Posts Tagged ‘Cecil Parkinson’

Have I Got News For You and the Bias in BBC News Satire

December 17, 2016

As I said in the previous blog post, I’ve stopped watching Have I Got News For You, because I’m sick of its bias. This is partly because I’m fed up with the show constantly repeating the anti-Corbyn, anti-Labour line of the mainstream newspapers. I also think its because, after having read some of the alternative news outlets and organisations about various issues, like Counterpunch, Lobster and seen Abby Martin and Amy Goodson on RT and Democracy Now, as well as The Young Turks, Secular Talk, the Jimmy Dore Show and Sam Seder’s Majority Report, I’ve become acutely aware of how far the reporting of the corporate media, including the mendacious BBC, is from the real situation in Britain and other nations around the world.

I was particularly struck by it during an edition of Have I Got News For You a month or so ago. One of the guests that week is the new head of the Conservative part in Scotland. I can’t remember her name. I did, however, find her very smug, self-satisfied and sneering, as you’d expect from a Tory official. She was also introduced as being ‘openly gay’, as if it were part of the changes the Tories had made to make themselves more electable to the guid people north of the Border. The Tories have been fielding many openly gay candidates around the country for several years now, ever since Dave Cameron took over the party and very ostentatiously set about his modernisation policy. This was about trying to make the Conservatives look more left-wing than the Labour party, then under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which wasn’t exactly the most difficult task. Part of this involved them trying to break the image of the ‘nasty party’ by endorsing more female and minority candidates. This is presumably calculated to impress that part of the liberal middle class, who are worried about the lack of representation of women, ethnic minorities and gays in parliament, but only if they come from respectable upper and middle class backgrounds like themselves. If they’re working or lower middle class, then they had better know their place along with the rest of the proles, and not threaten the wonderful Thatcherite utopia the Tories and Blairites have created.

At one point, the Tory went off on a rant about how the Ukraine was under threat from Putin, as part of his campaign to annexe the whole country, beginning with the eastern part of the country and the Crimea, before taking over the Sudetenland and invading Poland. The view pushed very much by her was that the Russians are the aggressor, who need to be stopped at all costs from victimising the innocent Ukrainian regime.

It’s a tissue of lies. The Ukrainian regime is hardly innocent. It is stuffed full of Nazis from the Pravy Sektor, individuals and organisations that have adopted the full regalia and rituals of the SS auxiliaries that fought for the Nazis during the Second World War. These Ukrainians Nazis fully participated in the Holocaust and were responsible for some of the most horrific pogroms against Jews in the occupied Soviet territories during the War. These groups have shot at and savagely beaten left-wingers, including trade unionists. Just as the regime is intent on clamping down on independent journalists, who do not follow Kyiv’s ultranationalist line. This has included compiling and publishing a black list online of several hundred offending journalist, who have subsequently received death threats.

It is also a lie that the current regime is the product of spontaneous democratic demonstrations, like that of the Maidan Revolution. It isn’t. It is essentially the creation of a clique of very corrupt oligarchs, backed by quangos from America and the EU. The orange uniforms the protestors wore were handed out to them at a tent run by these semi-official US organisations.

And instead of being the aggressors, it is the Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, who are the victims. Simply looking online, you can find reports of these people being beaten and murdered by the Ukrainian army, and of the Ukrainian government sending troops in to prevent them from reaching polling stations. This is to stop them putting in their votes for the opposition. I realise that some of this is going to be Russian propaganda, but not all.

But this is very much not the image presented by the corporate media and the Beeb. Including Private Eye’s editor, Ian Hislop. Hislop cut into the woman’s spiel. However, instead of challenging her about the real situation in Ukraine, he instead decided to ask her questions about whether or not she had contradicted Boris Johnson.

This is an issue, especially if you like to see the Tories tear themselves apart. But it’s not the most important issue here.

Which is that the British people are being fed lies by their media, and the British, American and EU authorities to whip up hatred of the Russians and strengthen ties with a brutally intolerant and persecutory Nazi regime. There’s obviously a very good reason why the Beeb and the corporate media want to silence any mention of Nazism in Ukraine. Despite the vile antics of National Action, the sight of a real Nazi politico, like those in the Ukrainian rada, in full SS gear, giving the Nazi salute would appal the vast majority of people in this country, regardless of whichever side of the political spectrum they came from. Except, perhaps, the Tory right and parts of UKIP.

And so in the interests of furthering this international, corporatist agenda of incorporating the Ukraine into the web of western-orientated, free-trade governed countries, any reporting and discussion of just how murderous and undemocratic the Ukrainian regime is, is rigorously censored.

And this incident also showed how the Beeb’s political bias works, even in a show which proclaims itself as ‘irreverent’. In an interview a while ago at the Edinburgh television festival, the genuinely irreverent – amongst many other things – Scots comedian Frankie Boyle discussed political bias at the Beeb. Boyle, you will remember, had been a regular guest on Mock The Week, another news comedy show. This was more like What’s My Line, in that the guests were given subjects to joke about by the question master, Dara O’Brien. Boyle disappeared as some of his jokes were too extreme and dark for the Beeb, even if the show was broadcast after nine O’clock. Boyle commented that the Beeb’s idea of remaining impartial is simply to lampoon all of the parties. It does not, however, like criticism or jokes about particular issues. And so Boyle’s humour was too edgy for the Corporation.

He was also critical of Have I Got News For You and the cosy relationship the show has with the politicians it lambasts and lampoons. Boyle had been to Romania. While he was there, he watched a Romanian comedian on television, who was making jokes about the country’s government, members of which were in the audience. The comedian pointed them out, and the politicos and comedian exchanged quips and greetings. Boyle found it all far too cosy and complacent, and said so to his Romanian guide. The man defended the show, saying that Boyle had it in his own country. How so, asked the Scots comedian. ‘I’ve seen it. Have I Got News For You‘, replied his Romanian friend, who stated it was just like that.

