Posts Tagged ‘Private Eye’

Boris Johnson Is Not the New, British FD Roosevelt

July 1, 2020

It’s the first of July, the beginning of a new month, and a new set of lies, falsehoods, spin and propaganda from our clownish and murderous government. Yesterday, BoJob announced he was going to spend his way out of the recession caused by the Coronavirus lockdown. £5 billion would be spent on public services. Michael Gove hailed this as a ‘New Deal’, like F.D. Roosevelt’s for ’30s America.

No. No, it isn’t. Mike and Zelo Street have both published articles tearing great, bloody holes in this latest piece of monstrous spin. Zelo Street’s concentrates on the failings of Roosevelt’s original New Deal. Apparently it didn’t really begin to pay off until Roosevelt’s second term, because the great president was himself too committed to the economic orthodoxy of the time. This was to reduce government spending during a recession. Mike’s article, from what I’ve seen of it, dismantles Johnson’s promises. How much can we really trust them? Remember those forty hospitals Johnson told us the Tories were going to build. They weren’t, and aren’t. It was more lies and the number that were actually going to built was much, much lower. I think about six. The rest were going to be additions to existing hospitals, that had already been planned. And the numbers that were going to be built were far lower than those which were to be closed, either wholly or partially.

Everything says that this latest announcement of Johnson’s is exactly the same. More lies, and more promises that are going to be quietly broken later on.

And then there’s the matter of the amount Boris has said he intends to spend. £5 billion is an enormous amount, but Johnson has proudly boasted of spending such sums before. Like when he announced he was going to splurge out on renovating the country’s rail network. Zelo Street then put up an analysis of the figures and how much actually building new stations would actually cost, and the amount fell far, far short of what Johnson was actually claiming. I suspect that the £5 billion Johnson is now trying to get us all to believe he intends to spend is similar. It’s an impressive amount, but in reality much, much less than what’s actually needed.

And you can also bet it’s going to be lower than what our former partners in the EU are spending to get their economies started again. Recently, Private Eye published a piece attacking the Tories’ previous claim that leaving the EU would allow us to spend more on our economy. They compared what our government was spending with what France, Germany and some others were. They’re actually spending more than we are, which also demolishes the Tories’ claim that it was EU legislation that was preventing the government from spending more on the economy. No surprise there. The Tories have consistently lied about the European Union being the source of the country’s ills when the reverse has been true, and they themselves are responsible for the disastrous policies that have decimated our country and its people.

And when a right-wing British politico starts shouting about a ‘New Deal’, it’s always bad news.

Tony Blair similarly announced his new deal to tackle unemployment at the beginning of his government. He was going to introduce new reforms to encourage firms to take on workers. In fact, this was the wretched ‘welfare to work’ or ‘workfare’ policy, in which the unemployed would be sent to work for corporate giants like the supermarkets in return for the Jobseeker’s Allowance. If they didn’t go, no unemployment relief. As was documented by Private Eye, inter alia, the scheme does not help anyone get jobs. In fact, in the case of a geography graduate it actually stopped her getting the job she wanted. She was looking for work in a museum and had something in that line arranged as voluntary work. But the DWP insisted she work stacking shelves for Tesco or Sainsbury’s or whoever instead. It’s actually been found that if you’re unemployed, you are far more likely to get a job through your own efforts rather than through workfare.

And there’s another huge difference between the Tories and F.D. Roosevelt:

Roosevelt laid the foundations of an American welfare state. The Tories are destroying ours.

Roosevelt introduced some basic welfare reforms, like state unemployment relief. It wasn’t extensive, but it was something. The Republicans in America and the Tories over here hate the welfare state with a passion. It’s supposed to be subsidizing idleness and responsible for cross-generational pockets in which whole communities haven’t worked. The libertarianism which entered the American Republican party with the victory of Ronald Reagan was at heart concerned with reversing Roosevelt’s welfare reforms. Although it’s very carefully obscured now, it’s why the Libertarian’s magazine, Reason, in the mid-70s devoted an entire issue to denying the Holocaust. This featured articles by genuine neo-Nazis. This was vile in itself, but it was motivated by an underlying desire to undo Roosevelt’s legacy. FDR had been the president, who took America into the Second World War. This is seen as a good war, because of Nazis’ horrific genocide of the Jewish people, as well as others, though they rarely get a mention these days. If the Libertarians and their Nazi allies could prove that the Holocaust didn’t happen, it would discredit America’s entry into the War and make further attacks on Roosevelt and the New Deal plausible.

One of the reasons why he introduced unemployment benefit, such as it was, was because if you give money to workers during a recession, their spending will stimulate the economy.

But the Tories hate the idea of unemployment benefit and the workers actually having any money. They are the party of low wages, conditionality and benefit sanctions. Thatcher viewed the Victorians’ attitude that conditions should be made as hard as possible for the poor to encourage them not to rely on state assistance and agree to take work no matter how poor the wages and conditions as a ‘virtue’. It was one of her wretched ‘Victorian values’. During her reign, you couldn’t get away from her and the rest of her scummy party prating on about rolling back the frontiers of the state and the need to abolish the welfare state. The rhetoric has since quietened down and been modified, so that instead of abolishing the welfare state they talk about reforming it to target those who are genuinely in need. But the ideology hasn’t changed.

As a result, the British welfare state is in tatters. One organisation dealing with poverty and hunger in this country has stated that they’ve torn such great holes in it that it no longer functions. You can see this by the way unemployment has shot up so that one in four people is now claiming Universal Credit.

This isn’t just due to the Coronavirus. It’s due to the forty-year long Tory assault on the welfare state.

Johnson isn’t the new FDR. He’s the exact opposite – the destroyer of unemployment benefit and killer of those who need it.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/bozo-is-not-franklin-roosevelt.html

New deal? No deal! We can’t accept a plan for the future from the failed PM who deliberately wrecked it

Private Eye on the People behind Darren Grimes’ Reasoned UK

June 7, 2020

The week before last, Zelo Street published a piece about the launch of Reasoned UK, a right-wing propaganda outfit headed by a former member of Guido Fawkes, Darren Grimes. This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye, for 5th to 18th June 2020, also covers the launch. And it comes to much the same conclusions Zelo Street has. Far from being an original, grassroots organisation, this is just another piece of astroturf. While Grimes claims its YouTube channel is going to post original content, Private Eye shows that it has strong links to a number of similar American Conservative organisations and their British subsidiaries. The Eye’s article, on page 16, runs

Grimes Spree

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to BeLeave!

