What Is It With The BBC And The Far Right? They Can’t Help Themselves

I’ve written on this blog before about the relationship between the BBC and the far-right. This is a relationship is about as old as the corporation itself. The first manager, and then Director General of the BBC, John Reith was known to admire Hitler and Mussolini. Coincidentally, the BBC was founded in 1922, the same year that Mussolini came to power.

I came across this photo on Twitter and no, it isn’t photoshopped. This is actually Newsnight’s Evan Davis having a selfie taken with Britain First’s Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen.

We’ve been here before. Remember this from a few years ago? Nick Robinson claimed he didn’t know who she (Fransen) was.

Image result for nick robinson jayda fransen

It’s a piss-poor excuse.

The fact of the matter is that the BBC has always gone soft on the far-right, while, at the same time, denying a space to the far-left for balance. On the exceedingly rare occastions when someone from a far-left party is invited into the studios, they’re talked over, shouted down and patronised, while their far-right counterpart is given the softball treatment.

We’re constantly being told how figures like Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen aren’t far-right or fascists, but are ‘populists’. This would seem to indicate that the BBC is seeking to trivialize, even legitimize neo-fascist politics.

Davis claims he was “duped” in this article in The Daily Star from 2016.  If your job is to report on politics, then it’s incumbent upon you to know who is involved in which party.

 

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Own the words and own their definitions

Words matter, and far too many people repeat the language that permeates the field of mainstream political and social discourse. The father of modern linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure, said that language is a “system of signs”. Words are like pictures, and when we think of a word, an image of the object comes to mind. Like me, George Carlin was interested in language and how it’s been used, some would say ‘hijacked’, by the dominant ideology to shape the way we see the world and ourselves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuEQixrBKCc

ducksoap

ElmoIn political discourse certain words and their definitions are mini soundbites.  They are hooks onto which an argument can be attached and they are guides to direct the perspective of the opponent or the observer.  

New words and new meanings for existing words acquire a majority consensus for their respective definitions quickly which are difficult to alter.  Many of these definitions are specifically designed to hide or to distort. 

For example, alt-right” was invented as a tool to humanise and to downplay extreme-right racists, populist” was given a new definition that sought to obscure the extreme-right nature of the politics to which the word is applied, “gig economy” was invented as a jaunty neutral description of low paid, insecure, unsafe, unregulated employment with no statutory rights, and moderate” was given a new political definition that sought to describe nothingness as a viable entity…

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Stand down Margaret

Since the story broke last week, Margaret Hodge has been mythologised by the right-wing of the Labour Party, who are eager to do anything it takes to remove Jeremy Corbyn as party leader. This blog article puts paid to the notion that Hodge singlehandedly destroyed the BNP in Barking. In fact, the opposite was true: she actually appropriated some of their rhetoric around local housing issues.

Hodge, in my view, is little better than the racists she claims to loathe. by pandering to racists, she has shown that she is nothing but a cheap opportunist, who will do anything to cling to her parliamentary seat, even if it means adopting the BNP’s clothes.

rebel notes

Not content with calling Jeremy Corbyn a “fucking antisemite and racist”, and treating herself as the victim when the Labour Party threatened to act on a third party complaint about her use of outrageous and abusive language against a fellow Labour MP whom she has known for several decades, and is the leader of the Labour Party, Margaret Hodge has had the chutzpah to compare her fight against Corbyn’s alleged antisemitism with her fight in her Barking constituency against the British National Party (BNP). She has cynically drawn on her family’s direct experience of the Holocaust to bolster her special right to pronounce on the subject.Strategic Framework for English Tourism launch

The usual suspects who regularly target their venom at Corbyn instead of the Tory Party, (and happen, coincidentally, to be members of Labour Friends of Israel), Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger, Jess Philips, Chuka Umunna and others, have all lined up to defend Hodge’s comments…

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Private bill to introduce further charges to patients for healthcare services is due for second reading today

Kitty S Jones on Christopher Chope’s Private Member’s Bill to introduce charges for healthcare. Whenever a bill is introduced to hammer the less well-off (in other words, those people who aren’t members of his social class), you’ll always find Chope and the usual suspects not too far behind.

Politics and Insights

NHS charges

Christopher Chope, a Barrister and the Conservative MP for Christchurch, has proposed a private bill that would make provision for co-funding, and to extend the use of ‘co-payment’ – charges – throughout the National Health Service (NHS); and for “connected purposes.”

