Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

The Blair-Murdoch Axis And The Lack Of Choice For Voters

We know that the dewy-eyed romantics, collectively known as Blairites (whether they like it or not), will stop at nothing to wrest the leadership of the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn and place it in the hands of one their own. They will destroy their party in the misguided belief that they are trying to ‘save’ it.

When Blairites, Jamie Reed and Tristram Hunt resigned, they did so knowing that the seats they occupied were marginal. Thus began the latest attempts to remove Corbyn as party leader. The Blairites and assorted plotters have a good deal of financial and moral support from wealthy individuals and hedge funds to the Murdoch propaganda empire and a compliant BBC.

Since last Thursday’s by-election defeat in Copeland (the count itself was conducted unlawfully according to the Skwawkbox blog), the Blairites had been out in force before, during and after, each of them issuing dark threats and repeating the by now familiar canards and logical fallacies.

Whenever you get into an argument with a Blairite, they never hesitate to repeat the claim that “Tony Blair won three elections in a row”. These words are used to ward off any criticism of Blair, but are also deployed as a discussion-killer whenever a Corbyn supporter reminds them of Nu Labour’s  shortcomings.  These words are also detached from reality and presented free of any association from the Murdoch empire and, indeed, history itself. As I have said in previous blogs, that Nu Labour won three consecutive elections isn’t in doubt, but so what? His government did nothing to address structural issues and kept the Thatcher project alive.

Over the course of 13 years, close to 5 million voters abandoned Labour. These voters either voted for another party or didn’t bother to vote at all. Yet, the Blairites and others insist that the only way for Labour to win a General Election that takes place in three year’s time, is not to reach out to these missing voters but to attract Tory voters instead. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is a winning strategy. Moreover, it suggests to The Cat that this pathetic strategy is merely another ploy to create a situation in which the choices for voters are limited to various shades of right-wing parties, leading to a de facto one-party state. This must not be allowed to happen. Even Thatcher herself admitted that her “greatest achievement” was “New Labour”. Could there be a more clearer indication of how voters are being stitched up?

It’s useful to look at the socio- political climate before the Nu Labour landslide of 1997.  After 18 years of Tory government, first under Thatcher and then Major, people were so fed up that they would have voted for a pig wearing a red rosette. They didn’t vote because Blair promised them anything; all he did was to offer a fresh appearance. For behind the brightly-coloured shop front laid bare shelves. In the postmodern world of politics, what you see isn’t necessarily what you get.

Let’s remember that in July 1995, Tony Blair flew half way around the world to meet Rupert Murdoch on an island off the east coast of Australia.  What took place in that meeting is open to speculation but it resulted in Murdoch giving Nu Labour his support.

Only a year earlier, Alistair Darling, the Shadow Financial Secretary to the Treasury, tabled a Commons motion condemning Murdoch’s newspaper price-cutting.

“The newspaper industry is not only an important business but also a vital organ of the democratic process … predatory pricing, with the intention of forcing rivals out of the market, will reduce choice and undermine competition,”

The motion was supported, among others, by Peter Mandelson, then the MP for Hartlepool and a friend of Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupe’s daughter.

If we go back two years earlier to 1992, The S*n produced these front pages.  The one on the left appeared on election day, the one on the right appeared the day after.

The page on the right is supported by the claim in the bottom right-hand corner that the “Truth” had been “hailed by the Tories”.

When Labour lost the 2015 General Election (which is still shrouded in controversy because of the Tory Election Expenses Fraud), the Blairites turned on their leader, Ed Miliband, whom they had been plotting against since he was elected instead of his Blairite brother in 2010. In an article in the Financial Times, George Parker wrote:

Lord Mandelson said Mr Miliband and his supporters had made a “terrible mistake” in abandoning the New Labour centre ground and undertaking “a giant political experiment” that went badly wrong. Asked by the BBC’s John Pienaar what was missing from Mr Miliband’s approach, Lord Mandelson said: “An economic policy.” While many in the Labour party remain stunned by the poll result, Lord Mandelson was one of a number of Blairites who fanned out across the media to try to reclaim the party from the left.

