Wake up sheeple! Alex Jones goes tonto on the Sunday Politics

The shock jock rants about Bilderberg on the BBC's flagship political show.

I was lucky enough to get a ringside seat for this, so I thought it deserved to be shared with a wider audience.

The BBC's Sunday Politics - on which I appear as part of the political panel - invited Alex Jones on to discuss whether the Bilderberg meeting of politicians and business leaders really was as sinister as it's been painted. Opposite him was David Aaronovitch, author of the enjoyable book Voodoo Histories, which dismantles some of the last century's most persistent conspiracy theories.

The video is worth watching for a) David Aaronovitch's mild question that if Alex Jones knows all this top secret truth, and is still alive, does that mean that it's all bollocks or is Jones part of the conspiracy? and b) Andrew Neil's closing "we've got an idiot on the show!".

Jones didn't quite tell us "sheeple" to wake up, but he did suggest that the Euro was a Nazi plot, and that the current lobbying scandals were a distraction from the real problem (ie Bilderberg). If you're tempted to dismiss Jones as a fringe crank, it's sobering to remember that he claims more than two million listeners for his radio show, and more than 250 million views for his YouTube videos.

While in the studio, Jones also filmed the day's political guest, Ed Balls, on his phone, and has since promised that the footage will appear on his website. He also filmed Aaronovitch taking off his powder while saying something about fluoride that I didn't catch. 

This was Andrew Neil's on-air reaction:

It was certainly great telly, even if I don't think we learned anything about Bilderberg. And if all this is beneath you, may I suggest you read my colleague George's excellent dissection of the interview with Ed Balls, which also featured on the show

Alex Jones and David Aaronovitch on the Sunday Politics.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.