Posts Tagged ‘Charles Moore’

Cartoon Against Charles Moore of the Times and Maggie Thatcher

June 19, 2017

This is another of the cartoons I drew a little while ago to express my hatred and contempt of the Tories and their cheerleaders in the press and media. This one’s of Charles Moore, a former editor of the Times, and his molten idol, Margaret Thatcher. Moore is one of those, who published a biography of the Leaderene after she passed away a few years ago.

Thatcher has been more or less been deified by the Tories to the point where she is the centre of a secular political cult. She is considered absolutely infallible, and her words are revered as if they were almost sacred writ, which no-one must ever contradict. If they do, it results in howls of rage from the Tory press, which immediately falls over itself pouring invective on the offender, as if it was the worst type of blasphemy. And no-one must ever discuss the immense harm she has done to this country, its institutions and its citizens.

Moore isn’t the very worst of those tending the Thatcherite cult. He does at least poke gentle fun at her – sometimes – in his biography of her, as in the paragraph where he describes how she really didn’t understand jokes. But nevertheless, as one of her supporters he is responsible for continuing her legacy of poverty, marginalisation and the demonization of the unemployed, the poor and disabled, the privatisation of the NHS and other public services, and the welfare cuts which are killing tens of thousands of ordinary people each year.

The skull behind Thatcher is a pre-human hominid. I thought it was a suitable metaphor for the deaths she’s caused because it is something ancient, archaic and subhuman – pretty much like her policies, the Tory politicians who pass them into law, and the press that applauds them and the vicious harm they do while extolling their benefits to private industry.

I realise the two pictures are more or less straightforward drawings. I thought of drawing something far nastier, but was afraid that if I put it up, I’d be banned from the web and would get a libel writ. So what you see here is the acceptable alternative.

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The Miners’ Strike and Times’ Editor Charles Moore’s Hatred of the Working Class

June 4, 2016

Owen Jones in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, argues that the impoverishment and degradation inflicted on the working class by Tony Blair’s New Labour and the Conservatives is due to a bitter hatred of them by the Conservative upper classes. He quotes Balfour as saying ‘Of course there’s a class war going on. We started it.’ Hollingworth’s discussion of the miner’s strike in his The Press and Political Dissent: A Question of Censorship adds more evidence to this. He notes that the right-wing press and its editors may also have had a very strong hatred of the miners, a hatred that was displayed in a comment by Charles Moore, a former editor of the Times and one of the Thatcher’s biographers. It was also displayed in a piece written by an academic, who talked about how the miner’s were all tricked into striking because they were the less intelligent pupils from Secondary Moderns and Comprehensive schools.

There is also some evidence, though far from conclusive, that Fleet Street’s hostility was based on simple class hatred towards the miners and their families. Charles Moore is the editor of the Spectator but used to be a Daily Telegraph reporter and writer and still contributes to the paper regularly. Asked about the miners, he replied: ‘I really hate those people, actually. This strike as brought out feelings I didn’t know I had. It seems to me such a lie that these people represent or are the defenders of an oppressed class and so clear that Arthur Scargill is an oppressor, that is has finally brought out all my contempt for the Left. A perhaps more serious example came from the Sunday Times in August 1984. The paper commissioned a feature article by Professor Frank Musgrove of Manchester University. This is what he wrote:

In the past 30 years two social processes have siphoned off men of initiative and ability. Educational selection has left a residue of D and E stream secondary modern and comprehensive school pupils for pit work – there has been a massive haemorrhage of talent from mining communities. And earlier pit closure programmes have set up eddies of selective migration which have drained away the most enterprising men from the more northerly fields.

It is the dilute human residues that remain, especially in Yorkshire and Durham, that have been most effectively manipulated and mobilised by the tactics of the NUM. They have been bounced into a strike without a ballot and have learned to repeat slogans (‘No pit closures on economic grounds’. ‘Cowards hide behind ballots’) whose horrendous implications they do not begin to grasp.

We did not solve the educational problem by raising the school-leaving age to 15, still less to 16. Five years in the E Stream of a comprehensive school is an excellent training in sheer bloody-mindedness if not actual subversion. … This is not education. It is a species of trench warfare. It is anticipatory socialisation for the mass picket line. (The emphasis is added by Hollingworth, pp. 283-4). The Sunday Times was, of course, edited by Andrew Neil, now presenting the Daily Politics for the Beeb.

