Category Archives: Paul Staines

The quality of mercy

Good to see that the English legal system is capable of a bit of charity in the proper sense:

The Christian love of one’s fellow human beings; Christian benignity of disposition expressing itself in Christ-like conduct: one of the ‘three Christian graces’, fully described by St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiii.

Whatever Margaret Moran did, it was wrong, and she has paid for it. Now she’s out of parliament, by definition she can’t do it again.

What is intolerable is stuff like this:

Fawkes

That from politicshome, but re-posting a tweet from Paul Staines, convicted drunk-driver (and serially so), former bankrupt, political stooge,  hanger and flogger, mountebank, rabble-rouser and stealer of others’ data.

Let’s leave aside the small detail of whether Ms Moran is actually a “criminal” (though clearly a crime was involved): as Malcolm understands it, the learned and citable judge was acting under some variant of the mental health acts, not the criminal code per se.

  • In Dickensian times (as with that reforming, liberal author’s own father), bankruptcy was debt. Debtors went to prison. Indefinitely. Would Mr Staines see that as fair retribution?
  • In some jurisdictions a third offence, however trivial, has the malefactor sent to prison. Indefinitely. Since Mr Staines has at least two convictions, would he wish that provision incorporated into English law?

Broadmoor, for the record, is a high-security psychiatric hospital, and its inmates are exclusively male. The equivalent establishment for women is at Southall. But then Staines never let a simple bit of research get in the way of viciousness and snidery.

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Filed under blogging, Britain, Paul Staines, sleaze., smut peddlers

Guido Fawkes: Tory shill

Guido Fawkes seems to have a new understrapper, who might, just might, have a grasp of Flash.  And thereby hangs a new meme. It consists of a winking tag: on-off-on-off:

Simple?

Well, flattering. Very.

Go to Mark Ferguson at Labour List for the unvarnished truth:

That’s not just this quarter. It’s since the infamous spending review.

Even The Sun has it in her poor Gids, under the head-line:

Sack ‘work experience Chancellor’
UK slump longest on record.

Back to the wallpaper, Gids?

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Filed under George Osborne, Guido Fawkes, Paul Staines, Tories.

Eastleigh?

In recent years, the Eastleigh constituency hasn’t been particularly lucky in its chosen MPs.

There was a good solid start with the long-standing David Price, who occupied the seat from 1955 (when the constituency was first drawn) to his retirement in 1992. Price was an Old Etonian, a Roman Catholic (though not aggressively so), who had a “good war” with the Scots Guards. He was an educated man (Trinity, Cambridge, and Yale), economically literate, with a decent record in industry and in Europe.

Milligan

Price’s successor was another mild and moderate Tory, Stephen Milligan, who had been a journalist of distinction at The Economist, BBC Radio 4, and The Sunday Times (that last under Andrew Neil’s editorship). He ratted from the Tories into the fledgeling SDP and then re-ratted back to the Tories when Thatcherism had passed its painful peak. Milligan inherited a sound majority in Eastleigh, and was shacked up with Julie Kirkbride (then a journo with the Telegraph, later the Tory MP for Bromsgrove, until the expenses scandal outed her).

Bringing the house down

In 1993 John Major attempted to reboot from Black Wednesday with a relaunch of the stuttering Tory Government to focus on moral values: this was the catastrophic “Back to Basics” campaign.

No sooner spouted, than a whole succession of moral disasters befell individual Tory figures. One of the more sensational was the death of Stephen Milligan, self-asphyxiated, in drag, with an orange in his mouth.

The death prompted a by-election, a heavy swing (sorry!) against the Tories and pushing them into third place, and a LibDem, David Chidgey, in the Eastleigh seat. Chidgey retained the seat — but only just — in 1997, and was building a decent majority of 4,000+ in 2001. Hitting his mid-60s, Chigey was inveigled into the Lords so Chris Huhne could inherit the seat.

Huhne

The Tories went for Huhne in 2005, cutting his LibDem majority down to just 568. Arguably what saved Huhne were 1,669 votes for UKIP — perhaps a sign of things to come.

