Tag Archives: Benedict Brogan

The Daily Mail: it has plenty of form when it comes to smears

The Ralph Miliband smear story is merely one in a long line of Daily Mail smears. The most notorious one of all was the infamous Zinoviev Letter. This letter, apparently written by Grigory Zinoviev, a high-ranking Soviet official was passed to the Daily Mail by British military intelligence or MI6.

The first Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald was weak and relied on the support of the treacherous Liberal Party (plus ça change). A vote of no confidence on 8 October 1924 was triggered by the MacDonald government’s decision to drop its prosecution against John Ross Campbell, the editor of the Weekly Worker under the terms of the  Incitement to Mutiny Act 1797. The government lost the vote and MacDonald was forced to go to the king to request a dissolution of parliament.  He called a general election for 23 October.

During the weeks between the dissolution and the general election, the Daily Mail published the Zinoviev Letter, which purportedly claimed:

A settlement of relations between the two countries will assist in the revolutionizing of the international and British proletariat not less than a successful rising in any of the working districts of England, as the establishment of close contact between the British and Russian proletariat, the exchange of delegations and workers, etc. will make it possible for us to extend and develop the propaganda of ideas of Leninism in England and the Colonies

Tories will tell you that the Zinoviev Letter had no effect on the outcome of the General Election but that view is naive at best and mendacious at worst.

Richard Norton-Taylor writing in The Guardian in 1999 said:

The Zinoviev letter – one of the greatest British political scandals of this century – was forged by a MI6 agent’s source and almost certainly leaked by MI6 or MI5 officers to the Conservative Party, according to an official report published today.

New light on the scandal which triggered the fall of the first Labour government in 1924 is shed in a study by Gill Bennett, chief historian at the Foreign Office, commissioned by Robin Cook.

It points the finger at Desmond Morton, an MI6 officer and close friend of Churchill who appointed him personal assistant during the second world war, and at Major Joseph Ball, an MI5 officer who joined Conservative Central Office in 1926.

The exact route of the forged letter to the Daily Mail will never be known, Ms Bennett said yesterday. There were other possible conduits, including Stewart Menzies, a future head of MI6 who, according to MI6 files, admitted sending a copy to the Mail.

Over the years the Tories have become masters of dirty tricks  and their very close relationship with the security services and Fleet Street allows them to undermine other political parties and rig elections.

On October 25, 1924, four days before the election, the Mail splashed headlines across its front page claiming: Civil War Plot by Socialists’ Masters: Moscow Orders To Our Reds; Great Plot Disclosed. Labour lost by a landslide.

Ms Bennett said the letter “probably was leaked from SIS [the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6] by somebody to the Conservative Party Central Office”. She named Major Ball and Mr Morton, who was responsible for assessing agents’ reports.

Labour lost the 1924 election and the Tories were returned to power. But it would not last long. In 5 year’s time, they would lose again to Labour, which found itself fronting another minority government.

Ten years after it published the Zinoviev Letter, the Daily Mail published its most infamous headline of all: “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”.

Yesterday, the Telegraph’s deputy editor, Benedict Brogan, couldn’t help himself and like some incontinent schoolboy wrote this blog titled “Whether he hated Britain or not, Ralph Miliband was one of the Cold War’s bad guys”.

Brogan was the Daily Mail’s political editor until 2009.

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Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, propaganda, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Postcards From the Barricades (Part 3): a look at what the Tory press is saying

Since the national student demo in London on Wednesday, the Tory press has waged a campaign of smears and disinformation.  The issue revolves around the use of the word “violence” and what it means. The BBC have led the way in insisting that there were “violent scenes” at Millbank Tower. Newsnight’s Jeremy Paxman and Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine have all tried to claim that the intention of the students was to act in a violent manner.  Paxman’s questioning of Claire Solomon, who seems to have been identified as a sort of ‘ringleader’, took the line of a CPS prosecutor and thus was the interrogatory voice of the state. The attitude of the BBC’s anchors and reporters has been consistent with that of a state broadcaster – yet the bods at the Telegraph still have the gall to claim that the BBC  is “biased” towards  Tories, Europhobes and other right wing lunatics (remember the run up to the Iraq invasion or the Battle of Orgreave Colliery?).

