Posts Tagged ‘media’

 

So, after endless rehashing of 1983’s “longest suicide note in history” in the press, we now have the “stupidest manifesto in history” from the press’s darlings. I have only ever been alive during the ‘neoliberal’ period, but in all that time, the Conservative manifesto 2017 is definitely the most dimwitted piece of rubbish ever presented by one of the two parties capable of forming a government, and must surely finally dispel that nonsensical myth that the Tories are always the slickest political operators.

 

Everywhere we look in the manifesto there are notions that sound like they were pitched at closing time in the Dog & Duck, and never reflected on again. Whether it’s taking away lunches from poor school kids or regurgitating failed policies on immigration and deficit reduction again and again like that arrogant idiot on the school football team who has the first touch of a tractor yet still insists the team wouldn’t lose every week if they just got the ball to him more, its delusional ineptitude is only matched by its malice. On what planet did the Conservatives think it would be sensible to sanction the state snatching people’s homes to pay for private care? Technically of course, they don’t actually have to give away the whole home, they get to keep £100k of the equity. Which is relatively fine if you live in Rochdale, not so good if you live in Dagenham. And who regulates the care home fees? Isn’t this just another ‘name your price’ outsourcing racket that the Conservatives seem to be so fond of? And that’s before we start getting into the rumours that banks are already creating new ‘financial products’ for this new ‘investment opportunity’. We truly have reached ‘peak Capitalism’, when businesses are scavenging for assets on corpses that haven’t died yet.

 

Not only is this social care policy cruel, but it targets the Conservatives’ core demograph of voters: the elderly with property. One thing never changes with Tory policies: there are no progressive scales, it’s just an arbitrary figure plucked out of their backsides and applied across the board, in rich and poor areas, to rich and poor people. It also throws up injustice when you realise that those who may have had life relatively easy and squandered their money will be cared for free of charge, while those who slogged away and sacrificed to own their home, will be deprived of it should nature’s unforgiving lottery deem their senescence to be more profound.

 

Of course, this hamfisted policy also demonstrates the cognitive dissonance within the Tory party. They are so obsessed with privatising everything not nailed down and deregulating their precious markets, they cannot fathom a scenario where care is actually state-provided rather than run as a private income stream, and we all contribute a little more to ameliorate nature’s random selection of genetic misfortune. Sounds a little like the NHS principles, which will explain the Tories’ desperation to sell that off before they’re booted out of office.

 

Back to the immigration pledge, which has been derided by anti-Tory groups, pro-Tory groups, cabinet ministers, big business, small business…in fact it’s easier to list those supporting the pledge: UKIP. Even someone with limited knowledge of macroeconomics would realise that a country so dependant on immigrants for so long is not going to be able to change this without radical reform of their economic structure. Companies that could pluck fully-trained EU nationals at a few weeks notice are not going to be too happy being told that they are going to be charged a large amount for each foreign worker, or train a British worker so they can do the job in 3 months time.

 

“Ensure foreign ownership of companies controlling important infrastructure does not undermine British security or essential services” – How about by not flogging off this infrastructure in the first place? If they acknowledge that there is a risk to British security, then the Tory party are admitting that their policies have threatened national security!

Of course it’s also worth mentioning one of the most utterly thoughtless policies floated: to allow up to a year’s unpaid leave caring for a loved one. Apparently no considerations of how many people could afford to take a year without pay (particularly since they are classified as employed so are not entitled to benefits), nor how many businesses could afford to keep a position open but unfilled for an entire year. I haven’t seen any confirmation of what condition loved ones have to be in before this would be permitted, nor how close a relative they would have to be.

It’s just line after line of uncosted nonsense that would be laughed out of a student politics debate, and this is where we’ve come. Where the governing party is so far ahead in ‘the polls’ that they think they can afford to offer up any old shit and have the turkeys trampling each other to get to the Christmas oven.

We live in a time where language has never been quite as manipulated by politicians and the mainstream media. Words like ‘aspiration’, ‘security’, ‘democracy’ and ‘economy’ have been perverted from their original definitions and context; mangled into shiny new tools to shape the national discourse. If words are weapons, the Establishment have dodged the harpoons and fashioned them into dirty bombs, pointed at any resistance to their agendas.

One term it occurred to me has been entirely subverted by its original targets is “professionally offended”. Now of course, we all seem to attribute this to ‘luvvy liberals’, who apparently ‘no platform’ any controversial speakers, and make death threats to anyone online who doesn’t check their privilege. I tend to see this happening chiefly when people make derogatory comments with a sexist or bigoted tone to them, whether intended or not.

Meanwhile, the original “professionally offended” brigade were actually the hardline conservatives, who couldn’t stand anyone with a pubic platform even gently mocking religion, or the sanctity of the family; who frothed at the mouth when smut, violence, vices or non-hetero-normative behaviours were covered in any way that didn’t position them as an affront to God. This led to frightening censorship in things like the Hays Code and the Parental Music Resource Centre in America; with Mary Whitehouse’s prudishness and even Section 28 in Britain. These “professionally offended” actually successfully suppressed culture and free thought in a similar manner to fascist dictatorships.

