Archive for August, 2011

Reality of sea ice is starting to bite

One problem with ‘global warming’ that scientists and journalists seem to gloss over is that it doesn’t seem to be, well, global. Some areas have exhibited more warming than others.

The Arctic is one area that gets a lot of focus.  Each summer the media makes a big deal of the extent of Arctic sea ice melt during the warmest months of the year, focusing on navigation passages and often proclaiming that before long the summer will see all the Arctic ice melt away. The BBC never misses an opportunity to relay the story, even if it is barely mentioned elsewhere, and rolled out the latest iteration of it last week.

However there seems to be a lack of coverage about the increasing extent of sea ice in the winter.  With the non stop global warming narrative burned onto the subsconscious of decision makers, it the therefore of little surprise that there has been barely any investment in new maritime icebreaking capability.

Always ahead of the game, EU Referendum pointed to this problem in March this year. Richard North reported the former Prime Minister of Estonia Tiit Vähi arguing that the country should urgently order a new icebreaker, “Instead of spending money on buying icebreaking services.”  The reason? The country’s two existing icebreakers cannot cope with the “difficult ice conditions” in the Gulf of Finland.  Elsewhere, North was an almost solitary voice in the western blogosphere as he reported on shipping trapped in the Sea of Okhotsk by a huge volume of thick sea ice and the subsequent challenging rescue effort.

So it is that a reader used AM’s Tips/Stories link to draw our attention to a little reported story about the way increasing sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere has resulted in Sweden withholding an icebreaker from US use in Antarctica.   After increasingly bitter winters that have resulted in more iced over navigation passages, the Swedish government wrote to US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to announce that the icebreaker Oden (pictured) will be kept at home and not be made available to support the work of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in Antarctica, for the first time since 2006.

Update: This morning, AM contacted the press office of Sweden’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Bildt, and requested a copy of the letter sent to Hilary Clinton.  In less than one working day the press office has located it and forwarded it to me (below). Compare that level of service to the often grudging response we in this country are subjected to when submitting Freedom of Information requests…

It validates the story published in the journal Science two weeks ago which explained:

Last month, the Swedish government abruptly ended an ongoing agreement with the U.S. National Science Foundation that allowed NSF to lease Oden, the pride of the Swedish icebreaking fleet and also the world’s most capable polar-class research vessel. NSF has used the ship each winter since 2006–07 to clear a path through the sea ice to resupply McMurdo Station, the largest scientific outpost in Antarctica and the hub for U.S. activities on the continent. The Swedish government decided that the Oden needed to stay at home this coming winter after two harsh winters disrupted shipping lanes in the region.

However, the decision was not abrupt. The move had been mooted for months and such was the concern among the Americans, Earth and Space Research (ESR) wrote to the Swedes in early May in a bid to influence them not to withdraw Oden:

And the Subcommittee on Polar Issues (see page 12 of the Minutes) of the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP) was also aware in May that Oden had not been secured for use.   The ESR letter above highlights the importance of Oden and underscored the lack of icebreaking capability that could be drawn upon to cut a passage for supply vessels to the US Antarctic Program’s McMurdo Station on Ross Island.

In July the Swedes confirmed Oden would be needed at home and therefore not be available for use in the Antarctic.  The increasingly difficult ice conditions have affected commercial shipping around Sweden and the Baltic nations and the Swedes plan to keep their sea lanes more open this year using their premier icebreaker.  Following the confirmation the NSF laid bare the serious implications of the icebreaker not being available to its programme in an internal letter to colleagues engaged in Polar research:

But it seems the National Science Foundation only has itself to blame for the position it found itself in, for the NSF is responsible for managing the U.S. icebreaking fleet.  Under NSF management the US icebreaking fleet has been ’emasculated’.  The American fleet of icebreakers numbers three – for now. It boasted two of the most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers on the seas, Polar Sea and Polar Star, but that changed some years ago.  Polar Sea  is to be decommissioned next month and Polar Star has been undergoing a re-fit since 2006, but there is speculation it might never to return to service. The third, Healy is not designed for heavy icebreaking of the nature required in Antarctica.

This begs the question, why did the NSF not properly maintain the US icebreaking fleet?  Could it be the faith in its own belief that global warming is reducing ice cover and therefore spending money on icebreakers would be a waste?  No matter, the NSF was forced into an embarrassing and desperate search for a suitable icebreaking replacement.

Having already said it would need to find and engage a suitable replacement by mid-August, or else implement contingency plans that would curtail activities in Antarctica, it seems the NSF experienced a near-run thing.  Indeed, it was only last week they announced they had agreed a contract for a smaller and less capable icebreaker, the Vladimir Ignatyuk (pictured):

The press release from the NSF, when explaining this replacement Russian vessel had been drafted in because Oden would not be available, avoided mentioning the reason for the Swedish decision.  You can see how the two icebreakers measure up on Wikipedia – Oden / Vladimir Ignatyuk.

The story may seem trivial in isolation.  But the fact that no newspaper appears to have picked it up so far tells its own story.  Maybe it is because there is a media agenda to avoid covering stories that could lead to people questioning commonly made assertions about global warming.  Which is why the news and the more important issues underpinning it exist behind paywalls, in house journals and little read snippets from entities such as the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

In Estonia and Sweden at least reality is starting to bite. How long before it takes hold elsewhere?

Tory Euroscepticism another example of the Henry Smith syndrome

This should really have been covered yesterday, but better late than never.  A valuable piece was published on Witterings From Witney yesterday, taking a high level look at the voting records of Conservative MPs who use the term Eurosceptic to give the impression they are opposed to being governed by the EU.

As WfW explains, the term Eurosceptic is useless and even the Guardian’s content partner website makes the point that there are different kinds of Eurosceptics.  After examining the voting records and unpicking the definition of ‘Eurosceptic’ WfW makes clear to readers that:

It would seem to me that not only do we need to redefine the term ‘eurosceptic’, but that we also need to redefine just who amongst our MPs really is anti-EU!

Exactly right.  What we have here is an extension of the Henry Smith syndrome, where some MPs try to have it both ways and convince people of differing mindsets that they embrace their viewpoint.

Only by exposing MPs who claim to support the public view – that we should be an independent, self determining nation, yet who like Chris Heaton-Harris vote in favour of deeper integration with the EU  – can the public have any idea whether they are voting for someone who agrees with their views or not.  As such we should take every opportunity to highlight the duplicity of MPs who say one thing and do another. It is time to out them.

The end of the Eurosceptic

The more that people scrutinise and check facts for themselves, the less able the politicians are to deceive themselves and the public.  Following on from our exchanges with Roger Helmer, the always excellent EU Referendum offers a matter of fact piece about the enemy within.

What is clear, as some in the comments section have alluded to, it that it’s time to jettison the devalued and misleading ‘Eurosceptic’ label.  When it comes to the EU there are only two camps now, in or out, EUphile or Withdrawalist.  Any MP who votes in favour of any Bill or amendment that facilitates EU integration and closer union cannot, by definition, be a withdrawalist. Pragmatism is code for inaction.

