Category Archives: UK

Ally Campbell and Kenny Livingstone scratch each others back’s..

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.

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Statement from Raytheon 9 after their acquittal at Belfast Laganside Court


On 11 June 2008, by a unanimous verdict of the jury, the Raytheon 9 were found not guilty of three counts of criminal damage at the Raytheon offices, Derry Northern Ireland on 9 August 2006. All freedom loving people will welcome the juries decision.

Immediately afterwards, the defendants addressed supporters and press outside Belfast’s Laganside Court. Colm Bryce began:
“The Raytheon 9 have been aquitted today in Belfast for their action in decommissioning the Raytheon offices in Derry in August 2006. The prosecution could produce not a shred of evidence to counter our case that we had acted to prevent the commission of war crimes during the Lebanon war by the Israeli armed forces using weapons supplied by Raytheon.
We remain proud of the action we took and only wish that we could have done more to disrupt the ‘kill chain’ that Raytheon controls.

“This victory is welcome, for ourselves and our families, but we wish to dedicate it to the Shaloub and Hasheem families of Qana in Lebanon, who lost 28 of their closest relatives on the 30 July 2006 due to a Raytheon ‘bunker buster’ bomb.
Their unimaginable loss was foremost in our minds when we took the action we did on 9 August, and the injustice that they and the many thousands of victims of war crimes in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered, will spur us on to continue to campaign against war and the arms trade that profits from it.

We said from the beginning that we came to this court not as the accused but as the accusers of Raytheon. This court case proved that Raytheon in Derry is an integral part of the global Raytheon company and its military production. This is no longer a secret or in doubt. Raytheon have treated the truth, peaceful protest, local democracy and this court with complete contempt. The most senior executive who appeared said that the charge that Raytheon had ‘aided and abetted’ the commission of crimes against humanity was “not an issue” for him. Raytheon should have that contempt repaid in full and be driven out of Derry and every other place they have settled. They are war criminals, plain and simple. They have no place in our society and shame on all those in positions of power or influence who would hand them public funds, turn a blind eye to their crimes, cover their tracks or make excuses for them.

These crimes continue daily and hourly in the Middle East. It is up to those of us who oppose those wars of domination and occupation to build a movement that matches the enormity of what is being done by Western governments. We hope that this victory gives courage and heart to all those involved in that movement and the many more who need to be for us to achieve our aim of stopping these wars. Until then, the very least we can do, to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Middle East is to dissociate ourselves from the corrupt governments of the US and Britain. That means opposing the visit to Belfast of the world’s biggest war criminal, George W Bush on 16 June.

We feel totally vindicated by this decision and wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of those who gave us support, especially to our families and friends, to the members of the Derry Anti War Coalition and the Irish Anti-War Movement , to our excellent legal teams. Of course, we particularly want to thank the jury who listened intently through three weeks of evidence before ensuring that justice was done today.”

Eamonn McCann then addressed supporters and press saying:
The outcome of this case has profound implications.
The jury has accepted that we were reasonable in our belief that: the Israel Defence Forces were guilty of war crimes in Lebanon in the summer of 2006; that the Raytheon company, including its facility in Derry, was aiding and abetting the commission of these crimes; and that the action we took was intended to have, and did have, the effect of hampering or delaying the commission of war crimes.

We have been vindicated. We reject entirely and with contempt the statement by Raytheon this evening suggesting that the result of the trial gives them concern about the safety of their employees. This is an abject attempt to divert attention from the significance of the outcome. Not a shed of evidence was produced that we presented the slightest danger to Raytheon workers. The charge of affray was thrown out by the court without waiting to hear defence evidence. Our target has always been Raytheon as a corporate entity and its shareholders and directors who profit from misery and death.

There is now no hiding place for those who have said that they support the presence of Raytheon in Derry on the basis that the company is not involved in Derry in arms-related production. We have established that not only is the Derry plant involved in arms-related production, it is also, through its integration into Raytheon as a whole, involved in war crimes.
We call on all elected representatives in Derry, and on the citizens of Derry, to say now in unequivocal terms that the war criminal Raytheon is not welcome in our city.

