Posts Tagged ‘Orgreave’

BBC Reluctantly Admits Lying about Anti-War Protest

September 12, 2016

Mike also put up today a piece from EvolvePolitics, which reports that the BBC on its Feedback page on its website, has admitted misleading the public about the anti-war demonstration it claimed in December last year had been staged outside Labour MP Stella Creasy’s home. The protests were aimed against MPs supporting further airstrikes against Syria. The Beeb’s report claimed that the protesters were ‘far left’, and the demonstration was bullying and intimidatory. Neither of these details were true. The protest was a peaceful vigil. It was not held outside the Walthamstow MP’s home, but her constituency office at a time when no-one was there. The Beeb’s retraction of the distorted report states that it ultimately came from a single Facebook post, that was picked up by a number of other social media commenters and reputable news sources, including the Independent and the Guardian. A few days later, the Beeb issued a partial correction, which changed the location of the story, but still retained the falsehood about the mood of the protesters.

Mike states

So the BBC had decided to run with the inaccuracy because other “reputable” news outlets had done so – and even misled the shadow chancellor into believing the lie.

It had allowed listeners to go on believing the lie that the demonstration was violent and intimidating, even after broadcasting a correction that only revised the location of the event – and not the mood.

Most damning of all is the fact that the full correction appeared – on a little-visited feedback page – on July 8 this year, and has only just been picked up (by the EvolvePolitics site – I had no idea this BBC page even existed).

It seems clear the BBC is quite happy to mislead the public in order to help the Conservative Government. This is not the behaviour of a reputable news outlet.

My advice: Stick to social media sites like Vox Political. We may not always have the full facts but we don’t actively lie to you.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/09/11/post-truth-bbc-quietly-admits-lying-about-anti-war-demonstration-over-syria/

Mike’s statement that the BBC is quite willing to mislead the public to support the Tory government should no longer be a surprise to anyone. A few years ago Mike’s blog, along with, I think, Johnny Void and the Angry Yorkshireman, reported that Scots academics at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities had found that there was a pronounced right-wing bias at the Beeb. They found that the Corporation was something like three times more likely to interview Conservative politicians and businessmen than Labour MPs and trade unionists. My feeling is that the Beeb sees itself as part of the establishment, and interprets its duty as the state broadcaster to produce programming, or at least news reporting, that broadly supports the status quo. Its managers and senior staff come from the same social class as those in industry and the civil service, and many of its journalists and programme makers are part of the same social circle as the Conservative leadership. At least they were during David Cameron’s tenure at No. 10 with the Chipping Norton set. I don’t believe things have changed since Theresa May took over.

I also found it interesting that the Beeb should partly try to excuse itself by stating that it came from other reputable news sources, explicitly naming the Independent and the Guardian. This looks like the Beeb is trying to head off any claims of Conservative bias by citing two supposedly liberal papers. Except when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn, they’re not. Both papers, like the rest of the press, are strongly biased against him. Moreover, there have been reviews of books in Lobster, which have shown that the so-called left-wing press in Britain actually isn’t terribly left-wing at all. In the 1990s, the Guardian regularly used to appear in Private Eye’s ‘Street of Shame’ column for the way it promoted various brutal dictatorships, from Nigeria to Indonesia, praising them as excellent places to do business while ignoring these nation’s appalling human rights records. Some of the articles written in praise of these countries were straightforward PR pieces written by companies specially set up to promote them abroad.

And the excuse that others were following the same line really doesn’t excuse the BBC. Newspapers and the news media are supposed to check their stories. There are even specialist media organisation in America which do so. The Beeb, as the state broadcaster, surely should have had the sense and the resources to check that story as well. But it didn’t. This shows that either the Beeb was simply being lazy, or that the repeated purges of its journalism and newsgathering staff in favour of cutting costs, and boosting the salaries and expanding the jobs available in senior management, has had a detrimental effect on the Corporation’s ability to provide reliable news. Which is exactly what Private Eye has been saying every time more redundancies have been announced at the Beeb of the people, who actually make programmes and produce the news.

