Posts Tagged ‘Ian HIslop’

More Nationalist Bigotry from Johnson as He Sneers at EU Leaders

July 21, 2019

Boris Johnson and his supporters preparing for government.

Mike put up a post yesterday reporting some of the recorded view of Boris Johnson on the leaders of various EU countries. In this case, they were Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emanuel Macron and the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. And as you would expect, they aren’t flattering.

Johnson apparently has raised and pondered the question whether Merkel was a member of the Stasi. Well, she does come from the former East Germany. However, I think she’s a Lutheran Christian, in which case the answer is, no, almost certainly not. Christians and other people of faith in the former Soviet bloc were harshly persecuted. It wasn’t illegal to hold services, but if you actually taught the doctrines of your religion in the former Soviet Union, you would be arrested. If you held a religious service in your home, not only would the secret police arrest you and everyone else there, but they’d also demolish your house if you were lucky enough to have a private residence. Some determined Protestants in the former DDR used to worship in the Anglican Church attached to the British embassy. See one of the chapters in the book, Why I am an Anglican, which contains testimony from a number of leading public figures, including Ian Hislop. Though I don’t blame you if his inclusion puts you off. Given the immense suspicion Merkel would have been under if she had been a practising Christian, I doubt very much she was a member of the Stasi.

But this is just a simple nationalistic jibe at her just ’cause she’s German and he doesn’t like her. She comes from the from East Germany, and so, to Boris, that means that she has to me some kind of totalitarian monster. However, as she’s a member of the Christian Democrats, the German equivalent of the Conservatives, he can hardly accuse her of being Commie. Still, I suppose we should be glad that he didn’t fall back on the old sneers and jokes that as she’s German, she must be a Nazi. I really wouldn’t put it past some of the Eurosceptics in the Tory party and peeps in UKIP and the Brexit party to make jokes about the German leaders all being Nazis, all while goose stepping about party headquarters with their fingers under their lips and their hands up in the air in a mock Nazi salute, guffawing and making comments like ‘Don’t mention the war!’ after that episode of Fawlty Towers.

Going on to the French president, BoJo called him a ‘jumped-up Napoleon’. Which surprised me, as I didn’t think Macron was a general in the French army or that he wanted to invade the rest of Europe. He’s a determined supporter of the EU, and as the Eurosceptic brigade are convinced the EU is descended from the plans of Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler to create a united Europe, all under their leadership, of course, it’s probably inevitable that Boris would compare him to the French emperor. Especially as the EU was mooting plans for a common European army. I thought on the other hand, that rather than being a megalomaniac military dictator, Macron was simply a bog-standard Neoliberal desperately trying to promote its policies of unfettered free enterprise and austerity, even though it was wrecking his country’s economy and society.

Johnson also seems to have found Varadkar’s surname difficult to get his head around, leading to another nationalist sneer. He’s reported to have asked why the Taoiseach wasn’t called Murphy like the rest of his countrymen. We’re heading dangerously close to the really offensive racist stereotypes here. He didn’t say it, but it’s close to referring to the Irish as ‘Pads’ and ‘Micks’. The reason why Varadkar has this as his surname is because his antecedents were Indian. It’s a reflection of the growing multiculturalism of modern Irish society. Which Johnson obviously can’t quite get his head around. But perhaps we should be grateful he only made a xenophobic sneer about the Irish, and didn’t say something really racist about Varadkar himself because of his Indian heritage.

The article Mike cites for this states that Johnson is planning a European tour, including Paris, Berlin and Dublin, if he wins the Tory leadership. The snippet Mike includes on his blog says that Johnson might have a few bumps ahead of him. The other EU leaders don’t trust him because of his long history of lying and frequent comparisons of the EU to Nazi Germany. And they don’t like his British exceptionalism, which is demonstrated in the above sneering remarks.

Absolutely not. But then, what can you expect from the man, who, when he was head of the Foreign Office, described the French as ‘turds’? Actually, I’m surprised Johnson, who tries so hard to project an image of himself as someone from the Tory past, didn’t use the 17th-19th century racist term for them, Nic Crapaud, from the French word for ‘frog’, crapaud. I can’t speak French, but I think the word’s pronounced ‘crapo’, which is how I feel about him and all the other Tory candidates.

Johnson was a disaster at the Foreign Office, who seemed determined to make tensions with the Russians even worse than actually soothe them. And in Thailand he opened his mouth and started reciting Kipling’s ‘Road to Mandalay’ in the country’s holiest Buddhist temple. What’s worse, he really didn’t know how that could possibly be offensive to his hosts. He had to be told it was inappropriate by the ambassador.

If Boris gets in, he’s likely to alienate Britain even further from the other European nations as well as other countries around the world. And we’re going to need them as trading partners after we leave the EU. And it’s especially dangerous regarding Northern Ireland. There have already been terrorist outrages in the Six Counties because of the collapse of the power-sharing agreement at Stormont and uncertainty over the border with Eire. The very last thing the people of Ulster and the rest of Britain need is Boris fanning the flames of Nationalist resentment over there even further with racist stereotypes and sneers.

Ah, but I forgot! He’s not bothered about them, because he’s a big fan of Trump. As is Nigel Farage. They believe Trump will give us a good trade deal. But that must include the NHS – Trump has said that nothing must be off the table.

And despite the hollow assurance by the Tories that they’re not going to give it to him, this is precisely what Johnson, Farage and the rest of the Tories and Brexit party want to do.

 

Advertisements

Tracy Ann Oberman Smears Ash Sarkar and Guardian/ Private Eye Journo as Anti-Semites

July 7, 2019

Oh dear! It appears that Tracy Ann Oberman,(above) an actress and friend of the equally litigious Rachel Riley, might just have bitten off more than she can chew in her attacks on Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. Oberman and Riley believe that Corbyn really is a raging anti-Semite, as are his supporters. They therefore attack and smear them as Jew-haters over social media. If the victim replies with a few sharp observations about them in turn, they immediately respond by threatening them with a libel writ from their lawyers. They did this to Mike and many other people, simply because they reblogged an article describing how Princess Countdown and Cyberman bullied a sixteen year-old schoolgirl with anxiety, because she was a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, and thus, in their eyes, an anti-Semite.

