07 January 2008

Another Year Fighting The Lies and Misrepresentation Of Our Business Owned Media And Political Parties.

The support of the US government for the corrupt re-election of President Kibaki in Kenya and support for Musharraf's dodgy campaign for re-election in Pakistan is hardly surprising considering...
the dubious elections in the US (the caucases and primaries sound good, but can anyone name a single specific policy of any of the candidates? - it is still all about haircuts and vacuous statements, as it always has been, making our own flawed election campaigns look highly informative).

With this level of corruption probably on its way over here in 2010 - when the Tories will inevitably take over (assuming Labour doesn't quickly find a dramatic purpose that resounds with the electorate). And with the constant lies and right wing propaganda in the Rothermere, Desmond and Murdoch press, it is going to get harder and harder for lefties like me to be heard. It is hard enough to deliver an argument in an atmosphere where everyone is being honest, with people deliberately lying, it is far harder for those of us trying to make an honest argument.

Looking through the writings and speeches of Boris Johnson and David Cameron it is clear they come from the sort of typical foaming at the mouth, anti-immigrant, anti-gay and anti-liberal hardcore of Tory support , no matter how much they now deny this(for all their talk of disappearing manners, it is time they got some of their own. It is not funny or polite to call black people 'piccaninies' or make jokes about 'one legged Lithuanian lesbians'). For them, mendacity and corruption is just a career move, for the few corrupt Labour members, it is at least an embarrassment when they are caught lying, the Tories however are proud of it (think Jeffrey Archer, Stephen Norris, John Major, David Mellor, Neil Hamilton, Jonathan Aitkin, Cecil Parkinson, Harvey Proctor, Edwina Currie, Graham Riddick, Ian Dale, David Tredinnick and Gerald Nabarro to name but a few recent ones).

So to stop this happening, in 2008, Labour have got to make such positive moves that no matter how negatively it is spun by the press, people will still see the truth. This means clear populist policies addressing inequality (of both wealth and power) and shouting them from the rooftops.

In 2007, two of the most controversial Labour policies, the smoking ban and 24 hour drinking, have proved themselves good policies. Alcohol sales have fallen 1% and alcohol related violence has also fallen despite the longer hours opening, yet still the papers scream - '2000 and Hate' from their front pages and claim the new laws foster binge drinking and violence. The evidence to the contrary is just ignored and never reported (How can binge drinking have increased when alcohol consumption has fallen and is more spead out?). This is the lies of our press today. At the same time they ironically state that the smoking ban is harming the pub industry by reducing sales. So whether sales are increasing or decreasing, it is still Labour who are blamed by our mendacious press. Over 60% of people prefer the smoking ban, how often do we hear this?

Of course people realise the press are dishonest, but these stories still enter the national consciousness. Whether it is support for 'alternative medicine', misinformed scare stories on mobile phone masts, Wi-Fi and MMR, press support for big business, whether supporting dubious health products, the road lobby, private health and private education or hostility to public services generally, hostility to any form of taxation or immigration and hostility verging on the maniacal to the EU and Labour. Having four bigots running the press most certainly matters and it is not in anyway a 'free press' as some would preposterously claim.

So where do the Labour party go in cash strapped 2008, as a world recession yet again looms? It is unlikely that the leadership will ever be brave enough to take on the media head on, so once again they will try, as Polly Toynbee puts it, to 'ride the tiger'. Maybe a promise of cutting deep into BBC finances will win over Murdoch, or even more social conservatism on drugs policy, terrorism detention, abortion and the licensing laws (no matter how ill founded) will win over the Daily Mail (or exclusive access to public archives for Dacre its editor). At best this will only temper the most violent of their criticism and win nominal support for the PM in a few short weeks before an election Labour would win anyway. It will never change the media right wing agenda of low taxes for the rich and the consequent decimation of public services. The right-wing media can sense Labour blood and no amount of Labour cowtowing will call off the dogs. Labour have got to win the next election on overwhelmingly popular policies and it is possible.

Labour have to be serious about constitutional reform - lets really curtail wealthy organisations and individuals who buy policies (this current power of the wealthy undoubtedly protects entrenched vested interests at the expense of us all). Lets have an elected upper chamber (is this not the 21st century?) otherwise how can we call ourselves a democracy? Lets restore tax raising powers to local government that were abolished by Thatcher (at a stroke this would improve local election turnout - making who we elect really relevant again). Lets have devolution to the regions of England with the same powers as Scotland and Wales. Lets really open up our 'fress press' to competition. And lets finally have equal votes in all our elections, this is as important a battle in the 21st century as extending the franchise was in the last. Our electoral system (and in the US) is a nonsense where boundaries are redrawn to suit the largest parties, vast swathes of opinion are ignored as local electoral monopolies encourage corruption and ineptitude in over 80% of our elected representatives and where a party coming third place in the number of votes can take the highest number of seats. Do all this and Gordon Brown would be the greatest PM of all time, do even a small number of these changes and it might be enough to win the election. Pay lip service and tinker at the edges with meaningless parliamentary votes on going to war, fixed terms and even good policies like maybe votes at 16 and it almost certainly won't be enough to stop the Tories rise. People have no appetite for the Tories, they are sick of party politics altogether (for both legitimate and media biased illegitimate reasons). But if Labour fails to offer some real dramatic improvement, we can kiss goodbye to real democracy for another generation.