The BBC isn’t the sole culprit in this regard. The newspapers have also been shedding large numbers of journalists in order to remain afloat, and give their senior executives, proprietors and shareholders the bloated salaries and dividends they’re accustomed to expect. And several times their journos have been similarly caught out using entirely spurious reports on Wikipedia, posted as pranks, as their sources. For example, when Ronnie Hazlehurst, the composer of a number of well-remembered signature tunes for the BBC, such as that for 80 comedy series To the Manor Born, passed away a few years ago, someone altered his Wikipedia page so that it read that he had composed one of the Spice Girls’ hits. He hadn’t, as presumably any one of the Girls’ fans could have told them. But that didn’t stop the journo, and others in the rest of the press, repeating the story. They were also caught out during the World Cup one year, when someone altered the entry for one of the football teams from the Greek islands. This claimed that its supporters had a special name for themselves, wore discarded shoes on their heads, and had a song about a potato. All rubbish, but the journos decided it had to be true, ’cause it was on Wikipedia. Now it seems that Facebook is being used in the same way for journalists too stressed or too lazy to check their facts.

Of course, the other possibility is that they didn’t bother checking the details, and dragged their heels about correcting the statement that the protesters were out to threaten and intimidate, because the Facebook story told them exactly what they wanted to hear. All the prejudice about peace protesters and ‘hard left’ trade unionists – like the miners at Orgreave colliery, presumably – being violent thugs came flooding back, just like they had from Fleet Street during the 1980s. One of the daftest stories to come out about the peace movement then was a report that the Greenham Common women had managed to knock ‘Tarzan’ Heseltine to the ground, when he visited the base. Heseltine’s a big fellow – 6’3″, and so not easy to deck. He did fall over, but even he admitted that it was an accident. I think he fell over a guy rope or something. But whatever was the cause, he wasn’t pushed, shoved, punched, knocked or anything else. But Fleet Street published the story, ’cause as radical protesters, clearly the Greenham women had to be pathologically violent. Even when they said they weren’t, and gave interviews saying that they didn’t want men at the camp because they were afraid that any men present would start a violent confrontation.

As for hiding the correction on an obscure webpage, this seems to be part of common journalistic practice. Whenever a newspaper or magazine is forced to make a correction, it’s always tucked away in an obscure corner of the publication. The Beeb in this instance is no different. But their does seem to be a change of policy involved. I recall several previous instances, where the regulatory authorities had ruled that one of the Beeb’s programmes had misled the public. The ruling was announced on television or the radio itself. I can remember hearing such rulings on the 7.15 pm slot, or thereabouts, just after The Archers on the radio. For television, they used to issue the notifications of such rulings on Sunday evening just after Points of View and before Songs of Praise. This is a time slot when there would be relatively few people watching, but it’s still not as obscure as a very obscure webpage. Perhaps this is the new way the Beeb hopes to bury the news when its caught bending the facts.

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Vox Political: Inquiry Demanded into Smears by Police and Courts of Orgreave Miners

September 12, 2016

Mike has also put a report that tomorrow, a delegation from the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign will meet with the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, to demand an inquiry into the wrongful arrest of 95 miners at the colliery during the Miner’s Strike, the construction of a false narrative about them, and the presentation of this false narrative to the media, which then uncritically accepted it. These allegations are based on previously unseen documents which show that there was collusion between the police and the courts in the attack on the miners at the Orgreave during the strike in 1984.

Mike states that there is clear prima facie evidence that there was undue political interference in the police and the courts. In light of the ongoing investigation into the way the police and the government doctored the evidence in the Hillsborough tragedy, Mike states that it seems to him that an inquiry must be launched. He wonders, however, how the Tories will try to slither out of it.

Inquiry demanded after Downing Street ‘used police and courts to smear Orgreave miners’

There is in my mind absolutely no question whatsoever that the miners’ campaign is exactly right. There’s abundant evidence about the way the media deliberately misled the public about Arthur Scargill and the Miners’ Strike, and Mike and numerous commenters on this blog have frequently remarked on the way the BBC edited footage of the violence at the colliery to show the police being attacked by miners, when the reality was the other way around.

I also went to a meeting in Bristol of the Fabian Society, in which the guest speaker was a member of the NUJ. She was discussing the threat posed by the increasing right-wing media bias and the concentration of the press and media in the hands of a very small number of magnates. The bias against the Miner’s Strike was one example of this, and she described the way Conservative politicians and officials moved around the country to coordinate and direct the attacks on the miners.

Seumas Milne, a former advisor of Jeremy Corbyn, has also written a history of the Miners’ Strike attacking the campaign against the NUM. I wonder if this is one of the real reasons Private Eye has also been running stories attacking him as part of their campaign against Corbyn. After all, a Prime Minister, who decided that Arthur Scargill was exactly right and showed how the union was correct about the unnecessary destruction of Britain coal industry, and Thatcher’s determination to break the unions, would just be too much for the Blairites now writing for it. And far too much for a political establishment that has been more or less thoroughly Thatcherite since her election victory in 1979. We can’t have anybody shattering the popular illusion that she made Britain great again, by showing that she did the exact opposite. The 1% would never allow that.

