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The Belief That Things Could Be Better

A Nation can’t resolve what the press won’t let it perceive.
( Julian Assange )

The Chief Rabbi Attacked The Labour Leader ..
The Jewish establishment in Britain and the Israeli propaganda machine have taken out a contract on the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The contract was taken out a long time ago, and it was clear that the closer Corbyn came to being elected prime minister, the harsher the conflict would get. It reached its climax in an article by the chief rabbi of Britain, Ephraim Mirvis, in The Times. Mirvis has decided that the anxiety of British Jews over Corbyn is justified and he is not fit to be prime minister. He called on Jews not to vote for Labour in the election on December 12.
( Gideon Levy, 28.11.2019 )

A Myth To Distract People From The Truth ..
My thoughts on the self-flagellating post-mortems: I’m struck by how much blame is being placed on Corbyn and how much of it is framed in the personal context of ‘people just didn’t like him’. I don’t know whether I like Corbyn or not. I don’t KNOW him. And there’s the rub. How do people ‘know’ Corbyn if not through the media portrayal? Have we forgotten that? If we’re not supposed to label people as ‘thick’ and ‘racist’, what are they if they ‘don’t like’ someone who has campaigned against injustice all his life but they ‘do like’ someone who is openly bigoted against just about every ‘other’ group in society? I have issues with Corbyn’s failures: failure to work together with other parties; failure to denounce Brexit from the start; failure to hold the government properly to account. But this construct, that it’s all his fault because of ‘him’ is another myth to distract us from what actually went on. This ‘win’ which the right are now crowing about, is in the context of lies and corruption and mass manipulation. Are we going to dismiss that now? That Labour members and other ‘progressives’ are now actively engaged in it is frankly rather distasteful and exactly what went wrong. They’re still talking about ‘appealing to the Northern working class’. Those people voted Tory! They voted for racism and bigotry and the false sense of power you get when you ‘win’ a Pyrrhic victory. They voted against a better, more just, considered society. Whilst it’s worth noting that Labour won the popular vote in all but the over 65s, it doesn’t matter now. Labour may as well pack up and go home. There is about as much meaning in an opposition party in the UK now, as there was in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. That was all part of the plan.
( J. Green, 17.12.2019 )

I don’t think the internet and social media changes the propaganda model at all. The propaganda model was about the major media institutions and they remain, with all the social media and everything else, the primary source of news, information and commentary. The news that appears in social media is drawn from them. So, if you look at the news on Facebook, it comes straight from the major media. They don’t do their own investigations.
( Noam Chomsky, 13.03.2018 )

Unprecedented Levels Of Misinformation ..
Being free to participate fully requires being well informed – this relies upon the adequacy of processes, institutions and organisations of knowledge production. Yet this election saw unprecedented levels of misinformation, obfuscation and bias across most mainstream media. The Conservatives changed their Twitter account to look like a fact checking service; Johnson refused to be interviewed by Andrew Neil on the BBC and clumsily hid a reporter’s phone in his pocket,rather than respond to questions about the NHS. The study by Loughborough University showed that the Press were overwhelmingly negative about the Labour Party. Fairness and freedom are about the ability to hold power (including media power) to account. Yet both have been in short supply during this election. The Conservatives have been elected on a mandate to drop the second stage of the Leveson inquiry and repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts act (the final and integral part of the Royal Charter Framework of Press Regulation). There is no sign that they intend to regulate the tech giants to make elections and electioneering any fairer or freer. Quite the opposite. Democratic delusions abound.
( Natalie Fenton, 16.12.2019 )

The Disgraceful Connivance By Labour MPs ..
The idea that four years of character assassination by the print and broadcast media, bombarding an unusually honest, principled, courageous, kind and sharp politician with smears and slanders almost every day, could be connected to a lack of personal popularity was sneeringly dismissed by BBC attack dog Andrew Neil. But it was connected, and it was reinforced by the disgraceful connivance in those attacks by many MPs, whose personal contact with Corbyn meant they knew the accusations they threw at him were untrue. MPs who have spent the years since 2015 attacking Corbyn have a greater responsibility than he for the election disaster. And the attacks were inspired by Labour’s socialist policies. Those imagining that Labour would have benefited from a different leader are kidding themselves.
( Extract from an article by the Morning Star, 13.12.2019 )

Just to be clear, the media campaign against Corbyn went far beyond anything against any previous Labour leader. It was surely the biggest propaganda campaign in UK history. Key to this is agenda-setting: shaping what people think *about* (and what they don’t).
( Mark Curtis, 17.12.2019 )

