Posts Tagged ‘Richard Desmond’

Schools Display and Document Folder on the 1920s General Strike

March 13, 2017

The General Strike: Jackdaw No.l05, compiled by Richard Tames (London, New York and Toronto: Jackdaw Publications Ltd, Grossman Publishers Inc., and Clarke, Irwin and Company 1972)

I picked this up about 20 years ago in one of the bargain bookshops in Bristol’s Park Street. Jackdaw published a series of folders containing reproduction historical texts and explanatory posters and leaflets on variety of historical topics and events, including the Battle of Trafalgar, the slave trade, the voyages of Captain Cook, Joan of Arc, the Anglo-Boer War, the rise of Napoleon, Ned Kelley and Wordsworth. They also published another series of document folders on specifically Canadian themes, such as the Indians of Canada, the Fenians, Louis Riel, Cartier of Saint Malo, the 1867 confederation of Canada, the vote in Canada from 1791 to 1891, the Great Depression, Laurier, and Canada and the Civil War.

This particular folder is on the 1926 general strike, called by the TUC when the Samuel Commission, set up to report into the state of the mining industry, published its report. This recommended that the mines should be reorganised, but not nationalised, and although the miners were to get better working conditions and fringe benefits, they would have to take a pay cut. The folder included a poster giving a timeline of the strike and the events leading up to it, and photos of scenes from it, including volunteer constables practising self-defence, office girls travelling to work by lorry, the Conservative prime minister, Stanley Baldwin, and buses and train signal boxes staffed by volunteers. There’s also a Punch cartoon commenting on the end of the Strike. It also contains a leaflet explaining the various documents in the folder, along suggested projects about the issue and a short bibliography.

Poster and timeline of the Strike

Leaflet explaining the documents

The facsimile documents include

1. A leaflet arguing the Miner’s case.

2. Telegram from the Transport and General Workers’ Union to a local shop steward, calling for preparations for the strike.

3. Pages from the Daily Worker, the official paper of the T.U.C. during the Strike.

4. Notice from the Met calling for special constables.

5. Communist Party leaflet supporting the Strike.

6. Handbill giving the proposals of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leaders of the Free Churches for an end to the Strike.

7. Handbill denouncing the strike as ‘The Great ‘Hold-Up’.
The accompanying pamphlet states that this was very far from the truth, and that it was a government lie that the T.U.C. were aiming at a revolution.

8. Emergency edition of the Daily Express.

9. Conservative PM Stanley Baldwin’s guarantee of employment to strike-breakers.

10. Contemporary Analysis of the causes of the Strike’s failure, from the Public Opinion.

11. The British Gazette, the government’s official paper, edited by Winston Churchill.

12. Anonymous letter from a striker recommending that the T.U.C. shut off the electricity.

13. Appeal for aid to Miner’s wives and dependents.

14. Protest leaflet against Baldwin’s ‘Blacklegs’ Charter’.

The General Strike was one of the great events of 20th century labour history, and its collapse was a terrible defeat that effectively ended revolutionary syndicalism and guild socialism as a major force in the labour movement. It left a legacy of bitterness that still persists in certain areas today.

The jackdaw seems to do a good job of presenting all sides of the issue, and the final section of the explanatory leaflet urges children to think for themselves about it. And one of the folder’s features that led me to buy it was the fact that it contained facsimile reproductions of some of the papers, flyers, letters and telegrams produced by the strikers arguing their case.

Looking through the folder’s contents it struck me that the strike and the issues it raised are still very much relevant in the 21 century, now almost a century after it broke it. It shows how much the Tories and the rich industrialists were determined to break the power of the unions, as well as the sheer hostility of the press. The Daily Express has always been a terrible right-wing rag, and was solidly Thatcherite and anti-union, anti-Labour in the 1980s. Since it was bought by Richard Desmond, apparently it’s become even more virulently right-wing and anti-immigrant – or just plain racist – than the Daily Heil.

The same determination to break their unions, and the miners in particular, was shown by Thatcher during the Miner’s Strike in the 1980s, again with the solid complicity of the media, including extremely biased and even falsified reporting from the BBC. It was her hostility to the miners and their power which partly led Thatcher to privatise and decimate the mining industry, along with the rest of Britain’s manufacturing sector. And these attitudes have persisted into the governments of Cameron and May, and have influenced Tony Blair and ‘Progress’ in the Labour party, who also bitterly hate the unions and anything that smacks of real working class socialism.

Jimmy Dore Mocks New York Times Add

February 3, 2017

In this short segment from the Jimmy Dore Show, the American comedian and his team rightly tear into an add for the New York Times. The newspaper has been running an ad campaign with the slogan ‘The truth isn’t cheap’. This provokes mocking laughter from Dore and his team, who comment that the lies come free and are posted above the centre line. He also makes a pointed comment about Judith Miller, one of the Time’s journalists, getting a job with Fox News. He also states that in the case of the NY Times, the truth definitely isn’t free, as if you tell it, it could cost you your job. The segment ends with the comedians attacking various Democrat politicos for not protesting against Trump as much as they should, and stating that they need to ‘drain the swamp’ on their side of the House because of the terrible state the Democrats are in.

