Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Murdoch’

GB News’ and Talk TV’s Viewing Figures Go Into Single Digits for Queen’s Funeral

September 19, 2022

This is hilarious and more than a little sad – for GB News and Talk TV, that is. Today millions of people in Britain have been watching the Queen’s funeral on TV. They’ve also been watching it on YouTube, both here and all over the world. This morning one of the channels screening it on YouTube got 504,000 viewers. There were also a few thousand odd people watching it on CNN and in Nashville, Tennessee, over the pond, there were about 11,000 people watching on their local channel. Thanks for the interest and appreciation, guys! But by half past four over here interest had waned. Or it had for people watching on GB News and Talk TV. Because by that time, GB News’ viewers were down to 9, and a quarter of an hour later Talk TV had three people watching.

Mind you, there wasn’t that much to see. I think the ceremony was over by then and what you saw on those channels was a long distance shot over the greenery to Buckingham Palace with the odd, lone figure moving in the middle distance.

I dare say the channels had far more people watching at the height of the ceremony, but I do find it highly amusing that their audiences were so low. Especially as GB News was hyped as the mighty right-wing alternative to the ‘woke, wet BBC’. Well, here’s to the collapse of those two networks, the bankruptcy of Rupert Murdoch and all his ilk, and Nigel Farage and Julia Hartley-Brewer getting their P45s.

We Own It on the Increasing Popularity of Nationalising the Utilities

August 20, 2022

I got this email from pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It yesterday. It gives the polling figures for the proportion of the British public that wants the public utilities renationalised. It’s around two-thirds of the British public for industries like electricity, rail, and water, and rises to 78 per cent for the NHS. This figure, although healthy, does concern me, as I understood that previous polls put the figure at 85 per cent. This looks like a drop in popularity, possibly caused by the way the Tories have run it down combined with scumbags like Alex Belfield and Nana Akua on GB telling everyone how better these services would be if they were privatised. As for the Royal Mail, this was privatised by the Grinning Blair, against everybody’s wishes. I know working class Tories who actually voted Labour when the Tories were muttering about privatising it. They mistakenly believed that Labour wouldn’t sell it off. This is what happens with Blairite Labour: you get Hobson’s choice. The faces change, but the policies don’t, because Labour’s listening to the same corporate donors and the same newspaper barons, especially the voice of Mysterian Murdoch. But these figures together, and the chaos privatisation has caused, are a powerful argument for renationalisation. Here’s the email:

‘Dear David,

Everyone is talking about nationalisation, so we’ve been getting the word out in the press about how popular it is. A majority of the UK public support public ownership of key utilities like energy and water – including Conservative voters.

This week we released our biggest ever poll with Survation which shows:

💧69% want publicly owned water

💡66% want publicly owned energy

🚌 65% want publicly owned buses

🚄67% want publicly owned rail

🏥78% want a publicly owned NHS

📮68% want a publicly owned Royal Mail

If you agree with public services for people not profit, you’re not alone – and you can help spread the word about how popular public ownership is:

Share the polling on Facebook

Share the polling on Twitter

Share the blog by email

Your energy bill is going up and up – in January bills are set to hit £500 a month and 100,000 people have committed not to pay.

Sewage flows into our rivers and seas, making people ill and killing fish, but water companies return billions in dividends to shareholders.

Other countries’ state owned railways profit from our privatised system, while the government plans to close ticket offices at the same time as talking about ‘Great British Railways’.

Privatisation has failed and we’re all feeling the consequences.

But you are fighting back!

THANK YOU to everyone who’s signed the petition to Nationalise Bulb. Thanks to your support, the campaign got covered in the Express! Sign and share the petition if you haven’t already. Let’s make our demand as big as possible ahead of the energy price cap rise next week…

THANK YOU to everyone who’s joining the ticket office protests this coming Tuesday 23rd August, whether in person or online.

Let’s get wins, let’s get the word out. The tide is turning, and you’re helping to make that happen.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew and Kate – the We Own It team’.

New Advert for British Rail Nationalisation Shows Europeans Laughing at Britain for Allowing Them to Buy It Up

August 19, 2022

The Mirror has published a very incisive piece about an advert calling for the renationalisation of the railways, in which Europeans laughs at us for allowing their state owned railways to buy up ours. The article by Mike Boyd, ‘Europe mercilessly mocks UK government for allowing British rail to fund their rail systems’ begins

‘The British rail system has been mocked by Europeans appearing in an advert pushing for the network to be made public.

In the viral video produced by the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) – whose members are striking across the UK today – the franchised structure of the UK’s rail network is mercilessly ridiculed.

In the clip representatives of “the people” of France, Netherlands and Germany “thank the British people” allowing their “publicly owned rail networks” to “buy up your rail network”.

