Posts Tagged ‘MPs’

38 Degrees Petition against MPs Attending Parliament While Being Investigated for Sexual Misconduct

November 19, 2022

I got this email from the internet petitioning organisation 38 Degrees yesterday, and I have absolutely no qualms against signing it whatsoever, because there have been scandals involving MPs sexually assaulting their staff that have caused real outrage already. And I’m really shocked by the claim that 50 MPs are being investigated for such crimes. If you feel the same way, please feel free to sign as well.

‘Dear David,

Did you know that right now MPs who are under investigation for sexual assault by the police cannot be banned from Parliament and can only be asked not to attend? [1] It’s shocking, but it could be about to change.

Because earlier this week, a group of influential MPs in Westminster met to discuss the possibility of MPs being banned from Parliament if they are accused of sexual misconduct. [2] Earlier this year it was revealed more than 50 MPs were being investigated for such behaviour, so this change can’t come soon enough. [3]

The panel is debating this right now, but they could get pushback from some of their fellow MPs, and that’s where we come in. Together we need to show that the public would be in favour of this move – and any other actions they can take to clean up Westminster’s toxic culture and make sure the Houses of Parliament is a safer place to work.

So David, will you sign the petition today which will show those in charge that the public would back a move to ban MPs under investigation for bad behaviour? It takes 30 seconds to sign:

SIGN THE PETITION

NO, I DISAGREE

Earlier this year, an MP who was arrested on suspicion of rape was simply asked to “please stay away”. [4] And MP Ahmed Khan said he’d steer clear of Parliament while under investigation, but kept coming in anyway until finally resigning after being found guilty of sexual assault. [5]

After the party gate scandal, the then Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised to change the culture within Downing Street but it’s clear that the Houses of Commons needs cleaning up too. [6] That’s why, over the summer, more than 78,000 38 Degrees supporters signed a petition and came together demanding change. [7]

One of our demands was to enforce a ban on MPs coming to Parliament when under investigation. It sounds like those in charge are considering this change – so now it’s time we pile the pressure on again.
Will you sign the petition to help them make the right decision?It takes 30 seconds to add your name:

SIGN THE PETITION

NO, I DISAGREE

Thanks for being involved,

David, Megan and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] BBC News: Conservative MP arrested on suspicion of rape
[2] The Guardian: MPs facing sexual assault claims could be banned from parliament
[3] The Mirror: Three cabinet and two shadow ministers facing allegations of sexual misconduct
[5] See note 1.
[6] BBC News: Imran Ahmad Khan: Sex assault conviction MP resigns
[7] BBC News: Boris Johnson will address No 10 ‘party culture’, says Tory chief
[8] 38 Degrees: Clean up the toxic culture of harassment in Westminster

EDIjester on the Pro-Trans Ideology to Be Taught in Welsh Schools

November 18, 2022

EDIjester is another gender critical gay YouTuber. He produces video specifically tearing into the gender ideology and how it is corrupting medicine, education and legal practice. In the video below, he turns his scathing attention on the RHSE curriculum for Welsh schools introduced by the devolved Welsh government. It is the subject of a damning report compiled by a group of concerned parents and m’learned friends, whose conclusions the jester summarises.

The report found that the curriculum, which corresponds to the personal and social development curriculum being taught in English schools, is based Posthumanism and Queer Theory, and is aimed at primary school children as young as three. It is part of a general project of queering and is based on the vile theories and research of John Money, a monster who experiment on children, and that of the French postmodernist philosopher and paedophile Michel Foucault. This raises the important issues of belief and safeguarding. The new curriculum views children as sexual beings from birth and safeguarding and child protection as inhibiting rather than protecting their proper growth. It promotes a sex positive attitude, including criminal sexual activity for and among children. One particular point of concern is that the child’s sense of self is referred to as ‘gender’ rather than personality. Its ideological basis in Queer Theory is prioritised over real human experience and characteristics. It erases the reality of biological sex and diverges from established definitions of sex and sexual orientation and this in turn erases the existence of gay men and lesbians. Moral considerations are viewed as irrelevant to this sex positivity and parents cannot opt out. It is also not based on factual evidence and stakeholders, such as the educators who actually teach children – nursery nurses, teachers, teaching auxiliaries and so on – were not consulted. There is also the implied assumption that any opposition to this curriculum comes from the New Right. The jester states that the people responsible for curriculum are so far left that to them everyone is the New Right. The curriculum also views legitimate safeguarding concerns as dismissible. It also promotes the mental alienation of parents from their child’s education, disregard for family life, of which the jester notes there are all types. It sidelines protected beliefs such as religion in favour of its own quasi-theological ideas.

The jester is absolutely horrified by this, and urges people to reblog and retweet the video, write to their MPs, and consult the resources on the report and the curriculum it critiques to which he links on the YouTube page with this video.

This all sounds very alarmist and exaggerated, but I have absolutely no doubt he’s fundamentally correct. Unfortunately, the gender ideology is very strongly influenced by the two academics the video names as well as others, who wanted to erase the boundaries between adults and children. I admire the Welsh government, but here the educational curriculum they are promoting is absolutely horrific.

He is also worried by a report by the NHS which removes sex as a protected characteristic in favour of gender, and so allows the treatment of women patients, for example, by trans-identified men. This carries real dangers, and not just in the NHS. One woman who was due to have colorectal surgery at a private hospital was refused treatment because she made it clear she didn’t want trans-identified men treating her. This created a scandal, and the hospital company has found her an alternative in one of its other hospitals.

