Tuesday, 1 June 2021

A Fictional Globe

It is said that all governments indulge in propaganda, whether they be the good or the bad ones. So, to simply know that your government lies to its population does not necessarily mark it down as being a bad one. But seriously, should this ever be considered a reasonable state of affairs?
Perhaps instead, so as to comply with modern-day western neoliberal expectations, must we now consider the above as if through a tailored prism? Maybe this alone is one highly significant reason that so many younger citizens choose to escape to those other (cyber) places, from whence governments may be banished? The prism of their escapism may serve after a fashion, but we cannot eat there, or hug, or empty our bladders. So instead we are cursed, mostly, to observe reality through the cut-diamond prism of those who we should truly despise. Or fear. Likely both!
The Tory-Brexiteer Daily Mail- now separated through the decades, from its unholy fandom of Hitler's Fascists- and the Mail on Sunday unashamedly espouse the more alt-right factions of the Tory Party. The phone-hacking Daily Express and the Sunday Express, now slipped free of the reins of high-prifile Tory Richard Desmond, fall under the ownership of the mysterious and ginormous Reach plc. Rupert Murdoch's Sun and Sunday Sun fall under the massive umbrella of News UK Independent. This unholy trinity of falsehood make up a significant bulk of the UK's tabloid sales. All are unashamedly Tory supporting. These 'news' outlets have no interest in pulling back the curtain.
Pretending greater respectability, under the guise of broadsheet or recent-broadsheet, are the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, both owned by the Tory Brexiteer Sir Frederick Hugh Barclay, as is the alt-right comic, The Spectator, effectively through a 'tax-conscious' Jersey Company, Press Holdings. The Times and the Sunday Times reside within the mega-media-group, News UK. Here we enter the dark world view of Rupert Murdoch- if we care to turn over further stones here also resides arch-phone hacker (CEO) Rebekah Brooks. Again, both 'collectives' routinely align themselves at the right-hand corner of the UK's increasingly undemocratic Conservative Party. The landscape may well have been seeded with more florid vocabulary but the search for truth is likely to prove just as barren.
The Financial Times terms itself as liberal-leaning, owned by the Japanese 'holding company,' Nikkei. The Daily Mirror defines itself as a Labour-aligned news outlet, curiously owned by the same umbrella group as the Daily and Sunday Express, Reach plc. The Guardian and the Observer, effectively one and the same news outlet, is now owned by the Guardian Media Group, or the Scott Trust, which became a limited company in 2008. The paper's glory days rather came to an abrupt stop with the resignation of Alan Rusbridger in 2015. Prior to this it could rightly lay serious claim to being amongst the best of the UK's somewhat meagre pool of genuine investigative journalists. Sadly, with the rise of a certain Jonathan Freedland- he cannot act alone- the paper's trajectory has done a full 180! The Independent, which now espouses more Liberalism than its former Labour 'boasts,' is owned by a conglomerate of wealthy business types: the Russian Lord Evgeny Lebedev (dubious honours care of Boris Johnson), Sultan Muhammad Abuljadayel and Justin Byam Shaw. Quite naturally, the truths we are afforded must first satisfy the whims of this elite.
I think it would be only fair to suggest that, if one were ever hopeful of unearthing anything approaching honest and well-sourced investigative journalism amongst the corporate media, the latter group would be the most likely place to start digging! But first one should thoroughly research the outlet's ownership and set one's expectations low. And, unless one is searching also historically, say prior to the departure of Rusbridger, one might save some time by avoiding the Guardian or the Observer.
