Monthly Archives: December 2017

Stella Creasy, An Indie Band And A Lazy Hack

I don’t often mention Stella Creasy, because I usually have no reason to do so. I’m aware, however, that she used to work in public relations, an industry that tells lies for money – and she’s lost none of the talents she employed in her previous occupation. Creasy has recently been the focus of the Twitter furore for attending a gig with Tory MP, Thérèse Coffey. Her complaint? She’s the victim of “sinister bullying”. By implication, she means the so-called “hard left” are the bullies in question.

Earlier today, I took a swipe at Creasy, whom I call ‘Greasy’ for fairly obvious reasons.

It is most revealing that many current MPs on both sides of the House of Commons have either worked for the PR industry or as lobbyists before entering Parliament. Worryingly, the fields of politics and PR have overlapped to such an extent that it is scarcely possible to separate the two. Perhaps this was always inevitable.

Edward Bernays is considered by many to be the ‘father’ of the PR industry, and this quote illuminates the close relationship between political power and the mass media.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

So there it is. Manipulation and mass deception are crucial functions of the PR industry, on which their paymasters in the political parties rely so heavily to achieve power for no other purpose than power itself. Therefore, the idealized notion of the “smoothly functioning society” that Bernays articulates is completely undermined by the objectives of PR companies and political leaders. Yet, it is also easy to see that the “small number of persons”; the political leaders, of whom he talks, do not, as he claims, necessarily “understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses”, for if they did, they would not need to herd them with dog-whistle racism and the production of empty signs in lieu of actual ideas. Such impulses are cynical in the extreme, and narcissistic political careerists, who have worked as PR consultants or lobbyists, know how to manipulate situations. But they don’t act alone: they have contacts within the official media to help them disseminate their lies, half-truths and smears.

Over the course of the last week, I have seen many complaints on my Twitter timeline about Creasy attending a gig of the band Shed Seven with Tory MP, Thérèse Coffey (more about her later) and Michael Dugher, former Labour MP, ex-corporate lobbyist and now Chief Executive of UK Music . The Skwawkbox asked her (Creasy) a perfectly straightforward question about her choice of gig companions. Creasy, being formerly associated with PR, took the opportunity to spin this into a somewhat spiteful tale of ‘hard left bullying’ and ‘misogyny’. Her tale of woe was then picked up by Chris York of the Huffington Post, who chose to side with Creasy and produced a piece of one-sided copy designed to appeal to the confirmation biases of the Labour Right and the Tories. York also used his piece to launch an unwise attack on Skwawkbox.

Skwawkbox Accused Of ‘Deeply Sinister Bullying’ Of Stella Creasy Over Shed Seven Gig

‘What a sad bastard Steve from ‘Skwawkbox’ is.’

“Deeply sinister bullying”? How about hyperbole and guff? Now York may claim that he doesn’t write the headlines, but the opening paragraph tells the same story.

A popular pro-Corbyn blog has been accused of the “deeply sinister bullying” of a female Labour MP after it criticised her for attending a gig with a Conservative counterpart.

Stella Creasy watched indie band Shed Seven at Brixton Academy earlier this month alongside Tory MP, Therese Coffey, and former-Labour MP turned music rep, Michael Dugher, who tweeted his excitement at the prospect.

Aw, isn’t that nice? However, Dugher, as I pointed out, is not a “music rep” but a Chief Executive.  A “rep” or representative is a person who acts on another’s behalf. It’s a totally different kind of job in terms of remuneration and responsibilities. But further down, he says:

Dugher is the Chief Executive of lobbying group UK Music.

Make up your mind, Chris.

York’s piece includes Twitter links to voices sympathetic to Creasy, none of which I will post here.

He then ends his article with the suggestion that Creasy has a majority of decent-thinking folk on her side.

But a small group of vocal Labour supporters and one Labour MP pounced on the story as evidence of something else.

York took exception to my tweet about him and HuffPo “working for the Tories, whether they want to admit it or not”.

Ouch! So I quoted him back.

He later replied:

You”ll notice that he chose to reply to my additional response rather than the quoted tweet. But “no bearing on the thrust of the article”? Au contraire, I’ve nailed it in the article you’re currently reading. So allow me to repeat and rephrase the point I made in my tweet: this article was produced to appeal to the confirmation biases of the Tories and Labour’s self-styled ‘moderates’, and therefore feeds into the continuing anti-Corbyn and, more specifically, anti-Left narrative that dominates the official media’s political reportage. York therefore is, by proxy, working on behalf of the Tories and the Labour Right.

Creasy has some previous form when it comes to manufacturing stories of bullying.  In December 2015, Creasy complained that she was being “intimidated by the hard left”. Creasy was later forced to row back on her claims.

