The Glorious British Press

Today it’s the Independent’s turn to prove that Jeremy Corbyn can’t win, on this occasion with an opinion poll. Let’s leave aside the inevitable concern that opinion polls predicted a Labour minority government as well and move onto the behaviour of the press in the UK.

It’s a given, I think that the majority of the press in this country is owned by millionaires (many of them other country’s millionaires) for the propagation of policy that benefits millionaires. To this end they tend to support the Tory party. If they occasionally go ‘off piste’ and support a Labour-led government you can be pretty sure that this is because the government in question is most likely to be ‘Labour’ in name only and headed up by Tony Blair, and that their idea of radical social democracy was mostly ‘hands off the banks’ and ‘make life a little less horrid for the poor’ with a soupçon of ‘expand the public sector as long as it doesn’t involve re-nationalising anything’. This appeared to make them electable, but that could well be because by the latter end of that lamentable Tory incumbency, a group of llamas wearing red ribbons would have been odds-on favourites to win.

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Anyway….. after you’ve discounted most of the Tory dailys, you’re left with the Mirror, the Guardian and the Independent.. The Mirror is reliably Labour and frankly I don’t really have any complaints about it. Not because it’s perfect, but because it doesn’t claim to be anything that it isn’t. It’s just a Labour supporting paper. The Independent is owned by a Russian oligarch who used to be a billionaire, and it’s website is kinda clunky so I don’t tend to worry to much about its output. We bought it today because the Guardian is just too annoying.

The Guardian likes to think of itself as centre left but, my friends, if that was the case in the past, it is no longer true. It did suggest voting Labour at the 2015 GE but did so with such obvious reluctance it was painful to behold. You could tell that they only recommended a Labour vote because they knew that the LibDems were going to sink without trace and no-one likes to back a loser. Since the election they have been going all out to rubbish the Labour party, hound its more left-wing supporters and most recently, to ensure that anyone stupid enough to vote for Jeremy Corbyn is aware of how criminally fucking stupid they are. (Please note: that includes me)

The Guardian was founded in Manchester in 1821 by cotton merchant John Edward Taylor after the police closure of the more radical Manchester Observer. That paper had championed the cause of the Peterloo Massacre protesters. You would imagine that a paper with such a proud radical history would have been a wee bit less hysterical in its anti-Corbyn stance, but you’d be wrong.The Guardian has been monstering Jeremy Corbyn since it began to look like he could actually seriously compete with the nominated poodles, even going as far as cooking-up a survey to establish beyond a doubt that it’s coverage was fair and unbiased with figures from www.pluckedoutofmyass.com. (I made that up if you’re searching for the link. My contention is that the paper did too)

I enjoy the Guardian on a Saturday, I like many of its writers and quite frankly none of the competition is all that, but I am fed up with it.

I long ago stopped paying money to buy the five or six sheets of paper it had to cheek to sell for a stupid sum of money during the week. I stopped laughing at its naked cheek as it asked Northern readers to part with hard-earned cash for London based London-centric courses for Londoners, or as it boasted about its fearless investigative journalism and printed another piece of fluff straight from the Associated Press or the marketing department of some beauty product. But how can it imagine that routinely rubbishing the readers of its hallowed pages is good marketing strategy – does it want those few loyal lefty readers with a moral conscience to finally leave them? Is it happy to compete (ironically enough) for the remaining newspaper readership for whom house prices and immigration are the only things of interest until they get to the sudoko? Surely not?

Here comes trouble

I have arthritis more or less everywhere: I had my knee replaced at the age of 46 (I was the surgeons second youngest ever.  Woohoo). After a short stay in hospital recently, I have now been diagnosed as having diverticulosis too which is metaphorically and literally a bummer. In the last several weeks I have been obliged to avail myself of quite a lot of the NHS, and with dodgy joints and a crappy colon I don’t suppose I’ve seen the last of my local hospitals. Sigh.

I am happy to say that because I live in the UK, all of this lovely treatment has cost me nothing, nada, not a penny. In the States I might well be have been looking at bills I simply couldn’t pay with financial costs to all of my family. I am grateful for the NHS.

In the past I’ve had a full grant for a university education, claimed unemployment benefits, child benefit, maternity allowance and at some point in the future I’ll probably get a pension too. This is because I am lucky to live in a country where people have argued for fairly radical changes in government policy, have been elected to parliament and put them into practice. The NHS, benefits, maternity payments and even pensions have not been popular with the monied classes and the establishment. At all.

My sons are beneficiaries of free child healthcare, publicly funded education, council sports facilities, local libraries and much, much more. The Tories are working quite hard to make it very hard for councils to fund anything and I rather suspect that if they had their way, only the lucky few would make use of further education. It would only be for the elite as it was in the past.

