Thursday, 3 May 2018

To Debate, or not to Debate?

What with the BBC's Cameronian capitulation one could easily become quite wary before considering entering into certain 'more sensitive' areas of the debate. But then one could also realistically conclude that this is much the idea behind the wholesale 'renovation' of the establishment (BBC).

If 'we' first shut down the debate 'we' might next start to 're-educate' the people as to exactly what it is that they should be wary of- Fake News! Beware!- and what it is that they should assume to be just and upstanding. Viva la revolucion!

I have always found it alarming that more concern was never, in the past, voiced over the ownership of the UK's media. Surely, I used to argue, if the newspapers are all owned by vested millionaires, are the wider public not being denied significant access to a more open and balanced interpretation of newsworthy events? The premise was either resignedly accepted as 'our lot,' or else it was obliquely evaded. The term 'Free Press,' never meant that it was free from subversion, I learned, merely that it was supposed to be free from government subversion, although the label is, I would continue to contest, entirely misleading... and this almost certainly by design.

Beefheat to Mothers
With the global shift towards greater reliance upon the Internet, it was surely only a matter of time before corporate powers dipped their grimy toes into the waters- now there is 'global good news' and there is 'global false news.' For every minor indiscretion that we may unearth regarding Cambridge Analytica we should, I would contest, assume that a far deeper one will remain, for the present, unearthed. Obviously by design.

I was recently reminded of just how severe and far-reaching the culling process within the BBC has actually been, this via a prepared short statement by Marcus Moore, an ex-BBC writer. Of course, we have all noticed the changes- they are hardly subtle- but perhaps it is still the British way, too often, to loudly gripe and then to 'put it down' as yet another aspect of modern life that is profoundly disappointing, before moving meekly onward with our respective lives.

We might in passing perhaps question the fall of programmes like BBC TV's 'Have I Got News,' or BBC Radio 4 (and Miles Jupp's) 'News Quiz.' Maybe we are just becoming more intolerant with age, we might obediently conclude. Miles Jupp, his is an ironic Tory allegiance, isn't it? I'm not entirely convinced.

Monet to Wiesner
The shackling though is far more wide-reaching than just political comedy. Is it not worrisome that some of our better, often quite serious, comedians seem also now to have been negatively affected? During one of Jupp's 'News Quizzes' I listened to yet another (BBC) take on the ongoing-and-questionable Labour-anti-Semitism story. Mark Steele was present, and I had wondered if he might not chip away at least at the edges of the 'presentation.' Instead he was uncharacteristically mute throughout! To his utmost credit he was entirely mute, as if in silent protest, throughout! Perhaps he was reflectively weighing up any potential hit to his political following against that to his financial future? If so is this not suggestive, we might well consider, of something quite McCarthyist in nature?

If we trouble to look more closely at these changes to the BBC we might better understand this shift. There might well be a fleetingly-aired public concern, as there was when Kuenssberg was shovelled in to the role of BBC Political Correspondent. The concern is reported and then 'we' move almost seamlessly onward- the issue to then be slowly usurped by other news, and the system yet again shifts!

McCarthy was far too direct! Upon reflection he would probably have much admired this more covert and less iron-fisted approach. Evolution?

The Guardian Newspaper has, in the past and far too often, been the solitary serious, almost-consistently dissenting voice amongst the UK's national press. The nation's brief flirtation with a second more questioning newspaper (The Independent) proved rather premature for a British Public who have far too long been basting in Murdoch's secreted juices.

Mitchell to Salinger
But The Guardian, even by it's own admission, and at its very best, was only ever intended to adopt a more Liberal outlook upon the news. It is almost as if the oft-repeated lie that the BBC "is a hotbed of subversive Trots" has finally gained that more covertly sought after 'acceptance,' dragging in also the last of the doubters.

Many of us who are old enough to remember the Guardian from its heyday as the Manchester Guardian, and then its initial years of promise as the wider-ranging Guardian, will have watched with some sadness as this 'respected' paper has increasingly shown the warning signs of a recently-adopted far more compliant role.