This week she decided to attack Ash Sarkar of Novara Media, and then Solomon Hughes, a journalist for the Guardian and Private Eye, when he dared to stand up and defend Sarkar. Oberman started off by sneering at Sarkar, claiming that she wasn’t a serious political debater. Sarkar made a few sharp remarks about Oberman and her appearance on Eastenders. The spat went back and forth, with Oberman making the following highly defamatory comments among others.

Don’t play the race card with me @AyoCaesar you have stirred up more antisemitism than nearly any woman on here you personally and Novarra [sic] have lied libelled and trolled many Jewish people. You’re a hypocrite. But enough attention your way”.

“Doubt after today’s view thy Ash doesn’t care about Jews who were murdered. Maybe she concurs with the tweeter who said ‘every member of your family deserved to die in the Holocaust to atone for One Palestinian’”.

Sarkar wasn’t impressed, and replied with

Tracy, you’re going to have to find some evidence of me personally libelling and lying about Jewish people. Or I’ll have to contact those libel lawyers that you’re so keen on”.

Oberman seemed to look forward to the prospect of getting a writ, and said so

Bring it on. Many would love the opportunity of putting Novarra [sic] in the dock to answer some pertinent questions. My team are waiting”.

But in his coverage of the, er, frank exchange of views, the Sage of Crewe remarked that, as of 22.00 the previous night there didn’t seem to be much evidence that Oberman had her lawyers waiting.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/07/tracy-ann-oberman-crosses-line.html

Solomon Hughes tweeted in defence of Sarkar

No doubt people can be all kinds of horrible on Social Media about Palestine/Israel, & don’t use this as a prompt to be horrible to Tracy [Ann] Oberman, but the claim Ash Sarkar ‘stirred up antisemitism’ is both untrue and ridiculous.( As is the mention of ‘The Race Card’)”.

As you can see, this is a fairly measured response. Hughes recognises that there is poisonous stuff posted online about the Palestine/Israel conflict, and appeals to people not to abuse Oberman as her corrects her about Sarkar not being an anti-Semite. But this was too much for Tracy, who demanded that he explain it, rather than use it for clickbait. Which was a ridiculous suggestion, as his following on Twitter was a tenth of hers.

Hughes then stated again that the accusation that Sarkar was an anti-Semite was ridiculous. Oberman then accused him of trying to incite a pile-on. She then posted

I personally do believe that Ash / Novarra [sic] has stirred up race tension. I think not supporting the IHRA is racist. Saying that Palestinians should define Jewish Racism is igniting  upset. You may disagree but to incite a pile on isn’t very Guardian or Buzzfeed?

Zelo Street commented that this contrasts with her original statement about Sarkar, which is presented as fact. By then stating it is opinion, she has just undercut any defence she might have of the original statement as she has effectively admitted that it is just opinion and she has no evidence to back it up. Zelo Street commented

These are opinions, and no more.

We know this as she adds “You may disagree”. If Ms Sarkar did contact her lawyers, they will be all over this: it is effectively an admission that Ms Oberman cannot stand up her claims. 

He also said that Private Eye might also take an interested, as it looks like Oberman was going to accuse him of anti-Semitism or other unprofessional conduct to his Groaniad editor, Kath Viner. Oberman said she was going to drop Viner a line immediately after the conversation.

Zelo Street concludes

Tracy Ann Oberman just dug herself in deeper with Ash Sarkar. Then she invited the Eye to investigate her. This campaign may progress not necessarily to her advantage.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/07/tracy-ann-oberman-one-in-eye.html

It’ll be very interesting indeed if Private Eye do get involved and cover this accusation of anti-Semitism against one of their own reporters. The Eye has followed the rest of the lamestream media in promoting the anti-Semitism smears and the Labour party and Corbyn viciously anti-Semitic. This baseless attack on Hughes therefore presents them with a problem. If they defend Hughes, as they should, then they risk at least hinting that may be the rest of the anti-Semitism smears they have published and supported over the last few years are also baseless, and that the victims of the majority of them are decent, innocent people, who have been grossly libeled. As Private Eye hasn’t spoken to any of the victims, allowing them to explain how they have been smeared, defending Hughes would represent a change of editorial direction by Ian Hislop on this matter. The only thing I’ve seen published by the satirical magazine in defence of the Labour party on this issue have been letters to the magazine, followed by others from readers claiming the opposite. Except for an editorial reply, citing Jon Lansman, the head of Momentum, that there was a problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour party. This is despite testimony from many of the party’s Jewish members, stating that they have never, or only very rarely encountered it, testimony that has definitely not been published by the Eye. The Eye has never published an article casting doubt on the witch hunt, or pointing out that at least some of its victims are innocent.

I therefore wait to see what the forthcoming Eye, published this week, will have to say about all this. If anything at all.

 

 

Private Eye’s Ian Hislop Pushes the Anti-Semitism Smears on Have I Got News For You

June 2, 2019

This is another issue that I couldn’t let pass without comment. On Friday on the Beeb’s satirical news quiz show, Have I Got News For You, Ian Hislop took it upon himself once more to push the establishment smear that anti-Semitism is rife in Labour. The editor of Private Eye was responding to a question about the expulsion of Alistair Campbell, Blair’s former spin doctor, by the party for saying he voted Lib Dem in the elections. As Mike and Martin Odoni have shown on their blogs, Labour has Campbell bang to rights. What he’s done is very much against Labour party regulations. And Martin has further pointed out that there is no hypocrisy on Jeremy Corbyn’s part for his congratulation of George Galloway when he won Bradford West for the Respect Party. He was only doing what other Labour leaders have done before, such as Neil Kinnock when he congratulated John Major on becoming leader of the Tories. There really isn’t any comparison of the two cases. See

https://thegreatcritique.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/reaction-to-alastair-campbells-expulsion-from-labour-demonstrates-how-pathetically-easily-led-centrists-are/

Campbell whined about how there was a difference between his case and those of members accused of anti-Semitism. Mike pointed out that Campbell’s whinge was a case of sour grapes, and there were differences between his and other Labour party members. Like Kerry-Ann Mendoza, the mighty chief of The Canary, had been thrown out of the party for admitting she voted Green before she joined the Labour party. As for those accuse of anti-Semitism, if they are high-up in the Labour party, and aren’t supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, an excuse will be found not to investigate them and exonerate them. If they’re high-profile supporters of Corbyn, any excuse will be found to expel them. As happened to Mike, who didn’t get any right to appeal.