We call on the office of the Attorney General and the Crown Prosecution Service, in light of this verdict, to institute an investigation into the activities of Raytheon at its various plants across the UK, with a view to determining whether Raytheon is, as we say it is, a criminal enterprise.

We believe that one day the world will look back on the arms trade as we look back today on the slave trade, and wonder how it came about that such evil could abound in respectable society. If we have advanced by a mere moment the day when the arms trade is put beyond the law, what we have done will have been worthwhile.

We took the action we did in the immediate aftermath of the slaughter of innocents in Qana on July 30th 2006. The people of Qana are our neighbours. Their children are the children of our neighbours. We trashed Raytheon to help protect our neighbours. The court has found that that was not a crime. This what the Raytheon case has been about.
We have not denied or apologised for what we did at the Raytheon plant in the summer of 2006. All of us believe that it was the best thing we ever did in our lives.

The Raytheon nine are: Colm Bryce, Gary Donnelly, Kieran Gallagher, Michael Gallagher, Sean Heaton, Jimmy Kelly, Eamonn McCann, Paddy McDaid and Eamonn O’Donnell.

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Obituary: Paul Patrick, teacher and gay rights activist.


One of the more unfortunately blow backs from the north of Ireland’s troubles, is that unlike the rest of western Europe, where many of the big societal issues were debated through and legislated upon from the late 1960s onwards. The North of Ireland, as far as the more prominent of these issues was concerned was passed by and they are only now coming to the fore.

In many ways the north of Ireland is still in the dark ages as far as Gay Rights, Comprehensive education and ‘A Woman’s Right to Choose’ is concerned. Whilst some legislation has been placed on the Statute book, the northern political elite’s attitudes on the aforementioned issues are very reactionary, at best even progressive political party’s like Sinn Fein prefer to side step issues like a woman’s right to choose due to there fear of the Roman Catholic church’s reactionary influence.

I therefor thought I would repost the Guardian’s obituary of Paul Patrick,* one of the pioneers of the English Gay and Lesbian rights movement.** For Paul was one of those political activist that worked tirelessly away from newspaper headlines to change societies attitude towards Gay people. By personal example, in his work place and by arguing and debating through the right of equality for all GLBT. Gay rights is one of the better examples that from small steps great change can be driven.

* http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/7c/PaulPatrick.jpg/180px-PaulPatrick.jpg&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Patrick&h=246&w=180&sz=27&hl=en&start=1&sig2=81WPHgADvlqNp7QyNqg9zg&um=1&tbnid=Uw1fys32mgBaMM:&tbnh=110&tbnw=80&ei=RhdJSLzmGqbaeoqbuOAE&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dpaul%2Bpatrick%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN

**http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/06/gayrights

MH

Paul Patrick
He was in the vanguard of gay rights, especially in schools and colleges.
By Carole Woddis