BAP’s Newsmen and Women and the War in Iraq

January 29, 2015

Tom Easton in his ‘Tittle-Tattle’ column in Lobster 45 describes the various members of the British-American Project and their involvement in the preparations for the invasion of Iraq and its propaganda. The British-American Project for the Successor Generation was an initiative launched by Ronald Reagan to cultivate leading politicians, industrialists and journalists. In the US, BAP is sponsored by the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The school’s dean until George Dubya stole the American election, was Paul Wolfowitz. In Britain it receives taxpayer’s money through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Amongst the very senior political and industrial leaders it counts as members, are a number of journalists, newspaper editors and broadcasters. They include the Time’s journos Mary Ann Sieghart and Bronwen Maddox; the Sunday Times’ Martin Ivens; Charles Moore, formerly editor of the Telegraph and now editor of the Times, and Alice Thomson, also of the Torygraph.

At the BBC, BAP’s members included Radio 4’s Jim Naughtie, Evan Davis, Andrew Whyte, Margaret Hill and Paxo. Their connections to BAP may well explain the Right-wing bias in their reporting and the assumption that there is no alternative to austerity and the free market.

Bad Taste Alert: Spoof Medium Tries to Contact Spirit of Maggie Thatcher

April 14, 2014

thatcherburn

Last Friday’s I newspaper contained news of a couple of theatre shows sending up the former prime minister. According to the article by Alice Jones, ‘Hold On To Your Handbags. Mrs T Is Back’, one was a Handbagged, about the relationship between Thatcher and the Queen, while in the other the spoof medium, Melmoth Darkleigh, attempted to commune with the Leaderene’s spirit. The I said of this act

On Tuesday night, one comedian marked the anniversary of the former prime minister’s death by holding a séance for Thatcher at Leicester Square Theatre. This was Nathaniel Tapley, in character as the medium and “ghost heckler” Melmoth Darkleigh. Before the show opened he was deemed a “sick bile merchant”.

“The point was to make people angry, as well as to make them laugh. The coverage of Mrs Thatcher’s death last year was almost entirely hagiographic”, he wrote in the British Comedy Guide. “It sought to rewrite her history, only daring, in some instances to call her ‘divisive'”. And what of the criticism that he is exploiting the death of an old lady for crass commercial gain? “I like to think it’s what she would have wanted”.

The I went on to say that it wasn’t as harshly critical as it appeared.

The show was more silly than satirical – mixed bag of mind-reading tricks using Thatcher biographies, poems about Michael Gove (“Michael Gove, Michael Gove/ Your clothes form the rent hair of teachers are wove…”) and a rabidly anti-PC Tory MP character called Ian Bowler.

It concluded by considering that Maggie is still the butt of jokes because she had absolutely no sense of humour.

It is strange that a year after her death and almost a quarter of a century after she left power, Thatcher is still the butt of so many jokes. She famously had no time for humour herself. According to her biographer Charles Moore, “These things called jokes, which have punch lines and a set-up … she had absolutely no understanding of them whatsoever.” And therein perhaps is the key to her comic longevity. Straight-faced always makes for a better stooge. And there were none straighter than the Iron Lady’s.

This merely reduces Maggie and her legacy to Margot Leadbetter, the Good’s humourless, snobbish, and very middle-class neighbour, played by Penelope Keith in the BBC comedy series, The Good Life. This is no doubt part of her comedy potential, but the real reason people are sending her up 25 years after the end of her reign is the fact that she still casts a very long shadow over British politics. The problems of contemporary Britain from MPs fiddling their expenses, to the economic destruction of British manufacturing industry and the attacks on the welfare state all derive from and are a continuation of her policies. Even the Labour leader, Tony Blair, invited her to visit him at 10 Downing street when he took power, while Gordon Brown suggested that she should be given a state funeral, partly to appease the righteous anger of the Tory faithful, for whom she is a greater figure than Winston Churchill. One Tory wanted to have one of the Bank Holidays renamed in her honour. On the other side of the political divide, she is still so hated that when she died, celebrations broke out. Hence the desire to mock, satirise and attack the woman, who dominated parliament for 13 years, and whose policies still blight people’s lives.

