Posts Tagged ‘Arson’

Anti-Semitism Witch-Hunter Margaret Hodge Accused of Anti-Semitism

July 24, 2019

This is a very interesting development in the anti-Semitism furore that has engulfed the Labour Party. Margaret Hodge, who so delights in accusing Corbyn supporters of anti-Semitism, and called Corbyn himself a ‘fucking anti-Semite’, has been accused herself of anti-Semitism. Her accusers is Shraga Stern, a Haredi Jew, a member and supporter of the Labour Party. Mr Stern met Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour MP Dan Carden at Portcullis House in Westminster. Where he was photographed by Hodge, who then tweeted the picture to one of Murdoch’s journalistic minions. She added the caption

Having lunch & wondering why Corbyn wants to be seen talking to an anti-LGBT activist who doesn’t represent the mainstream Jewish community yet chooses to sideline groups like Jewish Labour Movement.

Stern told the Jewish Chronicle that the picture’s appearance made him feel ‘quite intimidated’. He’s been the subject of recent claims that he’s against the LGBT community because of his activism in the area of sex education. However, Stern himself has replied to the accusation by saying that he isn’t against gays, but simply wants Orthodox children to be given their sex education at home, in accordance with their tradition. He was also offended at being described as a ‘non-mainstream Jew’. He therefore sent her an email objecting to her comments, and a formal complaint to the Labour Party. He states in his letter

The evidence proves the intention of the attack was for maintaining Jewish traditions.

It is ok, to be hurt and assaulted for simply living in the UK as a Charedi Jew? 

Is it acceptable for a party member to suffer from stress due to anti-Semitic assaults for being a Charedi Jew? 

Is it ok, for a Member of Parliament to assault a fellow Jew just for the reason that his external appearances are different? 

Last but not least, why is it wrong for Jeremy Corbyn to speak to a second-class Jew. (Your words).

In his complaint to the Labour Party, Stern complains that Hodge defamed him as an anti-LGBT activist. He states firmly that he is not, and that he is against all sex teaching in the classroom, as this should be done by the parents at home according to Charedi Jewish custom. He states that he made this clear throughout his campaign. He says

‘She is attacking me for continuing my religious Jewish tradition … This is pure religious anti-Semitism against me my religion and my rabbis.’

He also passed on a dossier of information relating to her time as leader of Islington council, which he believes indicates a negative attitude towards Orthodox Jews. This is reproduced in the Skwawkbox article about the incident. They seem to relate to the plans by West London Synagogue to redevelop the Jewish cemetery for housing and a playground. This was strongly opposed by Orthodox Jews, although the scheme was supported by the council. The protesters, however, had the support of Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, whom the Orthodox community publicly thanked for their stance.

See: https://skwawkbox.org/2019/07/23/hodge-subject-of-formal-antisemitism-complaint-by-orthodox-jewish-labour-member/

The Skwawkbox notes that there are about 67,000 Charedi Jews in the UK, who make up a quarter of the Jewish population. This is expected to increase to half within fifteen years.

Mike in his article about this says that it will test the Labour Party’s complaints team, who try to protect all party representatives like Hodge from all complaints against them. He wonders whether they will try to sweep her anti-Semitic attack – one that appears to be part of a series going back decades – under the carpet. He also observes that this shows the highly partisan nature of the lamestream media that it hasn’t been widely reported in the national press. He illustrates this point with a tweet from the Prole Star, which accurately points out that if a Corbyn ally had been accused instead, it would be on every news outlet for weeks. The tweets states

Their silence is pretty strange considering they love to talk about anti-Semitism so much. The mainstream media have proven they don’t really care about racism. It’s just a weapon to smear their opponents. Absolutely disgusting.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/07/24/witch-hunter-accused-of-anti-semitic-attack-isnt-it-odd-that-the-mass-media-

Absolutely right. The French Philosophical Feline, Guy Debord’s Cat, showed this very clearly in a post from the 7th of this month responding to Gordon Brown’s comments about the anti-Semitism accusations. Brown supported them, so the Cat pointed out the various racist incidents in the Labour Party against Blacks and Asians that Brown chose to ignore, not to mention that against Roma and other Travellers. He then went on to state, absolutely correctly, that there is a hierarchy of racism in this country and that the racism Blacks experience comes a very distant second, third or fourth place behind the anti-Semitism smears. And that even real anti-Semitic incidents are ignored instead of the smears. He showed this very clearly with a report about a Far Right terrorist, Tristan Morgan, who had been sentenced to be locked up in hospital indefinitely. Morgan had tried to burn down an 18th century synagogue in Exeter, Devon, on the 18th July 2018, a day commemorating the Holocaust. Morgan himself laughed when he committed the attack, though he was put on fire by the blast from the fire he started.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/gordon-browns-selective-anti-racism/