Back to Creasy, Coffey,  Dugher and their pre-Xmas outing. The Cat has no problem with MPs going to see their favourite band, and it’s likely the ticket was complimentary having been provided by Dugher as one of the perks of his job. What the Cat has a problem with are hypocritical Labour MPs that fail to defend their fellow MPs from being monstered by the right-wing press and the Tory Party for refusing to fraternize with their opposite number. So it comes as no surprise that Creasy has refused to defend Laura Pidcock, who famously refuses to ‘hang out’ with Tories. Frankly, I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t either. Indeed, there is no compulsion for Labour MPs to socialize with Tories, even though the right-wing press and les certains in the Labour party deliberately conflate socialization with cross-party work in order to smear Pidcock for her forthright attacks against the socio-economic orthodoxy.

As for Thérèse Coffey, she’s not only a Tory, she’s also a member of the Free Enterprise Group, which was featured on this blog in November. So it’s no surprise that she’s consistently voted to reduce benefits, thereby forcing many people into financial hardship. Coffey’s ignominious voting record can be seen here.

Creasy, for her part, said of David Cameron in 2009, “You can judge Cameron by the company he keeps… and the nature of his party is resolutely right-wing”.  Thus, it is only fair that Creasy be judged by the company she keeps.

The first rule of journalism is to check your sources and then check them again. Just because someone is an MP, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re a reliable source of information. In his article, Chris York has failed in his duty to his readers. By leaving out key details and through his use of language, he gave readers the impression that Creasy was being bullied for simply having a good night out with friends… friends who vote against measures intended to ameliorate the dire circumstances of many of the constituents that Creasy represents. York’s article could either be written off as a classic case of journalistic laziness or active bias, maybe both. I’ll let you decide.

Further reading/viewing

Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation. University of Michigan press.

Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. Harvard University Press.

Curtis, A. (2002) The Century of the Self. Broadcast 17/3/2002. BBC2

Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (2010). Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media. Random House.

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Filed under Language, Media, propaganda, Society & culture

Well, You Could Call It ‘Incompetence’, But…

Yesterday’s revelation that some key documents have either been ‘mislaid’ or have ‘gone missing’ from the National Archives would appear, at first glance, to have some plausibility. But the files, which pertain to important events in British political history, such as the notorious Zinoviev Letter, the Falklands War and the plot to undermine the Wilson governments, seem to have vanished at a most opportune moment for the Conservative government.

Ian Cobain writing in The Guardian says:

The disappearances highlight the ease with which government departments can commandeer official papers long after they have been declassified and made available to historians and the public at the archives at Kew, south-west London.

A Freedom of Information Act request in 2014 showed that 9,308 files were returned to government departments in this way in 2011. The following year 7,122 files were loaned out, and 7,468 in 2013. The National Archives says Whitehall departments are strongly encouraged to promptly return them, but they are not under any obligation to do so.

Worrying. Further down, he writes:

Some historians have been particularly distrustful of the Foreign Office since 2013, when the Guardian disclosed that the department had been unlawfully hoarding 1.2m historical files at a high-security compound near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

The hoard came to light during high court proceedings brought by a group of elderly Kenyans who were detained and abused during the Mau Mau insurgency in 1950s Kenya, when the Foreign Office admitted it had withheld thousands of colonial-era files.

A few years earlier, the Ministry of Defence refused to consider a number of files for release under the Freedom of Information Act on the grounds that they may have been exposed to asbestos.

The files concerned such matters as arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UK special forces operations against Indonesia and interrogation techniques. The MoD denied it was using the presence of asbestos in an old archive building as an excuse to suppress the documents.

When all else fails, blame it on asbestos… or foreigners, or gays or something.

Given the secrecy with which the British state operates, and the Conservative Party’s past record in undermining political parties and the democratic process, the Cat is inclined to suspect foul play. If government departments are allowed to take documents from the National Archives without being compelled to return them, then this leads one to conclude that items weren’t “misplaced”, they were taken for a reason and it’s fairly easy to work out what that reason was: to destroy them or keep them hidden from public view.

Remember that documents that are held in the National Archives are available to historians, academics and other members of the public on request. It is likely that the Tories, who have attempted to revise history for the seven years they’ve been in power, want to create a narrative that is, not only favourable to them, but one in which other legitimate political parties are cast in a negative light.

There must be a fully independent public inquiry into the disappearance of these documents. A failure to do so will only increase public suspicion of the Conservative Party and the state.

Ian Cobain’s book The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation is worth a read.

 

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Filed under censorship, Conservative Party

Migration And Humans

I apologize if I’ve already covered this subject, but I’m always amazed by the numbers of people that seem to think that migration can suddenly be stopped, simply on the basis that the ‘wrong’ people are moving across borders. First, borders are artificial constructs. Sometimes they are defined by geography and other times, they are lines drawn on a map. Second, and this is most important, humans like other animals, are a migratory species. Demanding that people remain in areas where there is conflict or a lack of food and opportunity, is almost like demanding that people stop eating or having sex.

