Tag Archives: smear campaigns

A BBC Producer, Guido And Me

The antics of Britain’s news media in the last few weeks have been, to say the least, discomfiting and laughable in equal measure. From the production of anti-Corbyn smears to their fulsome and unquestioning support for the government’s vague position on the Skripal poisoning case, the media has shown itself incapable of critical analysis and devoid of professional curiosity. It has, instead, resorted to smearing the leader of the opposition, who advised a more cautious, even statesman-like approach. For his trouble, he was smeared by the government, the media and even some members of his own party, most notably the MP for BAe Systems, John Woodcock.

The BBC has been especially poor and has recently taken to sourcing news stories from the disreputable flak machine that’s Guido Fawkes. I wrote about the site in this article from 2012.

Last October, as I watching The Daily Politics, I’d noticed that the editorial team had sourced an item about Labour MP, Jared O’Mara, from Guido. I took to Twitter to express my disgust and disbelief.

On Monday, anticipating a smear story that was about to break, I took to Twitter again after it emerged that the BBC and other news organizations, had sourced a story from Guido.

This morning I noticed there had been a reply from someone claiming to work as a producer for Radio 4 ‘s You and Yours.

The arrogance here is astonishing.

I responded, first by telling him he was “projecting”, then I quoted his tweet, so that everyone could see what kind of people work for the BBC.

Mousley has yet to respond. But if this is how one BBC employee replies to viewers and listeners, then it’s a fair bet that this high-handed, smug attitude is consistent throughout the Corporation. If Mousley deletes the tweet, then I have a screen shot.

We expect better from our news providers, but when they produce blatant propaganda pieces and repeat smear stories sourced from sites like Guido, then they no longer deserve the trust and support of the public.

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Filed under BBC, Free Press Myth, Media, Yellow journalism

Smears, Lies, Social Media And Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis. He don’t ‘alf like a good old smear.

Social media may have its problems but there’s one thing about it that cannot be denied: it has effectively democratized the production and dissemination of information. Until fairly recently, the production of information was tightly controlled by what is often laughingly referred to as the ‘free press’ or ‘free media’, which is mostly controlled and owned by Conservative-supporting proprietors. Cast your minds back to the General Election of 1992 and The S*n’s disgraceful front pages. Cast your minds back to 1996 when Tony Blair, then merely the leader of the Labour Party, had to get on his hands and knees and beg for Rupert Murdoch’s support. I don’t want a return to those days, but the Tories clearly do, and there’s a reason why they complain so bitterly about social media and whine about non-existent online abuse: they resent the fact that people can make their own judgements based on information that wouldn’t have been available to them 10 or 20 years ago. The Tories are also incapable of matching the social media campaigns of groups like Momentum and, by way of reply, end up producing the most laughable efforts, like Activate.

Smear at will, chaps! That ought to convince the voters that we’re the natural party of government!

Last week, Theresa May reshuffled her cabinet and brought in Brandon Lewis, the MP for Great Yarmouth, as chairman of the Conservative Party. His deputy is James (Not So) Cleverly, the MP for Braintree (there’s a joke in there), whose Twitter feed is full to bursting with smears and lies. When I heard about Lewis’s appointment, this is what I tweeted.

The role of the Tory Party chairman, as far as I can see it, is to co-ordinate smear attacks on their enemies. This is how it’s been since the 1920s, when national newspapers like the Daily Mail,  a ‘newspaper’ friendly to the interests of the Tories, could publish forgeries like the Zinoviev Letter to affect the outcome of a general election and, at the same time, undermine the democratic process safe in the knowledge that it enjoyed high level protection.

When Lewis  appeared on today’s Andrew Marr Show, he didn’t disappoint. Immediately afterwards, he tweeted:

My response was brief and to the point.

Later, this was tweeted from the Tories’s official Twitter account:

When Angela Rayner told her Twitter followers how she dealt with online abuse, Lewis saw this as an opportunity to make  dishonest political capital and smear the Labour frontbench at the same time.

Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads was having none of it and reminded Lewis that his “Respect Pledge” was little more than a gimmick.

That reminds me, what happened to the 40 or so Tory MPs that were recently outed as sex pests and worse? It’s all gone rather quiet.

CCHQ quoted Cleverly in the Sunday Express:

Here it is from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Cleverly has very little room to complain about abuse, yet here he is assuming the moral high ground. When all else fails, pretend your shit doesn’t stink and smear it all over your opponents.

The Tories have been very fond of claiming that Labour and by extension, the Left, has been singularly responsible for online abuse. But this is a topsy-turvy version of reality, because it’s been demonstrated that the abuse comes mainly from the Right and is directed at Labour MPs like Emma Dent Coad, Laura Pidcock and Diane Abbott. The New Statesman tracked 25, 688 abusive tweets and noted that most of them were directed at Diane Abbott.  Tory MPs, by contrast, have been challenged on their lies, which they then wilfully misinterpret as “online abuse”. There’s a reason for this: social media has, for the first time, allowed many people to not only engage with their MPs, but to openly challenge the lies and misinformation produced by Tory MPs and the propagandists at CCHQ. This is anathema to Tories, who may talk a good talk about freedom and democracy, but work tirelessly to stifle those things.

I didn’t see Brandon Lewis on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday morning but I suspect that Marr didn’t once challenge or refute any of his accusations or smears. However, the Marr Show helpfully tweeted this, and what I’ve noticed from this clip is how Lewis, rather than face up to the fact that his party is now, most likely, the third largest party in Britain, smears his way out of an uncomfortable moment. But that’s not all: watch how he squirms when it’s revealed to viewers that the abolition of credit card charges, announced on Saturday, was a European Union directive, and not down to the government, as their Twitter meme mendaciously suggests.

What Lewis is really saying is “We’re are crap at social media and it’s not fair that Labour is better than us”. The logic behind this is that the Tories think that being good at social media means being abusive and making baseless allegations, but this is an obvious psychological projection.

One smear that’s been doing the tours of the radio and television studios is the claim that Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, told an audience that he wanted to “lynch” Esther McVey. McDonnell actually quoted what someone else had said and yet, the Tories, being Tories, attributed the words to him directly. Worse perhaps, the BBC always fails to challenge Tory MPs who reproduce these lies live on air, as Sarah Smith did when the lie was repeated to her by Immigration Minister, Caroline Noakes, on The Sunday Politics. She apologized towards the end of the show.

The Tories are comfortable with racists. That’s not a smear; that’s the truth. For when Boris Johnson makes another racist joke or calls black children “piccaninnies”, nothing happens.  It’s waved away. For example, when Scottish Tory councillors spouted sectarian and racist remarks, Ruth Davidson gave them a quick slap on the wrists and welcomed them back a few weeks later. The official media, for its part, said little if anything at all. Yet, the Tories and their pals on Fleet Street and elsewhere will seize on any opportunity to paint Labour as a uniquely anti-Semitic party, and when their own members are guilty of real anti-Semitism, what happens? Absolutely nothing. Not even the official media are interested.

When Toby Young was appointed to the board of the Office for Students, a quango set up by Bozza’s half-witted and less charismatic sibling, Jo Johnson, people took to social media in their droves to point out Young’s lack of suitability. Central to these claims were Young’s 40,000 or so tweets, many of which expressed crude sexism and homophobia, one even suggested anal rape. But that wasn’t the least of it, his advocacy for what he calls “progressive eugenics” (a bizarre and contradictory construction if ever there was one) was also cited as grounds for his unsuitability. Young was forced to stand down. Predictably, the Tories started complaining about “online lynching” and “trial by Twitter”. Not one of them mentioned eugenics or the important fact that it’s a long discredited pseudo-science, which was central to Hitler’s Final Solution. In their silence, they’ve clearly revealed themselves, not only to be Social Darwinists, but tacit supporters of eugenics.