Though there are already some charges for health services such dental treatments, eye tests and prescriptions already, experts have warned that if the bill gains assent, it would open the floodgates to charging for a range of other services including GPs appointments and minor operations.

The National Health Service (Co-Funding and CoPayment) Bill would “make provision for co-funding and for the extension of co-payment for NHS services in England” and this will be the second reading of the bill.

MPs are set to debate the proposed bill today.

Recent changes to NHS prescribing guidelines has shown that the co-payment system is far from perfect. Controversial limits to…

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A BBC Producer, Guido And Me

The antics of Britain’s news media in the last few weeks have been, to say the least, discomfiting and laughable in equal measure. From the production of anti-Corbyn smears to their fulsome and unquestioning support for the government’s vague position on the Skripal poisoning case, the media has shown itself incapable of critical analysis and devoid of professional curiosity. It has, instead, resorted to smearing the leader of the opposition, who advised a more cautious, even statesman-like approach. For his trouble, he was smeared by the government, the media and even some members of his own party, most notably the MP for BAe Systems, John Woodcock.

The BBC has been especially poor and has recently taken to sourcing news stories from the disreputable flak machine that’s Guido Fawkes. I wrote about the site in this article from 2012.

Last October, as I watching The Daily Politics, I’d noticed that the editorial team had sourced an item about Labour MP, Jared O’Mara, from Guido. I took to Twitter to express my disgust and disbelief.

On Monday, anticipating a smear story that was about to break, I took to Twitter again after it emerged that the BBC and other news organizations, had sourced a story from Guido.

This morning I noticed there had been a reply from someone claiming to work as a producer for Radio 4 ‘s You and Yours.

The arrogance here is astonishing.

I responded, first by telling him he was “projecting”, then I quoted his tweet, so that everyone could see what kind of people work for the BBC.

Mousley has yet to respond. But if this is how one BBC employee replies to viewers and listeners, then it’s a fair bet that this high-handed, smug attitude is consistent throughout the Corporation. If Mousley deletes the tweet, then I have a screen shot.

We expect better from our news providers, but when they produce blatant propaganda pieces and repeat smear stories sourced from sites like Guido, then they no longer deserve the trust and support of the public.

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Farewell, Hip Priest

By all accounts the leader and most consistent member of The Fall, Mark E Smith, was an irascible and puzzling figure; a contrarian and working class autodidact, whose lyrics were a mix of the absurd and the inscrutable. Smith died last week, aged 60 and given his intake of speed and alcohol, it’s a surprise he lasted this long. He was only outdone by Lemmy, whose own consumption for the same substances led many to believe his demise was imminent. Unlike MES, Lemmy managed to hold out longer till he died in 2015, aged 70.

I became a fan of the Fall (some might say I was obsessed) in 1979, when I was introduced to them by a friend, who also introduced me to Gang of Four. In fact, for the first part of the 1980s, I probably listened to The Fall more than any other band. I’m not going to offer a retread of the obituaries that you’ve no doubt read in the pages of the popular press. My tribute is to the music of The Fall, who are unlikely to continue as a band now that MES is dead. I mean, what would be the point? The Fall was MES.

This is ‘No Xmas For John Quays’ from the album Live At The Witch Trials. The title is a play on words, the John Quays being the junkies who still have to find a fix on Xmas Day.  There are a few things happening in this song. First, in the song’s introduction, MES explains “The ‘x’ in Xmas is a substitute crucifix for Christ”. Christian fundamentalists and hilarious right-wingers will often claim that the use of the abbreviation ‘Xmas’ is blasphemous. If only they did as much reading as MES, eh? Second, is the way he namechecks the tragic Frankie Lymon, who died of a heroin overdose in 1968 at the age of 25. He was shooting up in his teens. It’s the way MES sings/screams “Talking about Frankie Lymon. Tell me why is it so”? Then there’s the humour “Good King Wenceslas looked out. Silly bugger, he fell out”.

This is the first Fall single that I bought, which I played repeatedly on Hot Valves, my show on Radio Fiona, a land-based pirate station that broadcasted to North Hertfordshire and East Bedfordshire. It sort of reflected my foolish taste for speed, which I gave up for the last time in the Summer of 1983.

In 1981, The Fall only released one single, ‘The Lie Dream of a Casino Soul’. I like the single both for the music (obviously) and the typewritten sleeve notes on the back, which are as inscrutable as the lyrics. Is “Dyckoff = Deutsche Kendals” related to the lines “No nerves left Monday morning and I think I’ll cut my dick off. The trouble it got me in”? Maybe it is. It’s hard to tell.