By 2010 Huhne was a significant national figure: he stood for, and lost the LibDem parliamentary party leadership in 2006 and 2007, while providing much of the thinking for LibDem policy making. In the 2010 Election, Eastleigh was a prime Tory target again, number eleven across the country, and heavily underwritten by Ashcroft money. The LibDem upsurge held for Huhne, who came back with a useful, but not comfortable, majority of 3,864, largely on the back of “borrowed” Labour votes, tactically voting to keep the Tory out.

A dodgy driver

Huhne is now in the hot-seat, thanks to a mucky marriage break-up, which lead to his estranged wife blowing the gaff over penalty points she had taken on her licence, to save Huhne being banned. After considerable to-ing, fro-ing, shuffling and informed and inspired newspaper “leaks”, Huhne and his wife were charged with perverting the course of justice. Huhne finally resigned. The case is due to be heard this autumn.

What next?

If Huhne goes down, then we are up for another by-election. So let’s have a shifty at Guido Fawkes, reading runes from the Eastleigh News, and picking over Nigel Farage being “on manoeuvres” in Eastleigh. Farage has form: he was the UKIP candidate in that previous by-election in 1994.

The pertinent point Fawkes makes is:

If LibDem polling figures remain where they are, it will be the Tories’ to lose, but there are also 10,000 Labour votes up for grabs. With a decent tactical campaign UKIP could easily pick up significantly more than the 3,000 votes they secured in 2010. And not just from from disillusioned Tories…

Hmm, not so fast, down the Staines bypass
Let us review the whole context:
1992 1994 1997 2001 2005 2010
Con 51.3 24.7 33.7 34.3 37.5 39.3
Labour 20.7 27.6 35.1 21.9 20.6 9.6
Lib Dem 28 44.3 26.8 40.7 38.6 46.5
UKIP 1.7 0.8 1.8 3.4 3.6
Monster Raving Loony 1.4
Natural Law 0.3
Referendum Party 3.6
Green 1.3
Independendent 0.3
Nat Lib/Third Way 0.2

However one looks at that, at least a fifth, up to even a third of the electors are tending to Labour — that 2010 result, as noted above, must be tactical anti-Tory voting. After the coalition experience, those votes are highly likely to go home.

The anti-Tory ethos is manifest at local level: the 2012 borough election returned 40 LibDems and just 4 Tories. What is also interesting about those figures at Ward level is that UKIP were by no means disgraced in any of the last three years, relatively outpolling any General Election performance by a factor of at least three.

There is no substantial student vote — the 2001 Census showed just 2.1% — and a tiny ethnic minority; but there is a “grey ” vote of some 18-19% and a large youth vote. Played properly, and with a good and recognisable candidate, there are Labour votes to be had.

So, to surmise about a by-election:

  • we can assume the LibDem vote might suffer badly: on the basis of what hit the Tories in ’94, a 25% drop in vote-share is quite possible. Were it to be just 10-15%, a LibDem is still down to the mid-thirties in percentage terms.
  • this is a “middle-middle” class constituency, with legacies of the old railway town. It needs the Labour vote to be dynamized and turned out. If anything like the 1997 figure of 35% could be delivered, there’s all to play for.
  • the Tory vote is fragile. It hit 39% in 2010, having built at 1-2% each outing after the ’94 by-election. We can read, on national polling, that the Tory vote across the country in 6-8% down on 2010. Were that to be the case in Eastleigh, we are coating in the lower thirty-odd percents.
  • UKIP have never performed in parliamentaries above the 3.4-3.6% mark. We might easily assume that could double or treble in a contentious by-election. Those votes are likely to come disproportionately from disaffected Tories, but with a substantial ex-Labour (and weirdo LibDem) base.
  • We can assume there would be a Green name on the ballot. That, too, could be a repository for the LibDem disillusioned.

Bottom line: in the early ’90s, this one had the makings of a three-way marginal. So far the LibDems have banked the anti-Tory vote.

And now?

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Filed under Britain, Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., crime, Elections, Guido Fawkes, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Paul Staines

Not quite a farrago of Fawking rubbish

There comes a moment when even the most avid devotee suffers disillusion. The true socialist had it early on with the whole Blair “project”. It has taken longer for loyal Tories (in part because that is the “stupid party”, but more so because the scales are more encrusted on the eyes).

