Tag Archives: smear stories

Stella Creasy, An Indie Band And A Lazy Hack

I don’t often mention Stella Creasy, because I usually have no reason to do so. I’m aware, however, that she used to work in public relations, an industry that tells lies for money – and she’s lost none of the talents she employed in her previous occupation. Creasy has recently been the focus of the Twitter furore for attending a gig with Tory MP, Thérèse Coffey. Her complaint? She’s the victim of “sinister bullying”. By implication, she means the so-called “hard left” are the bullies in question.

Earlier today, I took a swipe at Creasy, whom I call ‘Greasy’ for fairly obvious reasons.

It is most revealing that many current MPs on both sides of the House of Commons have either worked for the PR industry or as lobbyists before entering Parliament. Worryingly, the fields of politics and PR have overlapped to such an extent that it is scarcely possible to separate the two. Perhaps this was always inevitable.

Edward Bernays is considered by many to be the ‘father’ of the PR industry, and this quote illuminates the close relationship between political power and the mass media.

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

So there it is. Manipulation and mass deception are crucial functions of the PR industry, on which their paymasters in the political parties rely so heavily to achieve power for no other purpose than power itself. Therefore, the idealized notion of the “smoothly functioning society” that Bernays articulates is completely undermined by the objectives of PR companies and political leaders. Yet, it is also easy to see that the “small number of persons”; the political leaders, of whom he talks, do not, as he claims, necessarily “understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses”, for if they did, they would not need to herd them with dog-whistle racism and the production of empty signs in lieu of actual ideas. Such impulses are cynical in the extreme, and narcissistic political careerists, who have worked as PR consultants or lobbyists, know how to manipulate situations. But they don’t act alone: they have contacts within the official media to help them disseminate their lies, half-truths and smears.

Over the course of the last week, I have seen many complaints on my Twitter timeline about Creasy attending a gig of the band Shed Seven with Tory MP, Thérèse Coffey (more about her later) and Michael Dugher, former Labour MP, ex-corporate lobbyist and now Chief Executive of UK Music . The Skwawkbox asked her (Creasy) a perfectly straightforward question about her choice of gig companions. Creasy, being formerly associated with PR, took the opportunity to spin this into a somewhat spiteful tale of ‘hard left bullying’ and ‘misogyny’. Her tale of woe was then picked up by Chris York of the Huffington Post, who chose to side with Creasy and produced a piece of one-sided copy designed to appeal to the confirmation biases of the Labour Right and the Tories. York also used his piece to launch an unwise attack on Skwawkbox.

Skwawkbox Accused Of ‘Deeply Sinister Bullying’ Of Stella Creasy Over Shed Seven Gig

‘What a sad bastard Steve from ‘Skwawkbox’ is.’

“Deeply sinister bullying”? How about hyperbole and guff? Now York may claim that he doesn’t write the headlines, but the opening paragraph tells the same story.

A popular pro-Corbyn blog has been accused of the “deeply sinister bullying” of a female Labour MP after it criticised her for attending a gig with a Conservative counterpart.

Stella Creasy watched indie band Shed Seven at Brixton Academy earlier this month alongside Tory MP, Therese Coffey, and former-Labour MP turned music rep, Michael Dugher, who tweeted his excitement at the prospect.

Aw, isn’t that nice? However, Dugher, as I pointed out, is not a “music rep” but a Chief Executive.  A “rep” or representative is a person who acts on another’s behalf. It’s a totally different kind of job in terms of remuneration and responsibilities. But further down, he says:

Dugher is the Chief Executive of lobbying group UK Music.

Make up your mind, Chris.

York’s piece includes Twitter links to voices sympathetic to Creasy, none of which I will post here.

He then ends his article with the suggestion that Creasy has a majority of decent-thinking folk on her side.

But a small group of vocal Labour supporters and one Labour MP pounced on the story as evidence of something else.

York took exception to my tweet about him and HuffPo “working for the Tories, whether they want to admit it or not”.

Ouch! So I quoted him back.

He later replied:

You”ll notice that he chose to reply to my additional response rather than the quoted tweet. But “no bearing on the thrust of the article”? Au contraire, I’ve nailed it in the article you’re currently reading. So allow me to repeat and rephrase the point I made in my tweet: this article was produced to appeal to the confirmation biases of the Tories and Labour’s self-styled ‘moderates’, and therefore feeds into the continuing anti-Corbyn and, more specifically, anti-Left narrative that dominates the official media’s political reportage. York therefore is, by proxy, working on behalf of the Tories and the Labour Right.

