Free Speech is dead in Britain. I learned this on a BBC programme called Free Speech

Free-Speech

Is it just my imagination or was there a widely publicised report a few weeks ago by a professor called Alexis Jay describing in clinical detail how at least 1400 mostly underage girls were groomed, drugged and raped over a period of years in the northern town of Rotherham by gangs of men from predominately Kashmiri-Pakistani Muslim backgrounds?

The reason I ask is that earlier this week, I was publicly called a liar, an Islamophobe and a racist for mentioning this fact on a BBC TV debate programme called – laughably – Free Speech. “Boo! Hiss!” went the studio audience. “Not true” went the silly girl panelist sitting to my left. “List one contemporary problem facing Britain that’s NOT the fault of Muslims? Are there any in your mind?” said someone on Twitter with evidently strong and somewhat unnerving radical Islamist sympathies.

It’s normally at this point in the proceedings that the moderator comes to your rescue. I know Jonathan or David Dimbleby would have done. Grumble though I do on occasion about the leftist bias of their respective programmes Any Questions and Question Time, the fact remains that the Dimblebys are bright, scrupulous, supremely well-informed professionals. No way would they allow it to go unchallenged if one of their panelists said something that was perfectly true only to have the rest of the panel and (almost) the entire audience to shout him down as a racist, Islamophobic liar.

But the same, unfortunately, could not be said for the moderators on this particular programme, which was evidently designed as a kind of looser, more youthful version of Question Time, aimed at the 16 to 34-year old demographic. They pointed the mics willy nilly at panelists and members of the audience with little regard to the sense – or nonsense – of what was being said.

Certainly, there was no evidence of any presiding intelligence shaping the show or the direction and balance of the debate. For all the difference the Blue-Peter-level moderation made, we could have been talking about Miley Cyrus’s twerking moves or Kim Kardashian’s bum, rather than about highly contentious, very serious and potentially dangerous issues like so-called “rape culture” and the radicalisation of young British Muslims.

Afterwards various viewers who had been appalled as I was by this car crash of debate asked why I’d volunteered for it. “Why go on James? It’s like stepping into the cretins’ den,” said one. Other comments from sympathisers included: “I had to turn it off,”; “You must have the patience of a saint after last night’s “Free Speech”,” It’s not a debate, more a left-wing hate-session against anyone daring not to conform”; “Have watched you on the BBC last night. I have to say that even growing up in communist Poland I have rarely seen such a shameless set up and left wing propaganda show. I admire your courage really.”

And the answer is: definitely not for the money. (£150 in case you wondered). No, the reason you do these things is partly in the naive hope that this time it will be different – that for once you’ll find a BBC debate programme where your function isn’t to play the token right-wing nutcase for the torture-porn delight of an audience of rabid lefties. And also because someone has to put the alternative viewpoint across, otherwise all you’re going to get is a bunch of people spouting the usually right-on, progressive cant and just agreeing with one another. If no one does this, then the enemy will have won.

So that’s why I did it but, God, I almost wish I hadn’t….

Read the rest at Breitbart London

UKIP could save Britain – but first it needs a coherent economic policy

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Why does the monumentally tedious soap-dodging pseud Russell Brand still sell so many books?

Why is Ed Miliband, a man with the charisma of used dental floss and the intellectual nuance of Hugo Chavez, still seriously in the running to become Britain’s next Prime Minister?

And why is Patrick O’Flynn, the economics spokesman for Britain’s most libertarian mainstream party UKIP, flirting with the kind of wealth taxes and turnover taxes you’d more usually associate with the Greens or the Socialist Workers’ Party?

The basic answer to these questions is one and the same: because there are many, many voters out there who sense there’s something not quite right about this “recovery” we’re experiencing; that while the rich seem to be getting richer and richer, the rest of us are finding it harder to make ends meet than ever we can remember.

So when Brand, Miliband and Patrick O’Flynn publicly advocate greater government intervention to make things fairer they are pushing at an open door. What half way decent person wouldn’t want everyone to be paid a “living wage”, or for Google to pay its fair share of taxes or for the superrich to have to pay a bit more of the money (which they can well afford) for their diamond-and-foie-gras encrusted Manolo Blahniks and their pashmina-trimmed Murcielagos?