In one brutal moment the cast explain: “So when you buy a ticket on Thameslink, Gatwick Express, Grand Central, Chiltern Railways, Merseyside Rail, Scotrail, Greater Anglia, London Midland, DLR, Northern Rail, London Overground, Cross Country, Southern and South Eastern, the profits go to making our railways cheaper.”

They add: “In 2012 we got £3million just from Greater Anglia. Not only that, the British taxpayers pay our franchises massive subsidies, without which we could never make a profit.

“So even if you never catch a train, you’re still sending us money. But before you say, ‘ah, we’ve left the EU’, that doesn’t make a difference.

“In fact, the Tory government want to privatise even more, which means we can take over even more.

“So to the British people we want to say, thank you.”‘

The advert, the article says, was first made in 2017, and has resurfaced as the rail workers launch industrial action.

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/europe-mercilessly-mocks-uk-government-for-allowing-british-rail-to-fund-their-rail-systems/ar-AA10Nk81?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=9fa61476fe6f474a9295c590d336f5f1

This is precisely correct, and there was criticism a few years ago of the Dutch railway company’s management of one of the rail franchises a few years ago, though the company responded with a statement that they were actually investing millions into it. But this problem isn’t just confined to the railway networks – it’s also in the electricity and water companies. I’ve got a feeling that the local water company for Bristol is owned by the Indonesians, and at least one of the electricity companies owned by the French. This is all a product of Thatcher’s privatisation. These companies have no interest in giving the privatised utilities the investment they need, only in using the profits to give dividends to their shareholders and bonuses to their chief executives. There are state owned electricity companies in the US, and I understand that those that aren’t owned by the state are protected by law from foreign companies owning a controlling stake in them. The same is true of the press, which is why Dirty Rupe Murdoch abandoned Australia to become an American citizen.

The railways, electricity and water need to be renationalised now. However much the Heil, Torygraph, Financial Times and GB News may scream against it.

Message from We Own It about Their New Website and Campaign Against Channel 4 Privatisation

June 14, 2022

I got this email from anti-privatisation campaign group We Own It informing me about their new website and their continuing campaign against the government’s proposed sell-off of Channel 4.

‘Dear David,

What do Armando Iannucci, the Archbishop of York and Siobhán McSweeney from Derry Girls all have in common?

They’re all taking a stand against Nadine Dorries’ plan to privatise Channel 4.

They’re not the only ones. 27 independent production companies, actor Jon Pointing, comedian Jack Rooke, and the Bishops of Ripon and Leeds are taking a stand too.

They’ve come together today to send a message to the divided Conservative Party: Channel 4 ain’t broke. Don’t fix it. Conserve it.

Thanks to donations from hundreds of you, today we were able to launch an ambitious new campaign which hit the front page of the Yorkshire Post, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the National and local papers across the country.

Check out the beautiful new website and share it to spread the word! We need YOU to make this big launch even bigger! This is a campaign we can win.

Share the new campaign on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Check out the website and forward the link by email to friends and family

THANK YOU so much for showing this government where you stand.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Jack and Kate – the We Own It team

PS Thanks so much to everyone who took part in the day of action for the NHS on Saturday. You were all over the press for that campaign as well!’

I very much support this campaign, not least because Bristol is one one of the various cities in which the broadcaster is located. I’m afraid that if the government privatises the station it will have to close down its offices or studios in Bristol and the other towns, and that these local broadcasting industries will be severely damaged. A little while ago I wrote to my local Labour MP, Karin Smyth, to express my fears about the loss of local broadcasting in Bristol. She very kindly wrote back stating that she also was going to oppose Channel 4’s privatisation.

I think the channel has declined in quality since the 1980s and 1990s, but it has been a vital part of British broadcasting and cinema. There have been a stream of British films made either by, or with the participation of Channel 4 films. And when it was first launched in the 1980s, it offered a genuine alternative to mainstream broadcasting. It showed Indian films in a slot entitled ‘All India Goldies’ as well as an adaptation of the Indian national epic, the Mahabharata. It also provided excellent opera coverage, and really did much to bring it to a genuinely popular audience. It also gave Britain the wit and wisdom of the journalist and TV critic, Clive James, who had his own show on a Sunday night. James published a trio of books of his TV criticism, as well as his travel journalism and an autobiography, Unreliable Memoirs. His writing could be hysterically funny, as when he covered the extremely excitable remarks of over-the-top sports commenters. In one of his articles he described how one of the cars broke down or crashed during a race ‘and Murray Walker exploded’. At other times, when discussing the horrors of the Holocaust and the surviving Nazi and Fascist leaders like Albert Speer, Baldur von Schirach and Oswald Mosley, who turned up on British television, he was deadly serious and scathing. As he also was when writing about Stalin’s famine and purges and Mao’s China. He interviewed a number of great personalities on his show, including a very young Victoria Wood and the late, great Peter Cook. For fantasy enthusiasts, there was The Storyteller, a series of tales adapted from folk stories, narrated by John Hurt, with puppet creatures, including the Storyteller’s dog, created and operated by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Henson and Frank Oz were the geniuses behind the Muppets. They also made the fantasy movie The Dark Crystal, in which every character is a non-human creature. In the 1990s Henson’s Creature Shop also created the various aliens in the Australian-American SF series Farscape. I am very much afraid that if Channel 4 is privatised, then this history and pool of great broadcasting talent and skills will be permanently lost.