Sensitive to the political tides, it would appear that the Scott Trust is gently easing the Guardian Newspaper ever rightwards. There are certainly a number of journalists on board who are increasingly selectively refusing to look at all the evidence before publishing. The current ruse for their fire is anti-Semitism- presented as 'wide-ranging,' but actually not- and it is a thoroughly anti-democratic one at that! The previous ruse, that Labour's democratic mandate was the wrong type of 'democratic mandate' lies tattered and now discarded, so a new cudgel is required.

Waits to Turtles
So, and with regards to the issue of debating or not debating, are we no longer free to question the Israeli occupation? Is it somehow no longer the case that Israel has illegally occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? Are there suddenly, and almost as if by magic, no longer any anti-Zionist groups of concerned Israeli citizens who also wish to question their country's internationally-condemned illegal occupation of Palestinian lands?

For nearly forty years I have had the variable pleasure of moving amongst and conversing with many of a leftward-leaning persuasion. I have had the good fortune to have met many devoted souls, and a few less so, who have been quite passionate in their convictions as to what is just and what is not. In so far as I subscribe to such ideology, time spent with such people is often soul-food to me! I have hugged many, passionately disagreed with a few and been shouted at by even fewer! But I have never in my travels yet met anyone who would be stupid enough to openly question the widely documented and monumentally tragic fact of the holocaust!

Barrie to Chang
Even so I do not doubt that the hermetically 'safe' skin of social media will drag out some of the most unwholesome of comments. And I do wonder at the levels of 'righteous' anger that such solitude as this platform might seem to 'invite.' More concrete societal pressures can offer, at their best, remarkably sound safeguards against the most offensive thoughts- here such thoughts might pass darkly and fleetingly behind the eyes and then they are gone, to be usurped by the far politer expectations of societal acceptance. Whereas social media, rather conversely, may operate instead like the very worse kind of unquestioning springboard to those thoughts better left to more harmlessly fizzle out. Is it not then a remarkable testament to the evolution of the mind (most of them) that, even here, the worst of thoughts are invariably still so carefully guarded against?

Nevertheless it seems statistically most likely that there are indeed some highly worrisome comments 'out there,' one would only have to watch (news reports of) the acting out of some of our species unchecked frustrations to realise this. But I have watched and I have listened and I have yet to be convinced that any of those within the Labour ideological movement- either seen on TV, heard on radio, or met by myself- harbour genuine anti-Semitic beliefs. Perhaps, at the very worst, the occasional spontaneous words spoken in anger or frustration may very rarely have been less wisely selected?

Steely Dan to Sigur Ros
For those with a more rightward trajectory, however, I cannot say the same- experience and family has taught me that here often lies a more consolidated (sometimes) contempt for some of our fellow human beings. I would not in this posting wish to recollect the worst of these comments- again some of these may have been spoken in haste and may also invoke regretful hindsight- but the sad fact remains that these thoughts are so often returned to and repeated, or rephrased so as to disguise the otherwise-retained intent.

To return, oh so briefly, to the wonders of the Internet, the thing about social media, with regards to that capacity to upset and to shock, is ultimately that pseudo-anonymity that it offers. If Cambridge Analytica has taught us anything it is that data that has entered cyberspace is ripe for the exploitation of. So who best employs those cyberspace manipulators, and quite how unscrupulous are they prepared to be? In defence of an empire, how low, we may consider, are they prepared to go?

Neither do I doubt the capacity that the 'cleverest' of our spokespeople has for deception. Deception at its most cunning, and by is very nature, is much as described, that is 'deceptive.' So, where to apportion intent is not always the easiest, but I will, in an arc of shaky approximation, point the finger and know, with some certainty, that I will have caught at least some of the culprits in the cross fire...

