Blacklisted? 20

The last five times I have been invited on to television current affairs programmes, all within the last four weeks, my appearance has then been cancelled shortly before filming (except in the case of my comments on Newsnight’s piece on the Uzbek cotton industry, where I was called in and filmed, and then edited out).

This has not only been happening on the BBC. For example I received this:

Dear Mr Murray,

ITV Sunday Edition – interview request

I hope you don’t mind me approaching you out of the blue. I am writing to invite you onto our show, The Sunday Edition on ITV, this Sunday 18 November.

To give you some more background on the show, The Sunday Edition is ITV’s weekly news and review show, presented by journalists Andrew Rawnsley and Andrea Catherwood. We would like to ask you on to talk about aspects of international affairs: picking up from Gordon Brown’s Guildhall speech, what can and should we expect from his foreign policy?; the situation in Pakistan, Iran; and also the current domestic counter-terrorism measures. We would be happy to discuss other areas you wished to cover.

In terms of logistics, the programme is recorded live at 9.25am this Sunday, 4 November, at the ITN studios in Gray’s Inn Road, central London. We would of course of provide transport to and from the studio.

I do hope this is of interest. If you need any more information about the programme, or this request, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards,

James Reid

Followed by this:

Dear Craig,

Many thanks for agreeing to come on the show this Sunday. Just to confirm the details, we will need to get you there for 8.45, to come on the programme at 9.25. Bekeh, our production co-ordinator will confirm the travel details with you when this is booked.

In the meantime, if you need any more information, please do not hesitate to let me know.

All the best


Then suddenly this:

Dear Craig,

I hope all is well. I have been unable to get you on the phone this afternoon to let you know we had a change of plan for Sunday regarding the set-up for the programme, and are not going ahead with our planned interview. I wanted to say thank you very much for having agreed to come on, and for taking the time to talk to me on the phone. I apologies for this very late notice, and I hope this does not put you out.

Once again, may thanks for your time on this.

Best regards


Here is another example:

Dear Craig,

I’m contacting you from the BBC’s Question Time programme where we are currently about to start a new season of programmes.

I’m sure you are familiar with the format but just in case, each week five panellists take part in the programme – usually three politicians and two non-politicians. These other two panellists might be authors, artists, entrepreneurs, actors, pop stars or journalists. The idea is that they are non-political figures with an interest in current affairs – recent participants have included soul singer Beverley Knight, former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and entrepreneur Martha Lane-Fox.

We were wondering whether you would be interested and available at some point in the run to take part as a member of our panel? We have a number of dates coming up and it would be good to see if you are around. For example, we are in Leeds on the 18th October, Oxford on the 25th, Swansea on 1st November, London on the 8th November and Buxton on the 15th November.

I hope this might be something that is of interest to you. Please let me know if I can give you any more information.


Tom Gillett

Followed by:

Hi Craig,

Just getting in touch as I’m aware that we’d pencilled you in for this week’s programme.

I’m sorry to have to do this but I don’t think that we’re going to be able to go ahead with the booking this week. It just feels that this week is going to be all about Westminster politics and very little foreign policy which I think would be a waste of your experience. It would be better to book you in on a week where international matters are more prevalent so could you let me know your availability over the next few weeks and hopefully we can slot you in somewhere else.

Again, sorry not to be able to go ahead this week but hopefully we can re-arrange for a convenient date.

Very best,


No reply has been forthcoming to my emails on potential other dates.

Now obviously, it is not unheard of for current affairs programmes to invite people and then to cancel them. But it is very unusual – contrary to popular myth, television people are not notably more rude than normal. It is indeed so unusual that for it to happen five times in quick succession reaches the point where an underlying cause is definitely more likely than chance. It is worth noting that on all five occasions I did not approach the show; the show approached me. My contribution was discussed and a date agreed.

For Newsnight, I commented that the British government was not telling the truth in denying that they knew of the use of forced child labour in the Uzbek cotton industry, as I had reported it officially four years ago and written a book on the subject which they heavily vetted. On Sunday Edition this Sunday I was intending to query the veracity of the government’s claim that there are 2,000 Islamic terrorists in the UK, and consequently the need for yet more draconian anti-liberty legislation to “protect” us. I was also intending to point out the contradiction between Brown’s professed support for “Internationalism”, and his slavish devotion to an aggressively unilateral US foreign policy.

These are neither unusual nor extreme views, but you almost never hear them on television, and you won’t now be hearing them from me. I wonder why?

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20 thoughts on “Blacklisted?

  • Bananas in the Falkl

    There's more to life than chav news tv.

    In George Orwell's letters (about twenty volumes) he too hints at the problems he had getting guests on his eastern service program during ww2 where he approached guests and 'they' said no to his choice.

