“Readers expect politicians to be hopeless and crooked, so let’s get in bed with the politicians and write about celebs instead. Then we’ll have more power and more readers and make more money. And as politicians can’t speak eloquently any more, let’s put what they say into words for the People”
As far as some of this morning’s content goes, I’m afraid anyone under the age of 50 is going to have to take my word for it, because it happened before they were born. Although that may ring “Oh my God, old fogey farts forth” alarm bells in some, it shouldn’t really: because while you can’t look at, say, the 1954-60 era from the smart-arsed perspective of 2017, you can use the blatant differences in public behaviour to comprehensively defeat all those relativist historians who would ask you to believe ’twas ever thus’ about everything.
I’ll mention two items from yesterday’s news at random for starters, and then get into the meat of the thing. You may already have heard the hit and run incident on LBC yesterday morning, during which Nick Ferrari (not my favourite person, but a first class journalist) effortlessly turned his interviewee – the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott – from puffed-up hardliner to 2D hedgehog by asking her a couple of questions about which she was hopelessly clueless. It was cringeworthy stuff, and blew any semblance of credibility she ever had as a potential Home Secretary. Now people under 50 should grasp this one, because even twenty years ago, nobody – but nobody – from either Party would have been allowed to do that interview during a General Election without being thoroughly briefed. Park that thought and head over to the East Mediterranean with me.
On Monday, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras signed a deal with ‘the creditors’ (there aren’t any, but let’s leave that to one side) – the alleged quid pro quo for which will be discussions about debt relief for the country’s beleaguered People. The deal he signed, however, squeezes them harder on austerity, and raises their taxes.
What these two items have in common is that they demonstrate the most appallingly sloppy, amateur-night policymaking alongside more than a hint of incipient madness. Corbyn wants us to see Bumbling Blackabbott as a person who can hold down the Home Office job, and Wolfgang Schäuble wants us to believe that crushing a rock-press down harder on someone’s head will improve their performance.
The payoff here is that neither Abbott nor Schäuble have been quietly placed by millions of those who support them into that area marked ‘Beyond the Pale’. The world goes on and they carry on in their jobs, unabashed by their obviously uncaring incompetence. Worse still, Nick Ferrari is a rare bird these days….in fact, he is a very, very threatened species.
Wherever I go in the world – and at the moment I don’t go anywhere much, but Skype helps me stay in contact – there is nearly always a clear but minority segment of the voting population that knows just how dysfunctional and stupid most legislators are, and how they no longer care a fig for the ordinary citizen. Some of them are delighted by this, and relish the coming of the corporate State: the pols for these people are ‘useful idiots’. Some are renegade intelligentsia with a healthy streak of practicality who must try to live with the reality that they lack the power to stop the process. But most are ordinary craftsmen and women – farmers, fishermen, builders, salespeople, shopkeepers, primary school teachers and the like – with the discernment that always comes with doing something difficult in order to stay alive from one day to the next.
As the years roll on, this last group goes through anger, frustration and disbelief – until one day it turns into either bitter acceptance or visceral hatred. But the truly disturbing change over the last sixty years has been not just the blithe inability of the political and activist ideological economics dweebs to notice these people. Even more bizarre (and concerning) is the willingness of the scribbling media folks to ignore them.
It matters not whether it’s Bloomberg, the BBC, CNN, the Guardian, France24, the Daily Telegraph, the New York Times or Sky News: in 2017, so-called quality columnists and specialist reporters exist largely to interpret what officialdom means when it says something. The italicisation there is key: the media are now interpreters (with variously hidden agendas) employed solely to pat the butter into shape until surfers, readers, viewers or listeners recognise it as 200 grams of yellow fat they’ve been taught to like.
More worrying still, the media interpretations of the élite policies allegedly on offer range – for the aware minority – from utterly incredible to staggeringly glib. At least half are simply ill-informed, and a good one in five are proved wrong by events within three days. Is there back-tracking or God forbid, an apology? There is not. CNN for one simply makes stuff up (about the recent Syrian evacuee bus massacre, for example) and the New York Times takes the route of closing all comment threads and writing about something else.
Now to my grumpy old man point: before LBJ upweighted the War in South East Asia, this kind of shit mainly went down in One Party Communist States. Chiefly, the USSR and the CPR. And even with the US after 1963, it only took from 1964 to 1967 before liberal media and the Baby Boomers caught on to the propaganda BS coming back from Vietnam. Right or wrong, those radicals and liberal media stopped the War and kicked out Nixon….even though, history shows, he did more than most to end it.
Cue a barrage of self-styled cynics with their mantra “it was always like this, but before it was just covered up”. Wrong: the Establishment tried to cover stuff up – from Profumo via Boothby and the Krays through to John Stonehouse and then Heath’s cock-up about miners’ real wage values – but they were caught. They were often disgraced and jailed – although unfairly in Jack Profumo’s case…who went on to lead a life of blameless, quiet public service among the Poor.