I’m not surprised that Hodge targeted Mr Stern with this nasty sneer. Stern’s a very staunch supporter of Corbyn. I believe he was among the people, who met the Labour leader when he visited a London mosque a few months ago, whose members had been victims of a White Islamophobic terrorist attack. I also recall that he was involved with a letter sent by a number of Haredi rabbis to the papers defending Corbyn, and stating that he has been a good friend to British Jews to the papers, as well as other efforts showing that Corbyn actually has widespread support amongst British Jews. Which the Jewish Chronicle has tried its very best to invalidate through quibbles about the right of some of those, who signed to be credited as proper representatives of British Jewry. But it does seem that Diane Abbott and Corbyn are genuinely held in high regard by the Orthodox community for their support over Islington council’s plan to redevelop the community’s cemetery.

And it’s more than a little rich for Hodge to accuse Mr Stern of not being a mainstream Jew, when the Jewish Labour Movement can in truth be accurately described as a fringe organisation. Jewish bloggers have pointed out that it seems to have less than 200 members, that over half of these aren’t Jewish. Unlike Jewish Voice for Labour, which appears to be a genuinely Jewish organisation. But Jewish Voice for Labour is ignored or vilified by the lamestream media and the Jewish establishment in this country as they’re pro-Corbyn, and so don’t count as ‘proper’ Jews. Which is very definitely an anti-Semitic stance.

Hodge herself has also been massively indifferent to the rise of very real racism. When Derek Beacon and his storm troopers in the BNP got elected on Tower Hamlets council, they rewarded Hodge for her lack of efforts to oppose them by sending her a bouquet. As an MP she was so lackadaisical and unimpressive that the Jewish Chronicle was calling on her to resign. But now she’s screaming that she’s terribly concerned about anti-Semitism in the Labour party, of which she is a victim, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It will be very interesting to see how the Labour complaints team handle this, and I wish Mr Stern every success.

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Mail on Sunday Runs Hit-Piece against Sargon of Akkad

April 30, 2019

More from the escalating train wreck that’s the political career of Carl Benjamin, alias Sargon of Akkad. Sargon’s standing as one of the two listed UKIP candidates for southwest England. He’s already been pilloried in the press and media for his infamous tweet directed at Jess Phillips, where he said ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’. Just as his fellow Kipper, Mark Meechan, aka Count Dankula, also has for making a YouTube video about how he had taught his girlfriend’s dog to make the Nazi salute when he shouted ‘Gas the Jews’. Sargon’s name now seems indelibly linked to his Tweet to Phillips, while Dankula has been described by the press as ‘Nazi Pug Man’. And when the Scum describes Sargon as ‘a sicko’ and Meechan as ‘a thug’, it’s very clear that both of them are in real trouble.

Sargon’s Approving Comments on Child Abuse

And on Sunday that day’s edition of the Mail turned its withering attention on him, written by the paper’s political editor Glen Owen, with the title “Now Ukip candidate who said he ‘wouldn’t even rape’ a Labour MP says it’s OK to sexually abuse boys”. It seems an unnamed but highly placed member of the party had given a dossier of comments over to the rozzers. The material apparently included a YouTube post of Sargon’s in which he said he could be quoted as saying that people could f*** young boys. This wasn’t so controversial, as it was normal in ancient Greece, where it was known as mentoring. He was also quoted as saying that he was looking for something that would generate outrage, and appealed to people to send him underage or child porn, which he would quickly delete so no-one gets in trouble. The article also mentioned how he had also created a video in which he used various racial slurs against Blacks, Jews, Asians, gays and the mentally handicapped. It also mentioned that Sargon had sent a porn video to someone, showing a White woman having sex with three Black men.

