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Life looked rosy for the Liberal Democrats at their party conference in September 2019.

Buoyed by her election as leader, Jo Swinson, a Scot, appeared on the Andrew Marr Show on September 15. The Daily Mail reported on the programme and the party’s policies on Brexit:

The clear stance on Brexit was cemented when members at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth voted overwhelmingly to support a motion to revoke Article 50 it the party gains a majority in a general election.

The move would stop Brexit in its tracks without the need for a second referendum.

“The policy we are debating at conference today is very clear,” Ms Swinson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“If the Liberal Democrats win a majority at the next election, if people put into government – as a majority government – the ‘Stop Brexit’ party, then stopping Brexit is exactly what people will get. Yes, we will revoke Article 50.”

The East Dunbartonshire MP added: “We have argued that a specific Brexit deal should be put to a People’s Vote to give clarity.

We still argue for that. But if we end up at a general election then I think we need to be straightforward with people and give them an option for all this Brexit chaos to stop.

I recognise not everyone agrees with the Lib Dems on this. (But) it is genuinely what we think is right for the country.”

Is cancelling a referendum result ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic’?

Some voters did not think it was:

Tweets began appearing about her voting record as an MP in David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s coalition government (2010-2015). Swinson voted with the Conservatives more often than the leading Conservative MPs of the day:

She went further than most.

However, those were but minor distractions that never hit the media. On September 19, the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Jo Swinson’s party jumped from 19 per cent to 23 per cent to leapfrog Jeremy Corbyn‘s bitterly divided outfit, according to the YouGov vote tracker. 

It came after the party used its annual conference at the weekend to vow to revoke Article 50 and keep the UK in the EU if it won a general election.

Meanwhile former prime minister Tony Blair said today that UK political parties should be worried about the Lib Dems as there is a ‘great level of frustration’ about the direction Labour and the Tories are taking.

Ms Swinson used the speech to lashed out at ‘insular, closed and selfish’ Brexiteers as she branded Brexit ‘the fight of our lives for the heart and soul of Britain’.

This was the polling result published that day:

London’s Evening Standard published an exclusive interview with Tony Blair that afternoon. The former Prime Minister told the interviewer ‘you’re making me feel under-dressed’ and gave his thoughts on the Lib Dems:

… the dangers to Labour if its leader blunders into “a Brexit election” have increased following Jo Swinson’s first conference as Liberal Democrat leader this week. Her promise of a “very, very clear revoke” could be “attractive” and he thought a “resurgent” centre party could squeeze Labour.

On September 30, Twitter activists had researched Swinson’s husband, who works for a pro-EU organisation called Transparency International:

On October 9, Swinson went to Brussels to meet with EU politicians, including Guy Verhofstadt, who has travelled to England to participate in a few Lib Dem events, including their 2019 party conference:

Here is a bit more about Swinson’s visit. Lib Dem MP Tom Brake is in the far left photo:

She also met our EU negotiator Michel Barnier that day. He negotiates with the government, not opposition MPs. She has some brass neck, but, then, again, she wasn’t the only one bending the ears of EU officials:

On Wednesday, October 30, Swinson appeared on the BBC, where veteran journalist Andrew Neil gave her a grilling for insisting she could become Britain’s next Prime Minister. I watched it. It was a breathtaking half hour. The Express reported the principal soundbite around which the rest of the interview revolved:

Speaking on BBC Two’s the Andrew Neil Show, Ms Swinson said: “I’m standing as a candidate to be Prime Minister, Andrew.”

He interjected: “No one stands as a candidate to be Prime Minister. You’re standing as a candidate in East Dunbarton.”

Ms Swinson continued: “I’m standing as the leader of the Liberal Democrats.

“You’re right, we have a parliamentary democracy system and the leader of the party who secures the most or majority of MPs becomes Prime Minister.”

Oh, my!

She dug herself in deeply during that half hour:

Only two weeks later — one week into the general election campaign — Swinson’s delusions of becoming PM were dashed:

Her approval ratings haven’t budged since.

At the party’s manifesto launch on November 20, Swinson pledged to save Britain’s children from a ‘boiling planet’. You cannot make this stuff up:

Some found her rhetoric unconvincing:

Two days later, Home Secretary Priti Patel took strong exception to Swinson’s illiberal and undemocratic approach to Brexit, based on what she had said on the BBC’s Question Time:

Swinson had said on more than one occasion, the first time in an ITV interview, that she would revoke Article 50 on Day 1 of her premiership, because that is within the remit of the Prime Minister.

The BBC’s Andrew Marr decided not to ask her about that statement. The Mail on Sunday‘s Dan Hodges, Glenda Jackson’s son, wanted to be sure:

That day, Hodges had written a columm for the Mail on Sunday about how Swinson was ‘killing the Liberal Democrats’, particularly in the south west, where they always do well:

True. And the slogan on the Lib Dem leaflets is:

STOP BREXIT

in large upper-case letters.

Negative slogans are nearly always the least persuasive.

She began turning off voters in earnest:

Many men have said, rather politely, that Swinson would do well to wear, as one put it, ‘more business-like attire’. Where do one’s eyes go when looking at her? We would like to look more at her face without the other obvious distraction, which women have noticed, too. A Chanel-style jacket would certainly help.

She also made a huge mis-step by putting a huge photo of her face on the side of the Lib Dem battle bus:

Then Andrew Neil chimed in. Oh, boy, did Neil nail it:

On Wednesday, December 4, she made a second appearance on Andrew Neil’s show. She seemed more realistic but, by now, it no longer matters for her or for the Lib Dems. They have sunk like a stone:

She’ll be lucky if they pick up one more MP.

Neil quizzed her on her past voting record, which she now admits was a mistake. He then asked if we couldn’t trust her to make good judgements in the past, how could we do so now? Fair point, well made:

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston sounded the death knell for the Lib Dems on December 5:

This is the latest polling. Lib Dems are down three points:

Of course, all of us pontificating on and projecting their result next week could be wrong, but, somehow, I doubt it.

Lib Dems: same as they ever were, Jo or no Jo.

Watford, England, a quick ride from London, was the setting for the 70th anniversary of NATO.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the host and, despite a few squabbles, everything went well.

Watford residents were probably the most consterned, not to mention inconvenienced.

On November 13, Hertfordshire Police began warning about the residents’ inability to circulate fully between Monday and Wednesday this week. The BBC reported (emphases mine):

Police in Hertfordshire are suggesting people work from home to avoid disruption caused by a meeting of world leaders in Watford next month.

Heads of state will congregate at the Grove Hotel on Wednesday, 4 December as part of Nato’s 70th anniversary summit.

Several roads and footpaths will be shut and the Grand Union Canal will be closed to both boats and pedestrians.

The force said it aimed to keep the impact to an “absolute minimum”.

The meeting is part of the London anniversary summit which Nato said will be “an opportunity for leaders to address current and emerging security challenges”.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has been liaising with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies to take measures to “minimise the impact on the community”.

Closures will be in place for all, or some, of the time between 06:00 GMT on 2 December and 20:00 GMT on 4 December but there will be access for emergency and essential services.

I heard from someone who has friends there that Watford ‘looked like a war zone’ with concrete bollards at the end of certain streets. Thankfully, it’s all over now.

On Monday, December 2, the Watford Observer reported on the road closures in town and included photos of security at The Grove, where Bilderberg met a few years ago in June. The Grove was once home to the Earls of Clarendon. Today, it is a pricey hotel and conference centre with a golf course.

One Observer reader commented:

I hope Herts tax payers aren’t paying for the extra security. The Bilderberg meeting cost us half a million.

The skies were busy:

As Conservative Party leader, Boris is in the midst of an election campaign. Voting day is Thursday, December 12. Therefore, given President Donald Trump’s universal unpopularity here, journalists believed that Boris would minimise his appearances and private meetings with him.

President Trump had his own concerns, as Democrats continued impeachment hearings on December 4:

This week it is the turn of the House Judiciary Committee:

Returning to NATO, The Sun has a good summary of the participants in and schedule for this year’s summit.

Boris interrupted his attendance with a few election campaign appearances:

This is a great photograph from Wednesday, December 4:

Before the summit began, The Spectator encapsulated the contentious tone that French president Emmanuel Macron had established:

This week is seminal for Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron. Boris, in Watford, is hosting one of the most important Nato summits for years. Its significance is not because it marks the Alliance’s 70th anniversary, but because of President Macron’s ‘disruptive’ and trenchant criticism of the Atlantic Alliance as close to ‘brain dead’, which has touched a nerve. The French President went on to reiterate his remarks at an Elysée press conference, with a visibly uncomfortable Nato Secretary General, three weeks later. Macron attacked the ‘strident and unacceptable disconnection’ from world threats during the last two Nato summits as being ‘uniquely devoted’, in his sarcastic words, ‘to finding solutions to how to lighten the United States’ financial costs’. All this, says Macron, while major strategic questions such as relations with Russia, Turkey and ‘who is the enemy?’ remain unanswered.