Well I wouldn’t, for one, and it’s not because I don’t care and it’s not because I don’t think there’s something seriously wrong with the state of Britain’s economy. It’s simply because I recognise that the statist measures which Brand, Miliband and O’Flynn are advocating are a major part of the problem they are presuming to resolve.

Put very simply, the crisis all the world’s Western economies are facing right now is a reflection of the relentless expansion of government. Free market capitalism (insofar as it ever existed) has been replaced by crony capitalism in which an unholy alliance of financiers, lawyers, corporatists, politicians, left-leaning charities and bureaucrats have been allowed to bleed the dwindling sector of the economy that still produces real, useful stuff almost dry.

This crisis has been accelerated since the 2008 crash by the policy of government money printing – aka quantitative easing (QE) – which has artificially inflated the price of assets (such as houses) putting them further and further out of reach of struggling wage earners.

To put it into perspective, here’s a paragraph from Dominic Frisby’s excellent book Bitcoin – The Future Of Money (Unbound).

In the US wages have gone from around $6,000 per annum in 1971 to $44,000 today. So while the money supply in the US has increased by 2,000 per cent, wages have increased by 750 per cent. The inequality in the UK is greater. Money supply has increased by 6,700 per cent, wages by just 1,250 per cent. Wages, in short, have failed to keep up with inflation.

So all those people out there who think Russell Brand has put his finger on something, that Ed Miliband has a point, and that Patrick O’Flynn is talking sense when he says the corporations are getting away with murder are absolutely correct in their instincts. Where they couldn’t be more wrong, though, is in imagining that the solution lies in giving more power to the alliance of statist forces which created the problem in the first place.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

We know war is hell. But it doesn’t stop us wanting to do it.

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There’s a plausible theory — recently rehearsed in the BBC’s excellent two-part documentary The Lion’s Last Roar? — that our war in Afghanistan was largely the creation of the Army, which sorely needed a renewed sense of military purpose after the debacle in Iraq. As a taxpayer, this appals me. As the parent of a boy approaching conscription age it horrifies me. But as an Englishman, it doesn’t half make me proud that we’ll still do anything — up to and including embroiling ourselves in a futile conflict — rather than admit we’re finished as a fighting nation.

Though we joke about having beaten Germany twice at their national sport in the first part of the 20th century, the truth is that we need our wars at least as much as they do. Yes, we know that war is hell: we’ve seen Saving Private Ryan and Fury; we’ve watched the funeral processions at Royal Wootton Bassett; we’ve been steeped since school in the poetry of Owen and Sassoon. But it’s never anywhere near enough to make us vow ‘Never again’ and perhaps the weekend’s commemorative programming offered an inkling as to why.

Take the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance (BBC1, Saturday) — a sort of military-themed variety show performed at the Royal Albert Hall before the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prime Minister. It ought to have been excruciating: tacky, ponderous, bombastic. Despite such jarring combinations as a rock performance by Jeff Beck and Joss Stone, the puppets from War Horse and a sea shanty composed and sung by Jim Radford, the youngest man to have served in the D-Day landings (he was 15) — the whole affair was quite irresistibly moving. We love our military — and there’s an end to it.

I had my initial reservations, too, about Tony Robinson’s World War One (Discovery, Sunday). The premise, I feared, was a bit flimsy: here are some 3D photographs from the first world war that have never before been shown on television. (Wow!) Plus, of course, there was the inevitable concern that Labour luvvie Baldrick might impose all the fashionable bien-pensant preoccupations of the modern age on an era when people thought and felt very differently.

But I needn’t have worried. Of the myriad first world war documentaries I’ve seen this year, Robinson’s was one of the clearest and most accessible: a mix of travelogue, expert guidance (including some fine exegesis from Max Hastings, who doesn’t often do these things), re-enactors in 1914 kit (with the Tommy wearing a moustache — as, astonishingly, was compulsory for the first two years of the war) and enthusiastic accounts by battlefield tour guides. You came away with the — probably correct — impression that the first world war was entirely unnecessary. But it was never less than respectful towards — nor, on occasion, properly excited about — the courage, endurance and self-sacrifice of the poor sods at the sharp end.

