Tag Archives: Daily Mail

Memogate: Another Example Of Our Failed Democracy

We were warned that this election campaign was going to be one of the dirtiest fought for a generation. The Tories, having failed to win an election outright for 22 years, were always going to resort to gutter politics and dirty tricks to try and steal the election. It’s in their DNA. They began  their campaign in 2013 when they recruited Lynton Crosby . Crosby’s appointment as Tory election strategist happened on the back of his successful smear campaign that saw Bozza elected as London Mayor in 2012. Yet Crosby’s record on the national stage has been poor. He failed to get Michael Howard elected in 2005 with his crypto-racist “Are you thinking what we’re thinking” slogan. It’s funny how people forget that.

Tim Wigmore writing in the New Statesman last August observed:

The 2005 election showed the limits of importing successful electioneering from Australian to Britain. Australia’s use of the Alternative Vote forces every voter into a straight choice, between the (conservative) Liberal Party and the Australian Labour party. Crucially, voting is also compulsory in Australia, which lends itself to negative campaigning: offering a compelling reason why the electorate should not plump for the alternative is enough.

Britain’s electoral dynamics are very different. We live in a multi-party world; even if the Tories are successful in attacking Labour’s electoral weaknesses on welfare and immigration, voters may plump for Ukip or the Lib Dems instead. 35 per cent of the electorate did not vote for anyone in 2010: they need a positive reason to bother. Relentless negativity is less effective as a campaigning technique when voters can choose whether or not to vote.

In the last 24 hours and, coincidentally, after the leader’s debates on Thursday, which saw Nicola Sturgeon win what was, effectively a beauty contest; it was as sure as ‘eggs is eggs’ that CCHQ would try and make mischief (did you see Gove on Question Time?). Late last night, the Torygraph ran a story in which it was alleged that Sturgeon told a French ambassador that she would prefer to have Cameron in office than Miliband. The alleged discussion was allegedly contained in a Foreign and Commonwealth Office memo, which magically found its way to the Tory-supporting Telegraph. Sure, it did. Anyone with half a brain in their head would know that for Sturgeon to make such a claim it would surely be political suicide. The Tories and their friends in the media know this. Craig Murray claims that this story bears the hallmarks of an MI5 smear campaign. The Cat is inclined to agree with him.

Murray writes:

Ever since Treasury Permanent Secretary Nicholas MacPherson stated that civil service impartiality rules do not apply in the case of Scottish independence, I have been warning the SNP that we are going to be the target of active subversion by the UK and US security services. We are seen as a danger to the British state and thus a legitimate target. I spelled this out in my talk to the Edinburgh SNP Club on 6 March, of which more below.

The story, as Murray reminds us, appears to have echoes of the Zionviev Letter. Indeed, I tweeted a reminder to this effect this morning. It was because of this forged letter, printed in the Tory-supporting Daily Mail, that the first Labour government fell and failed to win the snap election on 29 October, 1924. This defeat and Ramsay MacDonald’s subsequent betrayal in 1931 has been etched on the memories of old Labour Party members, most of whom are no longer with us. Nu Labourites apparently have no memories of anything that happened before the Blair era.

Crosby’s crappy strategy is to create chaos and discord on the Left in an attempt to create an image of an effective and in-control David Cameron…a man whom, ironically, presided over a chaotic administration. One example of the coalition government’s ineptitude was the so-called ‘Omnishambles’. Another is Cameron’s lack of judgement, typified as it is by the hiring of men like Andy Coulson and Patrick Rock.

The ‘Memogate’ story appears to have had the desired effect among many Labourites, who have taken to social media in their droves to repeat their predictable “I told you so” message. None of them seems wise or, indeed, bright enough, to remember their history. If the Tories win this election, it will be because they used smears and scaremongering to do so; but it will also be because Labour were foolish and gullible enough to fall for it all.

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Filed under 20th century, Free Press Myth, General Election 2015, History, Journalism, Media, propaganda, Yellow journalism

That Ralph Miliband hatchet-job looks suspiciously familiar

It would appear that the author of Saturday’s anti-Miliband hatchet-job is either a plagiarist or a ghost-writer but whatever the case, there’s something fishy going on at Northcliffe House.

If you read what was purportedly the original article written by Geoffrey Levy and compare it to this article by Dominic Sandbrook’s article from 27 September, then you will notice some rather interesting similarities.

Here’s a paragraph from the Levy article:

Solemnly, he stood at the grave of Karl Marx at a moment when, in his own words, ‘the cemetery was utterly deserted . . . I remember standing in front of the grave, fist clenched, and swearing my own private oath that I would be faithful to the workers’ cause’.

