Posts Tagged ‘Evan Davies’

Trailer for ‘Witchhunt’ Movie about the Persecution of Jackie Walker

February 28, 2019

This is the video for Jon Pullman’s movie, Witchhunt, about the persecution of former Momentum vice-chair, Jackie Walker, on the completely risible and mendacious charge of anti-Semitism. As I’ve said many times before, Walker is a Jewish lady of colour. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist and her father a Russian Jew. They met on a civil rights demo. She is also a Jew by faith, her partner is also Jewish, and she sends her daughter to a Jewish school. All her life she has campaigned against racism, including anti-Semitism. But she does not agree with the I.H.R.A.’s definition of anti-Semitism or the Jewish Labour Movement’s handling of Holocaust Memorial Day. And so a trumped up charge of anti-Semitism was brought against her on the basis of a sloppily worded statement about Jewish involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, a trade that was initiated and very largely in the hands of Christians. As she has pointed out.

The video begins with the overwhelming election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. It then moves to Evan Davies and Rabbi Julia Neuberger claiming that there is an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour party. A man, speaking outside the Department of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London stating that the establishment will do anything they can to rubbish Corbyn and anyone close to him. It then goes on to show the various news presenters stating that Walker had been suspended. Then Walker appears to state that what was happening to the Palestinians was unspeakable, and you couldn’t ignore it. Followed by footage the Israelis sending planes to bomb and strafe Gaza, and an injured Arab child being taken out of an ambulance. Walker states that, for her, Gaza was the last straw. Corbyn is shown speaking at a pro-Gaza demonstration. Erdan, an Israeli apparatchik, speaks of economic and political warfare.

The great Israeli mathematician and supporter of Palestinian rights, Moshe Machover, who was also thrown out of the Labour party for anti-Semitism, before being readmitted because of public outcry, appears to describe the appoint of Erdan as the ‘head of this ministry’, which appears to be the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy. There’s a headline from the Electronic Intifada talking about the Anti-Semitism smear campaign. Walker quotes her mother, who said, ‘You can make anyone look a devil if you want to.’ There is then a map showing the links between the various anti-Zionist organisation from what appears to be pro-Israeli propaganda. Machover appears again to state that the goal of the Zionists is to make anyone who is non-Zionist or anti-Zionist appear anti-Semitic. This is followed by footage of a baying mob of Zionists all claiming to be demonstrating against anti-Semitism.

Jewish Voice for Labour’s Naomi Winborne-Idrissi appears, stating that this is all taking place during a shift to the right, in this country as well as others, and that Jeremy Corbyn is a threat. A young man says that what we find is an overwhelming emphasis on sources mobilising against Corbyn with a particular agenda. There is a shot of page from the Media Reform Coalition on the anti-Semitism smear against Corbyn, which they state is a disinformation campaign. A Black man says that people want moral slurs. They don’t want balanced stories. They want black and white stories. Walker says that what they are seeing with anti-Semitism, they have seen with McCarthyism. She is followed by Machover again saying that Walker was selected as a test case. Walker herself says that someone in the Compliance Unit said that the case against her was ‘pretty weak’. But this pretty weak case has smashed her reputation. A white-haired man says the pressure and attacks on Walker, with her lifetime of fighting racism, is to send a message ‘we can get you’.

The video ends with the film’s title fading out against a black background.

This is the trailer for a movie, that frightened Luciana Berger so much that she complained to the Labour party about its screening, and had it cancelled. And I don’t doubt that she was also one of the snitches claiming that Chris Williamson, the MP who booked the room for it, is a terrible anti-Semite who should be suspended.

And no wonder. It looks like cinematic dynamite that could well blow more than ‘the bloody doors off’ the whole revolting anti-Semitsm smear charade. It seems very clear from this that Corbyn, his associates and in this instance, Walker herself, are very much the targets of a very coordinated and orchestrated Israeli and establishment smear campaign. And it obviously is going to get both very worried. To use a turn of phrase from the SF movie Aliens, it’s going to make them stop their grinning and drop their linen’.

The film is due to be released March 17th, and will tour various British cities with its director, including Brighton and Derry in NI. I will be delighted if it comes to Bristol or anywhere nearby where I can catch it.

My very best wishes to Jackie, and to all involved in this movie. May you prevail, and the hatemongers, smear-artists and spineless moral cowards, who support them be swept away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No! Asking if the Labour Splitters Are Funded by Israel Is Not Anti-Semitic!

February 21, 2019

With the departure of the Maleficent Seven, as they’ve been dubbed by left-wing vlogger Gordon Dimmack, the witch-hunters for anti-Semitism in the Labour party have been in full cry. Not only have they, and their most recent addition, Joan Ryan, been lying about there being a culture of bullying and anti-Semitism in the Labour party, but Margaret Hodge took it upon herself to accuse another Labour MP, Ruth George, of anti-Semitism.

Why?

Because George suggested that Umunna, Berger, Gapes, and co. could be funded by Israel.

George had posted this on Facebook:

Support from the State of Israel, which supports both Conservative and Labour ‘Friends of Israel’, of which Luciana [Berger] was chair, is possible and I would not condemn those who suggest it, especially when the group’s financial backers are not being revealed.

It’s important for democracy to know the financial backers for any political group or policy.

She later apologized, saying that she had not meant to invoke a conspiracy theory.

The incompetent, foul-mouthed and mendacious Margaret Hodge had appeared on Radio 4’s PM programme to denounce it as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. This was at the prompting the interviewer, Evan Davies, who said, ‘Raising questions about finance and Jews is the no-no here?’. Furthermore, Hodge also claimed that criticizing America was also anti-Semitic, because of the power of the Israel lobby there. Which caused one of Mike’s fine commenters’ Jaws to gape open in absolutely astonishment.

But as Mike pointed out in his article on it, there was no anti-Semitism in George’s statement. She did not repeat the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Jews, or a cabal of Jews, being the secret power behind world politics, or controlling the press, Hollywood, international finance or communism. She spoke simply about Israel. And Mike quotes the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, which says that accusations of anti-Semitism can only be made about Jews, not the state of Israel.

He also makes the point that the Independent Group have formed themselves as a company, so they can avoid the electoral laws which demand they identify their backers. So Mike concludes that it is perfectly reasonable question whether the state of Israel is funding them. And we won’t know, and won’t be able to trust them, no matter who is funding them, until the Independent group actually open their books to show who their donors are.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/02/19/deplorable-behaviour-over-claim-that-independent-group-is-funded-by-israel/

But it’s also a good question for another reason. Gordon Dimmack, a left-wing broadcaster on YouTube, has pointed out in one of his videos that Luciana Borgia, sorry, Berger, was head of the Labour Friends of Israel. And the other six were all members. And the Israel lobby has form in interfering in British politics. Al-Jazeera filmed Shai Masot of the Israeli Embassy in their documentary, The Lobby, plotting with a Tory functionary about deciding who should be a member of the Tory cabinet. They wanted Alan Duncan out, because he’s a critic of the Israeli state’s brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians. Instead, he wanted him replaced by Boris Johnson, who was an absolute disaster as Foreign Secretary.

