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Newsnight last night presented a truly warped picture of Keir Starmer, tarting up his flagging reputation to make him sound like a massively popular savior of the Labour Party instead of a right wing, Trojan horse, wrecking ball! From an enthusiastic Kirsty Wark to a line up of mostly Labour centrists if you didn’t know the Labour Loser before last night you would have thought that Starmer had single-handedly transformed the party to rescue Labour from Electoral oblivion. In reality this sleazy Captain of Capitulation’s reputation is now on life-support, with party members leaving in droves, election canvasers on strike and multiple Trade Union disaffiliations. The BBC all but erected an iron scaffold around Starmer to keep him propped into position as their most reliable centrist sell-out, raving about his popularity and ‘forensic’ skills of non-opposition at PMQs. Corbyn was demonized as a disaster and only the Momentum rep questioned how Starmer might reinvent himself again in his next vacious speech. This was the ultimate BBC fake-news propaganda spin; it was absolutely vomit worthy!
With the BBC, ‘Auntie,’ already so heavily right leaning, why should we be seriously concerned about the establishment of not just one, but two ‘Fox News’ style TV channels with foreign influenced alt-right backing for competition? The total lack of political balance is extremely worrying especially with the toxic involvement of Australian billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch who already has far too much leverage in UK politics. In the Byline Times Article entitled, “Exclusive: Rupert Murdoch in Series of Meetings With Boris Johnson and High-Profile Ministers,” Sam Bright reports that, “The right-wing billionaire gained unprecedented access to ministers in August and September last year. Right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch repeatedly gained special access to the UK Government in recent months, Byline Times can reveal. Newly-released records show that News Corporation CEO Murdoch and his right-hand woman Rebekah Brooks held seven private meetings with five senior ministers over a seven-week period in August and September 2020.”
Reporting on the privileged access, Bright says that, “This included a meeting between Murdoch and Boris Johnson on 18 September, followed just a few days later on 21 September by a meeting between News UK CEO Brooks and the Prime Minister. Rishi Sunak was taken out to lunch by Murdoch on 26 August, perhaps benefitting from the Chancellor’s ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, followed by breakfast with Brooks on 17 September. Home Secretary Priti Patel held a meeting with Murdoch on 14 September, though perhaps thought it was politically prudent not to name him directly, instead saying she had a ‘private dinner’ with the ‘Executive Chairman of News Corp’. Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg was less bashful about his meeting with the billionaire however, listing his lunch with Murdoch on 25 September as an ‘informal lunch between friends’.”
Bright says, “All of these meetings preceded a dinner bash between Murdoch and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on 8 August. Gove, whose wife Sarah Vine is a columnist for the Daily Mail, was joined at the soiree by a guest (though their identity is not disclosed). Gove, who used to work at the Murdoch-owned Times, has maintained an ongoing friendship with his old boss during his political career, Murdoch joining Gove for an interview he conducted with President Donald Trump for the newspaper in 2017. Gove also had a tipple with Daily Mail owner Lord Rothermere, again with a guest, a week later on 15 August. No other media executives seem to have been afforded the same access to ministers as Murdoch and Brooks during this time period.” Bright lists, “Meetings between Murdoch, Brooks and senior ministers: 8 August, Michael Gove; 26 August, Rishi Sunak; 14 September, Priti Patel; 17 September, Rishi Sunak; 18 September, Boris Johnson; 21 September, Boris Johnson; 25 September, Jacob Rees-Mogg.”
Bright notes that, “Despite being logged as official meetings, the content of the discussions are entirely hidden from public view. When Byline Times reported in December that Sunak had been schmoozed by Brooks earlier in the year, we filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain the minutes from the meeting, only to be told by the Treasury that no record existed. A notorious right-wing media operator, Brooks runs News UK, which publishes the Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers. The publisher is owned by News Corp, which in turn is owned by Murdoch and his family. Murdoch also owns Fox News, the hard-right US broadcaster that acted as a mouthpiece for Donald Trump during his time in the White House – often fanning his half-baked conspiracy theories. Indeed, Murdoch’s stranglehold on the news business stretches across the globe and is perhaps most acutely experienced in his native Australia, where Murdoch-owned newspaper titles account for more than 60% of metropolitan circulation.”
