by Martin Odoni

Okay, the tongue-in-cheek opinion poll I put up before the weekend has gone past 1,001 votes now, so that technically means it is now large enough to be considered ‘statistically representative’. Admittedly, nothing else about the poll really conforms to correct procedure, but then it was of course only meant as a rebuke to the arrogance of certain Labour peers who were poised to launch a ‘Motion-of-no-confidence’ in party leader Jeremy Corbyn. I was in effect saying, “How dare you use a procedure that is not even defined in the party’s rules to undermine a democratically-elected leader, especially when your peerages were not democratically-awarded?” And sure enough, the outcome is very decisive – at the time of writing, those voting No Confidence in the Labour peers total an almighty 990. Those who have expressed Confidence in them total a dismal 23. That is just shy of ninety-eight per cent declaring they have no confidence in the Labour peers.

NB: You can in fact still vote in the poll if you have not done so already. I have no plans to take it down, or attempt to ‘halt’ it. I am simply drawing a line under it now as it has had a large enough sampling size.

Now, the peers called off the motion over the weekend anyway, which suggests that they already realised they were inviting more trouble than the move was worth. And with the intended rebuke in mind, the way I worded the questioning of the poll beforehand was blatantly skewed in one direction, so we cannot consider the vote in any sense to be ‘scientific’. If readers wish to condemn me for that, I shall sleep none-the-worse for it. But in any case, supposedly ‘reputable’ pollsters have a history of gathering opinions in ways that are no better.

Take YouGov, for instance, who consistently under-estimate Labour support levels (exception; a polling model they used for a one-off survey around a week before the 2017 General Election correctly predicted a Hung Parliament), and therefore, despite excessive credence given to their data by mainstream media, tend to offer abnormally high numbers of outliers.

Why do they do this? Well, while I am so far unaware of any response or explanation offered by YouGov that might mitigate it, this image may give us a handy clue; –

YouGov blatant leading poll question

Is this massaging-of-questions the reason why YouGov keep predicting an apocalypse for Corbyn’s Labour that no other polling company can even detect?

It appears to be exactly the same old problem of massaging the questions to draw the desired answer. The only difference is that I cheerfully admit to doing it as my aim was satirical, not information-gathering or actual propaganda. YouGov, by contrast, claim that they do it for purposes of impartial research.

And if this is a typical example of how YouGov lead their respondees, well, they are not exactly ‘subtle’ about it, are they?

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by Martin Odoni

The Houses of Parliament.

The House of Lords is an unelected, undemocratic body. Labour Party peers within the House are said to be contemplating a Motion of No Confidence in the leader of their party, Jeremy Corbyn, on highly dubious grounds of his supposed ‘failure’ to deal with anti-Semitism amongst the membership.

For various well-recorded reasons, these grounds are extremely weak, as anti-Semitic incidents in the Labour Party are occuring at a rate well below 0.1% per head. Moreover, it is not really Corbyn’s responsibility to deal with the issue as such; it is more a matter for the party’s National Executive Committee, and its disciplinary body, which is supposed to be independent of the leader to make sure no leader can dish out politicised penalties.

Due to there being no such procedure defined in Labour Party rules, an MONC in the leader would be as completely non-binding as the one carried out by the Parliamentary party in the House of Commons three years ago, and so probably just as futile.

Given that the Lords are undemocratically appointed, it seems absurd that they feel they should have any substantive influence on who is to be the party leader, and so such a Motion instead raises questions in the opposite direction. As the House is not democratically elected, the public get no say in who is allowed to sit in it.

If the Labour Lords therefore wish to exercise powers they do not have, it is only fair and right that the public get to register their own dissatisfaction with those same Lords.

Here is their opportunity.

I hereby move that the people of this country have No Confidence in the Labour Party peers in the House of Lords.

If you agree, please click the appropriate option below. Then please share this page far and wide to get as broad a sampling as possible.