Seumas Milne on Why Thatcher Should Not Be Celebrate

April 4, 2014

thatcherburn

Former PM Margaret Thatcher, whose infernal glamour still captivates the Tory faithful

Mike over at Vox Political suggested that there should be a day celebrating the life of Tony Benn as a response to the suggestion by a Tory MP that there should be a national holiday celebrating former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Guardian Columnist Milne on Streep’s The Iron Lady

The Guardian’s columnist, Seumas Milne, was alarmed by the trend towards the rehabilitation of the dictator of the British bourgeoisie signalled two years ago by the release in 2012 of the Meryl Streep biopic, The Iron Lady. In his column for the fifth of January, he wrote

In opposition David Cameron tried to distance himself from her poisonous ‘nasty party’ legacy. But just as he and George Osborne embark on even deeper cuts and more far-reaching privatisation of public services than Thatcher herself managed, Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady is about to come to the rescue of the 1980s prime minister’s reputation.

As the Hollywood actor’s startling Thatcher recreation looks down from every other bus, commenters have insisted that the film is ‘not political’. True, it doesn’t explicitly take sides in the most conflagrationary decade in postwar British politics. It is made clear that Thatcher’s policies were controversial and strongly opposed. But as director Phyllida Lloyd points out, ‘the whole story is told from her point of view…

Lloyd herself is unashamed about the film’s thrust: this is ‘the story of a great leader who is both tremendous and flawed’. Naturally, some of Thatcher’s supporters and family members have balked at the depiction of her illness.

But her authorised biographer, the High Tory Charles Moore, has no doubt about The Iron Lady’s effective political message. The Oscar-bound movie is, he declares, a ‘most powerful piece of propaganda for conservatism’. And for many people under forty, their view of Thatcher and what she represents will be formed by this film.

Milne notes the narrative strategies the film uses to generate sympathy for Thatcher. Her enemies are shown – angry protestors, and striking miners, but their motives are never explained and the communities she devastated with her policies are also never shown. He notes that the concentration on the onset of her dementia is also calculated to make the audience feel sympathy for a human being struggling with such a terrible disease. The film also presents her, absurdly, as a feminist icon when she strongly rejected feminism. In another depiction of the opposite of the truth, she is presented as battling class prejudice when she launched a naked class war.

You can understand why Maggie’s life would appeal to the film industry, and to an actress of Streep’s stature. It’s a strong female role, in an industry where such roles for mature women are few. Thatcher was a pioneering female figure, the first female prime minister and one of those, who held office the longest in the last century. Crucially for a film, it also has lots of drama, as well as personal tragedy – Alzheimer’s disease, rather than the antics of her stupid, arrogant and wastrel son, ‘Thickie’ Mork. You can also see how it would be presented as a rags to riches story, as she goes from her parent’s shop in Grantham to hold the highest public office in the UK, an angle she herself spun, even though she hated and despised the working class.

Yet the film neglects the horrific harm she did to Britain, the poor and the working class. And Milne himself later points out in the article that the people who were hit hardest by her policies were women. Just as they are now, under her successor, Dave Cameron. As for the lack of context or explanation given for her enemies, Roland Barthes in his book, Mythologies, states that is one of the techniques film uses to establish the villain: you know less about them than the hero.

Milne on the Economic Devastation and Impoverishment Caused by Thatcher’s Policies

Milne was particularly shocked by Gordon Brown’s suggestion that she be given a state funeral, and in the rest of the article presents the argument why this is an iniquitous idea.

Gordon Brown absurdly floated a state funeral in a fruitless attempt to appease the Daily Mail. But the coalition would be even more foolish if it were to press ahead with what is currently planned. A state funeral for Thatcher would not be regarded as any kind of national occasion by millions of people, but as a partisan Conservative event and affront to large parts of the country.

Not only in forming mining communities and industrial areas laid waste by her government, but across Britain Thatcher is still hated for the damage she inflicted – and for her political legacy of rampant inequality and greed, privatisation and social breakdown. Now protests are taking the form of satirical e-petitions to the funeral to be privatised: if it goes ahead, there are likely to be demonstrations on the streets.