When you look at the voting records of Tory MPs and MEPs, there are hardly any who consistently vote against handing further power to the EU. Less than a dozen out of over 300. If you want the UK to leave the European Union then don’t vote Conservative.  Like Labour and the Lib Dems, they are the enemy within, aided by a collection of ‘licensed dissenters’, Judas goats and useful idiots.

Roger Helmer dismisses criticism and covers for faux Tory Eurosceptics

We note that Roger Helmer has today chosen to use his own blog to write about the comments left here on AM by readers.  In a post titled ‘True Believers’, Helmer returns to his theme of factionalism and tries to liken the Eurosceptics to a small religious denomination.

But it is not his analogies that are of interest, it is the way he has presented the exchanges of recent days on this blog to the readers of his blog.  This is how Helmer introduces his reply to AM readers who left comments for him in the Open Letter thread:

Sadly, the Eurosceptic movement in Britain is rather similar.  Too many eurosceptics spend their time sniping at each other, rather than turning their guns on the real enemy, which in this case is Brussels.

I was alerted by my indomitable press officer Neelam Cartmell to a web-site called Autonomous Mind, which appears to be of the UKIP persuasion, and has a host of contributors eager to attack Conservative Eurosceptics who clearly (in their terms) are not Eurosceptics at all, but part of a great Tory plot to burnish sceptical credentials whilst pursuing an integrationist policy.  Autonomous Mind (AM), by the way, is said to “disdain Nigel Farage” — illustrating my point about factionalism and schism.

AM had published an “Open letter to Roger Helmer MEP”, which had attracted some angry comment.  But at least Mr. AM invited me to respond — so I did.  You may be amused by some of my replies.

Helmer’s comments necessitate a response.

If there are factions today one of them is the supposedly Eurosceptic element of the political class. This is the faction which has ventilated billions of gallons of hot air over the years, talking endlessly while achieving a sum total of zero when it comes to arresting the export of power from the UK to the EU, repatriating any power from the EU to the UK, or bringing about a binding referendum on membership of the EU so the British people can make a democratic decision about the way this country is governed.  Roger Helmer is a leading light in that inert faction.

Helmer and Co have not so much turned guns on the EU – or more crucially the UK government which has ignored the wishes of the people and is responsible for maintaining the EU as our government – as fired off water pistols from a safe distance.  There is little point taking aim at the EU when it is the British government that keeps us bound within that entity. The target should not be Brussels, it should be Westminster.

The issue is not about people being zealous ‘True Believers’.  It is about exposing and dismissing people who continue to spin tired myths about developing ‘influence’ to bring about change, while their inaction, impotence and Janus-like tacit support sees EU integration plans continue apace, and ever more power and control signed away by his Conservative party colleagues to Brussels.

Autonomous Mind is not of the ‘UKIP persuasion’. It is typical of the lazy thinking of self regarding politicians that anyone who offers criticism must by default be supportive of their political rivals.  For Helmer’s information Autonomous Mind is the blog of a former Conservative Councillor who resigned from the Party on a point of principle, duly  stepped down from the Council rather than remain as an independent so voters could choose a new representative, and has not voted for any candidate or political party since.  Helmer’s construction of a strawman that suggests AM is a UKIP blogger and therefore my disdain of Nigel Farage validates this notion of factionalism is therefore shown up as yet more nonsense.

The criticisms from this blog have been directed against members of all political parties.  Some Conservative supposed Eurosceptics have been criticised here because they speak in lofty terms of withdrawal from the EU or repatriating power from the EU, yet have actually voted in favour of legislation that furthers integration. Any right thinking person would see that as unprincipled and hypocritical. But for Helmer it is just part of some cunning strategy that has long promised much yet achieved precisely nothing. It is a strategy that can be accurately summed up as no steps forward, two steps back.

Part of the problem is that Helmer exhibits a Tory tribalism that makes him defend those who say one thing and do another because they wear the appropriately coloured rosette.  Which is why he is claiming this blog and a number of its readers believe there to be some great Tory plot to act sceptical while pursuing an integrationist agenda.  However all this blog has pointed out is that some Conservative supposed Eurosceptics are deceiving people and their pledges about the EU cannot be trusted. While Helmer seeks to comfort himself with his strawmen, this blog is focusing on reality – and even Helmer has conceded the reality that some of his supposedly Eurosceptic friends have voted in favour of Bills that further integration.

Interestingly Helmer has completely failed to address the core point about Tory duplicity, which brought him onto Autonomous Mind to leave a comment in the first place. It’s like the dirty little secret that must be kept within the family and he is doing his best to deflect attention from that and to focus on dismissing those making valid criticism. In covering for those people Helmer is helping to hold the line against the very people whose objectives he claims to share. He can’t have it both ways. He is putting party before people or principle. It’s nice therefore to have him out of the closet of self interest.

Finally it is worth noting Helmer’s ungracious grandstanding.  A number of people, frustrated and angry by the continuing march to ever closer union, have made serious points about the raft of broken promises, meaningless pledges and contradictory actions of those who profess to share their wishes for a wholly self governing Britain.  Yet Helmer enjoins his readers to be amused by his responses, which suggests rather than engaging in serious dialogue with people he was attempting to score points and look clever.  But considering the contempt politicians generally show for ordinary people this is perhaps not so surprising.  Disappointing, but not suprising.  A point that won’t be lost on people, I’m sure.

Update: There is a head of steam building up all right, but it is not among Tory Parliamentarians.  Rather it is among ordinary people who are fed up of the same old meaningless pledges and whose patience has been exhausted as more control over this country is shipped to Brussels.

We see EU Referendum reminding people for the umpteenth time of the constant and continuous deception to which we are subjected, then pointing out that if, after nearly forty years, the Conservative Party has not yet moved in a Eurosceptic direction, then it is a fair bet that it never will.  Witterings from Witney cites John Redwood’s increasingly passive stance on EU rule despite his claims to unrelenting Euroscepticism; while The Boiling Frog is tired after decades of the same old Tory mantra “in Europe, not ruled by it” while the reality sees the Tories entrenching EU governance over this country with undisguised enthusiasm.

The political class has taken too many for fools for too long and there would have to be a reckoning at some time.  Matters could now be coming to a head.

Roger Helmer replies to readers’ comments

After the previous post, an Open letter to Roger Helmer, Roger added a comment.  A number of readers then added their own questions and comments.  AM emailed Roger and invited him to have a right of reply, and Roger has emailed me with the following:

Delighted to receive so many constructive comments.

Bellvue: I recognise neither the name Roger Helman, nor the appellation “cowardly shit”, so I think you must be engaged in a different conversation.