Many have people have pointed out that the campaign to smear the critics of Israel in the Labour party looks very much like hasbara, the Israeli term for their civilian propaganda. One of those was Cyril Chilson, a British citizen, who was formerly an Israeli. Chilson is Jewish, his mother was a Holocaust survivor, and his father a member of the Red Army, who participated in the Soviet liberation of the death camps. Mr Chilson served in the IDF, including part of their propaganda department. This man, who in no way should be regarded as an anti-Semite, recognized the accusations for what they were: Israeli psy-ops. And because he called it precisely what it was, the anti-Semitism smear machine swung into action, and called this son of heroic Jewish parents an anti-Semite.

Dimmack also goes further in one of his videos, and accuses the media people claiming that George’s question was anti-Semitic, of anti-Semitism in their turn. This includes Channel 4 News’ Krishnan Guru-Murthy. Murthy was one of those, who replied to George’s post claiming, or suggesting that she was an anti-Semite. But Dimmack points out that it is anti-Semitic to claim that all Jews share the same qualities or opinions. Murthy’s comment suggested that all British Jews were supporters of Israel, if he genuinely believes that criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic. But all British Jews very definitely don’t. The Jewish long-term critic of Israeli racism and general avowed foe of Fascism, Tony Greenstein, and other Jewish bloggers have made the point, over and again, that many Jews don’t support Israel. Many Orthodox Jews don’t, because they believe that Israel can only be refounded by the Lord through the Messiah, and until then they, as the Lord’s servant nation, are commanded to remain in exile. The Yiddish-speaking Jewish masses of eastern Europe, who backed the Bund, the Jewish Socialist party, followed its slogan of ‘Wherever We Are, There’s Our Homeland’. They wanted to remain in Poland, Lithuania and elsewhere as equal citizens with their gentile fellow-countrymen.

And the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which has also joined in with the hysterical accusations of anti-Semitism, also doesn’t represent all Jewish Brits. It doesn’t represent Orthodox Jews, or the third of the Jewish community in Britain which is secular. It only represents the United Synagogue. And even there, it’s questionable who it represents. Its members are elected by their synagogues. But some of them don’t hold regular elections, as they have sitting members, while others don’t allow women to vote. And the Board explicitly defines itself as a Zionist organization in its constitution, so anti-Zionist Jews can’t become members.

George asked a perfectly reasonable question, and one to which she, and the rests of us are entitled to an answer. She wasn’t being anti-Semitic. But the real anti-Semitism comes from claiming that all Jews are supporters of Israel, with its accompanying accusation that those Jews, who don’t, are also self-hating anti-Semites. Repulsive!

News Rottweiler Richard Madeley Throws Gavin Williamson Off Programme for Not Answering Question

May 31, 2018

This is a turn up for the books. Richard Madeley is probably the last person I would have considered an aggressive, uncompromising interviewer, trying to hold the government and the authorities to account. But on ITV’s Good Morning on May 29th, 2018, Madeley showed he was not prepared to put up with Gavin Williamson’s repeated failure to answer his questions about the Skripal poisoning. And so, rather than let him continue, Madeley ended the interview, wishing him good luck with his project for Africa.

Mike put up a piece about this yesterday, remarking that not only had Williamson not answered the question, he was carrying on with a smug smirk on his face. Mike wrote of Williamson’s refusal to answer the question

He was deliberately withholding, not only his opinion on his ill-chosen words about the Russian government, but information on whether the Conservative government acted prematurely in blaming Russia for the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

The Tory narrative that the Russian government was responsible has collapsed beneath a barrage of factual information suggesting otherwise, with no facts to support it.

If Mr Williamson had admitted his words were ill-advised, he would have been accepting that the anti-Russia stance was a mistake – and opening the UK government to an investigation into its own activities. So he was between a rock and a hard place.

And he thought he could brazen it out on TV because mainstream media interviewers are now notoriously soft on Tories.

Mike noted that this deference to the Tories had changed with Madeley’s actions, but was unsure whether it would spread to the Beeb because so many of the Corporation’s top news team are Conservatives. However, the public are also turning away from soft interviewers like Andrew Marr and Evan Davis, and this may force the BBC to adopt a tougher stance when interviewing Tory politicians.

Mike’s article also compares it to the incident, 21 years ago, when Paxman ended an interview with Michael Portillo because the future presenter of programmes about train journeys around the globe refused to answer a question on his party’s policy towards the single European currency. The incident happened in a good-humoured way, and Paxo was probably able to do it, according to Mike, because Portillo was out of Parliament at the time, and his political influence was due to be confined for the foreseeable future to being one of the commenters on Andrew Neil’s The Week.

Mike’s article is at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/30/the-madeley-moment-is-it-really-21-years-since-an-interviewer-dismissed-an-evasive-politician-for-failing-to-answer-a-question/

RT, as well as a number of other news sites on YouTube, also reported the incident. Here’s RT’s video of it.

Way back in the 1990s Jeremy Paxman was called a ‘Rottweiler’ for his persistent, aggressive questioning of politicians on his show, and his refusal to take any nonsense from them. Which was shown in his repeated questioning of Michael Howard whether he overruled another Tory minister. His ‘take no prisoners’ style of questioning enraged the Tories, and Michael Heseltine actually walked out during one interview, ‘angrily tossing his mane’ in the words of Ian Hislop later that week on Have I Got News For You.

The Tories responded as they usually do by claiming that Paxman and the BBC were biased against them. There was an article in the Spectator comparing Paxman to a similar TV interviewer in the Republic of Ireland, who went in hard with establishment politicians, but didn’t dare adopt the same stance with Sinn Fein or spokesmen for the IRA. And so eventually Paxo left Newsnight, and went instead to harass university students on University Challenge.

Then when Labour got it a few years later, the Tories showed once again how two-faced they are by lamenting how sad it was that Paxo had departed from political journalism, because now the country needed him to interrogate Blair and co with his aggressive refusal to allow his guest to get away with talking nonsense.

And so began the situation that prevails today, when members of the government turn up on television with the attitude that they can more or less say what they want, without being corrected or pressed by the interviewer. Some of us can still remember how Nicky Morgan repeatedly refused to answer one of the Beeb’s interviewer’s questions when she was minister for education. This was when Tweezer decided that every school should be an academy. The interviewer asked her a question about the number of academies, that had to be taken over again by the state, and all Thicky Nicky did was to repeat a line about how terrible it would be if children continued to be badly educated through attending failing state schools. In fact, the number of failing academies was high – about 21 or so, I seem to recall. Thicky Nicky clearly couldn’t admit that, and so she carried on repeating government propaganda. Just as the interview ended, the journo said, ‘You know the number’. He was clearly annoyed and frustrated at Morgan’s failure to answer the question, and made it very clear.

