The media

Brexit shows... no point defending the BBC

The Cummings-Johnson-Gove clique have made no secret of their contempt for the BBC and desire to bring it to heel. They believe the result of the EU referendum and the 2019 election give them an opportunity to mount a “culture war” on the supposedly “liberal” and “metropolitan” BBC. Their approach so far, has been to follow Trump’s “fake news” strategy — in which politicians aim to escape accountability by convincing enough supporters that all criticism is based on the lies of a biased “liberal” media. But now there is clear evidence of a plan to fundamentally undermine the independence of the...

Save BBC from the Tories? But what BBC?

The recent resignation of BBC director Tony Hall has once again thrust the question of the role and the future of the BBC into the spotlight. Hall’s resignation comes at a time when redundancies, cuts and reorganisations are being announced, along with calls for a rethinking about what the BBC does and how it does it. On 29 January it was announced that 250 jobs were to go among journalists and production staff. The scrapping of the popular Victoria Derbyshire Show, announced a few days previous, is indicative of what this will mean for the programme schedule. Although the reasoning behind...

A Labour newspaper?

Should the labour movement have its own newspaper? That is the question posed by Richard Burgon, currently running for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Burgon, speaking to Novara Media, said that a Labour freesheet could mimic the Evening Standard or the Metro. The various editions of the Metro currently have a total circulation of 1.4m, and the ES has about 800,000 around London. That makes them two of the most-read newspapers in the UK. Burgon was attacked by Ian Murray, the most right-wing of those standing for the deputy leadership: “We are a party aspiring to be in government, not a...

Five arguments about why Labour lost

“Labour has lost the working class” Over the years, but particularly in the Brexit era, older people have swung to the right and younger people to the left. In 1983 18-24 year olds backed Thatcher over Labour by 9 points, while over-65s backed Labour by 6. This time 18-24s backed Labour 57-19, while over-65s backed the Tories 62-18! Among women voters aged 18-24, only 15% went Tory. Older people are more and more over-represented in areas where Labour lost the bulk of its seats, and young people more and more under-represented. And older people are much more likely to turn out and vote. What...

The racism in “gang” panics

I want to start with a bit of a disclaimer. I first became deeply interested in the topic of crime and policing in response to a wave of gang violence that was plaguing the area of North West London I call home. I say this to illustrate that there are instances where gangs are the culprit. It isn’t my intention to delegitimise or trivialise those situations. However, in the words of an unnamed senior Met officer talking to Amnesty International: “Gangs are, for the most part, a complete red herring… fixation with the term is unhelpful at every level.” That hasn’t stopped all major police...

Social media, politics, and the "Schweitzer model"

The decade-and-a-bit since the 2008 crash has been a distinct period of capitalism in economic and in political terms. It has also been a distinct period in the technology of political communications. Twitter "took off" around 2007, Facebook "took off" around 2009, mass use of smartphones "took off" about the same time. For a few years now, more web browsing has been done via smartphones than via computers. Tablets and e-readers, once said to be the wave of the future, have lagged. Many young people today get their news of the world via social media, rather than via newspapers or TV news shows...

Corbyn in the 1980s

The Times of 6 July 2019 ran an article by Dominic Kennedy, "Corbyn's hard-left blueprint revealed", attacking Jeremy Corbyn for his links in the 1980s with Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity. Sean Matgamna, editor of Socialist Organiser in the period described, talked to Solidarity. We have serious political differences with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. But Corbyn has the record of an honorable, serious left-winger, who - unlike many others who had some association with Socialist Organiser in the 1980s - did not change his coat in the years of Blair's New Labour...

Depths of denial

Keith Kahn Harris’s book sets out to be a short analysis on what drives a lot of conspiracy theories: denial. People deny climate change, the effectiveness of vaccines, or the Holocaust. Kahn Harris explains succinctly where some of these conspiracies are driven from — helplessness in a world that leads the less informed to believing the conspiracy of someone with an alternative agenda. But the book is short in length and short on answers. Kahn Harris makes a distinction. “Denial” is the act of denying something, for example, claiming that you can smoke just one more cigarette and quit easily...

True, but never mind that...

"These things really happened, that is the thing to keep one's eye on. They happened even though Lord Halifax said they happened ... and they did not happen any the less because the Daily Telegraph has suddenly found out about them when it is five years too late" - George Orwell, Looking Back on the Spanish War (1942) On April 7, the Sunday Times carried a front page lead story claiming that the Labour party has failed to take action against hundreds of members accused of antisemitism. The story was apparently based upon leaked emails and a database from Labour’s HQ. The details were shocking...

Telling the truth about wars

The career of the journalist Marie Colvin was fairly unique. She covered most of the major conflicts of the 1990s and 2000s up until her death in Homs, Syria, in 2012. Her articles in the Sunday Times brought across some of the horrors of war, not just the conflicts between political factions and leaders but the stories of mass graves in Fallujah, and the near starvation of internally displaced Tamils. Until her death she may be remembered as one of the last journalists to interview Colonel Gadaffi before he was killed in the Libyan conflict of 2011. The film, based on a Vanity Fair article,...

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