No sooner had Inspector Knacker announced the end of his investigation into Darren Grimes and Vote Leave last month, than the irrepressible ex-BeLeaver Grimes quit his day job at the Institute of Economic Affairs and launched a new “online grassroots organisation and video channel”, Reasoned UK. It aims to “challenge the pervasive left-wing bias in online content” by putting up a “mix of entertaining and informative content to help viewers reach their own informed opinions”.

Although Grimes boasts of its “NEW ORIGINAL CONTENT”, the Reasoned YouTube channel has in fact been rebranded from an earlier one called, er, Reason. Among those starring in Reason videos were Guido Fawkes hack Tom Harwood, recently seen defending Dominic Cummings round-the-clock on all TV channels; Chloe Westley, then of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, now a special advisor in No. 10; and Steven Edginton, former head of Digital at the Brexit Party, now at the Sun.

It’s unclear who was behind Reason, but the small print of Reasoned’s privacy policy reveals that Grimes’s “online grassroots organisation” is run by a Borehamwood-based company called Media and Activism. This turns out to be the same company behind conservative “youth” group Turning Point UK, in which Grimes, Harwood, Westley and Eginton have all been involved. The sole director, Oliver Anisfeld, is the son of the smoked-salmon tycoon and former Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman.

Not so much grassroots as Astroturf, perhaps. Bit Reasoned isn’t all that NEW, is its content at least ORIGINAL? Not exactly. Just as TPUK is a pale imitation of Turning Point USA, so the snazzy video in which Grimes makes his call to arms is mostly a word-for-word repeat of one produced by Prager University (PragerU) – which, confusingly, isn’t a university but an American outfit that makes right-wing videos and works closely with TPUSA.

The original from which Darren takes his script features American libertarian and TPUSA supporter Dave Rubin talking about the “Bravery Deficit”, the suggestion that conservatives are afraid to stand up for what they believe. Lo and behold, the Reasoned website also features a page headed “Bravery Deficit” – and a 45-minute video promoting Rubin’s new book.

Zelo Street’s article doesn’t go into quite so much detail, but it did quote a Tweet from ‘Loki’, who claimed that Reasoned UK was the youth wing of the IEA. Which prompted Zelo Street to ask whether Grimes really had left the organisation or not. As for the scintillating opinion-formers that are to appear on the channel, so far their Twitter feed has included mad islamophobe Melanie Phillips, and the noxious Brendan O’Neil of Spiked. Just the kind of people to galvanise Conservative British youth!

Grimes himself has something of a chip on his shoulder. He believes that he is snubbed and sidelined by the mainstream media because he is not university educated. There’s nothing wrong with not having been to uni. A university education doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is more intelligent or better morally, as shown by the all the Oxbridge and Eton-educated fools, thieves and mass murderers in Bozo’s government. What is more significant is that Grimes at best gets his facts wrong, and at wrong lies shamelessly and frequently. So he’s a typical Tory then.

He also looks very young in the picture Zelo Street has of him in its articles. He looks little older than Harry Potter! He doesn’t look old enough to vote, let alone be telling everyone else how to.

The fact that Reasoned UK is just a warmed-up, rebranded version of Reasoned doesn’t bode well for its future. Let’s hope that it’s no long before this worthless, mendacious organisation bites the dust.

 

 

Have I Got News For You Totally Dominated by Dominic Cummings Scandal

May 30, 2020

Much of the news this week has been taken up with Dominic Cummings and his decision to leave London with his four-year old son to drive up to Durham thus breaking the lockdown rules. Cummings said that it was because his wife had the Coronavirus, and he was hoping that his parents or relatives up there would look after the child. They didn’t. While he was there, he drove thirty miles and back to Barnard Castle, in order to test his eyesight as he was worried it wasn’t good enough for him to drive back himself. He also appeared to have made at least two, and possible three trips in breach of the regulations. These journeys and his account of them flatly contradict what his wife was writing in his defence in the Spectator. And in the words of the irate newsreader in Broadcast News, people are ‘as mad as hell’ and ‘not taking it any more’.

To the vast majority of the population, Cummings’ behaviour and his boss’ refusal to sack him is a massive insult and display of flagrant hypocrisy and double standards. The British people have made great sacrifices in order to maintain the lockdown and prevent the spread of the disease. People haven’t been able to be present at the deaths of their loved ones, or attend their funerals because of the restrictions. And they have been very definitely prevented from driving anywhere as far as the 240 miles it is from London to Durham, except for the workers that haven’t been furloughed. It’s very definitely one law for the rich and politically connected, and another for the rest of us.

The result has been that Boris’ personal popularity has taken a nose dive. Last Tuesday, the same day that Britain booed the malignant buffoon, Zelo Street put up a piece about an article in the Independent. In the four days from the previous Friday to then, Boris had plunged in the polls from a rating of +19 to -1. It had dropped 35 points since the start of May, and 48 points from its peak on 8th April. Starmer’s ratings had fluctuated from +35 to +3. It was then at 12. And the government’s overall approval rating was at -2.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/05/boris-no-longer-popular.html

It’s a massive embarrassment to Boris, who is, like Trump, colossally vain. Boris wants to be loved and popular, like Winston Churchill (who certainly wasn’t as universally popular as the hagiographers try to make out). And so the Tories have been trying to redirect attention away from this affair through working up bogus stories in the press about the EU and Michel Barnier. Gove and the Attorney General Suella Braverman have been wheeled out to give their support to Cummings. In the case of Braverman, this has violated he duty to remain impartial, and is properly a matter for her resignation. Which, as a good Tory aiding her boss, she won’t do.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/05/brexiteers-wibble-at-barnier-letter.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/05/polecat-broke-rules-braverman-is-bust.html

And now Boris is doing his best to silence any questioning or criticism of the matter. Emily Maitlis was censured by the BBC for her absolutely reasonable comments about it on Newsnight after a complaint from Downing Street. She was then replaced the following day by Kate Razzall. It’s another clear breach of the Beeb’s duty of political impartiality in favour of the Tories, following so many cases of bias against Labour by other Beeb news people like Andrew Neil and the odious Laura Kuenssberg.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/05/bbcs-shameful-surrender.html

And at a press meeting Bozo stopped the media from asking the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Officer, questions about Cummings’ conduct on the grounds that they were political, not medical or scientific. But they were medical and scientific, because Cummings had placed other people’s health and lives in jeopardy. He also stopped Laura Kuenssberg from asking a follow-up question about Cummings. As Zelo Street remarked, this is conduct worthy of a dictatorship like Kim Jong-il’s Korea.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/05/press-briefing-bozo-channels-kim.html

And that boiling popular anger all came out last night on Have I Got News For You. Nearly the entire programme was taken up with the issue. Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, was particularly irritated. When asked by host Martin Clunes how his week had been, he replied that he’d been busy trying not to get too angry, and had been getting masses of letters from angry people, with whom he agreed. And the programme went on to tear gaping, bloody shreds off Polecat Dom and his tale. They asked how credible it was that Cummings could take a four year old child on a journey of that length without the lad wanting the toilet, as well as the obvious point that if you’re blind, you shouldn’t be driving. And they also brought up the Durham dialect term, ‘Barnard Castle’, as meaning a pathetic excuse. Given how swiftly the Beeb caved in to Boris’ complaints against Maitlis, this programme probably won’t have pleased Lord Hall-Hall. But I think it may well reflect how some Beeb programme makers and news crew feel about the scandal and the way Maitlis was treated, whatever she, Razzall and the producers may say to the contrary.

