• Auntie prefers football to politics

    Yesterday’s The Jouker column in The National highlights a prime example of a colonial attitude in the media of the Untied Kingdom.

    There were two two significant resignations on Tuesday, but as The Jouker points out, football – and English football at that – was prioritised on the BBC News website ahead of a major political development in Caerdydd, capital of England’s oldest colony.

    Vaughan Gething, disgraced former firsts minister of CymruThat resignation was of the disgraced First Minister of Cymru, Vaughan Gething, who amongst other things, had refused to step down after, inter alia, losing a vote of confidence and accepting a £200,000 “donation” from a “businessman” convicted of environmental crimes. Gething’s hand was forced by a mass outbreak of ministerial resignations similar to that which ended the premiership of disgraced former alleged party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    Although he’d only been First Minister since March, when the BBC did finally send its political editor down the M4/Great Western railway line to Caerdydd, Chris Mason did helpfully point pout that Gething’s term of office was 2.4 times longer than that of another British premier, one Mary Elizabeth Truss, the ultimate free marketeer whose polices were roundly rejected by the, er, market.

    Former England football manager Gareth SouthgateThe resignation story which took precedence yesterday was that of England football manager Gareth Southgate who managed to get his team to two consecutive European Football Championship finals, yet still disappointed the jingoistic English media by failing (yet again) to win a chunk of international silverware like his predecessor in 1966, Alf Ramsey.

    Why should football take priority over politics? Critics on social media were not slow to notice the choice of priorities made in London, i.e. that only England matters and Wales is a lesser concern, as has been the case ever since Henry VIII’s 16th century Acts of Union.

    There is however precedence for this attitude and it comes from another footballer; and one that is one of Scotland’s greatest football exports, Bill Shankly, who was manager of Liverpool FC from 1959 to 1974, a length of tenure of office which modern football managers can only dream of.

    Shankly is famously on record as rating the importance of football as follows:

    Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.

    The above quote from Shankly can be found here with plenty of others from the sage of Anfield.

  • Scamming the scammer

    Behind its paywall, the Daily Telegraph carries a story about a scam to con the already gullible, Reform UK Party Ltd ‘members’. A non-paywalled version of the article can be read here.

    Headline Reform UK warns members over Nigel Farage online scam

    The pretend political party (it’s actually a limited company in which dodgy former MEP Nigel Farage is the majority shareholder. Ed.) issued an emergency email on Thursday evening after a fraudulent Telegram account bearing Mr Farage’s name told members to donate £200 to it to become a “VIP member” of the party.

    A spokesperson for the party company has said the following:
    At present we are only aware that this scammer is working on Telegram, however we are acutely aware that they could be operating on various other social media and messaging platforms.


    This is a criminal fraudulent endeavour and we are getting in touch with Telegram and the police to have it shut down.

    Your ‘umble scribe would add that anyone foolish enough to have handed money to a charlatan like Farage has already been scammed.

  • Bristol Live exclusive: man given dog’s face

    Cross-species organ transplants – a technique also known as xenotransplantation – are becoming more common in modern medicine.

    Such transplants usually involve pig or cow organs, but a new species has now entered the list of donor transplant species, according to today’s Bristol Live/(Evening) Post.

    Headline reads Man has face rebuilt by surgeons after it was ripped off his dog.

    However, judging from the headline the means by which the victim’s rebuilt face was provided sounds brutal, almost as if it was performed with malicious intent and without the use of anaesthetics, unless of course the author didn’t proof-read his piece adequately and failed to notice the absence of a simple two-letter preposition. 😀

  • Trolled by donkeys

    The Columbine Centre in the Essex coastal town of Walton-on-the-Naze has not been renowned as a venue with a history of political drama.

    Until now.

    Yesterday the good folk from Led By Donkeys – in their own words – “dropped in on Farage’s election rally with a beaming picture of Putin. Nigel was not pleased“.

    Farage is on record as far back as 2014 in expressing his admiration for Vladimir Vladimirovich and his gangster regime in the Kremlin. Moreover, Farage has faced criticism in recent weeks for his outrageous statement that the western democracies are responsible for provoking Russia to invade Ukraine.

    In addition, Farage has also vehemently denied any Russian interference or involvement in the divisive 2016 Brexit referendum, a fact helped by British establishment reluctance to investigate such claims.

  • Election special: Tories pretend to be HMRC

    There’s only a week to go until the vote for the Untied Kingdom’s general election to end 14 years of Tory misrule will be taking place.

    A wipeout of Conservative members of parliament has been/is being widely predicted, which will give the opposition Labour party what is now being erroneously called a supermajority. For the sake of clarity, a supermajority is a otherwise known as a qualified majority. Older readers may recognise that what is being actually being talked of is in fact a phenomenon known as an elective dictatorship, a thumping great parliamentary majority that makes political opposition little more than tokenistic, a subject tackled by Quintin Hogg in his 1976 Richard Dimbleby Lecture.

    As is usual, this general election has seen its fair share of bad behaviour, which was first documented by the likes of William Hogarth in the mid-18th century.