And it will be lost not because there’s anything wrong with Channel 4, but because the Tories’ backers, like one Rupert Murdoch, want British state broadcasting to end so their own cruddy networks can move in and take its place.

Cineworld Pull Film on Life of Prophet’s Daughter Fatima Due to Intimidating Protests from Sectarian Sunnis

June 8, 2022

I feel I have to comment on this story now going the rounds on the right-wing satellite news shows like GB News and the Murdoch-owned Talk TV, if only to provide some perspective on it. They’ve been discussing Cineworld’s decision to remove a British-made film, in which a young Muslim girl learns about the life of Muhammad’s daughter, Fatima. The film’s directed by Eli King, and was written by a Muslim clergyman, and its executive producer, Malik Shlibak, appeared on GB News talking to Nigel Farage to defend the movie. There were mass protests outside cinemas in Bolton and Birmingham, which led to the cinema chain removing the movie, first from those towns and now across the country. They stated that they were afraid that if they did not do, they could not guarantee the security of their staff.

One of the accusations against the film is that it is blasphemous, because it shows Mohammed’s face. This is frequently omitted in Islamic art, it has to be said. There’s either an oval hole left for the face, or else the face of Mohammed and other leading members of the early Muslim community are hidden behind veils. Shlibak explained to the Fuhrage that Habib, the Islamic scholar who wrote the film, was a highly respected clergyman with a following around the world. They were also very careful to base it on the historical sources. As for blasphemy in portraying the Prophet’s face, Shlibak stated that this wasn’t true, as there is a variety of attitudes towards the portrayal of Mohammed across the Muslim world.

The real issue, it appears, is sectarian. The protesters were all Sunnis, the orthodox branch of Islam, who objected to the film because it was from the Shia perspective. Fatima was married to Ali, whom the Shias revere as the first Imam and the true successor to Mohammed as the leader of the nascent Muslim community. However, he was passed over in favour of three members of the Meccan aristocracy, who had converted to Islam. Ali’s sons, Hassan and Hussein, attempted to seize power but were defeated in battle by the forces of the Caliph Muawiya. They were killed, their forces routed and the women of Ali’s family captured. Shia Muslims commemorate this event annually with processions and a passion play, in which they carry models of the Hassan and Hussein’s mausoleums.

Apart from Shlibak, the Fuhrage also talked to a Muslim who supported the protests. He denied that the film was being accused of blasphemy, because blasphemy doesn’t exist in Islam. The protests were instead against it because it caused sectarian tensions. Now the statement that blasphemy doesn’t exist in Islam is pure taqiyya, a lie to defend the faith. Technically what he said is correct – it doesn’t have quite the same concept, but has a similar idea. This is ‘insulting Islam’. There have been mob lynchings and murders of people accused of blasphemy in Pakistan. The Pakistani legal code also considers it a crime, and there are 200 people on death row in the country on blasphemy charges. When the man defending the protests repeatedly refused to answer Nige’s questions about blasphemy, Nige ended the interview ‘in the interests of free speech’.

I found an other video today in which the protests were being discussed by Leo Kearse, a Conservative comedian, who has appeared with Sargon of Gasbag’s Lotus Eaters, and another man, whom I didn’t recognise. It seems that the protesters were also recorded chanting ‘Allahu akbar’ and ‘Shia kaffir’, Shia unbelievers. Although unremarked by the three discussing the issue, this is particularly chilling. Muslims cannot enslave other Muslims under the explicit dictates of sharia law, although this was frequently violated. In the Middle Ages, however, a number of Sunni theologians and jurists ruled that the Shia were not Muslims, but unbelievers. They could thus be killed and their children enslaved. A few years ago the Grand Mufti of Mecca declared that the Shia were ‘heretics, worthy of death’, which is a call to genocide if ever I heard one. Kearse added that this was a problem of importing thousands, millions of people from other cultures that don’t share our values. He was corrected by the second panellist, who made the point that the people speaking were all born here. The problem was about parallel societies. This is a genuine problem. There have been articles in the press discussing the way White and ethnic minority communities are growing apart. There was one such in the left-wing political magazine, Prospect, a few years ago about one town in which Whites and Muslim lived in separate areas and had nothing to do with each other. The panellists stated that there wasn’t much in the way of British values on display. No, the protesters were following the traditional values of the Sunni Muslim world. They also made the point that it was similar to the teacher, who was hounded of his job at a school in Batley because he dared to show his class the French cartoons of Mohammed. This fellow and his family are still in hiding a year later. And it was for showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that the French teacher, Thomas Pattie, was murdered following similar protests.

