Category Archives: Society & culture

Read The Independent? Don’t Look At The Comments Threads.

Most online versions of British newspapers moderate their comments or will close threads if they know they’re likely to attract bigots. Not so with The Independent, which has now overtaken the old Telegraph blogs comments threads as a magnet for racists, xenophobes and neo-fascists. Only comments that use words like ‘shit’, ‘cunt’ or ‘fuck’ are flagged for moderation and deleted; anything else is ignored and the bigots know this, hence the reason why they flock to The Independent. Therefore, it would seem that comments are not moderated in any meaningful sense and the website uses algorithms to weed out comments that use the aforementioned swear words. If you flag a comment for moderation for its racist content, it is always ignored. This tells me the website doesn’t employ moderators and if it does, they’re not doing their job.

A year ago, I wrote to The Independent to complain at the lack of moderation. I have received no reply and no action has ever been taken.

This article written by Biba Kang about Diane Abbott is typical.  In fact, any article that mentions either her, black people and Muslims attracts swarms of bigots. The article opens with these two short paragraphs.

After today’s Good Morning Britain aired, viewers have been criticising Diane Abbott for her use of the N-word, live on TV.

On Twitter, many have decided it’s their right to chastise the MP, berating her for using such “foul language” on air at 7.20am.

Some viewers were apparently offended by Abbott’s use of the word ‘nigger’ on Good Morning Britain, which was entirely in context with her description of the abuse she has been subjected to on Twitter. Many, if not most, of the comments on this article are from racists, who demand to know why they can’t say the word themselves. It’s a stupid question posed with a sly grin and a knowing wink.

This one couldn’t resist the old “you’re making it up” line that was a favourite of bigots in the 60s and 70s.

2 hours ago
DebG9999
when things go badly for Diane Abbott she always raises the subject of racial discrimination – funny that …..
The contributor below thought if the word was used as the name of Guy Gibson’s dog in The Dambusters, then it’s fine. What’s good for Guy is good for us. Worse still is his claim that it’s only a shade of black. Such notions are disconnected from the reality of history when it was coined by whites to denigrate black people. It acts, therefore, as a linguistic means of oppression.
6 hours ago
dingdong
Restricting the uses of certain words to specific races is in itself racist. I don’t have a problem with the word, or it being used by anyone. It was the name of Guy Gibson’s dog, an Agatha Christie novel and a “shade” of black. A word is a word, you can only be offended by it if you choose to do so !
The Oxford English Dictionary says that it began to be used as a hostile pejorative in the 18th century. To those white bigots who say “well, black people say it to each other, so why can’t I use it?”, I have this to say to you: “why do you want to use it”? Furthermore, not all black people use it. Richard Pryor, for example, used it in his comedy routine, but after a trip to Africa, he stopped using it, because he could see the corrosive effect the word had on others. The white bigots who ask why they can’t say it themselves are most likely already using it.
Like many others, this contributor thought it was all about free speech, which has become the battle cry for racist, sexists and homophobes. I mean, why can’t I just go around insulting people if I feel like it?
10 hours ago
Aykarralyu

Any point of view that states a group of people have no right to their own opinion is inherently wrong.

No one may deny any other person the right to think or the right to speak.

Yes, but “Aykarralyu”, this isn’t about “opinions, this is about ethnic slurs.Perhaps this contributor should go up to a black person and say it, just to see what happens. 
This comment, expressing more faux outrage got 14 up ticks.
SilentScream
Another black writer displaying her contempt for white people and the Indy laps it up

18 hours ago
Traffyman
No one is free in the uk. We are constantly meddled with. Being told you cant say that, kids are not aloud to sing barbar black sheep anymore. How pathetic. It has nothing to do with skin colour. We are constantly being kept in line so we have no fun, just work, sleep eat repeat. That is what they want from us. Oh yeah and die young so we never see our pensions. That is why no one has any respect for the government or takes no notice of them. Politics in the uk is a complete joke now.
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Racism, Society & culture