Paul Patrick, who has died aged 57 from a lung condition, was passionate, voluble, big-hearted and an inspired and inspiring teacher. In the 1970s he became almost certainly the first openly gay teacher in Britain to not only keep his job, but to get promoted. In 1986 he produced, for the Inner London Education Authority (Ilea), the first video to go into schools highlighting homophobia, A Different Story: The Lives and Experiences of a Group of Young Lesbians and Gay Men. In the 1990s he was one of the first single gay men to become the foster parent of a young male heterosexual – recounting the experience on John Peel’s Home Truths programme on Radio 4.
Paul was one of the country’s leading activists on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) issues. He challenged oppression wherever he found it, especially in schools, where his work focused on bullying and homophobia. His influence on the National Union of Teachers helped bring about a sea change in his union’s attitudes, and put it at the forefront of equality issues.
Paul came out in 1969, two years after the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. In 1974, shortly after starting his teaching career at Roger Manwood school (RMS) in Lewisham, south-east London – where he became head of drama – he co-founded the London Gay Teachers Group. In 1981 this became Schools Out, which he co-chaired with a longtime friend and work colleague, Sue Sanders, from 2002. In 2004, with Sanders, he helped set up LGBT history month, working on talks and lectures, and touring nationwide.
Paul was born in South Shields, Tyne and Wear. He was educated at South Shields and Burnley grammar schools, followed by the Philippa Fawcett College, in Streatham, south London, where he studied English and drama.
RMS established his teaching trademark: after-school drama projects, pastoral care and training. Under his direction, school plays became legendary. By the mid-1970s he was on the teachers’ advisory panel for Greenwich Young People’s Theatre and worked with the group producing Ilea’s drama bulletin.
In 1983, when RMS had become Crofton school, Paul became its equal opportunities officer, advising on everything from the personal and sexual to the artistic. He also coordinated a project to bring into his school adults with learning disabilities.
Soon after that Ilea made him an adviser for equal opportunities in expressive arts, particularly drama and theatre studies, personal health and social education and the pastoral curriculum. Other Ilea posts followed until the authority’s abolition in 1990.
In 1997, Paul took a post with Accrington and Rossendale College in Lancashire, became a lecturer and then joined its performing arts department. He then taught – and directed school plays – for three years at the nearby Bacup and Rawtenstall grammar school. Increasingly, he found satisfaction in amateur theatre.
A prolific writer and a compelling speaker, he wrote for, and corresponded with, many papers, including Gay News, the Teacher, and the Times Educational Supplement. A frequent Guardian correspondent, in 2002 he responded to a feature by nominating himself as one of the people who had done most to shape Britain during the Queen’s reign. “I, too, have been a queen for 50 years,” he wrote, “although under somewhat less privileged circumstances. As Britain’s first openly gay teacher not to be fired or moved to a ‘safe’ position and as a campaigner for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality for more than 30 years, I feel I have contributed a lot more to Britain than that other Queen has. I am also,” he concluded, “more attractive and a lot more fun!”
Paul was loved and admired across a wide spectrum – from teaching colleagues and gay community workers to parents, students, artists and his family. He was determined not to leave the world as he had found it, and thanks to him, the lives of many people have been made more tolerable. He is survived by his mother, sister and brother.

· Paul Patrick, teacher and activist, born July 23 1950; died May 22 2008

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A Vain Search For Principle: The flexible friends that run the UK liberal media.



The article below was first published on the excellent web site Media Lens. (http://www.medialens.org/alerts/index.php}
It deals with the myth of a broad media spectrum within the UK, it is a bit long but well worth a read. It centers on the announcement that Roger Alton, formerly editor of the Observer, will become editor of the Independent in June and looks at his record whilst at the Observer. It also deals with something I have often touched on at Organized Rage, i e that the British media fishes from a tiny elitist upper middle class pond when employing journalists, thus is totally unrepresentative of the mass of the people who live in the UK.

FLEXIBLE FRIENDS – THE OBSERVER, THE INDEPENDENT, AND THE MYTH OF A MEDIA SPECTRUM.

A Vain Search For Principle by David Edwards and David Cromwell

In a BBC interview in 1996, Andrew Marr, then of the Independent, described the ’spectrum’ of media available to the British public:

“We have a press which has, it seems to me, a relatively wide range of views – there is a pretty small ’c’ conservative majority, but there are left-wing papers, and there is a pretty large offering of views running from the far right to the far left, for those who want them.” (http://www.zmag.org/ Chomsky/interviews/9602-big-idea.html)

The “left-wing papers” Marr had in mind were the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent and the Independent on Sunday.

It is interesting to consider Marr‘s comments in light of the April 10 announcement that Roger Alton, formerly editor of the Observer, will become editor of the Independent in June. Alton resigned from the Observer last year after rumours of a ’civil war’ with the Guardian. There were also allegations that, in 2002, the Observer had suppressed important testimony on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction (see below) even as it was publishing false stories from intelligence sources. It was claimed that Alton’s political editor, Kamal Ahmed, had helped Blair’s aides with one of their infamous “dodgy dossiers” on Iraq’s WMD – Ahmed also resigned. Alton and Ahmed have both denied the claim. Geoffrey Levy wrote in the Daily Mail:

“Alton’s real mistake, it seems, was in supporting the Iraq war. This attitude never went down very well at Guardian House, and led to a more localised conflict, which has turned the two newspapers into what one senior journalist described as ‘hotbeds of fear and loathing’.” (Levy, ‘Fear and loathing in Farringdon Road,’ Daily Mail, October 25, 2007)

It is a bitter irony that Alton will soon be editing the Independent, which opposed the Iraq war.

