This amazing quotes caught my eye in the latest Media Lens bulletin
“In the aftermath of the Iraq war, then ITN political editor (now BBC political editor), Nick Robinson, wrote:
‘It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking… That is all someone in my sort of job can do. We are not investigative reporters.’ (Robinson, ‘”Remember the last time you shouted like that?” I asked the spin doctor,’ The Times, July 16, 2004)
This certainly came as a surprise to me and is a root and branch redefinition of Western journalism as it is popularly understood. Robinson clearly sees his job as merely ‘reporting’ on what those in power have said, rather than trying to establish the veracity of what they are saying.
And yet the Media Lens bulletin goes onto to reveal that Nick Robinson commented recently that:
‘David Cameron will become the first world leader to be welcomed aboard Airforce One by President Obama so that both men can travel to the crucial swing state of Ohio. The pin up of the global left and the leader of the British right will add the latest image to the photo album of the Special Relationship.’
‘Last week President Obama had the opportunity to look Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu in the eye and judge how close he is to launching a war. David Cameron will want to know what he saw.’
This mythologising of leaders as virtual Hollywood heroes – and the depiction of policy as emerging from powerful individuals rather than powerful groups – urges the public to defer to leaders portrayed as far more than mere representatives of the people.”
So in this case Robinson didn’t think that his role was merely to report the word & deeds of the powerful; he thought his role was to eulogise them.
Yet again an endorsement of a particular point of view presented in the media as if it were ‘common sense’ or the ‘natural order’, thus disguising, or attempting to disguise, the partiality of the coverage.
I’ve just donated money to buy billboard ads all over London telling David Cameron he’s making a big mistake with our NHS.
See what the ads will look like here.
David Cameron knows that his plans for the NHS are a disaster, but he thinks it would be simply too embarrassing to abandon the plans now. If we show him the NHS is an election issue, we can change his mind.
With billboard ads all over London, we can warn potential conservative voters that most doctors and nurses oppose the plans, ahead of the crucial Mayor of London elections.
Could you chip in too by making a secure donation here?
Late last night, RBS chief Stephen Hester said he would not take his £1 million bonus after all. That’s a huge turnaround – and 38 Degrees helped make it happen.
When they launched the petition on Friday calling on Hester to refuse his giant bonus, it looked an uphill struggle. David Cameron and George Osborne were both claiming their hands were tied. Many thought it was a done deal.
But in 48 hours over 80,000 38 Degrees members signed the petition. The public outcry grew in volume across the internet and in the press. More and more politicians started to join in. By the end of the weekend Hester had backed down.
This latest breakthrough is yet more proof that people power matters. When enough of us speak up together, we can help change things for the better – even when politicians claim there is no alternative. Continue reading
At the G20 summit this November world leaders have a chance do something good for the world, by introducing a Robin Hood Tax.
It would help stop the cuts, tackle climate change and global poverty and help control the casino banking that got us into this mess.
Lots of governments are already on board. To date, our own government has been lukewarm in public, while opposing it behind closed doors.
But cracks are beginning to show and if enough of us raise our voices now we can make a difference.
Tell David Cameron to ignore the banking lobby and take a stand at the G20 that will be admired worldwide.
Tell him to put the people before the banks.
Tell him to vote for Robin Hood.
Email the Prime Minister now
Going To Work is a project of the Trades Union Congress (TUC)
See this article in today’s Guardian for research linking government austerity with civil unrest.
The research paper the Guardian article was based on, Austerity & Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe 1919-2009, can be found here.
[Note: A Tory perspective of much of what I am saying in this post was echoed by the Daily Telegraph Political Editor Peter Oborne, in his article, The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom , on Saturday 13th August.
Which illustrates a broader point, i.e. to reduce everything to issues of economic interest as both classic Marxists and the free-marketeers do is to take away the individuals moral responsibility and ignore so much of the existential experience of the oppressed. Emotional experiences like humiliation and shame are as much a part of being ‘poor’ as is lack of money. Indeed, I would argue that those emotional facets of oppression are still present on a daily basis for the working middle-class who have money but no autonomy. Which is why I am attracted to the writings of socialist anarchists like Emma Goodman or Kropotkin or even Marxists like Gramsci because they do not reduce these ‘cultural’ aspects of oppression to economic interests alone. The concept of equality is first and foremost is a ‘moral’ concept, not an economic one.
Which is also why I believe so strongly that when campaigning the Left have to believe there is a ‘moral’ dimension to what they are fighting for – rather than a simple economic self-interest. Psychologically people often make amazing personal sacrifices in a cause that represents a collective ‘greater good’ rather than their own self-interest – this is the whole point of ‘patriotism’ as a concept, without it would the millions who died in WWI have collaborated so willingly in their own slaughter? Today look at those dying in Syria, or the British who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War, or the sacrifices of early trade unionists, the list is endless.]
Last night On BBC 2’s Newsnight, Kelvin McKenzie was literally raging at two young articulate black men, saying that the teenage rioters should be shot with rubber bullets. Michael Gove was practically screaming at Harriet Harman because she had the temerity to make a link between poverty and crime.
Their argument seemed to be that, “not all poor people riot or resort to crime therefore poverty cannot be the motivating factor for those who do.”
Almost any analysis of crime and poverty in the last 100 years will demonstrate a direct statistical link between crime and poverty. When unemployment and relative poverty increase, crime increases (see http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/links.htm or http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/poverty-pushing-young-into-crime-1473256.html ).
But Gove and McKenzie seem to fear that by acknowledging reasons for the events of the last few days we are somehow making excuses. But to recognise poverty and social exclusion as factors in these riots is not to excuse individual acts of criminality, it is simply to recognise that at the margins of society as the effects of unemployment and poverty become harsher there are those who will be tempted into crime who might not have been otherwise. We are all autonomous individuals and have to take responsibility for our own actions but we are also members of communities and of society as a whole and our decision-making is socially determined to a degree most of us would not care to acknowledge (see behavioural economics). To suggest a link between two social phenomenon is not to claim a universal connection nor to suggest a direct causal link: not all teenage binge drinkers become alcoholics but a lot do; not all people made redundant have nervous breakdowns or commit suicide but some do; not all MP’s fiddled their expenses but a lot did. There is a statistical link between poverty and crime and to deny it is silly. We can argue about what the link actually means but for goodness sake lets acknowledge the facts. Continue reading
This is a review of the autobiographies of New Labour supremos, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and John Prescott, written by my UCU colleague and eminent radical historian, John Newsinger. It is an excoriating analysis of the self-serving texts that exposes the Thatcherite principles underlying New Labour.
◊ • ◊ • ◊ • ◊ • ◊
With David Cameron in power and a full-scale Thatcherite assault underway on the welfare state, working class living standards and the public sector unions, it is easy to forget just how rightwing New Labour was. Well, fortunately, two of the architects of New Labour, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, together with the man who served as their ‘Judas goat’, John Prescott, have rushed into print to remind us. The three memoirs are very different in tone. Prescott is pathetic, someone who has abandoned every principle he ever believed in. This was a small price to pay to become Deputy Prime Minister. And his career has culminated with this proudly working class man joining the ermine vermin and becoming a Baron. Prescott is not sure whether to be pleased with or ashamed of himself. Mandelson, another Baron, leaves the reader knowing as little about who he is, what be believes in and what he has been up to than he or she did before they opened the book. And then with Blair, one confronts full-blown megalomania. No House of Lords for him, he is one of the Masters of the Universe, an honorary member of the American ruling class. Continue reading