Oh, the drama. Ach, das sturm und drang!

Here’s a paragraph from the Sandbrook article:

At his peak in the Sixties and Seventies, Ed Miliband’s father was one of the best-known intellectuals in Britain. A political theorist at the London School of Economics, he was a devout follower of Karl Marx and an unswerving believer in revolutionary socialism. So his final resting place, just 12 yards from Marx’s own grave, could hardly be more fitting.

Ralph Miliband’s grave is located near Karl Marx’s grave, so it has to be a plot. Sorry I couldn’t resist that last remark.

Questions have been raised as to the legitimacy of Sandbrook’s writing. This blog titled “We need to talk about Dominic” suggests that his work rate is phenomenal – suspiciously so. For someone who is only 38, he appears to have written an awful lot of books in such a short space of time.

His book Seasons in the Sun which was turned into a television documentary last year by the apparently “left-wing” BBC was a rather one-sided view of the 1970s and culminated in a crescendo of false claims and opinion-laden conclusions by Sandbrook. I wrote about it in this blog.

“We need to talk about Dominic” also suggests that there is a ‘cut and paste’ quality to his book, Mad as Hell and Sandbrook tends to rely on secondary sources. For an academic, that isn’t good.

As for Geoffrey Levy, a journalist whom Ha’aretz notes is not a “political journalist”, one wonders whether Sandbrook gave him the article, which he then adapted, or wrote it himself.  At a paper like the Daily Mail, anything is possible. Whatever the case, using a Jewish author’s name in the byline was presumably intended to head off any accusations of anti-Semitism. Yet, the article contains the by-now familiar, but somewhat cryptic anti-Semitic allusions to national identity.

Sandbrook was also a “senior fellow” at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University, so we can’t really expect anything from him but shoddy research but what’s Levy’s excuse? He works for the Mail- the same paper that Melanie ‘Londonistan’ Phillips used to work for, and look at the sort of stuff she wrote. Nuff said.

Sandbrook lives in Chipping Norton. Guess who else lives there? Mm, hmm…

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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

Smells like government desperation…

In the days since my last blog, I’ve noticed a proliferation of articles and blogs in the Tory press defending The Gidiot and that Daily Mail article. The sheer number of these articles is not an indication of the government’s confidence but of its desperation.

Suffering from a debilitating mix of fear, anxiety (over UKIP) and anger (at being found out), the collective (yes) mass of Tory hatchet-men have squeezed out blog after blog defending The Mail’s colander-like thesis that the Philpott children died because of their thuggish father’s ‘addiction’ to state benefits. “We need to have a debate”, the Right cried. The words they left out were “on terms controlled by us”. The only people who fall for this trick are the gullible readers of the Mail and the parliamentary Labour party, which has a history of losing its nerve at the wrong time.

However this rash of anti-welfare blogs and articles from the Tory press tells us something: the government is desperate. While some trot out the usual stuff and nonsense about affordability and the myth of a “crowded Britain”, others use this tragic event as an opportunity to mount their hobby horses. Take this one from The Lyin’ King:

It wasn’t the 1945 Labour Government that created the welfare state, that Saturn which now devours its children. The real power-grab came in 1940.

With Britain’s manpower and economy commandeered for the war effort, it seemed only natural that ministers should extend their control over healthcare, education and social security. Hayek chronicled the process at first hand: his Road to Serfdom was published when Winston Churchill was still in Downing Street.

Churchill had become prime minister because he was the Conservative politician most acceptable to Labour. In essence, the wartime coalition involved a grand bargain. Churchill was allowed to prosecute the war with all the nation’s resources while Labour was given a free hand to run domestic policy.

The social-democratic dispensation which was to last, ruinously, for the next four decades – and chunks of which are rusting away even today – was created in an era of ration-books, conscription, expropriations and unprecedented spending. The state education system, the NHS, the Beveridge settlement – all were conceived at a time when it was thought unpatriotic to question an official, and when almost any complaint against the state bureaucracy could be answered with “Don’t you know there’s a war on?”

The welfare state is seen here as evil; a monster created by the Labour party, then in a wartime coalition with Churchill’s Tories. But what’s worse is that Hannan dishonestly connects the welfare state to wartime rationing. How did he do this? It’s magic, I tells ya! Magic! It’s also desperate.