It would solve a lot of problems if interviewers did adopt a more uncompromising stance, and did throw politicians off the programme if they didn’t answer their questions. Reith was an authoritarian, who supported Mussolini, but he was right when he said that broadcasting to the nation was a privilege, not a right. This is a democracy, and the role of the press and the media – the Fourth Estate, as they’ve been called – has traditionally been to hold the government to account. Of course, this collapsed at least a decade ago, when the media became dominated by a very few big proprietors, who made sure that their papers represented their interests and those of the Conservative government, including Blair’s Thatcherite New Labour.

It’s good now that some TV interviewers are tired of giving the government such soft treatment. And as I said, it’s remarkable that this should come from Richard Madeley, who would be the last person I would have thought would do it. But obviously he decided he’d had enough, and something snapped. All hail Madeley, news Rottweiler. And I hope this attitude carries on and spread, so that we get something like the media we deserve in this country, rather than the one that’s foisted on us by the Beeb, Murdoch, Dacre and the Barclay Twins.

Anti-Tory Cartoon – Esther McVey and Wasserman

June 28, 2017

Welcome to another instalment in my ongoing series of cartoons attacking the Tory party and their vile attack on the poor, the sick, the unemployed and disabled in the name of corporate profit. Yesterday I put up a drawing I’d made of Evan Davies, Andrew Lansley, David Cameron, Eric Pickles and George Osborne as members of a cannibalistic pagan cult, like the Aztecs or those of ancient Mesopotamia, because of the immense death toll their policies have inflicted on the British public. As I’ve blogged before, according to Oxford University, 30,000 people were killed by austerity in 2015. Over a hundred thousand people are forced to use food banks to keep body and soul together, and 7 million people live in ‘food insecure’ household, where they don’t know if they’ll be able to afford to eat tomorrow.

This cartoon continues the pagan theme of the last one. It therefore has a picture of Baal, the ancient pagan god of the Canaanites, and other gods from what is now Iraq, with human skulls and a strange, demonic creature, part man, part serpent. The two Tories depicted are, if I remember correctly, Esther McVey and Wasserman – I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten this Tory functionary’s first name.

McVey was the Tory minister for the disabled in Iain Duncan Smith’s wretched and murderous DWP. She used to be the MP for Merseyside or one of the other constituencies in the Liverpool area, before the good burghers of that fair city got fed up with her and threw her out at the last election. Those Liverpudlians not enamoured of her – and there were quite a few – called her the ‘Wicked Witch of the Wirral’. Unfortunately, losing an election doesn’t seem to have put a stop to her political career, and she flew off on her broomstick to take up a position with the Tories in another constituency. She was also one of the proprietors of a TV production company, which produced the ‘poverty porn’ documentaries, intended to confirm the prejudices of all good Conservative voters that those on benefit are unemployed, not because there are no jobs due to structural problems with the economy, but because they’re really lazy.

So to express the deep festering corruption in this woman’s soul – Mike and the other bloggers and disabled rights’ activists found that in one year, 13-14,000 disabled people had died after being found ‘fit for work’ by Atos – I’ve drawn one half of her face a seething mass of malignant pustules. So great was the carnage inflicted by this woman and her superiors in the department, that one wag amended her Wikipedia page so that she became ‘The minister in charge of culling the disabled’. Which is exactly how Mike and many other bloggers and commenters, like Jeffrey Davies regard her. Mike has made it very clear that this is the genocide of the disabled.

As for Wasserman, he was one of the two ministers, who prepared various documents for the privatisation of the NHS for Maggie Thatcher. She was forced to back down from this policy after there was a mass cabinet revolt, and her personal private secretary, Patrick Jenkin, told her just how bad the American system was. Nevertheless, it did not stop her from trying to get more people to get out private health insurance – she aimed at 25 per cent of the British public. And successive right-wing administrations, including Tony Blair’s New Labour, have been aiming at the privatisation of the NHS ever since, gradually selling off parts of it and passing legislation to allow private hospital management chains and healthcare companies, like Circle Health, to take over the running of doctor’s surgeries and hospitals. Wasserman later appeared in David Cameron’s cabinet, where I would guess that he was doing much the same there as he did under Thatcher.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised that he will end the fitness to work tests and the sanctions system, which have seen so many people thrown off benefits for the most trivial of reasons. He has also promised to renationalise the NHS, thus ending nearly forty years of creeping Thatcherite privatisation.

So vote for him for a fairer Britain, where everyone has access to free healthcare, and tens of thousands are not dying of starvation just so that billionaires can have their tax bill lowered, or have a supply of cheap, subsidised labour supplied to them courtesy of the workfare industry.

If you wish to see the faces and know a bit more about some of individuals, who have been killed by the Tories’ assault on the welfare state, Mike, DPAC, Johnny Void and Stilloaks have published articles on individual victims, and lists of those, who have died, complete with brief descriptions of the circumstances of their deaths. The last time I looked, it was about 500-600 plus people, but the true figure is many times higher.

To stop the carnage the Tories have inflicted and are continuing to inflict, vote Labour.

Cartoon of the Tories as Pagan Cannibal Cult

June 27, 2017

This is another of the cartoons I drew a few years ago of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition under David Cameron and Nick Clegg and its cheerleaders and propagandists in the media.

As I’ve written in my posts about the other cartoons I’ve drawn of them, the Tories are responsible for misery and deaths in Britain on a massive scale. This has been a direct result of their austerity policy of freezing wages, cutting benefits and their use of the sanctions system within the DWP to throw tens of thousands off benefits every year, often for the most trivial of reasons. Terminally ill patients on their death beds have been told that their benefit has been removed, because they’re ‘fit for work’. Amputees have been asked when they expect their limbs to grow back. People have had their jobseekers allowance removed, because they missed an interview at the jobcentre due to being in hospital at the time. Disabled people with mobility problems have been required to attend fitness for work interviews at offices situated several floors up, with little or nothing in the way of disabled access.

Whistleblowers have also come forward to say that the DWP and the outsourcing companies it employs, such as Atos, have a quota system in which they are supposed to get a certain proportion of claimants off benefits regardless of their actual physical condition. Staff in jobcentres have also been awarded prizes, such as gold stars, sheriff’s badges, Easter eggs and so on for being the clerk, who has got the most people off benefit that week.

The result has been carnage. Mike and other disability bloggers managed, after a very lengthy campaign, to get figures from the DWP showing that for a given period, 13-14,000 people died after being found fit for work by Atos and the DWP. Researchers at Oxford University have found that in 2015, austerity killed 30,000 people. This means that from 2015 to date, in mid-2017, and including Mike’s figures for an earlier period, the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers, have killed 87-88,000 people with their policies.