Today, every wrongdoer is a bare-faced perjurer, no commercial cheat goes to prison, no embezzling Minister or Civil Servant even resigns….and investigative journalism is the metier of the few who stand tall like Peter Jukes or Peter Oborne. Other good men like James Hanning (a key writer on Hackgate) get fired. The job the media have handed themselves is that of slightly superannuated Pravda or Chinese People’s Daily journalism: there to interpret what our leaders say, but because of proprietor power or a few last vestiges of pluralism, they can peddle a narrative without being poisoned by an umbrella.
In my student days, there was a course available solely on the nature of what was dubbed Kremlinology: who stood closest to the General Secretary on MayDay in Moscow? Who was suddenly missing from foreign envoy groups in Peking? How many kisses of warm welcome had Alexander Dubcek received? Look at our media today, and you will see how far the independence of our media – how drastically their ability to hold the powerful to account – has declined since the days before 1997. For they are doing latter-day Kremlinology about Trump, May, Juncker, Johnson, Merkel and Macron.
On BBC4 every week now there is a programme called 100 Days, and I kid you not, it could be Bob Kilroy-Silk lecturing us in 1967 on the Kremlinology of Sino-Soviet relations. As part of the liberal Establishment, the BBC has taken a step never before attempted upon the face of a US President: subjecting his first 100 days to a close scrutiny that only ever comes to one conclusion: that Donald Trump is a dangerous loon way out of his depth. Not once in the entire run has anyone on the show examined the influence of unelected Alternative State pressure on the President. The role of his national security adviser H R McMaster – a hawk madder than Sterling Hayden’s USAF nut in Dr Strangelove- has not been even questioned. But look what greets you on Google’s ‘Top US Stories’ tonight:
Er….hang on guys, who’s the f***ing President here?
Perhaps we should dub this “His McMaster’s Voice”.
On and on it goes: what does May mean by hard, soft, strong or long Brexit…that it’s just a roll of toilet tissue? The only doubters are online beyond the old media, because the former Fleet Street hacks sure as hell aren’t asking any awkward questions. Thearse May has turned herself into a card-carrying Zil-laner for the General Election.
Is Corbyn going to arm Trident subs or not? Is he pro or anti EU? What does he think about the Blairites setting out lists of people they will obstruct or help as Labour candidates? He just says nothing….and gets away with it.
Why is a two-dimensional prat leader of the one Party in recent times that has reached out to the ignored? Why is a grinning lightweight EUnatic leading a Party that once looked set to break the mould of British politics? Newspapers and other media should be offering indepth, insightful warnings about Britain’s dysfunctional opposition groups.
People make their own minds up, of course – as they always did. But they’re not being informed or even persuaded: they’re being given blindfolds, lied to, or distracted by crypto-gossip about Boris Johnson the NATO Bumboy. Electorates that are misled, hoodwinked, cynical, battle-worn, desperate or indifferent make terrible decisions about who to choose and when to abstain. And after forty years of Groupthink, fluffy what-score-would-you-like-it to be education, they are easier to prod into the slaughterhouse than my generation was….not that we exactly covered ourselves in glory.
You don’t have to be MENSA to work out why. In the US, 75 media proprietors have been whittled down to 6. In the UK, an Amero-Australian hoodlum, a Russian billionaire, a former porn merchant and two very odd twins based in the Channel Islands have it all sewn up….and all but one of them are tax exiles. Across the EU, informed and harsh criticism of the structure, migrant antics, corruption and bullying fiscal illegalities of Brussels and Frankfurt in the media is pitiful to the point of being homoaeopathic.
Just as with the banks and the globalist companies and social Law and politico-economic policy, power in the media has shifted from the typewriter-bashing detective to the Tory-bullying despot….from the real People to the unreal gargoyles that decorate the temples of Mammon.
Unfortunately, the Left simply cannot sit there and say “don’t blame us”. I blame the smug self-styled bourgeois intellectuals like Michael White at the Guardian for (along with Rusbridger) moving the once Times of the Liberal Left highway into winding little country lanes going nowhere. I blame working class poseur Kevin McGuire for talking a good game but always toeing the line. I hold Blair, Campbell and Mandelson responsible for destroying what Clement Attlee started. But above all, I point the finger at intolerant activists with minority views, the Red cavalry pounding towards the decimating cannons of unspeakable hardline capitalism.
But the ultimate responsibilty must lie with a Fourth Estate that continues to observe the drift into corporate dictatorship – as indeed it did the rise of the Internet Resistance – in a sort of mildly amused and patronising manner from the touchline.
Anyway – all of you spinners, Sarkists, Diggers and pompous ideologists, 3 – 2 – 1…..next exit is Pravda. It won’t be like the USSR of course, Good Lord no: there’ll be a plurality of Pravdas. It’s the new neocon collective noun, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with collective farms and their bent output figures. Perish the though: Tory Pravda will be their Truth, and Labour Pravda will be their truth. You see, it’s all about choice in our newly reformed economic system, what?
Mind you don’t miss the sign, now.
IBATO…..it’s all Bollocks and that’s Official.