This “centre ground” as the BBC and others like to describe it, is a myth. The centre shifted right under Blair and has continued to do so under successive Tory governments since 2010.  Also quoted in the article is  Blair’s former chief speech writer and now Murdoch hack, Philip Collins.

Philip Collins, a former Blair speech writer and columnist, tweeted that it would take more than five years to repair the damage of the defeat: “That is the price of the Ed vanity project. He lost two elections in one night.”

Collins has also been touring the television and radio studios to issue threats and warnings. The fact that Collins himself shuffled off to join the Murdoch empire so soon after the Blair bandwagon ground to a halt in 2008, speaks volumes and shows us how close the Blairites are to Murdoch.

Yesterday, Collins gleefully tweeted to his followers:

It is partly thanks to the efforts of Murdoch hacks like Collins that Corbyn is 36 points behind May in the personal ratings polls. However, I doubt the people Collins claims are “working class” are anything of the sort.  I mean, how many working class people does he actually know? None, I’d suggest. He’s gaslighting and not for the first time.  Polls are part of a near-perpetual feedback loop that includes negative press coverage. They are a form of confirmation bias that allows Collins and those like him to claim anything he likes.  This, in his mind, is ‘evidence’ that Corbyn must be overthrown.

If today’s coup plotters think that removing Corbyn will magically reverse the party’s poll ratings, then they’re much more naive than they care to admit. If today’s coup plotters think a Blairite or a similar stuffed shirt will make them more ‘electable’, then they are delusional. The fallacious reasoning of the Blairites is only matched by their evident blindness when it comes to the sainted Tony’s failings.

There are times when I think Corbyn and his supporters should split from the rest and form a new Labour Party. This party would be able to move forward, free from the fifth columnists who are more interested in attacking their own party members than the government. Any rump party, regardless of how much money it’s attracted from wealthy donors will soon count for nothing. Why? Because such a party would be deeply unpopular,  and would be forever tainted by its associations with the Iraq War, extraordinary rendition and a disdain for the working class vote that it took for granted for 13 or more years. Corbyn and his team must also embrace proportional representation to give voters a real choice at the ballot box.

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Let’s Talk About: Legitimacy (of the parliamentary kind)

The Tories and their allies in the press seem to believe that the party with the most seats in the event of a hung parliament should have the automatic right to form a government. They also claim that should Labour get fewer seats than the Tories and if they form a minority government with the support of smaller parties, then this government would be illegitimate. This has been comprehensively debunked time and time again. Yet the Tories and Nick Clegg continue to lie about this, relying on widespread ignorance of how parliament and governments function.

There is a historical precedent that has never once been mentioned during this election campaign by those commentators whose job it is to ‘explain’ the political system to the voters. The General Election of 6 December 1923, which Stanley Baldwin had called over tariff reform (which meant very little to many working class voters), produced a situation similar to the one commentators claim will happen this Friday. Baldwin hoped that he could cement his authority after succeeding Andrew Bonar Law as party leader and Prime Minister, and he was eager to make his mark.

But Baldwin’s plan to increase his party’s already large majority backfired. Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party came second with 191 seats. Herbert Asquith’s Liberals came third with 158 seats (the Liberals were split). Baldwin’s Tories came first with 251 seats . When added together, the combined anti-Tory seats outweighed the Conservatives’ numbers. However, things were not straightforward:  Baldwin claimed legitimacy and appeared before the Commons, but was defeated on 21 January by a no confidence motion tabled by former Labour leader, J.R. Clynes. George V had no choice but to appoint MacDonald as Prime Minister. Labour then formed a minority government with the support of the Liberals on 22 January, 1924. There was no question of Labour’s legitimacy to form a government on that occasion, because everyone knew  how the game was played. Today, the Tories and their media chums continue claim that should Labour come second, they will lack legitimacy. The front page of today’s edition of the Murdoch-owned Times has printed a variation on the lie.the_times front page

However, the role of the Liberals in 1924 should not be read as the facilitation of a Labour government but as part of a plan to secure more power for themselves, should the government fall. Indeed, the Daily Mail begged Asquith to form a coalition with the Tories to keep Labour out. Asquith hoped that the voters would see Labour as incompetent. What the voters actually saw were squabbling, power hungry politicians knifing each other in the back. Even so, MacDonald’s government was weak and unstable and suffered its first defeat in March. By October, it would be voted out of office thanks to the Zioniev Letter.