The relevant links

The NHS Seven Principles and the Erasure of Sex https://www.gov.uk/government/publica…

The Report on Welsh Schools from Safe Schools Alliance – PDF for Report at Bottom of Page https://safeschoolsallianceuk.net/202…

Write to your MP – Do It Now https://www.writetothem.com/?gclid=Cj…

38 Degrees Petition against MPs Taking Second Jobs or Going on Holiday While Parliament is in Session

November 13, 2022

I also had an email about this petition from 38 Degrees come through on Friday. Launched by John Clutterbuck, a 38 Degrees member, it requires MPs to view their parliamentary role as a full-time job. This is another petition I’ve had absolutely no problem signing, because this is how it should be. In the 19th and early 20th centuries there was indeed a strong feeling against MPs having careers outside parliament because of the danger of commercial corruption. But after MPs started being sponsored by the unions as part of the Labour movement, the right argued that there should be no obstacles to figures from industry sitting in parliament. And so we have the wretched situation today where something like 77 per cent of the MPs during Cameron’s squalid tenure of No. 10 were millionaires and directors of companies. It was the same over the other side of the Pond, where a Republican businessman got so fed up with this that he launched a campaign for congressmen and women to wear patches indicating which companies had sponsored their campaigns to show who they were really representing.

Get business out of parliament, and clean politics in!

I’ve therefore signed the petition, and if you feel the same way, please do so as well.

‘Dear David,

How do you feel about MP’s taking on second jobs or going on their holiday when they should be working in the Houses of Parliament?

John, a 38 Degrees supporter, thinks that being an MP is a full time job and taking on other roles or going on holiday outside of parliamentary recess can’t be good for constituents. [1]

While some MPs work second jobs in the NHS, others choose to appear on TV shows, work advising private health companies, or take holidays while they should be in parliament. [2]

John believes these types of jobs should not be allowed. He also thinks that, as with teachers, if you choose to go into politics you should accept that means your holidays have to be taken at a certain time in the year. That’s why he’s started a petition calling for the role of an MP to be considered a full time job, with stricter rules around taking second jobs or going on holiday.

David, do you agree with John? If so, use the button below to sign his petition today calling on a ban on second jobs and holidays outside of recess. It takes 30 seconds to sign:

‘Campaign created by john clutterbuck

Sign the petition

To: The Commons Standards Committee

What: MPs should not be allowed to take holiday while Parliament is sitting or take second jobs while they are a Member of Parliament. Being an elected MP is – or should be – a full time job.

Why is this important: Being an MP is a full time job. It is not something that should be done with half measures.

Right now during a cost of living crisis and government unrest, it is of extreme importance that all MPs serve their constituencies the best they can. Taking on second jobs or going on holidays outside of parliamentary recess can simply not be better for the good of constituents and the UK as a whole.

When someone decides to become a teacher, they do so knowing it means they will be limited on when they can go on holiday. If you choose to run for Parliament it should be with the same understanding.

Read more…

Sign the petition

hanks for being involved,

David, Megan, Robin and the 38 Degrees team

PS: John Clutterbuck started their petition on the 38 Degrees website.

With 38 Degrees anyone can start their own campaign with the click of a button. But that’s just where your journey begins. Creating a petition, then sharing it with friends and colleagues, can soon give you a groundswell of support. Perhaps you’ll end up changing something really important.

Use this link to get your campaign started today, it takes just a couple of minutes and we’ll support you every step of the way: https://link.38degrees.org.uk/start-campaign

NOTES:
[1] 38 Degrees: Make being a Member of Parliament a full time job
[2] The Week: The MPs earning the most from second jobs
Sky News: Matt Hancock to enter I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! jungle following Olivia Attwood’s shock
departure
Guardian: Boris Johnson is back … from his three post-resignation holidays

Email from the Labour Party Asking Me If I Want to Be An MP

June 15, 2021

This will amuse you, but probably not a lot, as the late, great Paul Daniels used to say. I got an email from the Labour party last week asking me if I had ever considered being an MP, and if I had, here was the information about training and guidance sessions about the process of becoming one. Here are the relevant extracts, with personal information removed, of course.

“Are you a future Labour MP? Our candidates come from a broad range of professions, races and backgrounds, but they all start out as members, just like you, with a passion for their community and Labour’s values.

That’s why we’re inviting you to apply for our Future Candidates Programme – running from September 2021 to July 2022, ahead of Parliamentary selections beginning. This could be the start of your journey to represent your community in Westminster.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to apply – to help you put yourself forward, we have designed a series of application support webinars taking place in June:

Although the primary aim of the scheme is to encourage applications for Westminster seats – the programme will also explore with successful applicants other ways they can stand for elected positions on behalf of the Labour Party.

We’re committed to ensuring that our candidates reflect the full diversity of our society. Before applications open in July we have pre-application Zoom sessions for all members alongside dedicated sessions for young people, women, BAME, LGBTQ+ and Disabled members.

You can find out more about them here:


We can’t wait to see you on one of our webinars.”
The Labour Training Team

I’m too ill and weak to even consider becoming an MP, and, as someone who also suffers from depression and anxiety, I am certainly not mentally strong enough. Despite the low opinion most of have our elected representatives, I think that in general they do work extremely hard. I’ve heard of some of them working 60 hours weeks. I certainly don’t blame Nadia Whittome for taking time off due to damage to her mental health caused by her parliamentary work. Of course, Alex Belfield and the rest of them waded in to accuse her of being a ‘snowflake whipper snapper’, but I genuinely think that really dedicated MPs must be extraordinarily tough in their own way, especially when it comes from the abuse the get from members of the public. And I think that as a woman of colour, Whittome probably got more than her fair share.

I highly suspicious of this, as it looks like Starmer and the Blairite bureaucracy are simply looking for suitably right-wing candidates with which they can pack the parliamentary party, which is already stuffed to bursting with the blackguards. They certainly wouldn’t want me. Not only do I support Jeremy Corbyn and reasonable criticism of Israel, I also want to see a return to genuine Labour values and polices – a restored, confident, dignified and powerful working class, a proper welfare state that does exactly what it was set up to do, nationalised utilities and a renationalised NHS which delivers healthcare to everyone free at the point of delivery. I also want workers’ control, or a proper share in management and proper, powerful trade unions and employment rights. I want an end to gig economy. And while I despise Black Lives Matter, I recognise that in general the Black community is poor and impoverished, and has been particularly hard hit by austerity. There are real problems with British Islam, which in my view are being covered up and hidden, but Muslims, as a rule, also suffer from the same lack of education and employment opportunities as the Black community. And yes, I’m not impressed by Tommy Robinson, the EDL or the rise in Islamophobia. And I am not impressed by Starmer and his failure to deal with the racists who bullied Diane Abbott and the other Black activists and MPs.