I beg to move that this country has no confidence in Labour peers in the House of Lords.
(polls)

by Martin Odoni

This morning, the BBC covered a celebration of the Scouts Movement being held in Chingford. While the interviewer was talking to some of the people attending, the crowd broke out into a, shall we say, somewhat familiar chant.

Watch this; –

I am fairly sure that the presenter got the willies when he recognised the chant, because he quickly abandoned the interviews. This was probably more due to political neutrality rules than actual censorship, but even so, his reaction will not have been greatly different to the reaction of others within the corporation. There was an outrageous hatchet job attempted on the Labour Party this week by Panorama. Therefore it is easy to imagine many-a-BBC-face going pale white as they behold opinion polls with a clear Labour lead, and ongoing boisterous support for the leader they keep imagining they have discredited.

Survation Poll - 10th-11th July 2019

When will the smear merchants get it? The more mud they sling, the more Labour’s polling position improves.

Ever get that ole’ sinkin’ feelin’, BBC? Well yes you have. Today.

The Scouts sing Oh Jeremy Corbyn.png

You can almost picture the Director General staring at the screen and muttering in a growling croak, “I’LL GET YOU NEXT TIME, GADGET! NEXT TIIIIIIIME….”

by Martin Odoni

Just offering my ha’penny’s-worth on the BBC Panorama on-screen sewerage-fest from Wednesday. I am not going to offer a comprehensive breakdown of what was wrong with the ‘documentary’, as there were only two things wrong with it; everything that was said, and everything that was done. These pictures will offer a few hints about some of the problems though; –

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley about BBC Panorama

Alex Richardson, regular messenger between LFI and the Israeli Embassy

Alex Richardson of Labour Friends of Israel (afiliation unmentioned in the programme.)

Ella Rose

Ella Rose of the Israeli Embassy (afiliation unmentioned in programme.)

If you want a comprehensive breakdown, please see here, herehere and here.

For me, my main focus is a small point about the Deputy leader of the Labour Party, and most powerful weapon the Conservative Party has left in its arsenal, Tom Watson.

Tom Watson revealed

Ah, this explains so much….

Sorry, wrong picture there. Lex Luthor cannot be Tom Watson. Luthor is someone who is somewhat intelligent after all. Let me find the right picture, give me a moment. Ah yes, here we go; –

Slimy backstabbing weasel

Oh hi, Tom.

Unmistakable.

The angle I wanted to highlight is Watson’s treatment of the party’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby. There has been a major backlash against Watson today for essentially using the Panorama fantasy as a pretext to join the ‘dogpile’ it has encouraged on Labour’s higher-ups, especially Formby herself. Formby, as she announced a few months ago, is currently fighting breast cancer, and so she is not really in the right shape for defending herself against political attacks.

Now, in itself, I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong in criticising Formby while she is carrying out her role as General Secretary. So long as Formby continues her duties, she has to be accountable, and while her illness should be taken into account when asesssing her conduct, if she cannot cope with oversight, she should really step aside – at least temporarily.

However, this does not really apply here, for while Formby has made clear that her illness is making matters difficult, she has not said that she cannot cope. Moreover, Watson’s behaviour is completely grotesque either way. Partly because he already knows full well that almost every detail in the ‘documentary’ was heavily-distorted or worse – probably knew full well days before he even saw it – and yet he still used it as a pretext to persecute Formby. The fact he would do that on false pretences while she is so ill is utterly inhuman, regardless of whether she can deal with it. Indeed, it is tempting to suspect that Watson hopes Formby’s illness will make his attacks more effective, which would show his amorality is at Boris Johnson standards.

JMac responds to Watson pretending not to know what he does

There is no doubt that Tom Watson is pretending not to know things that he very much does know, and that he is asking for information in public that can easily be obtained privately.

But still more than this, what slimy hypocrites Watson and his allies have shown themselves to be. Think back to the winter, when Luciana Berger was still a Labour Party MP. Berger was relentlessly rebelling against the party, especially is policy on Brexit. She kept publicly condemning fellow party members, and the leadership.

