Guardian Channel Thatcher on Europe 119

I have arrived back in the UK from Ghana, and catching up on an unforgivably tendentious series of articles on Europe and governance in the Guardian. They are predicated on a Eurobarometer poll that showed, according to the Guardian, that:

Public confidence in the European Union has fallen to historically low levels in the six biggest EU countries, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the union’s worst ever crisis, new data shows.

That is not an unfair characterisation. In the UK, for example, 69% of the population disagreed with the proposition that they trust the EU as am institution. What is totally and tendentiously unfair, given the construct the Guardian puts on this information in a whole series of articles. is that the same poll shows that in the UK, 77% of the population disagreed with the proposition that they trust the UK government as an institution.

So the Guardian would have been on even stronger ground to assert:

Public confidence in the Westminster government has fallen to historically low levels, raising fundamental questions about its democratic legitimacy more than three years into the coalition, new data shows.

But it didn’t assert that, because it seeks to reassure us that the answer to our woes is to bring in Ed Balls and the red neo-cons who bailed out the banks, introduced tuition fees in England and Wales and started privatising the NHS, rather than George Osborne and the blue neo-cons who continued the process. In fact Westminster is not the answer to any question, in the eyes of the public.

Simon Jenkins article on the subject appears directly to be channelling the spirit of Thatcher. I can’t see a phrase here which could not have been penned by Thatcher, especially where he gets all sonorous:

“Treaties are not for ever, but nation states are”

The modern concept of a nation state accepted as the worldwide standard unit of government is essentially a nineteenth century construct, and a great many states have fallen apart recently. Besides which, Mr Jenkins is not keen on Scotland, which arguably was the nation which first articulated many of the properties of the modern idea of a nation state in the Declaration of Arbroath. He doesn’t want Scotland to prove him right about nation states being forever and thus irrepressible. He actually doesn’t believe what he writes himself. But I divert.

Jenkins’ ultra-conservative view is best summed up by his assertion that a major problem of the European Parliament is that it has “no governing party discipline and reflects no identifiable interest”. In other words, it is not like Westminster.

But party discipline is precisely what is wrong with Westminster. MPs are “whipped” – a most appropriate word, into voting in favour of the commercial interests, which are overwhelmingly, in the UK, City of London financial interests with the only major competition being arms industry interests, which support their party structures and promote the leadership of their parties. It makes no difference at all which party gets elected. If a party leader emerges who might actually make any difference, Murdoch and the establishment can be relied on to destroy him, witness Michael Foot and Charlie Kennedy, the two most decent – and talented – men to lead parties in my lifetime.

Jenkins thinks the problem with the European Parliament is the lack of this systematic domination of darkness. In truth, the problem of the European Parliament is that it lacks the power to bring the European Union under democratic control, but that is a defect capable of remedy.

Here are some more details of the Eurobarometer poll the Guardian omitted in its total misrepresentation. 70% wish to see a stronger EU role in regulating the financial services industry (p.28) and on the same page, 76% want to see stronger EU coordination of economic policy.

Large majorities across Europe support:
the introduction of a tax on financial transactions (71%)
tighter rules for credit rating agencies (79%)
a tax on profits made by banks (83%)
tighter rules on tax avoidance and tax havens (61%)

These are all areas where the Tory government has been among those blocking effective EU action, against the will of the people of the EU.

85% agreed that the EU would have to work close together as a result of the economic crisis, and 53% agreed the EU would emerge from it stronger in the long run. (p. 40).

The European public are Keynesian. Tellingly only 39% of the population believe that reducing public deficits and debt are the answer to the economic crisis (p. 25). Which shows what kind of place a truly democratic Europe would be.

The final nail in the Rusbridger/Jenkins/Thatcher argument is that 23% believe the European Union is the most important body for dealing with the economic crisis, as opposed to 20% who thought their national government or 13% who thought the IMF (p.17).

Rusbridger and Jenkins each accepts a salary many times that of the Prime Minister from the Guardian Trust, at the same time the Guardian is making strong cuts in staff numbers to reduce costs and reorienting its online content to the preferences and prejudices of a US audience to try and improve its online revenue stream. I presume they produce this UKIP friendly bilge because its popular with the very right wing audience that, judging by their comments sections, they have succeeded in attracting to click and boost those advertising counters.