Alastair Campbell expelled from Labour – but he thinks HE has been mistreated

Hislop, however, is ignorant of all of this, and followed Campbell’s line, ranting that no-one had been expelled for anti-Semitism with a sneer at Ken Livingstone. Livingstone, he claimed, was particularly foul because he had said that Hitler was ‘a little bit Zionist’. 

This comes just after the Equalities and Human Rights Commission announced it was investigating Labour for anti-Semitism, and the MP, Peter Willsman, was suspended on anti-Semitism charges. Why? He claimed quite reasonably that the Israeli embassy may be interfering in the internal politics of the Labour Party. It is an entirely reasonable question, given that Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy official guilty of plotting to decide with British civil servants which Tories would serve in May’s cabinet, offered Joan Ryan of Labour Friends of Israel £1 million in funding at a Labour conference. See

The Peter Willsman debate is a parade of ignorance

As for the assertion that Livingstone was somehow lying about Hitler’s support for Zionism, no, it’s historical fact. Mike, Tony Greenstein, myself and many, many other bloggers have made it very clear that this is so, quoting chapter and verse from the relevant sources. As has John Newsinger, a historian at one Bath’s excellent universities, who is a regular contributor to the conspiracy magazine, Lobster. Hitler and the Nazis did indeed initially support the Zionists from the cynical motive of simply wishing to get the Jews out of Germany. It’s called the Ha’avara Agreement, and there’s even a page about it on the website of the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem, in Israel.

But history, genuine history, in this case, rather than establishment smears, appears to be utterly foreign to Hislop in this issue.

Just as it is to his magazine, Private Eye. I still read it, and it contains much excellent material, but it has consistently smeared Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites. These have included smear pieces from its correspondent ‘Ratbiter’, alias the Groaniad’s Nick Cohen. Like the rest of the lamestream media, it completely accepts the anti-Semitism smear unquestioningly. And it has never, ever interviewed anyone on the receiving end of those smears, like Mike, Martin, Tony, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Cyril Chilson and on and on.

If you’re falsely smeared as an anti-Semite, Ian Hislop and his magazine were support the smear and the smearers, not you.

Which gives the lie to his claim that his magazine is somehow anti-establishment and brings you the stories the other parts of the media won’t touch. Admittedly, this is often true, but on certain issues Hislop, Private Eye and Have I Got News For You solidly toe the establishment line. The anti-Semitism smears about the Labour party is one case. The claim that Putin is the aggressor in the Ukraine and a threat to the freedom of the eastern European states is another.

I’ve been tempted many times to write a letter of complaint to Private Eye about their promotion of the anti-Semitism smears, but I’m afraid it would do no good. They either wouldn’t publish it, or would publish it in a very carefully edited form that would deliberately weaken my argument and allow them to publish a reply that appeared to refute it completely. Or else I’d find that my details had been passed on to the CAA or other Zionist smear merchants and trolls, and I’d be accused in turn of being an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier like Mike. Are Hislop and his crew at Private Eye that nasty? I hope not, but as they are part of the media establishment, and the media establishment is that vicious, I’d rather not find out.

As for Have I Got News For You, Hislop and the Beeb were boasting a few months ago that people trust it more than the ordinary newspapers, especially asylum seekers, who come from countries where the state heavily controls and censors the news. This is dangerous, because the BBC itself is very heavily biased against Labour, and consistently follows the Tory, government line. Which is unsurprising, given the number of Beeb newsroom staff, who left to find jobs working as the Tories’ spin doctors. Have I Got News For You appears to be impartial, but it also follows the government line in pushing certain interpretations of news stories. The fact that the Maidan Revolution in the Ukraine in 2012 was carefully orchestrated by the American State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, will definitely not be covered, either by the mainstream British news or by Have I Got News For You and Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye. And neither will they ever publish the truth behind the anti-Semitism smears.

Hislop once again ignores history to smear Livingstone, the Labour Party, and everyone, who has been false accused of anti-Semitism. And despite the satire, Have I Got News For You is, like much of the Beeb’s news coverage when it comes to Labour, fake news.

Majority of British Public Want Railways Nationalised

May 31, 2019

Here’s a piece of encouraging news, courtesy of Wednesday’s I for 29th May 2019. According to the article, ‘Public sector should run railways’, over half of people polled supported the nationalisation of the railways. The article ran

A majority of people believe railways would be better value if they were publicly owned. Just over half of 1,000 people surveyed supported the public sector, with only one in five backing privatisation. Lobby group  We Own It said people believed fares would be cheaper under public control.

They aren’t wrong, either, but I think some caution must be taken because, reading the article, the poll seems to have been taken by the lobby group. Nevertheless it is true that privatisation has not brought the improvements to the railways promised by John Major and the Conservatives back in the 1990s when they sold them off. Instead of bringing in more investment, the companies running the railways have consistently done as little as possible to improve services, instead cutting them back as far as possible, in order to boost their chief executives’ pay and the companies’ share value. The result has been less value for money as fare prices have increased, and the rail companies now enjoy far more public money in subsidies than they did when the rail network was nationalised under British Rail. The situation is so bad that a few years ago Ian Hislop went on a rant about how the private rail companies were running a shoddy service so that they could play at being the executives of blue chip companies instead of the minor civil servants they had been on Have I Got News For You.

One of Labour’s policies is the return of the rail network to public ownership, along with electricity and water. These policies, along with Labour’s commitment to restoring the welfare state, renationalising the NHS, strengthening workers’ rights and creating effective, powerful trade unions, are extremely popular with the electorate. Which is, no doubt, why the Tories and the Blairites have started yet another campaign of anti-Semitism smears and accusations against the party. Especially as the Tories have done very badly indeed at the elections.