So this morning the inimitable Paul Staines (by name and by nature) treated his window-lickers to a breakfast treat with this:

Dave’s government is now proposing to allow the security services to monitor every single email, Facebook status update, text and tweet. This is such an about turn, which will ramp up the surveillance state so much, that one wonders if it is deliberately being set out to be defeated. Libertarian Tories and the LibDem left will form a parliamentary coalition against it which a cynical opposition will surely join. The more Machiavellian-minded might suspect that the purpose of the proposal is to be dropped and thereby demonstrate that the government is listening to its backbenchers. Surely when we already have Google already monitoring everything, we hardly need the state to get in the game…

 Sancta simplicitas!

Google is good — it is a regular staple of Malcolmian trawlings — but not that good.

There’s something flattering  and weird in itself to assume our ConDem Leaders (who can’t keep a budget secret, unless it’s £1 billion fleeced from OAPs) are capable of being “Machiavellian”. The notion that this bone-headed lot are up for a double-bluff against their own parliamentary support is beyond bizarre.

No. This is an exemplary case of “going native”. As soon as a minister starts to open a red box and find documents headed “top secret” and “for your eyes only”, or even just confidential briefings, the blue mist rises. An epistle from Jonathan Evans at MI5 or (Genuflect! Genuflect! Genuflect!) Richard Dearlove at MI6 means senses of proportion are forever mis-shapen.

Look to the lady

There’s a nice set-to between David Davis (whom God preserve) of Haltemprice and Howden and Theresa May in The Sun. Now, stop sniggering at the back that Murdoch’s phone-hacking organ asks a Daily Mail-type question:

Are GCHQ about to spy on you?

John Rentoul insists such things are the world-famous series of Questions to Which the Answer is No — as of today, up to #783 and counting. Even so, Theresa May’s input is instructive

THE internet is now a part of our daily lives — it’s where we book our holidays, buy our Christmas presents and chat to our friends.

But new technology can also be abused by criminals, paedophiles and terrorists who want to cover their tracks and keep their communication secret.

Right now, the police and security agencies use information from phone records to solve crime and keep us safe.

Looking at who a suspect talks to can lead the police to other criminals. Whole paedophile rings, criminal conspiracies and terrorist plots can then be smashed.

Notice the use of “paedophiles” (stroking a Sun reader’s erogenous zone) and “criminals”.

Hold it there, Terry Girl! They’re not “criminals” until they’ve been incriminated by a court of law. Which brings us to James Brokenshire … parliamentary under secretary of state responsible for crime and security, sixth out of six in the Home Office pecking order, and — sent out yesterday to hold the fort. He came up with a formula: the proposals were not a “snooping exercise”, because they were concerned only with the “who, where and when”.

So, Malcolm wonders, how is the “who, where and when” relevant without the “what”?

Say Macolm rings for a pizza to a parlour which is under suspicion for … oh, say, drug-dealing. How do the snoopers know whether Malcolm is part of the dastardly doings without checking out his “Two twelve-inch Quattro Formaggi, a dough balls, if you please”?

Anyway, since intercept evidence is apparently not going to be available in Court, what is the purpose of such an all-purpose scanning of decent, law-abiding folk and their daily dealings?

The gorge rises

Staines/Fawkes may be capable of finding obscurantist excuses for this Cameroonie dementia (Heaven knows he’s done it often enough); but he is right that all this is beyond any acceptable bounds.

  • But this is Britain, after all.
  • We don’t do the surveillance society!
  • We don’t do oppression!
  • It couldn’t happen here!

Oh, yeah?

Remember, should you doubt, the striking miner at Orgreave, given the full tromping, stamping, and stomping, then arrested and charged with “damage to a policeman’s boot”.

Malcolm had a recent experience, escorting a couple of Californian ladies through Covent Garden. When they looked askance down one darkened side-road, the question timidly came, “Is it safe here?” Malcolm pointed to the CCTV cameras — there were seven in clear sight. Curiously, such over-kill didn’t reassure the ladies.