The Trumps arrived early Monday morning at Stansted Airport in Essex, not far from London. The Daily Mail has several photos of the Trumps’ arrival.

Ambassador Robert ‘Woody’ Johnson hosted the couple at Winfield House in Regent’s Park, the US ambassador’s palatial residence. American heiress Barbara Hutton had the neo-Georgian mansion custom built in 1936. After the Second World War, she sold it to the US Government for one dollar.

This was the scene on Monday night as the Trumps returned to Winfield House after a reception at No. 10 Downing Street. Amazingly, an NHS lorry just beat the motorcade. The ongoing false accusations of Labour against Boris planning on ‘selling the NHS’ to the United States made this all the more ironic:

President Trump has been rightly exercised over the refusal of nearly all NATO nations to pay their share, leaving the US to largely foot the bill:

In January, NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg agreed with Trump’s strategy:

Even James Mattis, who left the Trump administration as he and the president did not see eye to eye, admits that his former boss has improved NATO:

On Tuesday morning, the US president hit the ground running, beginning by co-hosting a breakfast at Winfield House with Jens Stoltenberg for principal NATO leaders and cabinet members:

He gave an extensive interview afterwards, covering 17 topics. Sky News has a good summary, some of which is excerpted below.

On the upcoming British election, he said:

On the NHS, he said:

I have nothing to do with it. Never even thought about it, honestly.

I don’t even know where that rumour started.

We have absolutely nothing to do with it, and we wouldn’t want to. If you handed it to us on a silver platter, we’d want nothing to do with it.

On Jeremy Corbyn:

I know nothing about the gentleman.

On France and, indirectly, Emmanuel Macron:

Nobody needs NATO more than France.

France is not doing well economically at all, they are struggling. It’s a tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France.

You look at what happened with the Yellow Vests, they’ve had a rough year, you can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful.

That’s why I think when France makes a statement like they do about NATO that’s a very dangerous statement for them to make.

On upcoming US and French taxes:

Well look, I’m not in love with those companies – Facebook, Google and all of them, Twitter – though I guess I do pretty well with Twitter on the other side – but I’m not necessarily in love with those companies. But they’re our companies, they’re American companies, I want to tax those companies.

They’re not going to be taxed by France. So France is going to put a tax on, it was totally out of the blue, they just had an idea, Emmanuel had an idea, let’s tax those companies, well they’re American companies. I’m not going to let people take advantage of American companies because if anyone’s going to take advantage of American companies it’s going to be us, it’s not going to be France.

And so we’re taxing, as you know, we’re taxing their wines, and everything else and we have a very, very big tax to put on them. Plus we have a tax going on on Airbus and that would be a good thing for Boeing but we’re only going to do that if it’s necessary.

But they’re American companies. I don’t want France taxing American companies. If they’re going to be taxed it’s going to be the United States that will tax them.

On North Korea and Kim Jong-Un:

Likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? That’s why I call him rocket man.

We have a very good relationship and we’ll see what happens. It may work or not. But in the meantime, it’s been a long time. President Obama said it’s the number one problem and it would have been war. You’d be in a war right now if it weren’t for me.

If I weren’t president, you’d be in a war right now in Asia. And who knows where that leads? That brings in a lot of other countries.”

On Mr Kim, he added: ‘You know my relationship with Kim Jong Un is really good but that doesn’t mean he won’t abide by the agreement we signed. You have to understand, you have to go look at the first agreement that we signed. It said he will denuclearise. That’s what it said. I hope he lives up to the agreement but we’re going to find out.’

ZeroHedge had another remark from the US president on his French counterpart:

‘I do see France breaking off. I’m looking at him and I’m saying he [Macron] needs protection more than anybody and I see him breaking off, so I’m a little surprised at that,’ Trump said.

Returning to the NHS, here’s a video of Trump saying he’s not interested:

Labour supporters continue to circulate an old video saying he is. If the video you see does not look like the one immediately above, then it’s old — and obsolete.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall welcomed the Trumps to Clarence House for tea.

They then went to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen hosted a reception for NATO leaders:

The Daily Mail has extensive photos of both the reception and tea at Clarence House.

I cannot help but feel sorry for Her Majesty being squashed by Jens and Boris. Why could they not have given her some breathing room?

During the reception, Justin from Canada made his views known about Trump. He later admitted that he was talking about his meeting with the US president, which ended up being 40 minutes late because of the extended press conference:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also in attendance, hoped to corner Trump to tell him not to engage in any trade negotiations regarding the NHS. In the event, Corbyn was on one side of the room and Trump on the other. They never met.

Meanwhile, several dozen radical protesters demonstrated outside:

Then it was on to No. 10, where Boris hosted a reception for NATO leaders. Some news reports said that Boris wasn’t there to greet them, but other news accounts said that he had been delayed by ten minutes in returning from Buckingham Palace.

In any event, since when does the Prime Minister personally open the door? It’s always a policeman or woman who handles that.

The Trumps looked ill at ease when they arrived, despite a choir singing Christmas carols in the background. Had they already found out about Justin from Canada’s hot mic moment at Buckingham Palace?

On Wednesday morning, Trump arrived at The Grove for the final day of the summit:

It is said that the president left early. He was there for the photo op. Perhaps he simply cancelled a second press conference. What more did he have to say?

The US president had his own hot mic moment that day:

In another NATO hot mic moment, President Donald Trump was recorded saying it was “funny” when he called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “two-faced.”

Interestingly, Boris’s key adviser, Dominic Cummings, was spotted sitting on the sidelines that day:

No doubt the residents of Watford were happy to see the sun go down that day, heralding a return to normality for them:

The summit went well, as the Estonian and Dutch prime ministers respectively tweeted:

President Trump was happy, too:

Back in the UK, later that day, questions for Boris still persisted about the NHS:

Politics aside, our Prime Minister can be pleased with his role in hosting the 70th NATO summit, which took place without incident.

Thursday, November 28, 2019, proved to be a memorable Thanksgiving in the United States and elsewhere — in Hong Kong.

This year’s Thanksgiving came later than usual. Country Living has an interesting article on how President Franklin Delano Roosevelt fixed the date for this American holiday. The article also says:

This year, the month of November begins on a Friday, which means the fourth Thursday of the month falls on Nov. 28—it’s the first time Thanksgiving has been this late since 2013.

The turkey pardon took place on Tuesday, November 26, at the White House. It is a relatively new tradition which began in 1989 under Bush I:

Americans could vote for either Bread or Butter to be pardoned:

This is the farmer who raised them:

Both turkeys went to Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Tech, where pardoned turkeys and their mates go to enjoy a pampered retirement. Agricultural students study them for research purposes.

The event includes invitations to people in the media and elsewhere who are friends of the current president. This year, Judge Jeanine of Fox News was among the supporters who attended.

President Trump gave a speech that day, which included this:

… it was George H.W. Bush who first issued an official pardon.

In keeping with that tradition, today I will issue a pardon to a pair of very handsome birds: Butter and his alternate, Bread. (Laughter.) …

Their names were chosen by the students of Harrells Christian Academy in North Carolina. Great state.

Bread and Butter were raised in Tar Heel State by farmer Wellie Jackson, who’s here with us with his wife Tara and their lovely family. And I want to thank you very much. Great job. Great job. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

He made a few impeachment jokes:

Thankfully, Bread and Butter have been specially raised by the Jacksons to remain calm under any condition, which will be very important because they’ve already received subpoenas to appear in Adam Schiff’s basement on Thursday. (Laughter and applause.) It’s true. Hundreds of people have. It seems the Democrats are accusing me of being too soft on turkey. (Laughter.)

On a serious note, President Trump had these words for the holiday:

This Thanksgiving, we bow our heads in gratitude for the newfound prosperity and spirit that’s taking place all across America. The country has never been more successful. Our military has been rebuilt. We captured the number-one terrorist in the world and killed the number-one terrorist in the world — al-Baghdadi. And I want to thank our military because there’s nothing like our military. (Applause.)

And I want to thank almighty God for the — shedding his grace on our nation. Our nation is special and we especially send our love to members of the United States Armed Forces serving all around the world. We are forever thankful for those who wear our nation’s uniform and the families who support them. The families are so important. They can never be the same without those great families. Because of their selfless service, millions of our follow Americans are celebrating another wonderful Thanksgiving in safety and in peace.

