Heidi Allen, Anna Soubry and Sarah Wollaston Quit

They have joined The Independent Group. Developing…

“We no longer feel we can remain in the Party of a Government whose policies and priorities are so firmly in the grip of the ERG and DUP.”

They decided that they wouldn’t stay to reform the organisation from within, and opted to Leave…

Read their joint resignation letter here

Galloway’s Extraordinary Goebbels Rant

George Galloway’s Sky News interview this morning took an unexpected turn. He was invited on to talk about his application to re-join the Labour Party, but ended up shouting “The Goebbels is you!” at Sky News’ Niall Paterson. Seemingly not content with Ken Livingstone’s Hitler obsession, the former Respect MP brought a new Nazi into the field…

Green MEP Arrested in Brussels

Amidst all the party splits and leftist infiltration of Labour, the Greens are doing their best to bring back the flavour of the 80s with a good old-fashioned CND-style protest. UK Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has been arrested in Brussels, along with two other Green MEPs and Belgian anti-NATO ‘peace activists’ after the group scaled the wall of a Belgian military base that stockpiles US weapons.

Scott Cato then blocked a runway for F-16 fighters at the Kleine Brogel military base near the Dutch border along with French Green Michèle Rivasi and Luxembourger Tilly Metz. Austrian Green MEP Thomas Waitz was also arrested for demonstrating outside the base. The Guardian is reporting that they could be facing five-year prison sentences under Belgian state security laws. The one thing we do know is that the police clearly haven’t confiscated her phone as she’s carried on tweeting incessantly since her arrest…

Three Tories ‘On the Verge of Defecting’ to Join Labour Splitters’ Group

Sarah Wollaston, Heidi Allen, and Anna Soubry are said to be on the verge of leaving the Conservative Party today. Rumours are swirling that the three could jump ship to join the Labour splitters’ ‘The Independent Group’ as early as in time for the start of Prime Minister’s Questions today.

This morning none of the three are responding to requests for comment about joining The Independent Group. Soubry, normally a prolific Twitter user, hasn’t tweeted since Monday morning. Tory whips last night told Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt that the three had gone “very, very silent” and yesterday Soubry failed to vote in three Commons votes, without telling her whips and despite not seeking a pair.

Wollaston and Allen have never fitted in to the Conservative Party, rebelling against the leadership since they got in to Parliament on a wide array of issues. Wollaston opposed tax cuts that even John McDonnell supported. Soubry on the other hand is aligned with the Tory Party on everything bar Brexit. Her leaving would not be something to celebrate…

Labour MP Joan Ryan’s defection last night took The Independent Group’s numbers up to eight. Three more MPs joining would make their Parliamentary group as large the Liberal Democrats…

Malthouse Compromise Ditched For ‘Cox’s Codpiece’

The key message emanating from Cabinet today is that the Government has predictably abandoned any attempts to press ahead with the Malthouse Compromise, instead pinning their hopes on a tweak to the backstop being enough to get a deal through instead. This is not going down well with Tory MPs…

Nonetheless speculation is mounting that Geoffrey Cox has come up with concrete proposals to take to Brussels, with talk that a deal could even be agreed in Sharm-el-Sheikh this weekend, although a legal ‘codicil’ has already been dismissed as “Cox’s Codpiece” by unimpressed Brexiteers. Meanwhile Michel Barnier has told a Spanish audience that the EU will listen to May’s suggestions for how to “tweak” the backstop but will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, as May promised Parliament. How long can the Brady truce continue to hold?

Angela Smith’s ‘Funny Tinge’ Excuse: “I Was Tired”

Day two of The Independent Group isn’t going entirely swimmingly, as spokesperson Angela Smith told Sky News she “misspoke” on Politics Live yesterday because she was “tired”.

“No, err, and I know, err, I obviously, look, aha, I never meant to say that… erm, a, I… I misspoke really badly – I was very very tired at that point. I had had six hours of press… erm… engagement and I was very tired, and erm, you know, it’s… I was, I was very tired. I misspoke really really badly and that’s not who I am.”