Manic Street Preachers – ‘Freedom of Speech Won’t Feed My Children’

Here’s some music to go with the last blog article. This is from the Manics’ 2001 album Know Your Enemy. When the track ends, it’s worth scrolling forward to 3.40 for their rendition of McCarthy’s ‘We Are All Bourgeois Now’.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Popular music

Free Speech Warriors And The Free Speech Illusion

I call them ‘free speech warriors’ but you may know them as the ‘alt-right’ and/or as neo-Nazis and neo-fascists. Whenever they’re challenged on their racist and sexist views, free speech warriors will complain long and hard that their right to free speech is being limited. They may even whine about ‘political correctness gone mad’. What they refuse to understand is that if they should utter ill-informed opinions or hate speech, then people have a right to challenge them. That’s not closing down free speech, that is free speech. It’s the right to reply. For the free speech warriors, freedom of speech means “I say what I like and you shut up” and if you challenge them, they may even utter the juvenile “you hate free speech”. The free speech warrior’s concept of ‘free speech’ is nothing more a form of bullying, and by being over-sensitive to criticism, they are little better than the authoritarians they claim to hate.

What British free speech warriors have consistently failed to understand is that free speech is an illusion. Why? Because there is nothing on the statute books that enshrines the right to free speech. Even a first year ‘A’ Level Media Studies student knows that. Let’s just take a look at three ways in which free speech is limited in Britain.

  1. The Official Secrets Act: Everything the state does is subject to the OSA and when I say ‘everything’, I mean everything. Even the brand of toilet paper that’s used in government departments is covered by the act. Breaching the OSA can land you with a massive fine, a prison sentence or both.

This section provides the penalties and mode of trial for offences under the Act.

Section 10(2) provides that a person guilty of an offence under section 8(1) or 8(4) or 8(5) is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

Section 10(1) provides that a person guilty of any other offence under the Act is liable, on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to a fine, or to both, or, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.

The words “51 weeks” are prospectively substituted for the words “three months” in section 10(2) by paragraph 39 of Schedule 26 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

  1. DSMA-Notices (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notices), formerly called D-Notices are official requests from the Ministry of Defence to media editors advising them to not to publish or broadcast certain items for reasons of national security. The committee that oversees the DSMA Notices is always chaired by a retired senior military officer (a general, admiral or air marshal).
  2. Defamation Laws are used by the rich and powerful to silence dissent. Private Eye magazine has been subject to more libel suits than any other British publication, because it dares to ask serious questions about the powerful people that govern this country. Yet, defamation laws, when properly used, protect people whose reputations have been traduced in the public domain. Sadly, for the ordinary person on an average income, they don’t have the financial means to make use of the High Court to challenge the defamatory allegations printed about them in the tabloid press, which routinely makes up its ‘news’ from lies and smears. The LM network, being the contrarians they are, want to abolish defamation laws altogether. That’s not a surprise, given the fact that ITN successfully sued LM Magazine for libel in 2000.

If you go around thinking that free speech means having the freedom to racially or sexually harass people online, or saying the first thing that comes into your head, then you have a lot of growing up to do. But do these people actually go out of their way to insult their friends, family and work colleagues? Probably. They would claim that they don’t want to be censored and yet, we censor ourselves all the time. How many people tell white lies in order to spare the feelings of a partner, spouse, child or parent? Plenty. Do free speech warriors tell their boss how much they hate them? If they want to keep their job, then they’ll keep schtum until they’ve found another job. However, it is unlikely that the likes of Brendan O’Neill would ever find himself in that position but would he tell his paymaster, Rupert Murdoch, to fuck off? Unlikely. He loves the money he pays him to recycle the same old articles he’s been writing for the last 10 years.

In Excitable Speech (1997), Judith Butler argues:

Language is thought of “mostly as agency-an act with consequences;’ an extended doing, a performance with effects.