Berger’s behaviour essentially demanded cross-examination and criticism, and at length, her local constitutency party in Wavertree, fed up with literally years of her undermining her own party, tabled a Motion Of No Confidence in her. However, she was heavily-pregnant at the time, and the motion was met with nationwide cries of condemnation of the CLP’s supposed ‘bullying’. Most of the cries, on analysis, came from the Blairite Labour right. And guess who was one of the loudest to object?

“A pregnant young MP bullied out of her own party by racist thugs,”

Watson wailed when Berger resigned the whip (mysteriously avoiding all mention of the fact that the Chairman of Wavertree CLP is himself Jewish).

And Watson was moaning again just over a week ago when Ellie Reeves was allegedly targeted by one member of her CLP in Lewisham for deselection.

So, being heavily-pregnant absolves a female politician from any and all accountability, even accountability for activity they are carrying out while heavily-pregnant?

But fighting cancer does not?

There is no getting away from it. Tom Watson is just utter filth. He is a slimy, insinuating, double-faced back-stabber, and he has no place in any public office, let alone a place as deputy leader of the largest political party in Western Europe. Sir Humphrey Appleby once described MPs as having a skill called ‘moral manoeuvrability’. Which really means that they have no ethical consistency at all. He might as well have been talking about Watson.

(Note that the same condemnations above apply to Harriet Harman, who has also shriekingly leapt to the defence of Berger and Reeves, but has remained deafeningly silent over the bullying of Formby. Who does Harman think she is kidding?)

Still, all of these blatantly corrupt theatrics are rather deodorised by the latest opinion poll released by Survation. Note that the days the polling work was done were Wednesday and Thursday, so yes, the data includes the effect of the Panorama smear. What do we find? Labour are six points ahead.

Survation Poll - 10th-11th July 2019

When will the smear merchants get it? The more mud they sling, the more Labour’s polling position improves.

I think Watson and his allies need to get it into their heads; their blatantly-orchestrated smears are simply not working. If they were ever going to, Jeremy Corbyn would have surrendered the leadership long ago.

by Martin Odoni

Neo-Tories v Arnold Rimmer, to rule a fake meritocracy

The Conservative Leadership contest is down to a binary choice between two real-life caricatures. In the blue corner, we have Boris Johnson, the epitome of ageing 1930’s neo-Toryism. And in the other blue corner, we have Jeremy Hunt, the Arnold Rimmer of Secretaries of State for Health.

Jeremy Hunt & Arnold Rimmer - separated at birth?

One is an authoritarian, lying, conniving, incompetent, self-serving weasel with ideas far above his station. And the other is senior technician aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf.

The suggestion that these two pathological liar-buffoons are the outstanding legislative talent of modern Britain is beneath contempt. That they are the two Prime-Ministers-elect, and that there is no other possible winner of the keys to 10 Downing Street from the current contest kills once and for all the notion of modern Britain being a ‘meritocracy’. That imbeciles like ‘BoJob’ and Rimmer could even get into Parliament would have seemed startling back in the 1970’s. Now they are jostling for the highest office?

How has the United Kingdom fallen to this level?! A country that has had such masterminds governing it as Walpole, Pitt, Peel, Gladstone, Disraeli, Attlee, Macmillan, Wilson… now a smirking ninny like Jeremy Hunt could be following in their footsteps?

Oh well.

Differences between May and Johnson

For all that I have no sympathy for Theresa May, and am not at all sorry to be seeing the back of her, I did know and continue to despair that what was likely to follow her would be even worse. Most likely successor, it seems, is Johnson, probably the most appalling option of the lot.

Boris-and-May - the old lunatic and the new one

The Tory Leadership Contest is entirely an exercise in establishing the precise degree to which things are going to get even worse.