Then there was The Great War: an Elegy — a Culture Show Special (BBC1, Saturday) in which Simon Armitage examined the war from the perspective of seven characters, including a nurse, a captured flier who’d successfully tunnelled out of his PoW camp, and a remarkable fellow called Arthur Heath, one of the most brilliant intellectuals of his generation, who had been killed at 28.

For each one, Armitage wrote a poem (he’s good: perhaps too good ever to be poet laureate), my favourite of which was the one inspired by Heath, meditating on the vast array of talent so cruelly and pointlessly snuffed out before its time, and what these people might have achieved if only they had lived. ‘The faint of heart won’t want to trawl through a mud bath strewn with body parts. An architect’s hand, a surgeon’s rib, an explorer’s foot still laced in its boot, the flaxen shock of an actor’s hair, an artist’s eye, a composer’s ear…’

Read the rest at The Spectator

This #waronwomen nonsense is getting out of hand…

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Today at Breitbart London our correspondent Virginia Hale has written a superb defence of the notorious comedian Dapper Laughs – a man whom none of us had heard of at the beginning of the week, but is now all over the UK media thanks largely to the concerted chittering of various feminist Social Justice Warrior groups who appear to think he is the living embodiment of that thing they like to call “rape culture.”

I’m glad Virginia wrote it because I wouldn’t have dared. I’m happy taking on the Islamists (not a group noted for their moderation when dealing with their enemies) and I’m not afraid of the environmentalists (though perhaps I should be, given what one of their number – an animal rights activist – did to the late Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn) but the neo-feminists are in another category of shrill, vengeful loopiness altogether.

They strike me as somewhat frustrated little poppets and I think I know what the problem is: they were born in the wrong place and the wrong century. Their natural habit, I reckon, would have been the hills and plains of 19th century Afghanistan, where they could have descended, ullulating wildly, onto columns of retreating British soldiers, knives at the ready to remove the poor chaps’ testicles and sew them up into their mouths.

But I digress. Another reason I’m grateful to Virginia Hale – apart from the fact that she has saved me from the above fate by saying on behalf of all us beleaguered menfolk the things that NO MAN DARE SAY – is that she has demonstrated there are still at least a few sensible women out there (I actually suspect they’re the silent majority) who are not buying into this “all men are rapists”/rape culture meme.

Nor is Allison Pearson who has written a cracking – and very brave – defence in her Telegraph column today of the footballer (and convicted rapist) Ched Evans, daringly headlined “Sorry, but all rapes are not the same.”

Here’s a sample:

I’ve spent two grim days reading about everything the former Welsh international did in a hotel in Rhyl in 2011. I have come to three conclusions. The first is that the verdict of the jury was inconsistent and quite possibly unsafe. The second is that the football pitches of England would be half-empty this Saturday afternoon if you removed every player who has done what Evans did. (And so would many of the clubs and pubs.)

The third conclusion is probably the most troubling. We live in an era where relationships among the young have changed beyond recognition. Casual hook-ups and the exchange of sexual favours are the norm. Even “nice” girls allow themselves to be used like inflatable dolls. (If confident enough, they can use men like playthings in return.) In such a free-for-all, what is meant by “consensual sex” becomes more and more blurred.

It’s daring and brave given what happened to the last female public figure to call for a bit of moderation and commonsense in the debate over whether or not Evans should be able to go back to his career as a professional football having served his jail sentence.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

I’d rather my kids were killing real game than playing Call of Duty on an Xbox

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When is it wrong for a child to be taught discipline, responsibility and a love and understanding of the traditional ways of British country life?

When that lesson involves guns and game fowl, apparently.

Hence the story in today’s Daily Mail in which we are invited to be shocked by the fact that author and TV presenter Susannah Constantine has put up photographs on Instagram of her ten-year old daughter Cece beaming proudly, her face smeared in the blood of the first mallard duck she has shot and is pictured holding round its neck.