In January 2006, Stephen Glover, the Independent’s media commentator, wrote of the Observer: “one looks in vain to its heart for that old voice of principle and conviction, as well as intellectual distinction. I am not sure that Mr Alton, charming and gifted man though he unquestionably is, believes in very much”. (Glover, ‘Colourful – and that’s not just the Observer editor’s language,’ The Independent, January 16, 2006)

So was the Observer under Alton really to the left of the media spectrum? In responding to the question of whether he would take the Independent further left, Alton commented recently:

“I wouldn’t have regarded myself as the most leftwing person… Left and right are effectively meaningless terms now. I wouldn’t define myself by those terms and I don’t think a newspaper should either.” (Stephen Brook, ‘Alton aims to make Indy “indispensable,”’ The Guardian, April 10, 2008)

He added:

“I would like to include a bit more luxury and have a sense of specialness.”

Certainly the words “left” and “right” are “effectively meaningless” in today’s media. But then it is the media’s self-assigned task to render just about every issue meaningless. As ever, Noam Chomsky is on hand to restore some common sense to the debate:

“If the left means anything, it means it’s concerned for the needs, welfare, and rights of the general population.” (http://www.zmag.org/ ZMag/july00barsamian.htm)

News Coverage And The Social Elite
The fact is that the general population is not well represented within elite journalism. In 2006, research conducted by the Sutton Trust found that 54% of Britain’s leading news journalists were educated in private schools, which account for 7% of the school population as a whole. In addition, 45% of the country’s leading journalists had attended Oxbridge. Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, asked:

“[Is] it healthy that those who are most influential in determining and interpreting the news agenda have educational backgrounds that are so different to the vast majority of the population?“

He also asked:

“Is news coverage preoccupied with the issues and interests of the social elite that journalists represent?” (The Educational Backgrounds of Leading Journalists, Sutton Trust, June 2006; http://www.suttontrust.com/reports/ Journalists-backgrounds-final-report.pdf)

Alton’s dismissal of ’left’ and ’right’ as meaningful terms is surely an example of exactly that. Lampl will not have been surprised to learn that Alton’s father was a distinguished Oxford don and that Alton was privately educated at Clifton College before attending Exeter College, Oxford.

For purposes of ‘niche marketing’, senior journalists are of course very keen to distance themselves from the idea that they represent elite interests. Instead, the focus is very much on high ethical ideals. Simon Kelner, Alton’s predecessor as Independent editor, explained in 2005 what the name ‘Independent’ meant to him:

“…there will be no retreat from the qualities that have underpinned The Independent since its launch. As we approach the general election, the role for an independent paper, one that is not driven by proprietorial agenda and that has no party allegiance, is as great as ever.” (Kelner, ‘The Independent: a new look for the original quality compact newspaper,’ The Independent, April 12, 2005)

This is the same myth propounded by Robert Fisk, who commented in 2003:

“I work for a British newspaper called The Independent; if you read it, you’ll find that we are.” (http://www.robert- fisk.com/demnow_RF_interview25mar2003.htm)

The reality is rather less glorious. Former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby wrote recently of Alton and Kelner’s close friendship:

“Both have political views that may be described as flexible or undogmatic, depending on how you look at it.