Thanks to social media many of us are better informed than we once were.  Yes, there is online abuse but most of it comes from the Right and not the Left.  But ordinary citizens are now able to call out politicians on their lies and distortions, so when the Tories claimed they had abolished credit card charges all by themselves, they were immediately met by a barrage of corrections. The Tories hate that. For them, it’s tantamount to abuse and for people that declare themselves tough and in control, they betray themselves as rather thin-skinned and lacking in control. Worse still, the Tories are a party bereft of ideas and haemorrhaging members, and they see smears, lies and abuse as substitutes.

To borrow from the villain’s stock line at the end of an episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? “We would have gotten away with it, if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids and your social media”.

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For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Bullying And Corruption?

 

The real ‘enemy of the people’ is The Daily Mail

First, a confession, I adapted the title of this blog article from an album by post-punk band, the Pop Group. But it’s a serious question and it’s one that only a few people seem to ask, while even fewer seem to want to do anything about it beyond putting an ‘x’ against a candidate’s name in a distant general election. Yet, the problem that confronts us is one that must be dealt with now before it’s too late. This cruel and corrupt Tory government, which seems to delight in each death caused by homelessness or its callous cuts to benefits, continues in power as if immune from criticism. Worse, perhaps, is the way government ministers like Mark Garnier, who was recently accused of making his assistant buy sex toys for him and whom he also called ‘sugar tits’, are allowed to continue in their posts as if nothing has happened. If this had been a Labour or SNP MP, the media campaign to force him to resign would have been relentless. Instead, there was nary a peep from the Tory press and practically silence from the BBC.

Yesterday, Labour activist and blogger @Rachael_Swindon, was doorstepped by a ‘reporter’ from The Daily Mail, who apparently wanted to confirm her gender. Apparently, the Tories and their media pals couldn’t believe that a woman was capable of blogging and tweeting for herself. But that says more about the Tory mindset than they would care to admit. And there’s something else: it would appear that the Mail’s campaign of bullying and intimidation has moved from print to IRL (in real life) harassment. This is a new and worrying development. In what other country would you find a national newspaper intimidating people on their doorsteps?

The claim that Rachael was a man has been doing the rounds among simple-minded Tory hacks for a couple of months or so. One of leaders in this endeavour is Jane Merrick, a “freelance reporter” for the Telegraph et al. Make sure you look at the thread too.

We are often told by the defenders of Britain’s newspaper industry that there is something called a ‘free press’. But is a free press supposed to act as an auxiliary attack-dog for the government? It does here in Britain.

At today’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour’s Dr Rosena Allin-Khan asked the following question about the rise in homelessness:

In 2009, the Prime Minister said it was

“a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle”was “continuing to rise.” Every child deserves to have a roof over their head and food on the table, yet on her watch, in Wandsworth alone, the number of families forced to survive on food banks is continuing to rise, and 2,500 children—yes, children—will wake up homeless on Christmas day. So my question is simple: when will this austerity-driven Government say enough is enough and put an end to this tragedy?

Theresa May offered, the by now, characteristic but ultimately mendacious response:

The hon. Lady should note that, in fact, this Government have lifted hundreds of thousands of children out of absolute poverty. But it is important for all those who have heard her question to be aware of this: she talks of 2,500 children in Wandsworth waking up homeless on Christmas day; anybody hearing that will assume that what that means is that 2,500 children will be sleeping on our streets. It does not. [Interruption.] It does not mean that. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

 Order. Hon. and right hon. Members are accustomed to these exchanges taking somewhat longer. So be it. The questions will be heard, and the answers from the Prime Minister will be heard. I am in no hurry at all.
 Prime Minister

It is important that we are clear about this for all those who hear these questions because, as we all know, families with children who are accepted as homeless will be provided with accommodation. I would also point out to Opposition Members that statutory homelessness is lower now than it was for most of the period of the last Labour Government

You’ll notice how May resorted to her default line of attacking the last Labour government instead of accepting responsibility. This happens at PMQs week in and week out. We hear claims like “absolute poverty has fallen” as if poverty itself had been eradicated, and yet, this is nothing more than a corrupt method of measuring poverty, which then allows the government off the hook for failing to deal with a growing social problem. In this alone, its tendency to social Darwinism is once again laid bare.