Guido wonders how Smith would have found six hours of media engagement between the 10am launch of The Independent Group, and the 12:15 broadcast of Politics Live…

James O’Brien’s Brazen ‘Who Funds You’ Hypocrisy

Earlier this month, left wing agitator James O’Brien got into a protracted argument with Silkie Carlo, Director of privacy-campaigning NGO Big Brother Watch, ironically over the issue of whether they publish a list of their donors or not. O’Brien would not let Carlo talk (about the issue of facial recognition cameras) because she supports privacy rights across the board. He then let the cat out of the bag…

Carlo: “I used to work at Liberty, Liberty doesn’t publish who funds it. Open Rights Group doesn’t publish who funds it…

O’Brien: “No, but I’m not troubled by their agenda.”

This brazen hypocrisy reveals the fundamental lie at the heart of the unrelenting ‘Who Funds You’ smear campaign. It has never been about a genuine concern about transparency over who funds various charities and NGOs – big state think tanks are never challenged in the same way. It has always been a deliberately partisan exercise in trying to drive groups that the O’Briens of this world disagree with out of public debate…

BBC’s Think Tank Funding Hypocrisy

The BBC took film crews into the Taxpayers’ Alliance and Institute of Economic Affairs for a Politics Live feature today, ostensibly to help viewers “make their own judgements” about whether them making their donors public is “relevant” to their ability to take part in public debate. It quickly became clear that the BBC was more interested in portraying them as pantomime villains than letting viewers “make their own minds up”…

As the IEA’s Mark Littlewood pointed out, think tanks are far from the only organisations and institutions which frequently intervene in public debate yet do not publicly divulge their donors. Most of them in fact do so with far more clout – from Oxfam and Greenpeace to the CBI and the Corbynite Archbishop of Canterbury…

Greenpeace UK operates on a vast £21 million annual budget, the CBI on £24.5 million and Oxfam UK on a truly gargantuan £427 million, yet none of them provide fully detailed information about where their funding comes from, despite all of them having a huge influence on public debate. The IEA operates on a budget of just over £2 million and provides a clear breakdown of its income sources, even though it does not publish individual donors’ names.

This is not a case of “whataboutery”, it is a fundamental point about free speech and a balanced public debate in civil society. Attacking someone on the basis of who funds them rather than on the strength of their arguments is one of the most basic forms of ad hominem attack. Tellingly, these attacks are almost entirely one-way politically. They are almost exclusively led by the assorted cranks of the authoritarian left who are targeting those on the right as part of their broader war of attrition to purge public debate of dissenting views.

These attacks will not stop if think tanks reveal their funding. Their donors will hounded and subjected to the same sort of rabid abuse that think tanks’ staff members, particularly female ones like Chloe Westley and Kate Andrews, receive on a daily basis online, until they cave into the intimidation and withdraw their support. And Jo Coburn and other presenters will keep asking them questions on an ad hominem basis rather than engaging with the substance of their research. If a think tank has genuinely distorted their research due to outside influences, that will be evident from the flaws in the substance of the work they publish.

Faiza Shaheen, alongside Littlewood, claimed that her think tank, CLASS, was entirely transparent about its own funding arrangements. It is not. It lists its total income, as the IEA does, but it only names donors who have given over £1000, and even then it does not divulge how much each has donated. Every single named donor except one is a Trade Union.

When was the last time a single presenter challenged the integrity of Shaheen’s arguments on the basis that she is almost entirely funded by Trades Unions? When was the last time Jo Coburn herself was challenged over the fact that her career is dependent on the specific Government policy of extorting money out of taxpayers to pay her salary? They haven’t, as always it’s one rule for the right and another rule for everyone else…

UPDATE: James O’Brien has gone even further, openly admitting his entirely partisan motives in a recent interview.

Labour MP Suggests Labour Split Group Is Funded By Israel

Labour MP Ruth George has said that she will not condemn Labour members who assert that the new TIG group of former Labour MPs, fronted by Jewish MP Luciana Berger, is funded by the state of Israel. She was backing up a local councillor who has been posting multiple conspiracy theories about the group on social media…

“Support from the State of Israel… is possible and I would not condemn those who suggest it.”