Free speech warriors aren’t cognizant of causality; they think they can say what they like, when they like and without consequences, but actions – including verbal actions –  always have consequences. Those who believe that certain kinds of speech don’t hurt people should be locked in a room and subjected to hours of insults and taunts. Let’s see how they deal with it. The chances are they will suffer same kind of psychological trauma they’ve inflicted on their victims on social media and elsewhere.

The free speech warrior is a person that has refused to grow up and accept the fact that they have responsibilities. Free speech has, therefore, become the last refuge of the bully, the racist and the misogynist. Personally, I blame the parents.

References/further reading

Bourdieu, P. (2011). Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press

Butler, J. (1997). Excitable speech: A politics of the performative. Psychology Press.

5 Comments

Filed under Bullying, Language, Society & culture

Open Letter To Sarah Champion

Dear Sarah Champion,

Let me salute your dedication to the cause of equality for women and children. Bravo. You’ve done some excellent work. However, your use of the word ‘culture’ is deeply problematic and indicative of the kind of ignorance I see being displayed by the far-right, who seem to believe that culture is determined by skin colour. I realise that, as a Psychology undergraduate at Sheffield University, you were unlikely to have encountered the work of sociologist, Raymond Williams – especially his seminal book, Keywords. Let me enlighten you.

Culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language

Williams, 1988: 87

The determinism behind your use of the word suggests to the gullible and the terminally bigoted that there is a unique culture of paedophilia among men of Pakistani origin. There isn’t. Did it ever occur to you that is the kind of language that plays into the hands of the far-right? I doubt it. You’ve written articles on this subject for The S*n, a paper that lied about the Hillsborough Disaster and has spent the past 40 years attacking the party of which you are purportedly a member. Today, you’ve given an interview to another Murdoch paper, The Times, which takes a similar line to your party. Maybe you don’t care. Maybe you’re not really a person of the left and, given your complaints about the left in the Times, perhaps it’s time to reassess your political position? Just a thought.

Let’s return to the issue of paedophilia and culture. What’s interesting is how quick you were to claim that there is a culture of paedophilia, which is perhaps unique to Muslim men or men of Pakistani origin. What’s revealing about these statements is that they ignore the white male paedophile grooming gangs or lone offenders, whose ‘culture’ is never mentioned.  Take Jimmy Savile, for instance, whose depravity was frequently stated but whose ‘culture’ was never once mentioned. Let’s be clear here: Savile did not act alone. The VIP paedophile gang continues to operate in plain sight. Their ‘culture’ is never once referred to.

The far-right, to whom you have unwittingly handed a stick with which to beat your party, are also frequently in court charged with child sex offences. Again, their ‘culture’ isn’t once mentioned.  For your information, the Malatesta blog has regular updates on far-right sex offenders. I would suggest you at least take some time to look at it.

Channel 4’s Fact Check has also questioned your statement, which I shall quote here.

“Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls”.

Britain has a problem with paedophiles of all backgrounds. The VIP paedophiles are most likely white – just like you.

Channel’s Fact Check concludes:

Self-evidently, sexual abuse of children and young people by groups of men – including Asian men – happens in the UK.

According to the best available data, Asian men make up 75 per cent of “Type 1” group abusers, who target children and young women because they are vulnerable.

But white men make up 100 per cent of recorded “Type 2” group abusers, who target children because of a longstanding paedophilic interest.

From the information available, we know that actual number of group abusers who are Asian is around three times higher than the number of group abusers who are white.

However, it’s worth remembering that child sexual abuse by lone offenders is more common than abuse by groups. What we don’t know is how many of those lone offenders are white or Asian. We should be wary of drawing too many conclusions.

May I draw your attention to the final paragraph?

In 2014, a grooming gang of white men in Sydenham, London were gaoled for child sex offences. They were all members of the local CofE church. There was no mention of their ‘culture’. Interestingly, the story was ignored by the national press but published in the local press. Even the far-right ignored it, but that’s no surprise: they don’t want to draw attention to their own sex offenders. Here’s a quote from the article.

