Tag Archives: yellow journalists

That Ralph Miliband hatchet-job looks suspiciously familiar

It would appear that the author of Saturday’s anti-Miliband hatchet-job is either a plagiarist or a ghost-writer but whatever the case, there’s something fishy going on at Northcliffe House.

If you read what was purportedly the original article written by Geoffrey Levy and compare it to this article by Dominic Sandbrook’s article from 27 September, then you will notice some rather interesting similarities.

Here’s a paragraph from the Levy article:

Solemnly, he stood at the grave of Karl Marx at a moment when, in his own words, ‘the cemetery was utterly deserted . . . I remember standing in front of the grave, fist clenched, and swearing my own private oath that I would be faithful to the workers’ cause’.

Oh, the drama. Ach, das sturm und drang!

Here’s a paragraph from the Sandbrook article:

At his peak in the Sixties and Seventies, Ed Miliband’s father was one of the best-known intellectuals in Britain. A political theorist at the London School of Economics, he was a devout follower of Karl Marx and an unswerving believer in revolutionary socialism. So his final resting place, just 12 yards from Marx’s own grave, could hardly be more fitting.

Ralph Miliband’s grave is located near Karl Marx’s grave, so it has to be a plot. Sorry I couldn’t resist that last remark.

Questions have been raised as to the legitimacy of Sandbrook’s writing. This blog titled “We need to talk about Dominic” suggests that his work rate is phenomenal – suspiciously so. For someone who is only 38, he appears to have written an awful lot of books in such a short space of time.

His book Seasons in the Sun which was turned into a television documentary last year by the apparently “left-wing” BBC was a rather one-sided view of the 1970s and culminated in a crescendo of false claims and opinion-laden conclusions by Sandbrook. I wrote about it in this blog.

“We need to talk about Dominic” also suggests that there is a ‘cut and paste’ quality to his book, Mad as Hell and Sandbrook tends to rely on secondary sources. For an academic, that isn’t good.

As for Geoffrey Levy, a journalist whom Ha’aretz notes is not a “political journalist”, one wonders whether Sandbrook gave him the article, which he then adapted, or wrote it himself.  At a paper like the Daily Mail, anything is possible. Whatever the case, using a Jewish author’s name in the byline was presumably intended to head off any accusations of anti-Semitism. Yet, the article contains the by-now familiar, but somewhat cryptic anti-Semitic allusions to national identity.

Sandbrook was also a “senior fellow” at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University, so we can’t really expect anything from him but shoddy research but what’s Levy’s excuse? He works for the Mail- the same paper that Melanie ‘Londonistan’ Phillips used to work for, and look at the sort of stuff she wrote. Nuff said.

Sandbrook lives in Chipping Norton. Guess who else lives there? Mm, hmm…

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What to do with a hack like Brendan O’Neill?

Brendan O’Neill is, as regular readers will know, a contrarian and a devotee of the Cult of the Grand Furedi.  Here at Nowhere Towers, O’Neill is also known as the King of the Strawman Arguments. Does he do this shit to get attention? You betcha. Does he do it to smear the Left? Oh God, yes. That’s what the old RCP was all about back in the 1980s. Nothing’s changed, baby.

Today’s blog is a corker. Remember when O’Neill accused Steve Bell of anti-Semitism? Well, he’s gone one better.  He tells us that “The crusade (sic) against Wonga is in danger of resurrecting the stereotype of the avaricious Jewish moneylender”. No, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP! Did you see how O’Neill used the word “crusade” too? For someone who’s bitching about a campaign against Wonga being tantamount to a display of anti-Semitism, his  grasp of history is slippery.

Take a look at this:

Something about the moral crusade against Wonga is making me feel uncomfortable. It isn’t the fact that people are criticising a payday loan company; most such outfits are pretty unpleasant and we must be at liberty to ridicule them and take them to task.

Come again?

No, it’s the fact that Wonga is being singled out above all other modern loan sharks, and that the Wonga-bashing sections of the media are rather salaciously obsessing over the lavish lifestyles allegedly led by its “greedy” bosses. Wonga, you see, is owned by two Jewish immigrants, Errol Damelin and Jonty Hurwitz, and their venture capital backers. And I think we are in serious danger of resurrecting the old racial stereotype of the avaricious Jewish moneylender.

So because the owners of Wonga are Jewish, this is why people are protesting against it? This is a pretty big stretch, Bren, me auld fruit. Besides, doesn’t the venture vulture capitalist, Adrian Beecroft, hold shares in the company? Oh, I think he does.  Beecroft isn’t Jewish by the way. He’s the man whose ‘report’ – and I use that word in the loosest possible sense – formed the basis for removing the right of workers to take their employers to court for unfair dismissal. In other words, if your boss gropes you behind the photocopier, just take it for Hinglan. Ok? The Mirror says:

Mr Beecroft is chairman of Dawn Capital, which has a large stock in Wonga Group. Latest accounts show the company, which is now worth £384m, was worth a mere £17m in December 2010.