Dore is quite right to attack the Times, and its specious claim to truthful journalism. In fact, the newspaper has acted as the conduit for government lies, especially during the run up to the Iraq Invasion. The editors of the American radical magazine, Counterpunch, Patrick Cockburn and Jeffrey St Clair, have published a series of articles about the way the Times carried the lies from the Bush administration about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in order to whip up popular support for the invasion. And one of the few journalists on the newspaper, who did try getting the truth out, was summarily sacked.

I’m well aware that Dore is an American, commenting on an American newspaper, but this also has implications over here. Since Donald Trump’s elections we’ve had organisations like the BBC state that they are going to set up special taskforces and departments to critique and refute ‘fake news’. The Beeb, however, has stated that it will confine this to the internet, and not take on the fake news coming out of Fleet Street. While there is a problem with racist fake news on the internet, the most pernicious lies are those retailed by the mainstream media. Like the New York Times and Fox News in America. In the case of the latter, media researcher found that 75 per cent of the news broadcast by Fox was actually false. Watching Fox News actually makes you less informed than if you didn’t watch it. And the same could be said for the right-wing media over here, comprising the Murdoch press and the rags owned by Paul Dacre, Dirty Desmond and the rest of them. And this also includes the Beeb, which has a very definite right-wing bias. The Beeb’s news programmes do not like anyone challenging the idea that austerity is somehow necessary, as shown by Barry and Saville Kushner in their book, Who Needs the Cuts. Researchers at Edinburgh, Cardiff and Glasgow Universities have shown that the Beeb prefers to accept the views and give coverage to Conservatives and business leaders than members of the Labour party and trade unionists. And this is quite apart from the grotesque and flagrant anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn bias of La Kuenssberg.

Never mind the New York Times. The British media also desperately needs a few well-placed sneers at its pretensions to tell the truth. And that means the Beeb and the Times, as well as well-worn targets like the Scum.

Video of DPAC’s Westminster Bridge Protest against Benefit Cuts

September 11, 2016

This is another video I found on YouTube, this time of the protest DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) held on Wednesday, which closed down Westminster Bridge. It shows them moving along one of the roads to the Bridge and then crossing it with their banner proclaiming ‘No More Deaths From Benefit Cuts’, and chanting the same. One of the organisers, a large lady in a motorised wheelchair, gives a ‘hello’ to Theresa May, pointing out that she is now in Prime Minister’s Questions. She then reads out a message from another woman, Chrisman, who couldn’t be there, about the death of yet another disabled person, a man, who was put on the work group, despite the fact that he was so ill he could hardly walk. Apart from the speaker, several of the protesters are in motorised wheelchairs. There is a group from a women’s disability organisation, Winvision, which is for women with invisible visible disabilities. Someone else is banging a drum, and there is also a man carrying around a fake coffin, obviously to symbolise the huge numbers of people that have been killed by New Labour and Tory benefit cuts.

The video also shows the rozzers turning up to tell the protesters, who sat down on the Bridge to hold their protest, that they are causing an obstruction. They don’t want to arrest them, but if they continue, then the police will do so. Several people were arrested, including one young man, who is seen being taken away with a police officer holding both his arms.

Mike over at Vox Political blogged about this protest earlier this week, and I also wrote something. DPAC have been very active campaigning against the cuts for quite a few years now. While I’ve no doubt that travellers on the bridge were cussing them that morning, DPAC had every right and reason to protest. The work capability test and the cuts to benefits are forcing millions into mass poverty. Mike spent something like two years fighting with the government to get the figures for the number of people, who have died as a result of being found ‘fit for work’. I’ve forgotten the precise figure, but it’s several thousand. And well over 500 people have died of starvation, or killed themselves in despair, after being thrown off benefit. These victims have included an elderly couple, a young mother, and a diabetic man. Stilloaks over on his blog has compiled a comprehensive list, with accompanying biographies, of the victims.

The government’s repeated refusal to give the correct figures for the numbers of people, who’ve died and their suppression of repeated internal reports showing that their policies are literally killing thousands has given many disabled people, carers and ordinary members of the public the impression that the government is consciously committing mass murder comparable to the Nazis’ campaign against the severely disabled in Germany. Mike over at Vox Political has called it ‘chequebook genocide’. Jeffrey Davies, one of the commenters on this blog, has referred to it as ‘Aktion T4’, using the Nazi codename for their mass murder of the disabled.