    If its on the tv news then it isnt important.

  • ruth

    It's obvious why. The government's manipulation of such events is so subtle, so discreet -it's almost impossible to detect. If I were you, I'd ask for a full explanation from the top. Although the answer will be evasive, at least it will make the writer squirm a bit. Unfortunately there are so many people, so many acquiescent people, who in their fear of displeasing, become complicit in the erosion of our rights and the continuation of the government's criminality.

    I no longer watch or listen to political programmes as they are so biased and seem to me to be increasingly used for propaganda purposes. The panelists remind of the 50s films where humans are taken over by a controlling force and they all act in the same way and spout the same things.

  • Sabretache


    Doesn't surprise me in the least. Talk to John Pilger about it – a man who has been on the receiving end of similar treatment for his entire career. It's illustrative of the manner in which power in the UK deals with the sort of dissent that cannnot be cowed by fear of its career consequences. There are certain unspoken but well defined boundaries for debate on pretty well all major political issues. They encompass a globalised 'free'-trade world view with perpetual economic growth and 'progress' as its obligatory creed. The West is its embodiment with an over-arching narrative that tells of an alliance of progressive well-meaning but misunderstood and put-upon Nations (The Goodies) forced to defend themselves against aggressive reactionary forces of darkness that 'hate us for our freedom' and other such inanities (The Baddies). Step outside those boundaries, in a manner judged threatening to the establishment, and your card is marked accordingly. Your card has clearly been marked.

    This post was in danger of turning into another of my rants so I curtailed it and carried on on my own semi-redundant blog instead.

  • andy cyan

    Friends, what standards of proof do we require for what we would rather not believe? There is no rational doubt here, only emotional denial, that our Media's output is secretly censored and expertly manipulated to support the irreproachable militarist and industrialist strategies that keep us all wrecking each other and each others' environments.

    As the manipulated media is the greatest effective input to our popular culture, every cognitive burden possible is broadcast around the stark truth of matters. Whatever the true crisis, unjust war, poverty, disease or environmental catastrophy -only flawed, ineffective criticisms are allowed to be broadcast. Goodness help us all because unjust war, economic slavery and environmental catastrophy are *parts of the most profitable plans* which this secret manipulation is protecting.

    The reason why it sounds so unworldy to speak of frankly, is because the macro-organisational angle has been clandestinely marginalised for years. To make sure it is uncomfortable to think about never mind to speak about.

    Maybe there is a kernel hope, that despite being censored every time, Craig has at least been in demand by some show makers.

    'fine blog Sabretache

  • t

    Thanks for raising this. A few years ago I was hearing people argue that official blacklisting exists in this country, both of public figures and private individuals, but it's difficult even to raise the question without causing paranoia. Like so much of our culture, one wonders whether what can happen openly in other countries (bribery in India, McCarthyism) is just part of the background scenery here. Would be interested in other people's experiences.

    It's also interesting to note something Bruce Anderson said about a year ago; that people in the City were "scared" of this government, and didn't want to offend them in case something unpleasant happened to them. (I paraphrase, but only slightly) We're so used to laughing at them, I guess, that we forget people can be scared by them too.

    In the meantime, I'd also suggest phoning and asking the programmers directly. Email questions are much easier to ignore, especially if the answers aren't palatable. And, since yours are popular, not extreme, views, you might give the people inside some courage, which would be good.

  • ruth

    Things in my experience that have happened to people who know too much (what's really at the root of the government's paranoia) are as follows:

    1) being branded a paediophile

    2) being set up in a criminal activity such as money laundering and convicted

    3) having their trials manipulated

    4) not having an appeal granted in spite of overwhelming evidence that their conviction was unsafe

    5) having threatening phone calls to their children

    6) attempted arson

    and so on.

    One cannot say for sure that the government was involved but taking into account other aspects in each situation it does unfortunately appear likely.

  • t

    Hey, Ruth. David Kelly aside, can I ask, what do you mean by people who "know too much"? I mean, surely everyone knows what's going on (in one survey of Londoners almost three quarters thought Kelly's death was suspicious, for example). Do you mean these are people who have openly set themselves up in opposition to the government? And have therefore had their lives/careers crucified as a result? Best wishes, and I wish I had your email! But I guess Craig does..

    Btw Before fear takes over, I think the case of Mark Thomas is interesting, because he is certainly challenging the official view, & getting away with it, and still broadcasting. Maybe the case of the licensed fool, but still.

  • writeon

    Complaining won't do any good, on the contrary. There's a word for what Craig has become, and it's word all journalists and people associated with the media dread being called – "radioactive".

    Craig is "radioactive" he's not only dangerous in his own right, but he's a risk to those who come into contact with him, just like plutonium.