“This influence has also been keenly felt in the UK, with the political fortunes of a particular party or leader seen to be reliant on the stance taken by Murdoch-owned titles. Indeed, after the surprise election victory of John Major’s Conservative Party in 1992, Murdoch’s red-top-title emblazoned a headline that stuck in the British media membrane: ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’.” Bright says that, “Consequently, when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party, a key facet of his ‘modernisation’ project was to curry favour with Murdoch and his newspapers, much to the chagrin of left-wing activists. For her part, Brooks is firmly embedded in the Murdoch machine. She was the editor of the now defunct News of the World from 2000 to 2003, editor of the Sun from 2003 to 2009, and CEO of News International from 2009 to 2011. Brooks was a prominent figure in the phone-hacking scandal, when it was revealed that a News of the World story published during her tenure allegedly involved illegal phone-hacking. She was cleared of charges in 2014.”
Bright reports that, “As mentioned, the content of the meetings between Murdoch and ministers is not for public consumption. However, one could reasonably speculate that the menu of conversation may well have included News UK TV, Murdoch’s latest media venture. As reported by the Guardian in December, the broadcasting regulator Ofcom has given approval for the platform to launch whenever it is ready, rumoured to be this Spring. It’s said that News UK TV will launch as an evening-only service, on air for around four or five hours a night. Although it reportedly will launch as a streaming-only service, News UK TV also applied for a full Ofcom broadcast licence, which means it could eventually be expanded into a traditional television channel.”
Bright reminds us that, “News UK TV will be launching in competition with GB News, a startup broadcast venture chaired by former BBC presenter Andrew Neil and backed by a range of foreign investors.” Despite that overwhelming saturation of right leaning news presentations, he says that, “Both are seeking to exploit a perceived deficit of conservative thought on British airwaves.” But he qualifies that by noting, “I say ‘perceived’, because the new director general of the BBC is a former Conservative councillor, its new chairman has donated £400,000 to the party in recent years, and opaquely-funded right-wing think-tanks have a regular spot on BBC political debate programmes. Nigel Farage, for example, has been one of the most regular guests on Question Time, despite never having been elected to Parliament, rejected by the electorate on seven separate occasions.”
Bright warns that, “Meanwhile, it looks like both these projects will be aided by the UK Government, with speculation mounting that Boris Johnson is set to appoint former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre as the head of Ofcom, a man who has been fervently opposed to media regulation in the past. Perhaps Murdoch was keen to make sure that ministers were still following his playbook, given his plans afoot. ‘Ministers have meetings with a range of individuals and organisations, this includes with the media,’ a Cabinet Office spokesperson told Byline Times. ‘The Government is open and transparent in publishing ministerial meetings with senior media executives’.” This is one of the obligatory core control levers that’s required by a fully functioning Dictatorship: absolute control of all public broadcasting and the Media in order to sedate the population into accepting authoritarian control through fear propaganda!