The work capability test was introduced by Tony Blair and New Labour, using a scientifically discredited model of disability, under the explicit view that people claiming disability benefit and long-term sickness were ‘malingerers’. Blair and Brown should also share some of the blame for these deaths. Ed Miliband told his shadow cabinet that they should abstain on a vote on benefit cuts, so the Labour party wouldn’t be attacked by the press for being soft on welfare scrounging. Jeremy Corbyn gave his support to the protesters. Owen Smith, unsurprisingly, refused.

And as so much of the hate against the poor, the unemployed and the disabled for being on benefits is driven by the vile right-wing press in this country, we should also have no hesitation in blaming Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, his proprietor, Lord Rothermere; Richard Desmond, the owner of the Express and his editors; and Rupert Murdoch and the editors of the Scum and the Times, for their part in causing the organised deaths of so many vulnerable people. Thanks to their hysterical lies and abuse, the majority of people in this country really believe that the majority of people on benefits are frauds, despite the fact that the real figure, as revealed by the government itself, is just 0.67 per cent.

May and the Tories should not be in government, and Smudger, Bomber Benn and the rest of New Labour should not be in any positions of power in the Labour party. If there was any justice, those responsible for this toxic policy and the deaths it has caused should be in the dock being prosecuted for their crimes against humanity, as should Murdoch, Dacre, Desmond, Rothermere and their assembled hacks as their willing collaborators.

Vox Political on Disabled Protest Against Benefit Deaths at Westminster Bridge

September 8, 2016

Yesterday, Mike over at Vox Political put up a piece reporting and commenting on a sit-down protest by the Disability advocacy group, Disabled People Against Cuts, which closed Westminster Bridge for three hours. The group was protesting against the deaths that have been caused by the government’s welfare cuts. While Mike’s article points out that the group weren’t chanting, ‘There’s only one Jeremy Corbyn’, they fully support Mr Corbyn and his deputy, McDonnell, for their opposition to the welfare reforms. Mike quotes their press release as saying

“Since 2010 deaf and disabled people have been targeted for cuts and seen hard won rights and freedoms taken away – and as a result, the UK is now the first country to be investigated by the UN for grave and systematic violation of disabled people’s rights.

“Through all this, while much of Labour was competing with the Tories on who could be the toughest on welfare, Jeremy [Corbyn] and John [McDonnell] stood with disabled people and opposed the cuts.”

Mike also points out that one person, who didn’t support them, was Owen Smith. And I really am not surprised. Despite all the censorship and the attempt to deform the language used in the leadership debate to rule out any mention of the word, Smudger’s a Blairite. And it was New Labour under Gordon Brown that introduced the wretched ‘Work Capability Test’, which has seen so many disabled people thrown off benefit for the flimsiest and most ridiculous pretexts. Among those, who have been declared ‘fit for work’ have been terminally ill cancer patients, including those in comas. And injury has been compounded with insulting stupidity, as when one of those involved in the tests asked a claimant, an amputee, when they expected their limbs to grow back.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of people have been thrown off benefit because of the cuts. Mike’s posted up many times the precise number, including those who’ve died after being found ‘fit for work’. And upwards of 500 have starved to death, or taken their own lives in despair, unable to fee themselves through having their benefit taken away. The victims have included an elderly couple, a young mother with her baby, and a diabetic man.

It’s a gross scandal, which should be a source of bitter shame to Britain as one of the richest countries in the world. And any decent left-wing party should be shouting from the roof tops demanding an end to it. But the ruling New Labour clique didn’t want to. Ed Miliband instructed his shadow cabinet to abstain, rather than oppose the cuts, because he did not want the right-wing press claiming that Labour was soft on welfare scroungers. Thanks to shrieking headlines from the likes of the Daily Mail and the Scum, most Brits apparently believe that a very sizable number of claims, if not all of them, are fraudulent, while the real number of is 0.7 per cent. Which to my mind, makes Paul Dacre, Richard Desmond and Rupert Murdoch complicit in promoting these murderous policies.

Graphic of Angela Eagle’s Right-Wing Voting Record

July 17, 2016

Mike last week posted a graphic from Ian Sinclair of the Open Democracy website on Angela Eagle’s voting record in a post about how the Blairite challenge to Corbyn’s leadership was wrecking Labour’s electoral chances against the Tories. His article’s at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/11/mps-rebellion-could-ruin-labour-as-tories-take-advantage/

The graphic about Eagle is also interesting, as it reveals how right-wing and poisonous her policies really are. She’s another Blairite authoritarian, with a hatred of civil liberties, and a hawkish determination to push Britain further into disastrous, bloody, and counterproductive conflicts in the Middle East. Oh yes, and she wishes to protect her former leader, Blair, from investigation and prosecution for his part in starting these wars, that have destroyed so many lives.