Woodpeckers to Sunbirds
Firstly, I will return to the questionably honourable John Mann's ambush of Ken Livingstone, way back in 2016. There is still much mendaciously edited or presented footage out there, yet even here Mr Mann does not present as the most gifted of communicators. Under less orchestrated news coverage his shouting might more truthfully be glossed over, as the ravings of another angry tabloid bachelor. But this, along with any semblance of newsworthiness that might still linger, no longer matters, the (lack of) debate is no longer of any consequence, the 'argument' has effectively and subtly been reframed. The media and their respective and highly-selective 'reporters' are there- "Cameras, action!" Perhaps, instead we might imagine the call for, "Screen!" lest the public should spot the slight of hand.

If we can bare to watch the footage (LBC or BBC) we might first see something vaguely resembling a droid shouting and pointing. At this juncture there is no debate, because 'this' is clearly neither the time nor the place in which to do so. Mann, being rather less than the ideal Mann for the job, still manages to present much as a parody of his worse-kind-of self. Whereas Ken Livingstone- with considerable dignity under these circumstances- is given little option other than to bide his time and then to later debate the historical facts with, amongst others, Andrew Neal, Michael Crick and David Mellor. We might fleetingly wonder at such a narrow cross-section of political persuasion. Or perhaps not? We are by now racing simply to catch up! 

If we can bare to listen to the interviews we will hear Crick conceding that, "You may well be (historically) correct," David Mellor reiterating that, "I know that you are not an anti-Semite, Ken" and Andrew Neal, as is his given role, steadfastly misinterpreting Mr Livingstone's intent on behalf of any still neutral observers. "What are you on?" we can hear Mr Mann reverting to personal insult, in a brief and dangerous (for him) deviation from the shouting out from his felt tipped prompt cards.

Mothers to Who
We know with some certainty that Ken Livingstone is not an anti-Semite, and yet this debacle, we are encouraged to agree, might still be enough for us to somehow pretend that he is. The debate has effectively been reframed, and such peripheral things as honesty and integrity no longer seem to matter.

Secondly, we should look more closely at Ruth Smeeth MP, and the manner in which she is seeking to undermine 'her own' Labour Party. During the launch of Labour's Anti-Semitism Report, also back in 2016, it would be fair to observe that she had come prepared. Her contact from the Daily Telegraph had already handed to her the infamous 'prepared press report.'

She was surrounded by, amongst other anti-Corbyn types, John Piennar (BBC News), Kevin Schofield (Sun), Darren Mc Caffrey (Sky News) and Kate McCann (Daily Telegraph). To even imply that her early exit is not a staged one would be disingenuous in the extreme! Owen Smith, presumably no longer also employed by US giant Pfizer, was also there to prematurely celebrate Smeeth's 'staged exit  right.' Smith is now little more than a vessel, in the guise of maybe a pantomimish Bond villain?

So concentrated upon Smeeth's feigned indignity are the various sound crews that we can barely hear the condemned words of Marc Wadsworth. "How very dare you!" we instead hear of Smeeth and the chorus. But, if we turn up the sound after the rumpus, we may still safely conclude that Marc Wadsworth's words are far from anti-Semitic. Curious, is it not, that the media's supposed 'coverage' of 'Labour's Anti-Semitism Report' is so geared up for Smeeth's exit that they have almost completely failed to capture the words of the launch's speakers? One could almost conclude that it might be better (for the media) if the words are not to be too closely analysed.

Beefheart to Aeolian Harps
I wonder if Ruth Smeeth's declared expenses mentions anything about the Daily Telegraph? I really wouldn't know, I haven't bothered to check. Presumably Jewish groups who recognise this as a staged witch hunt are now the wrong kind of Jewish groups, spouting 'fake news?' "Weaponised,' is a term currently very much in vogue, and it would appear that we are currently spoilt for choice. Quite from where to best draw our 'perfect' illustration as to its usage?

The UK's media have thus reframed the wider debate, hoping, no doubt, that Jeremy Corbyn and his more democratically-minded MPs will be spending significant time fighting ghosts rather than addressing the issues that the media are so afraid of. So very, very clever... and so very typically unscrupulous!

I doubt that the circus will have manufactured enough to have yet expelled the anti-Christ, so what next can we expect?

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