Brian H: Unlike George Washington, I would not claim that I’d never told a lie.  But I would say that I have never knowingly dissembled about any political question: indeed if you had followed my career you would know that I am in constant trouble for too much straight talking.

David Phipps: I certainly don’t “know that repatriation will never happen”.  There is a head of steam building up in the parliamentary party.  It has been commented on by, amongst others, Tim Montgomerie, who has his ear to the ground.  We now have the European Union Act which prescribes a referendum in specific circumstances.  Those circumstances could arise with the proposed new arrangements for a euro-debt-union.  I don’t think Cameron can move at this stage without upsetting the Coalition — and therefore the fiscal recovery plan.  But he could do so before the next election.

Jeremy Poynton: “Exactly who do you represent?”.  (I think you mean “whom”).  I represent about 4.2 million people in the East Midlands, and I have been elected top of the list on three successive occasions — 99, 04, 09.  I think my democratic legitimacy probably exceeds that of most correspondents to AM.

Patrick Harris: I think your answer is that there is no realistic hope that the European Court of Justice would ever hand down a ruling opposed to European integration.  A court action would be a huge waste of time and money.  But of course if you think you have a case — there’s nothing to stop you bringing an action.

Jones:  Many of the commentators have a point.  But I’m not sure that they have a strategy.

Uncle Badger: “Antipathy to the EU is rife …. If you are not willing to represent that view….”.  What do you imagine I have been doing for the last twelve years?  I’ve been expressing my antipathy to the EU in blogs, Tweets, (@RogerHelmerMEP), web-sites; press releases, books, DVDs; on radio and TV; in the Conservative Party and in the European parliament!  You might check your facts before sounding off.  And you might note my earlier comments: too many Eurosceptics spend their time attacking each other, not attacking Brussels.

AM: Sorry to hear that you regard Nigel Farage with disdain.  I have a lot of time for him.  A good guy.

John Payne: Interested by your theory that EU integration is driven by the Whips.  Last time I checked, the Chief Whip was Patrick McLoughlin MP — he’s on my patch and I certainly don’t see him as a fifth column for Brussels.

Finally, why do some eurosceptics in Westminster occasionally appear to support some integrationist measures?  Is it better to seek to move the Conservative Party in a Eurosceptic direction over time (which implies some compromise with Party policy), or to make one grand kamikaze gesture which rules you out of the action ever after, even though it gains the applause of Autonomous Mind?

A couple of Roger’s replies highlight a self evident failure of the Tory Eurosceptics and a seeming disconnection from those who lack the democratic legitimacy he points to. Taking them in turn:

In his reply to David Phipps, Roger said: ‘We now have the European Union Act which prescribes a referendum in specific circumstances.

This is a very interesting comment given Roger has never once written the words ‘European Union Act’ on his website (as checked with a Google advanced search) or included any reference to it in his newsletter ‘Straight Talking’ (each edition available on his website searched manually). Roger has, however, on a couple of occasions referred to what the European Union Act supposedly does, which is to stop the transfer of powers to the EU through the use of a so called ‘referendum lock’. The Act has done nothing to prevent further powers being exported to Brussels, as we pointed out in the previous post Roger says power transfer is now faster. As for the referendum lock, this is what Roger said about it on the Guardian’s content partner website in November 2009, also carried on his website:

And in October 2010 he had this to say about the referendum lock in his ‘Straight Talking‘ newsletter:

Curious then that Roger now cites the European Union Act in the way he does. People can draw their own conclusions about why he has done this.

In his reply to Jones, Roger said: ‘Many of the commentators have a point.  But I’m not sure that they have a strategy,‘ before going to add later in his summary: ‘Is it better to seek to move the Conservative Party in a Eurosceptic direction over time (which implies some compromise with Party policy), or to make one grand kamikaze gesture which rules you out of the action ever after, even though it gains the applause of Autonomous Mind?

Gaining my applause is not the objective; my elected representatives observing my wishes is.  And it is worth noting the focus of people like Roger on some kind of ‘strategy’ has resulted in the opposite of my wishes (and those of a majority of people in opinion polls) being carried out – the Conservative led government exporting powers to Brussels faster than Labour did before it.

There is not merely an appearance of Eurosceptics supporting some integrationist measures, it is a reality, Chris Heaton-Harris among others is guilty of it, and it results in further integration. Have the Conservative Party’s decision makers been moved one inch towards a Eurosceptic position? Not at all. In fact, Fraser Nelson has pointed out Tory Whips encouraged MPs to create the very group Roger has confirmed his support for in his comments on this blog. The Whips have done this in order to head off calls for the In/Out referendum Roger also claims to support. Yet we are encouraged to rely on all-knowing Helmer and Heaton-Harris’ strategy. Some strategy.

At best Roger Helmer and Chris Heaton-Harris have been ‘had’ by the Party machine, at worst they are ‘licensed dissenters’ complicit in an effort to deny the British people the opportunity to determine for ourselves how this country is governed.  Meanwhile, for all Roger Helmer’s ‘straight talking’ and criticisms, and Chris Heaton-Harris’ strategic manoeuvering in the Commons, we are being subsumed ever deeper into the anti democratic European Union and being derided into the bargain by people like Roger for challenging their failure to achieve anything.

What Roger describes as a ‘kamikaze gesture’ is what ordinary people describe as taking a principled stand. But then, ordinary people don’t have to worry about political career prospects or keeping in with the Party powerbrokers to ensure the lavish rewards of a seat in the Commons or European Parliament remain available. None of it will matter when the people have finally had their fill of the political class’ posturing that masquerades as opposition, and take matters into their own hands. As Patrick O’Flynn pointed out in his Daily Express column, the storm clouds are gathering.

Open letter to Roger Helmer MEP

Dear Roger,

Many thanks for your comment in reply to my recent blog post: ‘And so the Tory deception continues‘.  Your comment read:

I worked alongside Chris Heaton-Harris for ten years when we were both in the European parliament, from 1999 to 2009, so I know him extremely well. We represented the same region: the East Midlands. I can vouch for his eurosceptic credentials. You would look a long way to find a sounder man. I am delighted by his new initiative, and shall do anything I can to support it, as will a number of my colleagues.

The problem with these initiatives, of which there have been similar in the past, is that they achieve precisely nothing.  Returning to the main point, what your comment does not do is account for Chris Heaton-Harris’ failure to use his position to effect any reversal of the process of EU integration.  Given what you say and given the aims of this latest grouping, it seems incredible that Chris has failed to make any waves about the plans for an integrated maritime policy – if you will pardon the pun.

Surely the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy, which advocates an integrated approach to the management and governance of the oceans, seas and coasts, and fosters interaction between all sea-related policies in the EU, represents another surrender of British sovereignty and further travel along the path to ever closer Union. Yet on this subject Chris Heaton-Harris is conspicuous by his silence.