Equally telling are her abstentions. She abstained on the debate about workfare, and again on the question of Tory welfare cuts. There should be absolutely no question about which way to vote on either of these issues. They should have been firmly opposed. Workfare is basically a form of neoliberal forced labour, while the welfare cuts are killing people. But they are popular with the ‘movers and shakers’ – the wealthy elite, and the newspaper barons like Murdoch, Dacre and Desmond, as well as whoever’s now running the Groan and the Absurder. Quite apart from capitalism’s bought and paid for apparatchiks in the Beeb and Channel 4.

Here’s the graphic:

160708-Angela-Eagle

Eagle has been claiming that she is a ‘strong Labour woman’. This is bilge. She is doubtless a strong woman, but her voting record shows that there is nothing ‘Labour’ about her except her membership of the party, a party which she is determined to bully and purge until it is as rightwing as she is.

Pro-Corbin Article in Today’s Counterpunch

June 30, 2016

The American left-wing magazine, Counterpunch, has an important article by Thomas Barker urging people outside the Labour party to support Corbyn in his desperate battle with the Blairites. Barker describes how 172 MPs have come out against him, including Ed Miliband, all claiming that he is ‘unelectable’, despite having the biggest mandate of the party leaders. He states very clearly that their opposition to Corbyn is based on his desire to bring back real Socialism into the party, and make the Left a renewed force in British politics, through supporting the nationalisation of the railways, free education, a better minimum wage and so on. He states that Corbyn also has limited support from the constituency parties, and so urges those outside the party to show their support.

He begins

Since last Thursday’s EU referendum, some 172 right wing Labour MPs have put their name to a vote of no confidence in their leader Jeremy Corbyn. They claim that Corbyn is ‘unelectable’, despite winning the biggest mandate of any party leader in British history.

Even leaders proven to be ‘unelectable’, such as Ed Miliband, are now calling for Corbyn to resign.

In reality, these Blairite MPs are opposed to Corbyn’s program of a £10 an hour living wage, mass council house building, free education, and nationalisation of the railways.

It is hardly surprising that right wing MPs have come out against Corbyn, but what is most galling is the attempt by small groups of Labour members, including MPs and councillors, to enclose the debate within the confines of the party.

This is a huge mistake.

The implications of the ongoing leadership struggle are much bigger than one party. This is a struggle to reconstitute the left as a mass force. The idea that you need to be part of Labour to have an opinion on this is exactly the kind of exclusionary nonsense that needs to be avoided if Corbyn is to succeed.

The article’s at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/30/saving-labour-from-blairism-the-dangers-of-confining-the-debate-to-existing-members/

Go and read it.

People are indeed showing their support for Corbyn. Mike has linked to an internet petition asking him not to resign, and on Tuesday evening there was demonstration in his support on College Green in Bristol

And the Blairites, as a political faction, are vile. Tony Blair was a neoliberal Tory and a Thatcherite. One of the first things he did when he got into No. 10 was invited her round. She described New Labour as her greatest achievement. Well, she did make it very clear she wanted to destroy Socialism.

Blair continued the disastrous PFI, which has seen this country saddled with massive, off-the-accounts debt for shoddy workmanship in public utilities. He also continued and expanded Thatcher’s privatisation of the NHS. This was a conscious policy. He wanted to introduce an insurance-driven system like America, but didn’t want to lose an election by telling the voters. See Jacky Davis’ and Raymond Tallis’ NHS-SOS. It was Blair that also called in ATOS to conduct the fitness-for-work tests that have so far seen 500 or see people die of starvation and misery, and a further 290,000 suffer varying degrees of harm to their mental health. And it was Blair, who began the transform of our publicly funded schools into privately run academies.

Quite apart from Bliar, Mandelson and Broon introducing tuition fees.

This has all reduced the British people to poverty. It’s provided the basis for Cameron’s policies, which have continued them. As a result of 30 odd years of Thatcherism, our children will have worse schooling, the working and lower middle class will be saddled with immense debt if they go to Uni, and we are being charged for the health service, to the profit of private medical firms like BUPA, Circle Health, and Beardie Branson’s Virgin Care.

Enough’s enough. It’s time the Blairites were thrown out of the party, and treated with the contempt they deserve by the working people of this country, whom they’ve spurned. It was after all one of the Blairite MPs, who stated that Labour would be even harder on jobseekers than the Tories. All to curry favour with the corporate, tax-dodging fat cats and media barons like Murdoch, Dacre, Desmond and the weirdo Barclay Twins.

And so I say: I support Corbyn.

Rupert Murdoch and the Privatisation of the BBC

June 9, 2016

One of the major forces behind the Tory’s demands for the privatisation of the BBC is Rupert Murdoch. It is well-known that Murdoch owns the Sky satellite TV network, and so bitterly resents the state broadcaster as an obstacle preventing his own continuing expansion into broadcasting. Murdoch isn’t the only media mogul to demand the break-up of the Beeb in favour of their own interests as private broadcasters. Until recent, Richard ‘Dirty’ Desmond, the proprietor of Express newspapers and various grubby mags found on the top shelves on newsagents also owned Channel 5, along with his Fantasy X porn channel. The situation was much the same in the 1980s, when one of the other newspaper magnates, the late, unlamented Robert Maxwell, owned Rediffusion, which was also looking to expand, and so attacked the Beeb. But because of his domination of the market, Murdoch is perhaps the leading voice demanding the Beeb’s privatisation.

