Tag Archives: General Election 2019

The Tories’ Exploitation Of Voter Apathy

How many times have you heard some people say, when referring to political parties, that “they’re all the same” or “there’s no difference”. There may have been some truth to these beliefs once upon a time, but things have changed, and while Blair’s Nu Labour project bore little resemblance to the Labour Party, which was often referred to as “Old Labour”, and more resembled the Tories, there is real difference between the parties. Of course, that isn’t the way that either the Conservative Party or large sections of the media want you to see things.

In the last two General Elections, the Tories cynically played the “they’re all as bad as each other” card to win seats. Sadly, too many people still fall for these PR shenanigans. In 2015, the Cameron-led party won a majority and two years later, the May-led party lost almost all of that majority. In each case, they used the same slogans and tried to exploit the electorate by resorting to the “they’re all just as bad, so vote for us” strategy. In this election, like dogs returning to their vomit, they have gone back to the previous elections and dusted off the same tired messages: “coalition of chaos”, a “Labour/Corbyn-SNP/Sturgeon alliance” and so on.

However, rather than offer a semblance of balance, the media has been all too willing to amplify these messages. For example, last Friday’s terrorist incident at London Bridge has seen the BBC, particularly, claim that “both parties” have “politicized” the tragedy , this is despite being urged not to do so by the father of one of the victims. Only one party has been exploiting the incident for political gain and that’s the Conservative Party.

Today, Neil O’Brien, the Tory candidate for Harborough, Oadby & Wigston and former head of Policy Exchange tweeted this:

Of course, he isn’t the only one, but he’s the only one that I replied to today.

The rationale behind the Tories’ efforts to undermine trust in politics stems from their desire to rule at all costs. They may talk about ‘effective oppositions’ but it’s all hot air. If anything, they’d prefer a token opposition like the one that existed in Francoist Spain if they had to face one at all. Tories, contrary to what they say, despise democracy and would prefer it if people didn’t vote. Please disappoint them by not voting Tory on 12 December, people’s lives are depending on it.

Don’t fall for the Tories’ cynical PR. Vote them out.

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BBC: We Made A ‘Mistake’

If there’s one thing The Cat hates it’s being thought of as stupid. The French have a great saying: tu me prends pour de la merde, meaning ‘you take me for shit’?

Taking us for shit is precisely what the BBC has been doing for a long time. In the space of a mere couple of weeks, the Corporation has doctored video footage of Boris Johnson laying a wreath at the Cenotaph and only a couple of days ago, it edited out the laughter at his response to an audience member’s question on the issue of trust. Instead of admitting it deliberately edited out the laughter and stitched applause into the soundtrack, the Corporation has insisted it was a “mistake”. It’s as if those in positions of authority at the BBC believe everyone outside their world is stupid.

However, those of us who know how digital editing platforms work understand how footage can be manipulated to tell any story you like. Media Studies and Media Production students know this and it is perhaps for this reason that politicians especially dismiss these subjects “useless”. Their claims barely conceal their anti-intellectualism and authoritarian tendencies. These people hate the idea of an educated working class and fear a politically conscious electorate.

The Corporation’s attitude in this and other matters is high-handed and arrogant, and this air of condescension and smug superiority comes from the social and cultural capital of its executives and editors, who are mainly drawn from the social institutions of Britain’s bourgeoisie. That’s the Oxbridge and public/independent schools to you and me.

There may be some decent people at the state broadcaster, but they’re rather thin on the ground these days. There is a culture of bullying at the BBC and many are too scared to step out of line, while others are only to eager to promote the government’s narrative during this General Election campaign.

Ironically, three years ago, the BBC announced that it would “help students to identify false news”. Given their penchant for misleading the viewing public through their use of creative editing, perhaps they could use themselves as an example of how to really generate false news.

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Propaganda, Lies And The BBC

I don’t think anyone can convincingly argue that the current general election is a fair fight. The Tories and their friends in the establishment media will never concede when they’re in the wrong nor will they admit to doctoring photographs or editing video footage to flatter their hero, Boris Johnson, nor will they admit that the words they’ve chosen to use in each political, news or current affair programme have been carefully selected to implant messages in voters’ minds.

The BBC’s so-called Question Time leaders’ debate on Thursday was such an occasion. Few people, apart from those with agendas or whose senses have been so badly compromised that they fail to see what’s in front of them, can say that Boris Johnson performed well, nor can any of those people claim that Jo Swinson did well. Yet, former Blairite SpAd, propagandist and wannabe comedian, Matt Forde tweeted.