Everyone I know despises Cummings for this breach of the public’s trust, including Tories, who feel he’s let BoJob down. Well, there’s no danger of that, because BoJob’s standards are so low anyway only Britain’s few remaining miners and underground railway engineers can find them.

Cummings is making Johnson more unpopular by the day. And the longer it goes on, the worse it’ll get. Which is good news for Britain!

Hooray! Murdoch Papers Too Ashamed to Publish Pathetic Circulation Figures

May 22, 2020

Ho ho! Zelo Street yesterday published a very interesting and amusing article about the continuing decline of the lamestream press. Jim Waterson, a hack at the Guardian, posted a series of tweets about the latest circulation figures for British newspapers. And they aren’t encouraging. Zelo Street has said for the past couple of months that the press has been badly hit by the lockdown. People simply aren’t buying papers. It’s why the Murdoch rags, inter alia, have been pushing for the lockdown to be lifted and actually took to implore their readers and internet followers to #buyapaper. They’re not remotely interested in the welfare of the great British public. But they are worried about falling sales and what Murdoch and the other chief inmates of News International will do about them – like start laying people off.

Waterson tweeted that, although the newspaper sales figures were supposed to be out that day, the industry had insisted that they should no longer be published. The monthly ABC sales charts have also been permanently stopped because they give a ‘stimulus to write a negative narrative of circulation decline.’ Which in English, rather than the garbled version spouted Newslink’s yuppie manager in the comedy series Drop the Dead Donkey, means that it encourages people to write about how the press is in trouble. Nevertheless, most of the papers did publish their figures. The exceptions were the Times, Sunday Times, Torygraph and the Scum. And the paper with the highest circulation was the Daily Heil, with 944,981 copies sold.

Well, as the character, Gus, once said, I’ll just throw that into your intellectual wok and see if it stir fries.

Zelo Street points out that this is the first time no newspaper has sold less than a million a copies. It also suggests that this has happened to the Sun, which is why the super, soaraway Current Bun is not publishing its figures. It’s possibly been supplanted by the Heil for the first time in 40+ yearsThe Street also argues quite reasonably that both the Heil’s and Scum’s Sunday editions will have worse sales than the dailies. This means that the press is in terminal decline and we’re entering the endgame.

Novara Media’s excellent Aaron Bastiani put an additional boot into the Murdoch title’s shame. If newspapers won’t publish their sales figures, then the Beeb shouldn’t review their front pages every morning. Unless we know these papers’ reach, it’s just giving them free advertising.

Good point.

Zelo Street also states that the press is probably going to lose even more readers when they work out that the papers they support wanted the lockdown lifted for the sake of their own profits, not out of concern for the public’s wellbeing. A number of may well die from Coronavirus infections picked up when the papers told them that the disease was nothing to worry about. And their survivors will put two and two together and decide not to continue supporting them. Or even bringing a class lawsuit against them.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/05/press-heading-for-early-oblivion.html

My guess is that the reason the Torygraph and the Murdoch rags aren’t publishing their sales figures is partly economic. Apart from being embarrassed at how pathetically their mighty organs are doing, they’re also afraid of repercussions from advertisers. If they find out how low the newspapers are selling, they may well want the advertising rates reduced. This will mean a further drop in these newspaper’s income. Which means greater losses, and the threat of even more redundancies.

To many people it will come as absolutely no surprise that the Times and the Torygraph are in such a mess. Private Eye have covered many times their problems and falling circulation in its ‘Street of Shame’ column. In the case of the Torygraph, it’s problems are due to bad corporate management, including a devotion to internet gimmicks rather than solid news reporting and deliberately altering news content in their interests of the advertisers. This last policy so infuriated Peter Oborne that he left the paper and went instead to the Heil, making his own criticisms of it very public. There have already been redundancies and cutbacks, but these have failed to halt the paper’s continuing decline. The Eye has also said that the Times’ sales are now so low, that if it were any other paper it would either have been folded or put up for sale by its management years ago. But it’s the British paper of record, and so allows Murdoch to grab a place at the government table because of its prestige. Which means that if its circulation is so low that there’s no reason the Beeb, or anyone else, should take any notice of it, Murdoch’s ability to influence government decisions, even to act as kingmaker in his decision which party to support, is severely damaged.

Ditto with the Scum. It certainly didn’t have the Times‘ prestige or even its journalistic standards – indeed, it’s a matter of debate whether the scabrous rag had any standards at all. But it was Britain’s leading newspaper with a huge circulation, and more visibly influenced British politics through its shrill trumpeting of everything Thatcher and the Tories ever did, until Murdoch decided to flirt with New Labour. Now that’s also been seriously damaged.

Zelo Street is right in that these newspapers still have an influence beyond their print sales through their online presence, but there are problems here as well. Many of their articles are behind paywalls, which means that many casual readers won’t read them because they won’t want to pay or subscribe to the wretched rags. And if they are free, then it comes from money made from print sales. Which mean that when those go down, the paper’s ability to put up their articles free on the net also declines. The situation does not look good.

I’ve no sympathy for any of these foul rags. I suppose it’ll be a shame if the Times folds, after lasting for nearly 300 or so years. But as it, its Sunday counterpart and the Scum are just rightwing, Tory propaganda rags that lies, smear and libel decent people with absolutely no compunction, as far as I’m concerned it deserves to go under. Britain will be better off without them.

And while we’re on the subject, what about the sales figures for Private Eye? I know it’s a magazine rather than a newspaper, but much of it is news. My guess is that it’s circulation is also falling in line with the rest of the press. It’s hostility and snide remarks about left-wing news sites and internet organisations like The Canary and The Skwawkbox also seem to suggest that it’s afraid of their competition. Private Eye does publish some very good stuff, but it has also promoted the Blairites and the anti-Semitism smears against Corbyn’s Labour party, as well as other material which is utterly wrong. So I have very mixed feelings about it.