Mark Hollingworth discusses Murdoch’s self-interested attacks on the BBC in his book, The Press and Political Dissent: A Question of Censorship. While this section isn’t particularly surprising in itself, as the Dirty Digger has been doing it for decades, what is shocking is how viciously and single-mindedly the old brute prosecuted his attacks on the Beeb in the 1980s. He writes:

The attacks on the BBC began in January 1985, during the corporation’s negotiations for an increased licence fee, and were sustained through the year. On 14 January 1985, the Times published the first of three successive leading articles extolling the virtues of advertising the need for deregulation of the BBC: ‘The BBC is today accused of inefficiency, unaccountability, self-aggrandisement and feather-bedding its employees…Are the critics justified? In their main principles, yes.’ The next day Labour MP Joe Ashton launched his private member’s bill calling for advertising on the BBC. That morning the Times’ editorial was headlined-‘Wither the BBC’- and called for the break-up of the corporation: ‘Advertisers can clearly pay some part in generating the revenue to pay for many programmes…We need a more open, less monolithic system of broadcasting in which customers can choose what qualities they want from their TV screens.’ The next day the Times thundered again at its 1,300,000 readers: ‘Lord Annan’s Committee recommended a break-up of the BBC into its radio, TV and local radio components. The government should now prepare to go further than this. It should consider quickly the establishment of a new broadcasting commission to auction franchises that are currently operated by the BBC.

Now, what the Times fails to tell its readers is who will directly benefit if these franchises are auctioned. At the front of the queue will be a certain R. Murdoch, proprietor of the Times, who will benefit commercially if the BBC is broken up. Murdoch’s company, News International, owns Sky Channel-a cable and satellite operation which transmits 73 hours a week of alternative television and has three million subscribers in 11 countries. In 1983 Murdoch also took control of Satellite TV, Sky’s parent company, at a cost of £5 million and has a 75.5 per cent shareholding. Satellite began transmitting in 1982, beaming English language programmes to Norway and Finland for two hours a night. In 1985 the Times’ owner acquired the biggest stake in 20th Century Fox to provide films for his satellite Sky Channel to beam across Europe. Clearly, if even parts of the BBC are privatised, these Murdoch-owned companies will make a lot of money.

Murdoch’s views on the BBC are quite clear. ‘I would like to see it privatized,’ he said in November 1985. But this was not just his private opinion. According to the Mirror’s Paul Foot, Murdoch ‘has personally ordered a sustained attack on the BBC and all its people.’ Alastair Hetherington, former editor of the Guardian, added weight to this assertion when he accused the Times of conducting ‘a vendetta against the BBC in its leaders, news stories and features’. This is certainly borne out by the evidence. The Times published at least eight anti-BBC editorials throughout 1985. The paper also published a series of news reports, often based on the thinnest material, which suggested extravagance and incompetence among BBC management. ‘BBC Condemned As Licence Fee Monster’ was the headline for one story which was merely a report of an article by an obscure ex-BBC employee in a trade journal.

Moreover, when angry readers have written to complain about the coverage or offer and alternative point of view, the Times has refused to publish their letters. this was revealed by Paul Fox, Managing Director of Yorkshire Television. On 2 November 1985, the Times published another leader attacking the BBC, the IBA and ITV companies and misquoted comments that Fox had made about public service broadcasting. Fox wrote to the paper to set the record straight about his misrepresented remarks, but his letter was not published. Three days later, on 5 November 1985, David Plowright, the Managing Director of Granada TV and Chairman of the ITV Companies Association, also wrote to the Times to complain about front-page news report of a MORI opinion poll on advertising on the BBC. In his letter, Plowright pointed out that the Times opinion poll showed that more people were either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ satisfied with the quality of TV in Britain than those who took the opposite view. How curious, wrote Plowright, that the paper’s news story had failed to include these facts. The letter was not published and the issue was not corrected.

The Times was not the only Murdoch paper to attack the BBC. His tabloids have joined in the fun. Here’s the Sun on 23 January 1985: ‘Oh, what superior people they are at the BBC. Here is the Director-General, Alastair Milne, raising his hands in horror at the idea of accepting adverts…Just where is the BBC superior to the commercial channels… There is only one area where the Beeb shines. No-one could possibly match its overbearing, totally unjustified smugness. And again on 2 September 1985: ‘The BBC should compete in the market so it ceases to be such a burden on the public.’ The Sun’s sister paper, the News of the World, began its campaign a trifle later than most but soon made up for lost ground. Every week throughout April 1985 there was a news story about the expenses of BBC staff which were reaching ‘scandal’ proportions. The next month News of the World journalists were instructed to file detailed reports of the eating and drinking habits of fellow reporters on the BBC during a royal tour. One brave woman journalist refused, because she said this was not her job. A News of the World executive then telephoned from London to accuse her of being disloyal. However, halfway through his lecture, the editorial executive was much dismayed to find that he had been put through by mistake to Kate Adey-a BBC television news reporter. (pp.12-14).

