Farago

Baroness Thatcher death

It’s important to connect up propaganda, media distortion and the lies that we are being told, both about the independence campaign and the state of the British economy. We’ve just buried Thatcher but it’s worth remembering two aspects of her reign: the militarism and the media and the ongoing fall-out from the politics she nurtured.

John Pilger recounts how (‘Her Funeral was a Propaganda Stunt fot for a Dictator’) :
“When the journalists and producers of ITV’s landmark documentary, Death on the Rock, exposed how the SAS had run Thatcher’s other death squads in Ireland and Gibraltar, they were hounded by Rupert Murdoch’s “journalists”, then cowering behind the razor wire at Wapping. Although exonerated, Thames TV lost its ITV franchise.” It was a landmark defeat for media freedoms and a victory for the British State.

He then proceeds to excoriate her military record:

“In his arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Lord Richard Scott heard evidence that an entire tier of the Thatcher government, from senior civil servants to ministers, had lied and broken the law in selling weapons to Saddam Hussein. These were her “boys”. Thumb through old copies of the Baghdad Observer, and there are pictures of her boys, mostly cabinet ministers, on the front page sitting with Saddam on his famous white couch. There is Douglas Hurd and there is a grinning David Mellor, also of the Foreign Office, around the time his host was ordering the gassing of 5,000 Kurds. Following this atrocity, the Thatcher government doubled trade credits to Saddam.

Perhaps it is too easy to dance on her grave. Her funeral was a propaganda stunt, fit for a dictator: an absurd show of militarism, as if a coup had taken place. And it has. “Her real triumph”, said another of her boys, Geoffrey Howe, a Thatcher minister, “was to have transformed not just one party but two, so that when Labour did eventually return, the great bulk of Thatcherism was accepted as irreversible.”

In 1997, Thatcher was the first former prime minister to visit Tony Blair after he entered Downing Street. There is a photo of them, joined in rictus: the budding war criminal with his mentor. When Ed Milliband, in his unctuous “tribute”, caricatured Thatcher as a “brave” feminist hero whose achievements he personally “honoured”, you knew the old killer had not died at all.”

What has this got to do with media representation and debate today?

Well the continual promotion of figures like Nigel Farage on BBC Question Time represent a media anglo-sphere (touched on yesterday by Kevin) which is all pervasive. UKIP have no representation in Scotland yet these saloon bar bores are given an extraordinary profile on the flagship BBC current affairs programme. They (UKIP) were described today as ‘Not so much a political party, more a League of Gentlemen sketch that got out of hand’ and it’s easy to laugh at them (today announcing their policy of reversal of the smoking in bars).

Whilst it’s fun to think of them as sort of Taxi Cab Politicians, the reality is they represent a continuum between the right and the far-right shaping the landscape of British (reserved) social and foreign policy. So how they are represented to us in the media is crucial.

Despite being constantly presented as an affable rogue by the media there is endless examples of their membership having cross-over with the far-right and English nationalists.

Rather than moan about this – we’ll be countering the media bias and presenting facts about what’s happening. One key area we need to keep responding to is the attack on universal benefits led by the coalition and supported by all the Unionist parties. We are not ‘all in this together’ The reality is to bail out the banks, Britain’s national debt nearly quadrupled.  And who is paying the price? The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers, details the impact on the poorest. This is a massive media failure to respond to this attack and it’s a key opportunity for us to examine the farce of being lashed to this agenda as being ‘Better Together’.

Here’s the cuts agenda of Austerity Unionism so far:

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA):   Affects around 1.5 million people across UK with a disproportionate effect in deprived areas with a high incidence of long term limiting illness.
CUT of up to £2,500 million per annum (30%) by 2014
ALL working age benefits: Those receiving any benefit will see its value decrease over time, lessening their ability to pay for essentials.Increases will be set by the Consumer Price Index (which produces consistently lower increases) instead of the Retail Price Index or the Rossi index.
CUT of £5,840 MILLION per annum by 2014/15
Child Benefit: Frozen for three years. Affecting ALL families and children, poorest most.
CUT of £985 million per annum
Tax Credits: Affects low income working families in particular. Taper on income for tax credits moves from 39% to 41%.
CUT of £765 million per annum by 2014/15
Tax Credits: Affects those moving back into work. Fall from £25,000 to £10,000 in “disregarded increases in income during the current tax year”
CUT of £140 million rising to £450 million
Working Tax Credit (WTC): The amount of tax credits to working families reduces in real terms. Basic & 30 hour elements in WTC frozen for 3 years.
CUT of £625 million by 2014/15
Working Tax Credit: This cut will increase childcare costs for low-paid parents. Childcare element of WTC reduced from 80% to 70% of actual childcare costs up to a capped maximum.
CUT of £385 million pa by 2014/15
Housing Benefit: Only 1/3 (instead of ½) of available private rented housing locally will be affordable to HB claimants. Local Housing Allowance Rates will be set at the 30th percentile of local private rent prices, not the 50th.
CUT of £425 million
Educational Maintenance Allowance: Abolished in England. A loss of up to £30 a week for young people on low incomes staying on at school or college.
Future cuts already in the calendar:
Housing Benefit: LHA Single room rent restriction for single people (not lone parents) under 25 extended to people aged under 35.
CUT of £215 million pa by 2014/15
Tax Credits: Tax credits will not increase to help you if your income drops unless the drop is more than £2,500.
CUT of £585 million by 2014/15
Contributory Employment and Support Allowance (ESA): Limited to 1 year for people in the “work-related activity” group.