As for the rest of the press, their mostly right-wing propaganda rags, and so absolutely nothing worthwhile will be lost if they go under as well.

 

 

Starmer Throws Away Corbyn’s Popular Socialist Labour Policies

May 13, 2020

I really shouldn’t be surprised at this whatsoever. It was inevitable, and everyone saw it coming the moment Starmer entered the ring in the Labour leadership contest. But I hoped against hope that he would still have some sense of honour and remain faithful to his election pledges. But he hasn’t. He’s finally taken his mask off and revealed his true, Blairite neoliberal face. And in the words of Benjamin J. Grimm, your blue-eyed, ever-lovin’ Thing, ‘What a revoltin’ development’ it is.

On Monday Mike put up a piece reporting that Starmer had given an interview to the Financial Times in which he blamed his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, for last year’s election defeat. He claims that Corbyn’s leadership was the chief topic of debate. That’s probably true, but only up to a point. The long, venomous campaign against Corbyn certainly did whip up a vicious hatred against the former Labour leader amongst a large part of the electorate. Some of the people I talked to in my local Labour party, who’d been out campaigning, said that they were shocked by the vicious, bitter hatred the public had for him. One woman said that it was as if they expected him to come up the garden path and shoot their dog.

But Starmer was also one of the reasons for Labour’s defeat. It was due to Starmer’s influence that Labour muddled its policy on Brexit by promising a second referendum. Johnson’s message of getting Brexit done was much simpler, and more popular. It’s almost certainly why Labour lost its historic strongholds in the north and midlands. These were areas which voted heavily for Brexit. But obviously, as the new leader of the Labour party, Starmer doesn’t want to mention that.

Then he goes on to blame the defeat on Labour’s policies. He claims Labour had overloaded its manifesto with promises to nationalise several utilities, issue £300 billion of shares to workers and promising another £83 billion in tax and spending. However, these policies, contrary to what the habitual liars and hack propagandists of the Tories and Lib Dems claim, had been properly costed.

Now I don’t doubt that the manifesto was overloaded by too many promises. When analysing what went wrong in the local constituency meeting, some felt that it was because the manifesto was too long, contained too many such promises and felt that they were being made up on a daily basis as the election progressed. But the central promise of renationalising the electricity grid, water and the railways were genuinely popular, and had been in the previous election in 2017. And Starmer promised to honour the policy commitments made in last year’s manifesto.

And now he’s shown in this interview that he has no intention of doing so.

He’s also demonstrated this by appointing as his shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson, another Blairite, who attacked Labour’s 2017 manifesto for offering too much to voters. Mike also reports that a leaked letter from Phillipson to other members of the shadow cabinet shows her telling them that from now on any policies that involve spending must have the approval of both Starmer and the shadow Treasury team before they’re even put in the planning stage.

Mike comments

Clearly, Starmer wants an “out-Tory the Tories” spending policy of the kind that led to then-Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves promising to be “tougher than the Tories” on benefits, in just one particularly out-of-touch policy from the Miliband era.

Absolutely. He wants to show Tory and Lib Dem voters that Labour stands for responsible fiscal policy, just like it did under Blair, who was also responsible for massive privatisation and a further catastrophic dismantlement of the welfare state.

Blair also made a conscious decision to abandon traditional Labour policies and its working class base in order to appeal to Tory voters in swing marginals. And the first thing he did was to recruit former Tory cabinet ministers, such as Chris Patten, to his own to form a Government Of All the Talents (GOATS). Starmer’s trying to make the same appeal. And it’s shown glaringly in the choice of newspaper to which he gave the interview. The Financial Times is the paper of the financial sector. Way back in the 1990s it was politically Liberal, although that didn’t stop one of its writers supporting workfare. According to Private Eye, the newspaper was losing readers, so its board and director, Marjorie Scardino, decreed that it should return to being a Tory paper. It has, though that hasn’t helped it – it’s still losing readers, and has lost even more than when it was Liberal. Starmer’s trying to repeat the Labour Party’s ‘prawn cocktail’ offensive, begun under Neil Kinnock, in which it successfully tried to win over the banking sector.

The rest of Mike’s article is a dissection of Starmer’s promises to stop landlords evicting their tenants because of the Coronavirus crisis. These look good, but will actually make housing scarcer and actually increase the problems renters have finding rent. Critics of Starmer’s policy see him as protecting landlords, rather than tenants.

Please see Mike’s article at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/05/11/keir-betrayal-starmer-rejects-policies-that-made-him-labour-leader/

Starmer’s policy does seem to be succeeding in winning Tory and Lib Dem voters.

According to a survey from Tory pollster YouGov, Starmer has an approval rating of +23, higher than Johnson. People were also positive about his leadership of the Labour party. 40 per cent think he’s done ‘very well’ or ‘well’ compared to the 17 per cent, who think he’s done fairly or very badly.

When it comes to Tories, 34 per cent think he’s doing well compared to 25 per cent, while regarding the Lib Dems, 63 per cent think he’s doing well compared to 53 per cent of Labour people.

Mike states that this is humiliating for Starmer, as it comes from people, who have a vested interested in a duff Labour leader.

Starmer gets approval rating boost – courtesy of Tory and Lib Dem voters

And Starmer has been duff. He’s scored a couple of very good points against Johnson at Prime Minister’s Questions, but he’s largely been conspicuous by his absence. This has got to the point where the Tory papers have been sneering at him for it, saying that Piers Morgan has been a more effective opposition. It’s a point that has also been made by Tony Greenstein. See: https://azvsas.blogspot.com/2020/05/if-labour-wants-to-win-next-election.html

Even if these stats show that Tory and Lib Dem voters are genuinely impressed with Starmer, that does not mean that he has popular mandate. Tory Tony Blair won over Conservative voters, but that was at the expense of traditional Labour voters and members. They left the party in droves. It was Corbyn’s achievement that he managed to win those members back, and turned the party into Britain’s largest.

But Starmer and the Blairites despise the traditional Labour base. As shown by the coups and plots during Corbyn’s leadership, they’d be quite happy with a far smaller party without traditional, socialist members. And Starmer was part of that. He was one of those who took part in the coups.

Starmer is once again following Blair’s course in wanting to appeal to Tories and Lib Dems instead of working class voters, trade unionists and socialists. He wishes to return to orthodox fiscal policies, which will mean more privatisation, including that of the NHS, and completing their destruction of the welfare state.

He wants it to become Tory Party no. 2, just as Blair did. And for working class people, that means more poverty, disease, starvation and death.