I also suspect I’m too socially conservative for some of the hip youngster now running the party. I’d very much like a return to proper, two-parent families, with fathers keeping an active presence looking after their children. There’s a great deal of evidence showing that children from this background do much better than those from single parent families. I am not blaming single mothers – far from it. I really recognise there are good reasons why some have broken away from the fathers of their children. But I think that family decline has had a terribly detrimental effect on British society.

I am also an ardent opponent of the trans ideology. I don’t hate transpeople, and realise that there are also good reasons why some feel their only recourse is to transition to being a member of the opposite sex. But I feel it has become a pernicious ideology that encourages the transition of troubled people, particularly young women and children, for whom it most definitely is not the answer, and that there is a danger from trans-identified males in women’s spaces. This makes me an odious transphobe in the eyes of many, although I firmly believe that the science and stats are on the side of gender critical feminists, those dubbed TERFs.

I’m therefore very definitely the wrong type of candidate, which the cowering Blairite Starmer definitely wouldn’t want as MP.

BBC Documentaries Next Week on the History and Prejudice against the Disabled

January 14, 2021

Next week the Beeb is showing two programmes, one on the history of disabled people and the other on the prejudice, discrimination and cruelty they experience. The first of these programmes is Silenced: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain, on BBC 2 on Tuesday, 19th January 2021, at 9.00 pm. The blurb for it on page 88 of the Radio Times runs

Writer, actor and presenter Cerrie Burnell tells the story of how disabled people have had to fight back following more than 100 years of being shut out of society, denied basic human rights and treated with fear and prejudice. The former CBeebies host, who was born without the lower part of her right arm, discovers how modern attitudes to disabled people were formed in Victorian Britain’s workhouses, and hears stories from the brave pioneers who have changed the lives of those affected forever.

There’s a bit more about the programme by Alison Graham on page 86:

Cerrie Burnell, who was born without the lower part of her right arm, reads from a newspaper story about parents’ complaints when she became a CBeebies presenter in 2009. She was, apparently, “scaring children” and will always be remembered as “the woman with one arm”.

Burnell carries that quiet anger throughout this powerful film looking at society’s treatment of disabled people throughout history.

It’s a litany of casual cruelty, misguided “kindness” and downright wickedness, as men, women and children were put, out of sight and often for decades, in institutions.

The following day, Wednesday 20th January 2021, there’s Targeted: the Truth about Disability Hate Crime, on the same channel, BBC 2, also at 9.00 pm. The blurb for this in the Radio Times on page 98. runs

Testimony from a handful of the nation’s 14 million disabled people reveals just how tough it is to live with a disability in 21st century Britain. Among those telling their stories are Hannah, a young mixed-race woman who has cerebral palsy and is clear about the fact that it is her disability, not her skin colour, that provokes discrimination. Andrea, who has dwarfism, says she is routinely treated with contempt and reveals how she was left with a fractured skull and being kicked in the head. Dan, who has autism and just wants to fit in, finds himself a social outcast and now suffers from severe depression having fallen prey to random violent attacks.

Radio 4 has also been running a ten part series on the history of the disabled for several weeks now, Disability: A New History. The 5th instalment, which is on next Sunday, 17th January 2021 at 2.45 pm, is entitled ‘Finding a Voice’. The blurb for it says

‘Peter White highlights the work of William Hay, an 18th-century MP born with spinal curvature.’

I’m mentioning these programmes, especially that on hate crime, because the Tories and New Labour have both been determined to demonise disabled people and find ways to throw them off benefits. The work capability examinations, devised in conjunction with American insurance fraudster Unum, are based on the assumption that a particular percentage of claims for disability are fake and that those making the claim are malingering. This has seen jobcentres falsify the evidence given by claimants in order to fulfil the number of claimants they are required to deny benefits. As for the violence experienced by the disabled, a friend of mine told me he had been abused several times while out with his wife, who had to use a wheelchair. He blamed one of the characters on Little Britain for the rise in prejudice. This was the disabled character, who gets up from his wheelchair to run around when his carer leaves him. I’m no fan of Little Britain, but I think a far greater cause of prejudice and hostility is the Tory. This consistently vilifies the disabled and other benefit claimants as scroungers and malingers, to the extent that the British public think 27 per cent of all claims for benefit are fraudulent, while the true figure is less than one per cent. Mike over at Vox Political has put up very many posts covering this topic, as well as the numerous deaths of people with severe disabilities, who were wrongfully and grotesquely thrown off the benefits they needed to survive. I hope this will also be covered in the documentaries. But as it’s the Beeb, it probably won’t.

‘I’ Report on Petition to End MPs’ Free Meals

October 27, 2020

Yesterday I put up a YouTube video by Carl Vernon, in which he criticised MPs for voting against free school meals for children while having their own meals subsidised in parliament’s restaurants. It seems that he wasn’t the only person incensed at this hypocrisy. Others are too. One of them, Portia Lawrie, has organised a petition calling for the subsidised meals to end. And nearly 900,000 people have signed it.

Yesterday’s I for 26th October 2020 carried an article about it by Sam Hall, entitled ‘Petition calls for end to MPs ‘free lunches”. This runs

More than 865,000 people have signed a petition demanding an end to “subsidized” meals for MPs after Parliament voted against extending free school meals for underprivileged children.

MPs are currently allowed to eat and drink in restaurants and bars on the parliamentary estate which, while not directly subsidized, run at a loss.

This means that public money is effectively spent subsidizing the overall catering operation.

The petition, started by Portia Lawrie, stated: “MPs have voted against extending free school meals into the holidays for the poorest children in teh UK in the middle of a pandemic.