Previously George was best known for comparing Amber Rudd to Hitler.

Days since the last Labour anti-Semitic incident… 0.

Ian Lavery’s Racism Blind Spot

Last night Labour Party Chair Ian Lavery told a jittery meeting of the PLP that the party could not be “institutionally anti-Semitic” because he himself would never be a member of a racist party.

But is Mr Lavery really best equipped to spot racism when it’s staring him in the face? What did he think about racism when he posed for this grinning photo with his son Ian Lavery Jr. in blackface? Maybe he thought it was just a funny tinge..?

 

Real Wages Rise, Employment Surges, Unemployment Plummets

New labour market data from the ONS has revealed that in the last quarter of last year, 167,000 more people became employed. 2018 ended with 444,000 more people in work than a year before. The UK’s employment rate now stands at the joint-highest it has ever been since records began in 1971. Meanwhile almost 60,000 fewer people are relying on zero-hours contracts…

The unemployment rate has plummeted too, with as low levels not being since since the end of 1974. Unemployment fell by 100,000 over the course of the year, meaning every day 274 unemployed people found a job. Meanwhile, wages have risen again by 3.4%, and excluding inflation real wages are up by 1.3%. Despite Brexit, Britain’s jobs miracle continues…

Honda: This is Not a Brexit-Related Issue

Honda’s most senior executive in Europe was interviewed on the Today Programme to explain Honda’s decision to close its Swindon plant. Honda could not have been clearer: “This is not a Brexit-related issue for us.”

At a time when poorly-performing companies like Flybmi are only too keen to blame Brexit to cover up for their own business failings, Honda’s decision to explicitly rule out Brexit as a factor is particularly notable. Naturally this has not stopped many Remainers from spitefully gloating over the demise of thousands of jobs in their desperate pursuit of an ill-informed ‘told-you-so’ moment…

What Honda did blame were the seismic shifts in the automobile industry in recent years, particularly the sudden move towards electrification, fuelled by the diesel scandal and generally poor demand. Turkey is also facing the closure of its Honda plant – despite being in a customs union with the EU…

What has also been a major factor is the new EU-Japan trade deal, which removes a major incentive for Japanese car makes to manufacture in Europe as they will soon be able to export cars tariff-free directly from Japan. So much for the supposedly sacrosanct importance of geographic proximity in trade…

‘New Centrist Party’ Already Polling 8%, Lib Dems Lose Out

The pollsters have been quick off the mark to gauge the level of public support for a ‘New Centrist Party Opposed to Brexit’, even though the new Independents Group has not yet formally formed a party. Survation found that the theoretical new party would already attract the support of 8%, jumping straight into third place ahead of the Lib Dems:

  • Conservatives: 39%
  • Labour: 34%
  • “A new centrist party opposed to Brexit”: 8%
  • Lib Dems: 6%
  • UKIP: 5%
  • Green: 2%

Helpfully, they also conducted a second poll at the same time without the new centrist party, which gives a good indication of where their votes are coming from. The Lib Dems are hit hardest, losing almost half of their vote share (4%) to the new party, while Labour lose 2% and the Conservatives drop 1%. Not a compelling argument in favour of the Tories softening their position on Brexit…

Worryingly for Corbyn, the public is broadly supportive of the MPs’ decision to splinter away from Labour. Survation found 56% thought they were right to split, with only 20% opposed, while a separate YouGov poll found a 46%-13% split on the same question. On the question of which “best represents the people of Britain”, Survation found 40% favoured the new Independent Group while only 23% chose the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. For the few, not the many…

Boris Licked on Camera

Boris Johnson has had an interesting weekend, spending part of it getting licked on camera by a large cheetah. A friendlier reception than he is getting from some of his fellow Tory MPs at the moment…