That’s large stock. In the Wonga Group. It’s big money.  £384m, in fact.

Back to O’Neill:

Just look into the underbelly of the internet, if you dare. There you will find neo-fascists and anti-Semites leaping with naked glee on to the anti-Wonga bandwagon. On the far-right white nationalist Stormfront website (I’m not providing hyperlinks), Wonga’s owners are referred to as “modern-day hook-nosed pawnbrokers… usurious swine in the most extreme form”. A self-styled Aryan campaign group says Wonga is an “insidious parasitic company of usury” and says no one will be surprised to discover that it is “the brainchild of two Jews”. It refers to Wonga’s “Dracula-esque” sucking-up of non-Jewish people’s money. Elsewhere in the Hitler-worshipping parts of the web, Wonga is said to be made up of “Jewish shysters” and its behaviour is said to be typical of the Jews, who can only “steal, cheat and sue people”.

O’Neill is drawing some lazy lines between the extreme-right and those on the Left who oppose vulture capitalists like Wonga. In other words, people like you and me are allegedly no better than the boneheads on St*rmfr*nt.

Following Archbishop Justin Welby’s intervention into the Wonga debate, the Sun depicted Welby as a Christlike figure in a temple yelling “Out, moneylenders!” at a fat, ugly man in a Wonga jacket. Jesus’s driving of moneylenders from the Jewish temple has for centuries been used as evidence that Jews are shysters who will even try to make a buck on holy ground.

Let me get this straight… the Sun did this?

Of course, the Sun is not remotely anti-Semitic, and neither are the other mainstream campaigners against Wonga.

The Sun? Anti-Semitic? Never. It’s racist, sexist and anti-working class. But who are these “mainstream campaigners”? Besides, didn’t you just say that the “crusade” risked some sort of anti-Semitic backlash? What makes these “mainstream campaigners” so different? He does not say. Instead, he vomits:

Nonetheless, the media and campaigners’ myopic focus on Wonga above all other payday loan companies, alongside their depiction of Wonga’s bosses as predatory and utterly devoid of feeling as they build their comfy piles on the backs of other people’s suffering, does have uncomfortable echoes of the age-old stereotype of the predatory Jewish moneylender.

You’ve lost me now, Bren. Is this how The Grand Furedi taught you how to construct an argument?

The last paragraph is just as bad:

In the early twentieth century, August Bebel, the German Marxist, referred to certain Lefties’ obsession with so-called “Jewish capitalism” as “the socialism of fools”. To wring one’s hands over moneylenders, many of whom happened to be Jewish, represented a twisted and vulgar critique of capitalism, said Bebel, with some sad Leftists preferring to launch moralistic assaults on the stranger practices of capitalist society over offering up a serious critique of capitalism’s structural failings. Well, this Saturday, the People’s Assembly, the new anti-austerity left-wing outfit founded by journalists and trade unionists, is encouraging its supporters to occupy Wonga premises and other payday loan companies that are “targeting the poorest in society”. Has the left learnt nothing in the past hundred years? The open anti-Semitism has gone, but nonetheless, a socialism which obsesses over a symptom of the economic downturn rather than putting forward ideas for how to create a new and wealthy society is still pretty foolish.

Here, O’Neill, in desperation, summons up the ghost of August Bebel like some seaside mystic. “It’s a warning from history”, he shrieks. Notice how he also takes a cheap shot at the People’s Assembly too. He’s not their biggest fan. Neither am I come to think of it. But that’s beside the point. O’Neill loves telling his readers, without an apparent trace of irony, that he’s a Marxist. His readers believe this because they have no idea what Marxism is, all they know is that they don’t like it. Tories are like that: they’re clueless when it comes to ideologies. So is Brendan O’Neill.

O’Neill has closed the comments thread. A wise move, I think.

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 50)

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they'll just go away.

Kennite: leave the EDL alone, they’ll just go away.

After Charles Moore’s high praise for Kennite’s faultless piece of investigative journalism (sarcasm) and his own muddled analysis of the EDL in yesterday’s Telegraph, we get this from Gilligoon.

Last weekend, Tony Brett, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Oxford and the city’s deputy lord mayor, found what he called a “disgraceful rabble” of people climbing on the city’s main war memorial — squashing, he said, the flowers that mourners had placed there, then trying to remove half of them altogether and “jeering” other visitors as they paid their respects.