“Depressing”, “irresponsible” and “dangerous” claim the various animal rights campaign groups quoted in the article.

But for me – and, I would hope, the vast majority of Breitbart readers – the messages sent out by that charming photograph are the exact opposite of the ones that the animal rights fascists would like to impose on it.

How uplifting to see a ten-year old enjoying the outdoors rather than being hunched, as most of her contemporaries are so much of the time, over a computer!

How very responsible of this lucky girl’s wonderful parents to teach her such skills as fieldcraft, camouflage and markmanship, as well as imbuing her with an understanding of issues like conservation and the intimate relationship between meat and killing, and enabling her to operate on equal terms in a world traditionally dominated by men.

And how very safety-conscious to train her up from such a young age as to how to handle a deadly weapon responsibly.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

The Islamic sermon that taught me what has happened to Birmingham

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Birmingham has changed a bit since I grew up there in the 1970s. Back then, the stories of the hour were the usual industrial unrest at Longbridge, the IRA bombs in the Tavern in the Town and the Mulberry Bush, and the ongoing success of local lads Slade, Wizzard and ELO. Today, though, it’s mainly stuff like Operation Trojan Horse, and I barely recognise the place or the culture at all.

So when, driving back from the Conservative party conference the other week, I found the radio button that normally takes me to Radio 4 mysteriously tuning instead to a local Islamic station, I thought I’d do a bit of homework and listen to the sermon it was playing. I’d never heard an Islamic sermon before. Nor probably have you. But if you want to understand what’s been happening in inner-city Britain these last few decades, I recommend you do. It will give you an insight as to why there’s a parallel culture developing which has little or no interest in integrating with the one most of the rest of us inhabit.

You know how, in C of E sermons, the vicar is at pains to make his sermons as locally relevant and as secular as possible? Well, Islamic sermons are the exact opposite of that. Though this one had been recorded in a Cape Town mosque it could have come from anywhere in the ummah, from Islamabad to Jeddah to Luton. The preacher would illustrate his points by regularly breaking into fluent, chanted excerpts from the Koran or the Hadith, and he spoke with the absolute conviction of a man who is relaying directly the word of God to the ignorant masses.

His theme was ‘Din’: the correct way in which all good Muslims should live their lives. Whether you are rich or poor, the preacher told us, it is imperative that you should accept your lot because this is what Allah intended for you. There is no point grumbling that the rich are undeserving because, unlike Allah, you do not have the full information. The preacher explained that Allah chose them to be rich for a reason, which we lack the divine wisdom to understand.

As I listened to this uncompromising message, two thoughts struck me. The first was: ‘Is it any wonder that Islamic countries  perform so poorly in the economic league tables when their religious leaders seek to destroy the single quality most likely to encourage economic growth: aspiration?’

And the second was: how desperately pre-medieval it was. At the time, by coincidence, I’d been stuck into the 12th-century chapter of Ian Mortimer’s excellent new history book Centuries of Change, and been reading about Peter Abelard.

Read the rest at The Spectator

Frankie Boyle says not all comics are lefties. Is this his best joke yet?

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Left-wing comedian Frankie Boyle has written an article in the left-wing Guardian explaining to his amen corner of left-wing readers that all his left-wing contemporaries who play left-wing comedy sets at left-wing comedy clubs, perform on left-wing TV panel shows and appear on left-wing comedy programmes on left wing BBC Radio 4 aren’t in fact left-wing at all but hold a broad array of political opinions.

Nice one, Frankie. One of your funniest.

You can tell his heart’s really not in the joke, though, because he keeps undermining it at every turn with sentences like this:

“Comedians, being decent sorts deep down, maybe just don’t take kindly to what they see as their fellows being targeted because of their race or gender.”