It was once a good newspaper. As Rusbridger, war criminal cheerleader Michael White, super-rich Simon Jenkins and the others all seem determined to go on as long as Mugabe, I expect soon very few will remember the days when the Guardian was a good newspaper.

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119 thoughts on “Guardian Channel Thatcher on Europe

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  • craig Post author


    I seem to recall David Leigh stating Apax only have a joint venture with the Guardian for Autotrader, or something like that.

  • wall of controversy

    Although I agree with you that the Guardian has mostly gone to crap (something that happened long ago) I think you may also be misinterpreting the findings, and most strikingly, when you say “The final nail in the Rusbridger/Jenkins/Thatcher argument is that 23% believe the European Union is the most important body for dealing with the economic crisis, as opposed to 20% who thought their national government or 13% who thought the IMF”

    Isn’t this mainly because people have been deluded into the belief that it’s all just a problem with the Eurozone? – ergo, the EU is most important in dealing with the crisis. And obviously the EU does have a huge part to play, since after all it’s one leg of the predatory “Troika”.

    Incidentally, I’m not saying that EU action isn’t important. Money for investment from the ECB, rather than bailouts for the bankers, would obviously go a long way in helping.

  • Komodo

    Craig –
    The Wiki details agree with what I can remember about looking at this fascinating business relationship a year or more ago – “49% owned” was a lapse, agreed. “99% pwned” might be nearer the truth.

    The company was founded as the Manchester Guardian Ltd in 1907 when C. P. Scott bought the Manchester Guardian (founded in 1821)[1] from the estate of his cousin Edward Taylor. It became the Manchester Guardian and Evening News Ltd when it bought out the Manchester Evening News in 1924, later becoming the Guardian and Manchester Evening News Ltd to reflect the change in the morning paper’s title. It adopted its current name in 1993. Its previous chief executive was Carolyn McCall, formerly Chief Executive of Guardian News and Media Limited and a former non-executive director of Tesco and chair of Opportunity Now. McCall left in June 2010 after being appointed Chief Executive of EasyJet. She was replaced by Andrew Miller in July 2010, who had previously been Chief Financial Officer of the Group.

    In March 2007 GMG sold 49.9% of Trader Media Group to Apax Partners, in a deal that valued Trader Media Group at £1.35 billion. In December 2007 it was announced that GMG and Apax had made a successful bid to buy Emap’s business-to-business arm for around £1 billion.[2]

    In February 2010, the group sold its GMG Regional Media division (consisting of two companies MEN Media and S&B Media which operated 31 local and regional newspaper titles) to Trinity Mirror for £44.8 million. The sale ended the historic connection between The Guardian and the Manchester Evening News.[3] The division’s local television station for Greater Manchester, Channel M, and two newspapers in Woking were not included in the sale.

    In June 2012, Global Radio acquired GMG Radio from Guardian Media Group plc.[4]

    For the three years up to June 2012, the Group lost £100,000 a day, which prompted Intelligent Life magazine to question whether The Guardian can survive.[5]

    Auto Trader was the profitable bit. Apax’s injection can only have been used to prop up the Grauniad, and Andrew Miller (Trader Media Group) is on the GMG board as well as the Scott Trust board.

    CiF started getting notably touchy about ‘contra’ comments about when Apax bought in.

  • Komodo

    From ‘the company’ to ‘[5]’ is Wikipedia – I must have forgotten to close italics.

  • Justin

    The main problem is previous reputation. It used be a good paper but how many will spot the inaccurate reporting? They’ll take previous reputation and assume the inaccuracies are correct unfortunately.

  • craig Post author


    But I don’t think Trader Media Group, of which Guardian Media Group sold 49% to Apax (which I keep typing AIPAC for then correcting, though in fact my subconscious is making some sense there), owned the Guardian newspaper. It owns other assets of the Guardian Media Group. At least I am pretty sure that is what David Leigh told me.

  • Clark

    That would be the David Leigh who published Wikileaks’ Cablegate password and then said it was Assange wot told it would be OK, would it?