The Liberals paid for their treachery and they were reduced to 40 seats. Asquith lost his seat, was kicked upstairs and died four years later. Even though Baldwin secured a massive majority, he would again lose out  to Labour in the so-called ‘Flapper Election’ of 1929, which resulted in another hung parliament. MacDonald relied on the support of Lloyd George’s 58 Liberal MPs. But this government wouldn’t last long and in 1931 another election was called. Again, this produced a hung parliament and the notorious National Government was eventually formed with Baldwin pulling the strings.

In February 1974, Edward Heath’s Tories came second and Labour came first. Heath remained in Downing Street as  the caretaker Prime Minister and attempted to form a coalition with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberals. But Thorpe rejected the Tories’ coalition proposals on the basis that Proportional Representation wasn’t offered as part of the deal. Harold Wilson was invited to form a minority government with the support of the smaller parties. Again, there was no question of legitimacy.  This government lasted until October, when Wilson called another election and won a wafer-thin majority. By 1976, Wilson was gone and replaced by’ Sunny’ Jim Callaghan, whose majority began to evaporate due to by-election losses and defections. Callaghan was forced to enter into a pact with the Liberals (the Lib-Lab pact) in 1977. This lasted until the end of 1978 and the rest, as they say, is history.

What these elections reveal to us are the flaws inherent in the First Past The Post voting system. Whichever party forms the government after tomorrow’s election, we must take to the streets to demand electoral and constitutional reform.  There must be no let up.

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Filed under 20th century, General Election 2015, History, History & Memory, Let's Talk About, Media, Tory press, Yellow journalism

“We need more Thatcherism” (like we need holes in our heads)

In the wake of Thatcher’s death and funeral, some senior and some not-so-senior Conservatives have been demanding the party ‘rediscovers’ Thatcherism. I must admit, I’ve been mightily amused by the Tories’ clamour for more Thatcherism. It’s as predictable as it is absurd. It also smacks of terminal desperation. Make no mistake, this is a party in decline.

The first to stick his ugly, fat, unkempt head above the parapet was Bozza. The Guardian reports,

London mayor Boris Johnson called for a show of “Thatcherite zeal” as he joined backbench MPs in demanding an overhaul of the law to make it harder to call strikes.

Johnson said was “farcical” that a strike could be called with the backing of less than half of union members and has urged the government to rethink legislation on taking industrial action.

It comes as a report by the Conservative group on the London Assembly estimates that tube strikes in the capital cost the economy £48m a day, putting the cost of industrial action between 2005 and 2009 at £1bn.

Johnson told the Sun: “The idea that a strike can be called by a majority of those that vote, rather than a majority of all those balloted, is farcical. It often results in a strike backed by just one in 10 union members, antagonising millions of commuters in the process and costing London and the UK billions every year.

“I’d urge the government to act with some Thatcherite zeal and at the very least legislate against strikes supported by less than half of all union members.”

The call for new laws follows on from union groups raising the prospect of calling a general strike in protest at the government’s austerity measures.

So Bozza said this to The Sun? Well, there’s a surprise. He’s been having regular lunches and dinners with The Old Bastard (Rupert Murdoch to you), which he’s only just begun to declare in the register of members interests at City Hall. In the same article, Dominic Raabid, who was in short trousers when the Auld Witch was ensconced in Downing Street, tells us that:

“Margaret Thatcher injected a dose of democracy into the unions, to empower their members and protect Britain.

“We now face a hot summer of discontent, with reckless strikes from schools to airports that most union members refused to back.

“It’s high time we had extra safeguards to protect the hard-working majority from this abusive militant minority.”

