Tag Archives: Rebekah Brooks

Postcards From The Barricades (Part 9)

As usual, I’m listening to The Redskins on my mp3 player to get me in the mood for today’s march and rally in defence of public sector pensions. But the rally is about more than pensions: it’s about jobs and security. It’s also about the cuts that are being imposed upon the lowest paid workers. In most other circumstances, when a bigger person picks on a smaller or weaker person, the bigger person is called a “bully” and rightly so.  Bullies have become very much a feature of light entertainment schedules in recent years. I’ll talk about that a little later on. The coalition government and its chums in Fleet Street are the bullies. No mistake there. There are 23 millionaires in the cabinet, it’s not as if they’re going to have to make a choice between food and heating this Winter.

The BBC News Channel spent the entire morning, interviewing as many right-wing voices as they could muster in advance of the marches and rallies.  All of them repeating the same tiresome “This strike is wrong, blah, blah, blah…”. I don’t have time to listen to much of it as I’m too busy trying to get out of the door in good time for the march.

The man sitting next to me on the Tube is reading a copy of The Times, the headline reads “Osborne Strikes First”.  Ha ha, very funny. I alight at Holborn. I hate this station because the exit from the Piccadilly Line northbound platform is far too small. It’s like an inadequate storm gully that’s blocked with a few leaves and twigs, which overflows at the slightest hint of rainfall. As soon as I step out of the station, I’m swept along by a passing group of marchers down Kingsway. I arrive at Lincolns Inn Fields. It’s crowded and there are certainly more people here than the BBC’s Jon Sopel estimates. There are a few children about too. Here are a couple of kids getting into the spirit of things.

I walk along the southern side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, I can see some UCU balloons in the distance.  I spend a bit of time milling about, looking for people I know when I meet some familiar faces from UEL. One of them sees Dennis Skinner and shouts “Beast of Bolsover”! He smiles and nods.  Here’s The Beast scoffing a biscuit.

I can also see Peter Tatchell to my left but he has his back to me. We begin to make our way to Victoria Embankment,   I’m actually at the front of the march for a change. I took this picture of this rather funky looking float, I’d guess you’d call it.

The march proceeds slowly around Aldwych and onto The Strand. I find myself standing next to the BBC’s Mike Sergeant (yes, he is the son of John), who doesn’t seem to be doing much of anything. No sign yet of Paraig O’Brien. We’re finally allowed down The Strand. Lee Jasper cycles past me, he’s shouting through a loud hailer.

Either his bike is too small for him or the saddle is too low. At any rate, he shouldn’t be peddling with his arches. I walk past a load of scaffolding opposite Gilbraltar House, there are loads of photographers hanging from it. A security type says to them, “You realise it’s not fixed”. It looks fine to me; it would take more than twenty blokes to pull down this load of scaffolding. A few elephants, maybe… Security dude is being a spoilsport. Typical.

The French Confédération générale du travail, (CGT) have sent a delegation too.

It is one of five such confederations and is considered to be the most moderate. They’re not what you might call militant syndicalists either, the CGT… then again, nor is the TUC.

The pace of the march seems to be dictated by the authorities. Is there someone somewhere who is timing all of this? Working out the average speed over the distance travelled?  My phone goes off. I find somewhere to take the call. I’m not one of those people who walks and talks on the phone at the same time. As I finish the call, I can overhear some bloke next to me say, “They look like civil servants” adding “The problem with these marches is they attract activists”. Spoken like a true Sun reader. No irony. Full of sneering contempt for his fellow workers.

We arrive at Victoria Embankment. The speeches begin. The NASUWT’s John Rimmer’s speech gets cut short. I’m not sure why. Maybe he wrote too much and ran out of time. I don’t know. The UCU speaker who followed spoke without the aid of notes and was passionate but didn’t venture beyond slogans. I miss most of Christine Blower’s speech because I’m being distracted by the whispered news that some form of direct action is going to take place near Piccadilly Circus.

Unite’s Len McCluskey tells us that there are 50,000 on the march. Not bad for mid-week.  He’s followed by Ken Livingstone, who reminds us that MPs, who work in the public sector receive a pension of £40,000 per annum. He tells us that suicides on the tube network have doubled because of the redundancies and the debt people have been saddled with. Mark Serwotka of the PCS closes the platform speeches. “You are the people that make this country tick”.  For sure, because without public sector workers, the bins wouldn’t be emptied. I can’t think of anyone who would sign up to the idea of taking their refuse to the dump themselves. “It’s time that the Labour Party got off the fence and supported this  strike”, Serwotka says. I agree. The message coming from the Labour leadership is confused. There are Greens on this march and yet I didn’t see a single Labour Party banner.

I get home to hear the usual nonsense about the strike. Gove assumes the role of a graverobber and fashions a narrative from bones of long-dead trade union leaders. It’s unconvincing and undignified stuff. He cuts a desperate figure of a man. All guff and no substance.