Julia Harley-Brewer on Talk TV tried to put it into some kind of perspective by comparing it to Christian protests against Monty Python’s Life of Brian. And a few years before in the ’70s there were also protests against the horror film The Exorcist because of its portrayal of demonic possession. But as far as I know, these protests never included death threats, whether explicit or tacit, against those involved in the movie. The real parallels, and the source of the problem, are the protests in Bradford in the 1980s against Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. This was intended as a critique of western racism, and the Mahound character, who was supposed to be a caricature of Mohammed, actually wasn’t at all. People I know who’ve read the book have said it’s not blasphemous. It is, however, incredibly boring. The book was denounced by the Ayatollah Khomeini as a cynical political ploy in order to gain some kind of moral leadership over the Muslim world against Saudi Arabia. In Britain there were mass protests, led in Bradford by Mohammed Akhthar, Kalim Saddiqui and other intolerant hardliners. Akhthar penned a pamphlet, Be Careful With Mohammed, which I had the misfortune to read when I was briefly trying to study Islam at postgraduate level. It’s a staunch defence of traditional Islam, which is held up as everything good and admirable as compared to western society and Christianity, which is everything inferior and wrong. And Akhthar makes very explicit the British Muslim community’s rejection of British culture and values ‘They came to Britain to work, not to become Englishmen’. These protests gave the Muslim radicals in Britain as sense of power, especially as Rushdie was forced to go into hiding for a decade or so. In 1991 or so Kalim Saddiqui was filmed in his mosque in a BBC documentary, The Trouble With Islam, telling his flock that British society was a vast killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to us. When asked about this, he bleated some nonsense about a forthcoming Muslim holocaust.

But to return to the death threats, these are not confined to the leaders of the mass protests. The Muslim evangelist Ali Dawah in one of his videos told one of the ex-Muslim atheist YouTubers that when Britain becomes an Islamic state, he’d be put to death. One of the ex-Muslim atheists, Harris Sultan, appealed for donations a little while ago to pay for protection after a British Muslim put a price on his head.

I feel very strongly that we have to start pushing back against these bigots. One of the criticisms levelled against the handling of these protests is that the police didn’t turn up. I’m not surprised. They were no doubt scared of being accused of racism and Islamophobia, which may have been blown up into mass demonstrations around the globe. But I also despise the way protests like these are being ignored and played down by our politicians. I well appreciate why. They’re afraid of stoking real hatred against ordinary Muslims, who have nothing to do with the protests and who may not share these views. When Akhthar and Saddqui were organising protests in Bradford, there were counter protests against them from liberal Muslims. One of my former college’s lecturers on Islam also went up, and quote the passage in the Quran which condemns religious intolerance. I think it was probably the verse that runs ‘There should be no compulsion in religion’.

And protests carrying real or implied death threats aren’t confined to Muslims. A year or so ago Kathleen Stock, a feminist scholar, was forced out of her job following mass protests by students. She was accused of transphobia because of her stated belief that transwomen aren’t women. The university first tried sacking her for bigotry, which she successfully challenged. But she went anyway because she no longer felt safe.

I think this all needs to be stopped now. People have the right to protest but not to the extent where others fear for their lives. I wonder if it’s time to demand legislation against protests where there is a reasonable fear of threats to life and limb, and to make sure it is properly enforced. And I realise that this is an attack on free speech and the right to protest, but I cannot see any other way of defending free speech against such mobs without it.

Here are the videos I’ve mentioned.

Farage talking to executive producer Malik Shlibak:

Leo Kearse and others discussing the protests.

The Black Prof Who Proposed a Trans-Time Radio

May 31, 2022

Simon Webb of History Debunked put up a video yesterday asking if Black people wrote about anything other than race. He contrasted a book, Don’t Touch My Hair, written by a young Black woman studying at the School of Oriental and African Studies, with pop-science books written by Richard Feynman and Michio Kaku. He argued that there were other ethnic groups who had suffered just as much as Blacks, but these nevertheless wrote about something other than race and racism. It’s a good question, as Black Conservatives like Thomas Sowell have argued that Black people have taken the wrong road to improving themselves. He states that rather than being intent on taking political power, they should instead of have concentrated on raising their economic status through building business, education and so on, as the Jews, Chinese and other ethnicities have done. In the case of the Jews, there’s clearly a large amount of Jewish literature about anti-Semitism, but also about other subjects. Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, for example, is about Henry VIII’s minister Thomas Cromwell.

I’m no expert at all on Black literature, but there are a couple of Black SF writers: Samuel Delaney and Octavia Butler, and looking through Waterstone’s the other year a found Dark Matters, an anthology of Black SF. I don’t know how much SF written by Black authors concerns racial issues. I got the impression that it was a significant theme in Butler’s work, though this also includes alien contact and genetic engineering. Delaney’s bisexual, and his novels also cover gay issues, though at least one is about an immortal wandering a devastated Earth.