“Margaret Thatcher injected a dose of democracy into the unions”, opines the humourless Raab. This nutjob is serious! Last year, Raabid called for Britain to adopt a sweatshop economy. He was supported in this endeavour by his fellow headbanger, Priti Patel, who says:

“Defending the rights of people to work without fear of intimidation, bullying or violence is exactly what Margaret Thatcher championed and this legislation could once again put the rights of workers above the vested interests of the left and their union barons.”

Come again? Thatcher was a bully and her cabinet was composed mainly of bullies. The current government have carried their public school bullying with them throughout their journey to Westminster. It is their desire to make the rest of us their fags.

The mere mention of a possible general strike is enough to get the likes of Raab, Johnson and his Nazi-fetishizing chum, Aidan Burley calling for even more draconian anti-union legislation. The next step for these bullies will be to call for an outright ban on unions. That’s how much they love ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, kids.

Yesterday, Bozza’s kid brother, Jo, was appointed to the Downing Street Policy Unit with, I am reliably informed, a remit to inject more Thatcherite poison into the Tories’ already polluted bloodstream. Nicholas Watt of The Guardian writes,

The appointment of the mayor of London’s brother, who formally becomes a Cabinet Office minister, is one of a series of moves designed to strengthen the political operation in Downing Street and to patch up the prime minister’s frayed links with the Conservative party. One senior figure described the moves as a deliberate attempt to create a more political – though not politicised – Downing Street in the mould of Margaret Thatcher’s No 10 operation.

The Tories are so deluded that they seriously believe their only salvation lies in serving us warmed-up Thatcherite leftovers from 30 years ago. It’s farcical.

The real tragedy is that the opposition Labour party can’t see how weak the Conservatives are and do nothing to help finish them off (it’s called a coup de grace, Mister Ed). There’s blood in the water and if you can’t move in for the kill, then you have no business being in politics.

Ed Miliband’s spine was last seen getting into a car on the northbound carriageway of the M6 near Congleton. If anyone knows its current whereabouts then kindly inform the owner.

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The Winter of Discontent: a media event

The abiding image of 1979 but was this scene was not universal

Last night I was watching Dominic Sandbrook’s one-sided look at the 1970s and was reminded how much the right are fond of bringing up the phrase “The Winter of Discontent” at every opportunity. Whenever 1979 is mentioned, archive footage of piles of uncollected rubbish accompanies the stentorian narration as if to say “Look, this is what happens when unions are too strong”.

The reality of life in the 70’s with its ethnic tensions, inflation, casual and overt racism and ideological polarization is barely touched upon nor is the fact that there were forces in this country that wanted to stage a coup against an elected government (to be fair, Sandbrook touched on it). The  ideologically driven Heath government is painted, on the one hand,  as being hamstrung by bolshie unions and on the other hand, as a victim of world events that spiralled out of control. There is no mention of its terminal incompetence save for Heath’s 1974 election slogan “Who governs Britain”?

Sandbrook had been building up to the ‘Thatcher’ moment  since the start of the series. His ideologically-charged narrative pointed the accusatory finger at the unions and the Labour Party. He repeated the by now familiar canard that the nationalized industries were a failure and that they were costing the taxpayer (a word of power for the Tories) far too much money. But this was a time when Britain actually made things. It had a shipbuilding industry, forged its own steel, built cars and dug its own coal. It made things that it could sell.  Now it’s all gone. The demise of these industries was blamed on the unions. The miners, who had been heroes during World War II, were cast as enemies of the state by Sandbrook (and the Tories), not as men who were fighting for better pay and conditions. Then there were the shipyard workers who were fighting to modernize an industry that was largely stuck in the 1920s, who were also cast in a similar role. Heath had proposed to close the Upper Clyde shipyards, not because they weren’t profitable or efficient but because he didn’t like the colour of the worker’s politics. The workers responded by holding a “work-in” rather than walk out. Their strategy worked and the shipyards remained.

Nowhere in Sandbrook’s narrative were Britain’s lazy and incompetent managers and directors to be found. Indeed the Right never mentions them. It is as if they were innocent of any blame for the state of the economy or the country’s poor performance abroad.