Vox Political Right Again! May Prepares Plan for Martial Law Post-Brexit

January 28, 2019

Mike’s keen eye for the direction events are taking us has been vindicated once again. A little while ago he predicted that Tweezer was preparing legislation to declare a state of martial law in the event of serious civil disruptions following a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. These would be caused by shortages of food and medicine. As Mike reminds us, there was a commenter, who doubted whether 3,500 troops could hold down a country of 60 million people.

Now it seems Mike was exactly right. According to the Sunday Times, which Mike acknowledges is a dodgy source, and the I, Tweezer has indeed prepared a plan to declare martial law in just such an event, and quotes the relevant passage from the latter paper. Cause obviously, he doesn’t want to give money to the Mendacious Murdoch Machine.

Mike’s on something of a roll here, as he was also proved right about Brexit negatively affecting Jaguar Landrover. They’ve stopped production for an extra week because of uncertainties over Brexit. He was also right when he said that after criticizing Rachel Riley and her supporters for fake anti-Semitism claims and trolling a schoolgirl with anxiety issues, he’d also get attacked. And he was.

How bad will the situation be post-Brexit. Well, the I’s article quotes one source, who says that it will be worse than the disruption caused by volcanic ash, and would be comparable to a major Europe-wide war.

Mike concludes his article with the comment

Of course, martial law is an extreme measure that would be imposed only in dire need – or if a government is desperate to keep power in spite of the will of the people.

Do you trust Theresa May not to follow the latter path?
See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/01/27/martial-law-plan-for-post-brexit-britain-shows-this-site-was-right-again/

Well, no, I don’t trust Tweezer to put country ahead of party, or even her own personal interests. She’s never done so in the past, and won’t in the future. Ian Hislop called Gordon Brown ‘Mr Limpet’ after the 2010 election on Have I Got News For You because of Brown’s determination to hang on to power even after the losing the election. The Lib Dems claimed that they were willing to form a coalition with Labour, but only if Brown went. He refused, so they joined the Tories. Except that they’d been in talks with the Tories for weeks before, and the whole claim that they were willing to support Labour was a sham. But Tweezer surely deserves to be called ‘Mrs Limpet’ because of her determination to cling on to power, regardless of the harm her government is doing to this country and, hopefully, the future of the Tory party.

Corbyn has repeatedly been attacked because his policies of supporting the nationalization of the utilities and strong unions and workers’ rights supposedly threaten to take this country back to the 1970s.

But it’s Tweezer who’s doing that.

It’s been under watch that last week there was a terrorist bombing in Ulster, and she’s preparing to declare martial law because of civil unrest and shortages. The last time I recall this happening was during the ‘Winter of Discontent’ in 1979, when it was all blamed on the trade unions. And friends of mine in the Smoke told me they were affected by a power cut. Again, the last time I remember this happening was back in the 1970s when Ted Heath was trying to show the miners, who really ran the country. Well, as the election showed, it wasn’t him.

This is Tweezer and the Tories’ Brexit Britain: power cuts, potential shortages and martial law. And this time they can’t blame Labour nor the unions.

Get Tweezer out, and Corbyn in, before Tweezer really does turn this country into a dictatorship.

Private Eye Still Keeping up Media Anti-Semitism Smear against Labour

January 23, 2019

The media smears claiming that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party are viciously anti-Semitic seem to have died down somewhat recently. This is no doubt due to Labour having folded and succumbed to the immense pressure to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in toto, which is being used, against the wishes of the man who devised it, to silence criticism of the state of Israel and its murderous oppression of the Palestinians. But Private Eye seems determined to maintain the smear.

In last fortnight’s issue, for 11-24 January 2019, the magazine chortled in a piece, ‘What the Papers Don’t Say’ on page 7, about how the Groaniad did not report how Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, was jeered when she said at a Jewish charity event when she said that Jeremy Corbyn had been too upset to address the Labour party’s anti-Semitism claims. Which was in contrast to the Torygraph, Scum, Fail and the Times.

Then in the ‘Rotten Boroughs Awards 2018’ on page 18 there’s the piece ‘Jewish Humour Award’, which gives this dubious honour to Hounslow for Labour councillor Nisar Malik, whom it describes as ‘something of a conspiracy theory enthusiast, especially when it comes to the you-know-whos.’ Malik tweeted that “the Zionist lobby controls all the media”. This amused the Eye’s contributor, as ‘the Z-word’ was spelt ‘zaniest’. ‘Those screwball Illuminati jokesters get everywhere!’ the Eye guffaws.

Ian Hislop’s mighty organ has shown how determined it is to repeat the anti-Semitism smear against Labour by posting a reply to a female Momentum member, who sent them a letter denying it. They replied by saying that Momentum itself had admitted that there was an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour party. This is the view of Jon Lansman, Momentum’s founder, but is very much denied by many of the organization’s members and especially its former vice-chair, Jackie Walker, and her fellows on Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. But the Eye hasn’t bother to talk to them, or showed any inclination to do so. It’s thus no surprise that it sneers at the Groaniad for not reporting the jeers against Thornberry at the Jewish charity event, rather than questioning the other papers and those jeering Thornberry for their acceptance and determination to promote nothing but a vile Zionist smear.

As for Nisar Malik, I don’t know anything about him rather than what the Eye has said about him. It might be that he’s as anti-Semitic as the Eye claims, but that’s not clear after the newspapers smeared Mike as one, along with Ken Livingstone, Mark Wadsworth, Jackie Walker and so on. Malik’s wrong about the Zionists controlling the media, but they are under very heavy pressure from the Israeli state and the Jewish establishment over here not to report Israeli atrocities or crimes against humanity. I’ve posted up on this blog the documentary Peter Oborne made eleven years ago for Channel 4’s Despatches on the Israel lobby, in which the former editor of the Groaniad, Alan Rusbridger and Jewish media figures, and academics, including the respected Oxford professor of Middle Eastern studies, Avi Shlaim, described how the Israel lobby and the Board of Deputies of British Jews had tried to close down accurate reporting of atrocities committed by Israel and its allies, the Christian Phalangists in Lebanon, with accusations of anti-Semitism. These were made not only against Rusbridger, but also the Beeb and its reporters Jeremy Bowen, Orla Guerin and then Dimblebore when said the accusations were ridiculous. Malik has a very, very good point to attack this very strong Zionist bias.