 

 

Private Eye Sides with the Witch Hunters, Smear Merchants and Plotters in Article about Leaked Labour Document

May 9, 2020

I should have realised it wouldn’t last. Last fortnight’s Private Eye carried an article about the leaked Labour party document revealing the antics and intrigues of Blairite party bureaucrats to prevent the party winning the 2017 general election. Although the article accepted uncritically the leaked document’s false assumption that Labour was a hotbed of vicious anti-Jewish hatred, it nevertheless seemed to take seriously the document’s allegations that a series of highly placed Labour apparatchiks had been doing everything they could to sabotage its election chances in order to get rid of Corbyn. Now that attitude has been completely reversed.

In this fortnight’s Private Eye, for 8th – 21st May 2020, there’s another article about the document. Titled ‘Party Poopers’, this has returned to the magazine’s old line of pushing the anti-Semitism smears along with the rest of the lamestream media. The article views the leaked document as a series of terrible libels against people, who were genuinely exposing massive anti-Semitism. These people were also being victimised for their participation in the Panorama programme, ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’, were suffering vicious personal abuse, including being targeted by an online Nazi group. Fortunately they’re being defended by defamation and privacy specialist (sic) Mark Lewis.

The article runs

Like a retreating army planting booby traps, Labour’s routed Corbynistas have left Keir Starmer some unexploded bombs: most notably the 860-page report on the supposed complicity of anti-Corbyn officials in hindering investigations into anti-Semitism.

They have left the party open to investigations by the information commissioner and Inspector Knacker – and multiple actions for libel and breach of privacy. Not content with electing one lawyer as leader, Labour may soon be enriching more of them.

The report, commissioned by general secretary Jennie Formby, created a stab-in-the-back narrative by alleging that Labour lost the 2017 general election because, in the words of John McDonnell, staff undermined the leader in a “shocking act of treachery”. It implied that anti-Corbyn officials sat on complaints of racism to make him look bad. Criticising “whistleblowers” who appeared in a Panorama film about Labour and anti-Semitism, it said the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) should “question the validity of the personal testimonies”.

Party lawyers advised Formby she couldn’t submit the report to the EHRC, let alone publish it. After an unknown Corbyn supporter leaked it over the Easter weekend, however, online activists were quick to share unredacted copies – including much confidential personal information.

A shower of writs is now about to descend on the party. At least 30 former Labour officials have contacted defamation and privacy specialist Mark Lewis – so many that Lewis has signed up other lawyers who are twiddling their thumbs in lockdown to deal with the backlog. Labour will ahve to deal with the fallout without Formby, who announced on Monday she was stepping down as general secretary.

The leaked report was based on 10,000 emails and private WhatsApp messages in which Labour employees bitched about their bosses, as employees tend to do. The information commissioner, who has the power to set multi-million-pound fines, is said to be taking the data breach seriously – all the more so because Labour has still not met its legal obligation to contact all the victims of the data breach to warn them that information they had the right to expect would remain private was in the public domain.

Equally angry are members of the public who are identified in the report as reporting incidents of anti-Jewish hatred – and whose names are now in the possession of neo-Nazi groups. The far-right website Unz Review used Formby’s dossier to name Labour members who complained and to denounce them as agents of “Jewish control” behind “the conspiracy to undermine and destroy Corbyn”. The group Labour Against Anti-Semitism has asked the police to investigate. Its lawyers have also hired private detectives to find who leaked the report.

One lawyer involved expects about 40 privacy and libel actions, estimating that even if Labour settles them at once, the cost to the party will be £2.5m. But Corbyn supporters on Labour’s national executive committee could try to block retractions and apologies. If so, the costs will explode.

Let’s deal with a few irritating little details Private Eye doesn’t mention. It claims that the plotters’ emails were leaked. They weren’t. The plotters did the intriguing using Labour’s computers, and duly handed them over when they were asked as part of the inquiry. They surrendered that information themselves. If they had wanted to keep it all private, they should have used their own machines.

They also went much, much further than bitching about their bosses. Their anti-Corbyn scams included mocking up fake videos to mislead Corbyn that the anti-Semitism allegations were being effectively handled, when they were allowing those same allegations to pile up. They ran two sets of campaigns in London with the intention of ensuring election victories solely for members of the Blairite right. They also suspended constituency Labour parties that were on the verge of deselecting the sitting MP, like Angela Eagle’s in Liverpool. Leading conspirators also acted as members and moderators on Tory online groups, and openly wished for Conservative and Lib Dem victories. This is against party rules, and the same conspirators had also thrown out other members of the party for doing the same, such as one individual who made the mistake of liking an internet comment by a Green politico.

The Panorama programme ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’ was a farrago from start to finish. It’s producers were already biased against Corbyn, and it allowed members of the anti-Corbyn groups to make their allegations of anti-Semitism without revealing their membership of the same groups. Mike, Zelo Street and any number of other left-wing news sites and blogs have torn it to shreds.

Now look at the way it deliberately connects the leaked report with Nazism. The allegations of intrigue and plotting are described as a ‘stab-in-the-back- narrative. This is the same language historians use to describe the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that propelled Hitler to power: that Germany had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by the Jews so that the country lost World War I. Then it brings in the real Nazis, Unz Review.

If innocent people are being target for anti-Semitic abuse and attack by real Nazis, then it is absolutely disgusting.

But the Eye is also hypocritical in not mentioning the abuse and intimidation heaped upon their victims by the anti-Semitism smear merchants. People like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Mike, who is still accused of being an anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier, even though he won his IPSO complaint against the newspapers who so libelled him. Mike, and other victims of the anti-Semitism smears, also had their private information leaked to the press. Mike has also complained to the Information Commissioner about it, but so far the Commissioner has done nothing. This awkward fact also isn’t mentioned by the Eye, because Hislop’s mighty organ has also done everything it can to push the anti-Semitism smears. And some of the witch-hunters’ victims have suffered far worse than abuse and death threats. One commenter on Mike’s blog posted that he had also been smeared as an anti-Semite by David Collier, part of the GnasherJew troll farm. Not only did Collier smear him, but he also doxed him as well, putting his personal details up on his wretched website and then camping outside his door. Collier has so far not taken the information down.

No mention of any of this from Private Eye!

On then, to Mark Lewis. The Eye’s description of him as specialising in defamation and privacy issues is one way of viewing him. In fact, he’s Rachel Riley’s pet lawyer, and the one she uses whenever someone criticises her for smearing and bullying decent people as anti-Semites and Nazis simply because they support Corbyn.