I can remember early in my working life watching directors roll up in their Jaguars or Daimlers at 4pm looking well-fed and watered. These ruddy-faced, gin-soaked men knew that no one could shift them from their positions – even if they performed badly. They were there for life if they wanted it and many of them were. They were more than content to deflect the blame for their failures and place it on the shoulders of those who helped to pay their inflated salaries.

This passage from an article from The Week puts the Winter of 1978/79 into perspective.

The so-called ‘Winter of Discontent’ of 1979 – which ushered in Thatcherism – is also shrouded in myth. James Callaghan never said ‘Crisis, what crisis’ – that was an invention of The Sun. The strikes themselves only lasted for a comparatively short period and were largely over by February 1979.

As this passage shows us, much of what we see on our television screens about the 1970s has been constructed by the right-wing press – particularly the Murdoch press, who were responsible for constructing the majority of the myths that have been perpetuated by the Tories and their allies to this day. This image of ‘militant’ trade unions has been fed directly into the right’s architecture of mythology into which extreme right-wing groups like the Trade Union Reform Campaign have inserted themselves.

 The Winter of Discontent myth has talismanic properties. Its invocation was designed to stop critics of the neoliberal project and defenders of trade union rights in their tracks. And for the better part of 30 years, it has worked well for the Right. Even Kinnock’s Labour Party ran scared of the horror show put on by the Tories.

Britain in the 1970’s may have been a politically polarized country but workers had a greater sense of class solidarity. There was also a greater sense of community.  Many communities had formed around pitheads and steel mills. Once Thatcher sold off the steel industry and shut the mines, the communities around them died. By the 1980s, the managers and directors who had wreaked so much havoc through a combination of gross incompetence and crass self-interest had crawled off into the darkness. It was if they never existed and the Tories were happy for them never to be mentioned again.

But such things have a nasty habit of coming back to haunt governments. We now have a situation where Britain’s economy is over-reliant on financial services. Yet, the current government, for all their warm words, have little will or inclination to change things. The current situation where rentier capitalists and other parasites dominate the nation’s economy suits them just fine. They will continue to lie and create myths to fool people into thinking that their way is the only way.

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Life On Gilligan’s Island (Part 29)

After a long break, this series is back thanks to the News International phone hacking scandal.  Even though I haven’t been able to blog much over the last couple of months, I’ve kept abreast of what our dear friend, Andrew Gilligan (aka Kennite) has been up to.

Looking at a list of his blogs, we can see that most of them are about  Ken Livingstone. Some things never change.  Gilligoon has been quick to label Livingstone as a stooge of Murdoch but it’s a desperate ploy that smacks of a deep-seated bitterness. More importantly, it’s a hatchet job on behalf of Boris Johnson in the run up to next years’ mayoral election.  Naturally, in his rush to throw a punch in Livingstone’s direction,  Gilly misses the blatantly obvious: Johnson is up to his neck in this scandal – more so than Ken.  Last week, the Guardian reported that Johnson had refused to apologise over police complicity in the scandal.

Boris Johnson has given his backing to beleaguered Met assistant commissioner John Yates, and has refused to apologise over his own previous insistence that he was “completely satisfied” with the 2009 decision not to open a fresh police investigation into what he described then as politically motivated “codswallop”.

Bojo makes light of police corruption and all Gilligoon can do is ignore it to have a swipe at Livingstone.

In today’s blog, The Gillster claims that Livingstone got “duffed up” on Newsnight. Odd, I watched the same programme and I didn’t get the feeling that Livingstone had been “duffed up”. I thought he gave a good account of himself. Sure, he wrote for the The Sun but so do many other politicians. What I noticed was Cameron’s chum, Nick Boles (a former Chief of Staff to Johnson) making a complete pillock of himself. But let’s look at the facts, two senior police officers have resigned in the space of a little under 24 hours.  Sir Paul Stephenson was Emperor Boris’s first choice for the role of Metropolitan Police Commissioner after he’d found a way to remove the previous Met chief, Sir Ian Blair. When Johnson appeared with his deputy, Kit Malthouse (looking well-fed, as usual), to answer questions about the scandal, he looked nervous and uncomfortable… as if the net was about to close in on him. Still, no mention of this from Gilly. Instead he says,

Not a single paper, not even the Guardian, has taken up Ken’s attacks – with the obvious and inevitable exception of Livingstone’s personal echo, Dave Hill. I thought the days when journalists were in powerful men’s pockets had just come to an end, Dave!