To appreciate fully what is so very wrong with this statement, you need to know the context of Boyle’s article. It was written in response to a very brave post on Facebook by comedian Andrew Lawrence having a dig at the “moronic, liberal back-slapping on panel shows like Mock The Week where aging, balding, fat men, ethnic comedians and women-posing-as-comedians, sit congratulating themselves on how enlightened they are about the fact that UKIP are ridiculous and pathetic.”

Boyle, it should be noted, is a middle aged and, though not balding or fat, has been a regular on Mock The Week, a comedy show so gag-destroyingly right on it might have been scripted by Polly Toynbee, Harriet Harman and Yasmin Alibhai Brown.

Understandably, Lawrence’s comments hit a raw nerve.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

The Establishment’s attacks on UKIP are doomed to backfire

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By “the Establishment” I don’t, of course, mean the toffee-nosed, elitist right-wing conspiracy which exists largely in the perfervid imaginations of Russell Brand and Owen Jones.

I mean the new progressive Establishment which has dominated the cultural and political argument since at least the Blair era: the quangos, the seats of academe, the politically correct corporatists, the Eurocrats, the congenitally bien-pensant luvvies, the liberal media from the Guardian to the BBC, the charities, the identikit politicos in the Westminster bubble. They want to destroy UKIP not out of high principle but simply because it represents such a threat to the communitarian status quo. Here are some examples.

The Electoral Commission

In Standpoint Nigel Vinson tells the full, shocking story of how the Electoral Commission deprived UKIP of two MEP seats in the European elections in May – essentially by rigging the ballot paper.

A hitherto unknown party calling itself An Independence From Europe was allowed by the Electoral Commission onto the top of the ballot paper – and went on to claim nearly a quarter of a million votes from confused people who had almost certainly meant to vote UKIP.

The seats went to Green MEPs instead. At the time UKIP didn’t make a big deal of this, presumably because it didn’t want to sound petulant at a moment when it needed to sound exultant. But what happened here was the most extraordinary miscarriage of justice, perpetrated by a supposedly neutral, independent regulatory body which is clearly riddled with bias and is unfit for purpose.

Stand-up comics (aka The Wankocracy)

In the old days, on the Eighties alternative comedy circuit, all someone like Ben Elton would have to do was mention the words “Margaret Thatcher” – or even just “Thatch!” – for their audience to dissolve in smug, consensual, righteously scornful laughter.

Now this role as the butt of every second-rate lefty comic’s crap jokes has been taken over by UKIP. “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally it means they have not a single political argument left,” Baroness Thatcher once said. As her most plausible current heir, Nigel Farage should find this heartening.

The European Parliament

Last week in Strasbourg, the European parliament’s arch-federalist political establishment rigged the rules and gamed the system in a dirty tricks measure which could almost have destroyed UKIP. Christopher Booker tells the story here:

Ever since Ukip last May won 24 seats, the Parliament’s Euro-elite – led by its German president Martin Schulz, the arch-federalist once famously compared by Silvio Berlusconi to a Nazi concentration camp commandant – has been longing to cut Mr Farage down to size. Last week Mr Schulz thought his moment had come. When an obscure Latvian MEP was persuaded to defect from Farage’s group, it meant that it no longer included representatives of seven countries, the minimum qualification to be recognised as an official parliamentary group.

Mr Schulz triumphantly announced that the group was thus disbanded, which would have been for Mr Farage and his colleagues an utter disaster.

Under new rules introduced by Mr Schulz, not only would they instantly have to vacate their plush offices, losing the services of some 40 administrative staff and £13 million in cash and kind, Mr Farage would also have to retire to the back benches, no longer able to make those speeches at the front of the Parliament that have earned him millions of hits on YouTube, such as that in which he told Herman Van Rompuy that he had “the charisma of a damp rag”.

Scarcely had Mr Schulz exulted at his triumph over the hated Eurosceptics, however, than the group recruited a Polish MEP to make up the numbers again. Despite attempts to discredit this man as a “Holocaust denier”, because his party leader back in Poland once questioned whether Hitler knew about Auschwitz (Farage’s new colleague merely described Hitler as “an evil man”), Mr Schulz soon found himself having to call Farage back to the rostrum as if nothing had happened.