He must have been watching a different leaders’ ‘debate’ because I found Swinson to be superficial, lacking in detail and all too quick to fall back on the ‘Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite’ slur to get her out of trouble. Swinson may be quick to use anti-Semitism as a political weapon but when it comes to Hostile Environment and Windrush, she’s nowhere to be seen. Indeed, a hierarchy of racism and suffering has been constructed over the course of the last 5 years, in which non-Jewish minorities come a long way down in the taxonomy of ‘races’, and politicians like Swinson promote and perpetuate it through their words and deeds.

In the aftermath of that ‘debate’, only one poll surfaced, which laughingly claimed that the Conservatives were 17 points ahead of Labour.

Yesterday, Murdoch hack, Tim Shipman tweeted his seat projection based on that fake poll.

But that isn’t the worst of it. In the BBC News bulletins that followed the ‘debate’, newsreaders and reporters kept telling us how each leader faced questions of trust. Be in no doubt, this is the BBC’s way of telling you that, if you don’t trust any of the leaders, then you may as well vote Tory (because they’re the natural party of government). This is the same cynical “they’re all as bad as each other” approach that was used by David Cameron in 2015 and Theresa May in 2017. Only this time, it’s the BBC, the state broadcaster, who are using it.

Even when the BBC are caught editing video footage, they continue to lie about it. Take this tweet from Peter Oborne, who’d noticed what thousands of other viewers had noticed about the editing out of laughter when Johnson gave his reply to the question of trust.

Instead of putting their hands up and admitting to the doctoring of video footage, they doubled down and added a lie instead.

Tory Fibs tweeted the doctored footage:

Steve Brookstein added.

Ironically, the BBC’s technology editor, Rory Cellan-Jones wrote this piece for the BBC website in October in which he says:

New research shows an alarming surge in the creation of so-called deepfake videos, with the number online almost doubling in the last nine months. There is also evidence that production of these videos is becoming a lucrative business.

And while much of the concern about deepfakes has centred on their use for political purposes, the evidence is that pornography accounts for the overwhelming majority of the clips.

As Orgreave and ‘Wreathgate’ show us, the BBC isn’t above producing deepfake videos of its own.

The BBC has a fact-checking service that it’s named ‘Reality Check’. It may want to reconsider that name in the near future.

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The Jo Swinson File

Jo Swinson often accuses Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism without any proof. She lies, then she lies some more and few media commentators challenge her lies or questions her tactics. Jo Swinson likes to pretend she’s some kind of opponent of racism, but there are qualifiers.

Swinson has said nothing about Hostile Environment, which disproportionately affects people of colour, and she’s said very little about the Windrush Scandal. She’s said absolutely nothing about the government’s policy of persecuting Britain’s Romani Gypsy and Traveller communities. She’s less than vocal about the rise in hate crimes against people of colour and has nothing to say about Islamophobia, but she can smear Corbyn as an anti-Semite all day long.

Over the course of this year, Swinson was silent as Sir Paul Beresford stood up in the Commons and called Travellers a ‘disease’. She welcomed former Tory Philip Lee into the Lib Dem ranks. Lee has often resorted to dog-whistle racism when speaking about immigration. Lee also has some rather unpleasant views about LGBT, a fact that has upset many of her supporters. Former Labour and Change UK MP, Angela Smith was also welcomed, despite her off the cuff ‘funny tinge’ comment about people of colour. In Swinson’s mind, evidently, that kind of racism is permissible.

In 2018, Swinson told her party conference that her party needed to ‘own the failures of the coalition’. These are just empty words. There’s no sincerity behind them. Hindsight is great but it’s only valuable when the person in question is acting self-reflexively and given her propensity for lies, it’s likely that Swinson uttered those words simply to placate her following. She’s learnt nothing at all.

There are signs that not all Lib Dem members are happy with their leader. Points of irritation include her fantasies about becoming Prime Minister and her refusal to adopt a more conciliatory tone. Swinson will lie about almost anything. The Cat is surprised she hasn’t told porkies about being the first woman in space and having discovered a cure for cancer in her kitchen.

Here’s Swinson appearing on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge programme. Ridge catches her out, but watch how Swinson doubles down on the lie.

Recently, Labour’s Equality Spokesperson, Dawn Butler, accused Swinson of ‘failings’ over a Commons racism row. The Guardian’s Kate Proctor writes:

The Liberal Democrats’ leader, Jo Swinson, has been accused by Labour of not properly investigating an activist who claimed one of their MPs had made up her experience of racism.

Swinson said it was right that Steve Wilson, the husband of parliamentary candidate Angela Smith, had apologised to the shadow equalities minister, Dawn Butler, for writing on social media that she had lied about her experience of racism in the House of Commons.