“True, one committed his paper to supporting the Iraq invasion, the other to opposing it. But given different circumstances, it is easy to imagine either of them deciding on the opposite course. Many friendships were ruptured by Iraq. That between Alton and Kelner survived – another example of how similar they are.” (Wilby, ‘It is. Is he?’ The Guardian, April 14, 2008; http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/apr /14/theindependent.pressandpublishing)

The problem is that many people believe the Independent is a principled voice of left-leaning liberalism. Wilby quietly demolished this illusion:

“[T]he Independent’s founders never intended it to be a left-wing paper. Their preference, in the late 80s, was for Thatcherism with a human face. They expected to gain most readers from the Telegraph and Times. As it turned out, they found leftwing journalists more willing to join their venture and acquired more readers from the Guardian than from other papers. The editorial line remained pro-market and generally pro-foreign intervention, but compassionate towards the poor (in a vague sort of way) and leftish on social issues such as race, crime and smacking. Its position, in many respects, anticipated Blairism. Alton, who in 2006 described hostility to Blair as ‘quite baffling‘, could claim to echo the founders’ views more closely than Kelner has done.”

Writing in the Guardian, Stephen Brook noted that Kelner, now the Independent’s managing director and editor-in-chief, “has basically outsourced the Independent’s marketing department to Freud Communications, run by the well-connected Matthew Freud”:

“Freud will help to fashion the message that it connects directly with brand-conscious, upscale, young, high-earning readers.” (Brook, ‘Upward and onward for the Independent’s revolutionary,’ The Guardian, April 13, 2008)

The reality, then, is of a corporate cynicism that places advertising revenues attracted by “brand-conscious, upscale, young, high-earning readers” above the grave problems that afflict and threaten the “needs, welfare, and rights of the general population”. This is the actual and metaphorical bottom line.

Faithfully Reporting Claim And Counter-Claim – Observer-Style
As we discussed on March 5 (www.medialens.org/alerts/08 /080305_flat_earth_news.php), in the autumn of 2002, former CIA analyst Mel Goodman told Observer correspondent Ed Vulliamy that the CIA believed Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Goodman was speaking out at a time when such revelations might have derailed Blair’s plans to go to war the following spring, with unknown consequences for Bush’s war plan. Over the next four months, Vulliamy submitted seven versions of the story for publication – The Observer, led by Alton, rejected all of them. We wrote to Vulliamy on February 27:

Dear Ed

Hope you’re well. I’ve been reading Nick Davies’s account of how your reports on Mel Goodman’s revelations were rejected seven times by the Observer. Did you try to publish the pieces elsewhere? Why did you not resign in protest at these obvious acts of censorship on such a crucial matter?

Best wishes

David Edwards

Vulliamy replied with what can only be described as an angst-ridden email, but insisted the contents were not for publication. We wrote again on February 28:

“Can I ask, also off the record (just out of human interest), what reasons did they give you for not publishing? You’re a major journalist on the paper, this was cast-iron testimony from a credible, named source – what on earth did they say?”

Vulliamy said he would answer our questions later (again, off the record). We received no further reply. We wrote again, and he again said he would reply. We wrote again on April 21 and he told us he was busy and again promised more later.

We also wrote to Roger Alton on April 21:

Hi Roger

We hope you’re well. Congratulations on becoming editor of the Independent.

In his book Flat Earth News, Nick Davies describes how the Observer’s Ed Vulliamy told him about his autumn 2002 conversations with former CIA analyst Mel Goodman. It seems Goodman was willing to go on the record in telling Vulliamy that the CIA believed Iraq had +no+ weapons of mass destruction. Vulliamy says he submitted seven versions of this story to the Observer over a period of four months and it was rejected every time. Is this true? If so, why did the Observer reject the story? Was this not a crucial story offered at a crucial time by a highly credible journalist citing credible sources?

Best wishes
David Edwards and David Cromwell

Alton replied on April 25:

Hi there … Thank you for your good wishes … I do not start there for some months though and am not the editor of the Independent now

As for your other point, so it was my old pal Ed who grassed me up eh?? Lordluvaduck, what a surprise … like Falstaff and Prince Hal eh??

Now, I don’t know anything about this tale … while I think an editor should read, or try to read, all the 250,000 – odd words that go into an edition of the Observer, I would not expect them to read all the several million words that are submitted eaxh week … as I understand it, this story was not used by the desk, on journalistic grounds, and indeed this was a decision taken by a very anti-war executive ..