In another Byline Times Article entitled, “Exclusive: Cummings and Cain Held Private Meeting With New BBC Bosson Day of Internal Market Bill Vote,” Sam Bright again reports on a dubious meeting. He reports on, “how the Prime Minister’s former top advisors met with Tim Davie on the day of a Brexit vote that threatened to break international law. Two of the Prime Minister’s closest advisors held a private meeting with the new director general of the BBC on the day that MPs voted on controversial Brexit legislation, Byline Times can reveal. Newly-released records show that Boris Johnson’s now-former chief aide Dominic Cummings and director of communications Lee Cain met with the BBC’s Tim Davie on 14 September ‘to discuss the Prime Minister’s priorities’. On the same day, MPs were due to debate and vote on proposals, made by the Government, to breach international law in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”
Bright says that, “The Internal Market Bill, which was later neutered by the Government, was condemned by every living former Prime Minister. In the days following his promotion to the top job at the BBC, Davie used his new platform to warn his journalists from expressing their ‘personal agendas.’ The law was designed to give the Government power to override the Northern Ireland Protocol, an element of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK on 24 January 2020, in order to maintain the same trading rules in Northern Ireland as the rest of the UK. The vote passed in the House of Commons, though not without much rancour from opposition MPs, accusing the Government of failing once again to respect the rule of law. Indeed, in the Summer of 2019, Johnson attempted to prorogue (shut down) Parliament in order to curtail scrutiny of the proposed Withdrawal Agreement he had negotiated with the EU, a move that was ruled to be unlawful by the Supreme Court.”
Bright explains, “So, in short, the Internal Market Bill proposed violating the Withdrawal Agreement, an international treaty that Johnson had attempted to push through Parliament by acting unlawfully. The minutes of the meeting between Cummings, Cain and Davie are not publicly available. When Byline Times pressed the Government to release minutes of a previous rendezvous between Chancellor Rishi Sunak and right-wing media supremo Rebekah Brooks, the Treasury said that no record existed. It’s understood that the Internal Market Bill was not discussed at the meeting, though neither the BBC nor the Government would go on the record to formally confirm or deny this point. Cain and Cummings, who have both subsequently been relieved of their Downing Street duties, are primarily Brexit operatives, both having graduated from senior positions in the Vote Leave campaign to become Johnson’s Government henchmen.”
According to Bright, “Cummings in particular was seen to be the source of many of the Government’s anti-democratic instincts, epitomised by his stubborn refusal to appear before a committee of MPs investigating the dissemination of fake news during the EU Referendum campaign. Cummings still remains in contempt of Parliament.” This should not have been legally permitted in a functioning democracy especially with Cummings still able to retain a powerful Chief Special Advisor role. The very public exit out of the front door of number 10 carrying what looked like a large seemingly empty cardboard box had all the classic signs of a ruse to fool the British public into thinking Cummings and co had gone. In reality, we have absolutely no way of knowing for sure that they are not still heavily involved in pulling strings behind the scenes in this corrupt Tory Government under the weak leadership of Johnson.
Bright informs us that, “For his part, Tim Davie formally assumed the director general role on 1 September, less than two weeks before his meeting with Cain and Cummings. Prior to his appointment, Davie had served in several management roles at the national broadcaster, despite not having any editorial experience. Davie also boasts past links to the Conservative Party, namely that he stood as a councillor for the party in 1993 and 1994, and was deputy chairman of the Hammersmith and Fulham Conservatives in the 1990s.” This follows a well established pattern of appointing inexperienced and incompetent right-wing Tory connected individuals from the wealthy elite to insure compliance with the political agenda of the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship.
Bright says that, “In the days following his promotion to the top job at the BBC, Davie used his new platform to warn his journalists from expressing their ‘personal agendas’. ‘If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC,’ he said. Managers subsequently informed BBC staff that they would not be allowed to participate in gay pride marches, under new rules implemented by Davie, only for this policy to be reversed after a social media backlash.” Bright says that, “Davie is not the only new BBC executive with ties to the Conservative Party. Former Goldman Sachs banker Richard Sharp is set to be appointed as the BBC’s chairman, following his nomination by the Government. Sharp has donated more than £400,000 to the Conservatives since 2001, and was Rishi Sunak’s mentor during his time at Goldman Sachs.” The chumocracy rumbles on securing power for the Tory Sovereign Dictatorship.