And it’s just a very special country, a very special place — the Rose Garden at the White House. If you’re looking back here, that’s the Oval Office. Some of you haven’t been here before. But every time we walk onto the grounds of the White House, we realize how special it is.

So now we reach the moment Bread and Butter have been waiting for so patiently — their presidential pardons. Melania and I wish all Americans a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. We love you all.

On Thursday, in the world of nature, Alaskan moose shared their own Thanksgiving meal:

Meanwhile, in the Lower 48, two beautiful turkeys enjoyed the day in freedom:

The skies had been busy with scheduled flights getting Americans home for Thanksgiving:

President Trump issued greetings:

Meanwhile, half a world away, Hong Kong residents held a Thanksgiving Day rally in appreciation of the signing of the Hong Kong Rights and Democracy Act:

Demonstrators carried photos of a mock-up Rocky picture recently tweeted from the president’s Twitter account:

Back in the United States, kids of all ages were delighted when the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade television broadcast began.

New Yorkers enjoy it, too:

The New York Police Department have a huge role to play in ensuring all goes well:

For anyone wishing to distract children during the holiday period, here’s the 2019 parade in full: all two hours of it. I used to love watching this as a kid, so I’m sure yours will, too. The huge balloons of cartoon characters are amazing. Highly recommended:

Moving on to the Trumps, here is the latest photo of First Son, 13-year-old Barron, who now seems to be taller than his father:

Newsweek — now only online, no longer in print — blasted the US president: ‘How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing and more’.

The Trumps gathered together at Mar a Lago in Palm Beach. There was only one official item scheduled for Thursday:

Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted:

That evening, President Trump embarked on a secret Thanksgiving mission. He left Palm Beach for Joint Base Andrews:

Trump was on his way to Afghanistan to celebrate Thanksgiving with American troops:

This is a splendid photo of his arrival at Baghram Air Force Base in Afghanistan:

The Afghani president was also in attendance:

President Ashraf Ghani stood just behind President Trump during his remarks:

The troops were delighted to see their Commander in Chief and share dinner with him:

Then it was time to return home:

The next day’s shopping revenues were superlative — and the best ever for online sales. Americans can thank Trump for that:

Thank Trump, America!

The sensible among you are grateful. That I know.

May our good Lord continue to guide the American president through the daily drama that his enemies dish up. They will not win.

——————————————————————–

UPDATE — The Newsweek reporter who wrote the aforementioned article has been fired. On Saturday, November 30, the Washington Examiner reported:

The Newsweek reporter who wrote an inaccurate story about President Trump’s Thanksgiving Day plans has been fired. The outlet’s original story claimed the president only planned on tweeting and golfing during his holiday break, neglecting to mention his trip to Afghanistan.

Newsweek’s Jessica Kwong, whose Twitter handle identifies her as a political reporter “covering Trump administration and family,” initially published the article Thursday morning, before the president’s trip to Afghanistan was announced publicly …

Hours after the president’s trip was announced, Newsweek edited Kwong’s story and added a note at the bottom of it. The beginning of the story now focuses on the president’s trip and his speech to the troops, while the new headline reads, “How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing — and surprising U.S. troops in Afghanistan.”

The note at the end of the story reads, “This story has been substantially updated and edited at 6:17 p.m. EST to reflect the president’s surprise trip to Afghanistan. Additional reporting by James Crowley.”

— —
UPDATE: Kwong put some of the blame for the story on her editor. Read more here.
— —

That article has a statement from Newsweek:

Newsweek investigated the failures that led to the publication of the inaccurate report that President Trump spent Thanksgiving tweeting and golfing rather than visiting troops in Afghanistan,” a Newsweek representative previously told the Washington Examiner. “The story has been corrected, and the journalist responsible has been terminated. We will continue to review our processes and, if required, take further action.”

Newsweek did not answer additional questions about the editor’s status with the outlet or if they would face any consequences over the publication of the story.

Friday, November 29, 2019, began as a normal day in the general election campaign.

Tom Harwood, who works with Guido Fawkes, ably outlines what the political parties were up to until the afternoon, when a terror attack took place on London Bridge, effectively halting the campaign for 24 hours:

Guido’s accompanying column received a lot of comments, including the following.

On Brexit, a reader quoted an MEP on the necessity of No Deal (emphases mine):

Ben Habib MEP: “There is perhaps only one way the Conservative Party could comply with its pledge to be out of Transition by the end of 2020 with a deal along the lines set out in its manifesto. That is if it is prepared to take the UK out of Transition without a deal. It remains as true today as it did in 2016 that, to get a good deal, the UK must be prepared to leave with no deal.”

Labour pledged more madness. Only a few days after they promised to plant 2 billion — yes, you read that correctly — trees in Britain, they came up with a massive housing pledge. Another reader discussed Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s plan:

John Mcd threw the kitchen sink in with his environmental pitch today not only Labour building more houses than their is bricks on the planet, every house will have solar panels and heat exchangers. No longer grasping, just saying anything because they just ignore the facts.

Another reader discussed what would happen if Labour’s — McDonnell’s — plans for corporations came to fruition:

McDonnell intends to steal 10% of a company’s share capital and give it away. Either he steals existing capital or a company creates more shares. Either way the value of the company remains the same but now everyone’s shares will be worth less either because there are more shares or the shares have been given to someone else. So, anyone paying into a Defined Contribution Pension Fund and there are millions doing just that, will suddenly find that their savings are worth a lot less than before the capital restructuring. Someone tell the voters.

Another comment examined the Liberal Democrats‘ Jo Swinson’s perorations on climate change:

‘Climate Change’ – we can’t “fight it by leaving the EU”. 🤔

What won’t we be able to do as an EU state in relation to climate change – that we otherwise can do as a member ?

Given the fact that China produces more C02 emissions that the EU Britain and the US combined – what is it that we are supposed to do ?

Has Swinson thought this through ? Or is it just a risible hollow slogan for yoghurt knitters in the middle classes ?

Someone pointed out what the 2017 terror attack — also on London Bridge — did to the Conservatives‘ chances days later in the June 8 election:

… the problem is that the Tories are allowing Labour and the others to constantly raise the NHS, climate, trust, WASPIs and everything else besides, in an effort to sideline the Brexit debate. And I’m worried that it’s working! Tories need to get the agenda back on message ASAP. Also, I presume that I don’t need to point out the disturbing similarity to the 2017 campaign in what we’ve witnessed unfold on London Bridge today, and that it signalled the beginning of the end for Theresa May’s majority as soon as Labour used those atrocities to introduce reduced police numbers into the debate. I’m nervous. Very, very nervous!

That concerns me, too. However, Boris Johnson is not Theresa May. He’s campaigning across the country every day.

Moving on to Twitter, someone pointed out that a fatal incident has occurred before each of the last three plebiscites in Britain:

Friday afternoon took a dark and bloody turn as events unfolded at London Bridge.

Cambridge University was holding a conference at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge. The subject of the conference was prisoner rehabilitation.

Attending the conference on day release wearing an electronic tag was 28-year-old Usman Khan, who, as the Press Association (PA) reports:

was a convicted terrorist released half-way through a 16-year prison sentence for a plot to bomb the London Stock Exchange.

Last Friday:

Usman Khan killed a man and a woman in the knife rampage on Friday afternoon and injured three other people, who are being treated in hospital.

The 28-year-old, who was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag, was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation organised by University of Cambridge-associated Learning Together at Fishmongers’ Hall and reportedly “threatened to blow up” the building.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, Khan was tackled by members of the public before he was shot dead by police on London Bridge next to the Hall.

Video footage posted online shows Khan being taken to the ground as one man sprays him with a fire extinguisher and another, reportedly a Polish chef, lunges towards him with a narwhal tusk believed to have been taken from the wall inside the Hall.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he had been living in the Staffordshire area and that police were “not actively seeking anyone else” over the attack.

Why do police always say that? Often, in the weeks that follow, it turns out there was a plot involving more than one person, including some that had no prior police record but were aiders and abetters.

What about the attack that same day in the Netherlands? This is what happened in The Hague:

Returning to London Bridge, no doubt this is the first time many of us have heard of a narwhal tusk, but you can see below what they look like in nature on this species of whale, also known as the unicorn whale. The tusk protrudes from a canine tooth. The narwhal lives in Arctic waters.