Of course, there is also the post-glorious BBC to keep any transgressor upon his or her toes! We reference specifically the BBC here because it is the BBC, a public service broadcaster, that is to say, 'in the service of the public! The BBC's recently (2008) appointed director-general is one Timothy Douglas Davie. Davie stood for election as a Conservative councillor for Hammersmith in 1993 and was the deputy chairperson of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservative party in the same decade. So, no conflicts there then! The Corporation's political editor, since 2015, has been one Laura Kuenssberg. Kuenssberg curiously identifies herself as a journalist. In her given role she has mastered the art of corner-cutting the BBC's formerly-honourable tradition of news 'verification via two independent sources.' Perhaps these days more accurately we should think of her as a retweeter. Such niceties as verification do not really feature in her 'journalistic code.' Entirely as does her ITV 'colleague,' Robert Peston, these days Kuenssberg sits at the forefront of 'breaking retweets,' comfortably inside the exclusive Commons circle of rogues. She may be required to seriously self-censor, but she's mighty quick on the draw, backed up pseudo-admirably by the likes of Andrew Marr, and formerly by Andrew Neil. When I used to get out more those I met in foreign climes would cite the BBC as being a global news role model! I wonder if those people would feel the same in 2021?
One could pretend to wonder quite what the thought processes were at the Monopolies Commission when 'GB News'- Andrew Neil's new misinformation factory- and Murdoch's 'News UK TV' were both ushered so cursorily past the panel. Maybe they'd identified a gap in the market for a couple of alt-Conservative units? Andrew Neil would have it that the BBC is far too left wing. In a far from candid assessment of his values, he regards himself as eminently reasonable. The significant chunk of his pseudo-journalistic trajectory has been as the behest of Murdoch. From his non-scientific background he has espoused climate-change-denial. And there in a nutshell, right there, is what we should regard as a telegraphed warning?
The UK's MSM or perhaps the corporate media, at its best, selectively reports, ostensibly, for the UK market. That is to say, it reports on behalf of the market, that part of the market by which it is owned. Although it is not really often openly discussed, it must be recognised as having a particular vested interest at home. But, in these times of increasingly international commerce it might also be recognised as having significant interests beyond our shores. Here the lines become far more variable. Variably and often conveniently blurred!
Ranging widely between 'occasionally' and 'frequently,' heavily dependant upon the nation in question, it may appear as if our 'more liberal' news outlets, specifically those that do not self-identify as 'politically Conservative,' may be 'better' given to the 'honest' reporting of foreign news events than they are to the 'honest' reporting of home news. Over there, upon distant shores, we are (sometimes) shown the world as it 'more truly' is, tooth and claw! Of course, anyone with even half an eye upon the current international Palestinian and Israeli news, will realise that this is most definitely not the case with all other nations. More's the pity! Such overseas news as this may often be presented as 'complicated,' but really it isn't! Or not in the manner suggested. Often it's only 'complicated' through the given fact that there may be a century of falsehood to unpick, prior to addressing the current situation, that and the given convenience of requiring such a label as 'complicated,' behind which to hide the atrocities.
Within the BBC and within the Guardian one is certainly never permitted to hint that anti-Semitism has been weaponised. Anyone who has troubled to run a cursory eye over the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism- more so the 11 illustrations, 7 of which equate criticism of an increasingly apartheid Israel state with anti-Semitic comment- cannot help but recognise the duplicity of the words. Kenneth Stern, the man who drafted the original document, has argued that it is no longer fit for purpose. Almost nothing has so 'admirably' demonstrated this to be the case than has the weaponisation by Sir Kier (Keith) Starmer, given free rein by a corporate media to deplete the Labour Party of any remaining semblance of purpose (socialism). The ultimate statesman, Nelson Mandela, was seldom driven to greater ire than when he was required to address the issue of Israel's treatment of the oppressed Palestinians. Gandhi himself was an anti-Zionist! Both these individuals would be cast into the wilderness by today's values!
But, if the means of information dispersal has been bought and filleted then it speaks with the words it is given. No longer is it required to search out those inconvenient truths! No longer is it expected to unearth those awkward facts! We may well shrug our shoulders and sigh. If we are 'older' likely we have long since written off much of the laughingly termed 'free press,' perhaps also we will have witnessed just too many of those 'Fiona-Bruce-Andrew-Marr-John Humphries-Emma-Barnett-John-Ware-BBC' moments to have swallowed the Andrew Neil-"Lefty" guff! But, medical journals too- the British Medical Journal- surely not? One may have to dig a little deeper but, without proper and free independent investigative journalism, one shouldn't be that surprised. In order to get through to the roots of the following example of 'self-censoring,' albeit 'lobbied self-censoring,' one might want to access the link provided by the fourth comment, which helpfully provides access to the original uncensored letter (at the time of posting). Most people will be oblivious to this sort of propaganda; very few have the energy, the time or the determination to dig!