The entire Tory press without exception has made the claim that the protest was violent and was hijacked by ‘outsiders’. Writing in the Telegraph, The Great Lord of Darkness said,

No doubt our Chinese friends had a pretty good laugh at the TV news showing our happy students in democratic Britain express their delight at their lot by trashing buildings and assaulting the police,

Here is the lie that students “assaulted” the police.  I was there, I saw no student assault a policeman/woman. I would demand evidence from Tebbitt but I know that it will not be forthcoming. Here we also have a clue into their thinking: property is more important that people or their needs. The police’s primary role in our capitalist society is to protect property from the masses.

Benedict Brogan, blogging for the same paper repeated the line about “violence”,

Westminster and the police have been caught on the hop by the size and violence of the demonstration currently battering the glass walls of Millbank tower, or specifically 30 Millbank, the lowrise part of the complex where CCHQ is based.

He continues,

Objects are being thrown, and there appears to be a separate confrontation going on inside the lobby. Heads are being cracked, and some of the more excitable demonstrators seem eager to take on the cops. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. Aaron Porter, the leader of the NUS, was on the telly last week using fairly extreme language to warn that students would hound MPs in their constituencies.

Hang on, no heads were cracked. Furthermore, Aaron Porter made some pusillanimous statement about “condemning the actions of a small minority”. I guess our Benny didn’t see that. The truth sort of gets in the way of a good horror story. Brogan uses the occasion of the demonstrations to make a cheap swipe at the opposition,

the NUS and Labour have formed such a tight alliance on the issue: this protest is in effect a Labour protest, and however the NUS and Labour try to disown the riot, it is their show – it wouldn’t have happened without them.

Let me get this straight, this was a “Labour protest”? I saw no one from the Labour Party (though it is possible that some students had voted Labour) on the march yet Brogan has made the suggestion Labour being behind the demonstration and, by extension, the ‘violence’. His last paragraph is very telling and reveals the lies that the right wing press resort to,

UPDATE @10.15pm: Labour chums have chided me for being unfair and tendentious when I suggest that the riot was the NUS and Labour’s show. Of course I don’t mean that they orchestrated it or even willed it. But Labour has lined itself against this reform, it supported the march, Harriet Harman made a big number out of taunting Nick Clegg about tuition fees at PMQs, and the NUS is a Labour subsidiary and forcing house for Labour politicians. So when what was supposed to be a Labour supported demo designed to put political pressure on the Coalition ends up with the mess at Millbank, I reckon it’s fair to say that this is an awkward moment for Labour.

Again, he has no evidence to claim that this was a “Labour supported demo”, so he lies.

This blogger calls herself “CyberBoris”...guess who she supports? She chides those horrid lefty students and suggests to them that they  should have adopted Gandhi’s tactics,

Twitter is awash with students foaming at the mouth, in their illogical and ill-judged attempts to insist that peaceful protest does not work.  “Can anyone” squeaked @noldorstu “name a peaceful protest that achieved something?”  “Yes!” I tweeted back enthusiastically.  “Mahatma Gandhi’s Salt March and his policy of peaceful protest that changed the history of India!”  I didn’t even go to uni, so possibly David Cameron might consider raising tuition fees to £18K.  These students are clearly ill informed and any investment in such a volatile risk is money down the pan!

Er, wait a minute, someone hasn’t actually read their history here and has plucked out a single event (probably from Dickie Attenborough’s film, Gandhi). Besides, peaceful protesters usually end up dead. She’s completely ignored the fact that Gandhi was assassinated (or that he was a raving anti-Semite). Here is my first comment,

Yes, the whole of India was transformed by partition and the violence that ensued in the aftermath. Nice bit of propaganda there. Of course, you wouldn’t find it ironic that ex-Bullingdon Club members condemn a group of students who smashed a couple of windows.