CUT of £2,010 million by 2014/15

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  1. annie says:

    YES! Don’t ALLOW BT to set the agenda for debate. Don’t ‘react’ to their lies. Tell it like it really is and see if BT and their lackyes have the guts to respond/react. Scotland deserves a fair and balanced debate, make enough noise so that ‘we’, Yes and No’s, get it!

  2. 1971Thistle says:

    I hate to be negative, but sadly I think that correcting facts in the modern media climate is a good way to dissipate energy. I speak from the perspective of a long career in media management and communications.

    Like it or not, the only way to win is to lead the argument and try to force the other side respond to your agenda; at the moment it is the other way around.

    Good political operators know that the debate moves too quickly for people to worry about which ‘facts’ are actually true; facts are simply sound-bites that stick. The truth is boring, the public rush from one media hanging to the next, breathless for comment. The opposition have no interest in fair and balanced debate because they know they will lose. Fair play is not in their (or their agents) game-plan.

    Fight fire with fire – develop your own propaganda techniques. It may sound unethical, but it’s what works, especially in asymmetric media warfare like this.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You are right of course, but sometimes setting the agenda starts by re-setting deliberate falsehoods or even pointing out that that is what your opposition is doing.

      1. 1971Thistle says:

        Up to a point; in my experience, the people who want to see the record set straight are people who are on your side already.

        It’s a bit like canvassing; if you knock on a door and they say will vote for you, no point in hanging around. Crack on to the next undecided

        If they invite you in for a cuppa, they’re trying to slow you down and stop you being effective – that’s what I mean by dissipating your energy.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          Good point, I agree. I hope we have done and will do more setting of the agenda. Thanks.

  3. Charles Patrick O'Brien says:

    I’ll keep the cuppa tea routine in mind for when somebody comes a knocking.

  4. 1971Thistle says:

    I don’t want to appear overly critical; I just see a rather unfair battle between the two sides; ‘Yes’ campaign is hindered by state media playing a highly political role (Craig Murray had a very good post on this yesterday – http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/04/bbc-the-new-hammer-of-the-scots/)

  5. annie says:

    “but sometimes setting the agenda starts by re-setting deliberate falsehoods or even pointing out that that is what your opposition is doing.”

    Yes, of course. And Bella, Newsnet Scotland et al do it very well. But sometimes you have to be one step ahead. The wonderful article from Kevin Williamson re’ the pound in your pocket’ is an excellent example of the ‘Timeline’ that the Yes campaign should have been shouting from the rooftops months ago, before everyone got into a stushie about Euros, Sterling and Punds (and having to suffer BT smirking at our ‘divisions’ and us having to react by pointing out the divisions in the BT camp re Europe…) I’m STILL trying to explain to ‘some’ people that a vote for YES isn’t a vote for the SNP! (although ‘most’ people aren’t as daft as ‘they’ imagine us to be.) And Newsnight doesn’t help when it subliminally (or perhaps that should be blatantly) plasters wee Eck’s face on every scottish pound note in it’s background shot during the debate with John Swinney! He calmly made mincemeat out of that silly woman, but all I could think of was ‘why on earth would they do that… hmm?’

    I’m not a politician, journalist, or know anything about media management. I just ‘feel’ it’s about time Yes changed its burl. National Collective did it re donorgate and look at the result. The ‘truth’ hurts.

  6. annie says:

    From Craig Murray (thank you 1971Thistle)

    “It astonishes me that even the use of the most obvious and blatant state propaganda techniques by the BBC do not result in any serious reaction from the political establishment.”

    Aint that the TRUTH! ‘Yes’ should be doing its damnedest to expose it at EVERY opportunity. March against it. Email complaints/have internet polls/blogs exposing it. Be proactive, don’t just react to it.

  7. chicmac says:

    For anyone who object’s to Nigel’s ‘Farangist’ party, might I say that IMO they are not quite Nazis, just the Tories on Truth Serum..

    Anyhoo, Nigel had to find something after his career as artist’s model for the Beano folded.

    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8CTHz_DTDtlTWFWRDRyeWg1N3M/edit?usp=sharing

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