    In the kind of society we are turning into dissenting voices and points of view are becoming increasingly marginalized. The confines of what is judged to be acceptable forms of criticism are becoming narrower and narrower. Look at how unrepresentative Parliament has become. Only a handful of MP's actively oppose and speak out against Britains's role as an "ally" in the US war of terror, yet, arguably there's a massive majority in the population that want no part in this grand, imperial project. Yet in Parliament this anti-war majority has been reversed.

    What we now have is rule by a ruthless and self-serving, political class, divorced and unrepresentative of popular opnion. Democracy effectively died in Britain in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, only most people didn't really notice. We now live in a virtual democacy, which really exists in name only.

    I don't believe liberty, justice and old-fashioned liberal democracy are compatible with the neo-imperialist agenda.

  • t

    Agreed about Parliament but how many of us are actively supporting the principled MP's who are standing up against the overwhelming bullying, blackmail and pressure they are subjected to? This is the problem with thinking one has a "different view". We are our own worst enemies if we see anyone inside the system as already bad/corrupted. The unsung Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow Labour MP) has voted against every terror tactic this government has brought in, for example. I suggest we need to help & support the good guys in the system rather than lump them in with the autocratic secretariat, surely? Same goes for people in M15, etc etc.

  • macshealbhaich

    I have often wondered whether Robin Cook was one of those who 'knew too much', like Dr Kelly. Had he not had a very convenient heart attack, he would have been the obvious rallying point for Old Labour against Broon, and would likely have seen him off.

  • algernon

    From reading the comments here i was reminded of 'Manufacturing Consent' by Noam Chomsky. He covered this theme in much detail. The documentary of the book is available online if you haven't seen it…

    One thread in particular tries to explain the situation Craig has experienced. It's about 36 minutes in, and Noam calls it the 'propaganda model'; how and why stories are filtered by the media. The explanations are given in an American context but i think they can be applied to most media outlets.

  • Strategist

    My arguidos would be:

    1. No.10 press office – say: "if he goes on, we're pulling the minister" (think: "he's too fucking good, he'll slaughter our guy")

    2. MI5 – say: "he could betray state secrets on TV at this time of heightened national security" "and psst.. he's a drunk, a sex maniac, he's gone mad, not what you want on a family TV show at all" (think: "we really fucking hate this guy")

    3. The BBC higher-ups – say "he's too risky, pull him". (think: "nothing gets said on my show that I can't predict in advance, no way)

    A further thought: when we go in to pre-war drumbeat mode, the BBC becomes a different beast and shuts out certain voices who are given airplay at times of less "heightened national security". Is the shut-out of you Craig symptomatic that the BBC is now in full pre-Iran attack propaganda campaign mode? The Guardian certainly is.

  • ruth

    Why do we have to put up with this? Why do we pay our TV licences to be fed a load of biased bullshit? There must be something practical we can do.

    Maybe the government is so scared of active dissension that in fact its desired extention of detention is a preemptive measure for those not content with its actions rather than those (if it's them) who occassionally blow things up.

  • t

    I agree, think the executive have been legislating for what they see as the breakdown of civil society, myself. Lots of reasons, peak oil & climate change among them. And meanwhile, in an attempt to get off the hook, turning up the fear and increasing resentment among & against vulnerable minorities, of course. These people want to stay in power, for some reason. What they will end up doing of course, is handing this shiny new legal structure, in which there is no need for new laws to be approved by Parliament, and which can abolish habeus corpus and trial by jury, to the BNP.

  • Boss

    Sunday November 18th 2007, on BBC1 politics show broadcast at 12:00 to 13:00, during the last parts of which, a guest appearance was made by Mike Gapes MP for Ilford South, whose recent 'fact finding' trip to Iran was being debated.

    The honourable Mike went on record; '…. they [Iranians] have MPs, but the restriction put on them to sign up onto the Islamic Republics' Constitution, before they are vetted by the security services for standing in elections ….'

    Obviously this one time deputy chairman of 'labour friends of Israel' has in mind for those Iranians taking part in their elections, a swearing of allegiance to; world Zionist federation, or the Queen, on the other hand there is always the US. Hence, his concern about the 'restrictive' elections in Iran.

    Although ironically the same member for Ilford south, is fully aware that these days, anyone of the punters in his constituency, and or in this country as a whole, seeking admittance to anyone of the 'free and public functions' attended by the great and good in this country are security vetted twice, and sent letters informing them that twenty four hours before the event they will be notified of the location and the time of the event, and also reminding them to carry a photo identification proof, that is to be checked before their admittance to the event.