Creasy has some previous form when it comes to manufacturing stories of bullying.  In December 2015, Creasy complained that she was being “intimidated by the hard left”. Creasy was later forced to row back on her claims.

Back to Creasy, Coffey,  Dugher and their pre-Xmas outing. The Cat has no problem with MPs going to see their favourite band, and it’s likely the ticket was complimentary having been provided by Dugher as one of the perks of his job. What the Cat has a problem with are hypocritical Labour MPs that fail to defend their fellow MPs from being monstered by the right-wing press and the Tory Party for refusing to fraternize with their opposite number. So it comes as no surprise that Creasy has refused to defend Laura Pidcock, who famously refuses to ‘hang out’ with Tories. Frankly, I don’t blame her. I wouldn’t either. Indeed, there is no compulsion for Labour MPs to socialize with Tories, even though the right-wing press and les certains in the Labour party deliberately conflate socialization with cross-party work in order to smear Pidcock for her forthright attacks against the socio-economic orthodoxy.

As for Thérèse Coffey, she’s not only a Tory, she’s also a member of the Free Enterprise Group, which was featured on this blog in November. So it’s no surprise that she’s consistently voted to reduce benefits, thereby forcing many people into financial hardship. Coffey’s ignominious voting record can be seen here.

Creasy, for her part, said of David Cameron in 2009, “You can judge Cameron by the company he keeps… and the nature of his party is resolutely right-wing”.  Thus, it is only fair that Creasy be judged by the company she keeps.

The first rule of journalism is to check your sources and then check them again. Just because someone is an MP, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they’re a reliable source of information. In his article, Chris York has failed in his duty to his readers. By leaving out key details and through his use of language, he gave readers the impression that Creasy was being bullied for simply having a good night out with friends… friends who vote against measures intended to ameliorate the dire circumstances of many of the constituents that Creasy represents. York’s article could either be written off as a classic case of journalistic laziness or active bias, maybe both. I’ll let you decide.

Further reading/viewing

Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra and simulation. University of Michigan press.

Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. Harvard University Press.

Curtis, A. (2002) The Century of the Self. Broadcast 17/3/2002. BBC2

Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (2010). Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media. Random House.

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Filed under Language, Media, propaganda, Society & culture

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

Nothing To See Here. Move Along, Please…

If you only took your news from television, radio or the right-wing press, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Labour Party is uniquely violent, sexist and anti-Semitic, and the Tories are a party of fair-minded individuals, who stand up for the rights of oppressed minorities. That’s not only the image the political hacks want to give us, it’s a narrative that’s pushed out regularly and supported by a conspiracy of silence over the misdeeds of Tory MPs. But every now and again, a story comes along that disrupts that image. Today was one of those days and you could quite literally hear the wagons being hastily circled as the mainstream media outlets desperately attempted a damage limitation exercise on behalf of the Tories.

After the furore over Jared O’Mara’s sexist comments he made 15 years ago, and Clive Lewis’s use of the word ‘bitch’ in a conference event hosted by Novara Media, the Tories were quick out of the traps with their condemnations, with Nusrat Ghani demanding an “urgent debate” on the matter.  Here she is, claiming on Twitter that sexism and misogyny is “systemic” in the Labour Party.

Doesn’t she look the fool? She doesn’t think so, but then Tories have never been self-aware and as for thinking, they just don’t do it. Ghani herself says absolutely nothing about Boris Johnson’s numerous racist outbursts. But when it comes to racists in their own party, Tory MPs like Ghani are noticeably silent. The London-centric media is also silent and yet, the weakest accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are treated with great seriousness.

The BBC for its part, sourced the story from Guido Fawkes, a site with a less than unblemished reputation and whose founder, Paul Staines, a self-styled ‘libertarian’ has a love for tyrants. Indeed, as many people on Twitter pointed out, Guido has used the word ‘bitch’ not once, not twice but several times, and yet, the BBC and their allies in the Tory Party seemed, apparently, to be unaware of this. Can you imagine the BBC sourcing a story from The Canary or Evolve Politics? No, I can’t either.

This morning it was revealed that at least two Tory MPs have been accused of sexual harassment and sexism. But to see the Tories on today’s political programmes, you’d think nothing had happened. Isabel ‘Poison Ivy’ Oakeshott and Julia Hartley-Brewer, who appeared on The Andrew Marr Show and The Sunday Politics respectively, said in not so many words, “nothing to see here” and made excuses and yet, if these had been Labour MPs, they’d have been unrestrained in their condemnation and would have demanded the pair’s immediate dismissal.