“They should under no circumstances benefit from free subsidized meals out of public funds themselves.”

The public are furious, and the longer Johnson and his gang of crooks and murders continue to deny hungry children free meals, that anger will only increase. If the Tories aren’t careful, this could become another expenses scandal. That, however, affected all MPs.

This will just affect the Tories. No wonder they’re trying to deflect blame and criticism with mendacious accusations of abuse and racism.

Alex Belfield Defending Boris to Attack BBC

September 21, 2020

Alex Belfield is an internet radio host and Youtuber. He’s a ragin Conservative, and so a large number of his videos are attacks on left-wing broadcasters and critics of the government, like Owen Jones, James O’Brien and Piers Morgan. He has also attacked Sadiq Khan, immigration, especially the asylum-seekers floating over on flimsy craft from Calais, and the recent moves to expand diversity in broadcasting. This includes Diversity’s dance routine about Black Lives Matter the Saturday before last on Britain’s Got Talent. Another frequent target of his attacks in the BBC, and at the weekend he decided to join the Conservative papers trying to get sympathy for Boris Johnson.

According to an article in Saturday’s Times, BoJob has been whining about how hard it is for him on £150,000. Not only has he been through a messy divorce, but he’s also trying to support four of his six children. I thought he himself didn’t know how many children he had. And how is it he’s only supporting four, not all of them? The article claims he’s overburdened – which is also strange. I’ve put up a piece on Russian gulag slang terms which could describe him. One of them is mankirovant, which means ‘shirker’. Because he seems to be off on his hols whenever it suits, unlike other Prime Ministers. Unlike other PMs, he also dodges working at weekends and turning up at Cobra meetings. He has, apparently, taken a cut in income and, oh, the hardship!, has to buy his own food.

Mike has put up a piece in which he, and the folks on Twitter, tear into our clown PM and give him all the sympathy he deserves: which is precisely zero. They point out that Boris’ salary is still five times more than the median wage and that people on ESA are, if they’re over 25, on less £4,000 a year. By any standard, Boris is still filthy rich.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/09/19/poorboris-uk-citizens-give-what-sympathy-they-can-to-pm-complaining-about-money/

Belfield crawled out from under whichever Tory rock he hides under to try and defend Boris. Ah, but he has to pay all the expenses required of him now that he is prime minister. Mike points out that he has a fair few those paid by the state. His current residence, No. 10, is provided by the state gratis. Also, Boris wanted the job. This isn’t like the Roman Empire, where the rich were forced to perform ‘liturgy’. This was a list held by the local authorities of everyone, who could afford to do some kind of public service to the state. This went from acting as a kind of clerk recording and filing people’s tax returns, to membership of the ordo or local council. If you were saddled with that, it meant that you had to make whatever shortfall there was between public expenditure and tax revenue up out of your own money. The pagan Roman emperors used it as one of the punishments they inflicted on Christians, apart from torturing them to death in the arena. Neither the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Sadiq Khan or anyone else suddenly leapt upon Boris and dragged him off to be prime minister. No-one forced him to start plotting to be head of the Tory party. He wasn’t corrupted by Cassius, as Brutus was in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. And neither Cameron or Gove, the two Boris betrayed, were Julius Caesar. Although both of them, like Boris, thought they should ‘bestride the earth like a colossus’.

Boris chose the job himself. But people on ESA and low incomes don’t choose them. They’ve had them foisted upon them by exploitative employers and a government determined to make ordinary, working people an impoverished, cowed, an easily disposable workforce.

As for the expense of having a nanny and providing for his children, well, the Tories, as Mike and his peeps have pointed out, stopped child benefit after two sprogs. The argument from the right for a long time has been that people should only have children they can afford to support. Not bad advice, actually. But it has led to the Tories and New Labour demonising those they consider as bad parents. Like Gordon Brown ranting about how ‘feckless’ they were. In the words of the old adage, ‘if you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em’. But this was all right when applied to the hoi polloi. But when it hits the upper classes, somehow we’re expected to cry tears over them.

Belfield also tried defending Boris by pointing out that his salary was much less than those in many industries, including entertainment and television. And then, almost predictably, he started attacking the Beeb for the inflated pay it awards presenters like Gary Linaker. Linaker’s another of Belfield’s bete noirs. Linaker has made various left-wing remarks on Twitter and has said he’ll take into his house some of the asylum seekers coming across from France. Which has sent Tories like Belfield into a fearful bate, as Molesworth used to sa.

Now the pay earned by prime ministers is lower than many of those in industry. It always has been. I can remember under Thatcher or Major there were various Tory MPs whining about how much they earned. They demanded more, much more, to boost their pay up to that of private businessmen and senior managers. The argument was that they should be paid this money, as otherwise talented professionals would go into business instead, where their talents would be properly remunerated.

It’s another argument that didn’t go down well, not least because however poorly MPs are paid, they’re still paid far more than ordinary peeps. And for a long time they weren’t paid. Payment of MPs was a 19th century reform. Indeed, it was one of the six demanded by the Chartists. Many of the Conservatives responded by giving the money to charity. I think part of the reason politicians’ pay has remained comparatively low for so long is the ethos of public service. You are meant to want to enter politics because you are serious about serving your country and its great people. You are not meant to do so because you see it as a lucrative source of income. It’s an attitude that comes ultimately from the Stoic philosophers of the ancient world and Christian theologians like St. Augustine. It became the ethos of the public schools in the 19th century through the reforms of Arnold Bennet at Rugby. Boris therefore deserves no sympathy on that score.

Now I actually do agree with Belfield that some presenters at the Beeb are grossly overpaid. But it’s not just presenters. Private Eye has run story after story in their media section reporting how production staff and the ordinary journos in the news department, who actually do the hard work of putting programmes and news reports together, have been the victims of mass sackings and cut budgerts. At the same time, executive pay has increased and the number of managers with various non-jobs have proliferated. There is, apparently, someone presiding over a department with title ‘Just Do It!’ These departments are entangled and seem to overlap, much like the Nazi administrative system. Yes, I know, another gratuitous example of Godwin’s Law. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

The problem is, it’s not just the Beeb. They’re just following in the tracks of business elsewhere. Here ordinary workers have been massively laid off, forced to take pay cuts and freezes, while senior executives have seen their pay bloated astronomically. The Beeb is no different from them.