    Chairing the Member from William Hogarth's 1755 Humours of an Election series. Image courtesy pf Wikimedia Commons.
    Chairing the Member from William Hogarth’s 1755 Humours of an Election series. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    The most egregious bad behaviour so far in the current campaign has been the Conservative election betting scandal, which has so far implicated 15 Tory candidates and officials who are being investigated by the Gambling Commission for using inside knowledge to place bets and gain unfair pecuniary advantage.

    However, more bad behaviour by the Blue Team was uncovered earlier today by Alan Beattie who writes opinion pieces for the Financial Times, namely impersonation, trying to pass themselves off as a different organisation, in this case HMRC.

    Mr Beattie has today posted the following on the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

    Post reads Government: make sure you don't fall for phishing scams from people doing fake HMRC letters. Conservatives: here's election material made to make you think it's an HMRC letter.

    Mr Beattie’s post contains 2 screenshots, the first of which is from the HMRC section of the government’s website, informing visitors what to look out for in genuine content and/or information from the tax authorities.

    Screenshot of HMRC spot the scam web page

    The other screenshot shows a letter to small businesses from the Conservative Party and purporting to come from an organisation calling itself Briefing for Business. Anyone who has been in communication with the tax authorities will immediately notice how the letter mimics the fonts, layout and colours used by HMRC. The giveaway is that all party political materials must bear an imprint indicating who is responsible for publishing the material and for whom they’re promoting it.

    Screenshot of post from Conservatives showing letter to business mimicking fonts, style and colours used by HMRC in correspondence

    Your ‘umble scribe is aware that in the past political parties have passed themselves off as their opponents in election materials in an attempt to discredit them, but this is the first time he can remember a party trying to mimic a government department; if you know differently, please post details in the comments below.

    And finally…

    Don’t forget to vote and never forget that the emphasis on Conservatives is on the first syllable, i.e. con. 😀

  • Medical reasons or patriotism?

    Ever since the organs of the fourth estate starting getting rid of sub-editors to save costs and boost profits, bad journalism seems to be becoming the norm rather than the exception, as anyone who reads the press with a critical eye will quickly discover.

    The European Football Championships currently taking place in Germany are already proving to be a rich source of inaccuracy (posts passim) and flights of hyperbole with no foundation.

    Today’s Guardian provides a fine example today of the latter, as evidenced by the screenshot below.

    Headline - Mbappé to wear mask for France after breaking nose?

    For France, Grauniad; for the glory of the Republic? The prominence of for France suggests to your correspondent that the main reason for Killian having to wear a mask was patriotism, at least in the mind of the headline writer.

    The BBC reports that the French Football Federation said a mask will be made for their captain, and quotes a spokesperson as saying, “He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately.” So there is no hint that the mask will be worn for reasons of patriotism, but every suggestion that medical and prophylactic motives are involved.

    Update 21/06/2024: Mbappé now has the above-mentioned mask and it’s not only custom-made but a patriotic one too in the colours of the French tricolour.

  • BBC exclusive: police turn axe into firearm

    As any fool knows, there is a world of difference between edged and bladed weapons such as axes and knives which are used at arm’s length and ranged weapons used at a distance and firing projectiles such as arrows, bullets, shells and the like.

    Today’s BBC news site features a world exclusive: the Hamburg police have been able to convert an axe so it fires bullets, thus coming up with a combined edged/bladed and ranged weapon; or if that is not the case, that’s one interpretation that can be placed on the headline in the following screenshot.

    Headline - Hamburg police shoot man with axe ahead of Euros match

    If by some chance the German police have not pulled off this incredible feat, somewhere in the depths of Broadcasting House, there is likely some hapless person who fell asleep in or was absent from school English lessons or media studies lectures when the subject of ambiguity – i.e. the quality of something having more than one possible meaning – was brought up.

    To save the hapless BBC hack any future embarrassment, your ‘umble scribe suggests that she or he visits Al Jazeera’s piece on the incident to learn how to write an unambiguous headline as per the screenshot below. Note the use of the hyphen, BBC person. 😀

    Headline - German police shoot axe-wielding suspect before Euro 2024 match in Hamburg

    One final thing: the item being carried by the person shot by Hamburg police was not actually an axe, but a slate hammer* (Schieferhammer), a tool used by roofers. This was confirmed by finding a German language media report of the incident, where Schieferhammer figures prominently in the headline. The BBC was not the only British media outlet to misreport the item used by the police’s assailant; the Independent had the man attacking police with a pickaxe.

    * = Also known as a slater’s hammer. The photo below illustrates how it could be mistaken for a pickaxe (the hammer in question can just be seen in screenshot of the Al Jazeera report. Ed.). However, how the BBC managed to construe it as an axe is beyond your ‘umble scribe’s ken.

    Slate/slater's hammer

  • Monoglot Saxons screw up badly west of Offa’s Dyke

    Election time is the time for political gaffes by all involved in politics, a profession which has in the past been described as show business for ugly people.