  1. Happy new year Neil.

    I think you put too much faith in Labour. You can't slide a sheet of paper between the three main parties anymore. A strong right wing government is what we need.

  2. Scunnered, O'Aberdein9/1/08 2:55 am

    Happy New Year, Neil

    Looks like your man was listening to you. Nice populist measure here. (Bit puzzled about how well it will go down in the lanes of Brighton, though)


    Shame, but probably not surprising, that the underlying reasoning seems to be pitched at about your level, ie:

    “The sentiment from No 10 and the Home Office is very much towards reclassification. It has to be as much about the message that is being sent out as much as anything else,”


    'ministers are already making plain that the Home Secretary is prepared to overrule the expert body if necessary'

    Just when the last policy seemed to be working, too.

    I've never touched a cigarette or non-medicinal drug in my life. Ideally, everyone else would be as me, but I'm not mad enough to believe that it will happen, nor to try to make it so. But seeing even more of our laws being driven by anything but, and even in direct contradiction to, proper evidence, merely to pander to what is perceived to be populist opinion irritates me beyond measure. But given your thesis, well, we're right into new NuLab territory, aren't we?

    Whatever next? I dare say he'll be recommending homeopathy if he thinks it will get you votes. Better get your airbrush ready.

  3. Neil,

    stop wringing your hands and blaming the media. You sound like a Labourite pre-Blair, in other words as if your beloved party hadn't been in power for the last ten years.

    Labour and the Tories are two sides of the same coin. As for local government, its the Tory 'Direct Democracy' group that's doing most to push that agenda. Will they succeed? No, because, the same as Labour, the party won't propose anything remotely radical that will limit their power at the top. By the time Labour got into power, anything of value had been chucked over the side of the ship, the perfect example being the railways. The Labour Party wanted them renationalised, the people wanted them renationalised, but YOUR LEADERS wouldn't do it.

    Your problem is you'll vote for the proverbial pig in a red rosette, so no matter how awful Labour in power are, you'll still cling to the dogma that the Tories are worse.

    As for kissing goodbye to real democracy, we've never had it in this country EVER. We had the idea, and that is what is being killed right now, and Labour are doing their best to see to this, by handing over powers (some that the Tories took from local government)to Brussels, or to unelected 'independent' decision-making bodies stuffed with their cronies.

    The problem you'd face with real democracy is trying to lay aside years of leftie group-think that has made you hate a large percentage of your fellow countrymen as 'tories', 'reactionaries' etc, and realising they're not as different to you as you seem to think.

    So, Neil my challenge to you for 2008 is to rise above the one-dimensional paradigm of left versus right.

  4. p.s.

    Labourites aren't allowed to talk about democracy until your vile party holds the referendum they promised us.

  5. "Let's restore tax raising powers to local government that were abolished by Thatcher (at a stroke this would improve local election turnout - making who we elect really relevant again)".

    I'll agree with that, provided
    a) that it is more than offset by large reductions in nationally raised taxes, and
    b) local government is only allowed to levy Land Value Tax.

    Much the rest of the post is twaddle of course, but HNY anyway, Neil, welcome back.

  6. Happy New Year to you all! Scunnered - I'm with Chief Constable Brunston, George Soros et al - the sooner we treat drug addicts as patients rather than criminals, the better for all of us. This is Straw's doing - he is the biggest Labour idiot of the lot. The 'war on drugs' like the 'war on terror' is a con, unfortunately because of the media (I know, here I go again) these things are popular.

  7. Trooper: On this blog I do put out a one dimensional viewpoint of Tories and other reactionary people. But unfortunately this is largely true. I know there are Tories out there who are decent and maybe even radical in wanting to improve society, but they are usually low down in a Tory party hierachy that actively opposes democracy both within its ranks and in society in general. The Tories are worse - that is a fact, one dimensional or not, Labour is the best hope we have.

    It makes me laugh when people here cock a snoop at the Bhutto dynasty in Pakistan and the laughable 'pro-democracy' party there that fosters such nepotism because look at the dynasty of US presidents, look at our houses of parliament, where 10% of our MPs (of all parties) and most of our PMs are the close relatives of previous or current MPs. We have nothing to sneer at. We have as bad a record.

    The difference is that if people for once saw through the media propaganda and large numbers of people actually gatecrashed the Labour party and joined - there is still a possibility of real change. For anybody out there who sneers at this Labour government but refuses to get involved in party politics (or at least single issue campaigns) I feel nothing but despair.

  8. Mark: I think local government should be allowed to decide not just the level of taxation but the type, whether that be LVT should be up to the local electorate.

  9. Neil,

    I don't see any chance of your hoped-for mass influx into the Labour ranks, that will make it a party worth supporting. Instead of this unrealistic hope, you should apply the same logic to them, that you apply to the Tories, and look at what they really are, not what they would be if your dream came true.

    The mainstream media are all shit, all liars etc. You get angry at Murdoch's rags, and the Mail, but the BBC and the Guardian are no better. They're just gatekeepers of the truth.

  10. Trooper: Of course there is a bias of sorts to any media that is edited - but the overwhelming bulk of our press editors are right-wing Tory supporters - it is this that is unfair and undemocratic.