Outrage About The Bias Of The Media ..
Britain has one of the most concentrated media environments in the world. Just three companies dominate 83% of national newspaper circulation; five companies account for 80% of national newspaper news-brand reach; five companies command 80% of local newspaper titles; and two companies own nearly half of all commercial analogue radio stations. The phone hacking scandal and its aftermath demonstrated how that power has been used nationally, whilst at the local level community after community is losing the means to publicly hold power to account. Outrage about the bias of the media has been a constant over many years of elections but the past four years allow us to make a fairly direct comparison between events. The main thing that has changed is not the media, but the leading figures in the campaign. Boris Johnson won for the Tories in 2019 for all the reasons that Brexit won in 2016. They had the man, the message and the machine. Media coverage at elections is always biased against Labour because of the agenda-setting role of the pro-Conservative press (online as well as in print). The only period when this has not been the case is during the Blair years when the Murdoch empire swung behind New Labour.
( Angela Phillips, 16.12.2019 )

Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. His real sin is to fight against injustice in the world, including the version Israel perpetrates.
( Gideon Levy, 28.11.2019 )

The BBC Have Lost Any Sense Of Its Democratic Purpose ..
This was a terrible election for the BBC, which seems to have lost any sense of its public, democratic purpose. It spent the campaign floundered from one editorial aberration to another, while its senior political reporters acting in the most reckless fashion, shocking many of their younger, more junior colleagues. There was the editing out of the Question Time audience laughing at the Prime Minister in the clip for the BBC’s news bulletins. There was the failure to secure an interview with Johnson for the Andrew Neil Interviews, only to then grant the Conservative Party’s request for an interview with Andrew Marr instead, having just at first refused to do so. There was Laura Kuenssberg tweeting a fabricated story about Labour activists attacking a Tory advisor, without any basic fact checking. There was Emily Maitlis (who mused about the possibility of a ‘coup’ against Corbyn ahead of the last election) retweeting remarks about ‘Corbyn’s cult’. Finally, a day before polling day, the BBC press office was forced to issue a statement saying that it ‘does not believe it, or its political editorial, has breached election law’ following on-air remarks made by Kuenssberg, which appear to have prompted a statement from the Electoral Commission.
( Tom Mills, 16.12.2019 )

Frankie Boyle was right to argue that “media plurality is an issue we need to address in this country: the alternative is living in a timeline where, because Corbyn has wonky glasses, in a couple of years you’ll be living in a tent city outside an Amazon warehouse trying to GoFund a tonsillectomy.” That future has come closer because of Johnson’s victory that was aided by a propaganda campaign that illustrates just how desperate vested interests were to maintain the status quo.
( Des Freedman, 16.12.2019 )

Falsehood Is Allowed To Spread Unchecked ..
Journalists just don’t understand how to implement impartiality in a post-consensus world. In the EU referendum they adopted a ‘X claims A, Y claims B’ approach to balance which proved to be disastrous in allowing falsehood to spread unchecked. In this general election, they took the approach of ‘scrutinise claims on both sides equally’ but ran into a problem. The vast majority of falsehoods were spread by the Tories and Lib Dems but ‘presentational’ impartiality meant that Labour had to be presented as equally culpable. The biggest problem, however, is a herd-like group think about ‘what the story is’. When IFS attacked the Labour manifesto, that was a far more of a ‘story’ than the equally scathing IFS response to the Tory manifesto. It just somehow ‘made sense’. When anti-semitism allegations surfaced in the Tory party it just didn’t seem like much of a headline (in spite of ticking every box of news value criteria).
( Justin Schlosberg, 16.12.2019 )

A Political Economy Of Lies ..
Fair elections means elections that are fundamentally honest. But in an age of social media, honesty is not straightforward. Corbyn had tweets sent in his name from fake accounts and First Draft found that 88% of Conservative Facebook campaigning ads were deemed by Full Fact, the UKs leading fact checking organisation, to be misleading. The BBC also stood accused of dishonesty through misleading editing (and later apologised – twice). Rather than honesty being the driver of content, this election, more than any other, felt like it was fuelled by a political economy of lies. Lies are simply more crowd pleasing, circulate rapidly, are based on intensely affective responses, are mood inducing and therefore are often more commercially attractive. But lying also erodes trust and so it is telling that the Ofcom news consumption survey for 2019 notes that in age of distrust ‘word of mouth’ is now considered a legitimate source of news. Fair also means everyone has equal opportunity to get their point across. This election has seen lack of clarity about who bankrolls the politicians. Billionaire donors have been shown to protect the position and interests of those with wealth and power. Money in politics and campaigning has corrupted the electoral system turning the digital landscape into a playground for the elite. New techniques of digital manipulation give rise to sophisticated propaganda that is only just beginning to be understood.
( Natalie Fenton, 16.12.2019 )

Russian Donations And Interference ..
The Conservative Party accepted £200,000 from the wife of a former Russian finance minister under president Putin, just days after refusing to publish a report into Russian interference in UK elections. The Conservative party received £5.6 million in donations in the first week of the campaign, from senior business figures and hedge funds, more than 25 times the amount raised by the opposition Labour party. The largest single donation received in the first week of the campaign was £200,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of Russian oligarch Vladmir Chernukhin. Chernukhin has reportedly paid £160,000 for a tennis match with the prime minister, and £135,000 for a night with former prime minister Theresa May. Before parliament dissolved, Johnson’s government refused to publish a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) into potential Russian interference in UK elections. The report into Russian interference will not be published until after the election, even in spite of a petition which received more than 230,000 signatures.
( Matthew Nixon, The New European, 23.11.2019 )