When asked about this material, Batten claimed they were fabricated tweets that had been disproven years ago, and that Sargon would be taking action. Sargon himself has also sent messages via his Backworldsman twitter account stating that it was conversation that the MoS’ hacks really hadn’t listened to. They’d just recorded his half of the conversation. The MoS article also mentioned that Sargon had been asked about his sex remarks. Sargon called them ‘dirty, dirty smear merchants’, and said that it was ‘an abstract conversation’. Which, as Zelo Street points out, confirms that the conversation actually took place.

Zelo Street concluded their article on this latest mess by stating that by the time Sargon gets a libel suite together, the European elections will have been and gone. He was damaged goods before he joined UKIP, and making him a political candidate was beyond foolish. And that’s before the press starts on the rest of Kipper hopefuls. He ends by waving goodbye to the beleaguered party.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/carl-benjamin-in-deep-shit.html

To go to the original article, simply go to the above piece and click on the link. But kudos to the good man at Zelo Street. He’s read the MoS article, so you don’t have to.

Logan and Co on Sargon and the Self-Destruction of UKIP

Sargon’s massively imploding political career was also discussed by anti-Fascist YouTubers Kevin Logan, Kristi Winters, Mike Stuchbery and The Cognitive Society in the latest edition of Logan’s monthly run-down of events in the far right, ‘Let Them Eat Kek’. And they began by noting just how disastrous Batten’s choice of Sargon, Meechan and the other YouTube rightists were. Winters, who is a political scientist, said that she had never seen a party so determined on its own self-destruction. She and the others agreed that Batten was simply fixated on the immediate election, regardless of the long term harm his recruitment of the members of the YouTube far right were actually doing to his party and its election chances. UKIP’s polling figures have dropped by 10 per cent, so that the party is now favoured by only four to seven per cent of the people polled.

And while Sargon’s supporters claim that the comments attributed to him about child abuse are false, Logan confirmed that at least one of them was true. Sargon had defended the sexual abuse of young boys, saying that it depended on the child, in an internet conversation with another YouTuber, the Justicar, who said he had sex when he was ten years old. He also said that it depended on the child in a conversation with another YouTuber, Amos Yee. Logan was, however, doubtful that Sargon had made the comments requesting people to send him images of child abuse.

In fairness, it has to be said that these do contradict other comments Sargon has made about the age of consent. The Mail on Sunday also quoted him as saying that he has always said that it should be raised to 18 in his rebuttal of the paper’s allegations. Logan said on his video that Sargon really does believe this, just as he’s made these comments approving the absolute opposite. Logan and his guests in the video absolutely condemn sex with children. Winters points out that children cannot legally consent to sex, even if they feel they can do so. They simply aren’t prepared, physically, mentally or emotionally, for sex with adults.

Sargon’s Attack on ‘Political Correctness’

And apart from his noxious views on the abuse of underage children, Sargon seems determined to torpedo his career in other ways. In their video, Logan and his guests also comment on a video of Sargon’s interview with Sky News Kate McCann. And this is another train wreck. He begins by asserting the decline of the press, and that he’s superior because he has a million subscribers online. This is a false security, as while print sales are declining, the online editions of newspapers are expanding massively. He defends his comment to Jess Phillips and the video in which he uses racial slurs. He states that he is determined to attack ‘political correctness’ because of the way it is undermining free speech. He also believes it should be discarded as soon as possible, as if it is not, then someone much worse than him will come along and do it. He defends the video by stating that it is part of the British tradition of dark, edgy humour, which includes racist jokes. Which he then admits to enjoying.

Ignorance of Duties of MEPs and Kipper Policy

He also doesn’t seem to know much, if anything, about the European parliament nor what he will be expected to do if he is elected to it. And when asked by McCrae, he can’t even name one UKIP policy, even though he went to the European Parliament as part of a UKIP delegation objecting to a specific EU policy. He could have mentioned that, but he doesn’t. He just goes on to make his comments about political correctness and defending racist jokes.

How Long Will Sargon Be Tolerated by YouTube?

Logan and his guests conclude that it’s very likely that Sargon won’t get elected, and that he and the others will take UKIP down with them. Sargon may not even really be interested in working for the party anyway. He may see it simply as a strategy to get more viewers for his YouTube videos. And it isn’t certain how long he can continue with them. He’s already been banned several times on Twitter. In the great scheme of things, one million followers is not a great amount – nowhere near as Pewdiepie – and so YouTube may feel that they’re better off banning him rather than risk advertisers turning away because of Sargon and his content.