Here’s Poison Ivy on Gove.

Here’s Hartley-Brewer attacking Bianca Jagger for daring to suggest that Poison Ivy apologized for “sex pests”.

No, Julia, she (Poison Ivy) didn’t have to directly apologize but she gave the impression, like you, that there was nothing to worry about.

In the tweet below, Hartley-Brewer suggests that stories of Tory sexual predators amounted to a “witch hunt”. Again, if Labour MPs had been involved, the words “witch hunt” wouldn’t appear and it would be taken as fait accompli that the MPs concerned were guilty of sexism and much else besides.

Hartley-Brewer’s position seems a little confused. This should come as no surprise, and if you’ve ever seen her on Question Time, she swings about in the wind, hoping to attract the maximum amount of applause from the audience for her ‘common sense’ views – muddled as they are. Hartley-Brewer only cares about one person: herself.

Changing the subject slightly, Hartley-Brewer, is rather fond of her schoolgirl jibes. For a supposedly ‘serious’ political commentator, she’s comes across as petty and immature. No wonder Westminster politics is in such a terrible mess when we have commentators behaving like school kids and politicians indulging in childish insults, while at the same time, infantilizing the voting public.

Here’s an example of her childish name-calling on today’s edition of The Sunday Politics.

The acrid stench of hypocrisy hangs over the pair of them, and their Tory pals.

We’re being poorly served by a weak government that has no policies, and a commentariat that thinks juvenile name-calling  and piss-poor opinion passes for serious journalism. Oh, how they squeal when those they defend are outed as sex pests.

As Corporal Jones often said in Dad’s Army: “They don’t like it up ’em”.

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Filed under Media, Television

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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Filed under General Election 2017

Memogate: Another Example Of Our Failed Democracy

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

Tim Wigmore writing in the New Statesman last August observed:

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

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

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

Murray writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Life on Hannan World (Part 12)

Self-styled Whig (how’s that for nostalgia?) and Tory MEP for the South-east, Daniel Hannan is no stranger to this blog. His obsession with the European Union, his slack thinking and his inclination to smear the Left have all been documented here. Yesterday with the Israeli attack on Gaza in its 20th day, Hannan decided the time was right to have another go at smearing the Left.  The massive demonstrations against the brutal Israeli siege of Gaza provided him with, what he believes to be, more ammunition. We know that Hannan produces at least two blogs a year that allege the Nazis were ‘left-wing’ and ‘socialist’. We know the people who follow him and leave comments on his blog aren’t capable of critical thinking. We also know that Hannan isn’t as smart as he thinks he is, and his plummy voice and frequent classical references conceal a desperate lack of critical thinking. Yesterday he told us:

Left-wing anti-Semitism is anything but a new phenomenon

While there may well be anti-Semites on the Left (I’ve yet to encounter them), the Right has a terrible history of anti-Semitism. Many anti-Semites in the Conservative Party are, or were, Christian Zionists. These Christian Zionists believed that by convincing Jews to leave for Israel, they would somehow, not only rid themselves of what they saw as ‘the Jewish problem’ but they would also be hastening the ‘second coming’. The Tory Party was riddled with anti-Semites for years. Hannan opens his blog in characteristic fashion:

“How, as a socialist, can you not be an anti-Semite?” Adolf Hitler asked his party members in 1920. No one thought it an odd question. Anti-Semitism was at that time widely understood to be part of the broader revolutionary movement against markets, property and capital.

I’m tired of repeating myself, but Hitler was no socialist. Like Hannan’s Tory Party, Hitler denied the existence of the class struggle and loathed trade unions. This is one thing that Hannan cannot come to terms with and, instead, promotes a fallacious argument based on nothing more than his own ideological ignorance. He also forgets that many members of his own party have Nazi fetishes. Remember Aidan Burley? Hannan doesn’t. It’s already slipped his mind.

The man who popularised the term “anti-Semitism” had taken a similar line. Wilhelm Marr, a radical nineteenth-century German Leftist, may not have been the first person to use the word, but he certainly – and approvingly – brought it to a wide audience: “Anti-Semitism is a Socialist movement,” he pronounced, “only nobler and purer in form than Social Democracy”.

Another smear. Marr was not a “leftist” and nor was he a ‘socialist’. He was an ethno-nationalist and about as far away from real socialism as it is possible to be.

This paragraph shows us just how loopy he is.

