Freedom No More 432


As I write, with over 75% of all yesterday’s English local election results in, Labour has a net gain of 55 councillors compared to the high water mark of the 2014 result in these wards, while the Tories have a net gain of one seat against a 2014 result which was regarded at the time as disastrous for them, and led the Daily Telegraph to editoralise “David Cameron Must Now Assuage the Voters’ Rage”.

Yet both the BBC and Sky News, have all night and this morning, treated these results, in which the Labour Party has increased by 3% an already record number of councillors in this election cycle, as a disaster. What is more, they have used that false analysis to plug again and again the “anti-Semitism in the Labour Party” witch-hunt. It was of course the continuous exacerbation of this mostly false accusation by Blairite MP’s which – deliberately on their part – stopped the Labour Party doing still better. The Blairites are all over the airwaves plugging this meme again today.

What is more this Labour result has been achieved despite the complete collapse of the UKIP vote, which collapse had been expected to boost the Tory Party. In fact the net loss of over 100 UKIP seats has not resulted in overall net gains for the Tory Party, even though those ex-UKIP voters demonstrably did mostly split to Tory. The very substantial UKIP voter reinforcements simply saved the Tories from doing still worse. The Liberal Democrats are showing some signs of life.

Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, and the tendentious media misrepresentation of the election results reminds me why I could not get excited about it. A media with the extremely concentrated ownership we see in the UK can never be free, and certainly does not represent a wide spread of political opinions. Even the views of the official Leader of the Opposition are almost entirely deemed to be outside the Overton window. In Scotland the Scottish government is subject to unreasoning media attack, day in and day out, which contrasts strikingly with the treatment of Westminster ministers and issues.

There is a seriously worrying example from Leeds of the decline of free speech, where disgracefully a meeting discussing the bias of the corporate and state media has now been banned by Leeds City Council because of its content. We are not allowed even to get together to discuss media bias. Retired Ambassador Peter Ford, Professors Piers Robinson and Tim Hayward, Vanessa Beeley and Robert Stuart were to address the meeting at Leeds City Museum entitled “Media on Trial”. I cannot sufficiently express my outrage that Leeds City Council feels it is right to ban a meeting with very distinguished speakers, because it is questioning the government and establishment line on Syria. Freedom of speech really is dead.

British society truly has changed fundamentally if a former British Ambassador to Syria is banned from speaking in public premises on his area of expertise. What is still worse is the tone of this sneering report from Huffington Post, now firmly a part of corporate media, in which Chris York libels the speakers as “Assad supporters”, interviews none of the speakers and nobody to make the argument for free speech, but does manage to interview the “founder” of the jihadist “White Helmets.” In terms of banning dissent while simultaneously ramping up the official narrative, York has won himself top establishment brownie points. The man – and I use the term loosely – is unfit for polite company.


432 thoughts on “Freedom No More

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  • John Donaldson

    Here is another important post that keeps getting shut down, yet is kept available by constantly reposing on YouTube. This link is currently still alive; please swiftly pass the title (‘Media on Trial’) and its latest site on to others, if you agree that it deserves to be so treated. If the new site is blocked by the time this reaches readers, try accessing the individual participants by their names — in combination with the title (‘Media on Trial’ or ‘Frome Stop War’): John Pilger, Patrick Henningsen, Vanessa Beleey, Peter Ford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN5JbTUCy8o

  • slorter

    The essential thing underlying this, is to try to reduce the power of government and social forces that might exercise some power within the political economy—workers and others—and put the power primarily in the hands of those dominating in the markets. That’s often the financial system, the banks, but also other elites.

    Stripped to its essence, Neoliberalism / neoconservative is:
    All core areas including markets deliberately set up are rigged to favor those at the top. All that talk about free markets is just public-relations cover to mask an intrinsically rigged quasi-market that has features of “real” markets while beneath the surface, it’s rigged to the advantage of big players at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

    The con job of Neoliberalism which was never capable of delivering on its promises of either growth or stability, even as it generates more inequality and insecurity across the world.

