Tuesday, October 06, 2009 

Paxman vs Johnson.

Some seem to be having something approaching a sense of humour bypass over last night's performance of Paxman vs Johnson, but I'll be damned if this wasn't the funniest political interview in years, even if it doesn't really have the greatness of Paxman vs Howard or Paxman vs Blears:

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008 


Finally, a politician has the guts to challenge David Cameron over our "Broken Society":

If you believe the British press, the youth of today is aimless, feckless and hopeless, addicted to their PlayStations, lacking in respect and lacking in the emotional discipline needed to cope with a big match occasion.

If you believe the politicians, we have a broken society, in which the courage and morals of young people have been sapped by welfarism and political correctness.

And if you look at what is happening at the Beijing Olympics, you can see what piffle that is. Do not adjust your set: that really is a collection of smiling, well-balanced young British people, giving pleasingly self-deprecating accounts of how they have managed to haul in medal after medal after medal.

Which politically correct left-wing lunatic dares to be so optimistic in the face of such overwhelming evidence of how awful and atomised we are? Err, Boris Johnson. Doubtless he will be swiftly treated to a re-education session courtesy of CCHQ and Andy Coulson.

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Friday, July 04, 2008 

On the travails of Boris and throwing things out the pram.

Justin asks what those of us who suggested some on the left were throwing their toys out of their pram on the election of Boris Johnson are feeling now that only 2 months in things seem to be going rather badly for Bo-Jo.

More than fair enough, as I used more or less those exact words at the time, although it should be pointed out I more objected to the view that people had voted for Boris for a joke rather than because of his record or policies against Ken's.

My second point was about the idea that Boris would be a disaster, and Liberal Conspiracy handily has a rather extensive list of "gaffes and controversies" already. The thing is generally the rather thinness of the list. Is Ray Lewis's resignation really a mistake on Boris Johnson's part or is it Lewis himself not being completely honest on his past? It looks embarrassing at the moment, but in a few months I would wager that no one will even remember who he was. Similarly, the hoo-hah about James McGrath and his swift despatching in fact reflected the fact that Johnson and the Tories as a whole are determined not to get caught up in the drip-drip of scandal which dogged Ken Livingstone towards the end of his tenure. That Lewis jumped ship far sooner than Lee Jasper did, even though the list of offences against Lewis, apart from his direct lie over being a JP is more minor that against Jasper also shows how sensitive and concerned the Tories are over Johnson's potential for embarrassing them.

The Independent Forensic Audit Panel sure looks like an attempt to defame Livingstone after the fact and is to be condemned, but accusing Policy Exchange of running things behind the scenes is pretty poor. The point about Socialist Action was that it was some far-left cabal, and let's face it, Policy Exchange is centre-right Cameroonies writ large with a grudge against Muslims. It's little surprise they're involved. Have to agree over Simon Milton, if only because of his links with Shirley Porter.

The Rise festival thing is a typical Tory u-turn, but whether many Londoners will care or not is another matter. Drinking on the tube, as some of the commenters suggest, isn't really a gaffe; if anything was a gaffe it was the utterly moronic parties on the last Saturday on the tube which were only going to end up one way and helped justify the unjustifable. Again, it might come down to what your definition of gaffe is on the press conferences, it seems more like an atypical politican's decision.

Now, a real policy disaster ought to have been the doubling of the bus fares on the poor, but again, what do you expect from any sort of Tory? The time to pursue Johnson over his real intentions was during the campaign, but instead what most on the left managed was either "Boris is an idiot and whoever votes for him is an idiot" or "he'll be an incompetent disaster". This list doesn't really show that he's incompetent; it shows that he's a Conservative politician.