And finally, there’s the whole issue of ‘Jewish control’ in the Labour party. In fact, a large number of the victims of the anti-Semitism smears are themselves Jewish, because the ultra-Zionists of the Israel lobby cannot tolerate the idea that any Jew does not support Israel and regards its ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians as abhorrent. Yet there are any number who do, from the Haredi who believe Jews must continue to live in galut – exile – until Israel is truly restored by the Messiah, to politically liberal Jews, who believe that Israel’s maltreatment of the Arabs violates the liberal principles they view as being intrinsic to Judaism. As the saying goes, ‘to be a Jew is always to identify with the oppressed, never the oppressor’. It violates the commandment in Deuteronomy that the Jews are not to maltreat the ‘stranger in the land, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’. These entirely decent, self-respecting people are smeared, insulted and sometimes physically attacked, like the non-Jews the witch-hunters have also targeted. Some of them have even been the victims of real anti-Semitic assault themselves, or, if non-Jewish, they’ve been attacked because they’ve dared to defend Jews or have Jewish friends, partners and relatives.

But no-one from the press, including Private Eye, has ever asked them about their experience.

And the talk about ‘Jewish control’ is designed to stop any objection to the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ demand for the right to interfere in the Labour party. By demanding that the Labour leadership contenders, including Starmer, sign up to their wretched 10 Pledges against anti-Semitism, the Board of Deputies of British Jews now exercises a very high level of control over the party. They want the right to decide who should be allowed membership, including seeing confidential personal information. They have also demanded that members should not be allowed to share platforms with those expelled for anti-Semitism.

These demands are unreasonable, dictatorial and one-sided. No such demands have been made of the Tory party, Lib Dems or anyone else. 

By talking about Nazis and their denunciation of the Blairites’ intrigues and plotting as ‘Jewish control’, the article is clearly intended to make any objection to the Board’s demands seem anti-Semitic. But the Board has overstepped the boundaries of reasonable criticism into comprehensive involvement with these demands. And there are party political motives at work here. Not only does the Board uncritically support Israel and its atrocities, but it is also partisan in its political support here. The Board’s president, Marie van der Zyl, has sent messages of support and congratulations to Tweezer when she took office as Prime Minister. It’s possible that individual members of the Board may not be Tories, but to me it looks extremely likely that Zyl and the Board will use the anti-Semitism smears to demand the expulsion of anyone, who either criticises Israel or seems serious about returning the party to its socialist roots.

I’ve said many times that Eye publishes some excellent stuff, but I am exasperated by its complicity in the anti-Semitism smears. I despise the way it, and the rest of the media, has steadfastly refused to cover the people, who have been unfairly defamed and threatened by the witch-hunters simply because they criticise Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians. And this article is another example of the same. I notice that the article is also unsigned. It is not credited to ‘Ratbiter’, perhaps because ‘Ratbiter’s’ real identity as Nick Cohen of the Guardian and Absurder is too well-known.

But like Cohen’s articles, this is yet another disgraceful smear and another vile attempt to keep the witch-hunt going and the witch-hunters safe from retribution for their foul activities.

Private Eye on the Problems of the Government’s Medical Central Purchasing Company

May 7, 2020

Mike’s article about the government’s privatisation and centralisation of the purchasing of PPE and other essential medical equipment for combating the Coronavirus follows a report in last fortnight’s Private Eye for 21st April – 7th May 2020 about the problems besetting the state-owned company the Tories had set up to do this. Centralising the purchase of PPE was supposed to lead to massive NHS savings. However, according to the Eye it has led instead only to its chiefs awarding themselves massive salaries, and staff shortages and poor pay at the bottom. The article on page 10, ‘SKIMPING OUTFITS’ runs

The government-owned company struggling to supply masks, gloves, aprons and eye protection to hospitals and GPS was set up explicitly to reduce spending on NHS supplies.

Supply Chain Coordination LTD (SCCL) has been in charge of procuring NHS supplies and the warehouses and lorries getting PPE out to the NHS since April 2018. The government argued that one centralised buying system would “generate savings of £2.4bn over a five-year period” through “efficiency”. In fact it has led to big salaries at the top and lower pay and staff shortages at the bottom.

SCCL was set up as a government-owned company in response to the Carter review of NHS productivity. Lord (Patrick) Carter argued that too many NHS trusts buying their own kit was inefficient and the government could “rationalise the procurement landscape, reduce spend and consolidate purchasing power”. Jin Sahota was brought in as SCCL chief executive from French media firm Technicolor on £230,000 a year, after the government allowed higher salaries for “commercial staff”. I’ll be absolutely blunt”, he told Civil Service World last year, “If the salary levels were somewhat different, maybe it wouldn’t have attracted me.”

In May 2019, Rob Houghton, former Post Office chief information officer, was made SCCL’s “IT focused” director. As the last Eye’s special report on the Post Office’s Horizon IT scandal noted, in 2016 Houghton launched a review into the malfunctioning system, which was mysteriously abandoned. The courts later found that a matter of “great concern”.

SCCL manages procurement of NHS bulk supplies and contracts distribution of NHS essentials through a five-year, £730m deal signed in 2018 with UK logistics firm Unipart, which runs the NHS warehouses and lorry deliveries. In September 2018, Steve Barclay (then a health minister, now at the Treasury) said the SCCL/ Unipart deal was “streamlining” the NHS.

Meanwhile, £500m is being taken from NHS trusts to fund the new system and “incentivise” trusts to use it. However, any “savings” delivered look more like penny-pinching than efficiency: in December, HGV and 7.5 tonne drivers on the SCCL/ Unipart contract had to threaten strike action to get decent sick pay and push their rate above an industry low of £10.24 an hour.

At the start of April, union Unite said warehouse staff were exhausted and struggling to keep up with demand. In a cuts-driven system, there was no slack to deal with the extra burden of a pandemic. The government’s solution was to send in the army to help in the warehouses. This has provided some relief – but once the immediate crisis passes, will it return to its ill-conceived “savings” plan?

It looks like Boris’ decision to privatise the purchasing process is a result of this company’s embarrassing failure. But Deloitte and co. aren’t going to fare much better, if at all. What’s at fault is the whole notion of centralisation itself. This was used to destroy local DHSS and inland revenue offices in the 1980s and 1990s, all in the name of efficiency. I don’t believe it made the process any more efficient. In fact, given the delays benefit claimants experienced in the processing of their claims, even before IDS’ stupid and murderously destructive Universal Credit was rolled out, it made it much, much worse.

It also won’t solve the problem of a poorly paid, overworked and demoralised staff working flat out for a grossly overpaid senior management. This is now general throughout business and what used to be the civil service. It’s how the outsourcing companies were able to generate their profits in the first place – they laid off staff in order to give their shareholders nice fat dividends and senior management nice fat salaries and bonuses.