A narwhal tusk was hanging in Fishmongers’ Hall. A quick-thinking man deployed it against the terrorist:

Here’s a dramatic video of events as they happened. The second tweet shows Fishmongers’ Hall. One of the pikes shown below was used in subduing the terrorist:

Here is a video of what happened on London Bridge when the police arrived. Fishmongers’ Hall is pictured in the second tweet:

Understandably, everyone would like to see the men who subdued the terrorist given an honour or reward of some sort. However, one of them was also a prisoner on day release, attending the Cambridge University conference. James Ford had committed a horrific murder in cold blood in 2003 and was given a life sentence in 2004. Hmm:

The Mirror reported:

James Ford, 42, was jailed for life in 2004 for the murder of 21-year-old Amanda Champion, who was found strangled with her throat cut in Ashford, Kent, in July 2003 …

Ford found himself embroiled on the London Bridge attack as he helped bring down the knife man while out on day release from his life sentence.

Ford is understood to be in the final days of his sentence at HMP Standford Hill, an open prison in Kent.

It’s believed Khan was tackled by ex-offenders inside Fishmongers’ Hall – who had all been invited to a conference on rehabilitation.

Source say Khan began “lashing out” in a downstairs room of the hall but was grabbed by the conference-goers and bundled out of the front door as he tried to go upstairs.

Those who tackled Khan on the street were not ex-offenders.

Ford’s victim’s aunt Angela Cox has told how she was contacted yesterday by Kent Police who informed her Ford had been involved in the terror attack as a member of the public, reports the Mail.

Angela, 65, said she was “angry” Ford was out on day release after the horrific murder of her niece – who had the mental age of a 15-year-old.

She said: “He is not a hero. He is a murderer out on day release, which us as a family didn’t know anything about. He murdered a disabled girl. He is not a hero, absolutely not.

They let him out without even telling us. Any of my family could have been in London and just bumped into him.”

Angela described how a police liaison officer had called her yesterday asking if she was aware of the London incident before revealing Ford had been captured on TV.

The still-heartbroken aunt said the officer told her “don’t worry” before saying Ford was at the scene and “being classed as a hero”.

Former factory worker Ford has never revealed his motive for killing Amanda.

At the time of his jailing, a judge told him: “What you did was an act of wickedness.

“You clearly have an interest in the macabre and also an obsession with death including murder by throat cutting.”

On to people who should be classed properly as heroes, we have the Polish kitchen porter employed at Fishmongers’ Hall who allegedly grabbed the narwhal tusk. By December 3, it transpired that Lukasz Koczocik was indeed one of the pursuers, but not the man brandishing the tusk. Lukasz was the man with the pike. The attacker stabbed him five times. Fortunately, the heroic kitchen worker was released from hospital on Saturday. He has been nominated for an official honour in Poland:

It seems the tusk got broken:

Not surprisingly, questions arose about the terrorist’s early release:

As with Labour (1997-2010), the Conservative government has had its part to play in law and order failures:

You can see from the following that Usman Khan did not act alone in 2010. Several other men were involved, some released since their 2012 conviction:

On that basis, I do wonder if police did the right thing in saying they are not looking for other suspects at this time with regard to Friday’s incident.

Again, what about the attack in the Netherlands that day? This RT article has one description of the suspect; Euronews has another. Dutch police said then there is no terrorist motive. On November 30, with a suspect in custody, they said it is ‘too early to speculate’ as they are investigating ‘several scenarios’.

Perhaps these statements are meant to keep the public calm while police investigate further.

Yet, we find time and time again that terrorism is the motive and that, especially in France, more than one person is involved somewhere along the line.

Sentencing and law enforcement soundbites should be reviewed.

Cambridge University was not left unscathed Friday afternoon. Sadly, one of their employees, Jack Merritt, was the first fatality. My condolences go to his family and friends:

The Guardian reported:

Merritt worked as the course coordinator for Learning Together, a programme run by the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology which had been running a course at Fishmongers’ Hall next to London Bridge on Friday.

Two people were killed and three were injured when 28-year-old Usman Khan launched a knife attack. Khan was arrested in December 2010 and released on licence in December 2018, wearing an electronic tag.

David Merritt posted on Twitter on Saturday: “My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.”

His words came as Boris Johnson, said the system of automatic release from prison was flawed.

A second Cambridge graduate, Saskia Jones, 23, also died in the attack. My condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.

This was the Prime Minister’s column for the Mail on Sunday:

The early release of dangerous prisoners — terrorists, murderers and the like — needs a thorough rational, not emotional, discussion.

Many of us have been wanting this for several years.

If not now, when?

How many more people, including those who advocate for prisoners, will have to die?

On Tuesday, November 19, 2019, ITV showed the first debate of the election campaign.

Supporters of smaller political parties criticised ITV for inviting only Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, but, in reality, only one of the two will be Britain’s next PM:

At that point, a week before Remembrance Day (hence the poppies), the Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson was confident she had a real chance at becoming PM:

Although Conservatives believed Boris should have been harder hitting on Labour policies, he probably pulled back because a) this was early in the campaign and b) he wanted to help convince undecided or low-information voters that Conservatives have the better policies.

Afterwards, ITV News reported on the highlights (emphases mine):

In the opening exchanges, the prime minister warned the UK faced more “dither and delay” under a Labour government.

He said a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote to finally “get Brexit done”.

“If you vote for us, we have a deal that is ready to go. Approved by every one of the 635 Conservatives candidates standing at this election,” he said.

As soon as we can get that deal through Parliament, as we can in the next few weeks, we can get on with the people’s priorities.”

But Mr Corbyn retorted that he could not deliver on what he was promising.

“That idea that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’ deal can be dealt with and finished by the end of January is such nonsense,” he said.

“What he is proposing is a trade deal which will take at least seven years to negotiate whilst at the same time saying he will negotiate a special trade deal with the European Union.

“The two things are actually incompatible.”

Also:

Mr Corbyn’s shifted focus onto the NHS, claiming the service would be part of trade negotiations with the US.

Mr Corbyn accused the prime minister of conducting “secret meetings” with the US about the NHS and a future trade deal.

The Labour leader said: “What we know of what Mr Johnson has done is a series of secret meetings with the United States in which they were proposing to open up our NHS markets as they call them to American companies.”

To this claim, Mr Johnson replied: “I’m amazed how often this comes up.”

Mr Johnson insisted: “This is an absolute invention, it is completely untrue, there are no circumstances whatever that this Government or any Conservative Government would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.”

That was the week after Prince Andrew’s disastrous interview on the BBC, which had aired the previous Saturday evening. Moderator Julie Etchingham asked the two leaders about the monarchy. I have highlighted what the PM said, because it has been often misquoted since:

Asked if the monarchy is fit for purpose, Mr Corbyn simply replied: “It needs a bit of improvement.”

Mr Johnson answered: “The institution of the monarchy is beyond reproach,”

Ms Etchingham then asked if Prince Andrew is fit for purpose.

Mr Corbyn highlighted how sympathies should be with Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, which Mr Johnson echoed.

Boris never said the monarchy was beyond reproach, meaning individual royals. He remarked on the institution itself.

Corbyn, who has been repeatedly accused of downplaying anti-Semitism in his party, which, oddly, has been rampant since he took over as leader in 2016, brought up Jeffrey Epstein. As everyone following the scandal knows, his surname is pronounced ‘Ep-steen’, but Corbyn deliberately pronounced it ‘Ep-shtein’, putting real emphasis on it.

The former editor-in-chief of The Independent, Simon Kelner, wrote an editorial about it for the i paper, ‘Conscious or not, Jeremy Corbyn’s mispronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein’s name matters to British Jews’. Too right it does:

The question, which we can be sure will never be answered, is this: did Corbyn do it, consciously or unconsciously (they’re both as bad as each other, by the way), to make Epstein sound just a little more sinister and foreign and, relevantly in the context, more Jewish? It’s hard to come up with an answer that doesn’t make the Labour leader appear either malevolent or incompetent. Given the wall-to-wall media coverage devoted to the scandal over recent days, it stretches credulity to suggest that Corbyn hadn’t heard Epstein’s name pronounced correctly multiple times.

it was a very emphatic delivery – is something else entirely, and Corbyn had to go out of his way to summon up the mittel-European pronunciation

I am more of a pedant than I am an anti-Semite hunter, but my synapses were twitching on both counts. I have a high threshold for anti-Semitism, and I have never thought that there was a prima facie case against Corbyn in this respect. In fact, I share some of his views on the politics of the Middle East. But this definitely pulled me up short. Having just watched his epically short-tempered interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4, which was filmed in 2015 but went viral this week, it made me wonder whether Corbyn might just be, to borrow [the BBC’s] Eddie Mair’s epithet about Boris Johnson, a nasty piece of work.