    Your articles always reflect the inadequacies of neoliberal and neoconservative dogma.

    My concern is what will replace it as the ill-informed public blinded by mainstream public relations rhetoric encouraging perpetual war, racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry to mask and distract us from our common community interests might not make it all go well.

  • Paul Barbara

    Reply ↓ Martinned May 4, 2018 at 13:19
    ‘Wait, you’re shocked that politicians get judged relative to the expectations they created, instead of relative to the election results from four years ago? Hello! Welcome to the 21st century!’

    Just a question, straightforward, no acid (though I am an acid head, and pretty aware), have you sold your soul?
    I believe I know the answer, and I also believe you realise that. So? Warmongering git, or ‘apologist’ for War Crimes?
    Take your fuc*ing pick.

    • Bayard

      Leaving aside the fact that Martinned is, AFAICS, a troll, a more reasonable, if equally pointless, reply to his comment would be to point out that the “expectations” of which he speaks are imaginary and simply created after the event by the MSM.

  • Sharp Ears

    On Friday

    Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Press Release
    Ref: 48/2018.

    Date: 04 May 2018
    For Sixth Friday of Great March of Return and Breaking Siege in Gaza Strip, Israeli Forces Continue to Use Lethal Force against Palestinian Peaceful Civilians, Wounding 196 of them, including 28 Children, 8 Women and 3 Paramedics.

    On Friday Israeli forces continued to use lethal force against Palestinian peaceful civilians, east of the Gaza Strip, for the sixth consecutive Friday. Although none was killed this week, 196 civilians were wounded with live bullets and direct hits of tear gas canisters, including 28 children, 8 women, 5 journalists and 3 paramedics, one of them was seriously injured, in addition to hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation, including PCHR’s fieldworkers who were documenting the Israeli forces’ suppression of the entirely peaceful demonstrations near the border fence with Israel, east of the Gaza Strip. For the sixth week in a row and upon a decision by the Israeli highest military and political echelons, the Israeli forces used lethal force against the peaceful demonstrators, who posed no threat to the soldiers’ life.

    Thus, the death toll has risen to 41, including 5 children, 2 journalists and 2 persons with disabilities, and the number of those wounded has risen to 3033, including 517 children, 85 women, 36 journalists and 23 paramedics since 30 March.
    /..
    http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=10756

    It is a long entry with statistics, photos etc.

    • Hatuey

      I wonder how Palestinians living in Gaza feel about such comments on blogs like this. We all agree that no good really comes from it.

      Let’s re-cap.

      40% of the population are blissfully ignorant in the UK. They’re basically awol.
      30% of the population are pro-Israeli / anti-Muslim / anti-foreignor Rule Britannia crackpots.
      30% are left leaning cowards who think it’s radical to use the f word in a pro-Corbyn blog comment.

      Then there’s me.

      • Canexpat

        @Hatuey

        Can’t say I agree. It was comments on blogs like these that turned me into an anti-Zi0n1st, anti-Wahabbist, anti-Guardian, anti-BBC, anti-Blairite, pro free-speech curmudgeon that does not take anything presented by the MSM at face value. There are a growing number of us in the real world, not just in cyber space. You might not think that does not have value, but I’m rather thankful. If comments on blogs were no threat to the PTB, they would not be so busy trying to smear and censor anyone who promulgates the truth. There is a reason such abominable Orwellian offences such as ‘hate speech’ and ‘hate crimes’ have been invented, and its not because someone benign is “thinking of the children”.

        • Hatuey

          I used to work in marketing many years ago, in the games industry. I assumed we were selling games to kids but I was soon put right. The games were squarely aimed at adults, by and large, in particular adults who had children. This surprised me until it was explained.

          Basically adults wanted their kids to sit playing games. It was more or less harmless, and if they could learn a bit about the world, violence, competition, etc., then so much the better. The thing that came up time and time again was that it ‘kept them off the streets’.