Pure bitchiness. Fact: Dave Hill is not a fan of Ken Livingstone and I think if anyone has been reading Hill’s blogs over the course of the last few years, anyone can see that. What Kennite doesn’t like is the way in which Hill outed him for serial sockpuppeting – something that he still does. He’s even popped up on this blog, claiming to be someone else. Here’s what Hill has to say about Johnson and his involvement in the scandal.

Hill also wrote this article in Saturday’s Cif section. Here’s a snippet,

That may not be a smoking gun, but it reveals a second motive for him having had a hands-off approach to the hacking affair since becoming mayor in 2008. The first is his continuing and very obvious political interest in keeping on News International’s right side as he seeks re-election next year. Only last month he joined Sebastian Coe in making a presentation to the News International board about the London Olympics. Four days later the Sun published an article by him attacking Ken Clarke’s proposals for so-called “soft justice”.

A London mayor’s relationship with the Met is constitutionally imprecise, but if he wants something done he’s in a good position to demand it. Until the last week forced his hand, Johnson has done the opposite over phone hacking. If Yates or even Stephenson end up walking the plank, it is likely to be the home secretary who shoves them out over the waves – but for Johnson the awkward questions would continue.

Livingstone is milking his discomfort. His past connections with News International have been flung at him by Johnson’s friends, but he seems happy playing the percentages: Boris is taking a much bigger hit. Meanwhile, the Tory mayor who came to power pledging to take “personal responsibility” for tackling criminality has policing woes at street level, too.

Adam Bienkov’s blog reminds us of what Bojo really thought of the phone hacking scandal. Bienkov links to an article that Johnson wrote for the Telegraph in April.

Oh come off it. This is starting to get silly. First it was the Royal family, then it was Gordon Brown and Sienna Miller. Now we are told that there are literally hundreds of people who have been bugged by the News of the World. It’s getting to the stage where it looks embarrassing for any self-respecting celebrity that they haven’t been taped or hacked or somehow illicitly probed by the gentlemen of the Screws. Across London, actors and slebs are ringing up their agents in a quivering fury.

Yeah, life is all one big joke to Emperor Boris and this is the man whom Kennite supports in his bid for a second term as London’s mayor?  Years before he was elected, Johnson wrote of “piccaninnies with watermelon smiles”.  He was forced to apologise.

Finally, Kennite never came clean about his sockpuppeting. Here’s a video titled “Andrew Gilligan – Ailing Standards”. Enjoy!

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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?

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

They hate them and bait them. No wonder a Democratic congresswoman was shot in Tucson

When Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot yesterday, I immediately thought that ultimate responsibility for the shooting lay with the hate-speech of America’s right-wing media, its pundits and their allies. After all, seemingly insane ideas and impulses have to come from somewhere.

The sheriff of Tucson, Clarence Dupnik, was spot on when he said “Arizona has become the Mecca of racism and bigotry”. Recently the state passed anti-immigration law SB1070 which permitted the police to stop and search anyone they suspected of being an illegal immigrant. Indeed, the sheriff of Maricopa County, the notorious Joseph Arpaio has been at the centre of this firestorm. But Arpaio is currently facing charges of abusing his power. His views on immigrants are well known and he is even lionized in this country by people who really ought to know better.

Since the complete deregulation of broadcasting under Reagan in the 1980’s, American television and radio networks no longer have to pretend to be unbiased. The deregulation of the airwaves allowed the likes of Rush Limbaugh and others to indulge in their favourite past-time of free-form hate-speech. They bait liberals and welcome listeners on air who call for their deaths.  Ann Coulter’s books, for instance, depict Democrats as “dangerous” and  “stupid”.  Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News typically subjects liberals to hectoring and abuse.  The language and tone used by these so-called broadcasters often verges on the violent.  Their sole aim is to dehumanize their opponents.  During the congressional election campaign, freaky Sarah Palin produced this crosshair picture on her website.

