Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sophy Ridge assists Chuka Umunna in effort to slur David Davis

This morning on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday show Labour's Chuka Umunna was a guest. On the subject of David Davis allegedly trying to give a hug to Diane Abbott and being rebuffed with a curt "fuck off" from the upstanding lady, Sophy Ridge referred to media reports saying that:
In a text to a colleague to say he wouldn't have done it "because I'm not blind".
She then went on to say to Chuka Umunna:
"Now that sounds pretty sexist does it, particularly if it's directed to the first black female MP someone who's suffered from lots of abuse online."
First, how is that in any way sexist, defined as: relating to or characterised by prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex?
Second, what does Diane Abbott being the first black female MP have to do with it and how is that relevant?
Third, how low grade is it that Sophy Ridge's take on journalism is to ask such a blatantly leading question to purposely tee up Umunna to attack Davis and Tories in general, claiming sexism, misogyny and racism when it is clear that Davis did no such thing?

According to Umunna it was appalling and a man allegedly saying about a woman that he wouldn't have tried to hug her "because I'm not blind" has "no place in the Conservative party or British politics full stop". What utter rubbish. Is a woman who says "I'm not blind" when saying why she declined to hug or kiss a man she doesn't find attractive guilty of misandry?

Clearly I must have missed Umunna's similarly forthright condemnation and assertion that there is no place in the Labour party or British politics full stop when Diane Abbott made a clearly racist comment - a genuine offence - tweeting:
"White people love playing 'divide & rule' We should not play their game"
Instead, all Umunna said was:
"Ed Miliband has spoken to her this morning and made it very clear in no uncertain terms that the contents of the tweet were unacceptable."
I've not found Umunna doing anything other than explaining and reiterating what Ed Miliband said. More to the point, where was Sophy Ridge's challenge to Umunna about that evident double standard after she set him up to have a free hit on the Tories? She didn't call him out on his failure to condemn Diane Abbott, who was rightly forced to apologise for her racist comment.

In any case, Davis' alleged comment in a text message was clearly not sexist or misogynist in any way, rather it was about not finding someone appealing. Since when was not finding someone appealing an offence?

What Sophy Ridge did this morning wasn't journalism, it was a deliberate, contrived and cynical attempt to stir a row to generate a headline for the news cycle. This is what the media does, tries to create an argument it can lap up and use to fill news headlines.

Lo and behold, on the Sky News 11.00am news headlines, there were Umunna's comments and accusations being repeated as the second lead news item, after the North Korean missile test, and Sky reporting there are calls for Davis to make a public apology for something that isn't even wrong. Sky even followed up the report with a two-way discussion with their Westminster correspondant about it, elevating imagined offence and manufactured outrage into today's lead political story.

Not finding someone attractive is not sexist, misogynist or an offence. It's a matter of taste. Some men inevitable find Diane Abbott attractive and would like to hug or kiss her. Some men don't. Only a fool would find a wrong in that. Davis, sadly, has since caved in to the witch hunt and made a statement of apology. It is disgraceful. The public is being spoonfed this shit instead of real news and journalism.

I had hoped with her new show Sophy Ridge would bring an incisive and robust interviewing approach to the Sunday morning chat scene, doing more than her counterparts to hold politicians to account using intelligence and evidence. But today demonstrated that Andrew Neil she is not. She's just another of those petty, stirring hacks. The viewing public is being badly let down.

Update: This is what the media manufactured row has now led to...

Friday, 3 February 2017

Brexit can lead to UK 2.0

For too many years the UK has been subjected to a defeatist programme of managed decline. It has weakened and undermined the country and for too many people it has eroded confidence, removed a sense of purpose, curtailed drive and subdued ambition.

Contrary to the negative claims of the noisy rump of holdout Remainers, an independent, self governing UK opens up a myriad of opportunities to transform this country for the better and improve the lot of the British people.

What it means to be independent is slowly dawning on the political class and business, underlined by TheCityUK's u-turn this week, now hailing the “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” Brexit is offering Britain.

After Brexit we will be presented with the ideal moment to begin an overhaul of this country to make it democratic, strong and competitive. It is time to upgrade our country into a modern Britain for a modern era. It's time to develop UK 2.0.

Politics really will mean something again because there will be no EU puppet master directing events beyond the control of our elected politicians. Democratic accountability to a sovereign people is necessary and there needs to be a focus on reining in politicians.

There also needs to be a focus on equipping the UK with what it needs to be strong, prosperous and competitve. That necessitates a new industrial policy where the watchword is quality and the foundation is innovation. There's plenty of market share to be had around the world for high quality goods and services and not everything needs to be produced to be cheap as chips like so many goods from the Far East. It will require a massive investment in technology to support R&D, upgraded production systems, enhanced high speed connectivity and regional incentives for domestic and foreign investment here.

But that can only be realised if there is a revolution in education that not only gets youngsters through the curriculum, but motivates them to pursue exciting and rewarding careers with prospects for good earnings and progression. Enthusing them in STEM subjects to give youngsters equality of opportunity is crucial to our future.

Pride will be a factor in this. Although the UK is a member of many global bodies, being part of the EU means we are forced to let the EU to speak and vote on our behalf. The UK is not allowed to make any direct or substantive contribution to regulatory and standards negotiations. Where is the pride in that? Where can there be a sense that the UK is playing a leading role on the world stage? That will change with Brexit. The UK will speak with its own voice and represent British interests (political and commerical) that have not been diluted by the often competing interests of the EU27. We will once again play an important role on the world stage.

Britain after Brexit will once again get to welcome and send trade delegations around the globe, negotiating agreements on mutually beneficial terms without the spectre of EU protectionism and tariffs. We will have the chance to redevelop a genuine deal making mentality, and the freedom lure businesses to the UK as a low corporate tax jurisdiction. Our agility and adaptability will quickly see confidence grow at home and abroad as people remember we have plenty to offer.

Make no mistake, Brexit is not the solution in itself. But Brexit is an enabler that opens up a myriad of beneficial opportunities that can be seized should the people of the UK have the drive, wit and ambition to take them. We can transform our country for the better. Let's make UK 2.0 a reality.