Over a hundred thousand people are now forced to use food banks as they have no income due to their benefits being removed. Seven million people live in ‘food insecure’ households, where it’s a struggle simply finding the money for this week’s food. Women are going hungry, because if they feed themselves, they’ll starve their children.

Meanwhile, the assault on the state sector continues. The Tories are pushing ahead with the privatisation of the NHS, transferring state healthcare which is free at the point of use into a private, for-profit system like the American system.

And so I decided to draw them as members of a pagan, cannibalistic cult like the Aztecs, or like those of the ancient Canaanites and the demons in ancient Mesopotamian religion.

Thus I drew David Cameron eating a human arm, and George Osborne wearing a human skull as a headdress. I decided to depict Alan Duncan with empty eye sockets and eyes in the palms of his hands, like the sinister Pale Man in Guillermo del Toro’s fantasy film, Pan’s Labyrinth. Behind Cameron and Duncan loom a sculpture of a demon from ancient Iraq, and a human skeleton. Below Duncan and to his right is the figure of an ancient Mesopotamian priest or king. Left of Cameron is a drawing of Eric Pickles, who was one of the ministers in Cameron’s cabinet. I’m afraid the drawing’s a bit smudged, so you may not be able to make him out. And behind and to the left of him is Evan Davies, the BBC presenter. I put him in after he made some comment supporting the Tories or austerity.

And below Davies and Pickles is Andrew Lansley, the Tory-Lib Dem coalition’s wretched health minister. Lansley was responsible for a piece of convoluted legislation way back in 2012, which effectively removes the health minister from his statutory obligation, dating from the establishment of the NHS in 1948, to provide state healthcare. This is one of the major legal foundations for the Tories’ planned eventual privatisation of the NHS. See the discussion of this in Jacky Davis’ and Raymond Tallis’ book, NHS-SOS. And so I gave Lansley a sign saying ‘NHS – For Sale. Apply A Lansley’.

Since I drew the cartoon, Lansley’s been replaced by the equally appalling Jeremy Hunt. Hunt has been responsible for plunging tens of British hospitals into massive debt as part of the Tories’ piecemeal privatisation of the NHS.

Adding insult to injury is the lies the Tories are spinning about this crisis. People, according to them, aren’t going to food banks because they’re hungry. No! It’s because it’s free food. In fact, you can only use a food bank if you have a chit from the Jobcentre to say that you don’t have any money. And when Theresa May was asked by a TV presenter whether it was right that nurses should have to use food banks, she could only reply the weak excuse ‘There are complex reasons.’

There aren’t any complex reasons. There’s a very simple one: the Tories are paying starvation wages. Whey they are actually paying anyone, that is.

Davis and Tallis also point out that the NHS was in budget under the Labour administration the Tories replaced. And state expenditure was actually lower under Labour. But despite massive cuts to the NHS, the Tories are lying that the financial crisis, which they are using as their pretext to cut services and benefits, was all due to ‘high spending Labour’, rather than the 2008 financial crash created by corrupt bankers. And while NHS budgets are being cut to the bone and beyond, they’re also trying to tell the public that real expenditure on the NHS is higher than ever before in real terms.

All lies.

Bloggers such as Stilloaks, Johnny Void, Mike and DPAC have blogged about some of the victims, who have been killed by this murderous policy, and there are lists, art works and videos commemorating them. At present, the people on these lists number 500-600 plus, but this is just a tiny fraction of those, who have died.

Jeremy Corbyn has promised to undo the Neoliberalism and austerity that is killing tens of thousands of people every year. He intends to scrap the fitness for work tests, pay people proper benefits and renationalise the NHS.

So please, vote for him and end the Tories’ reign of death and misery against the poor, the unemployed, the disabled and the lower middle and working classes.

The Miners’ Strike and Andrew Neil’s Connections to the Tories

June 4, 2016

Many of the leading Fleet Street journos and BBC presenters have connections to the Tory party. This has been shown very clearly recently in the public outrage over Laura Kuenssberg’s egregious bias towards the Tory party, but other leading BBC hacks are equally culpable. Nick Robinson was head of his branch of the Federation of Conservative Students at Manchester University, and Evan Davies has also written books in favour of privatisation. Another Conservative on the Beeb’s news and current affairs department is Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times and the Scotsman, and present of the Daily Politics. Mark Hollingworth discusses Neil’s close links to the Tory party in the chapter on the Miner’s Strike in his 1986 book, The Press and Poltical Dissent: A Question of Censorship, in which he notes the personal friendship and collaboration between Neil and Peter Walker, the energy secretary. During the dispute, Neil ran Conservative propaganda in the Sunday Times. However, the relationship between the two goes back further than the strike. Hollingworth writes

The close links between Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil and Walker had a strong bearing on that paper’s coverage of the strike. The two have been close friends since the autumn of 1971 when Neil worker for Walker as his political assistant on the environment desk in the Tory Party research department during the Heath government. They parted ways in November 1972 when Walker was moved to the Trade and Industry Ministry, and the following year Neil joined the rightwing Economist magazine. But they kept in touch. They both share a passion for all things American and Walker would often stay at Neil’s flat in New York between 19779 and 1982 when Neil was the Economist’s US correspondent.

Neil and Walker have similar political views. Liberal on social issues, on economic policy they are both keen advocates of the market economy and the deregulation of business. Although Neil is a firm supporter of privatisation, he says he is ‘left of centre’ on the overall management of the economy. Perhaps this is why he addressed a Tory Reform Group fringe meeting at the 1985 Conservative Party conference. Neil spoke alongside Tory MP Julian Critchley on the theme: ‘Is It Policy or Presentation?’ Walker is, of course, president of the Tory Reform Group.

But when the 1984-5 miner’s strike began Neil and Walker were of one view – the NUM must be beaten. Throughout the dispute, according to former Sunday Times political correspondent Robert Taylor, Walker Telephoned Neil every Saturday morning with his current thoughts and fed him information about the government’s strategy. Another former Sunday Times journalist said that ‘these conversations certainly influenced the way the paper covered the strike.’ Neil declined to comment about his personal links with the Energy Secretary. ‘Any talks with Walker were off the record,’ he said.

And this is one of the right-wing journalists and Tory activists, who are now trying to tell us how impartial the BBC is. It’s a lie, just like most of the crap Neil published about the miner’s.

Danny Cohen, the BBC, and the Anti-Semitism Allegations

May 18, 2016

Mike has put up several pieces on the anti-Semitism allegations. In one of them, he particularly criticised Newsnight for its spurious debate about them. On it, Evan Davies, who has also written a book detailing his neo-liberal, right-wing views, interviewed a number of people about the allegations. All of them believed that the allegations were correct. Not one of the challenged the idea that Labour was anti-Semitic.