There are many people, who believe that humans aren’t animals or organisms, and believe they’re something else. Quite what they believe themselves to be is a mystery. Do they see themselves as machines? Robots, perhaps?

If you move to take up a job in another town or city, that makes you a migrant. If you move house within a town, city or village, you’re a migrant. You can no more stop human migration than I can dig my way from Britain to China with my bare hands.

I’ve seen people on Twitter retweet Hungary’s semi-fascist President, Victor Orban, who believes that migration can be magically stopped. How can you stop people from migrating? Cut off their limbs?

The self-styled ‘Voice of Europe’ is full of anti-immigration memes and racist and xenophobic propaganda. Much of the content shades outright racism. The timeline is full of retweets from the Daily Express and other far-right sources, including its own blog site in which it claims to be providing “uncensored news”. It is little more than scaremongering and hysteria that’s intended to appeal to the paranoia of gullible fools.

I won’t link to the site, so here’s a broken link that you can copy and paste into your browser. https://voiceofeurope.com/2017/12/life-sentence-for-afghan-refugee-who-raped-and-burned-finnish-girl-alive/#.Wj0fUMN2ykc.twitter

What these small-minded anti-immigration types want is to limit migration to white people only. But there’s a problem with this line of thinking: the anti-immigrationists are selective in what kind of white people they want, though they won’t admit it. The other thing they won’t admit is that, if faced with war or starvation themselves, they would also migrate to find safety, shelter and food.

Migration is one of our survival instincts and to deny these instincts isn’t human at all, but quite the opposite.

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Filed under Human rights, Society & culture, World

For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Bullying And Corruption?

 

The real ‘enemy of the people’ is The Daily Mail

First, a confession, I adapted the title of this blog article from an album by post-punk band, the Pop Group. But it’s a serious question and it’s one that only a few people seem to ask, while even fewer seem to want to do anything about it beyond putting an ‘x’ against a candidate’s name in a distant general election. Yet, the problem that confronts us is one that must be dealt with now before it’s too late. This cruel and corrupt Tory government, which seems to delight in each death caused by homelessness or its callous cuts to benefits, continues in power as if immune from criticism. Worse, perhaps, is the way government ministers like Mark Garnier, who was recently accused of making his assistant buy sex toys for him and whom he also called ‘sugar tits’, are allowed to continue in their posts as if nothing has happened. If this had been a Labour or SNP MP, the media campaign to force him to resign would have been relentless. Instead, there was nary a peep from the Tory press and practically silence from the BBC.

Yesterday, Labour activist and blogger @Rachael_Swindon, was doorstepped by a ‘reporter’ from The Daily Mail, who apparently wanted to confirm her gender. Apparently, the Tories and their media pals couldn’t believe that a woman was capable of blogging and tweeting for herself. But that says more about the Tory mindset than they would care to admit. And there’s something else: it would appear that the Mail’s campaign of bullying and intimidation has moved from print to IRL (in real life) harassment. This is a new and worrying development. In what other country would you find a national newspaper intimidating people on their doorsteps?

The claim that Rachael was a man has been doing the rounds among simple-minded Tory hacks for a couple of months or so. One of leaders in this endeavour is Jane Merrick, a “freelance reporter” for the Telegraph et al. Make sure you look at the thread too.

We are often told by the defenders of Britain’s newspaper industry that there is something called a ‘free press’. But is a free press supposed to act as an auxiliary attack-dog for the government? It does here in Britain.

At today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Dr Rosena Allin-Khan asked the following question about the rise in homelessness:

In 2009, the Prime Minister said it was

“a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle”was “continuing to rise.” Every child deserves to have a roof over their head and food on the table, yet on her watch, in Wandsworth alone, the number of families forced to survive on food banks is continuing to rise, and 2,500 children—yes, children—will wake up homeless on Christmas day. So my question is simple: when will this austerity-driven Government say enough is enough and put an end to this tragedy?

Theresa May offered, the by now, characteristic but ultimately mendacious response:

The hon. Lady should note that, in fact, this Government have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of absolute poverty. But it is important for all those who have heard her question to be aware of this: she talks of 2,500 children in Wandsworth waking up homeless on Christmas day; anybody hearing that will assume that what that means is that 2,500 children will be sleeping on our streets. It does not. [Interruption.] It does not mean that. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

 Order. Hon. and right hon. Members are accustomed to these exchanges taking somewhat longer. So be it. The questions will be heard, and the answers from the Prime Minister will be heard. I am in no hurry at all.
 Prime Minister

It is important that we are clear about this for all those who hear these questions because, as we all know, families with children who are accepted as homeless will be provided with accommodation. I would also point out to Opposition Members that statutory homelessness is lower now than it was for most of the period of the last Labour Government

You’ll notice how May resorted to her default line of attacking the last Labour government instead of accepting responsibility. This happens at PMQs week in and week out. We hear claims like “absolute poverty has fallen” as if poverty itself had been eradicated, and yet, this is nothing more than a corrupt method of measuring poverty, which then allows the government off the hook for failing to deal with a growing social problem. In this alone, its tendency to social Darwinism is once again laid bare.

