Wednesday, 20 March 2013

There is no 'Free'Press

Over the past few days we have witnessed a torrent of comment from our beloved 'free' press attacking the somewhat piddling little reforms passed in the Commons.
Lets first of all get the reforms out of the way, they are insignificant in the scale of things, I doubt very much if Murdoch and any of his acolytes lost a millisecond of sleep over the percieved threat to the freedom of the press!

The Royal Charter was simply an excuse for a bunch of self indulgent parliamentarians to slap each other on the back in the chamber,before they sloped off to lick Rupert's arse in private.

'We have a Free Press'-I don't think so!
The last time anyone in this country seriously challenged the power of the rich by using a newspaper was John Wilkes when he published 'The North Briton' that upset Lord Bute and George the 3rd.
Wilkes was declared an outlaw and even imprisoned,but it was all a bit of a stooshie that really was a falling out amongst a bunch within the ruling elite.
Wilkes posed as a bit of a radical at the time,and the London mobs were fired by the slogan 'Wilkes and Liberty',but quite soon the MP for Middlesex became a magistrate in London, put down the Gordon Riots with considerable violence and strongly disapproved of the French Revolution.

The simple fact is that a free press would imply the it was pluralist and represented all strands of opinion,that as well as impartial reporting of events,the press would act in an investigative way and hold the executive to account!
Instead of which it has always been the property of the rich and powerful, and as Thompson once said"a licence to print money"(he was in fact talking about owning TV stations-same difference)

Newspapers represnt class interests as surely as aristocrats own thousands of acres of our land and oligarchs own everything else.
Consider for a moment who is making the most noise against the Royal Charter- The Sun and the Times owned by News International(prop.R Murdoch), The Mail- Associated Newspapers(Rotheremere) The Express Group,The Telegraph group(owned by the Barclay Brothers, and so it goes on!
We are of course reminded that the Mirror is on the side of working peop0le-oh sure,Trinity Mirror is a group owned by it's readers?
Then there is the Independent and the Guardian,alleged bastions of radical thought.
Well it's true they employ a few radical journalists,but essentially they are the human shields for newspapers that uphold the status quo.

There have in the past been newspapers that supported organised labour, the Daily Herald was once owned by the TUC, but it succumbed the a savage circulation war and was eventually turned into the bland Sun that itself became the vicious and ignorant Sun of Murdoch.
There was also Reynolds News, a Sunday owned by the Co-op movement, but it too was killed by being unable to attract advertising.

So our 'free press' is really a creature of powerful owners with a specific political agenda,in the 1930's Lord Rotheremere ran a campaign in his Daily Mail-'Hurrah for the Blackshirts'-supporting Sir Oswald Mosley's fascists.
Today how 'free' is the press that requires Blair to rush to Murdoch to get his endorsement,which of course he later changed to support Cameron, and now it would appear the old 'newspaperman' is frolicking with Nigel Farage.

As long as newspapers and other media outlets are owned by a handful of wealthy interests then there is no freedom.We like the illusion that our media is democratic,but of course that is an illusion.Opposition voices may get a hearing,but the dominant voice is always that of the establishment.

If you want to hear people like Len McCluskey or Bob Crow then the only place you'll find them is in the minuscule circulation papers like the Morning Star.
Of course the democrats will chant-we have a free press,look we let the Morning Star publish, and look too we let opposition voices put their case in occasional articles in 'mainstream' newspapers.
Why the Chronicle & Echo even allows that eccentric old radical Dickie.J. a monthly column to rant almost at will!

We will not have a free press until the ownership of the media is distributed fairly amongst all sections of the community, and its scope and influence is not dettermined by the whim of an individual owner of the powerful advertisers lobby.
It is perhaps a salutary fact that in the middle of the nineteenth century the New York Times published articles from Germany written by none other than Karl Marx. 


Sunday, 10 March 2013

It is a bedroom tax!

There is a curious debate going on the Chronicle & Echo's website about whether the coalition's 'bedroom tax' should be called a tax.
Some more reactionary contributors want it described as a benefit reduction and even claim that it somehow a measure to 'help' thousands of people on the housing list by redistributing homes eitherb those in the public sector or those belonging to housing associations.
It all seems so simple-there are people living in council properties with extra rooms, and there are people waiting for homes-whether bigger ones or just a home!
So the simple solution is that you decant those selfish folk living with an extra room and move them elsewhere!
Now it would seem that the legislation is not simply talking about  bedrooms, but if your old council property happens to have a dining room,then that is deemed a bedroom and subject to the legislation.Either move out or pay more!