Note that the picture has Gabrielle Giffords as one of the ‘targets’. The Daily Mirror says,

Controversial Republican politician Sarah Palin hurriedly removed a map of America with a cross-hair target over Mrs Giffords’s Congress seat from her Facebook profile.

I don’t think the FBI will be visiting her any time soon but this sort of thing is clearly irresponsible and dangerous. But is Britain free from this liberal/red/whatever-baiting? No. Recently, Hannan and Delingpole of the Telegraph have run blogs that bait and smear their opponents. A recent blog from Delingtroll asks “Why did God give Liberals annoying, whiny voices”? Make no mistake this sort of thing comes directly from the American right. His book, 365 Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy has a title that could have sprung from the foetid brain of Ann Coulter.  Yet Delingtroll and Hannan both claim that only left is capable of hate. What these two wannabe hate-jocks want to do is to remould Britain along the lines of the US. I suppose we can be grateful for the fact that no one in this country has used the sort of imagery that Palin has used.

The response from the Telegraph’s Toby Harnden is characteristically dishonest,

Paul Krugman of the “New York Times” suggests darkly that Giffords was shot because she was “a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona” and “violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate” (those reponsible for such a climate being, of course, Republicans).

Harnden is in denial. He claims to know what motivated the suspect and uses hearsay to support his thesis,

Former classmates talk of “nonsensical outbursts” and a person “on his own planet”. His favourite reading apparently included “Mein Kampf” and “The Communist Manifesto”. My colleague Jon Swaine has a summary here of the raving of a person who most people would judge to be a complete nutcase even if he hadn’t gone out and shot people.

Harnden’s stablemate Jon Swaine claims to have the inside track on Gifford’s assailant, Jared Loughner.

Ms Parker said Loughner had encountered Miss Giffords once before in 2007 and had “asked her a question and he told me she was ‘stupid and unintelligent’.”

However she added that when she had known him, Loughner seemed to be liberal or Left-wing.

How convenient. But this looks like bullshit,

The YouTube account stated that among Loughner’s favourite books, most of which were much-loved classic novels, were Mein Kampf andThe Communist Manifesto.

Only in Hayek’s fevered mind could these two books be mentioned in the same breath. Oddly enough this ‘link’ only appears in the right-wing press. In fact, the New York Daily News doesn’t mention the Communist Manifesto at all.

Loughner lists the Adolf Hitler autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” among his favorite books in an online profile, a list that also includes classics such as “Animal Farm” and “The Odyssey.”

Someone is making things up on this side of the Atlantic. I wonder why? Indeed the Murdoch-owned New York Post also repeats this line about the Communist Manifesto while adding that Loughner likes The Wizard of Oz.

In Britain, there right have been calling for the BBC to be broken up for years alleging ‘bias’ as their prime concern. Recently Murdoch’s News Corp has sought to increase its share in BSkyB which would quite possibly create a news service that closely resembles that of Fox News. The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt appears ambivalent about a possible takeover. Though this Guardian story tells us that he held a private meeting with James Murdoch in June.  Probably because he and his fellow Tories know that once Murdoch gets his hands on BSkyB, the party will have its very own unofficial ministry of information. They can also distance themselves from any strident remarks made on the channel by claiming that BSkyB is a “commercial broadcaster with no ties to the state”.

Irresponsible broadcasting that makes use of hate-speech will inevitably lead to some people believing that they have some sort of  right to take another’s life because a shock-jock or demagogue tells them that ‘liberals’ are responsible for the nation “going to hell in a handcart”.

Loughner also killed 5 others including a 9 year old child and a federal judge.

UPDATE: According to this Murdoch rag,  Loughner was some sort of conspiraloon.

THE suspect being held over Saturday’s shooting of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords may have links to anti-Semitic race hate group American Renaissance.

An internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo quoted by FOX News Channel revealed the gunman – named by the media as Jared Loughner, 22 – is “possibly linked” to American Renaissance.

The group subscribes to an ideology that is “anti-government, anti-immigration, anti -ZOG (Zionist Occupational Government), anti-Semitic,” according to the DHS memo.

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