So, what of the Labour Party, those warriors of the oppressed? What of their battle to cut through the injustice and to better inform the world? John Mann (Labour MP and ardent Zionist) was filmed shouting at Ken Livingstone, permitted (by the corporate media) so to do. What are the chances of those cameras having been there? Of course neither Mann nor corporate media was there to properly investigate the finer nuances of any truth. John Mann elevated to the House of Lords by Tory PM Boris Johnson, Advisor to the current Tory Government on anti-Semitism. What are the chances of that? No need to do the research, Lord Mann, somebody else will be pulling those strings! Expenses scammer Ian Austin (Labour MP and Labour Friend of Israel) filmed stating that voters should support the Tories at the 2019 General Election, elevated to the Lords by Boris Johnson. What are the chances of that? Massive arms to Saudi Arabia supporting John Woodcock (investigated Labour MP and Labour Friend of Israel), endorsing the Tories at the 2019 General Election, elevated to the Lords as Tory Government Advisor on Violence and Disruption, by Boris Johnson. What are the chances of that? Obviously he won't be required to 'investigate' the uncomfortable truth of the death, destruction, 'violence and disruption' of those Saudi weapons upon the people of Yemen. Rabid huntsfan and Brexiteer Kate Hoey (Labour MP), friend of Farage, elevated to the Lords by PM Johnson. What are the chances of that? Sir Kier (Keith) Starmer, busy dismantling the labour contingent of the Labour Party. The BBC, the Guardian and the corporate Media, in general, almost without voice on the validity of Labour expulsions. What are the chances of that? Where next for Starmer? Clearly he won't be leading a gutted Labour Party to any kind of election victory. But, on a personal level, could that be the House of Lords beckoning yet again?
Why, it's almost as if all those former Labour MPs have far better served their chosen cause by simply pretending to espouse Labour values? They'd have vanished into the deep blue fug inside that swamp of their own ilk. In future, we should be prepared to look more closely for the conflicting affiliations, within those politicians with whom we 'choose' to invest our vote? Look rather for that which conflicts!
If we believe the BBC and the corporate media we should take it as gospel that the Labour Party, certainly the BBC, take anti-Semitism very seriously. Wasn't it Deputy Angela Raynor herself who announced to the world that, 'the party would suspend thousands and thousands,' if that's what it would take? Certainly that was a great many more than the EHRC report into anti-Semitism found, some thousands and nine-hundred and ninety-eight more... if one is prepared to read the text rather than to passively permit the corporate media to misdirect it upon our behalf.
Author and wordsmith Michael Rosen almost died during the worst days of the Covid pandemic. We can't even know officially what it was that nearly killed him because he was still in an induced coma more than 28 days after a first positive diagnosis of the virus. Fortunately for us all the coroner was spared the dilemma of quite what to put upon his death certificate. Such is life upon the fictional globe! Anyway, that same Michael Rosen was 'yet another' victim of those vile Labour anti-Semites, when it was found that his children's novel, 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt,' was doctored in a publicity shot of Jeremy Corbyn reading to some school children. A vile anti-Semite had superimposed, 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' upon the cover. Certain expulsion! Or so one could be forgiven for believing.
For reasons best known to the BBC the tweeter of the image has not been named. For reasons better known to the leadership of the Labour Party this university lecturer and Director of Labour Against anti-Semitism, one Dr Pete Newbon, cannot be named or disciplined. For reasons better understood by the Jewish Chronicle- example of the rag's intent here- and Hope not Hate these vociferous defenders of their faith have reasoned that it is best not to even acknowledge that such an incident has taken place. From the far more honourable perspective of understanding the nuances of language, Michael Rosen has not even requested that the university dismiss the offending lecturer, yet it has not prevented certain factions (again) labelling him as 'the wrong kind of Jew!' He's reasonably famous, so is he worthy of a news story, BBC?