The good thing about Johnson's victory is that now some virulent and ruthless individuals are dedicating blogs and other things to watching him, something we know the Evening Standard won't do, but as well as exposing his failures what also needs to be done is to build an alternative that can win the Mayorality back in four years' time. At the moment there's no one at all on the scene, or even an alternative party. We're still more concerned about what Ken thinks than anyone else, and he's not going to run again and he's not going to win again. It's not even as if some of us on the left really want Boris to fail because it might perusade the country at large that Cameron and co can't be trusted with being back in power: so many of us are fed up with New Labour in any form that the Blairite Tories look just like another set of bastards in slightly sharper suits and with slightly posher accents. In any case, we shouldn't be throwing brickbats at each other, but instead be uniting to find that alternative. Boris was never a better option than Ken, but pretending that he was an idiot or obviously going to be incompetent was a poor ploy. Next time we have to do better.

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Monday, June 23, 2008 

Taking your ball while sending someone else home.

You're fired!

The sacking of James McGrath, Boris Johnson's chief political adviser, probably tells us less about whether he's racist, whether Boris is racist or whether it was a politically correct decision made out of blind panic than it does about Johnson's determination to not go down the route that did damage over time to Ken Livingstone - his tendency to make off the cuff remarks which he then refused to apologise for.

As to whether it was racist, to begin with, my immediate thought was that no, it wasn't, and that it was a ridiculous decision to force him out over it. However, as Sunny reminds us, the remark which McGrath came back with in response to Darcus Howe's own daft comment that some from Caribbean nations might return following Johnson's election, was the old response to any complaint from an ethnic minority - if you don't like it, you can always get out and go back home, as if here wasn't their home. With McGrath himself hailing from Australia, it's quite possible that he isn't aware of this sort of legacy, and that it was a simple off the cuff response to what was a hardly a penetrating critique of Johnson. I still don't believe it was racist, but I can quite understand why some have been offended or at the least perturbed by it.

It's curious then as to why Johnson, McGrath and David Cameron, whom Johnson apparently personally consulted before acting didn't just do what his predecessor Ken notoriously serially failed to do - to simply apologise and make clear that no offence was intended. Instead, what they did to begin with was to shoot the messenger, McGrath firing off a response to the-latest.com and Marc Wadsworth's piece that objects to the title of the piece, "Blacks should 'go home if they don't like Mayor', and which is probably warranted, as it doesn't provide the context that the actual text does. Doubtless the Johnson campaign didn't object so fiercely however when the Evening Standard did this on a number of occassions during the contest itself. The next step was to legally threaten the Guardian, and then finally once McGrath was history, Johnson's own statement said that his comment "was taken out of context and distorted."

The whole incident is reminisicent of Cameron swiftly moving to sack Patrick Mercer after he made similarly misjudged but also not racist comments about what routinely happens in the army. More offensive in that was what was not so well covered: that Mercer also said that ethnic minority soldiers sometimes covered up for their own laziness by claiming that they were discriminated against. It's not so much the merits of each case however but the ruthlessness with which Cameron acted in both cases - Mercer was out before anyone could defend him, and so it was also with McGrath. This certainly doesn't seem to be because Cameron was worried about the impact of being accused of giving succour to racism, no matter how relatively benign, but because it affects what he's really after: power.

It's not a new revelation that the Conservatives were terrified that Boris was going to do what Boris does best and make a huge cock-up during his campaign for Mayor, hence why he was so careful and covered by his advisers and spin doctors during it. With him now Mayor, they're similarly worried that in the two years to the next election that he's going to do something that will allow Labour to paint the entire Cameron revolution as either a sham or as incompetent; what they didn't expect was that one of his own advisers would make it, or do it so quickly. Hence his almost immediate ejection, even if it would raise the Tory roots in short-lived anger over "politicial correctness". Much was the same over Patrick Mercer, but it was quickly forgotten. Johnson and Cameron's thinking and hope is that it will be the same this time round, and there's nothing to suggest that anything else will be the case.