And watch carefully: Belfield isn’t telling you how much leading journos and broadcasters are paid elsewhere. Like in the media empire belonging to a certain R. Murdoch, now resident in America.

The argument used by presenters like John Humphries, for example, is that they are paid what they are worth. The argument goes that if the Beeb doesn’t pay them what they want, they can go and take their talent elsewhere, and the Beeb’s competitors will. Or at least, that’s how I understand it.

But you aren’t being told how much the presenters over at Sky are on. Or indeed, what kind of pay Murdoch and his senior staff at News International trouser. And you won’t, because that could be more than a mite embarrassing. Especially as Murdoch’s British operation is registered offshore in order to avoid paying British corporation tax.

But Murdoch, and Belfield are attacking the Beeb because the Tories hate the idea of state broadcasting and its mandated ethos of impartiality. Mind you, the rampant shilling by the Corporation on behalf of the Tories and their savage, flagrantly biased attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour showed that they don’t too. The Tories have also been taking Murdoch’s coin in corporate donations. From Thatcher onwards, right-wing governments – and that includes New Labour – signed a Faustian pact with Murdoch. They gave him larger and larger shares of British media and allowed him to dictate policy, in return for which Murdoch gave them publicity in his sordid empire of ordure.

That’s the real reason Belfield’s attacking the BBC.

Murdoch wants to get rid of state-funded competition and step in himself as the major broadcaster. And if he does so, you can expect nothing except propaganda and lies, which will we keep you poor and the elite even more obscenely rich.

Just like Boris Johnson and the Tories, despite his moans of poverty.

Private Eye: Despite Denials, Dawn Butler Did Conspire Against Corbyn

February 5, 2020

This fortnight’s Private Eye for 7th – 20th February 2020 has a piece about Dawn Butler, the Shadow Equalities Minister, who is one of the candidates for the Labour Party deputy leadership. Butler has been claiming very loudly that she never took part in any coup to unseat Jeremy Corbyn, in a bid to gain support from the party’s left. Or rather, to old Labour types like myself, the real Labour centre and mainstream. However, Private Eye has contradicted this and said that it simply isn’t true. The article on page 9 runs

Labour politicians who thought they had seen it all have been left gasping in goggle-eyed astonishment at the shameless brass neck of “Red” Dawn Butler. She is prepared to say or do anything in her quest for party’s deputy leadership.

Butler has decided the route to victory lies in feeding the belief of left-wing members that Corbyn would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling MPs. “We have some real selfish MPs,” she said as she outlined her plan colleagues’ treachery at the deputy leadership hustings at the end of January. After “Jeremy” was elected as leader, they thought it was OK to “join a coup” and deselect him. They “lost us” the 2017 election.

Butler’s own loyalty stood in stark contrast to their backstabbing. “I supported Jeremy the first time and I supported him the second time but I was more angry the second time because it should never have happened.”

The Eye apologises for baffling readers with the arcane jargon of academia, but Butler was talking what political scientists call “total bollocks”. As a matter of record, leading the MPs who resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet was the “False” Dawn herself. Her colleagues have also noted the effectiveness of Butler’s fight against what she described in the Mirror on 24 January as the “disgrace” of poverty in “one of the wealthiest countries in the world.”

She almost certainly has no intention of allowing poverty to disgrace her. The expenses scandal revealed that, even though she was a London MP and did not appear to need a publicly funded second home, she still had one house in Wembley and another in Stratford, and claimed for a jacuzzi-style bath to be fitted. “Labour must put aspiration at the heart of the class struggle,” Butler told the Mirror. This contest is revealing that nothing is closer to Butler’s heart than her aspirations for herself.

Now I assume this is all correct, but it should be noted that over the past five years or so that Corbyn has been head of the party, Private Eye has been consistently attacking him. He’s head of the Labour Party, so it’s natural that the magazine would attack him simply as a matter of course, same as it would the other political leaders. However, part of the Eye’s campaign against him was pushing the anti-Semitism smears against both himself and his supporters. The Eye was founded by former public schoolboys, and is still very much establishment. Possibly far more so now than when it started out, as it did initially support the Labour party. Or at least right up until the time the Tories fell and they entered government. The Eye showed that it feared and hated Corbyn as someone who took socialism and working class aspirations and needs seriously, as well as his internationalism and very open support for the Palestinians. This means that it will definitely have a bias against Butler, at least now that she is positioning herself as from the Party’s Left. Butler also has a point that part of the reason Corbyn never succeeded in taking Number 10 was because he was always being undermined by plotting and intrigue from the Blairite right, even if she was a part of it at the time.

I’ve posted up a piece already, split into two parts, criticising her plans for Black and Asian only shortlists and her determination to fight misogyny. Praiseworthy as these ideals are, in the current political climate there are real questions and drawbacks to both. If they aren’t carefully handled, they could increase and create new forms of racism and sexism, rather than combat them.

I therefore leave it up to the reader to decide for him- or herself whether Private Eye is right about her, and whether they are publishing this as a genuine exposure of her mendacity, duplicity and greed. Or whether they’re simply doing it because they want to discredit her as someone now claiming to represent the Labour left.

 

The Labour Party, Affirmative Action and the Problem of Liberal Prejudice, Part 2: Sexism, Misogyny and Misandry

February 4, 2020

In the first part of this post, I discussed some of the problems that may arise from all-Black and Asian election shortlists, as suggested by one of the candidates at the recent Labour party deputy leadership hustings in Bristol. In this part I wish to examine some of the problems of the same candidate’s declaration that they were determined to fight misogyny. I am certainly not denying that sexism exists in society, and that women are very far from being equal. I realise that many women have struggled and continue to struggle to make themselves accepted in male-dominated professions and workplaces. I realise that there are many jobs not considered suitable for women. And I also realise that despite some women managing to break the ‘glass ceiling’ and reach the very heights of management, there are still very few female managing directors or chairs of companies. However, the situation is changing in some areas, and this is not reflected in the debate about sexism, sexual harassment or gender and violence, at least not at the level of the popular press.