  • April Showers

    Here is a view on the Guardian’s Comment is Free articles from an academic. C P Scott is named as a committed Zionist. The author is a self declared Zionist

    Geoffrey Alderman @AldermanGeo
    Jew, Zionist, academic, author, husband, father, steam-locomotive lover

    For some time, some of us have been concerned at the anti-Zionist content of CiF contributions. As a matter of principle, I believe it to be right that CiF should host articles critical of Israel. But it should do so in a measured and moderate way.

    The fact is that the anti-Zionist contributions to CiF far outweigh the pro-Zionist ones.

    This is not something of which C P Scott, who was a committed Zionist, would have approved. But my own worries extend beyond the sheer inequity of the material to the actual content of what is written.

    Slowly but surely, CiF (and I am concerned here primarily with the articles, not with the post-moderated comments on them) has become a platform for the crudest propaganda that can only have been intended to foster a hatred of the Jewish state.

  • Ruth

    The Guardian is good on UK’s complicity in torture and rendition just as the Mail was good on Dr Kelly. It appears to me that the papers are ‘allowed’ to pursue some issues to give the semblance of balance. However, on other matters in most papers there is subtle and sometimes not so subtle bias towards fulfilling the government’s/Establishment’s agenda.

  • Komodo

    AIPAC – lol. Loud and clear. APAX also owns Psagot (son of Bank Leumi:

    Agreed, it doesn’t own GMG. The Scott Trust still has technical control. But GMG is financially dependent on Apax having a presence. See also:
    As is the case with Trader Media Group, there is strong shareholder alignment between GMG and Apax Partners, which allows Emap to pursue its strategic objectives with clarity and confidence.

    And (Fawkes warning)

    Selling 49% of Trader meant losing half the profits from its activities. This was in order to get a huge cash advance to prop the Grauniad/Observer up. Sadly, this page is truncated for some reason just where it starts to get interesting…

    And GMG and Apax are not the only partners:
    As is the case with Trader Media Group, there is strong shareholder alignment between GMG and Apax Partners, which allows Emap to pursue its strategic objectives with clarity and confidence.

    Emap, aka Top Right Group’s*, site links straight back to Apax’s if you’re looking for information there.


    It is complicated, certainly.

    *Thatcherites to a man, obviously…renamed last year.

  • Brendan

    The Guardian is often a lot of rubbish these days, agreed. Just bland PPE’s espousing their dull world-views, and not doing it with any great articulacy, or verve. Yawn. And their ‘Liberal Intervention’ coverage is appalling. No, I don’t care about WMD in … Whereveristan. And, not I really don’t give a flying what General Zod has to say this morning. And their cringing coverage of Bliar, eek. Toynbee made some comment that Bliar could still do ‘a lot of good’ in the world, leaving me, as ever, utterly mystified at the effect Bliar has on journalists. It’s clear to me that Blair is here to do bad in the world, and anything good is an accident, or more likely a prelude to more bad stuff. Nobody pays me 250k a year to say it though, pity.

    Loved the hacking stuff, though, so kudos for that. And I laughed when they printed John Bolton, in what I can only assume was a dark and subtle joke. Generally though it seems that in its fight for survival, The Graun has had to change a little too much. Or maybe Rustybridger is just a bell-end, not sure.

  • Komodo

    Something to bear in mind, Brendan ; Toynbee is ALWAYS WRONG. Embarrassing when you agree with her, too only to find out that she’s been writing in her sleep again. Hugh Muir is always worth a read, though.

  • Strategist

    Jenkins is a daft old bugger. He’s a total hack – he’ll say anything one week, then its complete opposite the next, completely shameless.

    He’s probably even unaware he’s doing it, I doubt he ever reads his own stuff, just churns out anything on any subject anytime, his only rule being, just make sure it’s strongly opinionated and positioned as common sense challenging the received wisdom.

    He used to wind me up, but now I just let it go, sometimes even enjoying the craft of an old-time Fleet Street bullshitter. But it doesn’t quite work because I don’t think he self-identifies as a hack and inheritor of a grand old Fleet Street tradition, but as some kind of establishment somebody. And somehow I don’t see him as being a massive Lunchtime O’Booze-style piss artist.