Meanwhile Hatchet-job Hodges tells us that “Labour is panicking over welfare”. The Blairite cuckoo in the nest Born Again Tory tells us,

But then Philpott was convicted, the Daily Mail made the welfare state an accessory to the fact, and Shameless George Osborne moved in for the kill. Labour’s initial response was to downplay the whole issue. Then they lost their heads, and dispatched Ed Balls to launch an hysterical attack on Osborne, driving the Chancellor’s comments to the top of the news bulletins, and making the Labour Party look like they had been employed as Mick Philpott’s defence attorneys.

Now we have the spectacle of  Labour trying to recast itself as the party of welfare reform. Suddenly it’s Labour that wants to “make work pay”, is talking of responsibility at the bottom and threatening to remove people’s benefits. And good for Liam Byrne, because this is where Labour should be.

But it’s too late. Much too late. The welfare debate is over. And Labour has lost it.

Hmmm,  smells like government desperation to me. The Cat thinks Balls was right to attack Osborne for his drawing of a hazy line between a tragic event and a poisoned debate on welfare. That doesn’t make me a fan of Balls or the parliamentary Labour Party, by the way. Hodges, the son of Labour MP Glenda Jackson, goes on to note his agreement with millionaire Liam Byrne’s ideas for welfare ‘reform’ , which is no better than what this government is pursuing. The fact that Byrne has started aping the speech of the government’s  mouthpieces indicates weakness on Labour’s part, not panic.

The Tories, impatient for the arrival of the next General Election, have started their campaign early and, with over two years to go, this is a desperate manoeuvre. A lot can happen in two years.  For instance, there may well be scandals involving government ministers.  After all, this government saw its first ministerial casualty within two months of being elected. There’s also the little matter of the suppressed French prosecutor’s report into the misconduct of the Nazi-fetishist, Aidan Burley. It’s all to play for.

To be honest I’m glad the Tories have done this, now we can sit back and watch as the Tory juggernaut crashes and burns in glorious slow motion. My only concern is this:  should Labour win in 2015, they will fail to repeal all the brutal and muddleheaded legislation enacted by this government.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Cuts, Government & politics, Ideologies, Media, propaganda, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Phibbs puts his foot in it

Harry Phibbs. What’s he like? It would seem that he has trouble with reading and comprehension.  An odd thing for a journalist as I’m sure you will agree. He put his foot in it yesterday when he left a comment on my blog about Hammersmith & Fulham Council selling off 8 community buildings.

Here’s his comment,

What I thought was interesting was what was supposed to be a protest against the sale of the buildings actually saw community groups pitching to buy them. They had a more constructive approach than the Marxist alternative comedian element shouting that I supported hanging Nelson Mandela – which is a complete lie.

It’s a crap effort at a smear. It’s like being mugged by a dead cat. Here is what I actually wrote,

Phibbs asks one woman from the Shepherds Bush Village Hall about timescales, there’s a brief exchange and then Phibbs says “this is not the ideal forum”. Er, come again? The audience are angry and upset at his shocking arrogance. Phibbs, you will recall, was once a leading member of the Federation of Conservative Students in the 1980′s. I make a not-so sotto voce comment about  ”Hang Mandela” T-Shirts.

Now where do I accuse Cllr Phibbs of “supporting the hanging of Nelson Mandela”? Furthermore, where do I even say anyone shouted anything? He mistakes the phase sotto voce for something else and for a journalist who is supposed to be educated, he comes across as remarkably thick. But then he writes for the Daily Mail, so maybe that’s his excuse. The Daily Mail, you will recall, published the infamous “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” headline in 1934. The readership has changed little in that time. Just have a look at some of the comments!

Here’s an image of the FCS poster, which also found its way on to T-shirts.

Now then, Phibbs may be able to claim that he “never supported the hanging of Nelson Mandela” but it is clear that the FCS, the student body that he belonged to, did. I remember this well because I was an undergraduate in the 1980’s. I also had a couple of encounters with this mob as well as the right-wing Marxist Revolutionary Communist Party (sic).

As for my “Marxism”, I don’t mind being called a Marxist anymore than I mind being called a socialist, a left-winger, a Situationist (I’d prefer that, please) or a cyclist. I wear all of those labels well. Maybe Phibbs thinks that by using the phrase “Marxist alternative comedian element”, I’m going to deny it or retreat. I have no intention of doing either.

Perhaps Cllr Phibbs could tell us why he felt the need to misrepresent my words in the way that he did. Oh, sorry, that’s what you people at the Mail do all the time. How silly of me!

I will leave by saying this: if you read something, make sure you understand what it is you’ve just read. Otherwise you end up looking like a complete prat. Just like Harry Phibbs.

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Filed under Big Society, Cuts, Government & politics, Hammersmith & Fulham, Journalism, London, Media, Public spending, Tory press

Student protests and the continuing right wing media backlash

The Mail damages your brain too!