          From the PTB’s perspective that’s exactly the same role that forums, Twitter, and social media play today. It keeps the kids off the streets. And it’s more or less harmless. Shoot the place up, swear, revolt, do what you want within the safe parameters of the game, nobody cares.

          In terms of the costs of policing demo’s and public protest alone, the Internet has probably saved many billions in the UK alone. In terms of policy, well, put a price on zero hours contracts, unbridled profit-maximisation in say utilities, the relative fall in wages over the last 15 years, etc.

          It’s no coincidence that all that stuff and more was effortlessly walked through parliament during the social media age. Watch the NHS go next, and other stuff that Thatcherites in the 1980s didn’t dare to dream of.

          Coincidence? Is it coincidence that one of the few groups that haven’t been hammered, pensioners, have secured guarantees in terms of income? And is it coincidence that they don’t really take part in social media?

          People spend so much time studying the ball and talking about it today that they’ve taken their eyes completely off it.

          Walk down any street today and about 80% of people are walking as they look at smart phones. I can’t imagine a better demonstration of the point and the problem. And I can’t imagine what the homeless beggars think as they are ignored by people walking past like never before.

          • SA

            I understand what you mean. This is illustrated by the difference between February 2003 when the Anti War movement and others mobilises hundreds of thousands of us to demonstrate against the Iraq war and in 2013 when there was no such mobilisation. I contacted them in 2013 and got no answer. I started s petition ‘Hands off Syria ‘ at 38 degrees and it was signed only by about 100 people.
            I don’t know what the answer is however. I don’t think however that us blogging here is responsible for this.

      • giyane

        ” 30% are left leaning cowards who think it’s radical to use the f word in a pro-Corbyn blog comment.”

        These left-leaning cowards have the spiritual courage to remember that anger destroys intellect. It is always better to be intellectually clear why Thatcherism was always going to be wrong, because it promoted selfishness, and we are a social species, and intellectually clear that Islamic extremism was always going to be wrong because we are a diverse species. It is indeed radical to idly swear to show our frustration rather than to fight with fisticuffs. ” They also serve who only stand and wait.”

        You knew that, but you thought you’d have a poke, while you yourself were sitting at your laptop.
        I did enjoy the ITV breakfast interviewer this week , who pointed out that Trump , who had called for more guns, had not followed his own logic by banning guns at the 2nd amendment conference where he was due to speak. in other words , get off thine own bum and practise what thou thyself dost preach.

        • Hatuey

          What an absolutely bizarre response. I’m dumbfounded by it.

          Immediately we can address two things you say, though. Unless we all agree that the Labour Party are as Thatcherite as the Tories, there isn’t much point in even trying to tackle the other stuff. Can I remind you all that Corbyn in the 2017 General Election led a Labour Party that was committed in its manifesto to cut welfare spending by several billion over several years?

          As for Islamic fundamentalism, what a ruse. They’re always going to need some ruse to make sure the oil profits fall into the right hands, of course. Before 1989 it was communists, radical nationalism, tribalism, all sautéed in corruption and evilness which being so honest and good we naturally deplored.

          I really think that many people were better off before the internet in terms of their grasp of the world. Fantastic when you think about it.

      • Sharp Ears

        Hatuey
        May 6, 2018 at 12:54

        You are surely not suggesting that we ignore the oppression, the killing and the wounding of Palestinians by the Occupiers? I have several friends in Gaza who a group of us support. They are very pleased that the truth is being told.

        • Hatuey

          No, Sharp Ears. Quite the opposite. And actually, the Palestinians were better off before their supporters threw in the real world towels and exchanged them for virtual towels.

          Actually, Palestine is a very good example of what I’m talking about. In the last 15 years, Israel has intensified its harsh treatment of Palestinians. The vanquished of Gaza have truly never had it so bad. There’s a reason that israel feels so emboldened today.

          There’s a lot of psychology involved but I think in a way the Internet has desensitised otherwise good, politically active, people too. And there’s this pervasive cynicism everywhere I look online. Nobody trusts a thing.