One of the problems with Johnson is he lacks the few good qualities that May did possess. Most particularly, as Prime Minister, she did try at least to maintain some air of restraint in her conduct – sometimes failing as evidenced by her policy towards Syria – whereas Johnson is impulsiveness personified. His head is often ruled by startling adrenaline rushes, which will doubtless make him the most unpredictable Prime Minister of all time. His stewardship will absolutely reek of destabilising habits, from his notoriously lazy inattention-to-detail, his arrogant brusqueness, his incredibly unthinking and crass – often downright racist and sexist – public remarks that seem the product of a World War I aristocracy, his insufferable contempt for accountability, and his mind-twisting sympathy for the rich and powerful supposedly having a ‘hard time’ (which he is far louder about than, say, the growing numbers of people living on the streets, whom he therefore presumably does not think are having as hard a time). Johnson is physically bullying, childishly impatient to the point of having an attention-deficit disorder, and so absent-minded that if the ‘nuclear button’ literally existed, he could wind up pressing it while idly drumming his fingers on the tabletop. Thankfully, it does not literally exist, but that alone is what might save the world from being ‘BoJobbed’ to death.

The abandonment of Darroch

More than this though, what might make Johnson even more of a damning failure in the role is the mix of qualities he has that he shares with May. That suggestion may surprise readers. Despite both being very obviously Austerity-loving, right-wing Conservatives, the overlap between the two would seem to carry no further than that. But study Johnson’s behaviour throughout the Leadership Contest, and, especially when comparing it to May’s conduct as Prime Minister, the resemblance is in fact stronger than that. Johnson is making a lot of the same silly mistakes May did.

The biggest example comes from this very week. The ‘Kim Darroch’ controversy, in which private communications by the UK Ambassador to the US, where Mr Darroch rightly criticised Donald Trump and his circus of an administration in Washington DC as ‘inept’, were leaked to the media. Darroch described Trump as a man who “radiates insecurity” and “will never look competent”.

Darroch’s words were just objective statements-of-fact; the USA is currently run by one of the most incompetent, unstable, and narcissistic man-children ever to see power in a democratic country. (In that regard, Britain seems to be trying to emulate the US by putting Johnson into Downing Street. I have long regarded Trump and Johnson as being almost disturbingly similar men, in both general demeanour, physical appearance, self-absorption, and mental condition. They were even both born in the same city.) But the key thing was that the communications in which Darroch made the criticisms were not public statements. They were necessary words of warning to fellow British civil servants about the type of people they were going to have to deal with while trying to negotiation a new UK trade agreement with the USA after leaving the European Union. These sorts of descriptions will seldom be pleasant, but negotiators need to know, especially when trying to formulate a negotiating strategy, and so Darroch really was just doing his job by informing his colleagues of what they were up against.

Darth Satsuma - Dark Lord of the Pith

USA – this is your President? This? THIS is YOUR President? THIS?!?

Trump, AKA Darth Satsuma, Dark Lord of the Pith, was having none of it. While being possibly the single most wildly abusive public figure in northern hemisphere politics, his skin is so notoriously wafer-thin that any slight or criticism always provokes a sharp, humourless and vengeful retort. Trump, continuing his sophisticated method of Government-by-Twitter-feed, tweeted that Darroch was a “wacky ambassador” and “a very stupid guy”. In the process, Trump of course allowed himself to – er, how can I put this succinctly? Oh, I know! – Trump allowed himself to radiate insecurity, insisting that he and his people would “no longer deal with” Darroch.

On Tuesday evening, Johnson and Hunt were doing a televised debate as part of the Leadership Contest. Hunt, to his credit, spoke up in defence of Darroch. Johnson, rather blabbing around the discussion, did not.

Johnson has shown he will not stand up to Trump

Whether one feels that Darroch has been hard-done-by or not, it was noticeably cowardly of Johnson to offer zero pushback against Trump’s pettiness, even as it was proving Darroch’s very point. Britain’s hopes of getting a decent trade deal out of the USA after Brexit demands the best, most experienced negotiators. Losing perhaps their very best is a terrible blow, and a prospective Prime Minister needs to fight for his nation’s own reasonable interests, rather than cave in to the egomania of a puerile septuagenarian. But also, it was chillingly reminiscent of May’s repeated inability to tell Trump that his nationalist-extremist policies were completely unacceptable. Let us recall May’s lily-livered dodging of the issue of Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries early in 2017. And a few months later, May’s chicken-like non-reaction to Trump arrogantly pulling the USA out of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. These two bits of recent history ‘rhyme’ with events this week, yes?