While the mispronunciation of Epstein’s name may not be viewed by the majority of viewers as overtly anti-Semitic, it definitely had a nasty edge. No one is offended on Epstein’s behalf (that would be ludicrous), but if I found it offensive, many, many other Jewish people would have found it more so

Whether I am reading too much into a slip of the tongue is open for debate. But what is not in question is that Jeremy Corbyn should be doing all he can to persuade Jewish voters that, on anti-Semitism, he doesn’t just talk the talk. And what he did here was, apart from anything else, very bad politics.

More on this follows below.

Members of the audience were allowed to ask questions:

The debate ended with a hypothetical question from an audience member about what Christmas presents the two leaders would give each other:

Before their closing remarks, the prime ministerial hopefuls were asked what Christmas presents they would buy for each other.

Mr Corbyn said: “I know Mr Johnson likes a good read, so what I would probably leave under the tree for him would be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and he could then understand how nasty Scrooge was.”

Responding, Mr Johnson said: “I would probably leave a copy – since you want a literary reference – a copy of my brilliant Brexit deal.”

Pressed by host Ms Etchingham to give a non-political answer, Mr Johnson said: “Mr Corbyn shares my love of plants and trees. I think maybe some damson jam,” to which Mr Corbyn said: “I love damson jam.”

At that point, Boris walked over to Corbyn and invited him to shake hands. It was a spontaneous moment, and it’s a pity that ITV did not report on it. Viewers could see Corbyn backing away from Boris with his outstretched hand. After seconds of hesitation, he extended his own for a limp handshake. Boris’s was much heartier.

What did the general public think? Interestingly, the result was similar to that for the Brexit referendum, which was 52% to 48%:

Leaders of the two main parties take part in debates like tonight’s, in part, to try to win over undecided voters.

A YouGov snap poll suggested 51% of Britons believed Mr Johnson won the debate compared to 49% for Mr Corbyn.

Those who answered “don’t know” were removed from the result, with YouGov adding the figures are so close as to be within the margin of error.

ITV’s political editor Robert Peston told news presenter Alastair Stewart that Jeremy Corbyn needed this debate to present a positive game-changer for Labour, who were trailing in the polls then and continue to do so now. Peston said that it was a draw. People who want Brexit done will vote for Boris. People who are worried about the NHS will vote for Corbyn:

Tom Harwood, who works for Guido Fawkes, said that Labour missed a trick with their claim that the Conservatives would ‘sell the NHS’ to President Trump:

Interestingly, our EU negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, noticed another of Harwood’s tweets — and ‘liked’ it:

Dear me. Whatever next?

Well, the Labour-supporting newspaper, The Mirror, did not exactly go overboard in favour of Corbyn’s performance. Then, again, Prince Andrew was still making the headlines:

At the weekend, the polls remained static. More than one person thought this was because of the anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. They are the only other political party other than the extreme British National Party to be investigated for it. Shameful:

One week later — Tuesday, November 26 — Corbyn appeared on the BBC for an evening interview with veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil. He looked tired, ‘low energy’ (to borrow a Trumpism) and cranky. Neil took him to town on anti-Semitism, forcing him to admit nearly everyone in Britain would be poorer under Labour as well as false claims about the Conservatives wanting to sell the NHS to Trump:

It was generally agreed that, only days after Prince Andrew managed to give one of the all-time worst interviews on television, Corbyn managed to rival him:

This is how bad it was:

These were some of the newspaper headlines on Wednesday:

Andrew Neil began by asking Corbyn if he thought a particular statement about ‘Rothschild Zionists’ was anti-Semitic. Corbyn refused to say, until after the fourth time Neil repeated it:

Guido Fawkes said (emphasis in the original):

Jeremy Corbyn had to be asked four times before admitting ‘Rothchild Zionists run Israel and world governments’ is an anti-Semitic trope. This’ll undoubtedly put the minds of 80% of British Jews to rest…

Corbyn offered no apology for the anti-Semitism in sections of the Labour Party. This video is subtitled:

Andrew Neil grilled Corbyn on taxing everyone more, not just the wealthy:

Neil exposed the fact that Labour’s costings make no sense. Where’s the money coming from? The reply is not an actual Corbyn quote, by the way:

Labour supporters accused Neil of interrupting Corbyn, but:

The Sun has an excellent summary of the interview:

The next morning, ITV’s Piers Morgan picked up Corbyn’s daft comment on ISIS:

The interview got very good ratings:

With regard to the NHS, Neil scored points there, too.

Even Barry Gardiner, the erudite, effete veteran Labour MP — technically a Labour candidate, now that we are approaching the election — couldn’t defend his leader to Andrew Neil with regard to his questionable statements about the Conservatives wanting to sell the NHS to the United States. This interview took place 24 hours later:

Guido Fawkes commented:

The second excruciating Andrew Neil interview Labour has had to go through took place last night, when Shadow Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner was shown up over Jeremy Corbyn’s blatant fibs to the electorate. Labour are banking on people not being bothered to read the 451 pages they produced. Unfortunately for them, Guido has

With this and snapping at a journalist for mentioning anti-Semitism, Gardiner has not been having a good media round…

Those interested can follow Guido’s link in his first paragraph to see the documents in question.

Jeremy Corbyn is talking a lot of nonsense not only on the NHS but everything else his party proposes.

One thing is for certain: so far, he has been a gift to the Conservatives.

For a change, below are three stories one can file under ‘happy news’.

This little fellow from England has taken his first steps at the age of four. He has a rare form of cerebral palsy and recently underwent an operation to reduce the spasticity in his legs. The video is subtitled, so you can read more about him. The joy on his face is a sight to behold. God is good:

Speaking of walking, the little boy thrown from the third floor of the Mall of America on April 12 is once again fully ambulatory. I bet his and his family’s Thanksgiving was extra special this year. God is good:

On November 23, Fox News reported (emphases mine):

The 5-year-old boy who was thrown from a Mall of America third-floor balcony and survived is “walking perfectly” and could be off his medication soon.

The family of Landen Hoffman gave an update about the boy on a GoFundMe page, saying the open wound on his belly had “finally scabbed over and new skin is growing.”

“Mom has been doing everything she can to speed up the healing of his wound and working toward getting off some of his medications,” the post said.

Hoffman was hospitalized with two broken arms, a broken leg and fractures to his face and skull when Emmanuel Aranda, 24, tossed him about 40 feet during a random attack at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. on April 12.

He was forced to undergo 15 separate medical procedures and surgeries due to the injuries and “severe complications.” He returned home months later.

Now, Hoffman [is] said to be enjoying life and is going to kindergarten with his twin brother and sister.

“He gets out of the car every morning happy and blows kisses all the way in! He’s a strong, happy boy,” the post added. “When his mommy asks him if she can look at his wound or asks how he’s doing, he always responds with ‘Mom, I’m healed, you don’t need to ask me anymore.’ Landen loves life and Jesus!”

It continued: “He tells people all the time when they get hurt, don’t worry, I fell off a cliff, but Angels caught me and Jesus loves me, so I’m ok and you will be too!”

Bless his heart.

And, finally, did you know the adorable baby portraits on the Gerber baby food jars are of real infants? Ann Turner Cook, the model for the original portrait, turned 93 last week:

ABC News reported on an Instagram post celebrating the occasion:

“For over 90 years, it’s been our pleasure to welcome countless babies to our ever-growing Gerber family,” the caption said. “Our dedication to each and every generation of little ones has long been part of our heritage, and we’ll always take time to celebrate a true classic!”

The iconic charcoal sketch was first created by Cook’s neighbor, Dorothy Hope Smith, who specialized in children’s portraits and submitted the sketch to Gerber, according to the company.

The irresistible baby first appeared on Gerber products in 1928 and became the company’s official trademark in 1931.

Many happy returns, Ms Cook!

On Friday, November 22, 2019, a special two-hour Question Time was broadcast.

Fiona Bruce, the show’s host, moderated a discussion involving questions from a live audience put forward to the four main party leaders in half-hour segments.

The programme began with Jeremy Corbyn. Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP followed. The last two were Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats and Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party.

It was really sad to see that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are the only political party running on a pro-Brexit platform. Labour favour a watery Brexit with a second referendum. Jo Swinson said in a previous interview on ITV last week that in the (unlikely) event she became Prime Minister, she would revoke Article 50 all by herself on the first day. The SNP are all about Scottish independence and only the Scots can vote for them. They, too, oppose Brexit and would appeal to the EU to allow Scotland to join as a separate nation.

Who won?