What’s almost as interesting as Schulz’s plot – and how close it came to succeeding – has been the way the story has been reported across the media. Had these dirty tricks been applied to any other mainstream party, the stink would have been enormous.

Instead, even in supposedly conservative newspapers, reports focused not on the monstrousness of Schulz’s wicked, blatantly anti-democratic scheming but on the essentially trivial views of some Polish nobody from a party with whom it was perfectly clear Farage had got into bed out of pure pragmatism rather than deep ideological kinship.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Eight lessons we won’t learn from Afghanistan…

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1. Never invade Afghanistan

This was Britain’s fourth war in Afghanistan – and really the lesson should have been learned after the first one in 1842 when at least 16,000 British servicemen, women, children were butchered, froze to death, or were captured on the ignominious retreat from Kabul.

The point about the Afghans – and if the British imperial experience didn’t remind us of this, the more recent Soviet one should have done – is that war is their national sport and they will always win in the end. As the Taliban famously boast: “You have the watches. We have the time.”

2. Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them

Sherard Cowper-Coles, from 2007 to 2009 Britain’s ambassador in Kabul, recently recalled how British troops clearing IEDs and mines from the roadsides in Helmand province would occasionally unearth the bleached bones of their Victorian predecessors from the First and Second Afghan Wars.

The British may not have known much about Helmand when they were arrived, but the Afghans have never forgotten its significance: it was the location of another of their greatest victories over the British – the Battle of Maiwand in 1880 when Ayub Khan defeated a brigade under General Burrows.

3. Afghanistan was always a Pakistan v India proxy war and we got caught in the middle

It goes back at least as far as the Soviet invasion when India, then a client state of the Soviet Union, supported the Russians while Pakistan created and launched the Taliban to oppose them. But the tensions go right back to Partition and Pakistan’s fear that one day its giant neighbour will seek to destroy it. Afghanistan has long been seen by Pakistan as its place of final retreat and has therefore always sought to guarantee a pro-Pakistani regime in Kabul. India, meanwhile, has been using the Afghan conflict to destabilise its old enemy.

After 9/11 Pakistan claimed to have changed sides and it suited the US under President George W Bush to claim it as his principal regional ally in the War on Terror. But this was never more than a convenient fiction. As a US intelligence officer quoted in the BBC’s Afghanistan: The Lion’s Last Roar pointed out: “The President had said that he looked into [Pakistan president] Musharraf’s eye’s and found an ally. He couldn’t now come out and say: ‘Well actually, they are the Taliban’s number one supporter.'”

4. Britain’s generals are at least as bad – if not worse – than the ones in the First and Second World Wars. They could even give the ones responsible for Crimea a run for their money.

Essentially the recent Afghan war was created by and for the British army – as a budget- and skin-saving exercise. It needed a purpose after its failure in the Iraq debacle – culminating in its humiliating retreat from Basra airport. Afghanistan was sold to the British government by the military as a “good war” in which the Army could play to its strengths, established from Malaya through to Northern Ireland, as a peace-keeping/counter-insurgency force.

In one tiny respect this plan, cooked up by the Army’s generals, succeeded: Afghanistan gave the Army more intense and extensive combat experience than it has had since the Korean war. But this came at a terrible cost which should have been foreseen from the start.

Arguably the general most culpable for this is General Dannatt, Chief of General Staff from 2006 to 2009. He told the BBC documentary:

Looking back we probably should have realised, maybe I should realised, that the circumstances in Iraq were such that the assumption that we would get down to just 1,000 or 1,500 soldiers by summer 2006 was flawed – it was running at many thousands.

We called it the perfect storm, because we knew that we were heading for two considerable size operations and we really only had the organisation and manpower for one.

And therefore perhaps we should have revisited the decision that we the UK would lead an enlarged mission in southern Afghanistan in 2006. Perhaps we should have done that. We didn’t do that.

But this should have been perfectly clear at the time, not with hindsight. Even back then – and certainly more so as a result of the extensive cuts since – the British army has neither the manpower nor the materiel to fight two wars simultaneously. It was utterly irresponsible of Dannatt to try to draw down Britain’s military presence in Iraq at the very time the insurgency was getting more intense.