We could have recited DORA here, and the unspeakable Jix. Or how a later Home Secretary had a young man hanged, despite the urgings to leniency from the jury and the presiding judge, because there was likely to be a vacancy for the premiership, and that Home Secretary fancied his chances, provided his could bolster his law’n’order creeds with the Tory right.  Or how another Home Secretary intervened (behind the scenes) in a later capital trial, in part because it eased the Government’s political difficulties in industrial troubles with the medics.

But there’s a stronger clincher.

The Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Acts (Northern Ireland), 1922 to 1943

The Special Powers Act (as it was generally known) remained in place for the full period of Unionist hegemony in Northern Ireland. Although all that time the overall power rested with the Westminster Parliament and the Home Secretary, only after direct rule were the powers revoked.

Hitler was an admirer of the Special Powers Act, and regretted in 1933 that he lacked the ability to introduce similar measures in Germany (he certainly and speedily sorted that small difficulty).

In April 1963, the South African “minister of justice”, Belthazar Johannes Vorster, introduced the Coercion Bill,  the nub of the apartheid laws. In making his modest proposals he stated he “would be willing to exchange all the legislation of this sort for one clause of the Northern Ireland Special Powers Act”.

Suck it and see

The Special Powers Act starts:

The civil authority shall have power, in respect of persons, matters and things within the jurisdiction of the Government of Northern Ireland, to take all such steps and issue all such orders as may be necessary for preserving the peace and maintaining order, according to and in the execution of this Act and the regulations contained in the Schedule thereto, or such regulations as may be made in accordance with the provisions of this Act (which regulations, whether contained in the said Schedule or made as aforesaid, are in this Act referred to as “the regulations “):
Provided that the ordinary course of law and avocations of life and the enjoyment of property shall be interfered with as little as may be permitted by the exigencies of the steps required to be taken under this Act.

Which is a pretty wide scope. That latter sentence, in the light of how the Acts were interpreted “on the streets”, is little more than weasel-words.

And then there’s section 25:

No person shall by word of mouth or in writing, or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular, or other printed publication —

  • spread false reports or make false statements; or
  • spread reports or make statements intended or likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty, or to interfere with the success of any police or other force acting for the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order in Northern Ireland; or
  • spread reports or make statements intended or likely to prejudice the recruiting or enrolment of persons to serve in any police or other force enrolled or employed for the preservation of the peace or maintenance of order in Northern Ireland, or to prejudice the training, discipline, or administration of any such force; and no person shall produce any performance on any stage, or exhibit any picture or cinematograph film, or commit any act which is intended or likely to cause any disaffection, interference or prejudice as aforesaid, and if any person contravenes any of the above provisions he shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations.

If any person without lawful authority or excuse has in his possession or on premises in his occupation or under his control, any document containing a report or statement the publication of which would be a contravention of the foregoing provisions of this regulation, he shall be guilty of an offence against these regulations, unless he proves that he did not know and had no reason to suspect that the document contained any such report or statement, or that he had no intention of transmitting or circulating the document or distributing copies thereof to or amongst other persons.

So Mrs May and Mr Cameron have a ready-drafted Bill.

Merely add the odd reference to electronic communication.

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Hybridisation

Here is a “comment” from Paul Staines’s lie-emporium:

Deep in the sewers under London lurk the great albino crocodiles, decendents of escapees from zoos & private collectors of the 19th & 20th centuries. We join two of them as they bask in the phospherent glow of a lost tunnel far below Chancery Lane. One is a magnificent creature, the faint light reflecting from its massive, rounded form. The second a far less imposing beast, its patchy scales stretched across protruding ribs & sunken belly.

The smaller looks up at the larger.

“I don’t understand it” he croaks, “We’re the same age, we came from the same clutch of eggs. Yet you’re three times my size.”

“Maybe it’s your diet.” booms the larger, “What are you eating?”

“Same as you. Lawyers. Plenty of ‘em & no one misses a few.”

“How are you catching ‘em?”

“Oh, I usually lurk under a manhole cover by Lincolns Inn. Catch that unmistakeable musty smell of mature legal quarto passing, I’m springing out, snagging one by the bespoke suiting & dragging him down. Shake the shit outa him & swallow.”

“Ah! I see your problem right there. Shake the shit out of a lawyer & what are you left with? Nothing but the lips & a briefcase.”

