Yesterday [Mon 30/6] I tuned in to London’s LBC to listen to the city’s former Mayor Ken Livingstone making his debut on his new radio show. To my horror his first guest was Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former press secretary and a man who played a major role in drawing up the ‘dodgy’ dossier that Blair used to justify taking Britain to war against the Iraqi people.
In the past Livingstone has on more than one occasion described this invasion as a war crime, yet here he was all pally with one of its main architects as far as taking Britain into this war was concerned. Did he storm into Campbell, did he rip the scum bags political heart out, not at all? The two men spent a large part of the program comparing notes on just how wicked the Journalist Andrew Gilligan is, it seems both men have suffered from Mr Gilligan’s pen and regard him as the devil incarnate, never mind that they were both major political players at the time thus fair game.
Once they had finished bad mouthing Gilligan, who I hold no brief for, I thought Red Ken would get onto the Iraq war, but no, all he did was allow Campbell make a self serving statement about back then he and Blair were responding to the information before them; and people should take into account that 9/11 had just occurred. Never mind that Campbell along with his pliable pals in the security services had a hand in drafting the very documents he now uses to absolve himself with. Rather than remind him of this fact Livingstone felt it was more important to tell his listeners that he and Campbell both enjoy Jack Breil, the singer, to end the interview he allowed Campbell to reinvent himself as a charity campaigner.
In an hour long program, which is billed as a phone in, only five calls were taken from members of the public, which to my mind tells me that most callers were hostile to Campbell and LBC researchers refused to put them on air, yet one caller did get put on air to tell Kenny and Ally how she too loves the music of Mr Breil.
Now I realize some readers of Organized Rage will be feeling smug and may not be able to resist telling me “I told you that Ken was an arsehole when you wrote that Londoners should vote for him.” Whilst I do not regret doing the aforementioned I have to say I was shocked and sickened by his groveling behavior towards Campbell.
But it goes further than that, for me what the broadcast once again highlighted was the incestuous nature of the UKs political elite, when push comes to shove their loyalty seems to be towards each other not the electorate. The media plays a part here, time and again we have seen failed, rejected or corrupt politicians, after their exposure or downfall being given a birth in the media to reinvent themselves. This is just what Campbell was doing on Livinstone’s Radio show as indeed was the latter himself. Michael Portilllo was another example, sent packing by the electorate who breathed a sigh of relief that they had seen the last of him, only to find the guy is back in their living room via the TV only weeks later.
This is how the British political system works, whilst in office brown envelopes are not prevalent, politicians do favors for powerful forces when in office and the payback comes when they are out. Whether it is former Prime Ministers being given millions of pounds dressed up as a book deal, or speaking tour, or those like Campbell and Livingstone who operated further down the food chain being given the chance to reinvent themselves as broadcaster or charity workers. What ever way you look at this it looks like corruption to me all be it corruption without the brown envelopes.
If ever there was a clearer example of why no politician should be allowed to serve more than eight years in office, it is Robert Mugabe, it was clear from his early days that this was a man upon whom power was never going to sit lightly. Never the less most of us on the left welcomed his victory in the election that followed the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement.[LHA] Sadly we were to be bitterly disappointed and watched helplessly as he gradually moved against all progressive opposition forces which had emerged from the national liberation struggle. Although in truth the signs were there from day one when the only other viable pole of political influence within ZANU, General Josiah Tongogara was killed in a mysterious car crash just four days after the LHA had been signed.
At first Mugabe moved against his opponents, real or imagined by either co-opting them into government or out maneuvering them into the political wilderness. However between 1983 and 1985 he ordered the Zimbabwean armies 5th Brigade into Matabeleland and the Midlands regions of Zimbabwe, resulting in the death of over 5000 people belonging to the Ndebele who had supported Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU during the liberation struggle. From that day on the die was cast.
Stephen O’Brien has an interesting article on the opposition forces within Zanu here http://links.org.au/node/481
whilst it is not perfect as it has some glaring gaps in the narrative it is worth a read.
Turkish Diva Bulent Ersoy’s travails, highlights the contradictory and fascinating country that is modern Turkey.
Sharon Osborne –“Current wars are decided at tables and if I had been able to give birth, I would not send my son to fight in a war. These wars are not like ones in the past. It is all decided by people sitting at tables and deciding that some boys should die.”
Dannii Minogue — “I would be proud to be a soldier’s mother and if it were the boy’s destiny to die for his country, I would gladly pay that price.”
Sharon Osborne –”These are cliché words, but at the end of the day, boys go to the military and die and the tears follow. I don’t agree with you.”
I expect most readers would say such a thing could never happen in the UK as the plug would have been pulled; and in any case people like Sharon Osborne and Ms Minogue are picked to appear in these type of TV programs because they are a safe pair of hands, despite being portrayed as being near the edge in reality they are nothing of the sort.
Whilst such an exchange is unlikely ever to occur on live TV in the UK, it did happen in Turkey and one of the jurors involved is now before a Turkish court with a four year prison sentence hanging over her head.
It is worth looking at this matter in some detail as behind it lays much of what makes Turkey such a fascinating and contradictory country. By the 1980s, Bulent Ersoy, the lady who fills the Sharon Osborne role in the Turkish TV hit show Popstar Alaturka, was already one of Turkey most popular male singers and actors, his popularity could be compared with Cliff Richard in the UK, like Cliff, Ersoy also had his own TV show. Then in 1981 he had a full sex change operation, becoming Bulent Ersoy, female singer and actress.
This was shortly after the military coup led by General of Kenan Evren, in the crackdown that followed the General taking power, gay and transgender people where accused of “social deviance,” and Ersoy’s public performances were banned along with those of other openly gay, transsexual and transgendered people.
After failing to be legally recognized as a women Ersoy went to Germany to continue her career. Finally, in 1988, the Turkish civil code was revised and she returned to Turkey to claim her pink for female ID card. Ersoy soon returned to the Turkish stage to great acclaim, and her adoring fans seemed to love her all the more, she became more popular as a woman entertainer than she had been as a man. Her fans and the Turkish people as a whole even took to calling her affectionately “Abla,” elder sister in Turkish.
Semi retired by the turn of the century and regarded by many Turks as a great Diva, she became one of the judges on the hit TV show Popstar Alaturka, which is based on countless similar shows on European and US TV. It was during a live transmission of this show that she had the above quoted conversation with a fellow juror. That at the very same time the Turkish army was conducting a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq pushed her comments further into the public spotlight.
That some 40,000 people have died since the conflict with the PKK began in 1984 was not mentioned by her critics and after the Istanbul state prosecutor launched an enquiry, she has been charged with “making the public detest military service,” a crime under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) and is due in court soon.
So there you have it, a macho male population, a defiant and brave woman who has triumphed over adversity, a much loved diva and artist, homophobic and transgenda prejudice, censorship, the secret state; and millions of Turk’s who simply love the woman as they believe she sings like an angel; and contradictions galore. As I said at the top of this piece, what a fascinating and contradictory country.