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and the Synagogue Shooting in America

Apart from Sargon and his antics, the video also includes discussion of the recent synagogue shooting in America, committed by another Fascist piece of garbage, who had previously attempted to burn down a mosque. They make the point that this shows that islamophobia has to be treated as seriously as anti-Semitism, as the Fascists who attack mosques are equally opportunities racists.

Sargon’s Refusal to State Political Views

I can’t fault Logan and co’s analysis of Sargon and his antics. Logan said in a previous video that the press would go back to Sargon’s previous videos apart from his infamous tweet to Phillips, and use them to tear him apart. And when asked by McCann what he really stood for, Sargon refused to say, and directed viewers to look at his YouTube videos instead for information. This they are unlikely to do. Sargon has been posting on YouTube for years and years, and so there are hundreds of his videos there. Most of them are unlikely to interest the average voter, as they’re mostly about video games and the online gaming community. People are therefore not going to be at all willing to wade through this material just to find his views on tax, the EU or private industry for example.

Racist Jokes Unacceptable in 21st Century

As for his admission that he enjoys racist jokes, this probably does appeal to UKIP’s core voters. These are mostly socially conservative voters over 50, who feel left behind by recent societal changes and threatened by the rise of ethnic minorities and feminism. I’ve no doubt that some of them yearn for the days of the 1970s and comedians like the late Bernard Manning, who was notorious for his racist comedy. But UKIP has also lost tens of thousands of members, who are very much not racist and who have resigned in protest at the direction Batten has taken the party. And what was acceptable in the 1970s is very much unacceptable four decades or so later, especially with young people. But Sargon doesn’t seem to realise this. On the video Logan and his friends remark on how smug Sargon looks when he talks to McCann about his opposition to political correctness and enjoyment of racist jokes. He really doesn’t realise that he’s just done more damage to his campaign and his party.

Sargon really is set on destroying his political campaign and the party of which he is a member.

Logan and his guests recognise this, and so agree at the end of the video that they’re going to have to make the next one about Farage’s Brexit party. They’ve overtaken UKIP in the polls, and so represent a greater threat.

Muslims Come to the Aid of Vandalised Jewish Cemetery

February 23, 2017

The election of Donald Trump in America and the Brexit vote in Britain last year has led to a massive growth in racial bigotry and intolerance in both countries. Mike has put up on his blog today a critique of the government’s statement that migration to the UK has gone down. He points out that this is hardly surprising, given that hate crime has risen by 41 per cent. This includes assaults, arson attacks and canine excrement thrown at doors or shoved through letter boxes. He wonders if any of the Tory and UKIP politicos – David Cameron, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson or Michael Gove are really worried about this. It is, after all, not them or their class that’s being attacked, but Johnny Foreigner. Mike reminds us that Jo Cox, a politician, was murdered in a racist attack by Thomas Mair, and notes that the Commons yesterday cheered a move to commemorate the anniversary of her murder with the Great Get-Together, an initiative intended to bring communities together.

But he also remarks that there’s a bit of hypocrisy in their support for it, saying that

It would be hypocritical for them to applaud a drop in net migration fuelled by the same hate that ended Mrs Cox’s life.

The fact that violence is the real reason net migration has fallen means this is not a success for the United Kingdom and Theresa May.

As a nation, we should be ashamed.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2017/02/23/of-course-immigration-fell-after-the-brexit-vote-hate-crime-has-increased-dramatically/

The Young Turks on Tuesday reported the anti-Semitic desecration of about 200 graves in a Jewish cemetery in University City near St. Louis. One elderly lady from the community states that she no longer feels safe after the attack. This is not the only Jewish community has been attacked. So far 54 Jewish community centres have been threatened this year, including 11 in the past week. Discussing the incident, the two presenters, Ben Mankiewicz and Ana Kasparian, make the point that this hate has partly been unleashed by Donald Trump and his rhetoric and campaigns against Muslims and other groups, with Kasparian mentioning the misogyny in his speeches. They make the point that it is no accident that Trump’s cabinet includes Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, an anti-Semite and White supremacist, and his supporters include Richard Spencer, the leader of the Alt-Right. Spencer was interviewed by the left-wing news host, David Pakman, on his show. While Spencer denies being a Nazi, he refused to denounce Adolf Hitler. He said instead that he wasn’t ‘going to play those games’. He did state that the Third Reich was a failure. Which is something, but not the same as condemning it or Nazism. They also note that in his speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump somehow forgot to mention the Jews. Despite his own denial that he is anti-Semitic, Trump was very reluctant to disavow the support of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Mankiewicz and Kasparian make the point that the people listening to Trump’s hate, and who feel emboldened and encouraged by it, aren’t going to limit their own hatred and attacks merely to the groups he’s selected. So even though Trump has denied that he is anti-Semitic, pointing out that his son-in-law is Jewish, and his daughter converted to Judaism to marry him, Trump’s own racist campaigning is responsible for encouraging these attacks on Jewish communities.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, has drawn fire for her father’s opponents, as she has tweeted a statement condemning the attack, which points out, quite rightly, that America was founded on religious toleration, and that we need to defend each others houses of worship.