Although only one single was released in 1981, the same year saw the release of the Slates EP, which was on 10 inch vinyl, meaning that it was too long to be a single and too short to be an album. For some unexplained reason, Slates reminds me a lot of the first and only time I went to the Stonehenge Free Festival.  This is ‘Fit and Working Again’, which is the first track on the second side.

This is the B-side to the 1982 single Look, Know, which contains the memorable lines “Do you know what you look like, before you go out” and “Happy memories leave a bitter taste”. Classic MES. It’s difficult to believe it now, but there was actually a CB (Citizens’ Band) craze in Britain that had been inspired by the 1978 Hollywood film, Convoy. I often found it weird to hear Brits going around saying things like “10-4, good buddy” and “Eyeball, eyeball”. My next door neighbour in Letchworth would spend all night on her CB radio and you could hear her talking to her insomniac pals through the thin walls.

Until Brix Smith joined The Fall after marrying MES in 1983, The Fall didn’t do cover versions of songs. That changed with the release of ‘Couldn’t Get Ahead’  in 1985, whose B-Side was ‘Rollin’ Dany’. This was followed by Bend Sinister in 1986, which included the single ‘Mr. Pharmacist’. I rather liked the B-side, ‘Lucifer Over Lancashire’.

In 1988, the band released the album I Am Kurious Oranj, whose title was a play on title of the 1967 Swedish film Jag är nyfiken – en film i gult  (I Am Curious (Yellow)). The film caused controversy for its use of simulated sexual intercourse and was banned in some American states.  I Am Kurious Oranj saw the band join forces with Michael Clarke’s contemporary dance company. MES was known to be a fan of reggae as well as Krautrock and 60s garage punk, and this track has an identifiable reggae backbeat to it.

Shortly after the release of I Am Kurious Oranj, I began to lose touch with The Fall, but every now and again, I’d hear a new song like this one, which I played before a gig to get me into the rhythm. This is the official video for the song ‘Free Range’.

This blog post could go on forever and there a loads of Fall songs that I could easily include, like ‘The Man Whose Head Expanded’, which uses a Casio PT-1 or ‘Couldn’t Get Ahead’, so I’ll just finish with this one.

Farewell, Hip Priest.

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Smears, Lies, Social Media And Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis. He don’t ‘alf like a good old smear.

Social media may have its problems but there’s one thing about it that cannot be denied: it has effectively democratized the production and dissemination of information. Until fairly recently, the production of information was tightly controlled by what is often laughingly referred to as the ‘free press’ or ‘free media’, which is mostly controlled and owned by Conservative-supporting proprietors. Cast your minds back to the General Election of 1992 and The S*n’s disgraceful front pages. Cast your minds back to 1996 when Tony Blair, then merely the leader of the Labour Party, had to get on his hands and knees and beg for Rupert Murdoch’s support. I don’t want a return to those days, but the Tories clearly do, and there’s a reason why they complain so bitterly about social media and whine about non-existent online abuse: they resent the fact that people can make their own judgements based on information that wouldn’t have been available to them 10 or 20 years ago. The Tories are also incapable of matching the social media campaigns of groups like Momentum and, by way of reply, end up producing the most laughable efforts, like Activate.

Smear at will, chaps! That ought to convince the voters that we’re the natural party of government!

Last week, Theresa May reshuffled her cabinet and brought in Brandon Lewis, the MP for Great Yarmouth, as chairman of the Conservative Party. His deputy is James (Not So) Cleverly, the MP for Braintree (there’s a joke in there), whose Twitter feed is full to bursting with smears and lies. When I heard about Lewis’s appointment, this is what I tweeted.

The role of the Tory Party chairman, as far as I can see it, is to co-ordinate smear attacks on their enemies. This is how it’s been since the 1920s, when national newspapers like the Daily Mail,  a ‘newspaper’ friendly to the interests of the Tories, could publish forgeries like the Zinoviev Letter to affect the outcome of a general election and, at the same time, undermine the democratic process safe in the knowledge that it enjoyed high level protection.

When Lewis  appeared on today’s Andrew Marr Show, he didn’t disappoint. Immediately afterwards, he tweeted:

My response was brief and to the point.

Later, this was tweeted from the Tories’s official Twitter account:

When Angela Rayner told her Twitter followers how she dealt with online abuse, Lewis saw this as an opportunity to make  dishonest political capital and smear the Labour frontbench at the same time.

Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads was having none of it and reminded Lewis that his “Respect Pledge” was little more than a gimmick.