While you speak of Chris Heaton-Harris from your knowledge of him, the rest of us can only form an opinion of him – and indeed all Conservative MPs – based upon what we see.  The fact is what we are seeing is a failure of Conservative MPs to arrest the transfer of powers to the EU, let alone repatriate powers from Brussels/Strasbourg.  You yourself pointed out that the coalition government is transferring new powers to the EU faster than the previous Labour administration did, on the pages of the content partner of the Guardian on 20th June.

This all fits within the bigger picture, where a large proportion of the Conservative Parliamentary Party has professed to be Eurosceptic, yet they have done nothing to influence or bring pressure to bear on David Cameron or the government to honour the Conservative pledge to renegotiate powers from the EU. The failure to make a stand against the Integrated Maritime Policy fits a consistent pattern of behaviour, and like it or not Chris Heaton-Harris embodies that behaviour and his supposedly Eurosceptic credentials are without substance.

The conclusion that I and many other people have drawn, and many more people are drawing with each passing week, is that the Conservative Party cannot and must not be trusted on the EU.  Further, that supposedly Eurosceptic members of the Parliamentary Party put their own interests before the nation’s interests by preferring to keep their heads down on the subject lest any intervention harms their career prospects.

Yours ever,


p.s. It seems there are also some in Parliament who do not share your assessment Roger, as explained in Patrick O’Flynn’s column in the Express written the morning after your comment below.

BBC broadcasters don’t even try to hide bias any longer

This story should be utterly astonishing to people.  It should have people shocked by the sheer brazen cheek of what happened.  But it won’t because it is what now passes for normality at the BBC, aka the Biased Broadcast Corporation.

The Biased BBC blog has the details, but in summary, Radio 4 Today programme presenter, Evan Davis, this morning interviewed Ian Mulheirn – a director of the Social Market Foundation, a ‘think tank’ which is highly critical of the Department of Work and Pension’s Work Programme to get the long-term unemployed back into employment, before going on to challenge Employment Minister, Chris Grayling about Mulheirn’s assertions.

But Davis was not questioning Mulheirn and probing Grayling as an impartial, truth seeking journalist.  Evan Davis is himself on the Board of Directors of the Social Market Foundation and Mulheirn is one of his colleagues!

How could the Today editor possibly think that allowing Evan Davis to conduct the interviews was appropriate given he was so thoroughly compromised by a staggering conflict of interest?

With each passing day it becomes ever more clear that the BBC no longer even pretends to embody probity and impartiality because it feels immune from any consequences or sanction, so its employees do whatever they want.  In years past this kind of unethical behaviour would have resulted in resignations and fullsome public apologies. What odds we get anything remotely like that in respect of this latest instance of shameless contempt?

Prof Jones’ BBC science review continues to crumble

Readers may remember the recent furore caused by the findings of an ‘independent review’ of the impartiality and accuracy of BBC science coverage commissioned for the BBC Trust.  The story was covered on this blog as we pointed out the evident flaws with the reviewer and the review itself.

The review was conducted by a regular BBC guest and broadcaster – more BBC impartiality for you – the ‘genetics professor’ Prof Steve Jones.  The BBC choose to describe Jones by his discipline, yet choose to play down that his genetics specialism is the snail. Perhaps it doesn’t sound as grand when put that way, so best to leave it out – easy for the masters of omission at the Beeb.

While Jones may be feted by some in the media for his ‘exceptional writing skills’ it seems there are some major flaws in his use of evidence and citation, which should be a matter of concern for a scientist.  Perhaps Jones should have had peer-review process…  As Harmless Sky brings to public attention, the BBC Trust has been forced to publish a ‘Clarification’ in which it has had to amend a passage in the review.  As always it seems ‘correction’ is the hardest word at the BBC and admission of error must be avoided at any costs.  The BBC Trust expains the problem:

On 8 August 2011 the Trust published an updated version of Professor Steve Jones’ independent review of the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC’s science coverage due to an ambiguity in the section on climate change. This reference was in the section on pages 71-72, immediately before Professor Jones discussed statements about climate change contained in two BBC programmes.

The Trust and Professor Jones now recognise that the passage as originally published could be interpreted as attributing statements made in those two programmes to Lord Lawson or to Lord Monckton.  Neither programme specifically featured Lord Lawson or Lord Monckton and it was not Professor Jones’ intention to suggest that this was the case. Professor Jones has apologised for the lack of clarity in this section of his assessment, which has now been amended.

Typical weasel words constructed by the PR department.  Suggesting the passage ‘could be interpreted as attributing statements’ and that there was merely a lack of clarity is absolute nonsense.  The passage clearly attributed statements, exactly as intended.

It was not a clarification required from Jones, it was a correction, and that is what has been made. Harmless Sky carries the ‘before’ and ‘after’ passages for ease of comparison which show up the intentionally misleading statement by the BBC for what it is.  As Tony, the author of Harmless Sky goes on to point out:

One can well understand why Lords Lawson and Monckton would have been a bit miffed. I sincerely hope that someone at the BBC Trust had the grace to blush and apologise, but the ‘clarification’ they’ve provided sounds rather graceless and grudging. Perhaps its a bit difficult to face up to the fact that you’ve published a review of accuracy costing £140,000 which is not only inaccurate but probably libellous too.

The estimable Bishop Hill, who has given this story the CO2 oxygen of publicity, adds an important note about the Professor Jones’ evident relativism which demonstrates the lack of rigour applied in what amounts to a BBC hatchet job of its critics on the subject of climate change/global warming:

But even if we accept that the rise is all caused by man, it is instructive to observe the outrage with which Prof Jones greets a true (but incomplete) statement from Johnny Ball and then note his silence on say the Horizon programme in which incorrect statements were made about the relative contributions of mankind and volcanos to the atmosphere.

It is instructive indeed.  The message from Professor Steve Jones is clear, you don’t have to be right as long as you’re part of the majority, the consensus if you will.  You can get a pass for just about anything as long as you say what those holding the purse strings, and the keys to the broadcasting studio, want to hear.

At least one good thing has come from this farcical story – Jones has managed to torpedo his own credibility with independent thinkers, and people who examine evidence rather than accept lofty claims at face value.  Long may that continue until facts replace increasingly flawed hypotheses.

Guardian and Independent getting their money’s worth

Although other blogs have used it, today is the first time AM has tried out the Churnalism website to analyse how much of a press release has been lifted and regurgitated as a news story by journalists churnalists in the media.

Our test concerns a story suggesting plantlife and animals were being forced towards the Earth’s poles by global warming.  The research cited was conducted by the University of York and reported in the journal Science. As the research was performed by the University, AM looked for the press release issued by York on the subject, then used the Churnalism website to carry out the comparison with newspapers that reported the story.

The findings below are unsurprising, as the usual suspects from the Guardian and Independent unquestioningly cut and paste up to 43% of the press release into their write up. The top three offenders are shown below:

Coming out of the analysis rather well this time was Little Lou of the Barclay Brother Beano, who only pasted 33% of the press release into her ‘story’.   As for the others, the editors of those rags could be excused for replacing their incredibly expensive hacks with trained chimps for all the value they are adding.  The chimps would be cheaper and most likely more open minded with it.