There have also been an attempt by one right-wing journalist to blame the Left for the attack. Wolf Blitzer claimed that the cemetery was desecrated by Progressives. This seems to me to be complete and utter bilge. The Left, by and large, is very anti-racist. This accusation just seems to me to come from that part of the Republican and Libertarian ideologies that think that the Nazis were Socialists, ’cause Hitler put ‘Socialism’ in their name. He did, but only to draw some supporters away from the parties of the Left, such as the Social Democrats, the German equivalent of the Labour party, by making it appear that they were socialists. See the appropriate page in Joachim C. Fest’s biography of the nauseating little man, Hitler. And Hitler had to overcome the resistance of the other, founding members of the Nazi party, who bitterly despised Socialism and very definitely did not want their party to be associated with it. It also seems to me that the smear also owes something to continuing attempts to attack the BDS campaign against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This is an anti-racist campaign, supported by very many Jews as well as gentiles. But the Zionist lobby have always responded to criticism of Israeli imperialism and racism by smearing their opponents as anti-Semites. Many progressives as doubtless involved in the BDS movement as part of their general campaign against all forms of racism. But for the Israel lobby and their journalistic supporters, the progressives involved in the BDS campaign and similar movements must be anti-Semites. And from their it’s only a short leap to claiming that Progressives must somehow be responsible for this and similar attacks.

More positively, a Muslim organisation has come forward and raised money for the cemetery’s repair. Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist, and one of the four principal organisers of the Women’s March on Washington, set up a website to raise the money. She wanted to get $20,000. Instead she raised $71,000. This is more than is needed for the cemetery in St. Louis, so the money will also be used to help other Jewish communities that have suffered attacks. The website states that it was set up to send a clear message from the Muslim and Jewish communities against such intolerance.

The programme’s hosts, Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian state that this shows the best of America, and that people are coming together to defend other victims of intolerance, whether it is over skin colour or religion. Kasparian states that she feels that there isn’t enough coverage of movements and events like this, as quite often the focus is dominated by the negative things now happening. But this makes her feel more positive and hopeful.

I don’t think this is the only incident in which the members of one religion have reached out to aid those from others, which are in need. There have been cases like it in this country, one of the most recent examples being the decision of some Asian restaurants and takeaways in Britain to stay open on Christmas Day to supply meals for the homeless. The Get-Together campaign cheered in the Commons yesterday is only the latest and most prominent of these events and movements. And there will undoubtedly be more of them, as more people come together to tackle the intolerance and Fascism unleashed by Trump and Brexit.

The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills

July 16, 2016

Body Economic Pic

By David Stuckler, MPH, PhD, and Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD (New York: Basic Books 2013)

This is another book I picked up in the £3 bookshop in Bristol’s Park Street the other day. Written by two American health researchers, it examines the way economic recessions and austerity affect people’s health from the Great Recession of the 1930s, the Fall of Communism, Greece and Iceland, and today’s recession, which began with the banking collapse in 2008. The authors are medical researchers, whose own experience of poverty and ill health has led them to examine its effect on entire societies. They conclude that while recessions often lead to high – frequently devastatingly high outbreaks of disease and mortality, what is really crucial is the state’s handling of them. In countries which have a strong welfare state, and are determined to invest into getting their citizens back into work, such as Denmark in the 1990s, public health may actually improve. And as public health improves, the economy begins to pick up. In countries where the opposite is true – where the state just cuts, and is intent on dismantling the welfare infrastructure, like Greece and Cameron’s (and May’s) Britain, the result is higher disease and mortality.