Given Jeremy Corbyn is always being smeared as a man who would ‘sell out’ Britain if he became Prime Minister, it is quite noteworthy that, even before reaching Downing Street, Johnson is already selling out one of Britain’s most able civil servants in order to curry favour with a foreign President. The patriotic right, eh?

Boris Johnson sells out Kim Darroch

Johnson sells out one of Britain’s finest diplomats to please an American man-baby, but Jeremy Corbyn is the politician who is unpatriotic?

In the event, Corbyn’s response to the matter has been considerably more strident.

The invisible Prime Minister

Around the time that Trump was raising two fingers to the critical struggle against Climate Change, there was of course a General Election going on. May had called it, and has clearly regretted doing so every day ever since. One of the problems with May’s decision was her whole approach to the campaign. It was, again, incredibly cowardly. Most particular was her now-legendary tendency to respond to almost any question she was asked with the declaration that,

“We need strong and stable Government”

and that the election of Jeremy Corbyn would create,

“A coalition of chaos.”

May seemed incapable of saying anything that had not been pre-scripted, and every answer was a robotic soundbite, almost always irrelevant to the questions she was asked. It soon began to drive the British public up the wall. But another failure lay therein; she seemed unable to realise that, by refusing to offer the slightest flexibility, she was doing her chances more harm than good. She refused to take the tiniest chance with anything. It made her look timid, deceitful and evasive, and that is because she was, and is.

This evasive timidity extended to May vetting the media before letting them attend press conferences. On one occasion, a number of non-approved journalists were actually locked in a room, (which was almost certainly illegal) to keep them away from May while she was speaking to reporters who had been granted her approval.

Most pertinent to the Johnson comparison though, May refused to attend all-but-one of the televised debates arranged between party leaders. The only one she went to was an interview/Q-&-A session opposite Jeremy Corbyn, but even that was not a debate or head-to-head. So shocking was May’s courage-shortfall that she even sent Amber Rudd, still reeling from the death of her father at the start of that week, to stand in for her at one of the debates.

The invisible blob

Throughout the present Leadership Contest, Boris Johnson has been displaying the same, er, shall we call it shyness? Or perhaps ‘displaying’ is the wrong word. Not wishing to body-shame anyone (and being very far from a shining specimen of physical fitness myself) I have to say Johnson is a difficult figure to miss, and yet he has been very much the invisible blob for long stretches of this Leadership Contest. He refused to take part in any TV debates until after the second ballot. The reason he gave for that was that these sorts of debates are usually over-crowded, which is a good point, but probably not his real reason. In reality, he knew that, as the early front-runner, he would be targeted by opponents the most, and clearly had more to lose than to gain by taking part.

Such negative tactics can be seen as a wise strategy for the candidate who is quickest out-of-the-traps. But the thing is, it was precisely that same thinking behind May’s negative approach to the General Election in 2017, and the Tories ended up losing seats after being tipped to win a landslide. There were other reasons why the campaign failed, including some dreadfully ham-fisted moments among May’s Cabinet colleagues. But even so, there is little doubt that there was also a growing feeling across the country of, “Would we be electing a scared little wimp if we voted for her?” which allowed a comparatively vibrant and positive Labour campaign to come surging back in almost no time at all. There is a danger for Johnson that his own approach has rather surrendered the initiative to Hunt, whose campaign, while nothing worthy of a standing ovation, has been more positive and kept him more consistently in the public eye.