And now in this fortnight’s issue for 25th January to 7 February 2019 the magazine is trying to maintain the smear by very carefully reporting the accusations leveled at some of those smeared as anti-Semites in the Labour party. This is in the article ‘Unskilled Labour’ by ‘Ratbiter’ in the mag’s ‘HP Sauce’ page. This is about how Labour is supposedly unprepared for a snap general election, due to subscription income falling. Other allegations are that the party doesn’t have the strategy and isn’t putting in the funding to fight marginal seats, various candidates have been dropped because they are unsuitable due to conspiratorial beliefs about the Manchester Arena bombing and the murder of Jo Cox and unpaid tax. But what is remarkable is how it reports that the party is also suffering pressure on its finances due to legal action by those it has smeared and unjustly expelled as anti-Semites. ‘Ratbiter’ writes

While subscription income falls, costs are rising – not least thanks to legal bills from Corbyn’s friends, who cannot take exclusion from the fold now that they feel the party has power in its grasp.

Marc Wadsworth, an old Corbyn ally, is suing Labour for expelling him after he reduced the Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth to treats at the launch of a report on, of all things, anti-Semitism. Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, candidate for South Thanet, has raised more than 4,000 pounds and retained leftish brief Michael Mansfield QC to challenge the national executive’s decision to block her candidacy because she brought the party into disrepute by banging on about Hitler, Zionism and Ken Livingstone.

Some, but not nearly all of this, is true, but even the truthful bits are very misleading. Labour Against the Witch-Hunt was formed long before the media started admitting that Labour had a chance of winning a coming election. The same with those members, who have been unjustly and foully smeared as anti-Semites, like Mike. They are friends of Corbyn, but they’re motives are getting proper redress and admission back into the party they’ve always supported, and would still demand this whatever the party’s electoral chances were. But putting it that way makes it seem that they’re all infiltrators, just in it for power. It’s a continuation of the Blairite/ Tory smear that they’re entryists.

Now let’s deal with the Eye claim about Wadsworth. Yes, at least one of the papers did accuse him of making the odious Ruth Smeeth cry. No, that’s not why the party expelled him. They accused him of anti-Semitism because he had made a comment about her handing material to a journo from the Torygraph. She tried to claim that he was using an anti-Semitic trope of being party of a Jewish conspiracy to smear her. The Blairite/Zionist kangaroo court couldn’t make that stick, because it was all too clear that Wadsworth was anything but an anti-Semite. For crying out loud, he worked with the Board of Deputies of British Jews to get tougher legislation passed in the 1990s to combat real Nazi attacks on Jews in Thanet. This was dropped in favour of the catch-all claim that he had brought the party into disrepute. He hadn’t. Smeeth had with a completely and utterly false and libelous claim, which the gutter press was all too keen to repeat.

Going on to Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt, it seems she was smeared and expelled for precisely the same reason Mike was. He also wrote a piece taking apart the smears against Ken Livingstone. These were that he had claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. He wasn’t, and Leninspart never said he was. The Leninist newt-fancier had outrageously told the truth and said that the Nazis had made a deal with the Zionists to send Jews to the nascent Jewish colony. This is the Ha’avara agreement, which is accepted, documented historical fact. It is mentioned on the website of the Holocaust memorial museum at Yad Vashem in Israel, and by Zionist historians of the Shoah. But this is too much for the Blairites, the Israeli state and the Israel lobby to stomach. And so they’ve libeled entirely decent, anti-racist individuals as anti-Semites.

The intention behind these smears has been to purge the party of Corbyn’s supporters, a move of which ‘Ratbiter’ evidently approves from the tone of the article. And the way these smears were done looks very much like an infringement of electoral law. Like the way Mike was smeared as a Jew-hater and Holocaust denier when he was standing as a candidate for his local council. Someone within the Labour party was obviously very much afraid that he would win, and so they leaked the smear to their friends in the press, a smear that was heartily taken up by Mike’s loudmouthed Tory opponent.

But there is absolutely no mention of this from the Eye.

Which makes you wonder how much of the rest of the material in ‘Ratbiter’s’ article is true. As for ‘Ratbiter’ himself, I believe Tony Greenstein on his blog outed this person’s real identity after he made similar misleading claims about Labour and anti-Semitism in Private Eye.

Despite the fact that Eye’s founders were all public schoolboys, as is Hislop and his deputy editor, Francis Wheen, the Eye has something of a countercultural reputation because of its irreverent approach to authority. But here the magazine seems to be staunchly following a very establishment line to prevent real change for this country by maintain the press narrative of Labour anti-Semitism.

Two Books By Tony Benn

January 4, 2019

I hope everyone’s had a great Christmas and their New Year is off to a good start. May the shadow of Theresa May and her wretched Brexit be very far from you!

Yesterday I got through the post two secondhand books I’d ordered from Amazon by that redoubtable warrior for socialism and working people, Tony Benn. These were Arguments for Socialism, edited by Chris Mullin (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1979) and Fighting Back: Speaking Out For Socialism in the Eighties (London: Hutchinson 1988).

The two books differ slightly in that one is written from Benn’s perspective at the end of the ’70s, while the other was written nine years later at the end of the 1980s. In both Benn tackles the problems of the day, and lays out his radical, democratic socialist plans to revitalise the British economy and industry, strengthen and broaden democracy, and empower working people.

The blurb of Arguments for Socialism simply runs

Tony Benn, the most controversial figure in British politics, outlines a strong democratic-socialist approach to the most crucial issues in our political life over the next decade.

It has an introduction, and the following chapters, subdivided into smaller sections on particularly topics. These are

Section 1., ‘The Inheritance’, is composed of the following
The Inheritance of the Labour Movement
Christianity and Socialism
The Bridge between Christianity and Socialism
The Levellers and the English Democratic Tradition
Marxism and the Labour Party
Clause IV
The Labour Movement.