As well as giving the impersonal stats, they also illustrate the damaging effects of austerity on public health through personal case studies. These include ‘Olivia’, a little girl, who suffered terrible burns when her unemployed father tried to burn their house down in a drunken rage, and an elderly Greek man, Dimitris Christoulas. Unable to see any way out of his poverty, he publicly shot himself outside the Greek parliament building.

One of the victims of austerity mentioned in the very first pages of the book is Brian McArdle, a severely disabled man, who was nevertheless declared ‘fit for work by ATOS. Basu and Stuckler write

‘”I will never forgive them,” wrote thirteen-year-old Kieran McArdle to the Daily Record, a national newspaper based in Glasgow. “I won’t be able to come to terms with my dad’s death until I get justice for him.”

Kieran’s father, fifty-seven-year-old Brian, had worked as a security guard in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow. The day after Christmas 2011, Brian had a stroke, which left him paralyzed on his left side, blind in one eye, and unable to speak. He could no longer continue working to support his family, so he signed up for disability income from the British government.

That government, in the hands of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron since the 2010 elections, would prove no friend to the McArdles. Cameron claimed that hundreds of thousands of Britons were cheating the government’s disability system. The Department for Work and Pensions begged to differ. It estimated that less than 1 percent of disability benefit funds went to people who were not genuinely disabled.

Still, Cameron proceeded to cut billions of pounds from welfare benefits including support for the disabled. To try to meet Cameron’s targets, the Department for Work and Pensions hired Atos, a private French “systems integration” firm. Atos billed the government £400 million to carry out medical evaluations of people receiving disability benefits.

Kieran’s father was scheduled for an appointment to complete Atos’ battery of “fitness for work” tests. He was nervous. Since his stroke, he had trouble walking, and was worried about how his motorized wheelchair would get up the stairs to his appointment, as he had learned that about a quarter of Atos’s disability evaluations took place in buildings that were not wheelchair accessible. “Even though my dad had another stroke just days before his assessment, he was determined to go,” said Kieran. “He tried his best to walk and talk because he was a very proud man.”

Brian did manage to reach Atos’s evaluation site, and after the evaluation, made his way home. A few weeks later, his family received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions. The family’s Employment and Support Allowance benefits were being stopped. Atos had found Brian “fit for work”. The next day he collapsed and died.

It was hard for us, as public health researchers, to understand the government’s position. The Department for Work and Pensions, after all, considered cheating a relative minor issue. The total sum of disability fraud for “conditions of entitlement” was £2 million, far less than the contract to hire Atos, and the department estimated that greater harm resulted from the accidental underpayment of £70 million each year. But the government’s fiscal ideology had created the impetus for radical cuts. (Pp. 3-4).

I don’t know whether Mr McArdle was one of those, whose deaths has been commemorated by Stilloaks on his blog, or whether his case was one of those which Cameron and aIDS laughed at when they were read out in parliament. But is notable that such cases are coming to the attention of health researchers and medical doctors, and are a cause of serious academic and medical concern.

Stilloaks, Mike, DPAC, the Angry Yorkshireman and very many other disability activists have covered individual cases, and the way the ‘fitness for work’ tests have been fiddled by Atos and now their successors, Maximus, in order to provide the pretext for throwing the vulnerable off benefits. Mike’s called it ‘Chequebook Genocide’. Jeff3, one of the great long-term commenters on this blog, refers to it as the Tories’ Aktion T4 – the Nazi’s extermination of the disabled during the Third Reich. There have been about 490 cases in which people have died of starvation, neglect and despair thanks to be thrown off welfare. And according to mental health profession, about 290,000 or so people have seen their mental health deteriorate – sometimes very severely – due to the stress of these tests.

Books like this show how counterproductive such austerity policies are, as well as their purely destructive effects on human life. But this will not be heeded by the Tories, nor by the baying, right-wing rabble who blindly follow them. They want to grind the poor even further into the dirt, to create an impoverished, desperate working class willing to take on any kind of work, no matter how low-paid, not-paid – think of all the unpaid ‘internships’ – and degrading. All so they cut taxes and give more power to the rich, the bankers, big business and particularly the hedge funds and vulture capitalists.

And so the many are killed, all for the privileged few represented by Theresa May.

