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UK Tories on the Ropes, But You’d Never Know It if You Relied Solely on US Big Media

10:16 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

David Cameron

Here’s something I found en route to looking up something else:

David Cameron is under fresh pressure after a poll put the [UK Conservative or "Tory"] party on just 27% – one of its lowest ratings of recent years.

According to the Opinium research for the Observer, Ukip is just 10 points behind on 17% after luring voters away from the Tories and Labour.

It also found the Prime Minister’s personal rating dropped 8% in a fortnight to 18%.

The latest study comes after a poll of marginal constituencies on Saturday suggested Labour would scoop 93 seats from the Conservatives and take the keys to No 10 if a general election was held on Monday.

Even worse news for the Tories — it was one of their own polls that broke the bad news for them:

Labour would gain 93 seats from the Conservatives to become the next government if a general election were held now, according to a poll of marginal constituencies.

Labour would gain 109 seats in total, taking them to 367 MPs and giving them a majority of 84, the research found.

The survey, carried out by the Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft, found there would be an 8% swing to the opposition in the most closely contested seats.

It comes amid claims that a canvass of Tory activists found just 7% believed the prime minister, David Cameron, will secure victory in 2015 and is likely to increase unease among already unsettled party members.

Wow. Less than three years after a narrow Tory victory in the 2010 elections — so narrow that the Tories’ banker friends had to threaten to downgrade the UK’s credit rating to keep Clegg and the LibDems from forming a government with Labour — the Tories are now spiraling into the dirt. Yet even though the Tory win was much ballyhooed by the US media and pointed to by them as a bellwether for the 2010 midterm elections in the US, there’s been nothing so far in the US press about the Tories’ rapid fall from grace.

Funny how that works.

Granted, the 2015 elections are still two years away. But Cameron’s continued embrace of highly unpopular austerity measures is not exactly a recipe for guaranteeing electoral popularity for his party.

Just remember: If the morning of May 8, 2015 finds Labour in control of the UK once more, if you’re an American you will likely have heard it here first.

Long-Simmering Wiretap Scandal Biting Rupert Murdoch, His Tory Buddies and Scotland Yard

1:28 pm in Media by Phoenix Woman

If anyone has wondered if there was anything that could be done to stop the corporatist monster that is Rupert Murdoch, it looks like we now have our answer.

A long-simmering wiretap scandal involving Murdoch publications, high-ranking Tories, wiretapped royals, and allegedly bought-off/stitched-up Metropolitan Police, has finally been busted wide open — not because of Scotland Yard legwork, but because of lawsuits filed by some of the victims of the wiretapping.

The police deny that they’re deeply in bed with News Corp., but at least one of their own, Brian Paddick, is suing over what he and others say are Scotland Yard’s efforts to hide the wiretapping:

A lawsuit alleging a police cover-up of phone hacking has been launched by one of Scotland Yard’s own former senior officers, Brian Paddick, together with the former Labour minister Chris Bryant.

The former deputy prime minister John Prescott and at least one other person are shortly expected to join the action, which has the potential to force open some of the Metropolitan police’s locked files.

The claim for judicial review filed today accuses assistant Met commissioner John Yates of making misleading statements to parliament and the public, and the police of failing to carry out a proper investigation.

How bad is this scandal? A prominent Tory, Christopher Montgomery, explains how the arrogance of his party’s leadership in refusing to honestly address the affair is only fanning the flames that will soon lead to a firestorm capable of toppling the fragile Tory-LibDem coalition, as well as the public’s trust in public institutions that are supposed to be immune from the blandishments of rich men like Murdoch and his clique.

Watch this space. There will be more to come.

UK, US Tories and their Media Circle their Wagons to Protect BP

2:23 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

The intense propaganda campaign to protect BP at all costs is heating up. The wagons are being circled and the propaganda flows like a busted oil well.

The current meme in the Tory community, both here and across the ocean, is that Obama’s an evil Brit-hating Socialist out to destroy business.

Seriously, that’s what the Economist, falling in with the other Tory papers, is saying:

The Economist has a pathetic leader this week criticizing Obama for hammering BP and raising the ridiculous idea that his corporate-friendly administration is anti-business.

It actually (really!) calls the president “Vladimir Obama” and writes:

The collapse in BP’s share price suggests that he has convinced the markets that he is an American version of Vladimir Putin, willing to harry firms into doing his bidding.

The normally sober Economist has gone off the wagon here.

First, it knows better than to “suggest” what “the markets” think. Second, that blew up in its face rather quickly. Instaputz points out that BP shares soared 10 percent on news of the $20 billion fund.

Most importantly, you have a giant oil company that cut corners while drilling a mile-deep well, killed eleven people, and sprung a hole in the ocean floor that’s gushing an Exxon Valdez-size spill every four days. The company has consistently lowballed the amount of oil it’s spilling (remember the 5,000-gallon barrel days?), and has caused an environmental and economic disaster in the Southeast United States. It’s a true national emergency.

But this shouldn’t surprise anyone. Tories on both sides of the Atlantic, and the media organs that prop them up (the Economist, Torygraph and Daily Hitler Worshippers in the UK, FOX News et al in the US) have been doing everything in their power to shield the poor ickle BP from the oil-soaked pelicans coming home to roost.

One favorite meme: "BP is at death’s door because of you American meanies!" Erm, not exactly: Shares of BP actually rose nearly 10 percent once the deal to set up a $20 billion escrow fund was reached.

Another favorite Tory Story is the Blame Shirk: "BP’s not the real culprit here — Transocean/Halliburton/Space Aliens are!"