And Boyle concurs that it is. He stated that if the show rips into a politico one week, the next week they’ll have him on the panel, laughing and joking with them. He gave the example of Boris Johnson, who was a regular guest on the show. He could have mentioned many others. Such as Cecil Parkinson, who father a love child with his secretary, Sarah Keays, and then did his best to prevent the story getting out and imposing legal restrictions on Keays and her disabled daughter that led to great hardship. I have to say, I don’t know many women, who find Parkinson at all attractive. Far from it. I think most women find him smarmy. And my mother and her friends described him as ‘the type of man you would not like to be caught behind the filing cabinet with’. But Parkinson’s charm certainly worked on Hislop. After he appeared on Have I Got News For You, the editor of Private Eye talked about he charmed all of them on the programme. Perhaps you have to meet him in person to feel it.

I’m very much aware that Frankie Boyle is very much a controversial figure. Some of his jokes are too dark and tasteless for most people. But in this case, he’s absolutely right. The BBC has a very pronounced bias, even on ‘satirical’ shows such as Have I Got News For You, where the presenters and guests very definitely keep away from certain topics, and keep their criticisms within the very narrow compass prescribed by the official media.

Private Eye on Parkinson’s Gagging Order about Love-Child, Flora Keays

February 6, 2016

Both Mike over at Vox Political and myself wrote piece the other week on the death of Cecil Parkinson, discussing the shameful and disgusting way he treated his former lover, Sara Keays, and the illegitimate daughter he father, Flora. In order to cover up the shame of his affair, Parkinson took out a gagging order about the child. This is also discussed in this fortnight’s edition of Private Eye. They state that it is exactly twenty years ago that the covered the court injunction Parkinson took out against Keays. This banned her from publishing any information, in any form, about her daughter. According to the Eye, she could not even write to her MP, local councillor or the local paper about her dissatisfaction with her child’s education. Flora had learning difficulties, and her mother believed that her very specific needs were not being met.

The Eye’s article notes that a number of papers did include the gagging order in their obituaries, though there were exceptions. One of these was the Torygraph, which claimed that he bore his disgrace with stoicism. The Eye states that this was rubbish. When Parkinson was unable to use the law to silence critics on this matter, he simply lied about it. In 1998 he appeared on Question Time after William Hague brought him back as the Tory party’s chairman. When someone in the audience accused him of gagging the press with the injunction, Parkinson’s response was to lie, claiming that he had not brought the gagging order, or was party to it. The Eye goes on to point out that he was responsible for two such orders. One was the gagging order itself, and the other was a second gagging order, to prevent Keays from mentioning the first. It’s because of the shabby way he treated Sara Keays and her daughter that Mike stated he was unable to write anything good about the man when he finally met his maker.

Since then, other politicos have used similar orders and superinjunctions to cover up their misdeeds. These are mostly sexual. One of those was Andrew Marr. The Eye viewed such injunctions as a real threat to press freedom, beyond the privacy of the individuals who took them out. Parkinson’s decision to silence Keays set a sinister and ominous precedent in the gradual erosion of the right to free speech and information.

Cecil Parkinson Dead at 84

January 26, 2016

Scarfe Parkinson

Gerald Scarfe’s bilious view of Parkinson: All matinee idol looks and smarmed down hair.

Mike yesterday also reported yesterday the death of the Tory politician, Cecil Parkinson, at the age of 84: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/25/former-tory-minister-cecil-parkinson-dies-aged-84/. Parkinson was a member of Thatcher’s cabinet and was being groomed to be her successor, when the news broke of his affair with Sara Keays, by whom he had a daughter, Flora. Mike states that this was his first exposure to political sleaze. Mike’s disgusted by Parkinson’s treatment of his lovechild, who has Asperger’s and learning difficulties. Parkinson has supported the child financially, but never met her, to the girl’s distress. Mike states that its because of this callous treatment of his handicapped daughter, that he has nothing good to say about the former politico.

Mike’s right, and the more you know about it, the more disgusted you are with Parkinson’s behaviour. Parkinson was in Private Eye on and off for years in the 1990s because of his treatment of his former lover and their daughter. He was extremely reluctant to pay Keays sufficient maintenance to support them both, and, from what I recall, imposed some kind of weird gagging order on her. I’m afraid it’s so long since I looked at the articles, that I can’t remember the details, but the Eye reported that this had the effect of making Keays unable to claim some of the welfare benefits or financial relief she needed. At one point I think she and her daughter were facing losing their home.

This was the grim reality facing Keays later on. At the time the scandal was regarded as a huge joke. Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games, had this little song about the affair:

John Selwyn Gummer is a name warm and dear,
Isn’t it a pity,
Cecil Parkinson wasn’t a trifle queer.

This caddish behaviour didn’t stop Parkinson from staging something of comeback. He appeared on Have I Got News For You a decade or so ago on television. Ian Hislop said that he charmed all of them. This is surprising, given the way the magazine uncovered and described his lover’s ill-treatment. As for his general demeanour, I don’t think many women shared this opinion of him. My mother and her friends agreed that he looked the kind of man they would not like to be caught behind the back of the filing cabinets with.

Clearly, he was not a man who valued marital fidelity, and his persecution and neglect of Keays seems mean-spirited and spiteful, at the very least. He probably wasn’t the worst, but he certainly did personify to an extent the personal sleaze and corruption of the Tory front bench.