“Last weekend”? We’ll come back to that later. So what’s got your goat, Andy?

That day, the memorial was supposed to be the scene of a wreath-laying by the far-Right, racist English Defence League. But none of the people laying flowers and being jeered bore any kind of EDL insignia and none of the wreaths had any kind of card or message from the group.

Oh, really? Why do I get the feeling this article is going to tread the by now familiar path of a classic Kennite smear job?

Neither Mr Brett, nor a local newspaper reporter on the scene, saw any sign of any EDL presence.

Gilligoon loves to keep us in suspense. Finally, he tells us:

All the aggro, Mr Brett said — he called it the “hate” — came from the self-appointed opponents of bigotry, a group called Unite Against Fascism (UAF). UAF’s response was to start an online petition saying that merely by criticising them Mr Brett had proved himself an EDL patsy, “not a fit representative for Oxford’s wonderful and multi-ethnic community”, and must resign immediately.

Yeah, I agree with the protesters. In fact, after doing some digging, I’ve discovered that these quotes came from a two week old story that was carried by The Oxford Mail on June 2. Here’s an excerpt:

Oxford City Councilmember Mr Brett said the protesters “jeered” at people and “floral tributes were squashed and badly damaged”.

There was “no sign” of EDL banners, clothing or “behaviour” he said, adding: “What I saw was a loud and unruly bunch who were showing hate towards what seemed to me to be a peaceful and lawful act of remembrance.”

He said on his blog: “If I do see any hate activity from any group in Oxford I will challenge it rigorously but the only hate I saw today was from the protesters.”

However, the local branch of UAF deny this.

Unite Against Fascism branch treasurer Tracy Walsh said it feared the EDL would use the event as a “smokescreen for their anti-Islamic views”.

Adding she did not see anyone damage the flowers, she said: “We were very mindful of the fact that it was a war memorial.”

Brett, who had signed up to attend an EDL rally on Facebook,  has also faced calls to resign. There’s no mention of this from Gilligoon.

OUAF has created an online petition calling for Mr Brett to stand down. Twitter users have also criticised Mr Brett for attending the event.

Green party councillor for University Parks Sam Coates called for an immediate apology.

Ian McKendrick, spokesman for OUAF, said Mr Brett’s remarks were “divisive and unhelpful”.

He said: “There was no chanting, no trouble, and it was a peaceful protest.”

Of course, that didn’t convince Kennite, who instead tells us:

UAF, 10 years old this year, is one of Britain’s most prominent anti-fascist organisations. It has received hundreds of thousands of pounds from the biggest trade unions, and support from dozens of mainstream politicians. Its vice-chairmen include Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Hugh Lanning, the deputy general secretary of the PCS civil service union.

This is Kennite’s way of having a quick dig at the trade unions. Here he says:

Of course, few causes can be more deserving than resistance to the EDL and British National Party. But the uncomfortable truth about UAF is that it contains more than a trace of fascism itself. It specialises, as seen in Oxford, in organising counter-demonstrations to any activity, or anticipated activity, by the far Right.

Hang on, UAF “contains more than a trace of fascism”? He’s repeating the same spiel as the EDL and UKIP here. If he’d been alive in the 1930s, would he have said the same thing about the anti-fascists who chased Mosley’s British Union of Fascists from Cable Street?  What we see in this kind of statement is an attempt to revise history to suit the narrative of the far-right. I would even go as far to say that Gilligan is actually providing a service to the EDL, in spite of his apparent distaste for their activities (in 2010 an EDL member was prosecuted for possessing indecent images of children; the BNP is no better).

Unfortunately, UAF’s counter-demonstrations often seem to cause as much, if not more, trouble than those by the EDL and BNP.

Again, I would refer Kennite to Battle of Cable Street and the events of the 1970s when the National Front were confronted by anti-fascists on Britain’s streets. The overwhelming discourse that’s being advanced by Gilligoon is “the EDL is bad but don’t challenge them. They’re just misunderstood. Ignore them and they’ll go away”. Predictably enough, Kennite proposes no alternatives.  Instead he says:

And there are ineffective ways. The racist Right thrives on two things: publicity and the politics of victimhood. The mob outrage practised by UAF gets the fascists more of both. As with the “anti-Islamophobia” monitoring group Tell Mama, which has lost its government funding after overhyping the nature of anti-Muslim hostility, there is a sense that the racists and their opponents need each other.

For someone who supposedly has a degree in history from Cambridge University, Kennite is remarkably ignorant of this country’s recent past. Cable street, Kennite, Cable Street. He also gets another opportunity to repeat what he said in last week’s article about Tell Mama. Lazy.