One of the people on the panel was Danny Cohen. Now, if this is the same person I’m talking about, then it’s highly questionable whether he should have been on the programme at all, as he is hardly an unbiased, independent speaker. There was a Danny Cohen, who was formerly one of the leading managers – he may have been one of the controllers – of the BBC, before resigning and going to Israel. He also issued a statement that Britain and Europe were unsafe for Jews, and that they should also move to Israel. If that Danny Cohen, was the same Danny Cohen as the man who appeared on Davies’ programme, then he already has very strong biases, of which the viewer should be informed and which deserved to be questioned themselves.

Cohen was not alone in making these claims about the security of the Jews in Europe. They’ve been running since 2004 or so. I can remember reading a book review in the Spectator, about a novel by an American author set in the future, in which the remains of European Socialism join with the Islamists in the European parliament to bring about a new holocaust of European Jewry. If memory serves me right, Frederick Raphael was somehow involved with this, though I can’t remember whether he wrote it or just reviewed it approvingly. This is, of course, a gross smear, and comes very much from the Republican Neo-Con Right. Extreme right-wing Republicans like the very swivel-eyed Glenn Beck really do believe that Socialism is the same as Nazism, ’cause, er, the Nazis said they were. They then go on about how if Socialists like Bernie Sanders get into power, they’re going to take away America’s freedom. Beck himself has burst into tears several times on his show, wailing that they’re about to take him away. You can see the same nuttiness with Alex Jones on his Infowars programme. It’s on Youtube, so if you want to see how deranged part of the American political landscape is, you can have a look at it. There’s even a segment where he rants about Obamacare in a Reptile mask. Because Obama is part of the Reptoid alien Illuminati elite. Or something.

There have indeed been increased attacks in Jews. However, the majority of racially motivated attacks since 9/11 have been against Muslims, which disproves the allegation that Jews are more at threat in Europe than other groups. A Palestinian writer in the weekend Financial Times a decade or more ago said that in France, where the French authorities were cracking down on anti-Muslim violence more severely than anti-Semitic crime, it was not because the French state or people hated the Jews. Quite the opposite. In polls, the number of French people, who said that Jews weren’t really French, was very low: about 5%. The numbers who responded that Muslims weren’t really French was much higher, and anti-Arab sentiment in some parts of France was very marked. Yasmin Alibhai-Browne wrote a piece in the Independent several years ago describing her family’s experience of being shunned, ignored and very badly treated during a holiday in France, because she and her children were obviously Asian, despite their father being White. In fairness, she also wrote another piece several years later, saying what a wonderful time she’d had in France and how so much had changed.

In fact, the Zionist lobby has very definite demographic reasons for trying to make Jews feel unwanted and unsafe in Europe, and encouraging them to move to Israel. There’s a controversy there about the relatively higher fertility of the Arab population. Generally, Arab families have more children than Jewish Israelis, and so there’s a fear amongst some Israelis that they will soon be outbred. It’s very similar to the idea of ‘Eurabia’ in the Euro-American anti-Muslim right. In this view, Europe is under siege from Islam. Europeans have much smaller families than Muslims, and so in a few generations the Muslims will have outbred the rest of us, and we will be a minority in our own countries. It’s actually a load of rubbish, but it does have terrible emotive power.

There are other ways in which Israel is being placed in a difficult position through demographic change. The Zionist right, such as Likud, and in particular the ultra-Orthodox Haredis, wish to colonise the occupied West Bank as part of their programme, as they see it, to redeem all of Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel. They have bitterly attacked those Israelis, who have dared to suggest that it would be much better to withdraw. But this, however, means withdrawing some parts of the Israeli population from certain areas, such as the Negev, which already have a very high Arab population, mostly Bedouin. In the chapter on contemporary Israel in the book The Modern Middle East, edited by Albert Hourani, it states that there is a real possibility that if Israel continues encouraging Jewish settlement in the occupied territories, the resulting loss of population from the Negev and other areas will leave them with majority Arab populations.

This is obviously the very last thing Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionist right want. A few years ago Netanyahu was asked whether his government would ever give the right of return to the Palestinian families who fled their homes in Israel in 1947 following the Israeli uprising and war with the Arabs. Netanyahu stated very firmly that he would not, because it would upset the fundamental ethnic character of Israel as the Jewish state.

It therefore seems very clear to me that Cohen’s comment about the rise in hostility to Jews in Europe and his recommendation that they emigrate to Israel, has little to do with the real situation, and everything to do with the need of the Israeli state to find more colonists to bolster their population against the Arabs. Cohen’s appearance with Evan Davies on Newsnight suggests that these manufactured allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party and its leader, are part of this hard-Right Zionist agenda.

RoarMag on the Resistible Rise of the Islamophobic Right in the Netherlands

February 14, 2015

Geert Wilders

Geert Wilders: the face of Islamophobia

George Berger in his comment to my post about a Swedish Christian church that was sent threats for holding a service of solidarity with Muslims after a Pegida demonstration sent me this link to an article in RoarMag detailing the rise of the anti-Islam Far Right in the Netherlands: http://roarmag.org/2015/02/wilders-fortuyn-nationalism-netherlands/. George is Dutch but lives in Sweden. In his comment he said

I live in Sweden and am a Dutch citizen. It was a pleasure to read about the first Swedish Pegida demonstration, in Malmö last week. Eight Pegidistas versus more than one thousand anti. Contrast that with the current rise of neo-fascism in the Netherlands. Here is the best short article on that reactionary trend that I have seen. It should dispel a few myths.

It’s great to see that Sweden is still living up to its reputation as a place for sanity and tolerance, despite the attempts of Pegida to wreck it.

What is much more surprising to many foreigners is the rise of a large, anti-Islamic extreme Right in the Netherlands. The Netherlands after all has a reputation for being one of the most tolerant societies in Europe. In the 17th century it was one of the very few countries that did not have an established church. This was not because the Dutch were any less religious than the surrounding nations. Indeed, Alexander Graham-Dixon in one of his programmes on the Art of the Baroque, when covering the Dutch art of the period gave a contemporary saying as an example of the deeply religious divisions in the Netherlands in that period. The saying said that if there were three Dutchmen, two of them would immediately form their own churches, and accuse the third of being a heretic. They did not set up an official, established church, because they did not feel that force should be use to enforce religious belief. If a particular religious denomination or sect was to survive, it should do so through peacefully winning over and retaining believers.

Moreover, the Netherlands itself suffered brutally from the Nazi occupation. During the War, the Nazis attempted to break the Dutch people through withholding food supplies to create a terrible famine. When I was at school in the 1980s our school had an exchange scheme with another school in the Netherlands. Despite the intervening decades, memories of the Nazi atrocities were still strong with some of the older generation, and there were people, who bitterly hated the Germans. With this history of persecution by Fascism, it’s amazing how anything like an organised Fascist movement could ever be popular in the Netherlands.

RoarMag’s article explains just how this has arisen. It’s entitled Pro-gay and anti-Islam: rise of the Dutch far-Right. It begins

In the Netherlands, the right-wing PVV (Freedom Party) has steadily garnered power using a hate-filled discourse directed at Muslims and elites alike.