There was an article setting all this out in a recent edition of Press Gazette, which I am sure you can easily find…

Yours sincerely

Roger Alton

How remarkable that Alton is unaware of the Mel Goodman “tale”. We can find nothing in Press Gazette that explains why seven versions of Vulliamy’s article were rejected over four months. We approached several of the journalists involved for comment on this bizarre response, none was forthcoming.

In 2004, we asked Alton about the Observer’s performance on Iraq in 2004. He responded:

“I think our reporting on Iraq was exceptionally fair. Journalism is by definition a first draft of history. It is rough and ready, people doing their best under trying circumstances often. We faithfully reported claim and counter claim in the build up to Iraq. With exceptional journalists like Peter Beaumont, Jason Burke, and Ed Vulliamy our news, feature and commentary coverage was fair, thorough and unbiased.” (Email to Media Lens, August 17, 2004)

Ironic words in light of what we know now. A year earlier, a journalist at the Observer, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote to us:

“Your media alerts and website have afforded me great solace and insight over the last eighteen months – making me feel less alone and more angry as the wretched failure of the ‘fourth estate’ to hold our ‘leaders’ to account becomes increasingly apparent.” (Email to Media Lens, March 2003)

On reflection, it seems incredibly naïve to imagine that free speech will flourish under corporate capitalism. It is true that we do not face the kind of physical threats offered by a totalitarian system – but so what? For most people, the threat of serious damage to a lucrative, high status career is enough to ensure their silence.

In the last decade of corresponding with journalists we have found that they often do behave as though they were living in a police state, or at least in a state policed by corporate power. Many are privately supportive and helpful. Indeed, many journalists who might be expected to be fierce opponents of our work, are in fact enraged by the mendacity and destructiveness of the media employing them. But they tell us their comments must be off the record; that they are not willing to comment over the internet (which is surely monitored); that they will help us only on condition that their names be concealed. Could it be more obvious that journalists do not feel free to write the truth about Alton and Kelner, and much else, because of the likely professional consequences?

Above, we cited the biting criticisms of Alton made by the Independent’s Stephen Glover in 2006. Hugo Rifkind of the Times recalled these comments this month and noted that Glover had also written that the Observer under Alton was “bursting with stuff I do not want to read”.

“And, his new Editor may surmise, would not wish to write”, Rifkind commented wryly, hinting that Glover may pay a price for his earlier candour. (Rifkind, ‘Write and wrong,’ The Times, April 11, 2008)

We spend our time well when we recall that Alton and Kelner have edited two of the Great White Hopes of the British liberal press – newspapers which many people believe are deeply concerned about the needs, welfare, and rights of the general population.

SUGGESTED ACTION
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Roger Alton
Email: rogermalton@googlemail.com

Write to Simon Kelner
Email: s.kelner@independent.co.uk

Write to Ed Vulliamy
Email: ed.vulliamy@observer.co.uk

Please send a copy of your emails to us
Email: editor@medialens.org

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London Strategic Voter; A progressive web site well worth a visit.


Recently I have blogged a couple of times about London’s May 1st Mayoral election, in the process I came across a very handy progressive web site called London Strategic Voter when one of their number visited Organized Rage. (http://www.strategicvoter.org.uk/doku.php?id=start)

This web site is well worth a visit as it gives a run down of the parties, candidates and the electoral process and by typing in ones post code it gives a brief account of how best to use your vote in both the Mayoral and Assembly elections. Apparently the people who run the site had a successful forum running at the 2006 London borough elections and if there is a demand for it, they hope to get a discussion forum going for the 2008 Mayoral election. In the main it is not telling people who to vote for but simply explaining their options and how to vote tactically.

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Filed under 2008-London-mayoral-and-assembly-elections, Democracy/Elections/democratic accountability/organized, UK

Many UK police forces refuse to dismiss officers who are convicted of drunk driving.


