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Inside the Mind of Tom Watson

Media Democracy

Tackling big tech and democratizing journalism were the main topics I took from this year’s Media Democracy Festival in London this Saturday.

These things are planned long in advance so I shouldn’t expect people who have been preparing talks on structural problems in the media to have an entire programme based on very recent news.

However one thing I felt could have got more attention is the impact of the various reviews and reports that have come out about the media in the last few weeks.

Vanessa Baird of the New Internationalist mentioned the risks that the recent government commissioned Cairncross Review will lead to large corporates cannibalising a newly proposed fund. A fund that’s supposed to support local and public interest journalism.

The thing I worry about is that the recent Anti-Semitism affair is a sign of things to come in a future where politically motivated government backed digital regulators provide additional censorship on top of that already imposed on social media by the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Natalie Fenton, one of the organizers of the Media Democracy Festival, told me that the small print of the Cairncross Report makes provisions for a digital regulator.

In recent weeks Tom Watson, Labour’s Media and Digital Secretary and member of Labour Friends of Israel, has called for a Social Media Regulator.

Watson recently set up a party within the Labour Party called The Future Britain Group.

Despite having once written a book called Dial M for Murdoch with former Independent journalist Martin Hickman in which they attacked Murdoch, Tom Watson now clearly bats for Team Rupert.

Cairncross’s Report was clearly designed to protect Murdoch and other Press Barons from “big tech” and also from strict official regulation.

Cairncross, when calling for Social Media Regulation , made no mention of Leveson2 – the uncompleted aborted inquiry into phone hacking and rampant press criminality.

The press in this country are above the law.

Damian Collins, the Tory Chair of the Media Select Committee called Facebook “Digital Gangsters” in a recent report but he himself voted to end the unfinished Leveson Inquiry along with the rest of the Tory Party and the DUP.

Murdoch criminality is ok, so long as he is your friend.

Watson himself, though being in receipt of hundreds of thousands of pounds from billionaire press regulation campaigner Max Mosley, has remained completely silent on the subject of press regulation since the announcement that the Press Regulation pressure group Hacked Off were to take the government to court over the binning of the second half of the phone hacking inquiry into criminal activity at Murdoch’s News International publications which include the Sun, the now defunct News of the World, the Times and the Sunday Times.

Watson’s quote at the time was brilliant though scarcely reported.

He said that the conclusion of the inquiry into press criminality was essential and that Murdoch had gagged several phone hacking victims (and possibly journalists) by settling out of court but that an inquiry would have the legal right to give a platform to those witnesses and victims whose silence had been bought by the Murdoch empire.

Since then, Watson has slimmed down and aspires to be the Labour leader and PM.

Which he can’t do without Murdoch.

So it seems clear to me that Watson is in bed with Murdoch.

Both are staunch Israel supporters. And both backed the Iraq war. So, having bonded over their mutual imperialism and disdain for all things Corbyn, Watson and Murdoch now collaborate.

Captured Regulator

The concern for me is that the new digital fake news regulator will engage in gangland retribution on behalf of Murdoch and the State.

For example, the Canary and Novara have been feeling the Facebook algorithm changes that have led to them getting less traffic.

Social Media is a de facto public utility – so it is bizzare that Facebook, YouTube and Twitter employ unaccountable moderators to use silence ‘bad actors’.

But what rules are the following?

Are they written down?

How different is this to China?

Who controls access to the public sphere?

And how easily can this be captured?

A digital regulator will work for Murdoch, May, and Watson and take out their rivals.

It will also help undermine any call for regulation of anything run by the Press Barons.

Newspapers currently have more online and digital subscribers than hard copy.

And the most popular site of them all, the Guardian, moderates it’s comments section but is also not regulated.

Same goes for the other papers.

So the system is set up to silence dissent while claiming to be free and self-regulated.

The solutions to this problem, as I have been told, are to migrate over to Web 3.0 and the decentralized blockchain.

I have come across Steemit, D-Tube and the soon to be launched Bywire, which is part run by Byline, a new online publication. I know and get on well with the people at Byline.

Byline are also on good terms with Watson and Collins, whom I cannot stand.

I have never been able to work that one out to be honest.

Byline do great work and Peter Jukes, one the driving forces behind Byline, helped break the Cambridge Analytica story and has done excellent work on the far right links in the Conservative movements tied to Brexit and the Conservative party.

I interviewed Peter last year for Real Media and I really recommend the two videos we released!

Far Right

One of the presenters at the festival, a Lithuanian female gamer, I forget her name, talked about 4chan and how there alt-right is strong in gamer communities.