When I compare the great works of art and thought that were destroyed and smothered by these people, to the casual bigotry being suppressed by today’s apparently “professionally offended”, I don’t really think there’s a contest in terms of which is the more detrimental. Particularly since the modern understanding of the idiom challenges language used to demean oppressed sections of society for generations, in ways that bigoted conservatives couldn’t possibly comprehend.

It is a rich irony that the side now crying foul on over-sensitivity has declared a ‘role reversal’, while failing to acknowledge the gravity of their own inability to handle free speech in the past (and present).

It’s getting a bit tiresome seeing people sharing negative memes and articles about Donald Trump, often people who’d not shown the slightest inclination towards political debate before. We all know he’s an entitled buffoon, who’s been cushioned from the fall-out of his obnoxious views and behaviour by his extraordinary wealth, but he won the Republican ticket, and talking as if America should just decide to suddenly disqualify him because he’s a bad person is the same kind of thinking Trump applies to throwing people out of his rallies, and plays into the very credible notion that the Establishment is limiting debate and choice to suit their own agenda.

You can’t make Donald Trump sound worse than he is by sharing details of his numerous bankruptcies, infidelities and moronic quotes. His voters seem to be made up of those who hate the Establishment, those who hate Hillary Clinton, and those who hate everyone. Wagging our collective finger at Trump’s behaviour will not sway these voters’ resolve. My problem with this election trail is that the level of political discourse is descending to Brexit level. “He is an asshole!” “She is a criminal!” Cue audience boos and hisses. American tv loves trash-talking. They have it in most sports, especially boxing, and even the kind of crap that broadcasts here about auctioning stuff from storage garages has to have juvenile trash-talking. But thinking Americans don’t want that. They want issues, they want policies, they want reassurance that things will change for the better.

I’d like to hear Clinton reassure us she’s not just a trigger-hungry chickenhawk, bought and paid for by Wall Street. I’d like to hear optimism and vision. But no. She concentrates on slagging off Trump for being Trump, like berating a lion for eating antelope. You know what they say about never arguing with a moron because they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience? That’s what Trump is doing to all of us. And he may just win.

Ask a Blairite what the weather will be like, and you’ll likely get the response:

“Well it’s certainly looking bleak right now with the Tories in power, I’d suggest an umbrella, in fact I’d suggest that rain needs to be driven away by a strong opposition who listen to the British public and what they want from their weather system. If rain is preferred, we need to heed those messages, and not just preach about the virtues of sunshine. The centre ground is where we can really influence the jet streams and make a future Britain’s weather work for all.”

What most people have long since learnt about Blairites, is that they are nothing but hollow suits. They appear to promise everything with no downsides. Blair’s doctrine preached verbal positivity with no caveats and no depth. Thus you get MPs like Dan Jarvis coming out with soundbites like “I’m tough on inequality and tough on the causes of inequality.” Archetypal Blairite. Optimistic? Check. Calling out bad things that people don’t approve of? Check. Nothing to offend the Daily Mail or Sun owners? Check. No actual detail beyond catchy one line soundbite? Check.

The Blairites and their Establishment hangers-on often seem to bang on about Jeremy Corbyn being ‘unelectable’ and ‘a return to the politics of 1983’, completely devoid of self-awareness that their own candidates have lost the last two elections, and their politics are still rooted firmly in 1997 (don’t mention the Iraq War!). They also suggest Corbyn only represents protest, which apparently doesn’t achieve anything, as only going through the proper channels gets things done. Which is presumably why Blairite MPs decided to protest by flouncing out of Corbyn’s cabinet in order to get things done outside democratic channels.

These ‘honourable’ MPs attempting this coup, despite having no obvious candidate to replace Corbyn, seem to have lost their usual composure and professional veneer, but the timing makes total sense when you realise the Chilcot report is due out next week, and they do not want an anti-Blairite as leader when the chickens come home to roost on their hallowed idol Tony Blair. Interesting times ahead for these anachronistic losers it would seem.

Aside from these PLP MPs who keep saying that no one man is bigger than the party (other than Blair obviously), studiously ignoring the fact that the membership resoundingly wanted Corbyn in charge, the mainstream media has gone from an obsessive farce to systematic bullying of a decent man. I’ve actually felt physically ill seeing every utterance from Corbyn spun into an ‘outrage’, and him being literally goaded by journalists into losing his cool with the same tired rubbish about resigning.

So a message to all people (particularly in the North) who say “politicians are all the same so what’s the point”, “they’re all liars”, “they all act in the interests of big business”, “they don’t represent ordinary people”, “whoever it is, it’ll be business as usual”: Jeremy Corbyn is not like this. If you say you don’t want a hollow suit with the empty rhetoric of a travelling salesman, who says they care about the poor while making no systemic changes to improve their lot at all, who pander to Middle England and the elites while filling their pockets, for God’s sake support Corbyn!

He’s not perfect, he’s certainly not a natural leader of men, but his politics are the change you need. Even if he stands down in a couple of years, his influence will hopefully see a new wave of genuine left-wing MPs who will challenge the Neoliberal agenda, without being terrified of the media reaction. Who knows, maybe even a coalition can then emerge to force through Proportional Representation.