With the reporting of news generally perhaps it is a perception borne of (my) age but still it is a perception of nationally embraced indifference! Observing the whirls of litter that frequently punctuate any short or lengthy drive one can so easily assume that too many individuals have become indifferent. Observing the growing numbers of speeding scooters weaving through our busy pavements one can so easily assume that there is an air of indifference. The local councils that have permitted this invasion? Indifferent, eyes instead transfixed by the money! Whether passively accepted or else embraced, indifference appears to be the current mode of convenience.
Just as people- just enough of them to serve- have become indifferent to open corruption. Indifferent to the increasingly blatant abuses of power by our so-termed politicians. Not all of them, maybe, but far too many to enable any sort of democratic accountability. Indifferent to the mistreatment of the nation's NHS and its Covid-depleted staff. Indifferent to the blatant nepotism that runs, end to end, through our society. Indifferent to poverty! Indifferent to inequality! Indifferent to slum housing! Indifferent to homelessness! Indifferent to growing food-bank use! Indifferent to it all! Not everyone, but enough to serve. Until the affects ever become personal, of course! To dance so dextrously, around this narrative, around the facts, requires a spinelessly compliant corporate media.
Not so long ago we watched on as over seventy people burned to a crisp in a residential tower block. Yet, within a few months, there was already a growing wider-indifference to the selectively reported fact that the inquiry would be rigged! How many towers in the UK have yet to be modified so as not to fall into the very same and 'cheapest option' category, or to become the next potential human furnace?
Many of those who are culpable, complicit, are dying in comfortable old age, inequality writ large! Of course the Grenfell Inquiry isn't armed to identify those people. Which ministers were complicit in legislating so that the panels that other countries would not deploy could still be deemed fine for the UK, some of the UK? Who lobbied to have the red tape removed? Who cut those corners and consequently the costs? And so it will be with the massive chumocracy that has made hay during this pandemic. All the usaual boots duly filled!
Food banks have proliferated, poverty is has not been just the preserve of those foreign shores for decades now. So, the pretence that something will be done has been shiny-wrapped in the term, 'levelling up.' Never mind that it means nothing, it doesn't need to, there's nobody to properly report upon the fact. If one wishes to better understand the grasp that this government has upon inequality listen to them gleefully announcing that, ' nobody in the country should be expected to have to pay more than (a paltry) extra £55 a month, in order to have their home made safe.' So, when they talk about 'levelling up' are they, at some subliminal level, referencing the direction of those potential future flames?
Earlier in 2021 a hundred-year-old man who, armed to the teeth, liked nothing better than to help deplete the planet of some of its alternative species of larger mammals, or to blast holes into some of the globe's rarer birdlife, died in unimaginable luxury, surrounded by unimaginable wealth and privilege. If one were a tad slow with the TV remote one might be forgiven for having seen and observed him sycophantically being elevated as someone of almost godly talents and insight. That the citizens of the UK should unquestioningly revere the ground upon which treads the royal foot, that it should regard as fair play the divvying up of our landmass such that the remarkably extended royal family regards all the best bits as its private playgrounds, whereupon so many of those creatures are routinely slaughtered, is surely bizarre beyond fathoming! The idea that, at some time in a dim and doctored past, one heavily armoured ego fought another heavily armoured ego in order to determine who should henceforth regard the UK as personal possession seems more akin to a fictional globe than to any semblance of reality!
Allegra Stratton, for those who do not know and until very recently, held the role of Downing Street Press Secretary. Now, if we accept (and we should) that such a role is likely to involve an element of remodelling of the news, surely it is also reasonable to acknowledge that such a character should never be entrusted with the conveyance of undoctored fact? Instead consider, she has formerly worked for the Times, the New Statesman, the Independent and the Guardian newspapers. In 2012 she was the political editor of the BBC's Newsnight. In 2015 she left the BBC to join ITV News, as national editor, also co-presenting Peston on Sunday. Not until 2020 does she start in a role in which one would expect her political allegiances to emerge, before moving on to Downing Street Press Secretary. Just one glimpse at her alt-right tendencies, when she misrepresented and humiliated a single working mother as an unemployed (yet another 'undeserving') benefits claimant (Newsnight 2012) should really have served as due warning that Allegra could not be entrusted with the conveyance of actual news. Alas, her deep blue affiliations merely seem to have opened yet grander doors! Currently she is 'entrusted' with the role of spokesperson for the COP26 conference in Glasgow. 'Climate change!' Isn't that far too serious to be ceremonially wrapped up in falsehood? Where are the alarm bells? Where are the journalists?