The News of the World executive probably left the phone with his ears ringing. ‘Kats Adie’ is the formidable woman, who was thrown out of Libya after she put the fear of the Almighty into Colonel Gaddafy. She is most certainly not afraid to ask awkward questions of the powerful.

The Beeb does have its faults. Its biased news coverage enrages me, and has been criticised many times for its bias against Labour and to the Conservatives. On the other hand, at its best it does provide good, solid public service broadcasting that few of its commercial rivals are able or even willing to provide. And advertising increasingly cannot provide the needed funding for some TV programmes today. A few years ago there were plans to bring back Spitting Image, the much-loved satirical puppet show screened on Channel 4 on Sunday evenings. This was eventually dropped because it was simply too expensive.

And no matter how biased the Beeb is, Murdoch’s worse. The more he goes on, the more he resembles the Bond villain, a media-mogul, who planned to start a war between America and China simply for its news value. That particular piece of Bondage ended with Commander Bond and his mates killing the villain, who was then reported as sinking in the South China Sea along with his stealth yacht. An end very similar to the drowning of Robert Maxwell. After something like five decades of lowering media standards across the globe, you feel it’s about time someone from the world’s covert intelligence agencies made him put a sock in it.

In the meantime, here’s Spitting Image on the Dirty Digger and his nearly subterranean journalistic standards.

Vox Political: Turkey, More Scaremongering by the Express and the Leave Campaign

May 23, 2016

Mike on Saturday also put up another piece about the latest scaremongering story run by the Express. This had, apparently, conducted a poll of 2,600 people in Turkey, across 27 provinces, which concluded that 17 million Turks would like to come to Britain. The country has a population of 80 million, and those, who wanted to come were mostly the unemployed and students. The Express is profoundly xenophobic, and it’s probably no surprise that its proprietor, the pornographer Richard Desmond, is a supporter of UKIP. Mike in his article observes that this looks like another Kipper/Brexit move to make us all afraid of Europe because immigrants from the Middle East were going to flood the country through its open borders policy. Just like they told us that over a million people from Romania were due to arrive, and that didn’t happen.

Mike asks if anyone, even the people, who write this rubbish, actually believe it?

See:http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/21/they-said-it-about-romania-and-it-didnt-happen-now-theyre-saying-12m-turks-want-to-move-to-the-uk/

Unfortunately, I know people, who have read it and believed it. This is after all the line UKIP has been running for over a year, and the Eurosceptic movement in general for nearly a decade or more before that. Quite apart from the general debate over immigration that has been going on ever since the Windrush and the encouragement of Black and Asian workers and professionals to settle in Britain to solve the labour shortage after the Second World War.

In fact, as I can remember Yes, Minister, pointing out, you can get the answer you want out from people using an opinion poll depending on how you phrase the questions. It’s why the reputable polling companies like Gallop and Pew are very careful about how their questionnaires are phrased. You also have to be careful to make sure the demographics polled are genuinely representative. For example, if you conduct a poll only in an area where White supremacy is strong, you could conclude that the British people are all racists. A quite different answer would be received in a Black, Asian, or more racially mixed area. And some of the interpretations of poll results by some groups and newspapers can be much different from what the figures actually say. For example, a poll which shows that more people are worried now about crime could be interpreted by a newspaper to show that crime has gone up, or that people fear that the government takes a too soft policy on it. But a closer examination of the figures could also show that in fact the incidence of crime hasn’t gone up, nor is the government actually more soft on crime, only that the fear of crime has increased. And I was taught while studying ethnology for a religious studies course at College that in fact the maximum percentage of questionnaires mailed out to people to gauge their attitudes, which are returned is 15%. There is a real question of how representative those forms are, when such a low number return them.

In short, this looks the Express once more bending the stats to make us all afraid of foreigners and want to leave Europe. It’s rubbish, and should be ignored. Like Desmond’s mighty organ that published it.

The Anti-Semitism Accusations, Blair and the Israel Lobby

May 7, 2016

I’ve blogged a number of articles last week pointing out that the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour have precious little to do with any genuine anti-Semitism, but are simply part of a strategy by the Blairites to hang on to power within Labour, and the Israel lobby to deflect criticism of the state’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians.

I’ve posted up a number of pieces from the parapolitics magazine, Lobster, about the connections between the Zionist lobby and New Labour. And in the case of Blair his circle of MPs and activists, the connection was very close indeed. For example, in the article ‘Yo, Blair!’, in Lobster 52 for Winter 2006/7, editor Robin Ramsay noted that Lord Levy’s fundraising activities amongst the Jewish community was aided by a member of the Israeli embassy.