In a letter seen by the Guardian, Swinson said she believed Butler encountered racial discrimination and that Wilson’s apology had been “essential”. However, she was criticised for not suspending him or revealing whether he faced any kind of disciplinary process. Butler is also demanding Wilson and Smith undergo diversity training.

Butler herself is reported to have said:

“By protecting a white man who denied a black woman’s experience, the Lib Dems are actively condoning racism in their party and promoting it in wider society. Steve Wilson should be suspended from their party immediately.”

Before 2019, there were no people of colour among the Lib Dem MPs. They’ve relied entirely on defectors to give them a couple of Black MPs: Chuka Umunna and Sam Gyimah. The latter stands accused of lying about Emma Dent Coad, the Labour candidate for Kensington, who is also a local councillor, of being involved in the decision to clad Grenfell Tower in flammable materials. She has reported Gyimah to the police.

It seems that Swinson’s constant lying has spread like a contagion throughout her party, because Gyiamah isn’t the only one to have been telling lies and defaming a fellow candidate. Dr Geoffrey Seeff has been resorted to dog-whistling and lying about Faiza Shaheen, the Labour candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green.

The Lib Dem candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green in east London wrote that the IHRC had “been quoted saying some very unpleasant things” and criticised its support for the Iran government.

Seeff, who said he had sent a copy of the letter to the local paper, wrote that it “seems clear that the IHRC is nothing but a front for the mullahs of Tehran” and highlighted Jeremy Corbyn’s previous support for the London-based organisation, which was formed in 1997.

He wrote: “What I and the electorate want to know is how you stand on this. Can you respect and work under a person who shares the views of this unsavoury organisation or is so gullible that he has been duped by them?”

Shaheen tweeted:

This isn’t the first time the Lib Dems have run dog-whistling campaigns: there was Langbaurgh in 1991 in which the local party produced leaflets which urged voters to cast their vote for a ‘local candidate’. In 2009, the Lib Dems in Islington were accused of dog-whistle politics over Gypsies and Travellers. When they were running Tower Hamlets Council in the 1990s, they used similar tactics to pander to BNP voters.

If Swinson isn’t lying, she’s fantasising about becoming Prime Minister. If she isn’t doing that, she’s claiming that her spokespeople are a ‘shadow cabinet‘. In September, Swinson was heckled by her own party members who were unhappy that she’d admitted Tory defectors into the party. Come 13 December, I’m hoping the voters of East Dunbartonshire do the right thing and vote Swinson out.

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Lies, Disinformation And Guido Fawkes

Last year, I had an encounter on Twitter with Kevin Mousley who is a producer with BBC News, In that exchange, I’d accused the corporation of sourcing news stories from the Guido Fawkes site. He denied it, then he tried to bully and browbeat me. I had a similar tussle with Rob Burley, the editor of the Marr Show on BBC 1. I ended up blocking him.

It’s not just the BBC that sources some of its stories from Guido, other broadcasters do too. The BBC also invites Tom Harwood, Guido’s tea boy into its studios, thereby legitimating him and the fact-free sewage that pours forth from the site.

Today on Twitter, I was alerted to the following tweet, which claims, without any evidence, that Jeremy Corbyn has had a stroke and which uses a doctored image to reinforce the message.

I’ve taken a screenshot of the tweet in case Guido takes it down. I’ve also taken the liberty of reporting it, for all the good that it will do.

This feeble attempt at propaganda may have played well in the 1920s or the 1960s, but these days, people aren’t so easily fooled. They know what Photoshop is and what it does.

Of course, Guido and Harwood, who is mostly likely the culprit behind the tweet and the shitty Photoshop effort, may try and pass this off as ‘satire’, but that would be a lie – much like the crap that passes for ‘scoops’ on its site. But what kind of satirist thinks having a life-changing event like a stroke is funny and uses it to score a cheap political point? Only bullies and their mates. That’s who.

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Michael Gove, Historical Revisionism And Wilful Ignorance

This morning, I’d noticed that Michael Gove had tweeted an article – presumably while intoxicated – from The S*n which reheats an old anti-Corbyn accusation. The article, which I won’t link to here, claims that Corbyn “aided campaign to free IRA assassin who served 20 years for trying to kill a cop”. There is no depth to which Gove will not plunge.