This is a politician, after all, who never won the votes of more than a third of the electorate; destroyed communities; created mass unemployment; deindustrialised Britain; redistributed from poor to rich; and, by her deregulation of the City, laid the basis for the crisis that has engulfed us twenty-five years later.

Thatcher was a prime minister who denounced Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, defended the Chilean fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, ratcheted up the cold war, and unleashed militarised police on trade unionists and black communities alike. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister, but her policies hit women hardest, like Cameron’s today.

A common British establishment view – and the implicit position of The Iron Lady – is that while Thatcher took harsh measures and ‘went too far’, it was necessary medicine to restore the sick economy of the 1970s to healthy growth.

It did nothing of the sort. Average growth in the Thatcherite ’80s, at 2.4 per cent, was exactly the same as in the sick ’70s – and considerabl6y lower than during the corporatist ’60s. Her government’s savage deflation destroyed a fifth of Britain’s industrial base in two years, hollowed out manufacturing, and delivered a ‘productivity miracle’ that never was, and we’re living with the consequences today.

What she did succeed in doing was to restore class privilege, boosting profitability while slashing employees’ share of national income from 65 per cent to 53 per cent through her assault on the unions. Britain faced a structural crisis in the 1970s, but there were multiple routes out of it. Thatcher imposed a neoliberal model now seen to have failed across the world.

He concludes by suggesting that Thatcher’s rehabilitation is connected to the Coalition’s need to shore up support now that they are implementing the same policies, and experiencing the same opposition.

It’s hardly surprising that some might want to put a benign gloss on Thatcher’s record when another Tory-led government is forcing through Thatcher-like policies – and riots, mounting unemployment and swingeing benefits cuts echo her years in power. The rehabilitation isn’t so much about then as now, which is one reason it can’t go unchallenged. Thatcher wasn’t a ‘great leader’. She was the most socially destructive prime minister of modern times.

‘Thatcher’s Rehabilitation Must Be Resisted to the End’, in Seumas Milne,The Revenge of History: The Battle for the 21st Century (London: Verso 2013) 245-8.

Thatcher, Churchill and the Tories View Organised Working Class as Nazi-like Threat

Milne is absolutely right about the destructive effect Thatcher and her policies have had on British society. He also in the above article criticises the attempt to present Thatcher as possessing the same stature as Winston Churchill. This show very strongly the Tory attitude to the working class and organised labour – a mighty force for evil on a par with Nazi Germany, which should be resolutely destroyed no matter what the cost. Not that she didn’t share some of Churchill’s views. He too hated the working class and was fully prepared to use military force against them. He is still bitterly hated in parts of Wales for his use of the army to put down striking workers in Newport. Martin Pugh in his book on Fascism in Britain between the Wars argues that one reason why the 1926 General Strike ended without much bloodshed was because the Conservative Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, removed Churchill from any direct responsibility. When the strike broke out, Churchill announced that the army would stand ready to do their duty if called upon by the civilian authorities. A cabinet aide suggested to Baldwin that perhaps a post in the Telegraph office would suit the future minister. ‘Yes’, replied Baldwin, ‘he can do no harm there’.

Left and Liberal Parties Should Not Court Tory Press

It also shows the folly of any Labour or left-wing party expecting support from the Tory press. Any support given by Messrs Dacre, Murdoch and Desmond is contingent on following a series of policies that will punish and harm the poor in support of the rich. Labour, or any other party, such as the Lib Dems, will automatically act against the interests of their own constituencies if they do so. Moreover, the same press barons will automatically move back to their default position of supporting the Tories, as has been shown by Murdoch’s move back to the Conservatives from supporting Blair.

Thatcher and Mugabe: Both Politicians Destroyed their Nations for Sectional Gain

As for Thatcher’s destruction of British manufacturing industry, and the massive growth in poverty, what actually struck me there was not the parallel with Churchill, but with another politician entirely: Robert Mugabe. Mugabe has, after all, comprehensively wrecked what was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. Before Mugabe unleashed his reign of terror, Zimbabwe actually exported food. Now he’s reduced it to absolute poverty, while, like so many dictators around the world, enriching himself and his coterie.

And just in case anyone disputes how divisive Thatcher was, remember the mass celebrations that broke out at the news of her death.

Milne is quite right: Thatcher was not great politician. She was a disastrous one, and her rehabilitation by the political elite needs to be strongly resisted at every turn.