Labour Purge 2: Blairites Do the Stalin Hot-Trot

August 27, 2016

Mike put up another report on yet another disgusting assault on party democracy by the Blairites on Thursday. It’s another purge, directed at anyone who used insulting or pejorative language against other Labour members. This includes the word ‘Blairite’, whether or not the term was used correctly to mean a follower of Tony Blair, or not. This is despite the fact that there has been no notification to Labour members against the use of the term. Hundreds of Labour members have already been expelled, suspended or told they may not vote in the forthcoming leadership elections.

The bans and the censorship on which it is based are highly selective. They seem to be another attempt by the New Labour, pro-corporate, pro-austerity leadership to purge the party of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. The ban does include people like Tom Watson, and other right-wing Labour MPs and apparatchiks, who went off on a rant calling Corbynistas ‘Trotskyite dogs’, ‘rabble’, and so forth. John McTiernan has also not been expelled, despite the fact that he has threatened his detractors with violence. These expulsions are extremely one-sided.

Among the victims so far is John Dunn, the miner and member of the party for 45 years, who was thrown out because he dared to upbraid Smudger on beginning his election campaign at Orgreave, when he had done nothing to aid the miners. It also includes Jonny Will Chambers, who’s a friend and supporter of Prezza and supports Smudger, which seems to show, according to Mike, that the purge has a scattershot approach. The letters sent out to individuals telling them they’ve been purged, or the hopefuls wanting to join the party that their application has been refused, are remarkably vague. Chris Devismes, one of those, whose membership application was turned down, was refused admission because he shared ‘inappropriate content’ on Twitter. There are no further details, so it’s difficult to challenge the accusation.

Mike reports that there is already a backlash on Twitter. Prescott was annoyed about his old oppo being banned, and Rhea Wolfson is similarly unimpressed. She’s a member of the NEC, despite the attempts of the Blairite Jim Murphy, head of Labour in Scotland, to stop her, on the grounds that she had connections to that terrible anti-Semitic organisation, Momentum. Despite the fact that Momentum’s members aren’t anti-Semites, and Ms Wolfson definitely isn’t. She’s Jewish. Wolfson put this message on Twitter observing that people were being punished for social media messages they put out before joining the Labour party. Their crime was therefore not joining the Labour party before they joined the Labour party. She concluded that the party needed to show more respect to its supporters. Another member of the Twitterati, ‘Susan’, summed this up by stating that if you tweeted nice things about the Tories, you were safe. But if you tweeted anything about the parties Labour might have to work with, such as the Greens and SNP, you were out.

Mike notes that the leaflets inform their recipients on how they may appeal about their expulsion or suspension. He also advises them to contact the barrister Liz Davies, who will also try to help them. Ms Davies is at:

A guide for what to do if you haven’t received a ballot for the 2016 Labour leadership election

Mike concludes

There is a clear stink of corruption about this purge. The aim is to prevent anybody who wants to change the current Labour status quo from ever being able to do anything about it. That is wrong.

One hopes those who still have a say in the ballot will take note of what is being done and use their votes accordingly – to restore a leader who will end the corruption, remove the people responsible and restore fairness to the Labour Party.

That’s Jeremy Corbyn, of course.

The article’s at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/08/25/theyre-calling-it-labour-purge-2-corbyn-supporting-members-are-expelled-or-barred-from-voting-in-leader-poll/

This latest assault on the Corbynites by the Thatcherite entryists is ironic, given that their favourite term of abuse for Corbyn supporters has been ‘Trotskyites’. When not abusing them as ‘homophobes’, ‘misogynists’ and Nazi Stormtroopers, of course. Stalin also used purges to destroy the opposition against him and to consolidate his leadership in the Russian Communist party. He began his rise to power as the party’s secretary, which was then quite a junior post. His job was to throw out undesirables like seducers, drunks and the corrupt. What nobody realised until it was too late, was that he was throwing out the supporters of the other Bolshevik factions, and replacing them with his own loyal supporters. And once in power, the purges became lethal, as millions were hauled before firing squads and sent to the gulags on the flimsiest charges. One of those was Trotsky himself, who became an ‘unperson’. He was written out of Soviet official histories, and he and his supporters were attacked and vilified in the strongest possible terms as imperialist agents, Nazi collaborators, anti-Communist saboteurs intent on destroying the Soviet Union. Trotsky himself was forced to leave the USSR, and died in Mexico, murdered by one of Stalin’s agents.