At the moment there are very few Black scientists, which the discipline is trying to change. However, I do remember that way back in the 1990s, at about the same time the remake of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine came out, a Black American lecturer at a Community College was in the scientific news for his proposal for a type of time machine. This used a supercooled gas to create an Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen condensate. This is a weird type of plasma in which the ions in the gas all behave as single one. The ideo was to start the ionised gas whirling in one direction, and then send an electron into it travelling in the opposite. Stars and Black Holes are so massive that they drag space-time around after them when they revolve. This is why Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and its predictions about the way gravity distorts the fabric of space-time has been useful in predicting the orbit of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. One of the suggestions for achieving real time travel is that a spacecraft could travel in the wrong direction against the rotation of a Black Hole and thus against the direction of the bits of space-time it’s pulling with it, and so travel into the past that way. The scientist suggested that if you suddenly saw two electrons in the condensate, it would mean that the electron had travelled from the future back into the past, where it joined itself. The experiment and its proposer were featured in New Scientist and there was even a programme on Channel 4 about it and the Time Machine film, looking forward to a future in which we in the present could communicate across time with the future. The experiment was due to be taken into space for testing aboard one of the space shuttles, but I think the shuttle that carried it was one of those that disastrously blew up, thus leading to a cancellation of the programme.

I’m not sure that a cross-time telephone would be a good idea. It raises awkward questions of predestination. If history cannot be changed, how would humanity cope with the news from the future about crimes, wars and disasters yet to happen, but which we would be unable to avert? And if history could be changed, this could lead to chaos with messages coming back to us from the future, which would affect the present and thus their past. One solution to this is that if we attempt to change the past, it leads to the creation of an alternative universe following the consequences of the change while the first universe continues with its set progression to an immutable future. Gregory Benford used this in his book, Timescape, about a physicist receiving messages from the future through one of his experiments, warning him and the rest of humanity of an ecological disaster that would destroy Civilisation As We Know It. The messages have been sent by his future self, and in that future civilisation is indeed collapsing and leads to the hero, his friends and family taking refuge in a farmhouse as society prepares to collapse. In the other, alternative time path, he is able to convince the world that the messages are genuine and persuade the world to use the techniques sent back to him and his colleagues to destroy the algae blooms devastating Earth and humanity is saved. I read in a book on the SF pulp magazine, Astounding, and its editor John W. Campbell, and most prominent writers Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and L. Ron Hubbard, that Benford had indeed been researching the possibility of time travelling radiation, dubbed Tau radiation in the novel, so I think the book may have been based on his own research. Since the shuttle explosion, nothing’s been heard of the real, cross-time communication experiment. If it had gone ahead and worked, the prof who invented it would have got a Nobel prize, no problem, and the world would have been very different.

But the point here is, beyond the issues raised by time travel, that a Black academic certainly was actively pursuing something that didn’t have anything to do with race. And while I dare say that race and racism is an issue that informs much Black SF, it isn’t the only issue. I also recall a video I found on YouTube contrasting the situation today, where the arts are being increasingly defined and compartmentalised by race, with that in the 1960 when Black writer James Baldwin published one of his novels. The characters in the book were mostly White, and the book was praised by the critics as a great piece of modern literature. Baldwin was praised as a great novelist in his own, individual right, and not as a great Black novelist. He was praised for his literary skills, rather than simply because of his race. This is one of the reasons Sowell and other Black Conservatives don’t like books by Black authors being promoted and included in the canon of great works simply because of their race. They want talented Black writers and artists to be respected because of their individual merits, and are afraid that they will have their deserved reputations tarnished because of more mediocre literature promoted simply because of the authors’ race.

You may also remember that a little while ago, BBC 4 showed a 4-part series, the Lost Civilisations of Africa, fronted by a Black academic. I think he was an art historian, rather than archaeologist, but he sported the Indiana Jones-style hat. Going through my local branch of Blackwells, when it still existed, I found the book that accompanied the series. Now I realise that it could be argued that this was about race, as the presenter was discussing Black civilisations, just as another Black presented did in another programme about the African city of Timbuktu and its wealth of medieval philosophical and scientific literature. But these programmes are no more about race than a White presenter talking about the general history of Britain and Europe, or a Chinese presenter talking about the history of his country.

It seems clear to me that Black people are capable, and certainly have written about other matters quite apart from race. It simply appears that way at the moment because of the way anti-Black racism has become one of the dominant contemporary issues following Black Lives Matter and the rise to prominence of Critical Race Theory.