On Saturday, November 23, The Express reported on a poll it conducted among readers. Not surprisingly, most participants thought that Boris won (emphases mine):

A total of 50 percent of people believed the Conservative leader stole the show, with less than a quarter of readers (23 percent) convinced Jeremy Corbyn won.

Of the 22,368 people who voted in the poll, 11,307 believed Boris Johnson won – versus just 4,816 people. who voted for Mr Corbyn.

Of the four candidates, Jo Swinson seemed the least popular, with just eight percent – 1,776 people – believing she won the debate.

In fact, more people said they didn’t know who won – with this option being chosen by 1,924 people.

Coming third was Nicola Sturgeon, who teased a “less formal” arrangement with Labour to stop Brexit and end austerity, with 2,545 votes for the SNP leader.

One commenter, ‘fitz’, said the Prime Minister managed to “scrape through” after a tough start.

They said: “Boris had a tough job, but he scraped through ok at the end.

“I do not have any doubts that he will win the election with a modest majority of MPs who will support him.”

I hope that proves to be the case.

Nicola Sturgeon

Nearly all the leaders received tough questions from the audience. Nicola Sturgeon seemed to receive fewer:

I was hoping someone would ask her more about Scotland being financially self-sufficient post-independence without English money provided through what is called the Barnett Formula and what plans she would have for a Scottish currency. The SNP believe they can continue to use the British pound!

But I digress.

Sturgeon was adamant that Scots alone could decide the fate of the Union, which has existed since 1707:

Sturgeon relaxed with a book on the way back to Scotland:

Jo Swinson

Jo Swinson got a verbal blast from a Brexit supporter. The Express reported on the exchange:

Catherine, the audience member, asked: “Is revoking Article 50 confirming to 17.4 million people that you think we’re stupid and don’t know what we voted for?”

The Lib Dem leader said: “You cannot accuse us of not being upfront about wanting to stop Brexit. We have been crystal clear about that from the very beginning.

“Not for one second do I think that means you or anyone like you is stupid. I think it means we disagree.

“I really want us to be in a situation in this country where we can disagree with each other, Catherine.”

Ms Swinson continued: “That means that you want to leave, and I don’t think that makes you a bad person.

“I want to remain in the EU and I hope you think that doens’t make me a bad one.”

The audience member shot back: “You can disagree with me but you lost.

“You don’t get to keep disagreeing with me.”

Well said, Catherine.

On Saturday morning, Chuka Umunna, former Labour MP, now a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, was asked on a BBC radio programme about Swinson’s Question Time performance and the Lib Dem’s anti-Brexit policy. The Express reports:

Mr Umunna, who standing in the cities of London and Westminster constituency on December 12, insisted the Liberal Democrat position to revoke Article 50 was not a mistake, despite Ms Swinson facing a tough grilling by furious audience members on the special leaders debate last night. The Labour-turned-ChangeUK-turned-Lib Dem politician told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “No, there’s been no mistake made on this policy.”

Mr Umunna added: “It’s absolutely clear – you can’t save the NHS and address the issues in it at the same time as not seeking to stop Brexit, not least because 10 percent of our doctors come from the EU, and 7 percent of our nurses come from the EU.”

What no one from any party has addressed is WHY we have so few British doctors and nurses these days. I do not have an answer myself.

Anyway, The Express article related another audience member’s blast at Swinson on the Question Time special:

Ms Swinson faced yet another awkward encounter when another audience member branded the plan to stop Brexit “undemocratic”.

An audience member said: “You are not saying we will go back to the people, you are unilaterally saying ‘Revoke it.’

It’s undemocratic from somebody who wishes the last three and a half years had never happened.”

A startled Ms Swinson responded by saying the Liberal Democrats had campaigned for a so-called people’s vote for the past three years without getting the support in the House of Commons.

Swinson also received a grilling about her voting record when she was an MP in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government from 2010-2015. Swinson voted ‘Aye’ to more Conservative policies than Conservative MPs did during those years:

The woman asking that question was no ordinary member of the general public. To some viewers, her face seemed very familiar. They were not wrong. The woman is an actress:

That did not go down well with some viewers, and, in my humble opinion, rightly so:

Returning to Jo Swinson, the questions did no favours for the Lib Dems:

Jeremy Corbyn

Right at the outset, Jeremy Corbyn received a verbal smackdown from a long haired, bearded man:

Then, one of Corbyn’s supporters chimed in:

Corbyn’s position on Brexit has been rather nebulous, so, someone asked him about it:

This is what Corbyn said:

Boris Johnson

Boris confirmed to Fiona Bruce and the audience that he had been watching the programme backstage.

The Left have been hammering at Boris for an alleged lack of integrity. Yet, I cannot think of a single politician who has told the truth 100% of the time. Anyway:

As in the United States with the 2016 election, the Left are alleging that Russia interfered in the Brexit referendum campaign. Before Parliament was dissolved, Boris declined to release an official report about it, saying that, customarily, the Prime Minister reviewed such documents over a matter of weeks rather than days:

Someone brought up former Conservative MP, Dominic Grieve, a muckraking Remainer:

Boris got many more difficult questions.

He handled them well. Here he is on education:

And on Brexit:

Many of the questions and remarks were not fair, because he was not a sitting MP for most of the time the Conservatives have been in government. He was Mayor of London during several of those years, a fact that he put forward to the audience. He also said that he has been Prime Minister for only 120 days!

Overall, he managed a conversational tone with everyone, no matter how obnoxious they were:

Nearly everyone is upset over the blatant bias that Fiona Bruce and Mentorn Productions show on Question Time. Therefore, people overall — outside of Leftist activists — empathised with Boris, such as this journalist:

Boris also got a boost from this viewer:

And these:

The Prime Minister was gracious afterwards:

Conclusion

Outside of the usual bias, the Question Time Leaders Special was good, because it is probably be the only time in this election campaign when party leaders will take questions from a live audience.

For those who would like to read more about the programme as it happened, see the Daily Mail (here and here) as well as The Guardian.

If there weren’t already a Magic Johnson, I would have given Boris that nickname.

Last week, Boris surged in a polling question that Survation fielded about the public’s preferred Prime Minister:

Jeremy Corbyn (red, Labour) and Jo Swinson (yellow, Lib Dems) are trailing miserably. Good!

About that result, Guido Fawkes said (emphasis in the original):

Boris has taken an even more commanding lead in Survation’s preferred Prime Minister polling. The PM is up six points on last month, with the Lib Dems crashing down to place Swinson behind Corbyn, who himself has fallen by two points.

This mirrors Deltapoll’s findings over the weekend that saw the Lib Dems tumble five points to just 11%. Ironically the Tories are worried that if Swinson’s party continues to plummet, the Remain vote won’t be split enough to win back key targets in metropolitan places like London…

Even better!

Here are two results from the weekend.

One model predicts a clear Conservative majority — provided, I would caution, that those who go out on Thursday, December 12 vote True Blue — Conservative:

Two other polls show the Conservatives sailing ahead. Again, nothing happens unless Conservative voters go and vote True Blue on December 12:

But, hold on, here’s a third, from Opinium. ‘Blair territory’ means a wipeout, as in 1997. Again, all depends on True Blue voters going out on December 12:

Going back to earlier in the month, on Tuesday, November 12, the Conservatives launched their first election video of the campaign. Given that this would have been scripted, Boris is a natural in front of the camera and makes this four-minute chat look spontaneous:

On Monday, November 18, a reliable commenter on Guido Fawkes had this to say about the Prime Minister (emphases mine):

One small problem with supranational empires such as the EU is that history tells us that they always, without exception, fail. The Roman Empire, Alexandra the Great, the Persian Empire, Genghis Khan, the Soviet Empire, Timur, the British Empire, the Third Reich, Napoleon, and so on. The reason they fail is because nationalism and patriotism are immensely powerful forces that cannot be overcome. No matter how much subjugation and assimilation is forced on people they will always fight against the imperialists.

A very good book about this effect is The Dream of Rome. It explains how even after hundreds of years of being Romans, with a united language, currency, government and legal system the people still fought and died to get their countries back. This book was written by Boris Johnson.

The very fact that the BBC hate Boris, portraying him as a bumbling idiot and doing everything they can to denigrate him is just brilliant for him. It proves that he is not an evil Globalist like they are.

Some people say that it is in the very nature of Boris that he is good at every job he is given, but it is only when he gets the top job that he excels. We saw this when he was a two term Mayor of London. He did the job brilliantly. The evidence for this is irrefutable, just look at the slow motion train wrecks of his predecessor, Ken Livingstone, and his successor, Sadiq Khan, who were both abject failures who failed to meet the challenges of the job. Those who were close to Boris during his tenure say that his especial brilliance was in putting teams together and getting them to work. Exactly what is needed from a leader in government.