My Auntie lived in a council house in Stranraer for many years.It was built with a wee dinettebetween the kitchen and the living room.
Would that be considered an extra bedroom?
Now apart from the brutally arbitrary nature of this legislation it has all the hallmarks of social engineering, or if you prefer it,urban cleansing.
It originated in the days of the Shirley Porter regime in Westminster when the Tory Lady hated the idea of working class families living in wards that might return Labour councillors,and so they were 'cleaned' from the area,making the likelihood of a Tory councillor.
It was also a policy that kept some areas free from the infection of poor people,never attractive to the eye of Tory grandees.
To suggest that a family perhaps settled in a home(for which they will have paid for many times over) should be required to move from their neighbours and friends,from their familiar environment,from the home they have built up over many years,is simply inhuman.

many of the ranters and ravers on the website were concerned about value for money, and feigned a concern for those on the housing  waiting list and their suffering.
The answer of course is not to shuffle people from place to place as their family size changes but simply TO BUILD MORE BLOODY HOUSES!

Of course the coalition has no problem with selling off council houses-then you can have as many empty rooms as you like, but all that means is the housing stock is reduced and there are even less houses available to rent,driving more people into the arms of private landlords.
And of course there is the insurmountable problem,both locally and nationally of the shortage of smaller houses and flats anyway.
Even if a tenant in Northampton agrees to downsize to avoid paying extra,there are no smaller properties available anyway.
Does that mean if there are no properties available then the 'tax' does not have to be paid?
I understand at the last count there was a tiny handful of small properties available,and evn less now NBC has promised priority to servicemen returning (and there will be more of them given the redundancies  in the armed forces!)
So the coalition is offering a cheap gimmick,designed to appease the Taxpayers Alliance and other assorted opponents of public housing and at the same time making no effort to really solve the problem of public housing.
No building programmes,the greedy bankers why have a stranglehold on any prospect of mortgages and of course the usual litany that seeks to blame the poor,the dispossessed and migrant workers.
This is a government with no shame,and the greatest shame is that the Lib-Dems are party to this and the Labour Party failed to build enough homes during their term of office.

However I have ome suggestion that might help.There is an elderly couple living in central London with a house that has ooh hundreds of spare bedrooms, they also have a large empty property in Windsor  a big one out in Norfolk and an enormous property up on Deeside.
They also have dozens of other big houses that they call 'grace and favour' residences dotted all over London.
Perhaps they could help?  

Friday, 1 March 2013

                        After Eastleigh- so what!

So the Lib-Dems 'won' Eastleigh-well hush my mouth!!
They actually held on to one of their safest seats,after all they do hold all the Council seats in the constituency.
And that is a cause for celebration in the Lib-Dem high command,so Huhne nips off to do some porridge,Lord Groper is put out to grass and wee Nick bleats on about a new dawn.

Of course they used the Lord Rennard election model, fill every possible street with Lib-Dem canvassers,stuff every letterbox (or orifice  with a Focus leaflet, and spend as much as it takes.
That's a really smart tactic, wonder why no-one else has ever thought of it?

The Tories were bound to lose, this time they did it quite spectacularly,coming a magnificent third, but then its the usual mid term blues,protest vote,government in power blah blah blah blah...

Labour trailed in a miserable fourth,but of course that's no surprise, 250th target seat, they won Corby, celebrity candidate whom no-one had ever heard of, the usual blah,blah,blah,blah......

Of course the talking point was the magnificent achievement of the Monster Raving Loonies,oh sorry I meant UKIP, storming into second place!
Well howdy doody, a party based on xenophobia,barely hidden racism,anti-European rhetoric(funny how all their MP's are in fact MEP's taking the euro-shilling) and led by a bar-room bore!

But then its a seat in rural Hampshire, where every four ale bar has a mini-Farage ranting half arsed jingoism to any passing spaniel. 
He's the bloke in the tappy sheepskin coat and the scuffed hush-puppies.

It was a by-election that meant absolutely nothing and it's only significance is to demonstrate the paucity of political thought and the vacuum that exists in British political life when everything is reduced to the strength of the party machine to break people's will and drag the unwilling squeezed 'middle' out to the polling station if only to stop the bloody Lib-Dems crawling through the letter box to drag the quivering voter out to vote!

As the immortal Jim Royle would say:
"Politics-my arse!"