Nor did Britain have the strength to control Helmand province, the most volatile and warlike in all Afghanistan. The notion that it did – initially with a force of perhaps 300 actual combat troops – was just a joke.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

The problem with Owen Jones…

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Say what you like about Owen Jones – it’s not like he’ll notice: he will long since have blocked you on Twitter – but he makes the most admirably formidable performer in TV and radio debates.

Fluent, brilliant at interrupting, apparently well-informed, unfailingly polite in the green room, and possessed of an undeniably cute, startled-bushbaby charm, the boy Owen has become the go-to left-winger of choice for all the BBC’s myriad political programmes. And the more often he does it (which is every hour God sends, basically), the better he gets. Is it any wonder that those of us who have to do battle with him approach our encounters with a certain trepidation?

But Owen Jones has a chink in his armour – and it has been cruelly exposed in a series of tweets by spy author and investigative blogger Jeremy Duns. Basically, Jones has been caught out playing fast and loose with his killer “facts” in his bestselling new book The Establishment.

One killer fact, which Jones has been repeating quite a bit on his promotional tours, is the amazing statistical revelation that “…According to a 2012 study, forty-six of the top fifty publicly traded firms in the UK had a British parliamentarian as either a director or a shareholder. This figure – 92 per cent of such businesses – was higher than for any of the forty-seven other nations investigated, with the next-ranked developed nation being Italy, at just 16 per cent of such businesses.”

It’s amazing not least because it’s completely untrue. As Duns goes on painstakingly to demonstrate by referring to the original study quoted by Jones.

Problem number one: It doesn’t say “forty-six of the top fifty”. It says 46 per cent of the top 50. So Jones’s misreading of the report has exaggerated the problem he describes by 100 per cent.

Problem number two. The study wasn’t as recent as 2012 (though presumably it may have suited Jones to overlook this detail to make his research look more up-to-the-minute) but dated back to 2004.

So, as Duns notes, Jones’s “92 percent from a 2012 study is actually 46 percent from a 2004 study. Very different things, these.”

Indeed. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh? Jones certainly hasn’t. This fake statisticoid has made its way into a number of promotional speeches he has given on the subject, including one at the London School of Economics (where it was enthusiastically tweeted by Bonnie Greer – and then retweeted 588 times by others), one to Channel 4 news, and one to a left-wing vlogger called Artist Taxi Driver.

There’s plenty more where this came from.

Here, for example, is what Jones says in his Introduction to the book:

“The legacy of centuries of aristocratic power has not vanished, though: more than a third of British and Welsh land – and over 50 per cent of rural land – remains in the hands of just 36,000 aristocrats.”

Jones gives the source as Country Life.

But when you go to the source what it actually says is:

“Indeed, the 36,000 members of the CLA own about 50 per cent of the rural land in England and Wales.”

Do you see the difference?

Jones apparently couldn’t. (Or, as above, perhaps it suited him not to). But the difference is that the 36,000 members of the CLA – aka the Country Land and Business Association – are not all aristocrats. Indeed, most probably only a minority of them are. Anyone can join the CLA, simply by paying the membership fee.

But obviously if you’re engaged in class war and toff bashing “36,000” is a lot more exciting a figure to quote than whatever the tiny real number is.

Let me give one more small example, quoted here by Michael Ezra:

He provides an unsourced 1970s quote from Harold Lever. When, post-publication, he was asked for a source, he claims it came from an interview with Neil Kinnock. It is at no point clear that this quote is based on a decades-later recollection from someone else.

Now individually these instances of sloppiness may seem no big deal. But cumulatively, they raise serious doubts about the credibility of both Jones and his thesis. If you’re going to write a book which rides your hobby horse that the Establishment is basically a free market, right-wing plot against the ordinary working man, the very least you owe your readers is to give your slipshod thesis a veneer of plausibility by providing some concrete, fact-checkable examples of what you mean.

Read the rest at Breitbart London

Journalist, Author and Broadcaster