And hers,

The truth is not propoganda. It was the peaceful protest that made the difference, the violence was something else.

This argument about the Bullingdon Club is absolutely pathetic. There was no violence even remotely resembling the violence yesterday. They all just got pissed and chucked a few flower pots. You are utterly ridiculous to bring this up.

Even when they are confronted with the truth, they lie. The Bullingdon Club’s antics are legendary and have even been the subject of a Channel 4 film written by the Honourable Tobes. What I find so amusing about her reply is the way she says “The truth is not propoganda”.  She quite clearly understands neither. She refuses to acknowledge the antics of the Bullingdon Club nor does she want to do her own work.

Just not any good to produce unsubstantiated accusations against the Bullingdon Club. Where is your evidence that what they did was any more serious than a few smashed glasses, the odd window and some flower pots, caused by heavy drinking? “Accounts are legion?” That’s not evidence. Produce some evidence or withdraw your daft statement.

Pathetic. This is a classic example of Tory denial that goes well with their sense of entitlement.

Back to the Torygraph, Today’s edition says that a “Lawyer’s son was behind the student protests”. Fuck’s sake, what is it with these right wingers? The article says that,

History student Karl Sielman-Parry, who uses the alias “WorkersDreadnought”, said a “workers and students’ bloc” should band together rather than go along with the official National Union of Students’ march.

He distributed a leaflet stamped with the anarchist “A” symbol calling for “Direct Action!, Occupation!, Strike”.

I wonder where they get this information from? Well, it turns out that the Telegraph and the other Tory papers have been trawling Britain’s student population for snitches. This article tries to tell us that students aren’t in charge of their own thoughts and actions and have to rely on a group of outsiders to stir up trouble,

The Radical Workers’ and Students’ Bloc, identified by red and black flags flown from the roof of Millbank Tower, was organised by the Anarchist Federation, along with the London Solidarity Federation. The Leeds Class War group and the Whitechapel Anarchist Group also confirmed yesterday that they were involved in the trouble

The suggestion here is that students aren’t anarchists and anarchists aren’t students.

The right wing press have also tried to claim that lecturers from Goldmiths College condoned and supported violent behaviour. The Torygraph again,

But the lecturers from Goldsmiths made no reference to the injuries suffered by police and some students as they gave the protest a glowing report.

“Yesterday was a really good natured but equally angry demonstration against the damage that the coalition is doing to higher education,” their statement said.

“Yes, that got out of hand, but yes, it also got media attention across the world.”

With reportage like this,  you can understand why Andrew Gilligan writes for The Telegraph.

This Daily Mail article tells us that the student demonstrators were all privileged. They even have a ‘story’ from Tory Party chair, Saveeda Warsi who tells us,

What I find truly baffling is the number of Labour MPs who used Twitter to support those protesters committing criminal damage and endangering lives. Former Labour leadership candidate John McDonnell MP tweeted: ‘Just shows what can be done when people get angry. We must build on this.’ And Labour MP Alex Cunningham wrote: ‘Well done our students – thousands outside the office getting stuck into the Lib Dem/Tory government over tuition fees.’

Warsi repeats the lie that Labour were behind the occupation of Millbank Tower. Ah, nothing like a bit of black propaganda. She adds,

There is nothing fair about attacking innocent people or property. Political violence must never prevail over rational debate. So it’s high time we restored reason to the debate on student finance and fairness.

So it’s all about “property”? Who are these “innocent people” of whom she speaks? Her staff?

Over at The Spectator, Rod Liddle couldn’t resist making up a couple of porkies,

If you fancy a laugh, and have the time to spare, check out the websitefor REVOLUTION, aka Permanent Revolution, the Trot group some of whose members smashed up Conservative Central Office this week.

First, it’s anarchists who smashed the windows, now it’s a “Trot group”. Can’t these liars make up their minds? Evidently not.

Another national demonstration is being planned. I expect the police to be better prepared and I also expect more smears, lies and yellow journalism.

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Filed under Big Society, Education, Government & politics