As for the main crux of the story, a careful read of the York press release shows us this story sits on shakier foundations than a Japanse skyscraper.  The key word is emphasised in the paragraph below:

Analysing data for over 2000 responses by animal and plant species, the research team estimated that, on average, species have moved to higher elevations at 12.2 metres per decade and, more dramatically, to higher latitudes at 17.6 kilometres per decade.

Nothing like a good bit of hype to get some attention and some more research grant money, is there?

Update: As for the scientific merits or otherwise of the University of York research, Donna Laframboise offers some essential and not too flattering background about the project leader of the team Chris Thomas – which naturally none of the media outlets share with their readers and viewers.

But then, their story would have less impact if they pointed out Thomas’ last effort to push a similar claim was comprehensively torn apart and debunked by peer review scientists.  Far better to keep the readers and viewers in ignorance in case they decide the story is just more ludicrous hype.  This again demonstrates how ill served we are by our biased and agenda driven media.

And so the Tory deception continues…

Writing in the Telegraph, political editor Patrick Hennessy tells readers that up to 70 Conservative MPs are to join a new group dedicated to “reversing the process” of closer European Union integration in a move he says is likely to place fresh strain on the coalition.

Three Conservative MPs are setting up this new group, one of whom is Daventry MP, Chris Heaton-Harris. They were the authors of a letter circulated among Conservative MPs that explained:

“The political objective of the group would be to reverse the process of ever-closer union.”

Of course the bullshit-o-meter should already be blaring. Surely, someone who is opposed to ever-closer union would be shouting from the rooftops about something as far reaching as, say, the EU’s Draft Regulation establishing a programme to support the further development of an integrated maritime policy. There is evidence to the contrary.

This blog wrote about the draft regulation in July, to highlight how Parliament’s European Scrutiny Select Committee – chaired by ‘Eurosceptic’ Bill Cash – nodded through the regulation in 2010 without so much as a murmur.  It should come as no surprise to readers therefore that Heaton-Harris sits on that Select Committee. Despite his supposed opposition to further integration it seems Cameron the cat has got his tongue.

After the blog post AM submitted a Freedom of Information request to Parliament by email for the full minutes of the committee’s deliberations about the draft regulation, to see what Cash and Heaton-Harris had to say about it.  The response received last month showed that the only information in the public domain is what we had already linked to in the blog post.

We keep being told the UK is very a democratic country, boasting a Parliament that is committed to openness and transparency in such weighty matters; so it obviously follows that in response to such a request it tells the citizens it is supposed to serve:

Any other information which may or may not be held by the House of Commons on any discussion in the European Scrutiny Committee on this item is exempt information under section 34 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Under this section, information is exempt if it its exemption is required to avoid infringing the privileges of the House of Commons, which include the right to decide whether, when and how to publish information about proceedings in Parliament, such as meetings of select committees held in private.

You can see the full response below:

The long and short of this is that even when the so called Eurosceptic Tories have an opportunity to take a stand against further integration and ever closer union, they don’t. Their promises are meaningless, and they do not honour their duty to the people they are elected to serve.  For all the acres of newsprint devoted to diversion pieces like the one Hennessy has published, all we have to show for Tory Euroscepticism is an acceleration in the transfer of power to Brussels and a long list of broken promises.

More Guardian hypocrisy surfaces

Journalist Iain Hepburn writes the False Doorway blog.  He has been ploughing a lonely furrow of his own concerning the dubious activities of another part of the Guardian News & Media (GNM).

His efforts in chasing down an explanation from the Observer’s owners about breaches of data protection rules through ‘blagging’ by that paper have resulted in a response from GNM’s Managing Editor.   As Iain explains on his blog:

Regular readers of False Doorway may well remember a piece I did a few weeks ago, at the height of the phone hacking scandal, challenging Guardian News and Media to explain the breaches of data protection rules cited with regards to the Observer by the Information Commissioner in the What Price Privacy Now report, and then-editor Roger Alton’s admissions in the aftermath of the matter.

Without any sense of irony, the response Iain received yet again underlines the utter hypocrisy at the heart of the core business of the Guardian Media Group. One rule for the Guardian stable of papers, one for everyone else.  Read GNM’s response in full and Iain’s assessment of it on False Doorway.

Strange how GNM always rediscovers a sense of propriety when asked to comment about its own wrongdoing.  So much for the values of CP Scott that GMG parades on its website.  Values more honoured in the breach than the observance, clearly.

Just rename BBC Newsnight to BBC Propagandanight

A regular AM reader emails about They Who Must Not Be Named:

‘AM, No mention on BBC News at 10 of which newspaper the arrested police officer was passing information to. No mention on Newsnight even of the arrest of the police officer!!! Unbefuckinglievable.’


AM take down! Detective arrested for leaking info to the Guardian

It has felt like ploughing a lonely furrow, using this blog and Twitter to try to make people sit up and question how the Guardian was getting information about the Met Police’s investigation into ‘phone hacking’ and getting unreleased details of arrests.

But it looks like this humble little blog has helped to make the right people take notice…

Sky News is reporting that a 51-year-old detective at the Metropolitan Police has been arrested at his desk and suspended on suspicion of leaking information from the phone hacking investigation team to journalists at the Guardian.

Innocent unless proven guilty of course, but this could finally underline the Guardian’s insipid willingness to take advantage of illegal actions to get a story.  Let’s see if this is Amelia Hill, Nick Davies and David Leigh’s Met Police ‘Deep Throat’ and if they are now quite so ‘johnny on the spot’ with their phone hacking stories.

Hopefully the investigation into this Detective’s conduct will also look into any links with how David Leigh managed to trace ‘Jeff Id’ from the Air Vent blog, as covered by Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit.

Update: The BBC is reporting the story – after a fashion – without mentioning the Guardian once. Unbelievable bias and a disgraceful attempt to withhold information from their audience. It should be unbelivable, but with the relationship between the Guardian and the BBC sadly it is not. The BBC, half the story – if you’re lucky – all the time, especially when their friends are part of the story.

As for the Guardian, there is nothing about this story on their ‘breaking news’ ticker or anywhere on their home page.  I wonder why… We must find out if money passed hands here. If it did then we must be told how high up in the Guardian’s editorial hierarchy this was sanctioned.

Further Update: Despite the story of the Met Police detective being arrested for allegedly leaking information to the Guardian being all over Sky News and various news media outlets and blogs, the BBC’s update of their story, 34 mins after the last version was published, doggedly continues to omit the name ‘Guardian’.

In fact, they are even trying to focus attention on the arrest of another News of the World journalist and unashamedly are even using the NotW logo as their story image, which could give the impression the police leaks were to the NotW and not the Guardian!  Utterly incredible.