There is an interesting story in the Guardian today that is unlikely to gain legs unless it gets a lift from the bloggersphere.* It seems many of the UK’s police forces are refusing to dismiss there officers if they are convicted of drink driving. Despite Home Office guidelines that say they should be sacked due to the seriousness of this offense.

According to the Guardian who made a series of requests for the information under the Freedom of Information Act, there are wide differences in the manner in which the United Kingdom’s police forces deal with officers convicted of drink-driving, or related offenses such as failing to provide a breath or blood specimen.

Some, such as Nottinghamshire, Thames Valley and Essex, demand the resignation of every officer convicted of the offense if they do not volunteer their resignations, while others, such as West Midlands, demand the resignation of the overwhelming majority of those caught drink-driving.

The two worst offenders for taking no action against their officers who are convicted of these offenses are Northumbria Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland in which the majority of officers convicted of the offense have been allowed to continue serving or to retire early on full pension. One wonders just how much has changed within the north of Ireland police, beyond changing its name from the RUC to PSNI.

So the next time a police care speeds past you with its blue lights flashing, give it a wide berth as its driver may have a conviction for drunk driving.

*http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/apr/21/police.ukcrime

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Filed under drunk-driving, north of Ireland-Polıtıcs, PSNI, UK, victims

By standing a candidate for Mayor, the SWP betray London’s working classes



Time and again I have heard people on the non LP ‘left’ say that giving support to Ken Livingstone in his campaign for Mayor is only creating an illusion in what he stands for. I find such attitudes nonsensical as it is not a question of having illusions in Livingstone, it is about recognizing the reality on the ground and the damage a victory for Boris Johnson would do to the working classes and the political left as a whole.

I try to avoid writing about the SWP, for I regard them as a hinderance in the struggle for socialism and at times I wonder who is pulling the SWP central committees chain. Not least because in the last ten years they have been one of the main components in building two broad left coalitions, the Socialist Alliance and Respect. Yet when the SWP leadership concluded they might loose control of these coalitions, they deliberately crashed them in the most undemocratic way, leaving the political debris for others to pick up, whilst they went on their way without a glance in their rear view mirror.

As is their right the SWP central committee have decided to stand one of their number, Lindsey German as a candidate for Mayor of London in the May 1st Mayoral election. It is beyond me what they hope to achieve by this, beyond acting as a left spoiler and depriving Livingstone of a few thousand votes. Ms German’s claim that this will not occur as she has asked those who vote for her to give their second preference to Livingstone is remarkable for its duplicity. Think about this, for four weeks she goes around London telling workers Ken is a sell out, but come polling day no matter vote for him anyway with your second preference vote; now that is spreading illusions.

It is not only against Labour leftists like Livingstone that the SWP (left list) is standing candidates, in the Greenwich and Lewisham Constituency it is standing a candidate for the London Assembly against long standing socialist campaigner, health worker and local Socialist Party councillor Chris Flood. In the City and East (S@E) constituency the SWP is standing against George Galloway, who has a good chance of being elected despite the SWP acting as a spoiler. The hypocrisy of this act is appalling as until the SWP split from Respect they were the strongest advocate on the left for Galloway’s brand of politics.

Despite the behavior of the SWP over the last ten years which I describe above, there are still leftist who are willing to give the SWP the benefit of the doubt and vote for Lindsay German and other SWP candidates. I cannot understand their thought process, they claim it is because she is a revolutionary and Livingstone is not and thus it is their revolutionary duty to support German. If they believe this they have clearly not read Lindsay’s election manifesto, which is reformist to the core and in truth its contents are not dissimilar to Ken Livingstone’s.

In any case ones loyalty is to the working class and not this or that particular leftist candidate. Surly it must be clear to even the most dogmatic leftists that a victory for Johnson will not only embolden the Tories, but will give the Brownites the excuse they need to move further to the right, pray tell how will this benefit working class people or the left in general.*

Photos
1/ German, Galloway and SWP CC committee member when they were comrades.
2/ Ken Livingstone

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Filed under elections, London-Assembly, mayor, Organized Rage, SWP, UK