Incidentally, BBC 4 is one of the BBC channels about to be culled due to cost-cutting measures. I’m not surprised, as it’s devoted to highbrow subjects like history, archaeology, literature and the arts. I can’t say I’ve watched much of it, but I do remember that it has broadcast programmes like The Lost Civilisations of Africa, as well as a number of other programmes about the Lost Civilisations of South and Central America. There was also one fascinating programme on historic maps and what they told you about the attitudes and politics of the time they were made and who made them. I’m afraid the cancellation of this channels represents another attack on high culture and serious arts programming, in order to appease the Beeb’s right-wing critics who want it privatised anyway. It’s an assault on genuine Reithian values by people who would like to keep this country uneducated and uniformed in the name of making TV another conduit for Thatcherite propaganda, delivered by Rupert Murdoch.

Commoners Choir – ‘These Are the Bastards’

May 5, 2022

And now, as the late, sorely missed computer-generated video jockey Max Headroom said, ‘More – of the same’. Here’s another deeply satirical musical attack on the Tories and their backers in industry, the media and the aristocratic landlords from Commoners Choir and their channel on YouTube.

It’s presented as a school lesson, showing us the bastards who underfund everything, rarely work, don’t pay tax, print lies, fiddle accounts, and frame our laws. The bastards making money responsible for starting wars, play golf while damning the poor, privatising everything they can while going grouse shooting, and tell lies. The same people who botched the response to the Coronavirus, failed to prevent further deaths by going into lockdown as soon as possible, botched supplying the protective masks and equipment. The Tory and industrial elite that deliberately don’t employ enough staff and underpay those they do, curtail public rights of way, cut grants and condemn the sick. The aristos and toffs who use public school arithmetic to drag everything back to the 19th century and before. They are arms merchants, landowners, the proprietors of the news media, and the rich figures who hypocritically front appeals while enjoying obscene wealth themselves. It also has a go at beardie Branson for suing the NHS and then grovelling for the state to bail him out. It ends with the request that people remember what they learned today, with images of people demonstrating against the privatisation of the NHS and the message spoofing the government’s own warnings about the Coronavirus – ‘Stay alert> Stop the bastards> Save Lives.

It’s less music than an old-fashioned schoolroom chant accompanied with the images of the offenders themselves. They are too numerous to list, but obviously include Johnson, Cameron and co. as well as Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Margaret Thatcher and many, many more.

The Privatisation of Channel 4 Is Another Assault on Journalistic Independence

April 5, 2022

I gather from today’s headlines that the Tories are going ahead with their wretched plan to privatise Channel 4. Well, they’ve wanted to do it for a long time, ever since Maggie Thatcher set it up in the 1980s. It was meant to be an alternative to BBC 2, and so was naturally going to have low ratings. But it also had some excellent programming and did much to offer the British public genuine alternatives to the mainstream medial

It’s director-general in that decade, Jeremy Isaacs, believed that people had latent tastes they didn’t know they had, and it was the channel’s task to offer material that they otherwise wouldn’t know they liked. He talked in his autobiography about giving the public a range of minority interests like miners’ oral history. Reviewing it, Private Eye got very huffy, accusing Isaacs of thinking that he knew better than the rest of us. But Isaacs was quite right. For example, Quentin Letts, former Daily Mail and now Times parliamentary sketch writer, who is very definitely a man of the right, praised Isaacs’ Channel 4 in one of his books because it opened up opera to a mass audience. Absolutely correct – my family’s working class, but Dad used to put Channel 4’s opera on occasionally. I remember coming back from seeing the western Silverado at the flicks to find Dad had on the box a big opera event being broadcast across Europe. And there were obviously a sizable number of ordinary, working people like Dad across the country, years before Pavarotti caused a storm at the World Cup.

But the channel also offered a range of other content, often of a multicultural flavour. There was an adaptation of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, a season of films by the great Indian director, Satyajit Ray, as well as more popular Indian cinema with ‘All India Goldies’. It also gave a platform to the new, emerging alternative comedy scene with The Comic Strip, starring Rik Mayall, French and Saunders, Alexei Sayle and so on, and the group of Black comics, the Family. They had a series set in a Black barbershop. I only saw bits and pieces of it, but it was genuinely funny. In one episode, one of the characters finds out that he is the governor of a Caribbean island nation right at the same time they’re having revolution. He phones up his government on the island just in time to hear gunfire and one them report that ‘Such-and-such island has fallen’. Wearing his ceremonial uniform, the man then stands in a wastepaper bin and tears off his epaulettes. More seriously, the channel also presented a history of the world intended to challenge the Eurocentric bias of traditional history programmes. There was also news and documentary series about Africa, with Black presenters and a history of the continent presented by the White afrocentrist, Basil Davidson. I’ve been criticised here for describing Davidson as an afrocentrist in a previous post. But that is how Davidson, a respected historian, described himself in one of his books. Davidson is an afrocentrist in the sense that he believes that ancient Egypt is the ultimate source of western science and culture. He states that he has this view, because it’s what the ancient Romans and Greeks believed. While this is a very controversial view, he’s very far from the bizarre fantasies and pseudo-history of many on the Afrocentric fringe, like the notion that the ancient Egyptians somehow had quantum mechanics and advanced physics long before the 20th century.