U-turn if Johnson wants to

One of the greatest and most self-destructive mistakes May made during the 2017 Election though was a policy that was put into the Conservative Manifesto. Nicknamed The Dementia Tax, it was a typically-Tory attempt to increase the burden, admittedly somewhat more mildly than many people realised, of social care for sufferers of dementia onto the very people who need the care. The reaction to the policy was almost universally hostile, including among many Tory supporters, a large proportion of whom are themselves elderly. May suddenly realised that promising to make elderly people pay more money was a silly Election pledge to make when many of those elderly people were among the support she was counting on.

May panicked at the general expressions of disgust nationwide, and in an unprecedentedly-quick U-turn – the first ever Manifesto pledge to be formally rescinded before the Election had even arrived – she substantially altered the policy. She then compounded this flavourful mixture of policy dull-wittery and easy timidity by trying to pretend that she had not changed anything, insulting the intelligence of the British people.

Now, Boris Johnson had made a somewhat vague commitment to hold an inquiry into the ongoing scourge of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party – a far bigger and much more dangerous problem than the wildly-exaggerated anti-Semitism in the Labour Party furore.

Within a couple of weeks, Johnson had retreated from this, and, copying May’s conduct almost exactly, altered the policy before the Contest was even done, now saying he favoured a ‘general investigation’ into prejudice. Why did he do this? He says he was influenced by the thoughts of Saj Javid. More likely, Johnson realised that an inquiry into Islamophobia in an Islamophobic party is a silly Election pledge to make when many of the Islamophobes in question were among the support he was counting on.

A Johnson premiership would be a gift to Labour

May’s penny-pinching Manifesto was uncosted.

Johnson is promising a juicy bushel of tax cuts that are uncosted.

In an act of flagrant anti-constitutionalism, May tried to by-pass Parliament to activate Article-50.

In a proposal of flagrant anti-constitutionalism, Johnson is threatening to shut down Parliament in order to force through a No-Deal Brexit.

As I said earlier, Johnson is probably the single worst current MP who could become Prime Minister. Yes, worse even than Jacob Rees-Mogg, or the medieval demons in the Democratic Unionist Party. But curiously, Johnson is despised by many in the Parliamentary Conservative Party, especially among Remainer MP’s. Were there a Motion Of No Confidence in his Government, there is a serious danger that enough Tories would rebel for the Motion to pass.

So paradoxically, Johnson’s election may be the greatest chance of an imminent Labour Government.

by Martin Odoni

Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, of the House of al-Saud, is a politician. That may sound like a grossly obvious description, but it is meant as a condemnation. He is a politician in the sense that so many professional politicians are capable of the most grotesque hypocrisy, moral inconsistency, and deliberate twisted logic.

bin Salman hypocrite

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia exploits a terrorist attack to condemn Iran, while insisting that no one should condemn him for a murder he definitely ordered.

I am sure everyone is aware by now of the attacks on two tankers – one Japanese and one Norwegian – in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. There has been a highly prejudicial and, obviously politically-motivated, attempt to blame the blasts that rocked the tankers on the regime governing the Shi’a Republic of Iran. Now, the evidence for this, presented in an undignified rush by Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, has been criticised as unreliable. It also runs contrary to eye-witness accounts provided by the crew of the Japanese tanker, who state that the ship was struck by an airborne object, whereas Pompeo’s presentation indicated that it was damaged by a limpet-mine that had been attached to its hull.

Now, there are all manner of reasons, beyond the differing testimonies of the people who were actually there, to treat Pompeo’s story with skepticism. The video provided – purportedly of Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen removing evidence from the hull of the Japanese tanker – is suspicious at best, given it seems unlikely that US surveillance would have been monitoring the tankers so closely at the moment the pictures were supposedly captured, unless they already knew the mines had been fastened to the ships. If that was the case, why did they not send a warning to the tanker captains?

It is still possible that Iran was behind the attacks, but that is not a conclusion that can be drawn with honest confidence on present information.