Book Review: The Press and Political Dissent: A Question of Censorship

June 4, 2016

By Mark Hollingsworth (London: Pluto Press Ltd 1986).

Press Dissent Pic

I found this in one of the second-hand bookshops in Cheltenham. Although it came out thirty years ago, and covers the major issues of that decade, it’s still acutely relevant. The press and media is still overwhelmingly right-wing, and bitterly hostile to anything like genuine Socialism. This is shown by their refusal to cover Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party, the uncritical support given to farcical and frankly libellous accusations of anti-Semitism, and its complete and utter failure to give to proper coverage to protests and demonstrations against the government’s austerity programme. One of the most flagrantly biased in this campaign is the Beeb’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who has been booed and hissed by audiences at speaking events because of her blatant Tory bias, as recently covered in several of Mike’s posts over at Vox Political.

Individual chapters deal with the press’ attacks on and vilification of Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone and the GLC, press racism, Peter Tatchell and the Bermondsey bye-election, the Greenham women’s peace camp, the 1983 General Election, and the miner’s strike. The conclusion considers what may be done to alter this terrible situation. There are also four appendices. The first gives the commercial interests of the companies owning the British press. The second give the circulation figures for the national papers. The third lists the Fleet Street editors, and the fourth gives the NUJ code of professional conduct.

I remember many of these controversies from when I was growing up in the 1980s, but reading through the book I was shocked and amazed at the sheer venom and bile poured out on the people and causes featured in the book. Many of the ad hominem attacks sound like the kind of personal vilification Stalin meted out to his political opponents just before sending them to the gulags. It also shows how times have changed that the homophobia that was so prevalent in the 1980s, and which comes out particularly strongly in the press’ attacks on Peter Tatchell, is probably even more shocking now. And then there’s the attempts by the press to play down and demonise the women’s peace camp at Greenham common, which is shocking in its bias and repeated spiking of any positive articles or discussions of what they were doing. And if the press couldn’t simply distort the truth, they made it up, as shown in their articles about Black criminality and racist aggression against Whites, and the Miner’s Strike. There they fabricated a story about how the miners were all Communists – a standard line of attack on most of the left-wingers featured in the book – but were also being given paramilitary training by the IRA in Ireland.

Tony Benn

The book states that the businessmen, who worked with Benn had a high opinion of him. They found him clear and rational. John Shore, the chief executive of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, who dealt with Benn as the local MP for 14 years, says of him ‘I certainly never found him bonkers. He always presented in all his dealings with us a well-reasoned response to anything that we put to him.’ The Evening News, however, discussing Benn’s supposed political ambitions at the time of the EEC referendum in 1975, screamed that ‘Benn has gone too far to be treated as a joke… now he is seen in some quarters as a vampire, a fanatic and a bully.’ (p. 47). The Sunday Express ran a photograph of Benn, adding a Hitler moustache under the headline ‘Frightening Sketch of Wedgie’. It then went on to portray him very much as a traitor. It said, ‘In 1940 we knew we had no enemies within our own shores, that we were all united against Hitler. Can we say the same thing now? Could you, for example, be absolutely positively sure on whose side you would find people like Anthony Wedgwood Benn?’ Benn, the book notes, had volunteered and served as an RAF pilot during the War.

Ralph Miliband

This kind of smear was repeated a few years ago against Ed Miliband’s father, Ralph. Ralph Miliband was a Jewish immigrant from Belgium, and a committed and respected Marxist intellectual. He also fought for Britain in the Second World War. Nevertheless, the Mail denounced him in a long, ranting column as ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’.

Ken Livingstone

On the 27th September 1981, the Sunday Express denounced Red Ken as ‘The IRA-loving, poof-loving, Marxist leader of the GLC Mr Ken Livingstone’. The papers hated him for subsidizing gay and feminist organisations, and for championing the Nationalist cause in Northern Ireland. In their attacks, they published a series of articles by psychiatrists and psychologists supposedly diagnosing Leninspart as a clinical maniac. This was a gross misrepresentation of what the doctors had actually said. They made clear that they were discussing a type of personality, and not specific individuals, and duly complained.