  • doug scorgie

    April Showers
    26 Apr, 2013 – 11:56 am

    “Right-wing former cabinet minister urges party to fight next election on platform of tax cuts, privatisation and deregulation.”

    Yes April and that’s what Tony Blair did and what Ed Miliband and Cameron will do when the time comes but Cameron has something else up his sleeve: Nationalism.

    “David Cameron announces £50m fund for first world war commemorations”

    “Imperial War Museum also upgraded as prime minister aims to ‘CAPTURE OUR NATIONAL SPIRIT IN EVERY CORNER OF THE COUNTRY'”

    “He revealed that £50m would be set aside for the centenary of the first world war, with national commemorations on specific anniversaries such as the outbreak of [the first world] war, Armistice Day and major battles.

    There will be an upgrade to the Imperial War Museum by 2014 and funds to help secondary schools explore the Great War and its vast consequences.”

    Why celebrate the centenary of the outbreak of WW1, that horrendous waste of life?

    Well it comes in 2014 just in time for the build-up to the next election.

  • Komodo

    Come the revolution, after putting certain parties to a painful and humiliating death, I shall levy a punitive tax on those thinkpiece writers and cookery columnists employed by newspapers claiming to be responsible organs of record. At least one fact per column centimetre, one half of which must be new. That should finish the Guardian, anyway.

  • Komodo

    Think it’s been up for a while, Craig, but no clues on the site. Might repay a browse.

  • April Showers

    cf Toynbee on Blair the psychopath – He can still do a lot of good in the world!!! Unbelievable stuff.

    Obama speaking about Bush yesterday, that is one psychopath oraising. He was joined by Clinton and Carter.

    ‘So we know President Bush the man. And what President Clinton said is absolutely true — to know the man is to like the man, because he’s comfortable in his own skin. He knows who he is. He doesn’t put on any pretenses. He takes his job seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is a good man.

    But we also know something about George Bush the leader. As we walk through this library, obviously we’re reminded of the incredible strength and resolve that came through that bullhorn as he stood amid the rubble and the ruins of Ground Zero, promising to deliver justice to those who had sought to destroy our way of life.

    We remember the compassion that he showed by leading the global fight against HIV/AIDS and malaria, helping to save millions of lives and reminding people in some of the poorest corners of the globe that America cares and that we’re here to help.

    We remember his commitment to reaching across the aisle to unlikely allies like Ted Kennedy, because he believed that we had to reform our schools in ways that help every child learn, not just some; that we have to repair a broken immigration system; and that this progress is only possible when we do it together.’

    Surely time to get out the anti-emetic. The new library cost $250 million. Who is paying for it? The American people or some rich donors from the New World Order/PNAC?

  • April Showers

    Another typo. I must have sunstroke or something.

    That is one psychopath praising another.

  • technicolour

    RE: Memo provided by Komodo – seems to have come out during Chilcott, referred to by Paul Waugh of the Evening Standard at the time:

    and here

    Blair said privately in March 2002 that the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD programme was no worse than it was in 1999. This was in a private memo to his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell. Sir Lawrence Freedman asked about this at 10.33am.

  • Passerby

    David Leigh who published Wikileaks’ Cablegate password and then said it was Assange wot told it would be OK

    Even bad people have good points. The publication of the password put an end to the dance of the seven veils that was under-way.

    So far as the Guardian goes, it is a compilation of piles of bollocks for the benefit of those whom have fascism as ideal but are too shy to admit to it, and tend to portray themselves as socially concious and aware individuals.

  • technicolour

    Memo also mentioned in Guardian coverage, with Blair’s ‘explanation’:

    10.33am: Sir Lawrence Freedman asks about a document released today, a note from Blair to his chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, written on 17 March 2002.

    In the note Blair said: “The immediate WMD problems don’t seem obviously worse than three years ago.”

    Blair says that was true. But, since 9/11, the willingness to tolerate risk had changed.

    Freedman then reads out another quote from the document. Blair said in the document:

    So we have to re-order our story and message. Increasingly, I think it should be about the nature of the regime.

    Blair says the nature of the regime might not have been the justification for the war. But it was a reason for being pleased about Saddam going.

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