CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown and home secretary David Blunkett last week competed to fawn over a newspaper editor who has been in the frontline of whipping up anti-refugee feeling. The New Labour duo appeared at the Media Society awards in London's plush Savoy Hotel last week.
A special award was given to Paul Dacre, super-rich editor of the refugee-bashing Daily Mail, for 'lifetime achievement'. His 'lifetime achievement' includes adoring Margaret Thatcher, backing the Tories in the last two elections, attacking the welfare system and using the Mail to support the Countryside Alliance marches.
Guests, among them many cynical press hacks, were stunned as Gordon Brown popped up on a giant video screen to heap praise on the Mail's 'great campaigning' journalism, and on the 'amazing' Dacre.
Blunkett appeared in person to 'honour the Daily Mail', which he said 'provides the best in journalism'. Rumours were flying that Brown and Blunkett were fawning to secure the Mail's backing in the event of a sudden vacancy at 10 Downing Street.
Blair, Brown and Blunkett along with other New Labour figures joined Dacre at the leaving party for former Sun editor David Yelland the week before. Yelland has recently left Rupert Murdoch's rag after years of churning out anti-refugee, anti-striker, and pro-war filth and lies.
In the Frame - No. 1 JOHN SPELLAR
THE transport minister is banning refugees living in his constituency from his surgery. He will only see 'proper constituents' on the electoral register. Refugees whose claims have been accepted as legitimate by the government will be denied help. Anyone not an EU citizen will also be hit, as they are not on the register.
A forgotten commitment
'EVEN IF there were legal authority to do so, removing Saddam through military action would require the insertion of ground troops on a massive scale - hundreds of thousands. Even then there would be no absolute guarantee of success. I cannot make that commitment responsibly.' Who said that about war with Iraq? Tony Blair speaking in parliament in 1998.
Watch what you wear
THE US likes to portray itself as the land of free speech. That's not how it seems to Stephen Downs. Stephen, a 61 year old lawyer, was arrested for wearing a 'Give Peace a Chance' T-shirt in a New York shopping mall last week.
Security guards challenged him. They said he would have to take the T-shirt off. Mr Downs refused. He was arrested for 'trespass' and could face a year in jail. Hundreds of anti-war protesters marched through the mall in protest - many wearing similar T-shirts.
Stamping on dissent
AN ENTIRE US government department exists to try and counter any boycott of Israel. The Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance has the power to impose draconian fines on any US firm which succumbs to pressure. It imposes hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines to ensure US firms continue supplying Israel. US firms have been fined for supplying details of business links with Israel.
Who is the terrorist?
THE LEBANESE ambassador to the US was interviewed on US TV recently. He certainly surprised the would-be Paxman.
TV MAN: Mr Ambassador, do you consider Hizbollah a terrorist organisation?
AMBASSADOR: Yes, Sharon is a terrorist!
TV: Mr Ambassador, please answer my question. Do you consider Hizbollah a terrorist organisation? Are you against the killing of innocent civilians?
AMB: Of course I am against the killing of innocent civilians. Sharon, the terrorist, has killed many thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians - and he is continuing to do so.
TV: Mr Ambassador, do you recognise Israel's right to exist?
AMB: Israel already exists, sir. It does not need my recognition. It is the recognition of Palestine to exist that should be addressed.
TV: Mr Ambassador, why are you so one-sided and biased in answering our questions?
AMB: Sir, it is you who is very one-sided and biased in your questioning.
TV: Mr Abboud, Lebanese ambassador to the US, thank you, sir, for your time.
Thanks to Esther Neslen
Destroying the lies
GEORGE BUSH claims that Iraq has failed to account for stockpiles of weapons. An article last week demolished this accusation against Iraq. The US Newsweek magazine revealed transcripts of an interview in 1995 with Iraqi defector Hussein Kamel, son in law of Saddam Hussein and head of Iraq's military industries.
Kamel gave a detailed account of Iraq's weapons and their destruction in the early 1990s under pressure from weapons inspectors. Kamel returned to Iraq, where he was murdered by the regime. Bush and US secretary of state Colin Powell have cited Kamel's evidence. Bush claimed last October that much of his evidence on Iraqi weapons came when, 'In 1995, the head of Iraqi military industries defected.'
But Kamel told US interrogators, 'I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were all destroyed,' and gave details of what had been done. Do Bush, Powell and other US officials know they've been telling lies? US interrogators believed Kamel was telling the truth.
Figure it out
37THE PERCENTAGE of Bristol University students from private schools - 7 percent of the population go to private schools. And we are told they are being discriminated against over university admissions.
'Given their age, they might have shown the prime minister some respect and at least called him 'sir'. Instead, the youngsters adopted a tone of pained, tutting disappointment. It was possibly the worst display of precociousness since The Sound of Music. A downy-chinned Palestinian boy ticked Mr Blair off about the Middle East.'
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail columnist on Tony Blair's encounter over war with a group of young people on the MTV channel
'I recognise there are a lot of people who don't like war. I don't like war. My job is to protect America and that's what I'm going to do.'
Tony Blair's new interpretation of his job description to questioners on MTV
'Even if the US gets nine positive votes and no veto, it will have been achieved through truly ugly means.'
John Ruggie, former adviser to the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan
'If Mexico or other countries oppose the US there will be a certain sense of discipline.'
'Bush may be the smartest military president in history. First he gets Iraq to destroy all their own weapons. Then he declares war.'
Jay Leno, US chat show host