With this in mind, Jeremy Corbyn, always maligned as a ‘fool’ and yet in practice always on the side of sensible and rational caution, has warned against blindly following the American lead. The response to this has been a predictable tidal wave of social media attacks on Corbyn, especially from Tory MPs, implying his insistence on critical thinking and evidence-based assessment demonstrates some kind of moral failing. Even to the extent of contradicting themselves.

Hunt showing usual Tory moral consistency

Jeremy Hunt showing his usual moral and intellectual solidity.

In all of this nausea-inducing hypocrisy, it should be impossible to judge whose knee-jerk deceitfulness is the worst. But the House of al-Saud specialises in being abhorrent in ways few other parts of the world can rival, and sure enough, bin-Salman has found a way.

The current Crown Prince is often lauded by Western Governments and media as a ‘liberal reformer’ leader, and less of a brutal autocrat than his predecessors. This is technically true, but all that really demonstrates is what horrific dinosaurs the previous generations of Emirs and Crown Princes were. By any standards, bin Salman is bloodthirsty, aggressive, and reckless, and his ‘modern outlook’ has little to do with a respect for human rights and individual liberty. Instead, he is just open-minded enough to recognise that Saudi Arabia has a lot of catching-up to do in the world of science and technology, especially if it is to survive in a relatively near-future in which Anthropogenic Climate Change is likely to force an end to the Oil Age. Hence his reforms; he wants efficiency, not justice.

Sure enough, bin-Salman’s reaction to the tanker attacks has been absolutely textbook opportunist-politics. While offering no more evidence than the US has provided, he has publicly accused Iran of being behind the attacks.

We do not want a war in the region… But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests… The Iranian regime did not respect the presence of the Japanese prime minister as a guest in Tehran and responded to his [diplomatic] efforts by attacking two tankers

Now, it is quite vomit-inducing enough that Saudi Arabia is trying to claim some kind of moral superiority in any situation. Sure, Iran is a very repressive country, and its regime clearly has links to a number of Shi’a terrorist groups in the Middle East. But Saudi Arabia is also a very repressive country, and has at least as many links to Wahhabist-Sunni terrorist groups across the region, and probably all around the world. Quite what bin-Salman thinks the attacks even have to do with Saudi Arabia is very unclear too.

But worse than this, less than twenty-four hours after exploiting the tanker attacks to score points against the Ayatollahs, bin-Salman has issued a statement obliquely criticising officials in the Turkish Government. The reason? Bin-Salman seems convinced that the Turks are “exploiting” the horrifically bloody murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Autumn last year (yet another Saudi atrocity that receives the sort of muted response from British politicians that a similar Iranian deed would never get).

That murder in itself is enough to sever any contact the Crown Prince has with the moral high ground for the rest of his life. But for him to criticise political exploitation of an atrocity less than a day after he was committing the same crime gives off an unholy stink of hypocrisy that spreads around the world. I mean, at least we have ample reason to be confident that Saudi Arabia was behind the Khashoggi murder. At present, there is no confidence that Iran is behind the tanker attacks.

The Iranian Government is a hideous regime, no one is disputing that. But the circle the West cannot square is its hostility to Iran going hand-in-hand with its closeness to the House of al-Saud.

All the evidence of the two years since bin-Salman became Crown Prince shows that he is not the man to ‘launder’ that relationship.

by Martin Odoni

Stupidity is quite the most abundant commodity in modern Britain. Alastair Campbell, former spin doctor of disgraced ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, was absolutely correctly expelled from the Labour Party yesterday, after openly boasting that he had voted for the Liberal Democrats in the recent European Union Election.

Before I get to my central point here, let me make clear; Campbell had to be expelled, as it was an open-and-shut case. The Labour Party rules expressly forbid voting for, supporting, campaigning for, or promoting other British political parties. Any Labour member who is found to have done so during their Labour membership cannot remain in the party. Membership Rule Clause I 4B in the official rulebook is absolutely emphatic about that.

Labour Party Rule 2B

Excerpt from the Labour Party Rulebook explicitly banning support for other political parties.