Not bad, not bad at all. In point of fact, well above the usual level of wit for those benighted circles of lower cyber-ordure.

Except, the grandparents of that gem have been around for some long time.

Uptown drain

Back on 10th February 1935 the New York Times reported:

ALLIGATOR FOUND IN UPTOWN SEWER

Youths Shoveling Snow into Manhole See the Animal Churning in Icy Water

Several lads were clearing snow off East 123rd St by shovelling the stuff down a manhole. This disturbed the alligator below; which somehow the lads managed to haul to the surface.

This was a mistake.

A seven-foot alligator doesn’t take to being annoyed. It took a jerk and at snap at them.

This, too, was a mistake.

Lads from East Harlem then and now take a dim view of being snapped at. Particularly when they are equipped with snow-shovels. The alligator was then beaten to death.

In this condition the lads lugged their prize to a nearby garage, put it on the scales, where it weighed in at 125lbs.

The explanation the NYT came up with was a ship from Florida had brought the creature north, where it had escaped into the storm sewer.

Even snappier stuff

There the story would have rested, except the Superintendent of Sewers, Teddy May, received reports from his workers of a colony of alligators. May was, with some reason, incredulous:

“I says to myself, them guys been drinking in there.”

He banned any reports of alligator infestation from reports, had inspectors on the look-out for illicit boozing on City-employed time, and finally went to look for himself:

“I’ll go down there and prove to youse guys that there ain’t no alligators in my sewers.”

Down there he found young, two-foot-long alligators living in the side-channels. So a subterranean reptile extinction program was initiated, using rat-poison, flushing and even shooting.

Again, there matters might have rested, except in 1959 Robert Daley wrote about New York’s nether parts in The World Beneath the City, taking much of his stuff from the informative (and possibly imaginative) Superintendent May.

Hence the “alligators in the sewers” urban myth.

There’s silver in them that drains!

An issue of The Marijuana Newsletter [sic], dated 30 January 1965, had a story that hash seeds, flushed down the toilet in expectation of a drugs bust, were growing in the sewers. Through lack of light, the plants lacked chlorophyll, and so were “Manhattan Silver”.

That myth needed further embroidery, so some wit acknowledged the existence of the alligators as a threat to potential harvesters, and came up with a work-around. Take one bottle of hooch. CAst it down the sewer. This will have the bums from Skid Row diving down after the bottle. The alligators will be distracted by the easy meat; and harvesting is thus rendered safe. John Alego felt moved to include that story in Fifty Years among the New Words: A Dictionary of Neologisms, 1941-1991.

Lion food

For many years there existed a file, jargon.txt, on the MIT network. It had begun as a compendium of computer terminology, developed into computerese, and ended up as a repository for the strange mindset that goes with geek-geniuses.

Here we find the progenitor of the lawyer laff at the top of this post:

lion food: n.

[IBM] Middle management or HQ staff (or, by extension, administrative drones in general). From an old joke about two lions who, escaping from the zoo, split up to increase their chances but agree to meet after 2 months. When they finally meet, one is skinny and the other overweight. The thin one says: “How did you manage? I ate a human just once and they turned out a small army to chase me — guns, nets, it was terrible. Since then I’ve been reduced to eating mice, insects, even grass.” The fat one replies: “Well, I hid near an IBM office and ate a manager a day. And nobody even noticed!”

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Filed under Guido Fawkes, human waste, Law, New York City, New York Times, Paul Staines, Quotations, reading

Gordon Brown “hacked” — quelle surprise!

It’s a Bank Holiday edition. No celeb deaths. No tsunami. So the front-pages have been “in salt” for some time.

So to the Independent’s big splash (but no tsunami):

Gordon Brown’s Downing Street emails ‘hacked’

 Computer crime by press may be as widespread as phone scandal

Despite the “Exclusive” tag, this is as surprising as stale Christmas cake. The “evidence” is cited as:

    • Mr Brown’s private communications, along with emails belonging to a former Labour adviser and lobbyist, Derek Draper, have been identified by Scotland Yard’s Operation Tuleta team as potentially hacked material.

Well, actually chaps, that doesn’t come as a shock.