Further Update: The third BBC version of the story in an hour, and finally the Guardian gets a mention! But no, not as the recipient of police leaks from the Opertation Weeting team, only named as the paper that broke the story that John Desborough of the NotW had been arrested.

The BBC’s determination not to tell its audience that the Guardian has been getting confidential information from a police source at the Met makes the corporation look ridiculous. Strange how the BBC was happy to name the NotW as the recipient of information from a police source on the Milly Dowler investigation though... Hypocrisy? Double standards? You decide.

And another update: Quick, quick, make it seem that this was just an innocuous bit of information sharing! Enter the narrative of ‘Off-the-record sources’.

Yes, at 17:50 (missed the screenshot, so off to Newssniffer we go) the BBC made another change to its story and, finally and reluctantly, wrote the name ‘Guardian’ in connection with the detective arrest story.  But even in this, like Soviet era Pravda, the BBC maintained its disinformation effort.  It deliberately tried to make it seem as if the Guardian is just a concerned newspaper with no direct interest in the matter and is passing comment:

The Guardian has issued a statement reacting to the arrest of the police officer.

It said: “On the broader point raised by the arrest, journalists would no doubt be concerned if conversations between off-the-record sources and reporters came routinely to be regarded as criminal activity.

“In common with all news organisations we have no comment to make on the sources of our journalism.”

Amazing.  Seems like the cat has got Rusbridger’s tongue.  But even this didn’t go far enough for the BBC in its effort to ‘run interference’ for the Graun.  So the story has been changed again!  This time a wholly unjustified and laughable caveat has been applied:

If your sides aren’t aching by now at the hilarity of watching the BBC’s contortions in its effort to cover the Guardian’s backside, you’ve got no sense of humour.  The BBC doesn’t even use the whole of the Guardian’s statement, which reads:

How very coy.  Such reticence from an entity that is usually so bold…

And so the Guardian’s police scoops continue…

Another day, another Guardian scoop by Amelia Hill of an arrest of another former News of the World journalist in the ‘phone hacking’ investigation. Another example of the Guardian publishing information apparently not available to other outlets. Another failure of the rest of the media and the public to ask how this clique of Guardian journalists manages to learn about police activities before they are made public.

The give away is in the BBC’s write up of the story:

Will the Guardian reveal how police information always seems to find its way to David Leigh, Nick Davies and Amelia Hill before anyone else?  Or will they continue to hide behind the ‘we’ve done nothing illegal and we always protect our sources’ line?

Who at the Metropolitan Police are Leigh, Davies and Hill in touch with?  There is a smell surrounding this that only gets stronger – unless one puts their head in the sand.

What brought on the riots in England?

Sometimes short and punchy blog posts are the best, as evidenced by Richard North at EU Referendum.

“Anyone who has so much as glanced at British policing policy over the last two decades would be hard pressed to argue which party on the streets of London, the thugs or the cops, is more irredeemably stupid”, writes Mark Steyn.

There is not a person with a brain who would disagree with that, yet the politicians are planning to give the plods still more powers. Are our politicians themselves really so stupid that they cannot understand that the police are part of the problem and that, given new powers, they will abuse them in exactly the same way they abuse their current powers?

Mark Steyn’s piece linked to by North, as uncomfortable as it may be for some Britons to read and take on board, represents the reality of the British condition – the one created and nurtured by the politicians and the social engineers who replaced self reliance within a once confident nation with dependence on the State.

Instead of merely providing a safety net for those who need a hand up, or are too vulnerable or unable to provide for themselves, the desire among the political class for ever more control saw them facilitate the development of an alternative to playing a productive role in our society, with government controlling the purse strings.  Instead of a desire to escape from this entrapment, the opportunity for some to sink into a cycle of dependency and covet a sense of entitlement proved too tempting.

Successive governments, with their desire to be seen to be ‘doing something’ and their pathological need to leave a ‘legacy’, have fuelled the welfare dependency while at the same time creating ever more offences – designed to exert control by criminalising ever more people in the squeezed middle whose tax pounds finance the wasteful and damaging policies.  Yet perversely the establishment seeks to excuse the criminality among the client class, which is energised by that corrosive sense of entitlement and refusal to accept responsibility for their actions, instead treating them with kid gloves, soft sentencing and devoting to them ever more resources.

Then there is the police.  It is all well and good talking about policing by consent. But the reality is the police do not currently see themselves as part of the community they are supposed to serve and whose consent they are supposed to require. The ‘them and us’ mentality has been solidified by an ever more authoritarian state creating ever more offences designed to criminalise ever more people and thus make the war on crime look as it it’s achieving something. But treating everyone as a suspect and demonstrating an arrogant and high handed approach has angered not just the hardcore criminals but also a huge number of people who had done nothing of consequence yet who have been treated without courtesy or respect by the significant number of overbearing and over powerful officers in the ranks.

Is it any wonder that over the years the bad apples in the police have alienated a good number of people who were formerly their natural allies?  Is it any wonder that so many people now reject and resent the authority of the establishment, and by extension the police that are the most visible symbol of that authority?

That is why it wasn’t just the selfish criminal element on the streets last week who were looting and burning, but also previously law abiding people who sought to stick a middle finger up at the establishment and riot simply because the circumstances made it possible.

As there was a wide range of differing rationales for the lawlessness, so there are a wide range of actions required to correct the situation.  They include the implementation of a respect agenda. Not for the people, but for the police.  It is time to restore the police to the position of public servants rather than further empowering them to the level of a remote paramilitary outfit.  It is time to refocus them on serious criminality while rebuilding relations with the many parts of the community that have been alienated and insulted, and ignored when police assistance was needed.

Stealth editing becomes stealth censorship

Airbrushed from history?  Words that were never written?  Did it not happen?  Was that the intention? We should be told.

News media around the globe, from the US to Australia, from India to the Gulf States, reported the story that the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, David Leigh, had admitted to engaging in phone hacking yet denied it when asked about it by the Guido Fawkes blog.  One of the most senior journalists at the paper which pursued the ‘phone hacking’ story so vigorously had himself been pressing * and # keys to listen to another person’s voicemails. Around the world the Leigh hacking story was deemed worthy of coverage.

But there is a bigger story to this that every UK citizen needs to know about.  It concerns the nefarious activities of a number of Britain’s journalists to collude with each other in an attempt to ‘walk back’ a story to remove it from public record.

As a bit of context, this blog has already previously pointed out the BBC, the world’s largest news gathering organisation whose stories have a global reach, ignored the story.  Completely.  Since the story re-emerged this month, because the BBC referred to Leigh’s hacking in a piece by Torin Douglas back in April,  it has published not a single word of the case against David Leigh, a case which underpins the gross hypocrisy of the Guardian’s position and criminal actions of its staff.  So interwoven are the left wing Guardian and left wing BBC, neither will do anything that harms the other, even if that means leaving their respective audiences in ignorance of an important story.