It’s a measure of the modern Left’s cultural dominance that simply to recite these quotations is jarring. On the centenary of the Dreyfus Affair in 1998, the then French prime minister, Lionel Jospin, casually asserted that “the Left was for Dreyfus and the Right was against him” – an extraordinary distortion.

First, there is his McCarthyite paranoia that all cultural activity in Britain is controlled by the Left. If only. Second, it was the French Left, through the likes of  Émile Zola who supported Dreyfus. Indeed, it was Zola’s polemic J’accuse that brought the case to the attention of the wider public and attracted the support of French Radicals and Socialists. Hannan deliberately leaves the far-right Action Française out of his ‘analysis’ and fails to mention Zola (or, for that matter, Charles Maurras). Why? I think we know the answer to that question. Here Hannan repeats the line that he’s used in other blogs in which he’s smeared the Left. This is from the very paper that he writes for:

On January 13, 1898, France’s leading novelist, Émile Zola, entered the fray with a polemic, J’Accuse, naming the officers responsible for the conspiracy against Dreyfus. It was hailed as heroic by the Left, outrageous by the Right, and provoked anti-Semitic riots throughout France. Opinion abroad was incredulous. How could France, the most civilised country in Europe, experience this eruption of medieval barbarism? Why had the case of one Jewish officer led to this rage against all Jews?

Oops! I won’t bother to demand an apology from Hannan, because I know it won’t be forthcoming. Such is his arrogance.

He persists:

That we have largely edited such facts from our collective memory says a great deal about the assumptions of modern politics. In the puerile formula that seems to dictate our definitions, Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty so, since anti-Semitism is nasty, it must be of the Right. Such reasoning is not confined to self-righteous seventeen-year-olds; it has, bizarrely, taken over a large chunk of our public discourse.

This is a man in his forties who still trots out sub-Sixth form debating society tosh like this. But let’s face it: there is nothing compassionate about the Right or, indeed, his party. The victims of his party’s social policies are legion. He ignores this because he cannot face the truth. He conveniently ignores the fact that his party opposed the Race Relations Act of 1968 and have openly called for the abolition of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (formerly the Commission for Racial Equality). In fact, Hannan demanded its abolition in this article from 2010.

This blog has proposed several candidates for abolition, including the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, the Health and Safety Executive, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Standards Board.

The Lyin’ King may want to take a look at this article from Ha’aretz from which I shall quote a portion.

Four senior members of the Oxford University Conservative Association are reportedly resigning over anti-Semitism, debauchery and snobbery that they say has emerged among members of the club. According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, the four senior members announced their resignation after members attending the club’s alcohol-fuelled meetings allegedly sang a Nazi-themed song and after a group of public school graduates ridiculed members from working-class backgrounds.

This article from the Oxford Student from which the Ha’aretz article is derived says:

Most embarrassing for OUCA is video evidence of one member beginning an anti-Semitic chant, which has featured before in the society’s controversial recent history.

The video, filmed towards the end of Michaelmas 2010 in Corpus Christi’s JCR, shows a member drunkenly singing: “Dashing through the Reich”, at the camera, before being silenced by another member. The song’s full version includes he words: “Dashing through the Reich / in a black Mercedes Benz / killing lots of kike / ra ta ta ta ta ”.

“This is a widespread issue at the moment,” said a former OUCA President, “Lots of people were singing it that night, and indeed on many other nights, and the general attitude is that that was OK. The thing is, lots of members do find that song (and songs like that one) absolutely despicable, though little is done to stop it. I am very worried with the direction the society is going in at present.”

Hannan was president of OUCA in 1992 while he was an undergraduate at Oxford.  Now The Cat isn’t suggesting that Hannan partook in anti-Semitic songs while he was OUCA president, but none of us knows for certain how long racists have operated in the association. Given the party’s historic attitudes towards race in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s, it is likely that there were anti-Semitic and racist members of OUCA during Hannan’s tenure.

While Hannan wrings his hands over what he perceives to be ‘left-wing anti-Semitism’ and, in the process, elides his party’s views on difference. For example, he forgets the Monday Club or the Swinton Circle, which openly called for involuntary repatriation of non-whites.

I could go on, but I’m finding all this as distasteful as (I hope) you are. Suffice it to say that – possibly for the first time in his brilliantly contrarian writing career – Brendan O’Neill is understating his case when he asks“Is the Left anti-Semitic? Sadly it’s heading that way”.

O’Neill’s blog was just as lacking in its analysis as Hannan’s.  Here he contradicts what he’s written earlier in his article.