The simple fact that any dirt on Draper oozed out in the pollution propagated by Paul Staines, a.k.a. “Guido Fawkes” should tell us it came by devious means. Total masochists should pursue the thread by reviewing Staines’ own “Derek Draper” tag. What we didn’t know then, but fully appreciate now, is that Fawkes is an orifice through which Tory HQ and the bits that even Murdoch couldn’t excrete were deposited in public view.

  • Mr Brown has previously accused News International of accessing parts of his private life including his bank accounts. He said he “could not understand” why he had the protection and defences of a chancellor or prime minister, and yet remained vulnerable to “unlawful or unscrupulous tactics”.

Well, that’s news as recent as last July. The Guardian was far more explicit then, and tied in:

  • Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who specialised in phone hacking for the News of the World,
  • the Sunday Times who “blagged” the Abbey Nat on six occasions and Brown’s lawyers, Allen & Overy at least once.

The Guardian noted:

Brown joins a long list of Labour politicians who are known to have been targeted by private investigators working for News International, including the former prime minister Tony Blair and his media adviser Alastair Campbell, the former deputy prime minister John Prescott and his political adviser Joan Hammell, Peter Mandelson as trade secretary, Jack Straw and David Blunkett as home secretaries, Tessa Jowell as media secretary and her special adviser Bill Bush, and Chris Bryant as minister for Europe.

The sheer scale of the data assault on Brown is unusual, with evidence of “attempts” to obtain his legal, financial, tax, and police records as well as to listen to his voicemail. All of these incidents are linked to media organisations. In many cases, there is evidence of a link to News International.

And, of course, there is no greater defender of News International’s “freedom of the press” than Staines/Fawkes — there’s another tag for that one.

A bit further back Damian Green, then Opposition Tory immigration spokesman was arrested because a Christopher Galley had been filching Home Office papers and passing them to Green. That was in breach of Galley’s Official Secrets Act signature. One account has it that Green was leading Galley along by promising promotion in Tory circles. Again, by no coincidence, Galley went on to be “employed” by … you guessed it! … Staines/Fawkes!

Where the Independent story is correct is linking to the very serious cyber-attack on Peter Hain at the Northern Ireland Office. Again, that is no “new” news. Shaun Woodward, Hain’s successor at the NIO, was asking the questions last autumn:

… if the Metropolitan police’s investigation – as part of Operation Tuleta – proves conclusive, the consequences could be very grave. Since its inception in the 70s, the secretary of state for Northern Ireland has been privy to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, so this touches on all aspects of national security. Was it an attempt to breach secure email accounts of the Northern Ireland Office? Did private detectives read confidential communications between the secretary of state and the prime minister? Was a Trojan computer virus used to try to gain access to other third parties with whom the secretary of state was in email contact? What of foreign governments, if the attack was on Peter’s secure account? …

So we need urgent answers to these fresh hacking questions. Was Peter Hain’s computer hacked? Was mine as his successor? What information, deliberately or otherwise, may have been passed to those engaged in Irish-related terrorism today? If proved, any such criminal actions would put at risk not only the politics of Northern Ireland but the peace process itself.

The Leveson inquiry must now look into this issue. If true, it represents a new dimension to the irresponsibility of those in the media who have systematically put themselves above the law.

Ah, Malcolm hears you say, but Hain’s private life was a legitimate subject of enquiry. Except that wasn’t the point of the hacking. It also involved targeting PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde. Any comic relief was that:

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr has claimed his mobile phone was hacked when he was a junior minister in Belfast.

For those who missed it on its first outing, Malcolm addressed the murky links between News International and ex-employee hackers of the notorious Force Research Unit, at Thiepval Barracks, in Lisburn, in previous well-visited posts.

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Filed under blogging, Britain, Conservative Party policy., crime, Gordon Brown, Guardian, Guido Fawkes, Ian Paisley Junior, Independent, Labour Party, Law, Metropolitan Police, Murdoch, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, Paul Staines, politics, sleaze., Stormont

Guido Fawkes gets something right!

Staines, by name and nature:

For further confirmation, to be read judiciously (or as the e-mail edition has it):

Flushed with happiness, Malcolm heads on his way.

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