Wrong. The evidence continues to mount that BP (which ignored contractor recommendations in favor of cost- and corners-cutting on the Deepwater well) bears the lion’s share of the blame. As a result, the world’s stock exchanges are easing off of their punishment of Transocean and Halliburton stock.

And of course there’s the "Lay off BP or the grannies get it!" argument, which is undermined by the fact that UK pension fund exposure to BP tops out at 1.5%, at most.

But the new Cameron-led Tory government, which is about to unleash some nasty austerity measures on Britain’s pensioners (and everyone else who isn’t filthy rich), would probably like to see Obama and the US take the heat for Tory-instigated suffering. Think of it as David Cameron’s camouflage — or Cammie-flage, for short.

The Tory-GOP-BP Love Triangle

8:22 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner’s attacking Obama for being mean to poor widdle old BP — coupled with a sudden eagerness on Boehner’s part to bail out BP — is being strangely echoed by prominent Tories (the UK’s version of the GOP) and their allied newspapers and media in Blighty:

Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, said Thursday that he was worried about “anti-British rhetoric” and “name-calling” from American politicians.

“When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP, it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the airwaves,” Mr. Johnson told BBC radio’s Today program.

Prime Minister David Cameron refused to criticize the United States, however, saying he sympathized with its “frustration” in dealing with its worst environmental disaster in memory. But the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, signaled careful support for BP, saying that he had spoken to its chief executive, Tony Hayward, and that it was important to remember “the economic value BP brings to people in Britain and America.”

Did you catch how Cameron’s playing Good Cop to Johnson’s and Osborne’s Bad Cops? Ah, but it gets better:

Many Britons are upset at what they say not just as the economic costs of American anger, but also at language they say demonizes Britain, America’s partner in the so-called special relationship — loose talk that taps into the British suspicion that Americans are insular and overly nationalistic.

Writing on his Web site, a Conservative peer, Lord Tebbit, called the American response “a crude, bigoted, xenophobic display of partisan, political, presidential petulance against a multinational company.”

Comments on British message boards this week have been full of anger at the United States and disillusionment at Mr. Obama, a wildly popular president here until now.

“The rest of the world is fed up with the parasitic attitude of the U.S.,” went one representative comment on the Daily Telegraph Web site. “As a Dutch citizen, I used to be a supporter of the U.S., but not anymore. You want the oil? You clean up the mess."

Note how the NYT piece talks of "Many Britons", but the only ones cited by name are — you guessed it — Conservatives (aka Tories)? And how "Comments on British message boards" is one self-proclaimed Dutch guy posting at a Conservative-favoring paper known in the UK as "the Torygraph"? (By the way, almost all UK newspaper comments threads are, as are their American counterparts, overrun by conservative commentators, many of them from the US. And just as they do with the comments threads of American websites, they use sockpuppets to make themselves seem more numerous than they are. But I digress.)

Interestingly enough, the one UK-generated media item cited by the NYT piece that didn’t come from a Tory-friendly entity, a piece from the Guardian, notes both the fact that Conservative pols are the ones doing the politicizing and that the danger to British pension funds is somewhat overblown (emphases mine):

But one chief executive of a FTSE 100 company with major interests in the US criticised the comments made by [Tory mayor of London Boris] Johnson. "This hysteria is all a bit ludicrous, everyone is whipping the situation up into a frenzy," he told the Guardian.

He added that provided the leak is plugged, what he described as the politically motivated furore would die down and he believed that wider British business interests would not be affected. "The relationship between the US and UK is still special. Obama faces elections in November so it’s understandable why it’s very important for him."

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) attempted to calm fears over the effect of the BP crisis on pensions.

Chief executive Joanne Segars said: "BP’s difficulties should not have an immediate or serious impact on those saving into a pension, or on those who have retired." He said UK pension funds’ exposure to BP is about 1.5% of total assets, which are in excess of £800bn.

Aha! So even if the absolute worst-case scenario did happen and BP did go belly-up, the Tories are yammering about 1.5% of total pension fund assets? Hell, that’s probably less than the cuts Cameron’s plotting in other areas for pensioners.

Hmmm, maybe that’s in the wind here — the Tories want UK pensioners to blame Obama for Cameron’s austerity measures, measures our own John Chandley has eviscerated. And John Boehner’s trying to provide moral support.

The Tory-GOP-BP Love Triangle: So charming.

Meet Baudoin Prot, the New Resident of Number Ten Downing Street

7:29 pm in Foreign Policy, Government by Phoenix Woman

I know, I know: David Cameron, the guy who manfully overcame his privileged and cosseted upbringing, is the one who’s going to be living at that address. But the man who put Cameron at Number Ten Downing is a Frenchman named Baudoin Prot, the chief executive officer of BNP Paribas, a huge multinational banking firm — and Cameron and the Tories had better do as he says, or he can break them just as he made them.

How did M. Prot become the de facto ruler of the British Isles? By holding the British economy hostage. As David Dayen mentioned earlier, Prot’s analysts at BNP Paribas, alarmed that Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, was on the verge of an agreement with the Labour Party to form a new government, let it be known that if Clegg dared form a government with anyone but Cameron and the Tories, they were going to downgrade the UK’s AAA credit rating, thus putting the squeeze on an already-sickly Great Britain. That was enough to send Clegg scurrying into the arms of David Cameron.

So, what will life be like under the Prot government? Well, if you’re someone who, like David Cameron, grew up in abject wealth, it promises to be lovely. Ditto if you’re a banker or a corporate director. But if you’re not one of those blokes, well — too bad, so sad. If you’re one of those greedy old grannies who can’t die fast enough to save the exchequer some pelf that could be going towards a corporate tax cut (what, and you thought the Tories cared about the deficit? Hahahahaha!), then guess what? Your life is about to get a good deal worse.