McGrath's "crime" is probably far less inciteful that another of Livingstone's jibes, which is actually remarkably similar, when he said of the Reuben brothers, "[P]erhaps if they’re not happy here they can go back to Iran and try their luck with ayatollahs, if they don’t like the planning regime or my approach." Some at the time suggested that was another of Livingstone's antisemitic remarks, as the Reubens were Jewish, which was slightly far fetched. As far as I'm aware, Livingstone again didn't apologise. In both cases, a simple "sorry" and a clarification would have sufficed rather than a instant dismissal. What is apparent however is that Cameron and Johnson don't really care that much about racism; what they care most about is their own political careers. Anything that threatens them must be liquated post haste.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008 

Why Ken lost to Boris.

There's only one thing that's less attractive than gloating, and that's petulance and sulking. While some Tories are gloating, some on the left are throwing their toys out of the pram, and most of all, it comes back to two separate but connected ideas: that Boris is a joke and some of those who voted for him did so directly because of this; and secondly, that Boris will be a disaster. Watching Boris over the weeks leading up to the election proved that he is not a joke, a buffoon, or an idiot, if he ever was. He was not a match for Ken in my eyes, but well over a hundred thousand other individuals thought different. Moreover, those performances persuaded a huge number of voters that he would not be a disaster, and what's more, despite his stewardship of the Spectator through the more rough times, his constituency work shows that although the job of London Mayor is a huge step up, he ought to be a match for it. Pretending that he was otherwise was the first major mistake, and one that a lot are still making.

Apart from not taking Boris seriously, why else did Ken lose?

1) The 8 years factor. If 8 years is long enough for the US President, then it's enough for the London Mayor. It would be different if, like in the national election, you were voting for a party rather than an individual, but this was a battle primarily fought on personalities. Ken was always going to suffer from the "change" factor. Ken doesn't deserve any blame for trying for a third term, but it was always going to be a uphill struggle.

2) The assiduous work of Lynton Crosby in targeting the suburbs worked fantastically well, the turnout rising while Ken's constituencies were more apathetic. Ken's people worked extraordinarily hard, but in the end they just couldn't match it.

3) Genuine distaste for Ken. This went far beyond the cliched stereotypical few who hated him from the beginning -- his lack of humility up until he finally was beaten made it ever more difficult to sympathise with him. Calling a Jewish Evening Standard journalist a concentration camp guard and not apologising for it? Urging businessmen who weren't Iranian to take their chances with the Ayatollahs? Not dispatching Lee Jasper until the damage had been done, while alleging that all those who were questioning him were racist? His complete and utter, disgraceful defence of Ian Blair? All of these things hurt, and they added up over time.

4) The festering sore which was the Evening Standard's coverage. If this had been the equivalent of the Sun in 1992, then it wouldn't have made any difference. Instead this was the constant drip-drip-drip of real scandal, hyperbole and smear, going on over a number of months. As Toynbee said in one of her rare moments of clarity, those voting may not actually read the paper, but they do so the billboards all over London, and they get under the skin.

5) Lack of real difference with Boris over policy. Yes, Ken's policies on transport and housing were significantly different, but elsewhere Boris was forced over time as Sunny argues onto Livingstone's territory. This further forced the emphasis onto the personalities, and Johnson in contrast to Ken was fresh and worth a gamble on.

6) The monumental cock-up over the Olympics' cost. Londoners are going to be paying for this millstone around their necks for years to come, and while Livingstone was at least more honest about it than the obscurantist which is Tessa Jowell, he was still partly responsible.

7) Transport. As much as Ken had success on transport, for those without an Oyster card £4.00 for one trip on the Tube is obscene, while bendy buses, although seemingly an arcane issue for those of us outside London, also hurt, even if Johnson's numbers on Routemasters were ludicrous. Then we have those still angry about the congestion charge, not to mention the justified but obviously controversial £25 fee for the most polluting vehicles, then finally the low emissions zone.