One of the issues is education. Since the 1990s boys have been falling behind girls at school and I gather that the majority of university students are also women. I know very well that women have had to struggle to get to this point. When I was growing up in the 1980s I remember reading a number of articles about brain sex stating that women would never be equal with men in certain subjects, like maths and science. But this has been shown to be false too. There are a number of factors affecting boys’ performance. One is the importance of sport, sex and violence over ‘book-larnin”, so that one academic commenting on the issue in the 1990s said that boys weren’t interested in the ‘3 Rs’ as the ‘3 Fs’ – football, fighting and, well, you can guess. Another factor may be that teaching is now very much a female-dominated profession, to the point where some schools have been described as ‘man deserts’ because of the lack or total absence of male teachers.

Other factors are class and those jobs traditionally viewed as masculine. Traditional working class male jobs, like mining, emphasised strength rather than academic performance. It may well be the case that, among some working class boys, academic performance is discouraged as effeminate and ‘poofy’. But class has also been a factor. A friend of mine grew up in rural Suffolk and went to the local comprehensive school. As he tells it, it had been a grammar school and still retained a very snobbish class ethos. The school ran classes in its sixth form to prepare pupils for going to university. My friend is highly intelligent, and he told me that despite achieving very good grades, the school never put him in this class. He came from a very working class background, and the school did not consider working class children to be suitable for university. And I’m afraid that there are some teachers that are very sexist in their attitudes to the children in their charge. I’ve heard horror stories decades ago of headmasters, who set up two classes for the bright and less bright. All the boys were in the first, and all the girls in the second. At the same time, I’ve come across two teachers in my time in school, who in my experience did not like boys and treated them worse than the girls. One was female, one was male.

These are issues that need to be examined if boys’ academic performance is to be improved. But there is a problem whether a political and social culture, that has and is making great effort to improve girls’ and women’s academic performance, is also able to to devote the same kind of effort and energy to boys. If boys also need special treatment to help them achieve their potential, then some feminists may resent that as an attack on the schemes that have helped women to make such great strides in achieving theirs.

I’m sure that when the candidate spoke about misogyny, she meant instances of clear hostility and aggression to women. Like discrimination, sexual harassment, abuse or violence specifically towards women. Domestic violence, and the stuff that Harvey Weinstein has been accused of. However, what makes this problematic is the way some feminists have extended it to include even trivial gestures, which many people of both sexes wouldn’t consider aggressive or demeaning. For example, one feminist academic has claimed that women’s self-confidence is knocked through ‘micro-aggressions’ such as calling them ‘love’. This was heavily criticised in the press, with some male writers pondering whether they were being treated with aggression and contempt when women called them ‘love’. Last week an expert from the Chartered Institute of Management appeared on Sky, I believe, and declared that management should stop men talking about sport in the workplace, as this excluded women and led to other laddish behaviours, like boasting of sexual conquests. This was also attacked by anti-feminist bloggers and vloggers like Sargon. Benjamin stated that he’d worked in offices, that were overwhelmingly female and where the topics of office conversation were typically female: makeup and men. Which obviously left him isolated. I’ve also worked in offices where the staff were overwhelmingly female, some of whom were extremely crude. In my first job, one of the girls one day told the rest of the office about how she had been to see a male stripper the night before. I’ve no doubt that if the situation was reversed, feminists, if not ordinary women, would find that unacceptable. But is there now a double-standard in that talk of such excursions is acceptable, if the strippers are men?

Ditto with sexual harassment. This is always discussed as something that men do to women, never the other way round. A few years ago there was a scandal about MPs groping parliamentary staff. This focused very much on women, who were leading the protest. But the Beeb report, as far as I can remember, also mentioned that half the victims were men. Nothing then was said about how they were affected or what steps were being taken to safeguard them. Did that mean that men’s safety in this regard was not as important as women’s? Again, the other year there was a report about the prevalence of sexual abuse and harassment at universities. One report in the I said that 75 per cent of women students had experienced it. It also said that 25 per cent of men had also. The article then described how universities were trying to tackle it by laying on courses educating students about the issue. But the rest of the article only discussed it as a problem that affected women. The men were mentioned and forgotten.

Domestic violence is also an issue that is framed almost exclusively as something that men inflict on women. I’m very much aware that throughout history, this has been very much the case. However, a friend of mine, who is a former nurse, told me that when he was being trained, they were told that both sexes were sent to the hospital in equal numbers by the partners. Men were, however, much more likely to kill their wives. I certainly do not mean here, to suggest anything to prevent vulnerable women from being given the help and protection they need against violent and dangerous men. The Tories have left such women increasingly vulnerable through cuts to women’s refuges and centres. While it is recognised that men also suffer from domestic abuse from women, you don’t hear that women hospitalise as many men as the other way around. Nor have I come across many articles talking primarily about men as victims of female violence. In fact, I can’t think of one. But I’ve also come across some extremely foul-tempered, violent women. I’ve no doubt discussion of the issue is constrained by some men feeling emasculated by talking about it. No man really wants others to think him ‘pussy-whipped’. And there is the attitude that men should just be a man about it all, and take it. At the same time, I think some women and feminists may also have qualms about discussing gendered violence towards men with the same kind of concern that’s given to women in case in detracted from the campaigns to end violence against women. But clearly such violence exists, and so needs to be tackled.

A campaign to tackle genuine misogyny is entirely praiseworthy. But it overlooks the way men can be similarly affected, and a narrow focus solely on women threatens to create new forms of sexism, rather than combat it. 