The Dutch far-right has evolved into one of the most successful national movements in Europe. Its leader Geert Wilders is a major political figure with international support. In many ways Wilders is the heir of Pim Fortuyn, a politician who played a crucial role in shaping a new right-wing current, ‘national-populism’, in Dutch politics, and who was murdered in 2002.

Populism here means the idea that society is separated in two camps; the ‘good people’ versus a ‘corrupt elite’. The ‘people’ are not the whole of society, but the part of the society that is considered pure and whose political will is considered legitimate: it is a partial object that stands in for the whole. Who is part of the ‘people’ is not given, the borders of this category are contested. The selection of those considered part of it and who are not is a political act.

Different kinds of populism use different criteria to select and shape ‘the people’ into political actors. In national-populism, the ‘people’ and the nation tend to overlap: the nation is not equal to the citizenry but to the ‘people’, a term with an historical, ethnic connotation. The national-populism of Fortuyn and Wilders calls for the disappearance of an ‘alien’ minority culture to preserve a mythical, homogeneous ‘Dutchness’.

The article traces the rise of extreme-rightwing, ‘gay-friendly’, anti-Islamic populist movements from Frits Bolkestein of the right-wing Liberal party, the VVD, through Pim Fortuyn and to the Partij Voor Vrijheid (Party For Freedom) of the notorious Islamophobe, Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Bolkestein set the pattern for the development of Islamophobic right in the Netherlands in a speech he made in 1991. In a speech to the Liberal International, Bolkestein contrasted European and Christian civilisation with that of the Islamic world, arguing that democracy and human rights were a product of a single, European culture, rather than emerging from a clash within different cultures.

Pim Fortuyn

Not a Bond Villain: Pim Fortuyn, Pro-Gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Welfare

This was taken up by Pim Fortuyn. A right-wing cultural pessimist lamenting the decline of community cohesion, traditional values and patriarchal authority figures, Fortuyn combined nationalism with neo-Liberal programme of severe cuts to the welfare services. In his 1997 book, Tegen de Islamisering van Onze Cultuur, ‘Against the Islamisation of the Our Culture’, Fortuyn presented Dutch culture as under threat from a homogenous, a-historical Islam. In his view, Islam was not just a religion, but also a worldview and political system. By constructing his attack on Islam as one of culture, not race, he avoided being linked to the racist, neo-Nazi far right. Nevertheless, the article makes clear that Fortuyn also made deeply racist comments, such as his statement to the Dutch paper De Volkskraant that Moroccans never stole from each other.

Fortuyn’s party, the List Pim Fortuyn, disintegrated amidst internal feuding after his assassination in 2002 by the environmental activist Volkert van de Graaf. Fortuyn’s anti-Islam stance was then taken up by Geert Wilders, then a member of the right-liberal VVD. Along with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wilders promoted the idea that the conduct of Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands were determined by their religion, and that it was the cause of the sexism and racism in Dutch Muslim culture. The religion was also the root cause of socio-economic poverty and dictatorships and absolute monarchies in the Islamic world. Wilders left the VVD to form his own party in 2004.

The new party received a massive boost with the murder of the bitterly anti-Islamic Theo van Gogh. In the aftermath, dozens of mosques and hundreds of Muslim immigrants were attacked. In 2010 Wilder’s party attempted to capitalise on fears generated by the recession by throwing out their previous, Neo-Liberal policies. The party had previously stood for a flat tax rate, attacks on trade unions, abolition of the minimum wage and making it easier for firms to dismiss workers. Wilders’ party then pledged to defend the welfare state and workers’ rights, while claiming that they were under attack through immigration. The party then attempted to prevent these same civil rights from being applied to immigrants through linking social security to length of citizenship, language skills, and the adoption of secular dress. Those wearing burqas or niqabs were to be ineligible for benefits.

Wilders’ party entered government as the coalition partner of Mark Rutte’s VVD government. In doing so it gave up many of its left-wing demands and committed itself to Rutte’s austerity programme. The Coalition collapsed in 2012 when the PVV withdrew from negotiations about the implementation of further austerity. The following year Wilders’ began to establish links with other, European Far Right parties, like the French Front National, the Vlaams Belang in Belgium, and the Freiheitliche Partei Osterreichs in Austria. Wilders also went on tour of Holland collecting anti-austerity signatures, and set up a website offering legal advice for blocking the construction of mosques.

The article points out that Wilders’ success is remarkable, considering that his party doesn’t have members or much of an organisation beyond a website. This has given him absolute freedom to choose which candidate to support. It also points out that the success of Fortuyn and Wilders is partly due to appearances on TV and the net. Fortuyn in particular benefited from the support of the mainstream Conservative media. Wilders so far has eschewed appearing on TV and being interviewed by the papers because he distrusts their supposed ‘left-wing’ bias.

The Dutch anti-Islamic far right has also benefited from selectively including parts of the radicalism of 1968. They have taken on board verbal support for feminism, gay liberation and opposition to anti-Semitism, while rejecting the Green movement and anti-racism. Women’s and gay rights, and acceptance of Jews, are seen as intrinsically Dutch characteristics and their origins in the left-wing and progressive movements is ignored.

The article also considers that Bolkestein, Fortuyn and Wilders have also gained through the Netherlands’ self-image as an open and tolerant society, and the taboo on looking too closely at the endemic racism within it. This is particularly acute because the Dutch Left has largely abandoned anti-racism, and even taken over some aspects of the nationalistic Islamophobia of Wilders et al.

It’s a fascinating, provocative article that needs to be read, not just for the light it shines on this ominous aspect of Dutch politics, but also on the links and similarities to the growth in other anti-Islam groups and organisations throughout Europe, such as Pegida in Germany, and the EDL over here.

Despite the PVV’s massive growth, I’ve met many Dutch people, who were bitterly and outspokenly against Wilders and his bigotry. One young woman I knew at Uni said that she intended to leave the Netherlands if he won an election. I hope she didn’t, as no-one should feel forced out of their homeland by bigots.

ayaan-hirsi-ali-005

Ayaan Hirsi Ali considering the size of her next speaking fee.

As for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is a highly controversial figure. Her family have denied that any of the maltreatment she describes as being inflicted on her by her family has ever actually occurred. A non-Muslim friend of mine, who has taught university classes in Islam, is spectacularly unimpressed with her. He sees her less as a principled politician, than as a venal opportunist, who has exploited her supposed escape from Islamic oppression to gain money, influence and political power. She’s made money very cynically from telling the Islamophobic Right exactly what they want to hear. All the while using and discarding former allies than when they are of no use to her.