8) Connection with Labour at large. Although Livingstone has always been separate from New Labour, he couldn't help but be lumped by some in with Brown and the polls in the local elections showed how this must have hurt him at least slightly.

9) Ken's friends. Sigh. Where to begin on this one? Al-Qaradawi, Jasper, Muslims 4 Ken, all must have put some voters off. The Guardian's article on the day by Zoe fucking Williams also didn't help.

10) Ken himself. At times during the campaign he looked utterly worn out. The allegations about his "drink problem" also must have had some impact.

11) And finally. Not courting second-preference votes persistently enough, or even explaining the system repeatedly and properly so that everyone realised how it works. The alliance with the Greens was a smart move, but the Left List vote collapsed so didn't help as much as it might have done. Not enough was done to court the Liberal Democrat voters' to go for Ken second, although Paddick's performance was poor in any case.

This isn't a time to be despondent. 4 years is a very long time in politics, and by then, with a different, fresh and representative candidate, the left could very well win the position back, especially if Johnson does turn out to be not up to the job. Ken's time had passed, and up against such a strong insurgency, he couldn't match up. This is the message to take, not that Londoners are morons, voting for an idiot and deserve everything they get. Don't despair; it's time to build again.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008 

How not to persuade people to vote Ken.

However much you dislike Boris, you can't help but warm to him slightly when the Grauniad of all papers decides to run such a pathetic hatchet job on him as they did today in G2. Perhaps they were intending to level the balance somewhat with the Evening Standard's blatant propagandising for Boris, but it instead comes across as a last ditch, desperate effort to try to prop up Ken's campaign, something that isn't even necessary in the first place. Handing the entire piece to the execrable Zoe Williams, who when she isn't blabbering witlessly about her new baby or editing Wikipedia is writing such bilge as this pointless piece on Miley Cyrus was a bad move, but surely not as bad as one as asking such distinguished Londoners as Vivienne Westwood, Will Self, Bonnie Greer, Arabella Weir, Inayat Bunglawala and Mark Ravenhill why Ken not winning would be unthinkable. Just to top things off, it then lists everything that Boris has ever said or written that might be construed as offensive, including the numerous quotes that have grown so tedious that they'd be enough to almost make you thing Boris might have had a point in the first place.

There's no doubt that Ken is the least worst candidate that can win, but making out it would be the end of the world if Boris won, as well as smearing him as a racist when he is clearly not will have done nothing to help Livingstone whatsoever. Sometimes you have to wonder if the Guardian is so self-loathing that it almost wants everyone else to hate it.

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Friday, April 25, 2008 

Scum-watch: Backing Boris.

While I was away the Sun came out for Boris. The Tory Troll offers his thoughts on Liberal Conspiracy.

Not to get too deep into this, or to indulge too much in Sun Kremlinology, but as we know because he's told us, the Sun wouldn't have come to the decision to back Boris without Murdoch himself giving the OK. On the surface, it's a no-brainer: Livingstone and the right-wing press have in the past, and right up to the present day in the Evening Standard's case, had a relationship akin to that of Tina and Ike Turner. They hated him, and he hates them even more, even though he's taken money off both the Standard and the Sun in the past by writing for them. Boris might be a buffoon, but he's an buffoon that'll sell newspapers, is the Troll's view.

The decision is interesting from my perspective because as previously noted, Murdoch doesn't necessarily support the candidate that has the most in common with his own views, he supports those who are going to win, and who are least likely to affect his business interests. The two are also inter-linked: Murdoch gives support, leader/party ensures that nothing untoward happens to his interests, hence why Blair so viciously shot down anyone who dared to squeak against the Sun or otherwise. Johnson, however, is certainly not the dead cert that Blair was in 97 when the Sun, after being the most Thatcherite of Thatcherite papers, became the most Blairite of Blairite papers. Indeed, today's latest poll shows that Ken has gone back into the lead.