We are being ill-served by a government that puts its own party interests above those of the country. This is a government, so shot through with venality, that will do anything to cling to power and that includes smearing political opponents. This deviousness and bullying are like twin threads that have been running through the Conservative Party since 1924 when it used the forged Zinoviev Letter to bring down Ramsay MacDonald’s weak minority government.

Chris Grayling appeared on Newsnight on Tuesday evening and took the opportunity to gaslight viewers with his warped take on online abuse. Diane Abbott has received 45% of the abuse dished out on social media and yet, here’s Grayling claiming that the abuse is coming from the Left – particularly Momentum.

Bullying is second nature to the Tories and, as we saw in the case of RoadTrip2015, it resulted in the suicide of a young party activist. Others were blackmailed. Some were sexually assaulted. The internal party inquiry was roundly dismissed as a whitewash (as it was in the case of Aidan Burley and the Nazi uniform controversy).

The Conservatives have become so corrupted by their own lust for power that they have ceased to function as a party of government. Its constant refrain is “if you don’t vote for us, you’ll let Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street”. This is not only a form of blackmail, but it also shows a deeply-rooted disdain for democracy. Tellingly, the media also adopts the same spiel when it engages in character assassinations against Corbyn and left-wing Labour MPs like Laura Pidcock. It has smeared Emma Dent Coad for daring to ask questions about the government’s attitude to social housing tenants – especially the victims of the Grenfell Fire. What kind of people do that? Tories.

But we also have a corrupt national press that feels it has the right to hack a dead girl’s phone, intimidate political activists, smear the government’s opponents and undermine both the democratic process and the judiciary. Tell me, where else does this happen?

So, I ask again: for how much longer do we tolerate bullying and corruption?

Edited  21/12/17@ 1108

To add content from Newsnight

 

 

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Filed under Bullying, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Shaun Bailey, Guido Fawkes And Faux Outrage: The Anatomy Of A Smear Story

Shaun Bailey: he isn’t what he seems

You can always tell when a narcissist is guilty of a crime or trying to hide something, because they’ll always resort to smears and character assassination in a desperate attempt to escape scrutiny or justice. And so it is with the Grenfell Tower fire and the Tories’ reaction to Emma Dent Coad’s report into the systematic neglect of council tenants by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. For her trouble, Dent Coad was accused of racism for describing Shaun Bailey, now Conservative AM (list) on the London Assembly, as David Cameron’s ‘token ghetto boy’ in a blog she’d written seven years ago (she’d actually quoted someone else who’d used it).  A non-story, you may think, but not as far as Paul ‘Piss’ Staines and his band of bottom feeders at Guido Fawkes were concerned. This was a ‘scoop’. I’ll return to Bailey later.

The BBC went with the story, which it sourced from the aforementioned scandal site (let’s face it, it isn’t a news site), while the other news outlets refused to touch it. Look, if anyone tells you that the BBC is ‘left-wing’ or ‘impartial’, just laugh at them and walk away. Okay? But sourcing a ‘news’ story from Guido Fawkes is a new low. Broadcasting House has become an embarrassment; it’s become a house of ill-repute.

On the face it, it would seem Guido Fawkes has undergone a Damascene conversion to the cause of anti-racism. Not a bit of it. Because if you trawl through their content, you’ll see very little, if any, desire to attack racism. In fact, it engages in sly racism itself, and if it isn’t doing that, it’s using anti-racism as a Trojan horse to attack the Tory Party’s enemies – like it did last week. The Tories have a lot to hide and they don’t like being exposed to scrutiny. By the way, what happened to the police investigation into Damian Green and Charlie Elphicke? How about Christopher Heaton-Harris? It’s gone a bit quiet.