Boris has amazing genes, both his parents are Oxford graduates who have achieved much with their lives. Boris too went to Oxford, winning a scholarship. He read Classics there, which is one of the most intellectually demanding courses and he was elected to be President of the Oxford Union. Boris speaks Latin, French and Italian fluently with good German and Spanish.

Then there are the books. Boris has eleven published books with a twelfth, on Shakespeare, due. His biography of Winston Churchill is especially incisive, readable and well thought of.

Boris is not how the Globalist press portray him. But then they are intellectual pygmies next to him, so he must give them a huge inferiority complex. He is the first true patriot we have had as Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. And he is almost certainly the best person in Britain for the job.

I fully agree.

Boris has genuine appeal and energy combined with self-effacement and humour. I met him once in 2001 when he was campaigning to become MP for Henley, a constituency in Oxfordshire that he represented very well indeed. Along with a friend of mine, I chatted with Boris for several minutes. He was humble, self-effacing and ineffably courteous, yet, resolute.

He has done much in his career, both as the editor of The Spectator — which has gone downhill since then — and as a politician.

He brought back a newish Brexit deal from Brussels. Everyone said it could not be done, but he did it. No one gives him credit for his time as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May. However, that post gave him an entry point for negotiating with the EU.

Let’s have another couple of Stefan Rousseau’s excellent photographs for the PA (Press Association) to lead us out in a positive mood:

Boris Johnson will seek to represent the country’s best interests and I hope that the voters of his current constituency, Uxbridge & South Ruislip in west London, re-elect him as their MP, so that he can continue his quest as Prime Minister to put the Great back into Britain.

This week’s posts have largely been about last Saturday’s televised interview that Prince Andrew gave to BBC Newsnight‘s Emily Maitlis.

My post from Tuesday has a link to the full interview, and for those wondering why the public sentiment is so against him, here are several reasons. Yesterday’s post featured his announcement to retire from public life and subtitled video clips from the interview.

Today’s looks at the reasons why Prince Andrew maintained his friendship with the late Jeffrey Epstein. The following quotes are taken from the transcript as published in The Express. Emily Maitlis is ‘Interviewer’.

It’s quite a read, according to this Sunday Times journalist:

How they met

It appears that Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s erstwhile girlfriend, introduced the two (emphases mine):

Well I met through his girlfriend back in 1999 who…and I’d known her since she was at university in the UK and it would be, to some extent, a stretch to say that as it were we were close friends. I mean we were friends because of other people and I had a lot of opportunity to go to the United States but I didn’t have much time with him.

I suppose I saw him once or twice a year, perhaps maybe maximum of three times a year and quite often if I was in the United States and doing things and if he wasn’t there, he would say “well, why don’t you come and use my houses?” so I said “that’s very kind, thank you very much indeed”.

But it would be a considerable stretch to say that he was a very, very close friend. But he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together and that’s the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations, I mean it was a cosmopolitan group of what I would describe as US eminents.

Interviewer: Was that his appeal then?

Prince Andrew: Yeah.

Maitlis asked the prince if the two of them enjoyed partying:

because you were perceived by the public as being the party prince, was that something you shared?

Prince Andrew: Well, I think that’s also a bit of a stretch. I don‘t know why I’ve collected that title because I don’t…I never have really partied. I was single for quite a long time in the early 80s but then after I got married I was very happy and I’ve never really felt the need to go and party and certainly going to Jeffrey’s was not about partying, absolutely not.

This might help jog his memory:

And what about this?

Back to the interview.

Maitlis asked if he trusted Epstein:

Yes, I think I probably did but again, I mean I don’t go into a friendship looking for the wrong thing, if you understand what I mean. I’m an engaging person, I want to be able to engage, I want to find out, I want to learn and so you have to remember that I was transitioning out of the Navy at the time and in the transition I wanted to find out more about what was going on because in the Navy it’s a pretty isolated business because you’re out at sea the whole time and I was going to become the special representative for international trade and investment.

So I wanted to know more about what was going on in the international business world and so that was another reason for going there. And the opportunities that I had to go to Wall Street and other places to learn whilst I was there were absolutely vital.

Epstein’s visits to the UK

Emily Maitlis then asked about Epstein’s visits to the UK as his guest:

Interviewer: He was your guest as well, in 2000 Epstein was a guest at Windsor Castle and at Sandringham, he was brought right into the heart of the royal family at your invitation.

Prince Andrew: But certainly at my invitation, not at the royal family’s invitation but remember that it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this. He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect.

Interviewer: Am I right in thinking you threw a birthday party for Epstein’s girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell at Sandringham?

Prince Andrew: No, it was a shooting weekend.

Interviewer: A shooting weekend.

Prince Andrew: Just a straightforward, a straightforward shooting weekend.

Interviewer: But during these times that he was a guest at Windsor Castle, at Sandringham, the shooting weekend…

Prince Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: We now know that he was and had been procuring young girls for sex trafficking.

All above board in Epstein’s houses?

Prince Andrew then said that he never noticed anything abnormal about Epstein’s houses other than the number of people at all times of day.

He was also a patron of the Full Stop campaign for the UK’s NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) early after the Millennium, a position he held until 2009.

Oh, the irony.

Prince Andrew: We now know that, at the time there was no indication to me or anybody else that that was what he was doing and certainly when I saw him either in the United States…oh no when I saw him in the United States or when I was staying in his houses in the United States, there was no indication, absolutely no indication. And if there was, you have to remember that at the time I was Patron of the NSPCC’s Full Stop campaign so I was close up with what was going on in those time about getting rid of abuse to children so I knew what the things were to look for but I never saw them.

Interviewer: So you would have made that connection because you stayed with him, you were a visitor, a guest on many occasions at his homes and nothing struck you as suspicious

Prince Andrew: Nothing.

Interviewer: …during that whole time.

Prince Andrew: Nothing.

Could it be a matter of perception? In an appearance this week on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Lady Colin Campbell (second tweet) made a dubious distinction:

Moving along:

Interviewer: Just for the record, you’ve been on his private plane.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: You’ve been to stay on his private island.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: You’ve stayed at his home in Palm Beach.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: You visited Ghislaine Maxwell’s house in Belgravia in London.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party — 2006

Maitlis asked Prince Andrew about inviting Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party:

Interviewer: So in 2006 in May an arrest warrant was issued for Epstein for sexual assault of a minor.

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: In July he was invited to Windsor Castle to your daughter, Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday, why would you do that?

Prince Andrew: Because I was asking Ghislaine. But even so, at the time I don’t think I…certainly I wasn’t aware when the invitation was issued what was going on in the United States and I wasn’t aware until the media picked up on it because he never said anything about it.

Interviewer: He never discussed with you the fact that an arrest warrant had been issued?

Prince Andrew: No.

Interviewer: So he came to that party knowing police were investigating him.

Prince Andrew: Well I’m not quite sure, was it police? I don’t know, you see, this is the problem, I really don’t know.

Interviewer: It was the Palm Beach Police at the time.

Prince Andrew: But I mean I’m afraid, you see this is the problem is that an awful lot of this was going on in the United States and I wasn’t a party to it and I knew nothing about it.

Epstein’s 2008 conviction

The prince said that contact with Epstein was in abeyance for a few years:

Interviewer: In 2008 he was convicted of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, he was jailed, this was your friend, how did you feel about it?

Prince Andrew: Well I ceased contact with him after I was aware that he was under investigation and that was later in 2006 and I wasn’t in touch with him again until 2010. So just it was one of those things that somebody’s going through that sort of thing well I’m terribly sorry I can’t be…see you.

The 2010 dinner party

To celebrate his freedom, Epstein threw a private dinner party in December 2010. Prince Andrew was a guest of honour:

Interviewer: He was released in July, within months by December of 2010 you went to stay with him at his New York mansion, why? Why were you staying with a convicted sex offender?

Prince Andrew: Right, I have always…ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I’ve questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do? Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.

And I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgement call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way of doing it. I had to go and see him and talk to him.

And I went to see him and I was doing a number of other things in New York at the time and we had an opportunity to go for a walk in the park and that was the conversation coincidentally that was photographed which was when I said to him, I said “look, because of what has happened, I don’t think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact” and by mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left, I think it was the next day and to this day I never had any contact with him from that day forward.

Interviewer: What did he say when you told him that you were breaking up the friendship?