He closes with this:

The danger is that by exaggerating it, and by the politics of confrontation, supposedly anti-racist groups fuel the very division, polarisation and tension they are supposed to counter.

Wrong. Fascists must be confronted and challenged wherever they are. Kennite prefers to gives the EDL and others a free pass. He accepts UKIP’s and the EDL’s anti-intellectual view that anti-fascists are ‘fascist’ because they challenge them. Never in my life have I encountered such twisted logic.

I’ll leave you and Kennite with Edmund Burke’s well-worn dictum.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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Filed under Ideologies, Journalism, Media, News/Current Affairs, propaganda, Racism, Tory press, Yellow journalism

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 47): Moving to City Hall

Boris Johnson’s hatchet man, Andrew “Kennite” Gilligan

The Cat always knew Kennite was close to Emperor Windbag and now, according to this article by Hugh Muir and Adam Bienkov in today’s Guardian, he’s been offered the part-time job of – get this – cycling advisor. His qualifications? He rides a bike. So what? So do I and many others, who are probably better qualified.

Gilligan is expected to take up the post part-time while retaining his current staff position at the Daily Telegraph, but curtailing his coverage of London issues. It is understood he will be paid the normal adviser rate on a pro-rata basis. Most of the mayor’s advisers draw salaries of more than £90,000.

Gilligan won’t be giving up his job as Bozza’s Deputy Mayor for Information at the Telegraph just yet. In fact, he’s been knocking out more anti-Livingstone stories like this one.

Ken Livingstone was openly laughed at by members of Labour’s National Executive Committee today, I am told, after he urged them to readmit the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, to the party and let him stand as the Labour candidate in the borough’s 2014 mayoral election.

Some habits die hard. The vendetta grinds on, even though Livingtone lost last year’s mayoral election, Kennite just can’t let go.

The Telegraph is like a conduit to City Hall.

Veronica Wadley, Johnson’s former colleague at the Telegraph and editor of the Evening Standard during the 2008 campaign, has an arts and volunteering advisory role. It is said she first suggested Johnson to David Cameron as the man to win the mayoralty for the Conservatives.

Victoria Wadley too. There’s nowt like a little bit of cronyism in local government.

Here’s what Gilligoon said about his own appointment… or is that anointment?

It’s emerged today – slightly earlier than planned – that I’ve been offered a job as Boris Johnson’s cycling commissioner. It’s part-time; I’ll continue in my day job, covering national and international news for the Telegraph, though I will no longer be called London Editor or cover any matter related to City Hall or Boris Johnson.

I’m very pleased to be doing this at a time when London cycling stands on the cusp of quite ambitious change. As perhaps the foremost cycling blogger in London, Danny Williams, was kind enough to say, I have been a “big supporter” and long-term advocate of London cycling.

So, let me get this straight, he was going to keep schtum until Bozza paraded him before the cameras?

I’ve never driven a car in my life and nearly all my travel in London is by bike. I cycle about 100 miles a week in the capital, and have cycled in every borough. I understand cycling provision from a cyclist’s point of view. Just as importantly, as a fairly recent convert, cycling since 2006, I understand how you can go from being a totally unfit slob who does no exercise to becoming a daily cyclist whose life has vastly improved as a result, because I have taken that journey. I know what got me cycling, what nearly put me off cycling, and what ultimately kept me cycling because I have been through that process.

I’ve been cycling on London’s streets for 17 years. I know other people who have been cycling longer. I’m even a nationally accredited cycling instructor. Others are too. This job (it pays £90,000 a year) is Gilligoon’s reward for writing tons of anti-Livingston smear stories in the Evening Standard and later the Torygraph, for whom Bozza also writes and gets paid “chicken feed” – apparently. Did I tell you that Bozza employed Kennite at the Spectator when he was editor?

The Cat asks “When is Darius Guppy going to be brought in from the cold”? Eh, Bozza?

UPDATE 18/1/13 @ 0935

Kennite defends Bozza’s cronyism by offering us his, er, definition of the word, which is, as you’d expect, another attack on his favourite politician,

Cronyism, of the kind I exposed in City Hall six years ago, is when the mayor’s advisers channel vast sums of public money, for no clear purpose, to their friends, their business associates and women they secretly want to honey-glaze. I’m fairly sure I won’t be doing that. (And to anyone tempted to diss those Lee Jasper stories of mine, do remember that the only libel action to result from them was brought, successfully, by me.)

Naturally, Gilligoon sidesteps the issue of the smear stories he’s written for his chum, the current mayor, who’s done, er, nothing much since he was elected last year.

If you’re thinking about leaving a comment, then you can’t. He’s closed the comments thread.

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