Five members of a Sydenham paedophile ring who systematically abused boys from a church in the 1970s and 1980s have finally been jailed.

Four young members of St Bartholomew’s Church, aged between eight and 16, met their abusers after being introduced by choirmaster Tony Brockhurst.

Maybe the story was ignored because the victims were boys (there seems to be a blind spot where the abuse of boys is concerned – especially among the far-right).

A few weeks ago, I sent you a couple of links on Twitter to a couple of books by Pierre Bourdieu. One of those books was Language and Symbolic Power (2011). Did you get a chance to even look at the first page? I doubt it. Language isn’t uttered innocently. Ferdinand de Saussure, the ‘father’ of linguistics said that “language is a system of signs”. This tells us that the words we use open a window into our unconscious world.  Bourdieu claims:

“Utterances receive their value (and their sense) only in relation to a market, characterized by a particular price formation. The value of the utterance depends on the relation of power that is concretely established between the speaker’s linguistic competences, understood both as their capacity for production and as their capacity for appropriation and appreciation.”

Bourdieu (2011: 67)

Power is expressed through language. Indeed, as an MP, your use of words carry more weight than those of the pub bore. Why? Because you’re in a position of relative authority. That means you have a duty to choose your words carefully. It is obvious, that such a consideration is far from the front of your mind and may not even be located at the back of it.

So, paedophilia is not specific to one culture or another and it is not confined to skin colour or religion. Child sexual abuse is an abuse of power. Nothing more, nothing less. However, it is perfectly acceptable to claim there are paedophile subcultures, for these things do exist.

Finally, the role of the local police in the Rotherham scandal has rarely been questioned. When girls went to the police with their complaints, they weren’t taken seriously. You need to ask yourself some questions: is that because the police were colluding with the grooming gang, or was it the case that they don’t take the complaints of working class girls seriously? This is from The Guardian,

The agreed facts show, at best, an alarming level of police indifference in relation to these vulnerable children, several of whom had drug and alcohol problems and who were from broken homes.

One of the officers named in the trial, Kenneth Dawes, had a string of misconduct offences recorded against him. He is still on the force, although suspended pending further investigations following the allegations by two of the women in the trial. He denies any wrongdoing.

You’ll notice that I didn’t rely on The S*n or any of the Murdoch papers, nor did I make use of anything from The Express or The Daily Mail.

The Sheffield Star reported last December that police officers stood accused of sexually abusing children in Rotherham. I find it strange that you haven’t once mentioned that or their ‘culture’.

Stephen Watson disclosed this week that a number of police officers are the subject of probes by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into allegations that they abused children in Rotherham. The exact number has not been disclosed, but Chief Con Watson made the admission during a discussion about the child sexual exploitation scandal in Rotherham, which was laid bare in an independent report which found that 1,400 children were abused by men of largely Pakistani heritage while those in authority failed to act. Professor Alexis Jay’s damning report, published in 2014, found that police ‘treated victims with contempt’ and failed to investigate while Rotherham council failed to protect vulnerable children.

South Yorkshire Police have a history of criminal misdeeds from the Miners’ Strike to Hillsborough and now this. I suspect the reason the police haven’t been mentioned is because they’re white, and that doesn’t make for the kind of sensationalist headlines the gullible public and the far-right so desperately crave.

Have a think about those things, though I suspect I won’t be hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

 

The Cat

References

Bourdieu, P. (2011). Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press

Williams, Raymond (1988). Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society. London: Fontana

7 Comments

Filed under Child sex abuse

Grenfell Tower: A Question Of Management

The tragic, but avoidable fire at Grenfell Tower in Notting Dale, West London has raised a number of questions about the management of council properties, the quality of building materials and governmental oversight. We don’t know the actual cause of the fire as investigations have yet to be conducted. One thing is for certain, council tenants deserve a better deal and they’re not getting it.