Murdoch's reasoning seems to be thus: if Johnson wins, and does well, then it will be a perfect springboard for the paper to then put its weight behind Cameron's Conservatives, who up until recently both he and the Sun have mostly either ignored or put down. If Johnson wins and does badly, then it'll help inform whether he duly does decide that the Conservatives are worth supporting once again. If Ken wins and Murdoch and the Sun end up with egg on their face, then it doesn't matter on the scale that it would if the Sun backed the wrong side in a general election. As always, whatever happens, Murdoch wins, and we lose.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008 

The Evening Standard and the London Mayoral election.

Not living inside London, I hadn't quite realised just how nasty, bitter or personal the Mayoral election, or as it would be more accurately described, the Mayoral battle, had become. I'd read a few accounts of how the Evening Standard seems to have turned itself into little more than a propaganda sheet for Boris Johnson in the past few weeks but didn't quite believe that it could be all that bad.

Taking a short trip on the train to the next town (I went to see the Long Blondes, who were excellent. Their lead, Kate Jackson, came out afterwards and was letting everyone take photographs with her, which is always nice to see) means you can always pick up the discarded detritus left behind by the commuters, varying from those wastes of paper which are the free celebrity scandal sheets (Metro, London Lite, TheLondonPaper) to if you're lucky a decent broadsheet. As well as an Independent, I picked up an Evening Standard. Today's headline? SUICIDE BOMB BACKER RUNS KEN'S CAMPAIGN.

Score one for being misleading, as a suicide bomb backer is not running Ken Livingstone's actual re-election campaign, as many would doubtless think the story implies. Instead, the report relates how an "Evening Standard investigation" has discovered a group calling itself "Muslims 4 Ken". Again, the Standard's main problem is not with "Muslims 4 Ken", which has been set-up by Anas Altikriti, but rather with one of M4K's backers, who happens to be none other than Azzam Tamimi, the Hamas apologist who has suggested on a number of occasions that he's willing to become a suicide bomber in Israel/Palestine and also said that "[F]or us Muslims martyrdom is not the end of things, but the beginning of the most wonderful of things".

Again, fair enough you might think. Tamimi's another of those brand of Islamist gobshites that are all mouth and no actual action, justifying murder and apologising for Hamas while failing to attempt to build for a lasting peace in the Middle East, but this is hardly new information. Despite their attempt to build links between Livingstone and the Muslims 4 Ken organisation, the connections are tenuous at best. What's more, the list of those who signed the Muslims 4 Ken original declaration were posted up on Comment is Free back in January, and it seems with little apparent acknowledgement back then. Salma Yaqoob, the Respect councillor in Birmingham and one of the signatories, is also one of those mentioned in the article, declaring the 7/7 attacks were "reprisal events". Much as I disagreed with Respect's failed attempt at communalism with Muslim organisations on the political right, something that was always doomed, Yaqoob has been a forceful campaigner and to smear her in such a fashion is wholly unfair. It seems to be even further clutching at straws by connecting the "Islamophobia Watch" blog into the campaign. IW, ran by Martin Sullivan, who may or may not be aka Bob Pitt, according to Johann Hari, and described by Indigo Jo as either a Marxist who runs the "What's Left" journal, or a Labour party member (Martin Sullivan appears as a contributor to What's Left, which hardly helps clear up the confusion), is more an aggregator of which mainstream media article MS (or BP) decides are Islamophobic or err, not, as he also links to articles which are friendly towards Islam. The Evening Standard also links Anas Altikriti to the Muslim Association of Britain, and while I'm not going to dispute that entirely, it seems more likely he's associated with the British Muslim Initiative, both of which are alleged by the Harry's Place crew to be "clerical fascist" offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Perhaps more pertinent to the publication of the article today is something mentioned right back in the opening paragraph:

A year-long strategy to mobilise the Muslim vote for Ken moves into overdrive this week, accompanied by a campaign of vilification aimed at Boris.