That reminds me, what happened to the 40 or so Tory MPs that were recently outed as sex pests and worse? It’s all gone rather quiet.

CCHQ quoted Cleverly in the Sunday Express:

Here it is from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Cleverly has very little room to complain about abuse, yet here he is assuming the moral high ground. When all else fails, pretend your shit doesn’t stink and smear it all over your opponents.

The Tories have been very fond of claiming that Labour and by extension, the Left, has been singularly responsible for online abuse. But this is a topsy-turvy version of reality, because it’s been demonstrated that the abuse comes mainly from the Right and is directed at Labour MPs like Emma Dent Coad, Laura Pidcock and Diane Abbott. The New Statesman tracked 25, 688 abusive tweets and noted that most of them were directed at Diane Abbott.  Tory MPs, by contrast, have been challenged on their lies, which they then wilfully misinterpret as “online abuse”. There’s a reason for this: social media has, for the first time, allowed many people to not only engage with their MPs, but to openly challenge the lies and misinformation produced by Tory MPs and the propagandists at CCHQ. This is anathema to Tories, who may talk a good talk about freedom and democracy, but work tirelessly to stifle those things.

I didn’t see Brandon Lewis on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday morning but I suspect that Marr didn’t once challenge or refute any of his accusations or smears. However, the Marr Show helpfully tweeted this, and what I’ve noticed from this clip is how Lewis, rather than face up to the fact that his party is now, most likely, the third largest party in Britain, smears his way out of an uncomfortable moment. But that’s not all: watch how he squirms when it’s revealed to viewers that the abolition of credit card charges, announced on Saturday, was a European Union directive, and not down to the government, as their Twitter meme mendaciously suggests.

What Lewis is really saying is “We’re are crap at social media and it’s not fair that Labour is better than us”. The logic behind this is that the Tories think that being good at social media means being abusive and making baseless allegations, but this is an obvious psychological projection.

One smear that’s been doing the tours of the radio and television studios is the claim that Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told an audience that he wanted to “lynch” Esther McVey. McDonnell actually quoted what someone else had said and yet, the Tories, being Tories, attributed the words to him directly. Worse perhaps, the BBC always fails to challenge Tory MPs who reproduce these lies live on air, as Sarah Smith did when the lie was repeated to her by Immigration Minister, Caroline Noakes, on The Sunday Politics. She apologized towards the end of the show.

The Tories are comfortable with racists. That’s not a smear; that’s the truth. For when Boris Johnson makes another racist joke or calls black children “piccaninnies”, nothing happens.  It’s waved away. For example, when Scottish Tory councillors spouted sectarian and racist remarks, Ruth Davidson gave them a quick slap on the wrists and welcomed them back a few weeks later. The official media, for its part, said little if anything at all. Yet, the Tories and their pals on Fleet Street and elsewhere will seize on any opportunity to paint Labour as a uniquely anti-Semitic party, and when their own members are guilty of real anti-Semitism, what happens? Absolutely nothing. Not even the official media are interested.

When Toby Young was appointed to the board of the Office for Students, a quango set up by Bozza’s half-witted and less charismatic sibling, Jo Johnson, people took to social media in their droves to point out Young’s lack of suitability. Central to these claims were Young’s 40,000 or so tweets, many of which expressed crude sexism and homophobia, one even suggested anal rape. But that wasn’t the least of it, his advocacy for what he calls “progressive eugenics” (a bizarre and contradictory construction if ever there was one) was also cited as grounds for his unsuitability. Young was forced to stand down. Predictably, the Tories started complaining about “online lynching” and “trial by Twitter”. Not one of them mentioned eugenics or the important fact that it’s a long discredited pseudo-science, which was central to Hitler’s Final Solution. In their silence, they’ve clearly revealed themselves, not only to be Social Darwinists, but tacit supporters of eugenics.

Thanks to social media many of us are better informed than we once were.  Yes, there is online abuse but most of it comes from the Right and not the Left.  But ordinary citizens are now able to call out politicians on their lies and distortions, so when the Tories claimed they had abolished credit card charges all by themselves, they were immediately met by a barrage of corrections. The Tories hate that. For them, it’s tantamount to abuse and for people that declare themselves tough and in control, they betray themselves as rather thin-skinned and lacking in control. Worse still, the Tories are a party bereft of ideas and haemorrhaging members, and they see smears, lies and abuse as substitutes.

To borrow from the villain’s stock line at the end of an episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? “We would have gotten away with it, if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids and your social media”.

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