Section 2. ‘Issues of the 1970s’
Labour’s Industrial Programme
The Case for Change
Opening the Books
Planning Agreements and the NEB
Public Ownership
Industrial Democracy
The Upper Clyde Work-In
The Worker’s Co-ops
The Lessons of the Workers’ Co-ops
Democracy in the Public Sector

3. ‘Energy’
North Sea Oil
The Debate over Nuclear Energy
Windscale
The Fast Breeder
A Future for Coal
Alternative Sources of Energy
Conclusion

4 ‘The EEC’
Loss of Political Self-Determination
Loss of Control over the United Kingdom’s Industry and Trade
Unemployment and the EEC
After the Referendum

5. ‘Democracy’
Technology and Democracy
The Case for Open Government
How Secrecy Is Maintained at Present
Leaks and How They Occur
Conclusion

6. ‘Issues for the 1980s’
The Arguments
The Argument in Outline
The Present Crisis of Unemployment
Adam Smith and the Birth Capitalism
Lessons from the Pre-War Slump
Three Remedies on Offer
1. Monetarism
2. Corporatism
3. Democratic Socialism

7. ‘Jobs’
The Pension Funds
New Technology
Growth
The Trade Union Role in Planning
Workers’ Co-ops
A New Relationship between Labour and Capital

8. ‘The Common Market’
Three Criticisms of the EEC

9. Democracy
Open Government
The Unions
The Armed Forces
The Media
A New Role for Political Leaders.

Fighting Back’s blurb runs

With crisis after crisis rocking the country throughout the Eighties, the formation of new parties, divisions with in the old, mergers, reconciliations – British political life is at a watershed.

Tony Benn, in speeches on picket lines, at Conferences at home and abroad, in broadcasts, in the House of Commons, has been a consistently radical campaigning voice: for equal rights, for democracy and for peace against the increasingly brutal politics of monetarism, militarism and self-interest.

Fighting Back brings together for the first time in one volume the best of Tony Benn’s speeches from 1980 to 1988. Few poeple will have heard more than brief snippets of proceedings in the House of Commons given by television, radio and the press, so the most important debates are included here – the Falklands War, Westland helicopters, Fortress Wapping, Zircon and Spycatcher – as well as some lesser known concerns, from the ordination of women, to the politics of singer Paul Robeson.

Throughout the difficult years in Opposition, Tony Benn has played a leading role in defending and regenerating the socialist tradition. But Fighting Back is more than simply a personal testament: it is also an exciting and accessible handbook to the turbulent Eighties, whatever one’s political convictions.

After the introduction, it has the following chapters and subsections:

1. The Stalemate in British Politics
-Fifty Years of Consensus Rule
-The Party and the Government
-From Defeat to Victory
-Parliamentary Democracy and the Labour Movement

2. Prophetic Voices
-Positive Dissent
-Thomas Paine
-Karl Marx
-Paul Robeson
-R.H. Tawney
In Defence of British Dissidents

3. Fighting Back
-The Falklands War (April 1982)
-The Falklands War (April 1982)
-The Falklands War (May 1982)
-The Falklands War (December 1982)
-The Miners’ Strike (June 1984)
-The Miners’ Strike (September 1984)
-The Miners’ Strike (February 1985)
-Gay Rights
-Fortress Wapping (May 1986)
-Fortress Wapping (January 1987)
-The Irish Struggle for Freedom
-After Eniskillen
-Privatisation of Gas
-Legal Reform

4. British Foreign and Defence Policy
-The Case for Non-Alignment
-Who is Our Enemy?
-A New Agenda for the International Labour and Socialist Movements
-Some Facts about Defence
-Towards a Permanent New Forum
-Paying for Apartheid

5. Work and Health in a Green and Pleasant Land
-The Unemployment Tragedy
-Trade Unionism in the Eighties
-Full Employment: the Priority
-The Common Ownership of Land
-The Case Against Nuclear Power
-Nuclear Accidents
-The Nuclear Lobby
-Evidence Against Sizewell B

6. The Arrogance of Power
-The Case of Sir Anthony Blunt
-The Belgrano-Ponting Debate
-Westland Helicopters
-Surcharge and Disqualification of Councillors
-The Ordination of Women
-The Zircon Affair
-Spycatcher
-Protection of Official Information

7. Disestablishing the Establishment
-Power, Parliament and the People
-The Civil Service
-The Crown, the Church and Democratic Politics
-A Moral Crisis
-The Disestablishment of the Church of England
-Television in a Democracy
-Televising the House

8. Light at the End of the Tunnel
-The Radical Tradition: Past, Present and Future
-Staying True to the Workers
-Aims and Objectives of the Labour Party.

The Books and their Times

Arguments for Socialism comes from a time when this country had nationalised industries, strong trade unions and an efficient and effective planning apparatus. It was also when unemployment and discontent were rising, and the country was facing the threat of Thatcher and her monetarist agenda. The speeches and articles in Fighting Back come from when Thatcher had seized power, was busy privatising everything not nailed down, smashing the unions and trying to silence any dissent. This included attempts to prosecute civil servant Clive Ponting for leaking documents showing that the Argentinian warship, the General Belgrano, was actually leaving the Falklands warzone when it was attacked and sunk. Thatcher also banned the publication of Peter Wright’s Spycatcher over here, because of the embarrassing things it had to say about MI5. This turned into a massive farce as the book was widely published elsewhere, like New Zealand, meaning that foreign readers had a better understanding of the British secret state than we Brits did. It was such a ridiculous situation that Private Eye’s Willie Rushton sent it up in a book, Spythatcher.

Benn’s Beliefs on Socialism and Democracy

Benn was genuinely radical. He believed that British socialism was in danger not because it had been too radical, but because it had not been radical enough. He wished to extend nationalisation beyond the utilities that had been taken into public ownership by Attlee, and give working people a real voice in their management through the trade unions. He also fully supported the workers of three firms, who had taken over the running of their companies when management wanted to close them down, and run them as co-ops. On matters of the constitution, he wished to expand democracy by bringing in a Freedom of Information Act, strip the Crown of its remaining constitutional powers and have them invested in parliament instead, and disestablish the Church of England. He also wanted to strip the office of Prime Minister of its powers of patronage and give more to MPs. He was also firmly against the EEC and for CND. Socially, he was on the side of grassroots movements outside parliament, fully embraced gay rights and the ordination of women within the Anglican Church.