Happily, today was also the day that Soumaya Ghannoushi, the world's worst commenter on Islam, blessed the Grauniad with this flimsy to say the least article attacking dear old Boris, linking him directly with the BNP after they advised their voters to give him their second preference, right in line with the Evening Standard's claims of a coming campaign:

Given Johnson's record on minorities, his endorsement by the far right as a second-preference candidate seems understandable, shocking though it may be. This signifies a worrying precedent in the history of the BNP - notwithstanding Johnson's claim that he has no wish "to receive a single second-preference vote from a BNP supporter". Never before has the BNP felt sufficiently fond of a mainstream mayoral candidate to lend him or her its support.

Ghannoushi, just in case you didn't notice, was a signatory of the CiF piece back in January. Her article today is nonsense of course, as has much of the campaigning against Boris been on the basis of his ill-advised and clearly racist, if not intended maliciously remarks about "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles", which Boris must surely know is almost a direct quotation from Enoch Powell's notorious "rivers of blood" speech, and indeed, it seems likely he was alluding to it, even if he was writing about those meeting the Queen during a visit to Africa. In any event, he's apologised for any offence caused, something that Ken Livingstone failed on numerous occasions to do when he compared Oliver Finegold to a concentration camp guard, even if he was drunk and being doorstepped after a friend's party.

Just for a moment, let's take the Muslims 4 Ken group seriously, or rather the Evening Standard seriously in their suggestion that they could help up to 200,000 Muslims vote for Livingstone. Even if we give them credit in persuading just a quarter of them to vote for Ken, the British National Party vote in 2004's election was 58,000 strong, and if anything seems likely to increase this time round. Instead, we ought to take the Muslims 4 Ken group as something approaching an embarrassment, as David T from Harry's Place does in this typical piece of Decent Left demanding that others condemn a group whose support they didn't ask for in the first place. He writes:

This endorsement by the MAB/Muslim Brotherhood is utterly worthless. This group has little traction in this country, and few voters, if any, will be influenced by their support.

Quite so. The same goes for the entire Muslims 4 Ken group. Condemning them is an utter waste of time; they're simply not worth the bother, while condemning the BNP certainly is, although banning them from advertising does nothing whatsoever to help a genuine democratic process.

This sniping and personal targeting of both Boris and Ken is a result of two factors: firstly, that regardless of what the candidates say and all their clever, shiny manifestos on what they'll do on crime etc, their powers are comparatively slight; and, because of this, the contest has instead moved on to personalities. Ken is at a disadvantage because of his period in office, which according to your various predilections, has either been a triumph or an absolute disaster. The one policy which resonates out from his two terms is the congestion charge, which again can be either celebrated or dismissed according to your personal preference. Everything else tends to blur: hence why his gaffes, or ill-thought through or stupid decisions that have amounted to incitement, like his invitation of the vile Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is moderate in the Azzam Tamimi sense that he denounces terrorism against the West while justifying and even providing fatwas allowing Palestinian terrorism, at least while he's not also supporting the murder of homosexuals or female genital mutilation, and his wholesale support for Iain Blair and apologia for the Met's execution of Jean Charles de Menezes, are so uppermost when deciding who to plump for.

Johnson's various faux pas' have been equally played up accordingly, but his biggest advantage or disadvantage is just that, his bumbling, upper-class foppish persona. How much of it is an act has always been difficult to say, but it's obvious that if he was as genuinely haywire as he seems when he appears in public that he wouldn't have risen to edit the Spectator, or even become an MP. I might seem reasonably gregarious and self-aware writing here, but meet me in real life and you'd probably find that I'm a shy, introverted, monosyllabic moron, because I err, am. This is why attacking him for just that has always been so dangerous: Michael Portillo called on him to either be a comedian or a politician, but that's a false dichotomy; without the charm Boris wouldn't be Boris, and no one would be interested, yet that's exactly what he doubtless is like when he actually gets in the editing chair or in the Mayor's office itself. If behind the clown or comedian's mask there's actually someone crying or desperate for help, then Boris is no different.