The vicious personal vilification of Jeremy Corbyn and, significantly, the bogus anti-semitism smear of him and others who had supported the Palestinians: a vendetta that shames all those who promoted it.
( John Pilger, 16.12.2019 )

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Far-Right Connections ..
In August 2013 Jacob Rees-Mogg spoke at a dinner event thrown by the far-right Traditional Britain Group. The group is run by Gregory Lauder-Frost, a well known figure in British far-right politics. Lauder-Frost argues that anyone living in the UK not of what he calls “European stock” should be offered “assisted voluntary repatriation” to their “natural” homeland. Despite being warned of the nature of the event by the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, Rees-Mogg attended the Traditional Britain Group dinner as their guest of honour. This was not Rees-Mogg’s only encounter with the far right. In 2017 he met with president Trump’s ex-chief of staff Steve Bannon at the Mayfair hotel in London to discuss how conservative movements in the UK and US could keep power. Bannon is the darling of far right politicians across Europe. He has been feted by Hungary’s antisemitic prime minister Viktor Orban and Italy’s rabidly anti-immigrant deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini. In March 2018 Bannon told a rally of France’s racist Front National (now “Rassemblement National”, the National Rally) that they should wear the label of “racist” and “xenophobe” as a “badge of honour”. The latest chapter in Rees-Mogg’s engagement with the far-right is his retweeting the anti-EU arguments of Alice Weidel, the leader of the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD). The AfD has been linked to having racist, Islamophobic, antisemitic and xenophobic politics and is linked to Indentitarian movements in Germany.

( The Independent, 02.04.2019 )

The Latest Under-Hand Tactic Employed By The Tories ..
The Conservatives have set up a website that purports to contain Labour’s manifesto, in a bid to trick voters looking for the document. The governing party paid Google to promote the website labourmanifesto.co.uk towards the top of its results for people searching for the opposition plan. It is the latest under-hand tactic to have been employed by the Tories, who were earlier this week accused of running an authoritarian-style disinformation campaign to confuse voters about opposition plans. The party was branded “dystopian” by senior EU politicians after it set up a fake fact-checking service that was actually broadcasting messages from the Tory press office to unsuspecting voters. Other than having the domain name “labourmanifesto.co.uk”, the new website features a picture of Jeremy Corbyn at the top and the headline “Labour’s 2019 manifesto”.  Once users are on the page, it notes in smaller writing further down that it is “a website by the Conservative party”. The page then launches into Tory talking points and PR messages instead of the party’s actual manifesto.
( Jon Stone, Independent, 21.11.2019 )

Is Corbyn A Threat To National Security? ..
The stories — which quote former or current members of the army, navy and special forces, as well as MI5, MI6 and an ex-senior civil servant — have averaged one every six weeks since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party in September 2015. There have, however, been significant spikes in frequency during the 2017 and 2019 general election campaigns. There is a strong suggestion that, for some stories, intelligence officials have themselves provided secret documents to journalists as part of what appears to be a campaign. Every story has been picked up across national print media, often setting the news agenda and chiming with statements from Conservative government ministers. Nearly every story appeared in four papers — The Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Daily Mail, or The Sun. Our research also found 440 articles in the UK press since September 2015 specifically mentioning Corbyn as a “threat to national security”. The intelligence services and the military are supposed to abide by the “constitutional principle” of non-involvement in political affairs. But the numerous instances of serving national security officials briefing against Corbyn in the media raises questions about whether this principle has been upheld.
( Matt Kennard, 04.12.2019 )

The Belief That Things Could Be Better ..
It feels so hard to heave oneself up from the swamp of despair, seeing so much passionate energy for change trampled by a self-serving elite, as contemptuous of truth as they are of most of the people they continue to govern. We know our only hope is somehow to nurture those cross-generational forms of resistance and solidarity that were energised over recent years of hope, where so many new and creative ideas were developed, whether for citizens wealth funds, investment in local economies, shorter paid working time, commitments to financing home-care, life-long learning, mental health provision, and so much more. The overlap between those confronting climate emergencies and those fighting poverty, racism and deterioration of jobs and services won’t disappear overnight. But nothing will be easy, as we struggle to keep alive the imagination needed for connect movement campaigns and collective survival strategies with any levers for power, while confronting those deep regional divides. We never simply win, or simply lose, people like to say, which is in itself too simple. But hopefully what we never lose entirely is our rage against all that is wrong and our belief that things could be different, now is the time to care a little more, understand a lot better, and support all progressive struggles wherever they emerge.
( Lynne Segal, 16.12.2019 )

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