    Never mind the dog, and pony show that the punters are being soft soaped with and told to 'believe' (those double glazing salesmen come advisor, have a lot to answer for) in taking part in a 'free', 'fair' and 'democratic' electoral process. Evidently, the narcosis of ticking a box on the ballot paper, is considered enough for the punters, to choose the tapped, and selected names of the candidates whose selection criteria is a black art, and none privy to this rite of passage for cookie cutter personnel whose genuflections to the guiding plutocratic principles, and Israel, are taken into account, along with their unpassion, and unpolitical dispositions, which merit their selection, all in aid of developments for their future direction, and personality in the political arena. This fact is reflected in the tail spin that we find ourselves in, which evidently is hailed as a 'success', although the creative accountancy methods used in the models chosen, can prove that monkeys can write Hamlet given enough time, and keyboards.

    Notwithstanding the above, the member for Ilford South, then further pontificated about the Iranian nuclear programme; '…. Iranian leadership are in total denial of the United Nations Security Councils Resolutions, and think that they need to be only; dealing with the IAEA …'. This statement clearly intended to discount the IAEA, as a regulatory body, while pushing in UNSC as the over arching arbitration body for nuclear energy technology.

    The emergent pattern, that the anchor, failed to singularly pull Mad Mike Gapes on any of these preposterous contentions, effectively sums up the role of our corporate and public media that are all but in name state controlled. This of course would be met with gasps of horror, and shock. Fact is the gasps would come from either the perpetrators of the controlled media, and or those whom have blissfully subscribed to ignorance is strength principles, buying into 'free media', tooth fairy, and Santa to boot too.

    Therefore, Craig, those withdrawing their invitations, ought not come as a disappointment. Further, the rejection by the same bunch of operators, whom have long ceased to function as independent, and investigative, is in fact a compliment. The only reason these hacks are getting paid the astronomical sums of money for little more than reading, and or cutting and pasting the news, is they are in fact fulfilling the job of the spokespersons for the current batch of scoundrels with no accountability to the public. This is fully reflected in the editorial policies that keeps the news mix within a narrow field of narratives, while inviting the same bunch of putrid fossils, and their lackeys whose positions are devoid of accountability, and their dubious expertise, questionable. However, these come; long on the claims, and prose, regurgitating the memo of the day; war is peace, freedom is slavery.

    Finally, for all those whom have been posting here; What are you going to do about it? No need to post it, just think, and explore your responses, but at least start thinking about it!

  • ziz

    Every BBC employee is not a forelock tugging, brainwashed, endlessly obedient Rethian appartchick.

    Outright Dissent is pointless – so if I invite a known anti-Establishment, shit stirring,highly knowledgeable ex Ambassador (and University Rectum) who shoots from the hip and can support his arguments with direct experience, high level contacts, who repeatedly gets brushed off … it is a fair bet he will let the world and his wife know.

    Just a thought.

    The reference to Orwell's time at the BBC is interesting because of course his colleague who also struggled in a similiar way was Mr Guy Burgess – whom we might reasonably assume had a certain agenda to promote at the time.

    There is a fair bit about his attempts to push his poofter friends with Markist Leninist leanings unsucessfully in "A climate of Treason" by Anthony Boyle (which led to Anthony Blunt being exposed as Man no 5) a BBC man through and through – and probably one with extraordinarily close ties to the spooky world of Curzon Street himself.

  • Tom

    There's something odd here.

    First, it's obvious that in the current media world an extreme position is more likely to get attention than a moderate one – the bigger the tits, the louder the braying voice, the brasher the personality, the more drugs stuffed up the nose, the worse behaved the offspring – that's what gets you noticed. Nice guys need not apply for their fifteen minutes of fame.

    Given that, why does this suddenly not hold true when your troublemaking political views are sharply at odds with the orthodox Establishment position?

    There's an obvious answer – the Establishment, in terms of the newsmakers and media manipulators, are the political equivalent of Jade Goody – loud, brash, simplistic ('bomb Iran!', 'lock em up'). In fact, being extreme gets you noticed, the radical is the new centre ground and the Sun is the most radical newspaper in the country.

    The insane conclusion from this is that we (by which I mean Craig, other freethinking bloggers, most of the commenters on this thread, myself) are actually being discriminated against because we're *conservatives*, not because we're dangerous idealistic far out wacky radicals who just don't understand the world. The dangerous far out wacky radicals are in charge (look at the number of ex-Trots amongst the ranks of the bastards).

    Craig seems to hold onto old fashioned ideas like habeas corpus and not torturing people. I'd quite like us to make public policy by gradual evolution on the basis of what works rather than ripping the place up to fit Tony Blair's gut instincts. Others will no doubt have other ideas.

    So, conservatives of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your distrust of these snake-oil salesmen.

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