Ask most council tenants who they want to manage their housing and they’ll almost always tell you “the council”. I used to work in housing and I spoke to many tenants, some of them were faced with having a Tenant (or Resident) Management Organisation (TMO/RMO) or ALMO (Arm’s Length Management Organisation) forced upon them. When I used to work for Lambeth, one estate, the Blenheim Gardens Estate was on the brink of being transferred. The tenants were being promised all sorts by the council and many of these promises came to nothing.  There are plans to transfer the estate to an Housing Association.

TMOs, RMOs and ALMOs tend to be a stepping stone to an eventual stock transfer to a housing association like Peabody, or a private property management company like Pinnacle. In either case, tenants get a raw deal. They may discover that the terms of their tenancies have changed or the quality of estate management declines.

Grenfell Tower is managed by Kensington and Chelsea TMO. Like the rest of Kensington and Chelsea’s housing stock it was transferred to the TMO in 1996.  The Grenfell Action Group have made numerous complaints to KCTMO about fire safety, which have all been ignored. The block itself has recently been refurbished at a cost of £8.7 million, but many believe that the quality of materials used for the building’s cladding are responsible for the blaze.

The Tory government  also failed to carry out a fire safety review of tower blocks. The minister responsible, Gavin Barwell, apparently “sat on the report”. The Independent reports:

Gavin Barwell failed to give the review the green light during his tenure as housing minister, despite it already having waited for years.

The fire expert behind a report calling for the desperately needed safety appraisal, said he had spoken to Mr Barwell earlier this year and the then-minister told him no decision on the review had been taken.

The bottom line is that councils will usually ignore the concerns of tenants in order to save money. Kensington & Chelsea Council is Tory-controlled, so it comes as no surprise that they transferred the management of their entire housing stock to KCTMO, who have been described as a ‘mini mafia’. Scum sucking parasites is what they are.

The Tories are no friends of council housing and Hammersmith and Fulham councillor, Harry Phibbs, sees tower blocks like Grenfell Tower as “vertical slums”.

During his time as mayor, Boris Johnson, closed fire stations. He was warned of the potential consequences.

The Tories must also take a large measure of the blame for failing to act when they had a chance, and for the cuts they’ve imposed on local authorities in the name of deficit reduction.

Leave a comment

Filed under Housing, London

Some Thoughts About The Copeland And Stoke Central By-Elections

It’s axiomatic that the Blairites, the media and the Tories hate Jeremy Corbyn and all that he stands for, so when the by-election results came on early Friday morning, it was accompanied by the predictable chorus of “I told you so”.  Yet there are those who are so obviously blind to what’s happening that they refuse to see it for themselves and will believe every lie that comes from the mouths of media commentators and the stuffed Blairite shirts that dominate the television studios.

The Blairites knew that mounting another leadership challenge would end in failure, so they resorted to their other tactic: encourage two of Corbyn’s most prominent critics to resign and force by-elections.  Their latest phase began when Jamie Reed resigned on Christmas Eve (how symbolic) and a couple of weeks later, he was followed by Tristram Hunt. Both MPs were in marginal seats. The timing of their resignations was, just like everything else the Blairites do, blatant. If these were generals on the battlefield, they would be defeated and captured by their enemies. Why do I say that? Because unlike good generals, they telegraph every move in advance.  Let’s face it, these people aren’t chess players. These are poor leaders and equally poor strategists, who have no other interest than to self-aggrandize and grab power for themselves and their class.  Be in no doubt, for all their complaints about Corbyn’s alleged incompetence, they’re not much better and their previous attempts to unseat him are a testament to that. Bereft of real ideas, they can only resort to insults and temper tantrums in the television and radio studios, where they know they won’t be challenged  by supine interviewers, who are in on the game.  It’s a proper little stitch-up, folks.