 

 

The Beeb’s Biased Reporting of NHS Privatisation

January 2, 2020

The Corporation’s General Right-wing Bias

The BBC is infamous for its flagrant right-wing bias. Writers and experts like Barry and Savile Kushner in their Who Needs the Cuts, academics at the media research centres of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cardiff Universities, and ordinary left-wing bloggers like Mike and Zelo Street have pointed out time and again that the corporation massively prefers to have as commenters and guests on its show Conservative MPs and spokespeople for the financial sector on its news and political comment programmes, rather than Labour MPs and activists and trade unionists. The Corporation relentless pushed the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. But it has also promoted the privatisation of the NHS too through its biased reporting.

Biased Towards NHS Privatisation

Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis’ book on the privatisation of the NHS, NHS – SOS, has a chapter by Oliver Huitson, ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’, discussing the biased reporting of the NHS’s privatisation by the media in general. Here, however, I will just confine myself to describing the Corporation’s role. The Beeb was frequently silent and did not report vital pieces of information about successive privatisations, such as the involvement of private healthcare companies in demanding them and conflicts of interest. On occasion, this bias was actually worse than right-wing rags like the Daily Mail. Although these ardently supported the NHS’ privatisation, they frequently reported these cases while the Beeb did not. When the moves towards privatisation were reported, they were often given a positive spin. For example, the establishment of the Community Care Groups, groups of doctors who are supposed to commission medical services from the private sector as well as from within the NHS, and which are legally allowed to raise money from the private sector, were positively described by the Corporation as ‘giving doctors more control’.

Lack of Coverage of Private Healthcare Companies Role in Privatisation

David Cameron and Andrew Lansley did not include Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill in the Tories’ 2010 manifesto, because they didn’t believe they’d win the election if they did. But in all the two years of debate about the bill, the Beeb only twice reported doubts about the bill’s democratic mandate. (p.152). In October 2010, Mark Britnell was invited to join Cameron’s ‘kitchen cabinet’. Britnell had worked with the Labour government and was a former head of commissioning for the NHS. But he was also former head of health for the accountancy firm, KPMG, which profits greatly from government privatisation and outsourcing. He declared that the NHS would be shown ‘no mercy’ and would become a ‘state insurance provider, not a state deliverer’. But the BBC decided not to report all this until four days after others had broken the story. And when they did, it was only to explain a comment by Nick Clegg about how people are confused when they hear politicians stating how much they love the NHS while at the same time demanding its privatisation. (pp.153-4).

On 21 November 2011 Channel 4 News reported that they had obtained a document which showed clearly that GP commissioning was intended to create a market for private corporations to come in and take over NHS services. But This was only reported by the Groaniad and the Torygraph. The rest of the media, including the Beeb, ignored it. (pp. 156-7).

Lansley was also revealed to have received donations from Andrew Nash, chairman of Care UK, another private healthcare firm hoping to profit from NHS privatisation. But this also was not reported by the Corporation. (pp. 157-8).

In January 2011 the Mirror reported that the Tories had been given over £750,000 from donors with major connections to private healthcare  interests since David Cameron had become their chief in 2005. But this was also not mentioned by the Beeb. (pp. 158).

The Mirror also found that 40 members of the House of Lords had interests in NHS privatisation, while the Social Investigations blog suggested that it might be as high as 142. The BBC, along with several papers, did not mention this. (pp. 158-9).

Sonia Poulton, a writer for the Heil, stated on her blog that 31 Lords and 18 MPs have very lucrative interests in the health industry. But this was also ignored by the Beeb, along with the rest of the media with the exception of the Guardian. (p. 159).

The Tory MP, Nick de Bois, was a fervent support of the Tories’ NHS privatisation. He is a majority shareholder in Rapier Design Group, which purchased Hampton Medical Conferences, a number of whose clients were ‘partners’ in the National Association of Primary Care, another group lobbying the Tories for NHS privatisation. This was also not reported by the Beeb. (pp. 159-60).

The Beeb also chose not to report how Lord Carter of Coles, the chair of the Co-operation and Competition Panel charged with ensuring fair access to the NHS for private healthcare companies, was also receiving £799,000 per year as chairman of McKesson Information Solutions, part of the massive American McKesson healthcare company. (p. 160).

There were other links between politicos, think tanks, lobby groups and private healthcare companies. The health regulator, Monitor, is dominated by staff from McKinsey and KPMG. But this also isn’t mentioned by the press. (pp. 160-1).

Beeb Falsely Presents Pro-Privatisation Think Tanks as ‘Independent

The BBC, along with much of the rest of the media, have also been responsible for misrepresenting spokespeople for pro-privatisation lobby groups as disinterested experts, and the organisations for which they speak as just independent think tanks. This was how the Beeb described 2020health.org, whose chief executive, Julia Manning, was twice invited onto the air to discuss the NHS, and an entire article was given over to one of her wretched organisation’s reports. However, SpinWatch reported that its chairman, former Tory minister Tom Sackville, was also CEO of the International Federation of Health Plans, representing of 100 private health insurance companies. Its advisory council includes representatives of AstraZeneca, NM Rothschild, the National Pharmaceutical Association, Nuffield private hospital group, and the Independent Healthcare Advisory Services. (p. 162).

Another lobby group whose deputy director, Nick Seddon, and other employees were invited onto the Beeb to discuss the proposals was Reform. Seddon was head of communications at Circle, the first private healthcare company to take over an NHS hospital. Seddon’s replacement at Circle was Christina Lineen, a former aide to Andrew Lansley. None of this was reported by the Beeb. Their corporate partners included companies like Citigroup, KPMG, GlaxoSmithKline and Serco. Huitson states ‘Through Seddon’s and other Reform Staffs’ appearances, the BBC may have facilitated private sector lobbying on a publicly funded platform without making relevant interests known’. (163).