Let’s go back nearly 20 years when Gove wasn’t an MP (happy days), but was writing for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times. The right-wing press in this country have continued with the notion that the war in Northern Ireland is ongoing and have used the conflict as a means to smear Corbyn for his efforts in finding a peaceful solution. I found this article written by Roy Greenslade in The Guardian in 2000, in which he says:

The rightwing papers’ coverage of the bloody loyalist feud in Northern Ireland has been slanted to fit the old myth that republicans are the root of all evil

Greenslade is referring here to the Loyalist feud that followed the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. Remember that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has close links to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), which is an alternative name for the UVF, and the Red Hand Commando (RHC). The last two Tory governments, were supported by the DUP in a confidence and supply arrangement, which seemingly elided the party’s connections to Loyalist paramilitaries for the sake of expedience. In any case, it was a relationship doomed to failure from the outset, because the DUP does what the DUP wants when it wants.

Greenslade observes that British newspapers don’t give readers the full story, and Tories like Gove rely on voters’ ignorance of past events, which then begs the question: if people have no knowledge of British post-war history and the low intensity conflict in Northern Ireland, known euphemistically as ‘The Troubles’, then why take time and trouble to smear a man like Corbyn as an ‘IRA sympathiser’, especially when Thatcher government’s support for Loyalist death squads is well-documented? The only answer that I can come up with is hubris.

Giving readers a historical perspective takes up space and draws heavily on the time – and, of course, the expertise – of the journalist. It is therefore costly and, given the cult of youth that pervades so many papers nowadays, there are often too few people around editorial floors with a working knowledge of post-war modern history.

Greenslade continues:

Perhaps the most pernicious reason for our ahistorical press is its political agenda. When events call into question a policy line avidly pursued by a paper, throwing into doubt the trenchant “advice” offered to readers down the years, then it proves convenient to ignore history altogether.

Since coming to power in 2010, the Tories and their allies in the media and elsewhere have been trying to rewrite history to suit their false narratives.

A combination of these factors, with the last undoubtedly the most prevalent, occurred in the coverage of loyalist gang warfare in Northern Ireland last week. Right-wing papers suddenly found themselves in a tricky situation because the story did not fit neatly into the previous 30-year pattern of events.

In that paradigm, all the troubles in the “province” stemmed from malevolent republicans. In recent years, with the IRA ceasefire and Sinn Fein’s incorporation into elected office, these papers have opened a second front by pouring scorn on the concept and the practice of the peace process.

Yet the vast majority of republicans have remained stubbornly faithful to the ballot box, making it difficult for the hostile Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Times and Sun to continue with their anti-peace process propaganda war.

Unlike those Loyalists, eh? Remember, the DUP didn’t accept the Good Friday Agreement and have pretended ever since that the low intensity war is still happening. Greenslade again:

Then along comes Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair and an opportunity of sorts is gratefully accepted. The usual suspects – Ruth Dudley-Edwards, Michael Gove, Bruce Anderson – were wheeled out along with their unnamed leader-writing sympathisers to hammer the government.

The outbreak of internecine strife on the Shankill was, according to Anderson in the Mail, due to politicians having created “a moral vacuum in which such madness can fester”.

And there, of course, is the return to the central agenda: it’s all the uppity republicans’ fault after all. The Daily Mail nodded in agreement, referring to “the government’s endless concessions to republicans”.

Not willing to accept that the fault for Loyalist internecine violence rested with the paramilitaries themselves, leader writers like Gove et al instead blamed Republicans. Greenslade again (my italics):

Gove in the Times blamed John Major and Tony Blair for appeasement. The Telegraph referred to the Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Mandelson, as living in an “Alice in Wonderland world” and claimed that Adair “ruled the roost because of the Belfast agreement”. So far, so bad. Even on this single point, no historical context was allowed to peep through. No mention, for instance, of the people of Ireland having voted overwhelmingly for the agreement, which stated categorically that prisoners would be released.

The Times, unlike the Telegraph, did at least praise Mandelson for Adair’s arrest. But its columnist Gove led the way in offering a scandalous justification for the Protestant paramilitaries’ gangsterism. Their hostility towards the peace process, he dared to claim, is fuelled by the fact that Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is in government.

Gove, like many in his party, see nothing wrong with reviving the cycle of violence that so marred civil and political life in the Six Counties for nearly 40 years. For them, it’s a price worth paying, just so long as they get the Brexit they crave.

Gove’s efforts and those of his colleagues rely on the average Brit’s total ignorance, not just of their own history, but that of Ireland. This was brought into sharp relief a year ago when Priti Patel said that the government should use the threat of food shortages to force the Irish government to drop its demand for the so-called ‘backstop’ in the Brexit negotiations. Aside from the residual imperialism expressed in this statement, Patel and Gove’s cavalier approach to history and memory is dangerous.

But the Tories don’t care. For them, history only matters inasmuch as it’s just another narrative than can be endlessly rewritten to suit their political objectives. This 2016 article from the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the government provided UDA-linked groups with funds from what it calls ‘ the controversial Social Investment Fund’.