What has come across from this article is the similarity of approach of the anti-Islam activists across the West, from America to this side of the Atlantic. There is the same denial of racism. They don’t object to Muslims because of their ethnic origin, but because of the social, economic and political aspects of their religion. There is the same view that Islam is uniformly anti-feminist and bitterly hostile to gays. The anti-Islam sites over here and in America carried stories about Muslims beating up gays in Amsterdam, for example.

There is also the same claim that, in order to protect the welfare state, measures must be put in place to limit immigration. In the interview I put up this morning between Nigel Farage, the Fuhrer of UKIP, and Evan Davies, Farage stated that in a decade or so’s time, we may have to introduce an insurance system to fund the NHS due to the expansion of the country’s population to 80, 90. or 100 million. Farage was very careful not to single out any particular religion or ethnic group, but his party does contain any number of swivel-eyed loons with a venomous hatred of Muslims and non-Whites. The message, and that of the anti-immigrant Conservatives, is the same: the welfare state is under threat from immigrants, who are placing far too much strain on the available services. This conveniently ignores the fact that the welfare state has been decimated by decades of Conservative rule, and is likely to be destroyed completely if Cameron’s horde of robber barons are returned to power.

And Wilders has more than his fair share of supporters in this country. About ten years ago there was controversy in Britain, when Wilders was invited to speak at the House of Lords. He, and groups like him, aren’t a problem confined to the Netherlands. They’re all over Europe, and threaten all of our societies.

Nigel Farage Interviewed by Evan Davies on Thatcher, NHS and Gay Kissing

February 14, 2015

Farage Drawing

Yesterday I blogged on a piece by Jon Stone in the Independent reporting that Nigel Farage was in favour of introducing the American healthcare system, where it was funded by insurance into the NHS. It looks as though Stone partly based his piece on this interview Farage gave to the Beeb’s Evan Davies on Newsnight a few nights ago.

In summary, Farage talks about how he had been a follower of Mrs Thatcher in the 1980s, and agreed with her about rolling back the state and cutting down the power of the trade unions. He also states that he’s been a lot of other things besides, like a Churchillian. He states he stands for a small state, deregulation and removing taxes.

On the subject of the NHS, he denies that he’s in favour of its privatisation. In answer to careful questioning for Davies, he states that everyone in the 1990s, even Tony Blair, was in favour of finding private solutions to the problem of the NHS. These have not worked. The outsourcing only accounts for 6 per cent of NHS work, and the health service has been saddled with massive debt through the Private Finance Initiative. He wishes to abolish this. He then goes on to say that the state and private enterprise should be kept separate, as mixing them in the NHS has not worked. He does, however, also state that as the population grows to 80, 90, 100 million, we will have to find new ways of financing it, including looking at an insurance-funded system. ‘Nothing should be set in stone’, says the Fuhrer.

On the subject of gay men kissing, Farage himself denies that he personally has any problem with it. On the other hand, many people do have a problem with it, and they shouldn’t be treated with the harsh disapproval that some give them now.

Slippery Farage

This interview actually shows just how slippery and specious Farage is. Much of what he said in this interview makes him and his party look benign and reasonable. He is absolutely right about the Private Finance Initiative. It hasn’t worked. All it has done is make the shareholders of the private contractors extremely rich while saddling them with massive debt. Even George Osborne recognised this. And made exactly the same promise.

Which is why you can’t trust him on this point.

Before the 2010 election, Osborne stated very clearly that the Private Finance Initiative was a disaster and said he would get rid of it. He hasn’t, and it’s gone on regardless, as has the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice … etc.

As for Margaret Thatcher, Farage has said repeatedly that his is a Thatcherite party. Of course, he doesn’t want to say this outright and unqualified on Newsnight, as it means that some of the Labour voters, who he hopes to win over, will immediately drop UKIP like a hot rock. So it’s heavily qualified with flannel about other people he respects, like Winston Churchill, whom he hopes have universal respect.

As for introducing an insurance based system into the NHS, he states that it’s partly done in France and the Netherlands to some extent. In fact, it’s the basis for the health care systems in much of Europe. A Swiss lady I know explained that in her country, medical care was funded partly by the state and partly through insurance contributions. Most people had a mixture of state/ private insurance. Only the very rich had completely private insurance, and only the poorest had completely state care. I think there was a similar system introduced in one of the American states on the East Coast, to the sneers and derision of much of the rest of America.

Now, if Farage wishes to introduce funding through insurance contributions, as in France and the Netherlands, then he still wants to privatise the NHS by opening it up to private health insurance companies.

Despite what Farage believes, or appears to believe, this will make treatment even more expensive. One fifth of Americans cannot afford their healthcare, because of the way insurance premiums have ballooned over the past decade. Farage clearly wants to introduce that into the UK.

And while he says he doesn’t want to privatise the NHS, he also made comments to the contrary. As has his deputy, Paul ‘Eddie Hitler’ Nuttall.

So I simply don’t believe him when he says he doesn’t want to privatise the NHS. It’s exactly what the Tories have said, even when they are doing their level best to sell it off.

As for gay men kissing, while he’s right that there are many people, who would feel uncomfortable about, Farage’s party goes far beyond simple disapproval. Much of the party is bitterly anti-gay, just as the party is also vehemently racist, despite what Farage claims. UKIP’s opponents have attacked the party because, despite it’s ostensibly softer, more reasonable approach, it threatens to legitimise bigotry and intolerance against ethnic minorities. And from this interview, it would also seem gays.

In short, don’t be taken in by the weasel words Farage has made in this interview. His is still a very intolerant party, and he still stands for the privatisation of the NHS, whatever he says.

Government Cuts: The BBC Defends their Bias

January 11, 2014

Who Needs Cuts

I’ve just started reading Who Needs the Cuts, by Barry and Saville Kushner, published last year by Hesperus Press. It’s a fascinating book, written in straightforward, uncomplicated language by two professionals in the political sphere. According to the blurb, Barry Kushner is a regeneration consultant supporting organisations working in the third sector, and now a city councillor in his home town of Liverpool. Saville Kushner is professor of Public Evaluation at the University of Auckland, who has written widely on democracy and public knowledge and worked for a short while for UNICEF in Latin America.

In the first chapter, Barry Kushner describes what moved him to begin researching the issue of the government cuts, and led to the two brother actively campaigning against them. It came from him attending a meeting of a ‘Children with Disabilities’ planning group in a town in the north-west of England, which he had been brought in to support. The group had been set up to bring together the parents of disabled children, and government officials and care providers as part of Labour’s Aiming High for Disabled Children. The group had hoped to build a respite centre to allow parents and carers a break from the strains of looking after their children. At the last minute, Kushner was informed that the project had been cancelled thanks to Gideon George Osborne’s cuts, and Kushner was given the unenviable job of telling the parents this. Not only was Kushner upset by the sudden cancellation of this much-needed facility, he was profoundly dismayed by the way the parents themselves, who had put so much into getting the project going in the first place, where left crushed and defenceless against the politicians’ story that there was simply no alternative to the cuts. He remarks on how easy it was for all the hard work that had been put in giving parents the confidence to come together to work for improving things for disabled children and their carers to be destroyed in a matter of moments.