Tories and their right-wing allies will usually get indignant when you call out their racism. Sometimes, their racism is couched in the language of racial pseudo-science to make it appear as ‘common sense’. Toby Young, for instance, will cite Charles Murray, one of the co-authors of The Bell Curve, which claims, among other things, that black people have lower IQs than either white or Asian people.  And you thought that kind of nonsense had been confined to the dustbin of history along with phrenology? If only. Such ideas are now enjoying an undeserved renaissance among right-wing thinkers (sic), who are desperate for any kind of academically plausible narrative to justify the socially-constructed concept of ‘race’, and to counter accusations of racism within their ranks. By the way, the IQ test is no indicator of intelligence or intellect.

During the London Mayoral election campaign of 2008, Bozza was forced to apologize for condoning an article written by notorious racist, Taki, while he was editor of The Spectator. No racism in the Tory Party? Don’t kid yourself.

Now the Tories may point to their four or five black MPs and tell you that they’re not racist. It’s worth pointing out that none of these MPs have been elevated to cabinet rank, and in The Cat’s view, using these black MPs to rebut criticism of Tory racism is nothing less than tokenism. That’s a cue to return to Shaun Bailey, a man so ambitious, he’ll even claim that the use of the word ‘tokenism’ is racist.

Bailey, who was named ‘Big Society ambassador’ by David Cameron, has featured on this blog twice. Both times in connection with his charity, My Generation, which was wound up in 2012. This occurred after Bailey failed to submit accounts for two years running. However, the reason given for the failure of My Generation was ‘funding‘. The Third Sector website says:

The charity, which was established in May 2006 to support young people in deprived communities and had an income of £292,000 in 2009/10, was removed from the register of charities on Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said in a statement: “The charity’s trustees cited funding problems as the reason for the charity’s dissolution”.

My Generation’s operations were then passed to Only Connect and the now defunct Kids Company, which was run by rather fragrant personality of Camila Batmanghelidjh. Third Sector again:

Bailey said a job club run by the charity, which had 420 members,  would close down but all of the charity’s other services would carry on. Some would be run by Only Connect, a charity running crime-prevention programmes, and others would be run by Kids Company, he said.

Kids Company was wound up in 2015 after it failed to secure funding and later became the subject of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police. Child abuse being among the charges.

In 2010, Bailey was chosen to be the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith in the General Election. Some would say that he was parachuted in. The Tories thought that by selecting Bailey, he would appeal to black working class voters.  In this Guardian article, which includes a now removed video, Dave Hill observed Bailey’s use of language:

“Keeping it real,” with “my boys”? Do such demonstrations of street lingo and savvy really help Bailey’s cause? Did that pronouncement about what black people want and the accusation that Labour thinks it “owns” them endear him to black voters who saw it? After all, there might just be a reason why black Londoners (and black Britons generally) have historically tended to vote Labour, such as a judgment that Labour has always shown more concern for them. Is Bailey suggesting that black voters are daft?

Fawkes’ and Bailey’s agitation over being called a “token ghetto boy” is a classic example of the kind of faux outrage that’s typical of a Tory smear. The Guido article bore the sensational headline “Hate-filled and Racist”. Yeah, whatever.

In the same article, Hill discusses the donations that poured in from wealthy Tory backers:

It is, after all, an unusual kind of social underdog who, at pushing 40, enjoys the financial and campaigning support Bailey’s received. I’ve already mentioned the £15,000 given to Hammersmith Conservatives last autumn by Caroline Nash, wife of the venture capitalist John Nash (himself a major contributor to Tory funds). A longer look at the Electoral Commission’s register of donations shows that Nash also provided the party with £10,000 in September 2008.

Other donors include the City headhunter Julian Sainty (£5,000, also in September 2008) and financier Edmund Lazarus, who had previously given £22,500 to Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign and was awarded a seat on the board of the London Development Agency by Johnson soon after his election victory. Another interesting contributor to the Bailey cause is Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Greg Smith, who is also the borough’s cabinet member for Crime and Street Scene.