I am reminded of a 2016 interview that the BBC's Andrew Marr conducted with Noam Chomsky, where Chomsky laid out for the interviewer the reality that the interview would more than likely be being conducted by somebody else entirely if not for the fact that Marr was prepared to routinely operate with a large slice of 'self censorship.' There has been no evidence to suggest that Marr has opted for journalism over self-censorship in the intervening years. It's an uncomfortable truth to swallow, to be confronted with the understanding that those journalists who best exercise the 'correct' degrees of self censorship are the ones who are permitted to rise to the 'top,' insight into Andrew Neil's pseudo-belligerence, if not so much his current trajectory!
Given the glut of crises bearing down upon the planet it is surely almost impossible to select which is most urgently in need of championing. But, if it was possible, I think it more than likely that we'd find ourselves on the opposite side of the barricades to the machine of the UK state.
The UK has shipped over £400 millions in arms to Israel since 2015- Hell, those are UK-crafted weapons being used to flatten Gaza and to kill innocent Palestinians and to destroy their homes and livelihoods, the colonial-settler's response to the sporadic resistance of the oppressed- and yet still the UK's corporate media would have us believe that there is some sort of 'war' going on. The United Nations recognises the inherent right of a colonised people to defend itself from an occupier and yet, according to the Board of Deputies and other currently Zionist organisations, one should not be permitted make the observation that much of the land that is now termed 'Israel' has become so at the wrong end of a loaded gun. In 1948, 1956 and 1967, yet again, Israel has used its military might to invade and to grab huge swathes of Palestinian lands, still regarded as an illegal occupation in the eyes of the UN and much of the world. Israeli incursions have barely stopped ever since. Every time yet more Palestinian homes are bulldozed for the colonisers, or Palestinian lands are bombarded by US and UK arms- Israel 'defending' itself from the land it invaded?- only if absolutely-cornered and relentlessly-pressurised, for long enough, will the corporate media deign to misrepresent the troubles at all.
The hyper-one-sided bloodshed may be relayed to the UK population as 'complicated' Middle Eastern issues,' or 'a war!' Hezbollah will be routinely written up as the terrorists, whilst the Israeli Defence Force as 'driven to retaliation' or 'conducting reprisals.' The fictional globe can so often be a very bloody one, particularly in the Palestinian Homelands. In recent days even the Guardian has found itself upon awkward grounds and yet it still pastes over the facts with misapplied labels like 'War!' 'retaliation' or 'reprisals.' Likely many of the complicit journalists are uncomfortable with the degrees of self-censorship required. The alternatives are that somebody else entirely may be found to pen those column inches!
When we're discussing arms sales it's really not as simple as Britain's economic standing in the global economy in 'the immediate'! There are long-term consequences, as with slavery there are not two sides to this issue. The military, which includes the police, are not simply uniformed citizens of the same community as are we. Military contact points and displays are not benign, armistices day is no longer about the veterans of World Wars One and Two, although the corporate media would have us believe so. Our poppies are no longer providing for those who fought in black and white footage, in the trenches of a century ago. I just so happened to switch on to the BBC's 'Sewing Bee' on the 19th May, not really my choice, and very soon I changed channels to something else- I no longer recall what. But, before I did so, I chanced to catch the programme's theme, to refashion army surplus clothing into civilian every-day items, military camoflage upon the high street. It was innocently watched by many, no doubt, but seriously! Blurring or softening the lines between military tool of the state and that of an unquestioning civilian population?
Priti Patel and her tabloid following may hate those refugees: maybe, in the interests of honesty, we should step back for a moment's reflection to consider, which nation had a very major hand in creating them in the first place?