Considering the only other issue constantly raised is the seemingly arcane debate over bendy buses or Routemasters, it's little wonder that the debate has turned to personalities. Despite all the other candidates, the fight is between two disguised clowns, with a straight man in the shape of a former police officer also resorting to nasty personal attacks trying to battle his way into the fray. If I had a vote I'd be tempted to say sod the lot of them and waste it entirely by voting Green and Left List or vice versa, despite my misgivings over both of those as well. The lesser of two evils, despite all his failings, does appear to be Ken, but the noise reverberating especially from the Evening Standard makes it even more difficult to tell. As Michael White writes, the ES has published some excellent journalism investigating Livingstone and his funding of suspicious organisations, not to mention Lee Jasper, but it's also carried some utter nonsense, like today's article seemingly out of a vendetta or obsession to get rid of him. This wouldn't make much difference if the London media market was more open, but it isn't; the ES is the only paper distributed across the capital with a solid political message and agenda. The result itself will go down to the wire, but politics in the capital as a whole looks increasingly grubby.

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Friday, September 21, 2007 

Usmanov and Schillings-watch: The web bites back.

I said on yesterday's post that Schillings really didn't know who they were messing with, and the overwhelming response from bloggers not just here in the UK but across the globe has rather vindicated it. Justin is already tracking 121 blogs that have posted on the actions of Usmanov's lackeying legal losers, and there are likely to be dozens more which haven't been identified yet.

Only MediaGrauniad and the Mirror (in the form of a Kevin Maguire blog post) have so far picked up on it from the MSM, but there's bound to be other pieces in tomorrow's press following the story up, especially considering that Boris Johnson has denounced the fact that his blog, set up by Tim and Clive, is among those to have been brought down by Fasthosts capitulation. Their claim that Tim and Clive had failed to remove the content in question is laughable; both Tim and Clive had more than accommodated Schillings' requests over what had to be removed. Quite simply, this had moved on from being a matter based on the posting of so-called defamatory material to a vendetta against the web-hosts. Schillings' problem is that it knows full well that Craig Murray has plenty of evidence to back up his original allegations, and the fact that they haven't served him personally with a writ, as he has requested, only proves the shallowness of their actions. They couldn't get the ball, so they decided to take out the men instead. Their reputation, backed up on their website by the laughable case studies currently being mocked across the "blogosphere", was at stake: too bad that they cared too much about that to notice that other well-known political figures were being hosted by Tim and Clive.

Indeed, if there was ever an example of blogging blowback, this is it. Dozens more blogs are now mirroring Craig's original post which started this whole mess; Arsenal fans and others who previously wouldn't have come across some of the unsavoury information about the possible future owner are now able to see him for the freedom of speech denying obese toad that he is; and the mainstream media itself, previously threatened before it had even printed a word about Usmanov are able to point their readers' in the direction of information they otherwise wouldn't have mentioned.

More pertinently to the legal side of things, it's understandably caused a commendable discussion about the ridiculous and discriminatory nature of our libel laws, now notorious for being a beacon for every tycoon, tyrant and half-wit with a grievance about an unpleasant article/book written about themselves to come and try their luck through our court system. Unity suggests that if any of us are ever called to serve on a libel jury, we move to return a not guilty verdict on the grounds that the law is an ass, as previously used during the Clive Ponting trial. Others are talking of a campaign along the lines of the current one over Iraqi employees of the armed forces. Others still are remarking on Usmanov's suitability to become Arsenal owner, should he succeed in an eventual takeover bid, something he's now raised the possibility of, noting the FA's recently adopted rules.

Now the cat's out of the bag, Schillings are going to quickly learn that it's going to be next to impossible to put this particularly agile, modern and digital pussy back in.

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