Bailey’s campaign literature is described at its foot as “promoted” by Smith, who defines himself in his register of interests as a “self employed political and marketing consultant.” In his entry Smith also discloses masonic lodge memberships and that he is Director of Campaigns for the Young Britons Foundation, the radical, “Conservative madrasa” whose training programmes for youthful Tory activists have been the subject of coverage by The Guardianrecently. The YBS lists Smith on its website as also being its co-founder.

That’s the same Greg Smith, who succeeded Stephen Greenhalgh as leader of the Conservative group on Hammersmith and Fulham Council. That’s the same Greg Smith, who was a member of the Young Britons’ Foundation. Smith was replaced by Joe Carlebach in June 2017. It was obvious that the Tories thought by selecting Bailey and pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into his campaign, he could easily win the seat. In the end, he trailed behind Andy Slaughter by a little over 3,000 votes.

Back to Dave Hill’s article. He concludes:

Today’s story in The Times about “a discrepancy in the accounts” of his charity, My Generation, will not be helpful to him in this regard. Slaughter has jibed that Bailey’s cv looks rather thin and journalists have noticed that he’s declined to appear at two hustings that weren’t to his taste (although he’s agreed to attend one on Thursday). There is a perception, fair or otherwise, that he’s being a bit too closely protected. It may be that Bailey will have to tell Hammersmith a little more about himself than he has so far if he’s to do the job his “boy” Dave so urgently requires of him.

Interesting. No?

Here’s a link to a video that was passed to me on Twitter. Note how Bailey claims, in not too many words, that black voters will vote for him because he’s black.

Bailey’s attitude to poor voters was quoted by George Eaton in the New Statesman.

If you have a group of people that think that one government will advocate for them and one won’t, of course they’ll vote that way. And that’s the fight for the Conservatives ‘cos that’s why inner-city seats are so hard to win – because Labour has filled them with poor people.

Yeah, God damn those poor people. They always get in the way.

In this article by Fraser Nelson in The Dictator The Spectator, which cites Sir Norman Bettison, the disgraced former Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, he quotes Bailey at the 2008 Tory Party conference, offering up a common trope about young women getting pregnant to get a council flat:

 “Gals getting knocked up to get housing? It’s a cottage industry where I come from.”

Charming.

Shaun Bailey is little more than a political chancer. He’s taken the well-trodden route from being a charity worker (he claims ‘community activist’) to becoming a (failed) prospective parliamentary candidate to becoming a list Assembly Member for the Greater London Assembly. The latter has been used a stepping stone to the Commons by Tory and Labour politicians alike.

Bailey is more than happy to use his ethnicity for political purposes. Moreover, the Tories were, and still are, quite happy to promote skin (sic) tokens in an effort to deflect criticism of the racists within their party. Indeed, it would be reasonable to argue that the Tory commitment to anti-racism is only skin-deep. In fact, racist Tory politicians are given a quick slap on the wrists and are welcomed back.

When the Tories say they’re tackling racism, don’t believe them. It’s all an illusion.

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Filed under Big Society, Conservative Party, Government & politics, Media, propaganda, smear campaigns

They’re Behaving/Pretending Like They’ve Won The Election!

As the dust settles  on the General Election result, one thing is obvious: no one won an outright majority. The Tories lost their majority after their leader’s high stakes gamble in calling a snap general election, and Labour came second. Those facts are inescapable.  But why call the election in the first place? The reason given by many political hacks was that, apparently, May took one look across the dispatch box and perceived a weak Jeremy Corbyn, and thought she could walk it by uttering a few idiotic soundbites. How wrong she was. She and her party thought the landslide was in the bag. How wrong they were. Remember, this was a landslide widely predicted by the great and the good of Britain’s media. Their oft-repeated prediction was intended to achieve one aim: to intimidate Labour supporters, and convince them to stay at home rather than vote for the unelectable Labour Party led by the unelectable Jeremy Corbyn (who’s actually won every election since 1983).