Peter Tatchell

As for Peter Tatchell, not only did he suffer because of his sexuality, they also tried linking, spuriously and unfairly, with Militant Tendency. One reported told Tatchell that ‘We’re going to dig up everything you have ever said or done from the day you were born’. Questions were asked whether he ever visited gay brothels. They also turned up outside one of his neighbours, claiming to be officers from Southwark Council, claiming that they were investigating complaints that he had been holding loud, all-male parties during the night. They went away disappointed when the neighbour told them otherwise.

Fleet Street Racism

The book also shows how prevalent and pernicious was the racism in Fleet Street. Newspaper editors frankly said that aspiring Black journos shouldn’t try getting into journalism, because they wouldn’t be valued and would find their careers blocked, no matter how good or respected they were in their countries of origin. A Sun editor, discussing what kind of image they should put on the front page to show happy folk winning the Scum lottery, said that they should put ‘darkies’ on it, as no-one wanted to see that. And the Dirty Digger, Rupert Murdoch, himself said to Harold Evans, the editor of the Times, regarding a Black protest march, that there was nothing that couldn’t be solved by a crack over the head with a police baton. Asians were more than 50 times likely to suffer a racial attack than Whites, and Blacks more than 35 times. But there was absolutely no interest in reporting these racist attacks. One journo said that the newspapers were not interested in crimes and tragedies where the victims were either working class or Black. And while they claimed that Whites were being racially attacked by Blacks at every opportunity, they were keen to do the complete opposite involving racial attacks on Blacks and Asians. This was shown in the press’ treatment of an arson attack on a Black household, that killed 13 people. The press described it merely as arson, and did not interview any of the grieving relatives, even when it was clear that it was a racial attack, and members of the British Movement were jailed for violence and making firebombs. The statistics were also flagrantly manipulated, with non-violent crimes included with violent robberies to produce a grossly inflated picture of violent Black criminality responsible for drug-dealing and mugging, and ample space given to extreme right-wingers like Harvey Proctor and Enoch Powell demanding their repatriation.

Greenham Common Women

The Greenham women were repeatedly ignored. One female editor on the Times, responsible for ‘Look’, the newspaper’s women’s supplement, tried to have a sympathetic article on them published. Despite having successfully edited the women’s sections for the Grauniad and Observer, she was sacked. There were repeated attempts to uncover violent incidents committed by them, and they were accused of being agents of Moscow and supporters of the IRA.

The Miners

This was also one of the accusations aimed at the miners. One of their organisers had gone to Dublin seeking funding from sympathetic trade unionists in Eire. The papers claimed he had gone off to get the IRA to train them in paramilitary tactics they could use against the police. Someone, however, took the trouble of actually interviewing the Irish mining union, which had given its support to the British miners. They stated very clearly that they weren’t connected to the IRA, and not only weren’t providing any kind of ‘paramilitary training’, they didn’t even know how.

Dealing with the Press in the Age of the Internet

The picture given is of a frankly out of control press, that lies as easily as most people breathe. It is corrupt and deeply mendacious. But the book also gives clues on how it can be dealt with. Apart from its own suggestions in the final chapter, Hollingsworth notes that at one point the coverage of Tony Benn became markedly less hysterical, more level and less biased, because Benn took control of the situation. Instead of letting the mainstream press set the agenda, Benn was refusing to give interviews to them, preferring instead to talk to other magazines and journals.

This might give a clue on how to handle the latest biased reporting by the Beeb and the press, including not just right-wing papers, but also the Graon and Indie. The net now provides an alternative outlet for news, one that is actually preferred by the younger generation. The old, lamestream media like the Beeb are under threat, and they know it. Hence the rants by Beeb hacks in the Radio Times lamenting the fact that the political consensus previously created through everyone in the nation getting their news from the same sources, is vanishing. There are, of course, negative aspects to this. Mike says one of the problems is the decline in investigative reporting. But people are turning to the alternative media – the internet with its blogs and vlogs, because the mainstream press and the BBC have shown themselves consistently uninterested in anything like objective, unbiased reporting.

This is a crisis in journalism, but it also presents new opportunities for better reporting from a media not quite so dominated by the old media giants. And if people are abandoning the Beeb and the dead tree press, then they can only blame themselves. More and more people are sick and tired of their bias, and their hounding and vilification of those they despise as enemies of capitalism and the Tory party. If they want to regain some of the public trust they’ve lost, they can do so by redressing the issue of balance. In fact, as their readerships decline despite them becoming more extreme and opinionated, their survival depends on it.