Later on The One Show, Jeremy Clarkson is asked for his thoughts on today’s strike. Here’s what he says,

Franco would have loved him. Pinochet too. He’s a bully and bullying has become Britain’s national pastime. Top Gear is as much about bullying as it is cars. Some of the nation’s current crop stand-ups rely on getting laughs by picking on the little guy. H L Mencken once said “Comfort the afflicted and inflict the comfortable”.  There by the grace of God and all that stuff. Clarkson thrives on his role of professional gobshite and all-round boor. But this time, he’s overstepped the mark. A wise man once told me that, “There’s no such thing as a joke”. I truly believe that Clarkson meant what he said. By the way, Clarkson is a pal and neighbour of Lord Snooty and Rebekah Brooks.

I’ll leave you with this picture of a man with a well-pimped wheelchair.

The fight goes on!

Leave a comment

Filed under Society & culture, Trade Unions, workers rights

Murdoch: hoist by his own petard or playing a long game?

My work took me much longer to finish than I expected, hence the long gap between blogs. A lot has happened over the last couple of weeks. Events in the phone hacking scandal have moved very quickly: no sooner than we hear of one revelation, another comes along within hours to take its place. Needless to say, Murdoch’s minions have overstepped the mark and acted criminally. Phone taps normally require a court order. The News of the World thought that it was above the law. It wasn’t.  Now the rest of News International and its parent company, News Corporation are under suspicion. The Sun and The Times have both been accused of phone hacking and in the US, it was believed that one of the News Corp companies hacked into the phones of those killed in the Twin Towers attack of September 11, 2001.

The News of the World is no more. No doubt it will be replaced by something just as vile. In many respects The Sun and the News of the World are the same paper. They both print the same kind of gossip and sleazy scandal and both papers believe that they have the right to intrude into people’s private lives.

I had originally begun drafting a blog a couple of weeks ago. My angle on this was the city of Liverpool and how The Sun and NotW had been boycotted by Scousers. The people of Liverpool have known for a long time what News International is capable of doing.  In the aftermath of the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989, The Sun made up a story about Liverpool supporters urinating on the dead. Kelvin MacKenzie, then editor of the paper, refused to apologize and even went so far as to rub more salt into the wound by standing by the ‘story’. To this day, the sales of The Sun and The News of the World on Merseyside are the lowest anywhere in the country. No self-respecting Scouser, red or blue, would contemplate buying such a vile rag.

Many of us have known for some time that Murdoch media and the government enjoy a close relationship. When Cameron hired Andy Coulson as his press secretary, Coulson was already up to his neck in shit.  But what we have seen is that the relationship between the Tories and the Murdoch media is somewhat closer than a mere business arrangement; these people meet socially. Cameron, Rebekah Brooks and Coulson have  broken bread together. Indeed Cameron, Coulson and Brooks live rather close to each other.  They are even referred to as the “Chipping Norton Set”.

The Murdoch press may not be able to inject its views into the heads of its readers but it is an opinion former and its views are taken seriously by many people. British politicians work to please the Murdoch press and will do their utmost to avoid upsetting papers like the The Sun, a paper that can ruin lives and careers at the drop of a hat.

In 1992, The Sun claimed to have won the general election for John Major’s Tories. The day before the polls opened, the Scum ran a front page that said “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave in Britain turn off the lights”. Labour lost the election but in the years that followed the Tories were battling allegations of sleaze.

Before the 1997 General Election, Tony Blair met with executives from News International. He understood that he needed to get the Murdoch media on his side in order to win. But it was a poisoned chalice, the Blair and the Brown governments found themselves dancing to Murdoch’s tune.

Yesterday, Murdoch had full page apologies printed in his papers and those of his rivals.  He’s done it again today. I suspect that his lawyers have advised him to do this, so that he can come back in a year’s time with a renewed bid for BSkyB. All he’s doing is trying to remake his image and that of his papers. As far as out politicians are concerned, they talk a good talk but they’re scared of Murdoch. They’ve done just enough to give the impression that they’re reining him in. Ed Miliband has called for a ban on multi-media ownership by a single person or group. This would be welcome. But the press cannot regulate itself properly. The Press Complaints Commission is run by the newspaper industry and membership  is not compulsory. The PCC does not have the power to sanction errant newspapers nor can it impose fines. All it can do is get the paper in question to print an apology, which is, more often than not, a single paragraph buried inside the newspaper.

I’ll leave you with this mindless drivel from LMer and professional shit-stirrer, Brendan O’Neill who blames the NotW’s demise on a “dictatorship of do-gooders”.

When small groups of professional activists help to shut down a newspaper read by millions of everyday Brits, that is not “people power”. When celebrities and well-to-do commentators help to deprive 7.5 million people of their Sunday read – and what’s more, claim to be doing it in order to save those 7.5 million people from being morally corrupted – that is not a “democratic moment”. It is more like a dictatorship of do-gooders.

Lest we forget that O’Neill’s former magazine, LM was shut down because it lost a libel case against ITN whom LM had accused of misrepresenting the Bosnian Civil War.   A “dictatorship of do-gooders” had nothing to do with the NotW’s demise; its death was caused by slipshod journalistic standards and blatant lawbreaking. I, for one, am glad it’s gone. I think that I should point out that O’Neill also writes for the Australian, a title owned by guess who?

Leave a comment

Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, News Corporation, Tory press, Yellow journalism