Damian Collins Used Remain Campaigners to ‘Analyse’ Pro-Brexit Outlets

The DCMS Select Committee used pro-Remain campaign agency to ‘analyse’ activities of pro-Brexit media outlets under the pretence of uncovering the spread of disinformation online. The notoriously Remain-heavy committee employed the services of ’89up’ to carry out analysis of Facebook data in its new report. The Committee claims 89up is a consultancy firm, but it is really a campaigning and communications company with close links to the Remain camp…

89up was the sole communications agency for pro-Remain campaign group Best for Britain. They have also received considerable sponsorship from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which has made multiple political donations to secure a second referendum. Is it any wonder then that all pro-Brexit Facebook pages and companies examined by 89up are described as ‘populist’, ‘right-wing’, ‘conspirational’ and ‘anti-establishment’..?

Damian Collins’ committee appointed former Labour Councillor and 89up CEO Mike Harris to carry out the analysis. Harris has previously called the backer of Best for Britain, George Soros “the largest single donor in human history for the defence and strengthening of democracy.” Soros also funds the campaign to overturn the biggest vote in UK history, and Best for Britain has itself received multiple fines from the Electoral Commission.

Relying so heavily on such a clearly conflicted firm to push disastrous reforms for tech freedom undermines the entire legitimacy of Collins’ narcissistic ‘Fake News’ enquiry.

New $400 Million Tech Investment Fund to Launch in London

A new $400 million tech investment fund is set to be based in London with Abu Dhabi’s state investor Mubadala Investment Company partnering with SoftBank to provide funding for the launch of the new fund. The fund has already made a small number of undisclosed investments. All despite Brexit…

The UK is currently a global capital for tech innovation and is streets ahead of anywhere else in Europe. Funds like these will be running a mile if Damian Collins’ disastrous recommendations are ever put into practice…

Angela Smith Posts Grovelling “Funny Tinge” Apology Video

The Independent Group’s largely smooth launch has quickly become overshadowed by a race row after Angela Smith had to stop herself from completing a sentence describing BAME people as having a “funny tinge”. Now Smith has posted a grovelling video apologising for “any offence caused” and saying she is “very upset” that she “misspoke so badly”. Not a good look when you’ve supposedly just left the Labour Party over its institutional racism…

Faiza Shaheen Caught Saying Sadiq’s Emission Tax is “Unfair” and Will Hit Poorest Hardest

Labour’s rising media star Faiza Shaheen has been recorded at an event calling Sadiq Khan’s new pollution tax “unfair” and warning that it will hit working class traders and families hardest. As much as Corbyn and Khan don’t get along, directly attacking one of his core policies can’t be the official Party Line…

Shaheen, Labour’s candidate to take on Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford and Woodford Green – not that the media normally bothers to mention that – was speaking at an event alongside fellow ‘rising star’ Rebecca Long-Bailey. At least she appears to have a better understanding of Labour’s damaging policies than the Shadow Business Secretary usually does:

“We have completely got the politics wrong in terms of the impact on inequalities… We didn’t think about the redistributional impacts for those at the poorer end who will have to switch their car.”

She is right, plumbers and carpenters with diesel vans or families with affordable diesel cars will be clobbered by Sadiq’s £12.50-a-day ULEZ charge. The ULEZ zone is set to be extended to the North and South Circulars in October 2021, just ahead of a provisional 2022 election. It just so happens that the North Circular runs right through Chingford and Woodford Green…

H/t Ross Lydall

Rich’s Labour Split Special

What Was Angela Smith Trying To Say?

The new centrist Labour breakaway ‘TIG’ have been around for just a few hours and already landed themselves in hot water. One of the seven Labour-defecting ‘TIGers’, Angela Smith, struggled to describe people from the BAME community, stopping herself from completing her sentence of “a funny tin…”

“It’s not just about being black, or a funny tin… you know, different, B, er, from the BME community…”

What was she trying to say?[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

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Ken Livingstone deployed a corker on TalkRadio this afternoon…
“I joined the Labour Party 50 years ago this month and in all that time I have never heard a single anti-semitic comment.”

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