Even when the police investigation into Lord Levy’s fundraising activities for the Labour Party overlapped with the Israeli assault on Lebanon, to my knowledge none of the major British media, looking at Blair’s support for the Israelis, thought it relevant to mention that his successful capture of the Labour Party owed much to the money provided by Lord Levy, money which came, we are told, from British Jews, and that this arrangement, which enabled Blair to be financially independent of the Labour Party’s resources – and thus to all intents and purposes beyond their control – was facilitated by Gideon Meir, then with the Israeli embassy in London. (P. 16).

Ramsay also ran another piece on ‘New Labour and Israel’ in ‘New Labour Notes’ in Lobster 44, Winter 2002, 16-17. He wrote

In Lobster 43, p. 9, I referred to Tony Blair’s membership of the Labour Friends of Israel. That body was the subject of ‘Byers plots a comeback with pro-Israel pressure group’ by the Times’ political editor, David Cracknell, which included the following:

‘Stephen Byers is bidding to make an early political comeback just two months after quitting the government. The former transport secretary is the front runner to take over the chairmanship of the influential Labour Friends of Israel pressure group. the body is one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks for Labour MPs. Several recent incumbents have been backbenchers who have gone on to be appointed to government….Tony Blair consults members of the Friends of Israel over Middle East policy and Byers would have the opportunity to regain access to Downing Street on a vital area of policy without attracting unwelcome headlines.’

In ‘Tony Blair, New Labour Trumpet Boy!’, Diane Langford of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, added the following information on LFI.

* The Director of Labour Friends of Israel is David Mencer, former research assistant and electoral agent for Gwyneth Dunwoody, ‘life president’ of LFI.

*The parliamentary register of Members’ interests shows that recent visitors who have had flights and accommodation paid by Labour Friends of Israel include Ivor Caplin, Paul Clark, Oona King, Ashok Kumar, Ivan Lewis, Anne McGuir, Rosemary McKenna, Margaret Moran, former LFI Chair Jim Murphy, Sandra Osborne, Gareth Thomas, Frank Roy, Joan Ryan, Angela Smith, Graham Stringer, Rudi Vis, David Watts, Gillian Merron, Peter Pike, Lorna Fitzsimons, Louise Ellman, Caroline Flint, Linda Perham, Douglas Alexander, Fabian Hamilton, Anthony Colman, LFI former Chair Stephen Twigg, LFI Vice Chair Mike Gapes, and Dan Norris.

Ivan Lewis, in the list above, was PPS to secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers MP.

* Since 1997 57 Labour MPs have visited Israel, mostly with the Labour Friends of Israel.

* The have been 14 official trade missions to Israel from the UK since 1997. The BRITECH agreement signed by Trade Secretary Stephen Byers means there is now a £15.5 million joint fund to encourage co-operation between British and Israeli hi-tech industries in research and development for their own benefit.

In the even the puff for Byers in the Times came to naught. the new chair of Labour Friends of Israel is the MP James Purple.

Further information on the Labour Friends of Israel appeared in the article ‘Terrorism, Anti-Semitism and Dissent’ by Tom Easton in Lobster 47 for Summer 2005, pp. 3-8.

Gwyneth Dunwoody’s researcher and election agent for some time was David Mencer, a former member of the Israel armed forces, and now secretary of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Stephen Byers, one of the few remaining defenders of the New labour Project, is a senior figure in LFI whose parliamentary chairman is now James Purnell. the latter was elected to Parliament in 2001 after working at No. 10.

Purnell, Stephen Twigg, Lorna Fitzsimmons, Jim Murphy and Sion Simon (a columnist for Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph before becoming an MP in 2001) were all members of the New Labour ‘Praetorian guard’. Before becoming MPs they all cut their teeth in student politics with the help of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). Numerically small – its website said it had 5,000 members in 2001 – it can afford 10 full-time workers. It played an important role in the 1990s in working with the National Association of Labour Students (later Labour Students) in keeping Israel off the campaigning agenda of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Of an older generation of student politicians is Mike Gapes, who came to work for the Labour Party after the NUS as a foreign policy researcher. He was part of the small team around Neil Kinnock who shifted the party away from its critical stance of the US and unilateralism. Elected to Parliament in 1992 he is now vice-chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. He wears another hat, that of chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a tax-funded operation similar to the NED in the States. Earlier this year Gapes chaired a WFD gathering at which Neocon NED chief Carl Gershman was a speaker.

This is just scratching the surface of the old Atlanticist networks with a newer Israel dimension, but it is sufficient to suggest that much of it in Britain centres around New Labour. And just as Avnery describes the pride the Israel lobby takes in its power over the US political process, so we have a parallel here around Tony Blair.

