Daily archives: January 5, 2015

Jim and Severin

Like star-crossed lovers hugging as they plunge into an abyss, Severin Carrell whispers sweet nothings to Jim Murphy. The Guardian has given up all pretence of balance in not just its commentary but also its news coverage of Scotland. Carrell’s puff piece is the seventeenth Guardian article on how Jim Murphy will save Scottish Labour, and is based on nothing but an advance copy of a Murphy speech.

Carrell fails to ask any of the obvious questions. Murphy claims Labour are to contact 190,000 Labour voters, mostly elderly male and Glaswegian, who voted Yes. They will do this by “personal letters” and phone calls. This begs the question of how they identify these voters, and who will do the work. The Labour membership in Scotland is now tiny. My source in a Labour MSP’s office tells me the paid up individual political membership – excluding social clubs – stands just shy of 8,500. I find that believable. Largely thanks to Carrell that figure is similar to Guardian sales in Scotland. It is also interesting that a significant proportion of those dwindling Labour members are there because, one way or another, they are on the payroll. Councillors, council officials in “hidden” political posts, MPs and MSPs and their staff, HQ staff, union officials etc.

Labour were far from a full canvass in the referendum campaign. The ballot was (hopefully) secret. They simply cannot identify those hundreds of thousands of ex-Labour SNP supporters. Are these “personal” letters and phone calls just going to anyone who seems mature, male and Glaswegian? The entire claim of a targeted Murphy “campaign” is plainly a simple nonsense. It stands not a moment’s journalistic analysis. Only a brain-dead Labour acolyte like Carrell could promote it.

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Hacks (Both Types)

That North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack is the most improbable bit of US propaganda of 2014. There is ample forensic evidence that the hack was an inside job, while the evidence that it was North Korea is … secret. Not one of my myriad contacts who are present or retired security service officers believe it. But geek stuff aside, there are many adjectives that apply to the North Korean regime, most of them unpleasant. Sophisticated is not one of them.

A hack that didn’t destroy anything but released online a horde of exceedingly dull and mostly trivial commercial documents is scarcely the style of the totalitarian North Korean state. The media struggle to big up the non-story has put a cost of US$100 million to Sony on the hack – but that is largely the cost of improving its IT systems, not damage from the event itself.

The US response to sanction North Korea and temporarily to shut down its internet has been daft. Isolation is the problem in North Korea, not the solution. One thing we can be 100% sure of is that, even were North Korea behind the hack (which is extremely improbable), it was not physically initiated within North Korea.

This extraordinary non-story succeeded in knocking the Feinstein Report into CIA torture off the top of the World news agenda. It will also be repeatedly cited as justification for NSA snooping and moves to state censorship of the internet. The willingness of the entire mainstream media to run with this obviously false story has been alarming. I think we all knew by now you can’t unquestioningly believe anything on the BBC, but really…

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