What is causing the problems is the Tories’ decimation of the NHS across its services. As Mike and others have reported, other countries like Germany were able to respond more effectively to the pandemic because they had spare capacity in beds. But the Tories had removed that in the NHS in the name of efficiency.

It’s time these false economies were wound up. Purchasing should be handed back to NHS trusts, and the NHS and the rest of the civil service properly funded.

And the Tories and their obsession with centralisation, rationalisation, privatisation and rewarding overpaid, greedy managers and board chairmen thrown out of government.

Shock! Private Eye Publishes Decent Article about Leaked Labour Report and Blairite Plotters

April 25, 2020

A friend of mine managed to get hold of copy of Private Eye for me. I’ve gone a couple of fortnights without a copy, and so have been very keen to get hold of one. And this fortnight’s issue for 24th April – 7 May 2020 is particularly interesting as it has a piece about the leaked Labour report and its revelations about the deliberate plotting by Blairite apparatchiks to undermine Corbyn and sabotage Labour’s election campaign.

I’ve written a number of pieces highly critical of Private Eye because of the way it has followed the rest of the scumbag British press in pushing the anti-Semitism smears. Most, if not all of these articles have been written by their correspondent ‘Ratbiter’, whom the awesome Tony Greenstein has unmasked as Nick Cohen, a hack with the Graun and Absurder. I was pleasantly surprised with their article about the Labour plotters, as instead of rubbishing it to defend the Blairites, they actually take it seriously and come down against McNicol, Stolliday and co. This may be because it’s anonymous, and so wasn’t written by Cohen/’Ratbiter’. The article, ‘Party Crashers’, runs

The leaked Labour investigation into what went on at HQ under former general secretary Iain McNicol suggests some officials wanted to undermine leader Jeremy Corbyn and see the party crash in the 2017 election. So what were the “hope we lose” crew up to, and where have they been since?

The report, a submission to Labour’s investigation into handling anti-Semitism, examines emails and WhatsApp threads among party managers and concludes that McNicol’s team was not, as they had claimed, undermined while trying to deal with anti-Jewish prejudice among Labour members.

Rather, they allowed anti-Semitism cases to pile up because they were too busy trying to exclude pro-Corbyn members for such crimes as having “liked” a Facebook post by the Green Party. The report also found schemes to remove Corbyn (including an “Operation Cupcake”) and the creation of a fund to divert party money to campaigns in safe seats held by anti-Corbyn MPs.

The report quotes an email in 2017 in which policy officer Francis Grove-White, responding to favourable polls before the election, wrote that “I actually felt quite sick when I saw that YouGov poll last night”. After leaving his job, Grove-White became deputy director of the People’s Vote campaign from 2017-2019. When that collapsed, he became an adviser on MP Jess Phillips doomed leadership campaign.

Patrick Heneghan, Labour’s executive director of elections, is also quoted in the report joining a conversation with executive director Emilie Oldknow in which she describes senior women around Jeremy Corbyn as “pube head” and “smelly cow”; Heneghan remarks that one of the women is “disgusting” and “probably slept” in her clothes. Contemplating a key by-election, Heneghan apparently wanted Labour to lose, emailing “let’s hope the Lib Dems can do it”. Another official, John Stolliday, discussing Labour’s final 2017 election rally with Heneghan, seems to want party members to get in a fight with police – “Truncheons out lads, let’s knock some trots”. Heneghan’s reply: “Water cannons please.”

Like Grove-White, Stolliday later joined the People’s Vote, becoming head of communications in 2018. Last year Heneghan also arrived, as chief executive. With these former faction fighters from Labour HQ in charge, it’s perhaps no surprise the People’s Vote campaign itself broke into warring groups, who then turned on the rank and file, split and finally collapsed before the 2019 election.

PS: Many named in the report, including Oldknow and Stolliday, later landed top jobs at trade union Unison. With a new election looming this year for Unison’s general secretary, organised by Stolliday and Oldknow, what could possibly go wrong?

Much of this will already be familiar to those, who have read the articles by Mike, Martin Odoni, Tony Greenstein, Zelo Street and others. There are other aspects of the plotters’ vile conduct that have been examined, quite apart from their intrigues against Corbyn, which the Eye’s article doesn’t mention. The plotters weren’t just interested in promoting their own faction at the expense of Corbyn, his supporters and indeed the party as a whole, they were actually racist. They actively bullied BAME MPs and activists, including Diane Abbott.

Most significantly, the article still accepts uncritically the leaked report’s assumption that anti-Semitism was rife in the Labour Party, and that those accused were always guilty. But in the vast majority of cases, these accusations were manufactured by the Blairites, Tories and the Israel lobby as another political strategy. They were about toppling Corbyn and preventing Labour from winning the elections. They had zilch to do with real hatred towards Jews. The Eye has always absolutely uncritically supported those accusations, and has been as guilty as the rest of the British press in refusing to allow the victims of the witch-hunt to speak for themselves. The media groupthink and fear of the Israel lobby is presumably far too strong, even for the Eye. I suspect that it’s because the article doesn’t challenge the report’s assumptions of anti-Semitism that it was published.

While it’s good news that the Eye is taking the anti-Corbyn plots seriously at long last, while the rest of the media ignores them as a non-story, it seems that we’re still going to wait a long time before it attacks the anti-Semitism smears themselves. I won’t hold my breath.

Both Mike and Martin have written detailed demolitions of the report’s uncritical acceptance of toxic anti-Semitism in the Labour party. These can be read at:

https://thegreatcritique.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/more-from-the-dossier/

Be warned: leaked report on Labour factionalism still makes dangerous assumptions on anti-Semitism

Both of these are extremely thorough in destroying the underlying assumptions about anti-Semitism, and how it should be rooted out in the Labour party. Martin’s quotes the report itself on what the witch-hunters consider to be evidence of anti-Semitism, and explains exactly why this is grievously flawed and has led to many decent people being smeared as Jew-haters who are no such thing. Like Martin himself, who is Jewish, but like Mike, he was accused of anti-Semitism simply because he supported Corbyn. And because, like many Jews, he was critical of Israel.

Unfortunately, Mike, Martin, and the other victims of the witch-hunt, like Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker, are still denied proper treatment by the media. Which is why it is important to read what they say, and not blandly accept biased reportage from a corrupt media establishment.

Even when it includes the Eye.

 

Radio 3 Broadcasts 8 Hour Long Piece of Music to Send You To Sleep. Really.