          Most of the progressive types I know today have stopped giving to charity, for example. They have more or less given in and don’t trust charities — “look at the money they waste on administration costs”, they say.

          Those concerns might or might not be justified but from the perspective of some malnourished kid in Africa it means they get nothing now as opposed to the very little they got before. The difference might seem slight to us but in many places that slight difference is the difference between life and an unmarked grave.

          Activism was simply more active before. It was grim back then too, of course, the odds were stacked against progress and always have been. But I just don’t see any successes nowadays where before I saw a little. Those slight margins matter.

  • nevermind

    So when will the public wake up to these fascists? and will they be bamboozled by the lies proffered loudly by our wretched and cheating political parties at the next GE?
    How many people have to abstain from voting before the masses realise the banana status of this farce?
    It is quiet awesome how the political landscape calls retrograde steps into basic fascism an ‘evolution in politics’.

    The Blairites have poisoned the Labour Party, despite being allowed to freely express their bile and demand for power within the Labour Party.
    They will be punished for it, they are no different from the Tories.
    I feel a very right wing new political party coming up, one that is pro Europe and single market, that is what the popular feeling demands.

    As for the yellow belly liars who still reject their guilt that is their complicity to the referendum. Their simple abstention from the vote, RATHER THAN RESIGNING AND PUTTING THE ISSUE TO A GE, weaselled in a corner, failing to understand the implications of their complicity to this outrageous attempt to bust the Union and further our links with the most lucrative market in the world. Like Luke Harding they should be exposed to their lack of understanding, for failing to foresee the consequences and, as the only means to alleviate them, resign their coalition.

    The neocons/FoI in our parties are demanding that our party politicians are following the same rabid NATO agenda, ignoring the needs of the public in favour of corporate vested interests.
    I very much hope that Julian is OK, wherever he is at present.

    • Hagar

      I agree….mostly…..but to be Pro EU is to be pro Totalitarian State……or haven’t you noticed all the Remainers like May and Co diluting a Brexit that will most probably never happen……due to their Totalitarian state mindset

        • James Charles

          This was a comment from
          http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=39212#more-39212
          “Dear Bill, re: the one liner insults below your Jacobin article:

          Please do not underestimate the prevalence and vociferousness of paid ‘trolls’.

          My ex-neighbour here in the UK was the PR and Marketing Director of a multinational corporation, with responsibility, among many other areas, for the overlooking of their Social Media dept. A group of employees were sat at computers all day long tasked with scouring the web for any mention of their company, and responding to any posts that were negative about it.

          Each computer had a Dashboard, with all the main social media outlets easily visible and available for comment, potentially with multiple sock-puppeting accounts to create the illusion of a horde of supportive individuals.

          “So did they just pretend to be ordinary members of the public?” I asked my neighbour with carefully curated innocence. “Absolutely!” replied my neighbour with a cheeky wink and a knowing grin.

          Now if a company, whose only business is effectively just the selling of goods can get up to this kind of shenanigans as a matter of course, then any large organisation can do the same.”

      • Garth Carthy

        But to be pro Brexit is to be pro the UK being a US vassal.
        I think remaining in the EU would be the lesser of two evils.

        • Dave Lawton

          “But to be pro Brexit is to be pro the UK being a US vassal.”
          The EU was a US project in the first place and created by Allen Dulles CIA fascist spymaster and funded by the Ford Foundation which was supported by Hitler in the 1930`s and now run by an elite group of Bilderberger`s.There is no fun in that so if you want to be one of their slaves stay in Europe.

          • SA

            Dave
            Tails they win, heads we loose.
            The problem is that most people see this as a situation where these are alternative choices. A similar situation is happening with all these ‘Indipendence’ movements, where smaller countries think they will have more power by being independent but in so doing become even more vulnerable to the larger groupings.
            The seismic changes in world politics that happened first in 1917, then reversed in 1990 was that communism meant that workers could unite across borders to fight the ruling classes. This has now transformed to rulers unite across borders to fight the working classes under the banner of globalisation.
            The problem is in the fact that communism, through its corruption by Stalin and his politburo has now acquired pariah status and the status quo has no apparently viable alternative. The left is now tinkering with minor modifications of a system that will never benefit the 99%.