A member of the Party who joins and/ or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate… shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member

By putting a cross next to the name of a Liberal Democrat candidate, Campbell supported a candidate standing against an official Labour candidate. It is a textbook example of the rule being violated.

I have no doubt that some members of the National Executive Committee are quietly very happy to get rid of Campbell, given his endless undermining of the current leadership. But even if that were true for none of them, they still plainly had no choice. That Campbell is guilty of violating Clause I 4B is manifestly self-evident, because he himself revealed that he had done it. When the guilty openly declare their crimes, even when no one else is aware a crime has been committed, proving the guilt is very easy, and justice can be swift and summary. One can therefore feel as unsympathetic about Campbell’s brazen stupidity in announcing his transgression, as one can for him over the transgression itself.

Inevitably though, many in the media and the wider public have leapt to Campbell’s defence, trying to claim he is being made a ‘scapegoat’ for Labour’s poor showing in the Election, or even that he is being ‘made an example of’ for being on the right of the party. The former accusation is clearly nonsense, because no one is suggesting he was involved in any way with Labour’s campaign. The latter is downright laughable, simply because Campbell announced his expulsion himself, rather than the NEC ‘perching his head on Traitor’s Gate’ or something.

Those who side with Campbell are generally doing so for reasons quite other than an objective assessment of his conduct. Some defend him just because, like him, they are centrists who want the left removed from the Labour Party. Others because they have a pro-Remain position on Brexit, and know that Campbell does too. Unfortunately for all these people, whether we feel their stances are right on these subjects or otherwise, it makes no difference whatever to Campbell’s transgression, which is still undeniable and inexcusable.

Perhaps most absurd though – and this is my central point – many on social media are pointing to a Tweet that Jeremy Corbyn published in 2012, as they attempt to argue that Labour is exercising double-standards. The Tweet in question, congratulating George Galloway on winning a by-Election in Bradford as a Respect Party candidate, is being interpreted as the current Labour leader somehow ‘supporting’ a rival party in 2012.

The people leaping on this in triumph, thinking they have the ultimate Gotcha! moment, are of course making themselves look like complete cretins. Even LBC Radio, which mysteriously likes to think of itself – in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary – as a ‘professional media outfit’, has leapt onto this bandwagon.

The lamest excuse for attacking Corbyn ever

Centrists and Remain campaigners demand action by the Labour Party against Jeremy Corbyn for a Tweet that is not, and should not be, against party rules

However, there is no comparison at all between voting for an opponent and simply congratulating an opponent after they have already won. This is because congratulating them after the event will have contributed nothing to their achieving the result in the first place, whereas voting for them will have.

Congratulating an opponent on winning a poll is absolutely one of the most standard behaviours there can be during an Election in fact, and is routinely done by beaten candidates when they deliver their speeches after results are announced. It is a simple display of magnanimity – ‘good sportsmanship,’ or ‘gentlemanly conduct,’ you might say. Like shaking hands with an opponent after the full-time whistle at the end of a football match, or after the last ball is bowled in a cricket match.

Harold Wilson and Edward Heath famously detested each other when they were fighting over the keys to 10 Downing Street in the 1960s and 1970s. But even then, the loser in Elections between them, however they might have felt privately, had the good grace to congratulate the other. After losing the 1970 General Election, Wilson, probably untruthfully, even claimed to have ‘always admired’ Heath as an opponent. Did that count as voting for, or campaigning for, or supporting, the Conservative Party?

When John Major became Tory leader in 1990, Neil Kinnock, the then-Labour leader, crossed the floor of the House of Commons to shake hands and congratulate him. Does that mean Kinnock should have been thrown out of the Labour Party?

This is not only stupidity on the part of centrists, who are leaping on it without even thinking, but it is also childish. Like impressionable teenagers, so many people are being drawn into agreeing with the accusation without pausing to think it through. They are too-easily-led into seeing resemblances that are not even there.

And centrists think that the left are too taken in by conspiracy theories and are ‘not living in the real world’?