Dickensian Britain was a vile place for the vast majority, but we have seen seismic change brought about by lefties, unions, awkward buggers and people unprepared to compromise with those in power. People have fought, angrily protested, thrown themselves in front of horses, ended up in prison and deprived themselves of food to bring about change for the better. Pickets, marches, strikes and shouted arguments have transformed the lives of the majority of UK citizens.

But now are told that we shouldn’t elect Jeremy Corbyn because he’s too ‘radical’ and nobody will vote for him. We are asked to support one of three alternative candidates who will not rock the boat, frighten the horses, or worry the establishment.

Bugger that.

Yuck

I am not sure that I like this weeks article from Frankie Boyle: it’s a wee bit too heavy on the sarcasm alongside gratuitous offence to those who live and drive in Kent. Having said that, I infinitely prefer his satirical style to the vast majority of comments below it, for which there is only one word…yuck.

Desperate people (not a ‘swarm’ David Cameron, that’s bees or possibly ants, shame on you) are leaving parts of the world where violence, terror and poverty are the norm and trying to find a peaceful home. If they are English speakers (and due to our regrettable Empire building past, they often are) they want to live and work in an English speaking country. Sometimes they are trying to join family that already live here – both seem reasonable propositions to me. For a useful corrective to the Daily Vile et al view see this article.

It was once the case that misogyny, homophobia, racism and bigotry were frowned upon, but our country now marches to the beat of a Tory drum, so I don’t suppose it’s a massive surprise that bigotry and racism have become acceptable again, indeed in UKIP, we have a whole party dedicated to people who probably start sentences with “I’m not a racist but… “, invariably indicating that the following statement is about to be racist. Gordon Brown was attacked in 2010 for being anti-bigot and I get the distinct impression that things have got worse since then. Anti-semitism is on the rise too which is shameful when we are still within living memory of the Holocaust.

Sometimes it can seem that your hometown is changing in ways that you can’t get to grips with: the young speak differently, are louder and prouder than you were, some people from other cultures and countries seem to have got a comfortable foothold in a land that you were taught to think of as ‘yours’. Here’s the thing though – it was never ‘yours’, it is just where you ended up.

Maybe you got here from Ireland a century ago, maybe from some troubled part of Europe centuries before that, maybe it was just from Poland a couple of decades ago. But we don’t own the land we live in, we’re all just settlers and in the same rickety boat together. Your discomfort at living in a changing country doesn’t make it right to voice or hold bigoted views, it doesn’t make it acceptable that your humanity has deserted you. Those struggling mothers and desperate young men you decry on the news could have been you, if you had been born in a different age or continent. It was just the luck of the draw.

….and there’s more

It’s extraordinary how much rubbish has been written about the Labour leadership contest: bearded voter-repellant, (allegedly) sandal wearing, hard-left hot-Trot, Jeremy Corbyn is being sold as a combination of Labour nemesis and death of politics as we know it.

There are plenty of Labour MP’s who seem to be comfortable with the view that politics is all about getting cosy with big business, stigmatising foreigners and keeping things more or less how they’ve always been. If it had been up to them we would have been able to “choose” from a nice bloke, and two perfectly nice women. But that isn’t a real ‘choice’, it’s ‘plumping’ i.e. deciding that you can’t be bothered  when the outcome makes no difference.

This week the Fabian seven-a-side team identified some reasons for the Labour defeat: percieved irrelevance, lack of ‘deference’ to business, an incoherent policy on immigration and a distance between party and voters – and indeed as a campaigner and voter I think that is about right. However I am struggling to see how we can tackle these problems by electing a leader who represents a policy of ‘same old, same old’. The definition of madness is to do the same thing again and again, expecting a different result.

Capitalism and Conservatism are in the business of making poor people poorer, advancing the cause of xenophobia, turning the country into a cash cow for millionaires and dismantling democracy, all the while destroying the few advances that the left has managed to enact since the birth of the Labour party. To change all of this will take more than having someone who can emit (mostly harmless) soundbites while wearing a suit.

Do I seriously think that JC will change the face of politics in the UK as we know it? Of course he can’t, but it’s about time we began to challenge the status quo a wee bit more: the Labour movement is not supposed to be in the business of making capitalism tolerable for a slightly larger minority

*I use small ‘c’ conservative here advisedly. I don’t think that the current crop of approved leadership candidates are Tories (they’re not that evil) but they don’t seem to want radical change i.e. they want to ‘conserve’ the status quo, hence ‘conservative’.