To balance this, the channel also had more popular entertainment like Tell the Truth, a panel show that was ‘Would I Lie to You’ in all but name, the pop music programme, The Tube and the computer generated vid-jockey Max Headroom as well as the soap, Brookside. It also upset right-wing sentiments with sexually explicit movies and programmes, to the point where the Heil branded Michael Grade, the channel’s next director-general, ‘Britain’s pornographer in chief’. This was just when the channel had announced it was launching a season of gay and lesbian programmes and films. The best response to this came from the Archdeacon of York. The Mail’s journos had been contacting various people to ask what they thought about this latest assault on traditional British morality. The good clergyman replied, ‘Do you think anybody’s going to watch it if there’s Clint Eastwood on the other’. A common sense reaction against the Mail’s hysterical fearmongering.

The Tories seem to have hated all of this at the time, even if its programming was applauded by the critics. As I remember, they were particularly impressed by the Mahabharata, the Tube and the Family. Channel 4 was also set up to specialise in high quality news coverage. And it’s this which I think really annoyed the Tories. Channel 4 News had a reputation for being particularly good, and the channel also broadcast the current affairs documentary series Dispatches and The Bandung Files. The last I believe uncovered some of the dirty dealing by western politicos and multinationals in the Developing World. The channel became much more mainstream in the 90s under Bazalguette, who got rid of much of the alternative material. It still managed to annoy the Tories though with ‘yoof’ shows like The Word and The Girlie Show, both of which had reputation for being spectacularly bad in terms of content and taste.

But I think it’s the persistent, in depth coverage and incisive questioning of government policies by the news programmes that has particularly brought down Tory spite. Channel 4 News has done too good a job of holding the government to account. When anchorman John Snow announced he was retiring a few months ago, the Lotus Eaters put up a video celebrating it and calling him a ‘snowflake’. Hardly. Snow was just determined not to take BS from officialdom. During the bombardment of Gaza he called Israeli ambassador Mark Regev a liar to his face when Regev tried telling the British people that if they sent their aid packages to Israel, the Israelis would pass it on to Gaza’s besieged people. It was a complete lie, and Snow did his job as a decent journalist and didn’t put up with it.

The Tories loathe anyone questioning them. They hated Paxo on Newsnight when he regularly tore Tory politicos like Michaels Heseltine and Howard into raw, bloody chunks. Hence all the rubbish about the Beeb’s left-wing bias and the campaign to end the license fee. And they clearly also hate Channel 4 with a passion for the same reason. And so they’re determined to privatise it.

The hope is clearly that without state support, both the Beeb and Channel 4 will dwindle into insignificance. Genuine public service broadcasting, with the duty to be impartial, will die out to be replaced by a Murdoch-owned right-wing propaganda outlet, like Fox or GB News.

I’ve no doubt that this is all being presented as saving the taxpayer money for broadcasting material nobody watches – which was one of the arguments the Tories made against the channel back in the 80s when they part privatised it the first time. There’s almost certainly going to be talk about how it’s ‘woke’ bias is unrepresentative of British views, just like they ranted about it being ‘pc’ in 80s and 90s. But the real reason is that they despise its journalistic independence.

The privatisation of Channel 4 is yet another despicable assault on genuine, quality journalism in favour of right-wing propaganda pumped out by Murdoch. They want to destroy any journalistic independence so that right across the news media, only the right will be heard.

Starmer Attacks Corbyn and Stop the War Coalition; The Coalition Hits Back

February 14, 2022

With the threat of a confrontation between NATO and the Russians in Ukraine rising daily, I felt I had to put up this video. It’s from an interesting left-wing YouTube channel, Not The Andrew Marr Show, whose host wears the spangled jackets sported by game show entertainers of a certain vintage and who interviews some very interesting people. In this video he talks to Chris Nineham of Stop the War Coalition about an article Starmer has penned in the Guardian accusing Jeremy Corbyn and the Coalition of siding with NATO’s enemies. Nineham states that this resulted in an article in the New York Times, the most right-wing of Murdoch’s newspapers, praising the Labour leader. He also states that the coalition has received masses of support over the past few days, with new members flooding in and messages backing them piling up. He feels that the majority of British people don’t want war. As for NATO, he dismisses Starmer’s statement that NATO stands for freedom and democracy as illiterate. That isn’t what the invasion of Afghanistan was about, and it wasn’t what the Iraq invasion was all about. He also makes the point that Starmer has scored a point against himself, as Starmer claims that he marched against the Iraq War. Well, I realise that was nearly 20 years ago now, and that people can and do change their opinions. I’ve certainly changed mine, as I initially supported the invasion. But now, having read more about it, I’m convinced that the Coalition were absolutely right to oppose it. Just as they are right to oppose war in Ukraine. But Starmer’s opinions seem particularly flexible. I really wonder if he has any principles at all.