For many people, the recent attempt to destroy Jeremy Corbyn looked, on the face of it, like a couple of very ordinary resignations by disgruntled MPs,  which had little or no connection with the ongoing Blairite plot to seize control of the leadership. Yet even a cursory examination of recent events reveals that there are coordinated efforts on behalf of the state, the media, the Blairites and the Tories to ensure that a left-wing Labour party is eliminated from mainstream politics. Hence the frequent use of phrases like ‘hard left’ to describe the mild democratic socialism of Corbyn.  Moreover, smear stories don’t appear in the media all by themselves; someone has to plant them there. From the stream of “Labour is anti-Semitic” stories to the fabricated “brick through the Wallasey constituency office window” story, each and every one of these has been fed to the media, which for its part, has failed to verify the claims.  Thus the press has abdicated its first duty to its readers: check and double check the story.

In Copeland, Labour’s share of the vote had been in steady decline from the heady days of the Nu labour landslide of 1997. The figures below put this into perspective.

2017 37.3%
2015 42.3%
2010 46.0%
2005 50.5%
2001 51.8%
1997 58.2%

As you can see, since Reed’s election in 2005, Labour’s share of the vote went into freefall. The reason for this is obvious: Reed wasn’t popular; Blairism even less so. Yet neither of these things featured in the supposedly expert analysis of the media commentators who painted the loss of Copeland as the fault of Jeremy Corbyn.

For the last couple of years, the Blairites have been openly collaborating with the government and the media in undermining their party leader. Indeed, for all their talk of wanting to “save” the party they apparently care so deeply about, their actions say the opposite. Take Peter Mandelson’s words on last week’s Andrew Marr Show.

“I work every single day to bring forward the end of [Corbyn’s] tenure in office. Every day I try to do something to rescue the Labour Party from his leadership.”

People like Mandelson aren’t interested in governing the country for the benefit of those they claim to represent, because if they did, they wouldn’t spend so much time undermining the party’s leader. They are, for all intents and purposes, little different to those they ostensibly oppose. For the likes of Mandelson, it’s all about power for its own sake. They can talk as much as they like about “needing to be in power to change things” but while they were in power, they did very little beyond producing headline-grabbing gimmicks.

These days, they are little better.  Blairites offer no alternatives to the Tory government and they said as much during the 2015 Labour leadership election, nor do they have any vision. For them, it’s business as usual: more cuts to public services and more foreign wars waged on a false prospectuses. The economic orthodoxy must never be challenged.  In the entire 13 years that Nu Labour was in power, it did nothing to tackle the structural problems facing the country and concerned itself only with superficialities.

During the 2005 General Election, rather than challenge the Tories’ dog-whistle racism campaign head-on, they chimed in with with words of their own. Today, the discourse surrounding issues of immigration and national identity have been colonized by the far-right. The Blairites see nothing wrong with this and have instead engaged in the same kind of anti-immigration rhetoric as UKIP and the Tories.

Worse still, are the legions of fair weather Corbyn supporters who flake off as soon as a negative story appears in the media – planted by the Blairites. This is how the Gramscian (2003) concept of cultural hegemony works:  by getting the public to turn against themselves and join in the condemnations.  Bourdieu and Wacquant (2003), on the other hand, called this “symbolic violence” and it works in much the same way as cultural hegemony. This is “the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity”. Often people don’t realize the existence of this violence or they may collude in it themselves. We can see this at work everyday we turn on our televisions and watch the news, which has become increasingly about creating news rather than reporting it. To this end, the news media actively facilitates the narcissists that want to do us harm.