Among those with huge influence over how the £80 million SIF budget is allocated is notorious Bangor UDA criminal Dee Stitt, who last week posed for photos with DUP First Minister Arlene Foster.

Other key players include the UDA’s former leader in the Maze Prison and Lisburn commander Adrian Bird, and convicted UDA gunman turned failed DUP council candidate Sam ‘Chalky’ White. All three paramilitaries were appointed to SIF steering panels, which recommend how cash is handed out, with DUP and Sinn Fein approval.

During the past two years Stitt, Bird and White have successfully lobbied for more than £5 million of taxpayers’ cash being spent on UDA-linked projects that pay their wages in Belfast, Lisburn and Bangor.

The Tories, Michael Gove in particular, have some explaining to do.

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Tom Watson Steps Down

Tom Watson has decided not to contest the general election. Watson tweeted:

He will ‘spend this election fighting for brilliant Labour candidates’. I wonder which candidates he has in mind?

I also wonder if he still has the £500, 000 that Max Mosley gave to him?

Cue appearances in the radio and television studios in the coming days and weeks to talk freely about the “Labour anti-Semitism row” ™.

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Smears, Lies, Hyperbole And Doctored Videos. The Tory Election Campaign Starts As It Means To Go On

Let’s be brutally honest: the Tories have no policies, no ideas and no clue. They believe they have a divine right to rule (rather than govern). For them, the General Election is all about Brexit, or so they’d have you believe. Yesterday on Twitter, the Tories posted a video, which they had edited to make it appear as if Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary was stuck for words to a question posed to him by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain.

Johnny Mercer who, in spite of his expensive education, isn’t particularly bright, as his use of the word ‘inexplicably’ reliably informs us. There’s an explanation for this video, but it’s not one that he’d readily admit to. At the time of writing, the video clip is still up on Twitter and is being retweeted. On today’s edition of Good Morning Britain, Conservative Party chairman, James ‘Clown Shoes’ Cleverly, was asked about it. His reply is predictable.

‘We needed to shorten the video’ he says but he doesn’t offer a credible reason why he had to edit it. The real reason, and it’s not one that Cleverly would willingly admit to, is that he wanted to make Kier Starmer look stupid. He even tried to pass it off as ‘satire’, which is what Tories and alt-rightists do every time they’re caught out. Tories actually hate satire, because it punches up rather than down. The BBC’s cancellation of That Was The Week That Was in 1963 after pressure brought about by the Home government stands as a testament.

Today’s Daily Telegraph’s screaming front page reproduces part of Boris Johnson’s hyperbolic article contained within it pages, in which he compares Jeremy Corbyn to Joseph Stalin.

Image

Johnson’s article ignores such things as history and facts to push a pretty bad piece of hyperbole. If Corbyn was anything like Stalin, we’d all be dead now, Johnson included. What Johnson appears to be defending is greed and no doubt the article, which is hidden behind a paywall, repeats the dishonest phrase ‘wealth creators’ several times but to compare Britain’s greediest to the kulaks is beyond hyperbole: it’s risible melodrama worthy of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and, in typical Johnson fashion, it also plays fast and loose with the truth.

Yesterday on right-wing talk station, LBC, Jacob Rees Mogg told listeners that those who perished in the Grenfell Tower fire “lacked common sense” to leave the burning building. He was supported by Andrew Bridgen, who in an interview with Poll Tax architect, Evan Davis, on Radio 4’s PM, told listeners:

“But we want very clever people running the country, don’t we Evan?” “That’s a byproduct of what Jacob is and that’s why he is in a position of authority.” This is just another way of saying “bourgeois social conditioning produces children with superior intellects”. In this unguarded moment, Bridgen’s mask slipped to reveal the eugenicist underneath. This morning he tried to be contrite, but Twitter wasn’t having any of it.

Paul on Books had this to say:

James Felton told him:

Not wishing to be outdone by any of her colleagues, the terminally stupid, Nadine Dorries, went for the old “Corbyn is a threat to our national security” angle, while retweeting an article which purported to carry the words of former Foreign Secretary and warmonger, Jack Straw (also hidden behind a paywall). For Dorries, this was definitive proof that Corbyn was dangerous, despite having a security clearance and being a Privy Councillor. Of course, when it comes to lies, the Tories have a fatal attraction.

Jack Straw? Much respected? Not by this author and not by those who opposed the wasteful and catastrophic war in Iraq.

It’s officially the first day of the General Election campaign and already the Tories are making a mess of it – just like they did last time.

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