Not the Maniac He was Portrayed by the Press

He was and still is vilified for these radical views. The press, including Ian Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye, presented him as a ‘swivel-eyed loon’, at best a mad visionary of hopelessly unrealistic ideals. At worst he was a Communist agent of Moscow ready to destroy this country’s ability to defend itself and hand it over to rule by the Soviets.

He was, it won’t surprise you to learn, anything like that.

He was very well respected by his constituents in my part of Bristol as a very good MP and brilliant orator, and was respected even by his opponents in the city. One of the leaders of Bristol’s chamber of commerce said that he was always rational and his opinions clearly thought out. I’m a monarchist and a member of the Anglican church, and so don’t share his views on the disestablishment of the Church of England. But his arguments there are interesting.

Disestablishment of the Anglican Church

Recent calls for disestablishment have come from atheists and secularists, and Benn does use the secularist argument that privileged position of various Anglican bishops to sit in the House of Lords is unfair to those of other faiths, Roman Catholics, Protestant Nonconformists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists. But this argument actually comes at the end of the main body of his pieces. His main points are that the bishops shouldn’t be there, because they’re unelected, and that parliament and the prime minister, who may not be Anglicans or even Christians, have no business appointing the denomination’s clergy or deciding doctrine. It’s an argument primarily from within the Anglican church, not from someone outside, jealous of its position.

The Prime Minister against the Church and Its Members

One example of how the Prime Minister abused their position to override or impose their views against the wishes of the Church itself was when Thatcher got stroppy with the-then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie. After the Falklands War, Runcie had preached a sermon saying that we should now meet the Argentinians in a spirit of reconciliation. This is what a Christian leader should say. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the peacemakers, and all that. We’ve heard it several times since by great leaders like Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But Thatcher didn’t like it because she wanted something a bit more triumphalist. This section is also interesting because it has an interesting snippet you and I south of the Border have never heard of, except if you’re a member of the Church of Scotland. That august body at its synod overwhelmingly voted in favour of nuclear disarmament. I hadn’t heard anything about that before, and I doubt many other people outside Scotland had. And it obviously wasn’t an accident. The Tory media really didn’t want anyone else in Britain to know about it, in case they thought it might be a good idea.

It wasn’t just the Church of Scotland that were against nuclear weapons. So was a leading Roman Catholic prelate, Monsigner Bruce Kent, now, I believe, no longer a member of the priesthood. One of my aunts was a very Roman Catholic lady, who was also a member of CND. She found herself on one march next to a group of Franciscan friars. So kudos and respect to all the churches for their Christian witness on this issue.

CND, the Unions and Media Bias

On the subject of CND, Benn talks about the blatant bias of the press. All kinds of people were members of the Campaign, but when it was covered on television, what you got were a few shots of clergy like Monsignor Kent, before the camera zoomed in on the banner of the Revolutionary Communist party. CND were part of Russkie commie subversion! Except as I remember, they weren’t. The Russians didn’t like them either after they criticised their maneoevres in eastern Europe.

Benn states that the media’s bias is peculiar – its somewhere to the right of the Guardian, but slightly to the left of Thatcher. This was the attitude of the establishment generally. And it was extremely biased against the trade unions. He cites the work of Glasgow Media Studies unit, who looked at the language they used to describe industrial disputes. The language used of the trade unions always presented them as the aggressor. They ‘demanded’ and ‘threatened’, while management ‘offered’ and ‘pleaded’. He then asked hsi readers to turn the rhetoric around, so that a union asking for a pay rise of 8 per cent when inflation in 10 per cent is ‘pleading’.

The Ordination of Women

His stance on the ordination of women is equally interesting. He was obviously for it, but his arguments as you might expect were very well informed. He pointed out that women had been campaigning to be ordained in the Church since the 1920s, and that other Christian denominations, like the Congregationalists, already had women ministers. As did other Anglican churches abroad, like the Episcopalians in America. It was blocked here by the Anglo-Catholics, who fear it would stop re-union with Rome. But even here, he noted, this may not be an obstacle, citing movements for the ordination of women within Catholicism. Again, it’s an argument from within the Church, or from someone genuinely sympathetic to it, than from an outsider frustrated with the Church’s stubborn refusal to abide by secular social values, although that is also in there.

Government Secrecy

And back on the subject of government secrecy, the Zircon Affair was when Thatcher banned the transmission of an edition of the documentary programme, Secret State. I’ve put up that documentary series a few years ago on this blog, because it showed the extent to which Thatcher and others had been using the Official Secrets Act to suppress information that was embarrassing or uncomfortable. Like the fact that in a nuclear war, this country would suffer massive casualties and the obliteration of its major population centres.

The book actually contains any number of interesting snippets that definitely weren’t reported, or else were only given very tiny coverage, in the mainstream press. Like details of various incidents at nuclear plants that could have led to serious accidents. He also talks about the ‘Atoms for Peace’ programme. In this international project, we sent our nuclear material over to America, where, we were told, it would be used for peaceful purposes generating power in American reactors. Well, it was used in American reactors. They refined it into the plutonium, that was then put in American nuclear warheads and sent back over here to the US nuclear bases on British soil. He also pointed out that the agreements covering the use of Britain as a base by US forces in the event of a nuclear war also contravened our sovereignty.

Ted Heath and the EU

Loss of sovereignty was also a major part of his opposition to the EU. But he also makes the point that our entry into the Common Market was also undemocratic. Ted Heath simply decided the country was going in. Parliament was not consulted and did not vote on the issue. I do remember that there was a referendum afterwards, however.

Intelligence Agencies Smearing Labour MPs

The intelligence agencies are another threat to British democracy. He cites Peter Wright’s Spycatcher memoir on how MI5 was spreading rumours smearing the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, as a KGB spy. This, like much of the rest of the material in the books, has not dated. The problem of the security services smearing left-wing politicians is still very much with us, as we’ve seen from the Integrity Initiative. They’ve smeared Jeremy Corbyn as a Russian spy.