Elsewhere, although some UK newspapers ran the story on the back of the Guido Fawkes blog post, efforts to find reports of the story on the wire service run by the UK based Press Association turn up a blank too.  The PA, often accused of leftist bias, turned a blind eye to the Leigh story despite its substantial reporting of the phone hacking story.

But far worse than all this are efforts by some media outlets that have already run the story to delete their report in an attempt to airbrush it from history.  Let us be clear, this is not a retraction of the story.  This is not an open correction of an error.  It is a conscious effort to forever scrape from that outlet’s own virtual record any trace of their report in order to rewrite history.  It seems the UK audience is being denied news and information from the UK involving British journalists, because some British journalists will close ranks to shield each other.

Which paper has done this?  Is it a left wing rag?  The Mirror or the Star perhaps?  No.  This was the action of a supposedly truth seeking, supposedly conservative newspaper.

The Daily Mail.

Without explanation the Daily Mail has deleted the David Leigh phone hacking story.  A search to see if only the story’s title or location had changed shows it has not been moved or altered, simply deleted.  The only sign it ever existed is the Google search result thrown up when looking for stories about David Leigh and phone hacking.

Why is this important?  Because in months and years to come, when people look back to research a piece and see what had been reported at the time, the Daily Mail’s official digital archive and archive discs will not contain any trace of the story.  It is tantamount to telling a lie.  It is an effort to remove a story from history.  And no justification has been provided for it.  If you missed the now deleted article, here is a screengrab of it.

The Daily Mail should explain why the story has been deleted barely 10 days after it was published.  This is how history can be manipulated and managed by people with an agenda to conceal something.  And it should be of concern to everyone who cherishes the idea of an open and transparent news media.

How farcial it is that the record of this British story about the honesty or otherwise of the media in this country will be confined to a few mid-circulation papers such as the Express.  In contrast a large number of overseas titles, which saw the significance of the story and felt it important enough to report to their own domestic audiences, will be the source British researchers will need to rely on.

Again we see the dark underside of a self serving and manipulative element in the British media that is content to conceal facts inconvenient to their friends despite an obvious public interest significance.  The incestuous relationships between supposedly competing stables in the UK and the desire of too many journalists to put future career opportunities before a fearless pursuit of the truth, ill serves the British public and keeps many in a state of engineered ignorance.

If they can do it with the David Leigh story, what else are they choosing not to report to the British public?

Time for IPCC to investigate The Guardian and David Leigh’s police sources

Back to business then.  Throughout the ‘phone hacking scandal’ there was a constant and unscrutinised theme… The Guardian newspaper was accessing or being given access to information no one else but the police had about the investigation, to break new stories and run exclusives.

Update: 18 Aug – And so the Guardian’s police scoops continue

A story this weekend show the seriousness of such behaviour, with the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigating a claim that an officer on the Milly Dowler murder case gave information to the News of the World newspaper.  If it is right for the IPCC to investigate an officer feeding information to the News of the World, then surely the IPCC should also turn its attention to the raft of stories published in the Guardian that appear to have originated with police sources.

These were not discoveries, these were pieces of information supplied to Guardian journalists verbally or in documents.  When it happened, the names of two reporters in particular from David Leigh’s Guardian team working the story were nearly always on display, Nick Davies and Amelia Hill. Surely when the key recipents of the information are known it should be easier to identify the person feeding them the information.  Taking just a five day period in the timeline there were a huge number of stories published, but some are worthy of particular attention as they demonstrate the likelihood of a Guardian-friendly police mole.

For example, on 4 July, The Guardian broke the story which proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, that Milly Dowler’s voicemails had been accessed and some deleted by private investigators.  The Guardian journalists said they had seen paperwork detailing how the News of the World set about getting the personal details of the Dowlers and then accessing Milly’s mailbox. However, the information itself was contained in the 11,000 pages of notes kept by Glenn Mulcaire that was in the possession of detectives from Operation Weeting. So how did the Guardian see them?

Just one day later the Guardian revealed that police were turning their attention to examine every high-profile case involving the murder, abduction or attack on any child since 2001 in response to the Dowler revelation. Again there was nothing in the public domain about the police’s intentions. So how did the Guardian know this with enough certainty to print it as fact?  The piece included the information that the name “Greg” appeared in the corner of notes taken by Mulcaire which was believed to be a reference to the News of the World’s former assistant news editor Greg Miskiw (arrested earlier this month).  As the documents have been in Metropolitan Police hands since 2006, how do they know this?

Two days later came the next big coup for the Guardian, with the revelation that Andy Coulson had been told by police that he would be arrested on the Friday morning over suspicions that he knew about, or had direct involvement in, the hacking of mobile phones during his editorship of the News of the World. Now it’s conceivable Coulson told someone he knew about the impending arrest and that they tipped off David Leigh’s chums at the Guardian.

But how likely is it that the police will have told Coulson the other revelation in the article, that a second arrest was also to be made in the next few days of a former senior journalist at the paper? Clearly the information came from elsewhere as the Guardian stated it knew the identity of the second suspect but was withholding the name to avoid prejudicing the police investigation. Someone told them and it wasn’t Coulson’s camp, because that would have clearly undermined the police’s intention to make the second arrest.

Then a day further on the Guardian published the story that police were investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard’s inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. The first reasonable assumption was that a News International insider tipped off the paper.

But that idea is dispelled by the additional colour the Guardian boasted about in its piece, namely that according to legal sources close to the police inquiry, a senior executive is believed to have deleted “massive quantities” of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a fraction to be disclosed. The legal entity that works with the police is of course the Crown Prosecution Service.  So is there a CPS mole feeding information to the Guardian as well as a highly placed police source?

Well its possible the idea of a police mole could be challenged as mere coincidence.  But the idea of coincidence falls away very quickly when one looks outside the phone hacking saga to an entirely unrelated story that again throws up all sorts of unanswered questions about how the Guardian gets its information.  This one concerns the concerted attempt to successfully identify by name, occupation and hometown an anonymous blogger who was critical of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) over the Climategate affair.  That link is to the full story on the Climate Audit blog.

The author of the Air Vent blog, “Jeff Id” had until that time been anonymous. As the article explains, his registration at WordPress was anonymous and his gmail account was anonymous.  To Jeff’s knowledge, there was no public information that would enable anyone to identify him.  So how is it that David Leigh at the Guardian managed to identify Jeff Id as “Patrick Condon, aeronautical engineer” from Illinois and locate his telephone number too?  As the piece on Climate Audit explains:

A few days before the article, Leigh had telephoned Jeff. Jeff asked Leigh how he had located him; Leigh refused to say. Jeff expressly asked Leigh not to disclose his personal information, which were then not on the public record. Leigh disregarded the request and then proceeded to “out” him as collateral damage in their smear of Paul Dennis [employee at UEA].