If you believe all those disparaging quotes about modern politicans above, you must support him. If you are happy for Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre to choose the next Labour leader, by all means say he’s not fit to be leader. But, like Brexit, you will be another turkey voting happily for Christmas.

Henry Thomas Buckle’s attributed aphorism about small minds discussing people, average minds discussing events and great minds discussing ideas gets me thinking about the modern political landscape.

I often hear people, despite not having the option to vote for a Prime Minister, describing how the two party leaders come across. The fact that only two leaders are scrutinized in depth is a measure of the shameful anachronism that is the First-Past-The-Post voting system, but that is for another discussion. Apparently, David Cameron looks genuine, and Ed Milliband looks weird. For a lot of people I’ve been talking to, this discourse replaces the actual policies enacted by Cameron’s government, or the manifesto pledges of Miliband’s opposition. ‘Ideas’ are rejected in favour of ‘people’, with a little sprinkling of ‘events’: the banking crash; spun as a failure of the welfare state, and apparently not widely repudiated by the electorate.

Meanwhile, the opposition looks to make hay from Cameron’s background: more ‘personality politics’, at the expense of appealing to people’s intellect by rigorously taking apart disastrous economic and social policies. The ridiculous mainstream media have basically painted this election as Miliband the geek versus Cameron the toff: playground politics for an electorate they clearly believe are simple-minded.

After the tragic suicide of Robin Williams, and this Guardian article:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/13/two-thirds-britons-not-treated-depression

it seems mental health is headline news right now. As the vast majority of the population have suffered or will suffer from some form of depression or mental illness at some time in their lives, it seems bizarre that it is not dealt with by both the national media and health service more effectively.

But then, whenever I read a story examining the scale of the problem, I feel as if a parade of elephants is making the room particularly cramped. The first elephant is class. If I read a headline on mental illness on the front cover of the Daily Mail/Telegraph/Times talking of ‘people suffering from mental health issues’, it can be loosely translated as ‘middle-class people’ suffering. I somehow fail to see that the long-term unemployed with clinical depression would be viewed by the ruthlessly unsympathetic mainstream media as ‘suffering’, unless they happen to be former doctors or middle manager desk jockeys in the midst of some spectacular spiral from self-congratulatory grace.

The second elephant lurking is tangibility. The mainstream media, whether we like it or not, appeals to base instincts, mob rule and lowest common denominator folk demons, but they all need to take the some form of easily depicted caricature. Mental illness is a lot like climate change in this respect, in that because it cannot be seen or easily distinguished, it is implied to be open to interpretation, or fabricated.

Of course, the notion that certain people can dismiss mental illness as exaggerated or en vogue is ridiculous. We do not exist in some ubiquitous courtroom, where visual exhibits and evidence must be provide for each and every claim, and curiously this same logic never seems to be applied to the institutional deisms. But going back to the idea of discrediting mental illness, the agenda for doing so is much the same as attempting to ‘debunk’ climate change: money.

Our third elephant is corporatism. In a world where everyone with mental health problems had adequate treatment and time off, corporate profits, in the short term, would most likely plummet. A working environment where people feel safe and cared for is not part of Big Business 101. What it demands is dog-eat-dog. Competition. ‘Flexible labour markets’ for the employer only. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, cos there’s ten budding chefs waiting to take your place for lower wages. Absence rates, particularly in skilled and highly-stressed positions, would rocket in the short term, and suddenly employers, particularly big business, would see the country turn into an employee’s market; unheard of in Britain since the late 70s.

So expect plenty of lip service from the national media and Establishment, but nothing remotely helpful will ever be done under this suffocating squeeze of corporate smother. At least we can always go shopping.

So Max Clifford has become the first person convicted from Operation Yewtree. Good thing too, or the Crown Prosecution Service were facing some serious questions. I fell into the trap I imagine most did when the news first broke. That is, I smirked to myself; revelling in the notion that a smug, self-satisfied prat bloated on his own self-importance would finally get his comeuppance. But then, being an arsehole is not a crime. He is potentially being jailed for substantial crimes against real victims, and whether he is Max Clifford or someone who hasn’t made his career by protecting adulterous celebrities from the media consequences of their infidelity; it is the same trauma for the women and girls he has assaulted. Stupidly, I find it a lot more palatable thinking of Clifford in prison than Rolf Harris, when really I should simply hope that the guilty get what is coming to them, while the victims get their own sense of closure. Hoping that Clifford the sleaze went down seems akin to hoping he had victims, which is a ridiculous but all too human instinct.

Having said that, Sun favourite Clifford’s crimes happened over 30 years ago, so many might argue that the greatest accomplishment is lending credence to the victim’s plight rather than actually punishing him. He has lived high on the hog from his reflected celebrity all this time, and has only been struck down as a hugely wealthy pensioner, who, after his most likely brief prison stay, can afford to disappear off the media radar for a quiet retirement. The end of his career will simply mean a slightly earlier retirement than initially planned, and that doesn’t seem like any kind of justice to me, negative bias or not.