Books Still Relevant in 21st Century

I’ve only really skimmed the books so far, just reading the odd chapter, but so much of it is directly relevant now. I think if he were alive today, Benn probably would have voted ‘Leave’, but his arrangements for leaving the EU would have been far more sensible and beneficial to this country’s ordinary folk than that of Tweezer and her band of profiteers. And he is absolutely right when he writes about expanding democracy in industry. He states that the workers’ co-ops on the Clydeside and elsewhere were attacked in the press, because suddenly the British capitalist establishment were terrified because it showed that there was a genuine alternative to capitalism, and that workers could run companies.

The individual sections in these books chapters are short, and the arguments clear. He also gives point by point party programmes on particular issues, such as making this country more democratic.

Benn Democrat, Not Authoritarian Communist

And it’s this concern for democracy that most definitely marks Benn out as being a democratic socialist, not a Trotskyite or Communist. Those parties and their various sects were run according to Lenin’s principle of ‘democratic centralism’. Put simply, this meant that the party would hold some kind of open debate on issues until a decision was made. After that, the issue was closed. Anybody still holding or promoting their own opinions faced official censure or expulsion. And the Communist parties of eastern Europe would have been as frightened of Benn’s championing of democracy as the British establishment.

Conclusion

As I said, I take issue with Benn on certain issues. But his reasoning is always clear and rational, his points well argued and based in fact. Furthermore, he is impressed with the British radical tradition and how much British socialism is squarely based within it. We lost one of our greatest parliamentarians with his death.

His ideas, however, are still very relevant, and have been vindicated with time. He was right about monetarism and corporatism, about unemployment, about the need for unions, about media bias. His support of women priests and gay rights were ahead of their time, and have now become almost a commonplace, accepted by all except a few die-hard reactionaries. And he’s right about nationalisation and worker empowerment.

These are books I intend to use for my blog and its attack on Tweezer and the Tories. And I won’t be short of useful material.

‘Chicken Theresa May’ Excerpt from Have I Got News For You

November 27, 2018

As I commented earlier on a piece by Cassetteboi taking the mick out of Tweezer, May has form when it comes to challenging Corbyn to debates. The last time she did so at the election last year, she ran away from him and said Amber Rudd instead.

This massive cowardice did not go unnoticed. Here’s a clip from Have I Got News For You in which Ian Hislop, Paul Merton, Victoria Coren-Mitchell and guests, including the priest, who used to be a member of the Communards way back when, talk about May.

They remark that it’s just been confirmed that she wouldn’t appear on Woman’s Hour either, sending someone else there instead. Victoria Coren quips in response to May’s comment that the Brexit negotiations will need a ‘bloody difficult woman’ that there is one already in Angela Merkel. There’s also a dig at the Fuhrage. May said that if Corbyn got in, he’d go ‘naked and alone into the debating room’. Coren states that so far this has only happened to a drunk Nigel Farage.

And then there’s a very good description of Tweezer. In response to May being called ‘chicken’ by the Mirror, Coren comments that you can get chicken Theresa at a restaurant near her. It’s thin-skinned, boneless and can’t be grilled. Oh yes, and another true word said in jest!

‘I’ Newspaper: ‘Have I Got News For You More Trusted than News’

September 22, 2018

Yesterday, Friday 21st September 2018, the I carried a story by Adam Sherwin, which reported that according to its two stars, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, people see the satirical panel game as more reliable than the news itself. The article said

Have I Got News For You is a more trusted source of news for viewers than official bulletins, the show’s stars have claimed.

Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton said the long-running satirical series now plays a vital role in challenging “fake news”.

Hislop said: “One of the most cheering things about Have I Got News For You is quite a lot of people get their information from us, which should be terrifying in a properly functioning society.

“I walked in through the door of this hotel today and a man came up and said, ‘I absolutely love Have I Got News For You’ and I said, ‘That’s really nice of you’. He said, ‘I’m from Israel… It’s the only sensible news we get’. And you just think, ‘Oh’.

The Private Eye editor added: “We’ve a very big fan base among immigrants and people from backgrounds where they can’t believe you’re allowed to be this rude, which is a thrill compared to the countries they come from.”

Meron said: “That’s certainly part of the element of its longevity is thatpeople come to it for the news.” (p. 5).

Now I prefer to watch Have I Got News For You rather than the news because I get so irritated with the Beeb and its very strong bias against the Labour party and particularly Jeremy Corbyn. And Hislop’s right that in a properly functioning society it would be alarming that more people are tuning into a comedy show for the news rather than the news itself.

But we don’t live in a properly functioning society. We live in a society dominated by very right-wing politics, almost uniformly promoted by the media. And it’s very much because of this that alternative news sources, particularly on the internet, have been growing at the expense of the mainstream broadcasters and print publishers.

But Private Eye and Have I Got News For You have also not been averse to spreading ‘fake news’. I stopped watching Have I Got News For You and reading the Eye a little while ago because I got sick and tired of their anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn bias and their promotion of the lies justifying current British foreign policy: that Putin is going to take over the whole of Ukraine and is a threat to NATO, and that we should stand solidly behind the rebels in Syria. Even though those same rebels are Islamists, of the same stripe that launched 9/11 and have been campaigning against every secular, nationalist or socialist regimes in the Middle East. And have been aided in this by the West, which saw them as a useful force against Communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And now that they’ve shown themselves to be a real threat to peace in the region, they’re being supported again for simple reasons of global geopolitics and the greed of western multinationals and the oil industry.

But you don’t read about this in Private Eye, or see it on Have I Got News For You.

I’ve gone back to reading the Eye and watching HIGNFY, because they’re funny, interesting and do provide an oppositional voice. But they are still themselves unreliable, and have their own, hidden biases, which need to be guarded against. This goes beyond the simple attitude that HIGNFY is a comedy show, and so shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Both the show and the Eye are still part of the media establishment, and so share some of their assumptions and prejudices.

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.