A couple of weeks earlier, Jeff had been asked to answer a questionnaire by the UK counter-terrorism officer investigating the release of the emails and tree ring data. The policeman had contacted Jeff at his gmail address as “Jeff Id”. In addition to inquiring about his views on climate change, the questionnaire asked his name and address. Jeff answered the questionnaire (as did I and many Climate Audit readers). To Jeff’s knowledge and recollection, that was the only disclosure of his identity that could have led to Leigh identifying him.

Leigh’s article also quotes from an email from Paul Dennis to me, which Leigh ascribed to “police files”.

So what we have here is the team of Guardian journalists who work under David Leigh, apparently being provided with information by the police (and possibly the CPS) about the investigation into phone hacking – something Leigh himself admits he has also done – and Leigh in his own journalistic capacity being able to access information about private individuals collected by police as part of a criminal investigation into alleged computer hacking of the servers at UEA.  Only a fool would accept this as coincidence, and besides, the comments thread to this post from Bishop Hill reminds readers of various other aspects of David Leigh’s behaviour and questionable methods.

Unsurprisingly, despite requests from ‘Jeff Id’ (Patrick Condon), the Guardian (via its Environment Editor Damian Carrington – remember him?) refuses to explain how it obtained his personal information.  All Carrington will say in the replies, which can be read in the Climate Audit article, is that the Guardian did nothing illegal.  No doubt if the paper is challenged about how they came by the information concerning the ‘phone hacking’ inquiry it will say the same. What is good for the News of the World goose should also be good for the hypocritical Guardian gander.

But it is clear there is a case to answer and as the Guardian will not come clean the Independent Police Complaints Commission needs to use its powers to uncover the truth the Guardian is trying to hide.  It’s time for people to put pressure on the IPCC to do its job.

A correction and apology

It is sometimes very difficult to admit when you get something wrong and say sorry.  There is always the desire to avoid embarrassment or cover things up quietly and hope no one notices.  It is because you know you will feel humiliation and that your credibility may be undermined.  Nevertheless it is the right and proper thing to do.  This is one of those moments for me.  But I hope that after correcting my inaccuracy and apologising for it, some credibility might remain and that readers feel able to trust what I write in the future.


Today, 12 August 2011, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has issued a statement in which it admitted it may have verbally given journalists the impression that Mark Duggan fired at police.

As such I feel I must apologise unreservedly for my assertions in two blog posts here and here, which are consequently wholly inaccurate.

There had been no indication of a verbal briefing, given that quotes used by the media were directly lifted from written IPCC press releases.  But by excluding the possibility of a verbal briefing just hours after the shooting and suggesting the media had embellished the story I was guilty of jumping to conclusions and unfairly criticising the reporting as dishonest.

In my view the IPCC deserves to be castigated for also jumping to conclusions and I hope the journalists who received that verbal briefing will now name the IPCC spokesman or woman in the interests of transparency.

What remains clear however is that the police have not publicly asserted that Duggan fired upon officers. The IPCC is not part of the police. Therefore claims by some bloggers and users of social media that the police have lied about the circumstances of the shooting remain – unless evidence to the contrary emerges – inaccurate and misleading.

Rioters without a cause

It is not a protest.  There is no cause, ideology or grievance.  The acts we are witnessing are completely and utterly without justification.  As many commentators have rightly said, what we have seen in recent days and what is happening again tonight is just criminal behaviour.

As usual the talking heads such as Marc Wadsworth and Darcus Howe spill onto our TV screen and our airwaves to tell us why the behaviour we are witnessing is the fault of anyone and anything but those black youths who make up the majority of those carrying out the violent and criminal acts. Socialist politicians emerge to make political capital out of the events – always careful to sidestep culpability for their role in creating the conditions that have bred this generation of thugs.

What we are seeing is the product of the gang culture that has been allowed to develop and impose itself in a number of towns and cities.  These feckless, selfish, grubbing morons have grown up worshipping at the altar of gang culture and drug culture, with a chip on their shoulder the size of a planet, with aggressive claims that the world owes them something.

Not only are they togged up in the latest designer labels and £130 trainers, while sporting iPhones and BlackBerrys and gold jewellry, they have grown up being told by handwringing apologists that they are not responsible for their own actions.

Whenever they do wrong it’s always the fault of their ‘environment’, or ‘society’, or ‘lack of opportunities’ or a ‘failure of government’. The worse their behaviour, the more the sociologists fawn over them and say we aren’t putting enough ‘resources’ into their areas and that we are to blame for the supposedly understandable consequences.

We are not to blame.  The blame lays squarely on the shoulders of those who choose – who choose – to carry out criminal acts.  There are plenty of youngsters from identical backgrounds who shun the gangs and choose to make something of their lives.  They show commitment and they work their way out of their situation to make a better life for themselves.  They should be applauded.  If they can make it, there is no reason others cannot do so too. But the others don’t because they would rather have everything handed to them on a plate, or steal it from others, because they don’t want to make the effort.

I for one am sick of people excusing the behaviour of these thugs, who can generally be found on sink estates – carrying drink and drugs and selling drugs on to make some easy money – hanging around in groups attempting to intimidate people and demanding ‘respect’.   They have to demand it because they do nothing to earn it.  They are the antithesis to respectability and they themselves respect nothing, particularly not society’s norms or authority.

Until these feral beasts learn they alone are responsible for their behaviour and until the consequences for their wrongful actions are made severe this kind of lawlessness will continue on some scale or other.

By the same token, we need the police to revert to being a fair, honest and respectful police force – i.e. not polluted and corrupted by political correctness and quasi politician senior officers – instead of being uniformed social workers.  We also need the courts to hand down proper punishments to those who commit crime and make an effort to deter others from making the same bad decisions.  We also need more prison places to uncrowd the system and make proper rehabilitation possible to reduce reoffending.

What is the common thread in all this?  The politicians.

It is their policies that have allowed this subclass to develop, and their policies that have made it possible for this subclass to continue receiving substantial handouts for doing nothing productive with their lives.  The political class has cultivated this problem and refused to correct it.  The politicians must pay a price for what they have allowed to happen and the law abiding majority of this country must now hold them to account.

Keeping an eye on the ball

Away from the media focus on the arson and looting around the country, we should not lose focus of other issues that will still exist when order is restored on the streets. Yesterday, the always insightful Witterings from Witney reminded people of the lack of integrity of The Guardian’s ‘phone hacking’ Investigations Executive Editor, David Leigh.

For it was the message intercepting thrill seeker who was responsible for browbeating Julian Assange for six hours into publishing the US Cables on Wikileaks – an act deemed illegal in the US.  And it was Leigh who made the calculated decision to invite other newspapers to join in the leak-fest in order to reduce the Guardian’s exposure to legal action.

But of course it was Leigh who tried to give Guardian readers the impression Assange had approached The Guardian to publish the cables. Yet another piece of dishonesty in a long line of deceptions, including his ludicrous denial of phone hacking.

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