I have never believed that criticising Israeli policy – or even, for that matter, arguing that the whole territory should be Palestinian – makes you anti-Jewish. You can be anti-Zionist without being in the least anti-Semitic. And – though this is almost never mentioned – the reverse is also true. Hannah Arendt recorded how, at his trial, Adolf Eichmann, who had read several Zionist tracts and learned some Hebrew and Yiddish, argued with evident sincerity that, in seeking to remove Jews from Europe, he had hoped to realise the vision a Jewish state in Palestine. Similarly, when the father of Zionism, the Assyrian-bearded Theodor Herzl, protested to Tsarist officials about pogroms, he was told that they were intended to give “your people” a helpful push in the right direction.

Confused mush. The suggestion in this paragraph is that if the Left criticises Israeli actions in Gaza and the West Bank, they’re anti-Semitic but if his side does it, well, that’s different.  Yet few Tories have criticized Israeli actions. Why? Because 80% of Tory MPs are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel. You fool no one, Dan.

Hannan then moves onto Karl Marx, who came from a Jewish family and who wrote a tract titled “The Jewish Question”. This essay is often cited by the Right as evidence of the Left’s sweeping anti-Semitism but as this article points out, the Right’s claim that Marx was a barking mad anti-Semite is mythological. Here is an excerpt:

There were to be sure, strong anti-Semitic currents on the European left in Marx’s time, but Marx defined himself and his own radicalism in opposition to such currents. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the ‘left’, if we can call it thus, was a battle ground on which anti-Semitic and anti-anti-Semitic currents battled with one another right up until the Dreyfus case in France. The position of Marx was one which clearly and distinctly had no truck with anti-Semitism in any form and his particular supplement was to show that anti-Semitism was a symptom of deep political problems within what might broadly be called the communist or anti-capitalist movement. On the whole, Marx did not see anti-Semitism as a motivating force on the left but rather as a sign of other political and intellectual deficiencies.

By the way, the above article was written by Robert Fine, a Jew.

In this paragraph, Hannan offers one of his characteristic generalizations and, at the same time, refuses to address the fundamental issue of ethnic nationalism (Zionism) and its role in the continuing violence.

Our political opinions often reflect our character traits. If you’re a generous and optimistic person, if you take pleasure in the success of others, you’re likely to be cheered by the story of the Jewish people, their success against the odds, their disproportionate intellectual contribution to mankind. Far from decrying commercial and financial accomplishments, you recognise them as a source of happiness for everyone.

Would he feel the same way about the suffering of African-Americans? I doubt it. Remember, Hannan has claimed that the American Civil War was about tariffs and nothing else. This is a position he shares with the historically revisionist Ludwig von Mises Institute, who have already been exposed as racist. Hannan, like the Israeli government he obliquely defends, is incapable of making the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. And while there are some anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, there are plenty of Jews who are also anti-Zionist. Does that make them anti-Semitic Jews, Dan?

He closes with this flourish.

If, on the other hand, you are determined to see every exchange as a form of exploitation, every success as someone else’s defeat, every trade as a swindle, then the same promptings that make you anti-Israel may well make you anti-Semitic. It’s a tragic condition, a form of existential envy, and it goes back, if the Book of Esther is to be believed, at least 2,500 years

Utter garbage.

In 2010 Hannan was accused of using racist language in the past by the Daily Mirror. Hannan complained to the Press Complaints Commission, which backed the Mirror.

Hannan complained to the Press Complaints Commission about a Mirror article on 18 September headlined “Tory accused of ‘excusing racism’ after Barack rant”.

The story said: “David Cameron was dragged into the US race row yesterday after one of his rising stars said that he understood the anti-Barack Obama feelings.”

It reported on a blog Hannan had written for the Daily Telegraph websitein which he wrote, “Barack Obama has an exotic background and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it.”

It also mentioned that Hannan had “hailed Enoch Powell, infamous for his anti-immigration ‘rivers of blood’ speech, as one of his heroes”.

Hannan’s hero is Enoch Powell, whom he frequently airbrushes. You cannot separate Powell’s economic arguments from his racism. The two intersect.

Distortions, half-truths, smears and outright lies are the currencies that Hannan deals in. I wonder if he realizes that some Jews are black? I bet he doesn’t. He probably prefers the nice white Ashkenazi kind, like Netanyahu and his Revisionist chums.

EDITED TO ADD

I’ve noticed a couple of links, one of which leads back to Hannan’s blog and the other to his EU page.