The old brute said of his tactics ‘It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes’.

And it’s exactly the same with the New Labour leadership, which seems intent on securing their hold on the party by expelling anyone, who once looked cross-eyed at Smudger, or who doesn’t believe that a party founded to support the working class should be trying to win elections by appealing to a middle class electorate on the basis of Thatcherite policies against that class. Like cutting welfare benefits, privatisation and the selling-off of the NHS.

The Blairites’ tactics are massively counterproductive. Not only has Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal massively expanded the Labour party and shown, though various local election victories that Labour is quite capable of winning a national election. It also shows the absolute contempt for democracy for which New Labour was notorious under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Their appearances before the media were carefully stage-managed, along with very carefully crafted ‘popular consultations’, where the public was very carefully selected beforehand to agree with everything the leadership wanted. The purges are part of that shameful tradition.

By carrying them out, the Blairites, or whatever they want to call themselves, are showing the public that they haven’t changed. They’re still a faction of sham democracy and a calculated indifference to the working class and the real feelings and wishes of the general public, in order to appeal to their corporate paymasters. The more they carry on with the purges and other anti-democratic charades, the more the electorate will distrust them. They have nothing to offer Britain, but Tory policies. And like the Tories, they want what Corbyn has described as a ‘zombie democracy’: a political system that preserves democratic forms, but which is in effect a corrupt corporate oligarchy, like America.

The only real alternative is to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Vox Political: Former Miner Criticises Owen Smith for Exploiting Site of Orgreave

July 30, 2016

Mike also put up another piece reporting that Owen Smith had been verbally tackled by a former miner over his use of Orgreave, as the place to launch his policies. Smudger finally unveiled his programme of reform at the town a few days ago. Of the twenty policies he announced, Mike reports that 13 of them were either lifted from Jeremy Corbyn, or were inspired by him.

But what angered the miner, John Dunn, was that Smiffy had chosen the town as the place to make his grand statement. Orgreave was the site of one of the most notorious incidents during the 1980s miners’ strike, when the police physically attacked the striking miners. Footage of the struggle was edited by the BBC, and then broadcast to show the miners as the aggressors, rather than the victims. Dunn said on his Facebook page that he had asked Smiffy to stop what Dunn saw as ‘shameless opportunism’. Smudger then started saying something about his own background in South Wales, but this cut no ice with the irate miner. Dunn reminded him that when Smudger was working for a pharmaceutical company, he and the others were struggling for justice. He further asked Smiffy why, if he was so keen on the issue of Orgreave, he hadn’t signed Ian Lavery’s early day motions about it. He then compared Smudger to the UDM scabs, who undermined the strike. Smudger didn’t have an answer to that, and ‘scuttled’ back into his car.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/28/former-miner-tackles-owen-smith-for-exploiting-orgreave-as-the-site-for-his-policy-speech/

Mr Dunn is, of course, quite right. New Labour has done everything to cave in to the Tories’ demands to destroy the abilities of the trade unions to fight to protect people’s jobs and employment rights. Blair himself threatened to cut the party’s ties with the trade unions, if he didn’t get his way reforming the party’s constitution. Once in power, he did everything he could to minimise their importance within the party, despite the fact that the Labour party was partly founded to defend the trade unions and their right to strike after the Taff Vale judgement. As for Smudger himself, he worked for Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, for which Smiffy issued a PR puff lauding Blair’s privatisation of the NHS as a great opportunity for the company. In parliament, Smiff abstained from voting on the Tories’ welfare cuts.

Smiffy therefore stands for everything which the Labour party was founded to oppose – the impoverishment and exploitation of the poor and working people, the denial and sale of welfare support and healthcare, and the expanded power of private industry and corporate profit, against declining wages and conditions for workers and employees. Yet, like New Labour, he continues to use the iconography and rhetoric of radical Labour history to present himself as far more radical than he actually is. He isn’t. New Labour has consistently pursued a strategy of appealing to big business and swing voters in marginal constituencies. Corbyn has challenged this tactic by articulating a genuinely left-wing programme of renationalisation, renewed trade union rights, and genuine welfare reforms. This is ardently supported by an expanded party membership. This has clearly frightened New Labour, which took the working class for granted. So they have now taken to adopting some of his policies, and invoking the memories of past battles between Labour and capital. But it’s all a sham. Smudger’s new, left-wing policies are simply a disguise for the neoliberalism that he really favours. He and the rest of the 172 anti-Corbynite MPs have shown themselves willing to lie and smear in order to discredit Corbyn and his supporters anyway they can. I have no doubts that Smudger’s lying about these policies as well. Once in power, they’re liable to be swiftly forgotten, or watered down to the extent that they’re useless. Or maybe he’ll just say that the time isn’t right just now, so wait a bit.