April 9, 2020

I found this in next week’s Radio Times, and it’s a prize candidate for Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’. This Saturday, 11 April 2020, at 11.00 pm, the channel will broadcast the 8 hour long piece, ‘Sleep’, to send us all to the Land of Nod. The blurb for it in the Radio Times runs

Another chance to hear Max Richter’s eight-hour epic, Sleep, originally broadcast in September 2015 from the Wellcome Collection Reading Room in London, as the centrepiece of Radio 3’s Why Music? weekend. Composed in consultation with the American neuroscientist David Eagleman, this “lullaby for a frenetic world” seeks to explore the relationship between music and the subconscious mind; instead of giving the piece full concentration, listeners are encouraged to experience it in a state of sleep. Richter is joined by five string players and an audience who are encouraged to lie on beds and sleep through the performance. The musicians – five string players and a soprano, plus Max Richter on keyboards – play in shifts, themselves taking sleep breaks during the course of the piece. This world premiere performance broke two Guinness World Records – for the longest broadcast of a single piece of music, and the longest live broadcast of a single piece of music. The piece provides an apt soundrack for these times of lockdown, when hours seemingly stretch into the distance.

Radio 3 really has broadcast some pieces that sound straight out of The Fast Show’s ‘Jazz Club’. I know this is Classical music, rather than Jazz, but it is still like the pretentious, pseudish music ‘Jazz Club’ lampooned. And I know the sketch was really based on Whispering Bob, the host of the Old Grey Whistle Test, but Radio 3 also used to broadcast modern Jazz, that was almost exactly like the parodies on The Fast Show, in their late night programme, Late Junction. Listen to this at your peril!

Nice!

 

Murdoch Hacks Now Begging People to Buy Papers

April 7, 2020

Okay, no sooner had I put up my piece earlier today arguing that the reason the Scum’s journo, Trevor Kavanagh, wanted the lockdown lifted was because it was causing Murdoch’s papers to lose money, then confirmation of a sort came. Zelo Street had put up a piece reporting that various hacks from the Scum and the Times had written pieces begging people to #buyapaper. They included the Scum’s political editor, Tom Newton Dunn, Jack Blackburn of the Thunderer, Mark Lawton, another Times hack, the Scum on Sunday’s political editor, David Wooding, Sathnam Sangera, Matt Chorley, Martyn Ziegler, all of the Times, and the Scum’s Ryan Sabey and Dan Wootton. They said that the press was in trouble, but journalists, production staff, printers and distributors were all working hard during the crisis to bring us all trusted information, not myths. We would all miss the papers if they vanished. That included the local papers, whom they condescended to mention were also experiencing problems.

Zelo Street commented at the end of this litany that in times like these, people realised what was essential and what was not. ‘A daily paper is rapidly falling into the latter category, especially when, unlike the claims of the Murdoch goons, it is bringing not trusted stories, but an incessant diet of bigotry, hatred, political propaganda, and worthless and uninformed punditry.

Our free and fearless press is bottom of the European trust league. The Murdoch titles play their full part in that ranking. Karma can be a beast sometimes.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/murdoch-goons-pass-begging-bowl.html

This is correct. I think Zelo Street, or perhaps one of the other left-wing blogs, has put up the stats for the most trusted, and trustworthy, papers in Europe. And they don’t include Britain’s. Murdoch’s own papers have been leading the decline in quality in the British press since he acquired the Herald in 1969 or thereabouts, and turned it from a quality socialist paper into a Tory propaganda rag. Murdoch’s journalistic standards were so low that his staff in New York and Australia went on strike against the way his direction for their journals had turned them into a laughing stock. But Murdoch ploughed on, and the malign influence he exerted through his press and media empire has contributed to Britain becoming a spiteful, hateful place for ethnic minorities, the disabled, and the unemployed, low paid and other folks on welfare. Murdoch’s not alone by any means. The Heil, Depress, and Torygraph have all played their part. But the Scum has become proverbial for its gutter journalism.

This country does have some very good journalists – Mike is one, obviously. But its newspapers are disgusting. Many of them are effectively kept running by unpaid interns and freelance staff, whom they try to find every means they can not to pay. According to the Eye, the worst newspaper for using interns was the Groaniad. Meanwhile, the name hacks get salaries in the tens of thousands, and the proprietors and board all give themselves very handsome salaries and bonuses. As for content, it’s almost entirely shameless Tory propaganda. That, in my view, reached a new nadir last year in the massive smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, in which Mike and very many others were libelled and smeared as anti-Semites and Nazis. This included decent, self-respected Jews like Jackie Walker. This all comes from Murdoch himself, although I very much doubt he personally ordered any of it. It’s just the direction he’s taken these papers from the start. He is reported to have a very cavalier attitude to libel. Apparently he isn’t deterred from publishing a libelous story by the mere fact that it is libelous, only by whether the fine from a successful prosecution would be more than the sales gained through publishing it. If the number of copies sold wouldn’t be worth more than the fine, the story’s spiked. If the sales and the profits from them are more, then he goes ahead. And heaven help the poor soul at the other end.

According to the Eye, the Times is losing money hand over fist. So much so, that if it were any other paper it would have been axed or sold years ago. But it’s Britain’s paper of record, and so gives Murdoch a place at the political table. Murdoch’s empire as a whole is also in dire financial trouble. Zelo Street a little while ago put up a piece about what News International’s published accounts showed, and instead of a tidy profit they showed a massive, staggering loss. Some of that is due to the fines and out of court settlements Murdoch has had to make for the phone hacking scandal. I’ve forgotten the precise figures, but it’s tens of millions – a truly eye-watering amount.

The Murdoch press’ concern for local papers is also, as you might guess, hypocritical. Going back to Private Eye again, that paper reported in its ‘Street Of Shame’ column that in terms of sales, local papers are actually doing rather well. They’re bucking the decline in newspaper sales. However, they’re under immense financial pressure to the point where many are folding because they’re owned by the same corporations who own the big national papers, and their profits are being used to keep the national papers going.

Now many businesses are suffering because of the crisis and the necessary lockdown, especially small businesses like local shops and the self-employed. Many of these are seriously worried, because they don’t qualify for the government’s promised payment of 80 per cent of their income. Or if they do, it’ll come too late, as the first payment will come in June. But I have little sympathy for the Tory press because of their role in cheering on and propagandising for 40 years of Thatcherism and the poverty, unemployment, and now starvation they’ve caused. All for the profit of the rich few.

If Murdoch’s squalid empire went under tomorrow, it would just be too bad. Except that the people who’d suffer would be the junior writers, the production staff, printers and distributors. The big, star writers, editors and management, including Murdoch himself and his family, would all get generous payouts for their part in degrading British culture and its working paper for all these decades.