He tweets:

I’m trying to work out whether this self-contradictory attack on my blog about anti-Semitism is a parody: http://t.co/Be2dPjz4e5

There’s nothing “self-contradictory” or parodical about my blog, Danny. In fact, by tweeting this, it shows that you’re not only vain and arrogant, you’re also rattled.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Ideologies, Media, racism, Society & culture, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#27)

The severe weather that’s been affecting the British Isles for the last few weeks has provided a stark reminder that climate change is here and it is real. Climate change sceptics or ‘deniers’, as they are sometimes called, respond with the usual mush about how fossil fuels aren’t a contributory factor to the change in climate and how we should all learn to love breathing heavily polluted air. The ‘deniers’ are a scientifically-challenged bunch, who pretend to know more about science than they actually do. Lord Nigel Lawson is one such fellow. Lawson possesses no scientific qualifications… unless you count his degree in PPE, which includes the dismal science of economics but aside from that, he’s no scientist. He is, however, working on behalf of the very industries that are responsible for pollution and he loves to frack.

Climate change sceptics are an odd bunch. Take Brendan ‘Eddie Munster’ O’Neill, a man who takes a contradictory position on almost anything. Today he takes the side of the petrochemical industries over peer-reviewed scientific research. In a blog titled “Are you now or have you ever been a climate change sceptic”?

Eddie takes over from where his erstwhile stablemate, James ‘Norma Desmond’ Delingpole (who left Telegraph blogs this week),by accusing the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett of “McCarthyism” because she said in a BBC interview that “every senior adviser who refuses to accept the scientific consensus on climate change shouldn’t be in their posts”. Fair enough. Would you have a creationist in charge of teaching evolutionary theory? Well, no you wouldn’t. Therefore, it makes perfectly good sense to exclude any adviser whose views are ideologically opposed to climate change.

Eddie can’t see this. He groans:

Perhaps we should ask every aspiring civil servant, “Are you now or have you ever been a climate-change sceptic?” The Green Party’s proposal shows how authoritarian and intolerant environmentalist politics has become, so that everyone who raises awkward questions about the climate-change consensus is branded a “denier” (a term borrowed from the Inquisition) and anyone who fails to conform to the right way of thinking on climate-change issues will swiftly find themselves accused not just of being wrong, but of being immoral and even dangerous – the Green Party says senior government advisers who refute the green consensus are “endanger[ing] our future and our children’s future”.

This is paranoid stuff from Eddie and he knows just what his readers want, so he lays it on some more.

When a party can so casually call for the sacking of political advisers who do not accept a particular outlook, a particular consensus, then it’s pretty clear that party has lost any attachment to the age-old ideals of free thought, free speech and the rights of conscience. The Greens are demanding nothing less than a purge of eco-heathens and political undesirables from public life. And in the process they have revealed their true instincts, which are to demonise their opponents rather than debate them, censor stuff they don’t like rather than challenge it, and, like a secular version of yesteryear’s pointy-hatted enforcers of Biblical correctness, brand as beyond the pale anyone who doesn’t accept the gospel of greenness.

Notice how he continues the religious theme in this final paragraph.  The Greens are “demanding purges” and they “demonise their opponents”. Not that O’Neill ever demonizes anyone. Oh no. Not our Eddie. Parties call for sackings all the time but in O’Neill’s eyes, the Greens are a special case and his readers agree with him. This week’s comment was provided by someone calling themselves “bluepeter”.

bluedickheadNotice how this one immediately ties the idea of climate change to “wealth re-distribution”. Yeah, wealth redistribution is bad, it’s kind of like communism for “bluepeter”.  What I find curious about this comment is the way the author seems so certain of the merit of his bad arguments. “It’s not a debate the believers wish to have because they know they will lose” (my italics). The climate change sceptics believe that anyone who supports (the correct word for those who accept the scientific position) the idea of climate change are the same as members of a religious cult – as Eddie had done earlier with his Inquisition references. Not that the ‘deniers’ attitudes aren’t cult-like or the their unwavering belief in bankrupt economic theories borders on blind faith. Please, spare me the hysterics.

“Bluepeter” closes by suggesting the Greens, climate change scientists or anyone else who doesn’t agree with him are “fascists” adding  they, “silence the opposition”. Which is kind of funny when you think about it,  because that’s what today’s fascists (who tend to refer to themselves variously as ‘nationalists’ or ‘libertarians’ these days) accuse anti-fascists of doing when they oppose fascists on our streets. I even had someone suggest to me that trade unions who went on strike were ‘fascists’. Fascism and Nazism were both opposed to trade unions. Who says irony is dead?

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Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press