We’ve waited too long. We’ve waited for over thirty years of privatisation and welfare cuts. It’s long past the time this was all stopped, and Smudger, Eagle and the other Red Tories voted out in favour of the true members and supporters of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn and his followers.

The Press’ Censorship of Violence against the Strikers during the Miner’s Strike

June 4, 2016

Mark Hollingworth in his book on the press attacks on the Labour party and trade unions in the 1980s, The Press and Political Dissent: A Question of Censorship, also notes the way the press suppressed and ignored stories about violence against the strikers during the miners’ strike. He discusses in particular the press’ refusal to print a photograph of a policeman beating a women with a baton, police agents provocateurs, and how the fourth estate very rapidly lost interest in an arson attack on a miner’s car when they found out that the victim was a striking miner. Hollingworth writes

On a direct level there were dozens of examples of news stories and photographs involving intimidation of striking miners. Yet, in contrast to the almost blanket coverage of violence by pickets, the vast majority of allegations concerning police actions on the picket line were ignored. Perhaps the most notorious example was the photograph of a young woman, Lesley Boulton, being attacked by a truncheon-wielding mounted policeman at Orgreave coking plant on Monday 18 June 1983. She had been shouting at the police to ‘get an ambulance’ for a middle-aged injured miner. John Harris, a photographer with the International Freelance Library, managed to take two frames of film of the police attack and then ran off. Later that Monday afternoon his agency offered the pictures to the Daily Mirror who rejected them because they had ‘got all they wanted’. Harris’ photographs were freely available to Fleet Street later that week, but of Britain’s 17 national newspapers only the Observer published the picture of Boulton the following Sunday. Instead, it was left to some European papers like Stern magazine to print it. However, the public display of the photograph at the 1984 Labour party conference in Blackpool forced an interest from Fleet Street. Their response was to suggest that perhaps the camera angel or depth of field gave a misleading impression.

Detailed allegations of police harassment were also carefully documented. On 7 June 1984, a Nottinghamshire miner claimed he had recognised two plain-clothes policemen posing as pickets and inciting other miners to throw stones. But perhaps the most remarkable incident occurred on 15th June 1984 when two more plain clothes policemen were caught red-handed posing as miners at the Cresswell Strike Centre in Derbyshire. The police officers, P.C. Stevens and Sergeant Monk, were even identified by local reporter Carmel O’Toole, whose paper, the Worksop Guardian, carried the story on its front page. O’Toole then phoned through the story to the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror. They spiked the story. Names, addresses, telephone numbers and sworn statements concerning several alleged incidents were compiled by Tribune for any inquiring journalist or editor. Fleet Street turned a blind eye.

Discrimination by the press between violence against working and striking miners, particularly in the Midland’s coalfields, was starkly exposed by the case of Derbyshire miner Pete Neelan. In January 1985 his car was set on fire, his garage burned down and the word ‘Revenge’ spray-painted on to his house. As soon as it was announced that he was a miner at Worksop Main, Derbyshire, several Fleet Street correspondents and an ITN team flocked to his house to record the details for publication. However, when Neelan told them he was on stroke there was suddenly a loss of interest in the news story. ‘Everyone seemed terribly disappointed,’ said Neelan. The questions stopped and the journalists went home. The next day there was no sign of the story in the press. (p. 264-5).

Mike reported in Vox Political last week that there were calls after the release of the report in the Hillsborough disaster, which exonerated the Liverpool fans, that a similar inquiry should be held into the miners’ strike. Mike doubted that we’d ever get the truth about the strike from Theresa May, the Home Secretary. Considering how massively implicated nearly all of the press in the gross distortion of the news, I doubt very much that we can expect any truth about the strike, either from May nor from the press. There are too many high-ranking Conservative former editors with careers and reputations at stake. Besides, it might cause Rupert Murdoch to have palpitations.