We not only can piece together the evidence; we can hear the words of one of Blair’s main links to the business community John Mendelsohn. this is what Mendelsohn told Jews Week (www.jewsweek.com) on September 8, 2002.

‘Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party. Old Labour was cowboys-and-Indians politics, picking underdogs. The milieu has changed. Zionism is pervasive in New Labour. It is automatic that Blair will come to Friends of Israel meetings.

In a signed 2001 election advertisement in The Jewish Chronicle, Blair said:

‘Since 1997 a record 57 Labour MPs have visited Israel, mostly with Labour Friends of Israel, swelling the numbers of MPs willing to ensure balance on the Middle East in the House of Commons. More labour MPs have visited Israel than from any other party.’

How many of those Labour MPs voted against the invasion of Iraq? This is now important to the future of British politics. (p.8)

Elsewhere in the article Easton notes that the journos promoting the Iraq war worked for Murdoch, Black and Richard Desmond, who were all very strong supporters of Israel. (p. 6)

Vox Political on John Whittingdale’s Bullying of the BBC

April 20, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political asks the burning question of why the BBC is allowing itself to be bullied by ‘sex row’ minister John Whittingdale. Whittingdale is, as Mike reminds us, the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport. He has also had a relationship with a dominatrix, a former topless model, to whom he showed government documents, and spent an evening at a lap-dancing club, where he received the attentions of two of the ‘ladies’. He then spoke afterwards in parliament against legislation restricting their opening. Now it seems the Shadow Minister for those areas, Maria Eagle, has also accused Whittingdale of trying to bully the BBC into following his own ideological bias, especially regarding Europe. Eagle told the Voice of the Viewer and Listener conference in London that Whittingdale had increasingly tried to interfere editorially in the Beeb’s news content, including its coverage of the Brexit debate. Whittingdale, perhaps unsurprisingly, supports us leaving the EU.

It’s all a very good question. Mike’s article can be read at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/04/20/why-is-the-bbc-letting-itself-be-bullied-by-sex-row-minister-whittingdale/

whittingdale Pic

The Minister for Fun himself. Now imagine that face above you, screwed up in sexual ecstasy, as the Fast Show’s Ron Manager once said of Gary Linker.

The editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, also raised the issue on last Friday’s edition of Have I Got News For You why the papers had made little mention of Whittingdale’s extra-marital shenanigans, when they had no such compunctions of revealing similar scandals involving just about every other minister. Quite so. Some of us can remember the lurid days of John Major’s administration, when it seemed just about every other week a minister’s or MP’s career collapsed amid sordid exposes of mistresses, prostitutes, rent boys or simply wandering around Clapham Common seeking complete strangers to have dinner with. And one of the most notorious of these was the spectacular, and immensely hilarious revelations about David Mellor, who was supposed to have indulged his sensual appetites dressed in a football shirt. Quite apart from the fact that his name was only a final ‘S’ away from that of the gamekeeper in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

But the press have been remarkably, and uncharacteristically restrained in their coverage of Whittingdale’s sexual escapades. You could be forgiven for thinking that there had been some kind of deal made between the government and the press barons, particularly those titles owned by one Rupert Murdoch, a serial media offender – his media are serially offensive – who fled from Australia to take up residence in America. Murdoch, Desmond and the rest of the newspaper magnates hate the Beeb with a passion, and would like it sold off so that they can step into the broadcasting vacuum. It looks very much like there was some kind of agreement by which they would like the other way, and not run the stories about Whittingdale, if he followed their line and did everything he could to make the Beeb’s position as a publicly funded broadcaster untenable.

It reminds me somewhat of a classic Tony Hancock episode, The Scandal Magazine. In that story, the Lad Himself tries to sue a scandal magazine, The Blabbermouth, owned by one Sid James, in order to protect his honour after it runs a story about him having an affair with an 18 year old woman. Trying to get Sid to retract the story, East Cheam’s most beloved former resident goes through various public figures he thinks will be sympathetic to his case, only to find Sid’s got something on all of them.

Hancock: The Big Five?
Sid: I got something on four of them, and I’m having the fifth one followed.
Hancock: The Chief Constable?
Sid: Nah. Have I got a story hanging over his helmet. ‘Oo locked himself in the back of a Black Mariah with a policewoman!
Hancock: So in other words, it doesn’t matter which door you open, Sid’s in first.

Except that this is for real, and unfortunately, the part of Sid is being played by Murdoch, Desmond, Dacre and the Weirdo Barclay twins, who collectively lack an ounce of the comedic charm and skill James brought to the big and small screens.

Years ago there were plans to revive the Hammer Horror franchise. That, unfortunately, seems to have gone quiet after a couple of films were released under the Hammer banner. Perhaps the film series to be revived should be the Carry On flicks. The comedic heirs of Talbot Rothwell could have a field day with Murdoch and the rest of that crew. It’s clear enough that they all deserve it.