Since the election the complaint from the Tories and mainstream media has been “They’re behaving/pretending like they’ve won the election”! This complaint reveals an ignorance of how parliamentary politics and the constitution works. It also demonstrates a weak grasp of history, particularly of hung parliaments and minority governments, and the role of the opposition in a hung parliament. More importantly, the complaint itself is puerile and serves to further undermine our limited and deeply corrupted democracy.  But it also underscores the Tory Party’s authoritarian tendencies: in other words, you can have an official opposition as long as it’s supine and scared of its own shadow. Thankfully, we don’t live in a Tory one-party state – yet.

I have already talked about two hung parliaments in December 1923 and February 1974, which resulted in hung parliaments and minority governments. It is clear that this latest hysterical outburst from the Tories and their media allies is designed to convince gullible members of the public that Labour is out to destroy the country by not playing ball with May’s apparently serious and adult government (sic), which is supposedly acting in “the national interest“.

Labour has the right to say that it is waiting and ready to form a government. Why? Because:

  1. The role of the opposition in a hung parliament is to use every opportunity to defeat the government. You can guarantee that if the situation were reversed, no one in the media would say “They’re (the Tories) pretending they’ve won the election”. Instead, the media would actively encourage the Tories to find ways to defeat a Labour minority government as The Daily Mail  – with the connivance of the secret state – did in 1924.
  2. Labour is the second party and could form a minority government if the Queen’s Speech is defeated. That’s how the constitution works. This is what happened in January 1924 and February 1974.

It’s annoying to see even seasoned political commentators like Andrew Neil resorting to this kind of bullshit. He’s supposed to know how the constitution works. It’s his job. Mind you, he is a Tory after all.

This is the latest manifestation of an ongoing campaign to smear the Labour Party and, by extension, Jeremy Corbyn, because the previous smears failed. Indeed, the party did better than expected in spite of the tow year long smear campaign in much of the media.  Unable to comprehend the election result, Tories and their media allies have misrepresented Labour’s rediscovered sense of confidence for arrogance, but it’s a projection.  I mean, how dare they feel confident? They lost, didn’t they? Well, yes, but the Tories didn’t win either despite being the largest party and besides, it looks as though they’ve been caught cheating again.

Finally, the Tories are weak and they know it, so they lash out like wounded animals. In 1974, Ted Heath attempted to form a coalition with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberal Party. The talks broke down over the weekend. May’s Tories are trying to form a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party and, by all accounts, it isn’t going very well.  The DUP have accused the Tories of being poor negotiators. We’re also told that this deal has to happen because, according the the Tories and the media, the DUP “doesn’t want to see Corbyn as PM”. So what? We don’t want to see the Tories continue to drag Britain into the abyss, nor do we want to see the DUP pull May’s strings – she’s weak enough as it is.

The sooner this useless and cruel government is dispatched, the better.

 

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Filed under General Election 2017, Government & politics

This Is Not Journalism (Or Anything Like It)

If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
~Malcolm X

The British press is in a sorry state. Claimed by its defenders to be part of a mythical ‘free’ media, the press in Britain takes a cavalier attitude with regard to its role as news providers and opinion formers. Its proprietors and managing editors believe themselves to be immune from criticism and, at times, above the law of the land. Worse still,  when it traduces members of the public it receives little more than a slap on the wrist. It is, as Chomsky and Herman (1994) would say, an unofficial ministry of information,which works principally for the Conservative Party in and out of government.

Here at Nowhere Towers, we have always been aware of the many shortcomings of the British press and its tendency to sensationalize and engage in smear campaigns against political figures not belonging to the Tory party.  Yesterday, two titles that are sympathetic to the Tories have plumbed new depths of depravity and mendacity.  Unsurprisingly, those titles are The S*n  and The Daily Ma*l.

After Monday night’s terrorist bombing of the Manchester Arena, The S*n’s front page looked like this.

Here is a blatant attempt to use an unrelated story to make the suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for Monday night’s atrocity. But there was something nastier lurking within the rag itself.  The S*n’s leader column, The S*n Says, made a gargantuan leap of logic by claiming that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were responsible for the bombing.