We can see this in action whenever a Blairite or other Nu Labour drone appears on television or radio. They will talk about how they want to be “a credible opposition”, which is used interchangeably with how “[they] must be in power”. The problem with this line of argument is that the Blairites would oppose precisely nothing. The Tories also claim that they want a “strong opposition”,  but they sound insincere whenever those words tumble from their lips. The last thing the Tories want is a strong opposition, and the Blairites say it because they think it’s good for their public image.  Oh, the Tories may claim that having a weak opposition is “bad for democracy” but their words are as empty as their claim to be the “party that governs for all of Britain”. Why the Blairites and the Tories don’t form a new party between them is down to the size and fragility of their egos rather than anything pragmatic. Token opposition is all the Blairites can offer and even Francoist Spain had token opposition parties to lend a veneer of democracy to the dictatorship.

Remember that in the 13 years Nu Labour was in power, they refused to repeal the anti-trade union legislation enacted by Thatcher in the 1980s. The state and the Tories have never wanted a parliamentary party that represents the working class, let alone a left-wing party that promises to redistribute wealth fairly. This is anathema to the state and the corporatists in the Conservative Party. It also sticks in the craw of the Blairites, who want to crush trade unions for having the temerity to fight for better working conditions.

The Blairites were hoping that Labour would lose both by-elections. In the end, the party only lost Copeland. That doesn’t say much for the Blairites’ organizing skills. Copeland remains a marginal seat. The new Tory MP has a similarly small majority to the last MP. This can easily be overturned in a General Election.

If Corbyn is removed as leader and the party is returned to the hands of the Blairites, it will lose hundreds of thousands of members overnight and its electoral chances will be ruined forever. So what is the solution? Clearly, there is no chance of Labour disciplining the saboteurs because the mechanisms that control internal party discipline are in the hands of the Blairites. So what is left? I wish I had an answer. If I were Labour leader, I’d be exploring ways to rid the party of its fifth columnists or bringing them to heel.

Today, David Miliband, the failed candidate in the 2010 Labour leadership election chipped in with his tuppence worth.  The extreme centrism espoused by the likes of the senior Miliband the the media is essentially right-wing and all the talk about the voters not being concerned with what’s right or left is wishful thinking. These Blairites are as predictable as clockwork. Tomorrow on the Andrew Marr Show and The Sunday Politics, we can expect more sound and fury from the Blairites and their Tory handlers.

Finally, if May and her Tories thought the Labour Party was really so weak, why are they so reluctant to call a General Election? Instead they make excuse after excuse and all the while the media refuses to interrogate them on their apparent disinclination to put their money where their mouths are. Perhaps they’re waiting for the gerrymandered constituency boundaries to take effect?

Actions always speak louder than words.

References

Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L.J.D. (2003). Symbolic violence. na. Available at: http://cges.umn.edu/docs/Bourdieu_and_Wacquant.Symbolic_Violence.pdf  Accessed 29/2/16

Gramsci, A. (ed.) (2003). Selections From The Prison Notebooks, London: Lawrence & Wishart.

2 Comments

Filed under BBC, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Labour, Media, propaganda, Society & culture

How Polling Works

Following on from my critique of polls and polling companies, I have produced this flow chart that explains how opinion polling works.  Polls don’t exist to measure public opinion, they exist to shape it.  The media and the polling companies enjoy a symbiotic relationship in which each sustains the other.  One supplies a narrative and the other responds by producing a poll to support that narrative.  The media company then produces a story that reinforces the initial narrative,  which uses the poll as ‘evidence’.  You may need to click on the image to view it properly.

how-polls-workEven when polls are patently nonsensical or illogical,  their ‘findings’ are lauded by commentators and their followers, who cite them as evidence to support one narrative or another.  One such poll is the recent ComRes poll , which claimed that “most people” think the Tories would do a better job at running the National Health Service this winter than Labour.  The same poll also claimed that “most people” thought the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was doing a “poor job”.  Make of that what you will.  In any case, the media’s commentators seized on it and cherry-picked its ‘findings’.  The negative narratives that had already been produced to put the Labour Party in a bad light were thus reinforced by this shoddy poll.

Wash, rinse and repeat: that’s how the process works.

3 Comments

Filed under Journalism, Media, Opinion polls, propaganda