Prince Andrew: He was what I would describe as understanding, he didn’t go into any great depth in the conversation about what I was…what he was doing, except to say that he’d accepted, whatever it was, a plea bargain, he’d served his time and he was carrying on with his life if you see what I mean and I said “yes but I’m afraid to say that that’s as maybe but with all the attendant scrutiny on me then I don’t think it is a wise thing to do”.

Interviewer: Who advised you then that it was a good idea to go and break up the friendship? Did that come from the palace, was Her Majesty, the Queen involved?

Prince Andrew: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, that came from…so there were a number of people who…so some people from my staff, some people from friends and family I was talking to and I took the decision that it was I had to show leadership and I had to go and see him and I had to tell him “that’s it”.

Interviewer: That was December of 2010.

Prince Andrew: Yep. 

Interviewer: He threw a party to celebrate his release and you were invited as the guest of honour.

Prince Andrew: No, I didn’t go. Oh, in 2010, there certainly wasn’t a party to celebrate his release in December because it was a small dinner party, there were only 8 or 10 of us I think at the dinner. If there was a party then I’d know nothing about that.

Interviewer: You were invited to that dinner as a guest of honour.

Prince Andrew: Well I was there so there was a dinner, I don’t think it was quite as you might put it but yeah, okay I was there for…I was there at a dinner, yeah.

However, it was not as if the prince stayed in a hotel or with other friends and went to Epstein’s only to dine. No, he was a houseguest of his:

Interviewer: I’m just trying to work this out because you said you went to break up the relationship and yet you stayed at that New York mansion several days. I’m wondering how long?

Prince Andrew: But I was doing a number of other things while I was there.

Interviewer: But you were staying at the house

Prince Andrew: Yes.

Interviewer: …of a convicted sex offender.

Prince Andrew: It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.

Interviewer: Because during that time, those few days, witnesses say they saw many young girls coming and going at the time. There is video footage of Epstein accompanied by young girls and you were there staying in his house, catching up with friends.

Prince Andrew: I never…I mean if there were then I wasn’t a party to any of that. I never saw them. I mean you have to understand that his house, I described it more as almost as a railway station if you know what I mean in the sense that there were people coming in and out of that house all the time.

What they were doing and why they were there I had nothing to do with. So I’m afraid I can’t make any comment on that because I really don’t know.

Why he was friends with Epstein

Prince Andrew explained why he maintained his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein:

Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful. He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren’t that close. So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.

Also:

As far as Mr Epstein was concerned, it was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010. As far as my association with him was concerned, it had some seriously beneficial outcomes in areas that have nothing and have nothing to do with what I would describe as what we’re talking about today.

On balance, could I have avoided ever meeting him? Probably not and that’s because of my friendship with Ghislaine, it was…it was…it was inevitable that we would have come across each other. Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.

There’s a lot more those interested can read on their own.

Update

This is what happened on Monday and Tuesday before the prince announced his retirement from public life for the foreseeable future.

It appears that the Queen did give the go-ahead for this interview. On Tuesday, November 19, The Express reported that, although she is standing by her son, his charities’ supporters are not:

THE Queen has thrown her support behind Prince Andrew. It comes despite worldwide criticism over his TV interview on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and a backlash from supporters of his charity patronages.

Sources confirmed that the 93-year-old monarch granted her approval for the Duke of York to give an interview to BBC Newsnight and stands by him. She signalled her backing as Andrew made it clear last night that he “regrets” the whole scenario and not expressing sympathy for the paedophile’s victims. And it emerged yesterday that key sponsors and supporters of Andrew’s charities are reviewing their involvement with him.

Sky News reported on KPMG on Monday:

However, The Express article says that KPMG might have taken the decision prior to the fateful interview:

Royal sources stressed KPMG’s decision was taken before the furore over Andrew’s interview with Newsnight. But the eighth in line to the throne, 59, has been embroiled in controversy since the summer, when previously sealed evidence, including claims about him cavorting with young women in the pay of Epstein, was released.

Another partner of Pitch@Palace, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has indicated it is considering ending its work with the duke.

The article also said that the University of Huddersfield will keep the prince on as chancellor (patron), as the students only ‘discussed’ a petition for him to stand down.

Palace officials are concerned, because the Royal Family is supposed to stay out of the limelight during a general election campaign:

During campaigns, the Royal Family continue normal duties, but are usually urged to be careful to avoid doing anything that will attract controversy and distract attention from the politicians.

Labour supporters have said Andrew’s problems have disadvantaged their party particularly because it is behind in the polls and needs maximum media attention to have a chance of catching up.

The media have been asking politicians their views on the interview. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wisely refuses to be drawn in. Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates, when asked for their opinions, have been critical of the prince.

At the end of the article, Royal Family author Phil Dampier posted an editorial blaming the present situation on the lack of seasoned courtiers currently advising the Queen:

She has lost some experienced advisers in the past couple of years. It seems likely as Buckingham Palace has said she was made aware of it, that she allowed him to get on with it without worrying too much about the details. She has always indulged Andrew and at 93 and 98 she and Prince Philip don’t have the same grip on the family that they used to have

But in the past few years the Queen has appeared to exercise less authority over her family, not least when her private secretary Christopher Geidt was forced out in 2017, apparently because of opposition from other members of the family and their households.

The fallout from this interview is just another sign of the looser grip she is exercising now that we are in a period when the monarchy is gradually preparing itself for a handover to Prince Charles.

Another article in The Express says that when Prince Philip stepped away from public life a few years ago, the fabric of the Royal Family began to unravel:

The Royal Family is missing the involvement of Prince Philip, with royal commentators warning Prince Andrew’s calamitous BBC interview is evidence the Queen has “lost control” of Buckingham Palace. The Duke of Edinburgh, who at 98 no longer plays an active royal role, was widely considered to be “the disciplinarian in the family” and one commentator has said his departure from royal duties has led to a series of royal upsets.

This includes rifts between brothers William and Harry, Meghan Markle’s claims she is struggling with adjusting to royal life and now Prince Andrew’s “car crash interview”.

Veteran courtiers have suggested if Philip was still actively involved, there would have been “no way on this Earth” he would have allowed Andrew to be interviewed.

The Mirror’s Royal Editor Russel Myers has said in the past, the Duke of Edinburgh has warned against media interviews.

Currently, the duke is at Sandringham for health reasons, The Express says:

The Duke of Edinburgh has been staying during the past weeks at Wood Farm, a five-bedroom house on the Queen’s Sandringham estate, where he spends his days reading and “pottering around”, according to a royal insider.

They told The Sun: “A few weeks ago Philip had a bit of a wobble and hasn’t felt so energetic

“Until recently he has been very active — carriage riding, fishing at Balmoral and driving around royal estates — although he no longer drives on public roads following his crash in January …“

I wish the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh all the best. They are a very close couple, each other’s best friend.

However, the spotlight remains on their son. A November 19 report in The Express discusses David McClure, author of Royal Legacy, who wonders how Prince Andrew can fund his lavish lifestyle:

The Duke of York has two large properties including a £13 million chalet in Switzerland ski resort Verbier and the 30-room Royal Lodge in Windsor Park.

He travels extensively and while nowadays this is mostly for the work in the past he has enjoyed regular skiing trips, jaunts in St Tropez and golfing holidays.

McClure said:

There is a mystery as to what he lives on and where his money comes from.

“Andrew’s situation raises the wider issue of the lack of meaningful employment opportunities for middle-ranking royals.

Traditionally the armed services have been the port of call for princes like him.

But he left the navy at the age of 41 in 2001 and since then he has struggled to find a proper role in life.”

The Times reported Prince Andrew’s main income comes directly from Queen Elizabeth II  and is used to maintain his office at Buckingham Palace and pay for his private secretary.

This money comes from the income the Queen receives from her property portfolio The Duchy of Lancaster and amounts to around £249,000 a year.

This year the duchy’s profits amounted to £21.7 million.

Will we ever know? I wonder.

On Wednesday, November 20, 2019, in a surprise — but nonetheless welcome — development, Prince Andrew announced he would be standing down from public life for the foreseeable future:

As I wrote the other day, I could not stomach watching the BBC Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew, but my post from Tuesday has a link to it, and for those wondering why the public sentiment is so against him, here are several reasons.

Newsnight warmed us up for the big event the day before the broadcast:

No one responding to the tweet was impressed. The following reaction was unintentionally funny, however:

Subtitled clips

All of the Twitter clips below are subtitled, so there’s no need for sound. These are what I watched.

In some ways, it is more interesting reading the subtitles and watching Prince Andrew rather than listening.

Ultimately:

I must stop there.

More to follow tomorrow.

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