The way that the British media has reported the recent student and worker protests has been woeful at best and downright deceitful at worst. Most of the news outlets concentrate their attention on the tuition fees issue. None of them have bothered to focus on the wider issues:  cuts in further and higher education (which are part of the overall package of public sector cuts) and the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.

The other area of interest to the more dishonest sections of the media has been in the socio-political composition of those taking part in the protests. Papers like the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph have constantly reported on “middle class protesters”. Both papers are keen to label some protesters as a “rent-a-mob” and a “hardcore group of activists” who by their very nature are “anarchists”.

Here, the Daily Mail claims that a “very middle class protest was hijacked by anarchists”. The Mail, like so many other papers fails to grasp the fact that students can be both middle class and anarchist. Some students are Conservatives. Some are even Lib Dems. So what? The ‘reporter’ tell us,

..anarchists hijacked the event, setting off the most violent scenes of student unrest seen in Britain for decades. Militants from far-Left groups whipped up a mix of middle-class students and younger college and school pupils into a frenzy.

Two things here. First, the reporter suggests that these young people don’t know their minds and secondly, she assumes that middle class students are always well-behaved and well-mannered.

This Mail article contradicts the one above by saying,

Yet what happened yesterday wasn’t simply the result of anarchist groups and Left-wing agitators intent on creating violent confrontation.

It was the extraordinary fusion of two diverse social groups who suddenly found a common cause.

This article from 15 December claims to have “unmasked” the “hardcore leaders of the student mob”. It claims that,

There was an expat grandfather, a university tutor, a teenage schoolboy, a recent law graduate and a wealthy foreign student whose education was part-funded by the British taxpayer.

What they all had in common yesterday was an apparent central role in the riot which saw Tory Party HQ in Millbank Tower trashed by a howling mob.

Reading through the article it quickly becomes apparent that this is another Mail smear job. Clare Solomon gets a kicking,

One of those who used her position to galvanise support for the protests was Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union. The 37-year-old mature studen later appeared on Newsnight to defend the violence, describing the attack as only a ‘few smashed windows’.

Currently on sabbatical from the School of Oriental and African Studies, she appears to have developed quite a taste for student life.

She has held university union positions for more than seven years and has served on a committee for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

The tone of this suggests that Solomon is sponging off the taxpayer and this shouldn’t be allowed. Just to add an extra kick to this concoction, the reporter tells us that she has served on various committees for “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities”. This reporter knows how to press his reader’s buttons. Other protesters are linked to Palestinian Solidarity, Stop the War, CND et al as if membership of these groups is tantamount to child murder.

Other news reports have claimed that “gangs” have been involved in the ‘violence’. There is no evidence offered for this assertion save for a few photos of black youths, who are often connected with gang activity by the right wing press  It’s a lazy assertion that is based on the knowledge of the Other.

The Mail likes nothing more than to whip up hatred of the Other. So when a national monument is defaced, the spittle flies and their neck veins bulge with rage. This article from 10 December tell us that the “thugs”

…defiled a statue of Winston Churchill by urinating on it, ripped flags from the Cenotaph ­– the nation’s sacred memorial to those who died in the name of liberty – then lit fires and sprayed slogans on the ground in the shadow of the Houses of Parliament.

“Died in the name of liberty”? That’s a bit excessive. As for the Churchill statue, would this be same Winston Churchill who advocated the use of poison gas against the Arabs and Kurds in Mesopotamia (Iraq) in 1920 because it produced a “lively terror” against the so-called “uncivilised tribes”? Churchill’s racism was by no means limited to the Arabs and Kurds, he expressed a dislike of American Indians and Blacks too. He was also an imperialist who hated the working class. Like many workers, the printers and journalists had walked out during the General Strike of 1926. As Home Secretary, Churchill published his own propaganda sheet called The British Gazette which fed stories to the BBC. Ever since this embarrassing episode the BBC has been keen to play down any suggestion that it has collaborated with the state.

The media are very keen to split the anti-cuts movement. They have made wild claims that shadowy subversive groups have either “hijacked” or “infiltrated” the protests. They have attempted to use the issue of class to drive a wedge between protesters. The press has also been dishonest in their reporting of the protests and have simply focussed on a single issue in the vain hope that once the tuition fees vote was won in the Commons, the protests would magically melt away.

A word to the news-gatherers: we are not going anywhere and we are united. Your attempts to split us into different camps according to social class and apparent ideologies will fail. We are on to you!

Students and workers, unite and fight!

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