Nineham also makes the point that at the end of the Cold War NATO assured Gorbachev that they wouldn’t expand up to Russia’s borders. Which was immediately broken as a the former vassal states of the Soviet empire joined. Mike’s mentioned this in his blog post about this whole affair. Russia has for a long time had a fear of encirclement, dating back at least to the Communist era. When Communism collapsed in eastern Europe, Russia wanted an agreement whereby the former Communist countries remained neutral, respected by both parties, who would guarantee their independence and security.

And there’s much more that could be said. The Maidan Revolution of ten years ago wasn’t spontaneous, but run by Killary under Barack Obama and the National Endowment for Democracy, the non-governmental organisation the US government has outsourced regime change to after taking such murky affairs out of the hands of the CIA. They wanted the previous, pro-Russian president out, and a pro-western one in. Unfortunately, such covert schemes are only covered by radical YouTube channels like The Jimmy Dore Show and online conspiracy magazines like Lobster, so they’re easy to dismiss as conspiracy theories.

Mike in his blog post has said that there is much about the western arms build up that we haven’t been told. Like the stationing of nuclear-capable weapons. I’m sure he’s absolutely right. And I think some of our generals have been planning a confrontation like this for years. Way back c. 2015/16 a senior British general wrote a book predicting war between the west and Russia in Lithuania in 2017. Mercifully that didn’t happen, but it seems the threat and the theatre of war has simply moved south, away from the Baltic.

Nineham has also said that the Coalition has been inundated by people asking for news of local demonstrations. Well, we need them, even if our leaders look like they’re going to turn a deaf ear. Because all the talk about the use of nuclear weapons in Europe absolutely terrifies me. Putin’s a thug, and I don’t want the Russians to invade Ukraine. But I don’t want to see the world turned into a radioactive cinder just because of stupid geopolitics and the monstrous egotistical desire of Johnson and Biden to be seen as strong men countering the Russian threat.

Macron has got the right idea seeking a diplomatic solution.

At the moment it looks like Johnson and Biden’s sabre-rattling brings nothing but the threat of death and carnage.

Never Mind Jess Phillips, How Much Are Tory MPs Paid on HIGNFY?

February 8, 2022

As readers of this blog will know, I have very little respect for Labour MP Jess Phillips. She’s a dyed in the wool Blairite, who was very open and unambiguous about her hatred of Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour leader. She said she’d like to ‘stab him in the front’, a remark about which she was naturally questioned a few years ago when she appeared on Have I Got News For You. She’s another Thatcherite, who apparently believes that privatisation have been wonderful for the national utilities and that life must be made even harder for all those feckless people out of work because they were laid off, are long term sick or disabled. The only aspect of her that strikes me as being at all left-wing is her feminism, for which she has had more than her fair share of abuse on line. This included Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, now of the Lotus Eaters, sending her a text informing her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her’. But now I feel I have to defend her, as she’s been targeted by mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield over the amount of money she was apparently paid for appearing on Have I Got New For You.

Belfield has put up a video claiming that she was paid £15,000 at the rate of £5,000 an hour, for three hours work. He seems to have lifted this story from the Heil, which I gather has been the source of so much of his content. Belfield was annoyed that she was receiving this money on top of her MP’s salary. He felt she should have considered this simply as part of her outreach work as an MP, and just been paid expenses only.

This looks to me like a bit of tit for tat because of the way Tory MPs have particularly come under criticism for raking in the money from their second jobs. This is to me a fair criticism, especially as the amounts they are paid are well into the tens of thousands and there is often a very clear conflict of interest between their role as an MP regulating or overseeing a particular industry and their involvement through their commercial interests. This is rather different to appearing on popular television panel shows.

There’s also the issue of Belfield’s and the Heil’s selectiveness in criticising Phililips, because it’s not as if she’s the only politico who’s appeared on the programme. Not by a long chalk. Over the decades the show’s been on their guests have included politicians like Lembit Opik from the Lib Dems, Derek Hatton of the Labour party, Cecil Parkinson, a former member of Maggie’s cabinet and Boris Johnson, amongst others. My guess is that they would all have been paid the same or similar fees for their time on the show according to the pay rates at the time. I don’t see Phillips’ fee of £15,000 as anything extraordinary or remarkable.

But it does two things that please the Tories. It allows them to make it appear that the BBC really is biased towards the left and that its presenters are massively overpaid. This supports Murdoch’s demands for its privatisation. But always be aware that, as Murdoch’s networks are private, the amount he pays his presenters and executives is kept very secret.

Thus, as much as I despise Phillips, I have to say that this time she’s undeserving of the criticism that’s being thrown her way. She’s almost certainly been treated no differently than every other politician that’s been on the show.

One of whom, a former motoring journalist and editor of the Spectator, has shown himself to be far more greedy, not to mention incompetent and malign, than Phillips.