Beeb Did Not Cover Protests and Opposition to Bill

Pages 164-5 also discusses the Beeb’s refusal, with few exceptions, to interview critics of Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill, the rightwing bias of panels discussing it and how the Beeb did not cover protests against it or its discussion in parliament. Huitson writes

At the BBC opportunities were frequently missed to provide expert opposition to the bill on a consistent basis. the RCGP’s Clare Gerada was largely the exception to this rule. Many of the most well-known and authoritative critics of the bill – the likes of professors Allyson Pollock or Colin Leys, doctors Jacky Davis and Wendy Savage from Keep Our NHS Public – never appeared on the BBC to discuss the plans. Davis recalls being invited to appear on the BBC a number of times but the item was cancelled on every occasion. ‘Balance’ is supposedly one of the BBC’s primary objectives yet appearing on the Today programme of 1 February 2012 to discuss the bill, for instance, were Shirley Williams (who voted in favour of the bill, however reluctantly), Nick Seddon of ‘independent’ Reform (pro-Bill), Steve Field (pro-Bill) and Chris Ham (pro-Bill). It’s difficult to see how that is not a breach of BBC guidelines and a disservice to the public. One of the fundamental duties of an open media is to ensure that coverage is not skewed towards those with the deepest pockets. And on that issue the media often performed poorly.

Further criticism of the BBC stems from its curious lack of NHS coverage during the climactic final month before the bill was passed in the House of Lords on 19 March. One such complaint came from blogger and Oxford Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology Dorothy Bishop, who wrote to the BBC to ask why it had failed to cover a number of NHS stories in March, including an anti-bill petition that had been brought to the House by Lord Owen, carrying 486,000 signatures of support. In reply, the BBC confirmed that the bill had been mentioned on the Today programme in March prior to the bill’s passing, though just once. Bishop replied:’So, if I have understood this right, during March, the Today programme covered the story once, in an early two-minute slot, before the bill was passed. Other items that morning included four minutes on a French theme park based on Napoleon, six minutes on international bagpipe day and eight minutes on Jubilee celebrations.’

Other BBC omissions include Andrew Lansley being heckled by angry medical staff at a hospital in Hampstead, as reported by both the Mail and Sky News. On 17 March a peaceful anti-bill march took place in central London. Those out protesting for their national health service found themselves kettled by riot police despite being one of the most harmless-looking crowds you’re ever likely to see. The protest and the shameful police response were completely ignored by the media, except for a brief mention on a Guardian blog. On social media numerous examples have been reported of protests and actions opposing the bill that were entirely absent from national coverage.

Then, on 19 March, the day of the final vote on the bill, the BBC ran not a single article on the event, despite this being one of the most bitterly opposed pieces of legislation in recent history – it was as if the vote was not taking place. The next day, with the bill passed, they ran a full seven articles on the story. Three days after the bill passed, Radio 4 broadcast The Report: ‘Simon Cox asks: why is NHS reform mired in controversy?’ Why this was not broadcast before the Lords’ vote is a mystery. 

When the Bill was passed, the bill scrolling across the BBC News’ screen ran ‘Bill which gives power to GPs passes’. (166). Huitson remarks that when the Beeb and the other news networks reported that the Bill gave power to GPs and allowed a greater role for the private sector, it was little more than regurgitating government press releases. (p. 168).

Beeb Bias Problem Due to Corporation’s Importance and Domination of Broadcast News

Huitson also comments on the specific failure of the Beeb to provide adequate coverage of NHS privatisation in its role as one of the great British public institutions, the dominant role it has in British news reporting. On pages 169-70 he writes

Campaigners may not expect more from the Sun but they certainly do from the BBC, given its status as an impartial public service broadcaster whose news gathering is supported directly by licence fee payers. The BBC accounts for 70 per cent of news consumption on television. Further, the BBC accounts for 40 per cent of online news read by the public, three times that of its closes competitor, the Mail. Quite simply, the BBC dominates UK news. The weight given to the BBC here is not purely down to its dominance, however, but also because, along with the NHS, the BBC remains one of our great public institutions, an entity that is supposedly above commercial pressures. Many of the stories ignored by the BBC were covered by the for-profit, right-wing press, as well as the Guardian and Channel 4, so the concern is not that the organisation failed to ‘campaign’ for the NHS, but that it failed to report facts that other outlets found newsworthy.

The BBC’#s archive of TV and radio coverage is neither available for the public to research nor technically practical to research, but there are a number of reasons for confidence that their online content is highly indicative of their broader output. First, BBC online is a fully integrated part of the main newsroom rather than a separate operation. Consequently, TV and radio coverage that can be examined is largely indistinguishable from the related online content, as demonstrated in the examples given above. During the debate of Lansley’s bill, the BBC TV and radio were both subject to multiple complaints, the figures for which the BBC has declined to release.

Beeb’s Reporting of NHS Privatisation as Biased as Coverage of Miners’ Strike

He also compares the Beeb’s coverage of the bill, along with that of the rest of the media, to its similarly biased reporting of the miners’ strike.

The overall media coverage of the health bill brings to mind a quote from BBC radio correspondent Nicholas Jones, on the BBC’s coverage of the miners’ strike: ‘stories that gave prominence to the position of the National Union of Miners could simply be omitted, shortened or submerged into another report.’ (pp. 172-3).

Conclusion

The Beeb does produce some excellent programmes. I really enjoyed last night’s Dr. Who, for example. But the right-wing bias of its news reporting is now so extreme that in many cases it is fair to say that it is now a propaganda outlet for the Tory party and big business. It’s utterly indefensible, and in my view it will only be reformed if and when the newsroom and its managers are sacked in its entirety. In the meantime, Boris and the rest of the Tories are clamouring for its privatisation. Godfrey Bloom, one of the more prominent Kippers, has also put up a post or two in the past couple of days demanding precisely that.

If the Beeb was genuinely impartial, it would have defenders on the Left. But it is rapidly losing them thanks to its bias. And to the Tories, that’s also going to be a plus.

Thanks to the Beeb’s own Tory bias, it’s going to find it very hard to combat their privatisation.

And in the meantime they will have helped destroy the most valued of British institutions, the NHS, and free, universal healthcare to Britain’s citizens.