We are being ill-served by a government that puts its own party interests above those of the country. This is a government, so shot through with venality, that will do anything to cling to power and that includes smearing political opponents. This deviousness and bullying are like twin threads that have been running through the Conservative Party since 1924 when it used the forged Zinoviev Letter to bring down Ramsay MacDonald’s weak minority government.

Chris Grayling appeared on Newsnight on Tuesday evening and took the opportunity to gaslight viewers with his warped take on online abuse. Diane Abbott has received 45% of the abuse dished out on social media and yet, here’s Grayling claiming that the abuse is coming from the Left – particularly Momentum.

Bullying is second nature to the Tories and, as we saw in the case of RoadTrip2015, it resulted in the suicide of a young party activist. Others were blackmailed. Some were sexually assaulted. The internal party inquiry was roundly dismissed as a whitewash (as it was in the case of Aidan Burley and the Nazi uniform controversy).

The Conservatives have become so corrupted by their own lust for power that they have ceased to function as a party of government. Its constant refrain is “if you don’t vote for us, you’ll let Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street”. This is not only a form of blackmail, but it also shows a deeply-rooted disdain for democracy. Tellingly, the media also adopts the same spiel when it engages in character assassinations against Corbyn and left-wing Labour MPs like Laura Pidcock. It has smeared Emma Dent Coad for daring to ask questions about the government’s attitude to social housing tenants – especially the victims of the Grenfell Fire. What kind of people do that? Tories.

But we also have a corrupt national press that feels it has the right to hack a dead girl’s phone, intimidate political activists, smear the government’s opponents and undermine both the democratic process and the judiciary. Tell me, where else does this happen?

So, I ask again: for how much longer do we tolerate bullying and corruption?

Edited  21/12/17@ 1108

To add content from Newsnight

 

 

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Filed under Bullying, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Where’s The Outrage?

We keep hearing from the corrupt Tory press and assorted right-wing halfwits of how Labour is “riddled with anti-Semites”, but where is the outrage over this piece of dog-whistle anti-Semitism from the self-styled ‘Prof’ Godfrey Bloom? The silence is, er, deafening.

I’ve taken a screenshot in case he deletes this tweet.

What’s interesting is how @GnasherJew and his creepy Twitter friends have said the sum total of fuck all about this.

Bloom is already well known for his racist and sexist outbursts. But if you’re expecting him to face the wrath of the self-appointed guardians of the Internet, you could be waiting a long time.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Racism, UKIP

Brexit: A Warning

If you were paying attention to the European Union referendum campaign, you will have noticed that the voices that advocated so-called ‘Lexit’ were drowned out by the sound and fury of right-wing Brexiteers on the one hand, and the Remain camp on the other. If there is a left-wing alternative to the Brexit of Britain’s right-wing fantasists, will they please make themselves heard now?

Somehow I don’t think those voices will ever be heard. There is a reason for this: the official media continues to promote the narrow-minded, bigoted Little Englander discourses of the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg, Michael Gove and Nigel ‘Fag Ash’ Farage as the only legitimate point of view. The same crowd of Empire nostalgics have urged Theresa May to “ditch” the Working Time Directive, which limits the hours people can work. The Tory press has been resolutely opposed to this, because apparently, overwork is ‘good for you’. Meanwhile, according to the Huffington Post, Gove has been accused of wanting to steal “holiday days from workers”. The S*n (I won’t link to it) tells its readers that they’re in line for “an overtime bonanza”. Yes, people, you’ll be able to work until it kills you. No one should have to work overtime to survive.

For what it’s worth, The Cat feels that if Britain leaves the EU with the right in charge of this country, we will find ourselves in a situation in which workers will have no rights, and with the same class of halfwits lording it over us, and getting ever richer on the backs of labour, we will be no better than serfs. If you think the situation is dire now, just wait until we’ve left the EU. You will be required to work until the day you die.

I don’t think the EU is a particularly benevolent institution and it has many flaws. Equally, Britain doesn’t have a proper democracy and the political institutions of this country have been corrupted by the Conservative Party, which believes that it, and it alone, has the right to govern in perpetuity.

If you don’t get off your knees and fight back, you will be forever in chains.

You have been warned.

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Filed under Brexit, Government & politics, Tories, UKIP