedom of movement and access to the single market is so desirable, the same sort of deal hasn't been extended to the rest of the UK:


Adam Bienkov

“Northern Ireland has got a great deal. You keep free movement. You keep access to the single market.”

[Twitter video]

John Bercow: Brexit is UK's biggest mistake since second world war

Days after bowing out as Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has described Brexit as the biggest mistake Britain has made since the second world war.

Bercow, who was persistently accused of bias by Brexit-backing MPs during his term as Speaker, gave a valedictory speech to the Foreign Press Association, revealing himself to be a remainer.

“I don’t think it helps the UK. Brexit is the biggest mistake of this country after the war. I respect [the] prime minister, [Boris] Johnson, but Brexit doesn’t help us. It’s better to be part of the [EU] power bloc,” Bercow said, according to the journalist Antonello Guerrera, of La Repubblica, who attended the event in London.

However, Bercow rejected the idea he had blocked Brexit, insisting “it was parliament” that had prevented Britain from leaving before now, “not me”.


Not an earthshaking revelation. Those who've reviled him as a Traitor will still do so. Those who've idolized him for standing up for the Constitution against a rogue unelected government still will. Those who'd never paid much attention to the role of the speaker until the last couple of years will find he's left big shoes to fill, anyway.
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