This isn’t journalism or anything like it. It’s a blatant smear; a character assassination that is based entirely upon a historical revisionism.  But The Cat has a question: who signed this off? This is evidently libellous and we know Murdoch has pockets that are as deep and as wide as the Pacific Ocean, but did The S*n’s editorial team think it could swerve around the law? Clearly it did and the paper has learned nothing from the Leveson Report.

I hasten to add that I did not buy The S*n, nor would I contemplate breaking my 30+ years boycott of the paper. The people of Manchester should do the same as the people of Liverpool have done and boycott The S*n.

Although, strictly speaking, a political cartoon isn’t journalism, it is carried by a newspaper that claims to employ journalists. Yesterday’s Mac cartoon in the Daily Mail followed The S*n by making the claim that Corbyn and McDonnell are active terrorists. Mac, or Stanley McMurty to give him his real name,  is known for his racism and homophobia.  This cartoon has two figures in paramilitary garb walking up a garden path carrying weapons.

The caption below it says “Oh dear. Will you answer the door? I think they’re canvassing for Jeremy Corbyn”. Mac can claim he’s being humorous, but it doesn’t wash: this is a blatant piece of propaganda dressed up as humour. In this, it is reminiscent of the cartoons found in Der Sturmer, the official newspaper of the Nazi Party (below).

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What is quite absent from the claims about Corbyn’s non-existent sympathy with terrorists, is any acknowledgement on the part of the media’s interviewers and commentators of the role of the British state in Loyalist violence. Worse, perhaps is the morbid nostalgia that seems to accompany these claims. It’s as though the Good Friday Agreement never happened and the power-sharing government never existed. Instead, what we’re treated to are selected fragments of Tory memory larded with a narrative that’s been constructed from misrepresentations and outright lies. For the Tories and others, the Provisional IRA is still active and still bombing the country. Meanwhile, the Loyalist paramilitaries are treated, in not so many words, as heroes or simply not mentioned.

Conveniently for Theresa May, electioneering has been suspended. Her own campaign was floundering and now, after Monday night’s atrocity, she can look stateswoman-like in spite of her evident weakness and terminal indecision. For seven years, the Tories have cut the numbers of the police, military and firefighters. May was Home Secretary for six of those years. You do the maths.

Who’s the bigger threat to the country? I’d say it’s Theresa May and the British press.

Reference/further reading

Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (2003). Symbolic violence. na. Available at: http://cges.umn.edu/docs/Bourdieu_and_Wacquant.Symbolic_Violence.pdf Accessed 29/2/16.

Gramsci, A. (ed.) (1971) Selections From The Prison Notebooks, London: Lawrence & Wishart.

Herman, E. S. & Chomsky, N. (1994) Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, London: Vintage Books.

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Hero or villain? The Livingstone question

A thoughtful and refreshing analysis of the Livingstone Affair. Ken’s a goshite and that’s something on which we can all, hopefully, agree. He is not, however, an anti-Semite. David Rosenberg was there at the dawn of the GLC Rainbow Coalition under Livingstone and is witness to some of the key events that have helped to shape the discourses surrounding Livingstone Affair.

rebel notes

My favourite political image among the protests and street activism that has marked the first three months of 2017 is a banner held on the St Patrick’s Day parade. It proclaimed:”More Blacks! More dogs! More Irish!” – mocking the daily racism of the 1960s when people looking for homes were confronted by openly discriminatory window signs rejecting applicants from these categories. The first Race Relations Act of 1968 finally knocked that appalling behaviour on the head, but not the sentiments behind it. It took another 20 years of grassroots campaigns led by victims of racism, finally aided by another layer of government, to normalise anti-racism and explicitly promote multiculturalism.

58e42cc61500002000c7dfa7 GLC leader Ken Livingstone addressing  GLC London Against Racism rally 1984.

That layer of government was the Greater London Council (GLC). Under a visionary Left Labour leadership from 1981 it railed against continuing inequalities and discriminatory practices and the mindset supporting…

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Filed under Blairites, Government & politics, Labour