    There’s been alleged prime minister Rishi Sunak accused of being a D-Day dodger by slipping away early from the 80th anniversary commemorations of Operation Overlord to do an interview with ITV. Liberal Democrat supremo Ed Davey has been filmed and photographed variously falling off objects or into water in miscellaneous stunts masquerading as political campaigning, whilst over in the Labour camp, all of its control freakery could not stop Keir Starmer being heckled at the party’s manifesto launch.

    Minor parties like the Greens or regional parties like the Scottish Nation Party and Plaid Cymru or in the occupied six counties of Ireland have struggled to get coverage in the mainstream British media, which has concentrated almost 100% of its coverage on the residents of the Westminster bubble, seemingly believing that what has been billed as a British general election is a strictly English matter.

    However, the regional press is providing its own election coverage beyond the constricting noose of the M25 London orbital car park, particularly when it comes the English political class screwing up badly in the devolved regions as Nation Cymru reports on a glaring linguistic cock-up by the Nigel Farage Fascist Fan Club Ltd., which masquerades as a political party called Reform UK.

    Farage’s fanbois and girls have been accused of a cavalier attitude towards the Welsh language after a party political broadcast used mistranslated copy in a political broadcast shown on Welsh television stations, as per the screenshot below.

    Screenshot from BBC iPlayer showing mistranslated text

    Nation Cymru helpfully states how Reform had mangled its simplistic message – Britain is broken. Britain needs Reform – in Cymraeg:

    Whilst the words ‘Prydain’ and ‘angen’ individually translate to word for word copies of ‘Britain’ and ‘need’, when used together it in fact should have been “Mae angen Reform ar Brydain”.

    The article points out that Google Translate – a tool not noted for the accuracy of a its output – managed a better translation than Reform UK did. One unnamed person quoted by Nation Cymru summarised the problem as follows:

    “This does not look particularly respectful of the Welsh people and their language. It also shows a cavalier attitude towards accuracy.”

    However, Reform’s – and Farage’s – cavalier attitude does not stop at the Welsh language. It has a wide embrace, encompassing those annoyingly important little things known to ordinary people as facts.

  • Vos passeports, s.v.p. !

    An irony of our times came to light at the 80th anniversary D-Day celebrations as yet another dubious Brexit bonus emerged, further illustrating the Untied Kingdom’s third country EU status, as well as depicting a bureaucratic obstacle not faced by those arriving in Normandy on 6th June 1944.

    The screenshot below of a post on X/Twitter by the Brexitshambles account needs no further comment, apart from to add that the parachutists not only had to show their passports, but get them stamped too, so that officials can check in future whether they’ve overstayed their maximum term of 90 days in a European Union member state. 😀

    Post reads - So you thought we'd reached Peak Brexit? Watch British Paratroopers who after being dropped into Sannerville, France, to commemorate D-Day, had to show their passports to the French Douane... @Nigel Farage must be so proud

    Update: 07/06/2024: Today’s Guardian has reported on the above incident, noting that ‘while immigration checks for British troops on exercise abroad are routine, doing so at a public commemoration is deemed exceptional‘.

  • General election – the trolling begins

    Yesterday the unelected prime minister of the Untied Kingdom, one Rishi Sunak, standing at a lectern in the pouring rain in Downing Street, announced to the assembled media sheltering under umbrellas and tarpaulins that a general election would be held on 4th July, an historic date given that in 1776, England’s north American colonies unanimously declared their desire to secede.

    To many Mr. Sunak’s announcement was utterly bizarre. It was poorly managed, badly staged and had the unmistakable feel of an impetuous last minute decision, never mind the fact that the alleged prime minister was almost drowned out by Steve ‘Mr Stop Brexit’ Bray playing D:Ream’s Things Can Only Gert Better on a portable sound system in Whitehall.

    The Guardian’s political sketch writer John Crace had lots of fun with Sunak’s soggy discomfiture, with his latest piece, entitled ‘ Cringing in the rain: soggy Rish! kickstarts his farewell tour‘.

    However, it was not just professional journalists like Mr Crace who were having fun at Fishy Rishi’s expense yesterday. There was plenty of response to the unexpected news on social media too.

    One stand-out contribution to this came from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which posted a very barbed comment at Mr Sunak and his Conservative Party which has been notoriously anti-trade union since the inception of the organised labour movement, mischievously recommending that Mr Sunak should join a union if he was being mistreated at work.

    Forced to work in the rain unnecessarily? Join a union.

    In addition, the X/Twitter account allegedly run by Larry, the Downing Street cat (also known as the Chief Mouser to the Treasury. Ed.), also joined in the fun, giving full rein to the belief that cats are allergic to rain.

    Lots of people asking me where I was when Sunak announced the election. I was inside, because it was raining. Only an idiot would have gone out in that... #GeneralElection

    It has noted by some that the timing of Sunak’s announcement is rather curious. Was it really timed to knock the Post Office Horizon public inquiry and the contaminated blood scandal off newspaper front pages?

    Have your say in the comments below.

    No doubt lots more banter and trolling will be forthcoming over the next weeks…

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