Also driving Kushner in his campaign was his experiences at Croxteth Comprehensive school in Liverpool, where he had been a teacher during Maggie Thatcher’s infamous reign in the 1980s. Croxteth had been one of the most deprived areas in the country, and the school was scheduled for closure. The parents and teachers responded to the news by occupying the school and taking it over. Three years later they won their campaign, and the school was saved. In 2009 Kushner attended a reunion of everyone, who had been involved in the occupation. One of those he met was ‘Sean’, who had been ‘a cute, mischievous’ boy of 11 when it all happened. Sean was now forty, and had just come of the drugs he’d been on for the past 22 years. He went through one of the photographs showing the other kids, who were at school during the occupation. At least seven of these children were now dead.

The Kushner’s state that the story that the cuts are necessary is extremely flimsy indeed, and compare it to Joe McCarthy’s tactics during the Communist witch-hunts in the US. McCarthy’s evidence of Communist infiltration was just as a extremely flimsy. At meetings he claimed to have a list of Communists, waving a bunch of papers that were supposed to have their names. In fact, he had no such list and in many cases those papers were completely blank. This tactic nevertheless cowed the press and much of officialdom into blandly accepting his specious claims. The Coalition, and Labour politicians like Alistair Darling, who also took on board the supposed necessity for the cuts, similarly have little real evidence to back up their claims, and are resorting instead to scare tactics. This, unfortunately, has been remarkably effective, with the even the victims of the cuts, like the parents in the above meeting, unable to rebut the arguments. It has left the nation defenceless against an austerity programme several times more severe than previous retrenchment programmes. The book is their response to these specious claims, and has arisen from their own campaign against it, which has led them to speak up and down the country, including in my own home town of Bristol.

It’s an excellent book, and I hope to post a full review, giving some of their arguments against the cuts in due course.

What strikes me now, having posted about the BBC’s right-wing bias, is the Kushner’s description of the way the BBC has promoted the line that the cuts are necessary. They note that there are numerous economists, who have stated that the cuts are not necessary, and that growth, when it occurs, will wipe out the debt. These other voices are either totally ignored by the mainstream media, or else relegated to a footnote. The Kushner’s wrote to some of the journalists and programme managers pushing this line, like the BBC’s economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, and Evan Davies. In her report for 9th of September 2011, Flanders claimed that the poor economic growth from which the country was suffering was due to good weather, the Japanese tsunami and the royal wedding. When she was asked why she didn’t mention that the slump in retail sales and manufacturing along with the redundancies caused by the cuts were also having an effect, and that consumer confidence was at an all-time low, Flanders gave the following reply:

‘We were providing the explanation provided by the ONS, the independent statistical body. If this was not emphasised yesterday, that was simply because there were other things to focus on in a 2.5 minute package, and the broad political and economic arguments about austerity are now so well understood by our viewers’. As Private Eye responds, when given similar brush-offs, ‘So that’s alright, then’. The Kushners note that her role in the BBC was news analysis, not reporting. Her actions in simply regurgitating the ONS’ view was more in line with her previous job as advisor and speechwriter to Larry Summers. They also note that she had also worked with the US treasury secretary as he led the deregulation of the banks, that ‘unleashed the whirlwind of mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps, sub-prime mortgages and over-leveraged banks that sit behind the whole debt issue’.

Barry Kushner also states that they attempted to make their points known by writing into the BBC and the Guardian, sending a series of emails and taking part on phone-ins on the radio. They stated repeatedly in their correspondence and telephone calls that ‘although the BBC’s coverage reflected the political consensus it did not reflect the broader economic analysis represented by numerous economists and people on both sides of the political spectrum… We begged the question, doesn’t the BBC have duty to do this?’ They received the following reply from a senior executive at BBC News:

‘The Editorial Guidelines state that we strive to reflect a wide range of opinion and explore a range and conflict of views so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented. However, reflecting a broad range of views is not the same as giving equal weight to all shades of opinion and nor are we required to give totally comprehensive coverage.’

They state that this attitude appears to be shared by journalists, even when they know that their analysis is incomplete. They wrote a letter to Evan Davies after he interviewed Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey. This, they state, was far more severe than anything he had dished out to Danny Alexander, George Osborne or the other government ministers. They wanted to know why this was so, and why Davies had prevented McCluskey from elaborating on his argument and why he had not subjected government ministers to a similarly intensive grilling. As an example, the Kushners state they wanted to know why ministers were not required to explain the significance of the low level of national debt and borrowing on their planning for the cuts? The Kushners have already made the point that despite the hysterical claims of the politicos, the national debt is at its lowest for 200 out of 250 years. The argument that somehow these cuts are necessary to pay of this massive national debt is nonsensical.

Davies replied: ‘I personally think there are arguments to be made for not dealing with the deficit at the moment. Indeed there are arguments for monetising it too. But these need to be set out by those who assert them, not by me.’

To which they comment: ‘So Evan knows the answers, but won’t tell us what they are? Aren’t journalists supposed to use their knowledge and experience to ask more intelligent, searching questions?’ From the book’s description about the way Davies prevented McCluskey from developing his arguments further, it’s actually worse than that. Davies clearly knows the opposing arguments, but not only does he not feel it is his job to present them, he is actively obstructing those who do.

Commenting on my last post about BBC right-wing bias, Anna listed a number of BBC journalists with right-wing connections, like Nick Robinson, who used to be part of the Union of Conservative Students. It’s clear from reading Who Needs the Cuts that the BBC, like much of the rest of the media, is actively promoting the Coalition’s flimsy message that the cuts are somehow necessary almost unquestioned. The book notes that both Andrew Marr and John Humphries have started interviews with politicians stating that the cuts are necessary, ‘but..’, and that this political message is so prevalent that it has turned Question Time into a ‘cutsfest’. The executives at the BBC and their Tory allies won’t suffer from the cuts, however, although the Tories are dangling the prospect of freezing the license fee and privatisation in front of the Beeb to make it come to heel whenever it appears to get a bit uppity. The people who really suffer are us, including disabled children and their families, and the deprived kids being denied a proper education, and left to die of drugs and squalor like those Barry Kushner taught in Croxteth. They’re the real casualties. And the Beeb won’t be reporting on them any time soon.

The Kushners lament that we are going back to Maggie Thatcher and her policy of cuts in the 1980s, though without the massive opposition she faced – they were also active on marching against her – or even Spitting Image. It was in the 1980s that I remember the issue of the Conservative bias of the news media was raised with a vengeance. One of the best comments on it was ‘News of the World’, by the Clash, now used as the theme music for the Beeb’s satirical news quiz, Mock the Week. If we’re going back to the ’80s, we may as well enjoy some classic rock. Enjoy!