Whether it be the Hillsborough cover-up or maybe the latest reported major miscarriage of justice, the postmasters IT dispute with the Post Office, there is just such a gulf widening between the real and the fictional globe! As it happened, and in real time, it was possible to watch the postmasters being wrongly accused and wrongly imprisoned, as the first accusations were being made, and to sense that something highly unjust was taking place before our eyes. Even now the wheels of the system that was so quick to condemn appear to have slowed to a virtual stop, rather than to swiftly redress this miscarriage of justice for those that have not since died! How much longer for the Grenfell's deceased and displaced? How much longer for the miners of Orgreave? Maybe our great-great-grandchildren will one day learn the depth of the cover-up concerning the predator that was Jimmy Savile *. Maybe, in the interests of not whitewashing history, we should have another statue erected to the man, perhaps during one of the many touching moments of comradery with Mrs T? Obviously we'd also need a small and unobtrusive plaque, just a small covering note, as 'twere, something easily hidden, so as not to compromise the aspect.
In a moment of high drama, journalist-blogger Roman Protasevich was recently abducted from an illegally diverted aircraft, by Belarusian KGB agents. Quite rightly, the western corporate media were all over it like a rash, 'holding truth to power!' Journalism! We can't have unaccountable governments just making it up as they see fit! But, hold on, weren't these same journalists all falling into obedient line recently, when it appeared to those with half an eye to see that the United States was gearing up to do much the same thing, with the complicit help of the UK? Even the filleted Guardian, and the BBC, were preparing to pretend that there wasn't a time when the same Guardian 'newspaper' was happily championing the very same Julian Asange? Surely it must be a remarkably Orwellian western world that can so readily rise up in outrage over one incident, whilst so wilfully pretending that the greater crime isn't taking place at one and the same moment in time! Both are clear instances of extraordinary rendition, albeit one still pending. If in doubt ask Jack Straw or Tony Blair, at least get a quote from two men who should know better than most. The United Nations and the ECJ have stated that Asange should immediately be reunited with his freedom, why the corporate media silence?
Or the 264 page 'Sewel Commission' on race and ethnic disparities, commissioned by PM Johnson? Tony Sewel himself, hand-picked by the Prime Minister- Sewel, who's own 'helpful' opinions were already in the public domain? Government marks its own homework! As many more open lecturers and teaching staff have likely relayed to their pupils, "If you're going to cheat don't get caught!"
If only the UK Government could somehow mesh 'our' military and 'our' governmental manoeuvrings? Under the 'watch' of a spineless corporate media it might just slip past enough of the population? Hell, we already know that our PM and our various ministers of state habitually and routinely lie to the electorate, what's the fuss? It's slowly but surely becoming almost white noise now. Enter Lord Geidt, appointed by Johnson, with a list of military honours as long as your arm, formerly the queen's own Private Secretary, 'alleged' former military clean up man. Will it wash? Will it even matter?
Hancock, who, as Health Secretary, did award NHS contracts to his own sister, who did have a 15% interest in one of the companies (shredding documents!), was adjudged guilty of a "minor technical breach." A curious rewording of something, which might formerly have been regarded as corruption and a sacking offense! Lord Geidt will not be taking "any further action," Geidt said that the 'good' name of Hancock had not been damaged, it should in no way "impugn" Mr Hancock's 'good name.' I think we'll be the judge of that! He elaborated that although there had been 'no conflict of interest,' there was a 'danger' that it could have 'looked like one.' Are we now completely through the looking glass?
PM Johnson, who did spend a prince's ransom of magic money upon refurbishing his official Downing Street flat, without officially bothering to care how it was to be paid for, Lord Geidt has declared to have acted "unwisely." Again he was happy that 'no reasonably perceived conflict' had arisen, and that the ministerial code had not been broken. Geidt said that Johnson knew 'nothing' of the payments made by Tory peer David Brownlow, and who are we to question such military wisdom? But, before we close, just for a moment consider what the UK's corporate media would be penning, if this had happened in any Central African or Central American Republic.
It would seem that the 'protective ring' that Matt Hancock, Health Minister, had thrown up, formerly around care homes, has finally and very belatedly begun to work its magic.
Jimmy Savile comment observed care of Stewart Lee.

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