Bright points out that, “Davie has appealed to staff to be assiduously impartial in their work. This appeal would undoubtedly carry more validity if the BBC’s board of directors didn’t increasingly resemble a Conservative reunion party.” Once again the same bland statement, “The Prime Minister’s special advisers have regular meetings with a range of individuals including the media,’ a Government spokesperson told Byline Times. “The Government is open and transparent in publishing these meetings with senior media executives.” They might as well also say that they welcome independent scrutiny as long as they are able to very carefully select those providing the regulatory scrutiny! This is the alarming point: the Tories are not only locking down our broadcast as well as our print media, they are also appointing compliant ‘regulators’ to provide a vanier of impartiality while abolishing all accountability!
In the Canary Article entitled, “Newspaper editors raise concerns over whether the government is blacklisting journalists,” the expose this Tory Government’s aversion to scrutiny. They say that, “Downing Street has insisted it welcomes press scrutiny after newspaper editors signed an open letter calling for a review into the government’s use of freedom of information (FOI) requests. Former and current Fleet Street editors have raised concerns about a ‘clearing house’ within the Cabinet Office, which has been advising government departments on the handling of FOI requests. The existence of the unit was revealed by an openDemocracy investigatio which said the team collates lists of journalists with details about their work. Media organisations are calling for an investigation into the clearing house unit, whether journalists and others submitting FOI requests are being ‘blacklisted’ and whether this is illegal.”
The Canary report that, “The prime minister’s official spokesperson told a Westminster briefing on Tuesday there is no ‘blacklist’ of journalists and said the ‘sole purpose’ of the unit is to provide advice. They said: ‘I would point to the fact that the clearing house has been operating as part of the Government’s approach to FOI since 2005, so it is not a new body within the Cabinet Office. ‘It acts to ensure that the advice and information we provide is consistent and compliant across Government to ensure freedom of information requests are handled in the proper and sensitive way. I would point to the fact that we regularly, routinely, disclose information. Not just as part of the FOI process, but as part of the regular transparency documents that we publish on the Cabinet Office website and will continue to do so’.”
The Canary reveal that, “The joint open letter has been signed by editors of newspapers across the political spectrum, including the Guardian, the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times. Addressed to the chairs of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, it calls on MPs to raise the issue ‘as a matter of priority’. In response, Julian Knight, Conservative chairman of the Commons DCMS Committee, said press freedom was a ‘cornerstone of our democracy’ and that he would raise the matter with the government. ‘It is concerning that questions have been raised about the openness and transparency of Government in dealing with freedom of information requests made by members of the press,’ he said.”
National Union of Journalists Tweeted: “Journalists who have submitted #FOI requests should follow up with Subject Access Requests, we need to get to the bottom of how the government’s Clearing House is operating and find out if they are monitoring the media; #NUJ #saveourFOI ‘The actions of Government in enabling proper scrutiny of it must be beyond reproach and I shall be raising these matters with DCMS secretary of state Oliver Dowden.’ The letter has also received backing from Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). ‘The media industry is united in backing a Campaign to Expand the right to information and secure greater transparency in public life,’ she said. ‘We want our Government to be less secretive, not more. ‘That is why the existence of a so-called clearing house, profiling requests, stonewalling requests and essentially thwarting and blocking journalistic scrutiny is so disturbing and outrageous.” This is all about achieving a toxic manipulation of the Media!
Why should we worry about the privileged access afforded to Media magnates like Rupert Murdoch and the like? They are all billionaires, dedicated to protecting and advancing the financial and strategic interests of the super wealthy elite to the punitive and sometimes deadly detriment of the working poor, deprived and the extremely vulnerable who the Covid crisis has demonstrated are considered ‘expendable’! To prevent the destitute from rioting in desperation requires absolute control of all areas of the Media: lie to people in propaganda broadcasts with supporting press articles, to convince them, ‘black is the new white;’ they are ‘privilaged’ to continue being exploited for a pittance well below survival pay! The Media message is key to successful authoritarian repression, subjugation and exploitation for profit that the Tories are determined to achieve. Massive public protests, legal challenges and robust Investigations can expose the corruption to derail this plan and remove this Tory Sovereign Dictatorship from office ASAP. DO NOT MOVE ON!