      • Jo Dominich

        Hagar, May is not a Remainer – she was under Cameron and, as soon as she gained power, proved herself to be a hardline Brexiteer – a chameleon – I don’t equate being pro-EU as being pro-Totalitarian State – I voted to Remain. However, it is the case that our very on HMG is rapidly becoming a fascist/totalitarian State. The question is, how can the Nation be shoe-horned out of its apathy and mobilise onto the streets for mass demonstrations against this sorry excuse for a Government?

    • Doodlebug

      That’s as big and as blatant a non-sequitur as the finding that Russians were responsible for Salisbury, on account of the Novichok (which wasn’t).

    • Michael McNulty

      Not only that but the US amassed troops inside Saudi Arabia, where fifteen of the hijackers were said to have come from, to advance across its border to attack Iraq, where none of them came from. This alone indicates the US was stealing Iraq’s oil. Armed robbery in the gangster stage of capitalism.

    • Doodlebug

      Are this judge’s family originally from Sicily by any chance?

      ‘Give us $68 billion or we can’t guarantee there won’t be civil unrest in the very near future, followed by US intervention, bombing of Tehran, occupation of all oil facilities – capiche?’

    • Sharp Ears

      You could not make that guy (Judge George Daniels) up. Who’s he working for? The ‘war on Iran’ section of the Trump administration?

      He has let the Saudis off the hook. Handy that!

      ‘Earlier in 2015, Daniels had ruled that Saudi Arabia had sovereign immunity and dismissed all charges against the kingdom for its alleged role in the attacks.’ LOL

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_B._Daniels

      • Doodlebug

        Presumably, in lacking a sovereign Iran does not likewise qualify for ‘sovereign immunity’. The sheer ‘chutzpah’ required for such on-going deception is astonishing. And America just says, ‘Righto, as you were. Carry on’.

        I read an internet comment a long while ago to the effect that if America ever discovered a certain nation was behind a certain atrocity, that nation would cease to exist. Yet no-one even notices the reality, despite its waving at them frantically like a child in the midst of a football crowd.

  • Zareen Islam

    Why are White Helmets defined as “jihadist”?
    The appropriation of Muslim terms by our media has me confused.
    Conflating extremism and Islamic ideologies in one phrase perpetuates the myth that Islam in itself leads people to extremist views and actions.
    There seems to be no way to reclaim our words for struggling for justice and equality from those who prefer to use them to propagate quick images without context.

    • SA

      Zareen
      You have a point and I have stated this in previous postings in this site. I think they should be called pseudo islamic terrorists.

    • Michael McNulty

      And the truth is nobody radicalized more people than Bush and Blair.

  • Sharp Ears

    Isn’t knowledge of Jeremy’s support for Scottish Independence another stick for the Tories inc Fluffy Mundell to try to beat him with?

    I suppose it would make a change from the fictitious allegations of anti-semitism.

  • Oliver Tickell

    You know HuffPo is now part of corporate media because BBC R4 Today includes it in their ‘papers review’.

  • Gill McCall

    I am left speechless that a Local Council can have the self-righteous authority to ban this meeting! I am assuming that Leeds is a Labpur-run council, in which case, more is the surprise and outrage. I wonder who might be putting pressure on them? Would Leeds University taken the same repressive decision?

  • Mark Pritchard

    Hello Craig,

    I have recently found your site and am continuing to explore it. I have joined the Labour Party as a direct result of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Leader.

    I am slightly puzzled at this piece: my instant Wiki search suggests Labour controls Leeds City Council (61 of 99).

    Can you say why a Labour council has done such a thing and why it is implied (at least to me) the that it was supporting the Government’s stand – i.e. it was a Tory council.
    “Leeds City Council feels it is right to ban a meeting with very distinguished speakers, because it is questioning the government and establishment line on Syria.”

    Keep up your very good work on highlighting injustices.

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