I have heard of Gab which is supposed to be like Nazi twitter but I have never been on it.

Paedophilia

Tom Watson also made lots of noise about paedophilila a few years ago and mysteriously stopped talking about it.

He said that Leon Brittan was part of a Westminster VIP paedophile ring.

He talked about Rotherham too. But that all suddenly stopped.

Rotherham was etched into the NZ mosque attacker’s gun.

But like his Tory rival Sajid Javid, Watson has chosen to blame the NZ attack on Social Media and said nothing about the role of the Murdoch press.

Whereas Sajid Javid chooses to grandstand against refugees and compete with Tommy Robinson over who is coming down hardest on ‘Asian paedophiles’ – Watson likes to point his own gun at Social Media and, like Javid, at “anti-Semitic Corbynistas”.

I believe a significant share of the antisemitic allegations that have been directed at the Labour Party are politically motivated. Murdoch himself commissioned Tom Bower to write a book about Corbyn which is full of falsehoods and is itself a racist tome. The book was serialised in the Mail on Sunday and when the author appeared on Sky television (recently sold by Murdoch), he labelled a left wing guest, Michael Segalov, “a self-hating Jew”.

Watson has had plenty of soft interviews with Andrew Marr recently in which he has been allowed to set out his stall. His main problem remains that he has no charisma.

He and Javid clearly don’t mind racist populists so long as they are Islamaphobic.

Like the ex Liberal leader, David Steel, Tom Watson will be sitting on lots of info about child sex abuse in the UK but has chosen to pursue his political career in lieu of obtaining justice for the victims.

Javid, May and obviously Murdoch are awash in paedophile info.

Maybe, like his new friend Murdoch, Watson is having too much fun playing with the possibilities of Kompromat.

In many ways, Murdoch and Watson are the perfect evil double act.

Could Watson somehow take over without winning a Labour leadership election?

Well of course.

All it takes is for Corbyn to die.

The Australian politician that got egged this weekend got more attention than Corbyn did when he was recently attacked in Finabury Park.

Is there any footage?

Why has none of it been shown?

And why has Watson’s twitter feed not called out the Murdoch press for its racism and Islamaphobia?

Feels like everyone else has.

Is Watson really an opposition Minister or is he controlled opposition?

Vladimir Lenin said the best way to control the opposition is “to lead it ourselves”.

I’ve been reading Inside the Mind of Xi Jinping this morning, which is brilliant.

More on that to come..

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A broken clock is right at least twice a day

A broken clock is right at least twice a day

It’s no secret that the Morning Star swings to the left.

And one shouldn’t belittle its fantastic work highlighting underrepresented points of view.

But it’s quite remarkable when the newspaper it is most in sync with is … The Sun.

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Obviously a constellational thing.

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Many years ago it became clear to me that the right wing press was funnier than the left.

I grew up in the 1990s when most right-on alternative comedians opposed the Thatcher and Major Conservative governments.

So this all came as a bit of a shock.

But the culture war has now moved on.

People like me need to get with the times.

The war of ideas has become more sophisticated than I recognized.

Political marketing assumes many forms.

Have I become more paranoid?

Or have things genuinely moved on?

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Until very recently Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire owner of the Sun, backed Theresa May.

She called an election in 2017 and made sure she put the elimination of the Leveson Inquiry into press criminality on her manifesto.

Murdoch’s staff had been paying the police and getting people sent to jail for relatively minor crimes such as helping undercover journalists buy small amounts of drugs.

In other countries such behaviour would be called entrapment.

For this she was rewarded with favourable media coverage and became so full of hubris that she didn’t even turn up to the TV debate.

Murdoch got what he wanted when the then Media Secretary Matt Hancock got the entire Tory Party (except 5) to vote, along with the DUP, to bin the Inquiry.

Hacked Off, a press regulation pressure group financed by F1 Billionaire Max Mosley, took a Judicial Review case to get the Government to reverse its position, but they lost.

The verdict was announced last week.

If only the story stopped there.

Carry on Brexit

Murdoch is for Brexit. It helps shrink the state and turn the UK (and its overseas territories) into even more of an oligarch-friendly low tax regime.

The links between the Sun’s ideology and the right-wing think tanks coming out of Tufton Street are repetitious.

But the the US Tea Party and even Reagan’s Republicans have always been skilled in dressing up their deregulation in a Ché Guevara beret.

Steve Bannon constantly refers to culture wars. I remember the American conspiracy theorist historian Webster Tarpley telling Alex Jones back in 2009 that to get rid of Obama the right would have to attack him from the left.

Pipe Dreams

And so the Sun’s anti-regulation anti-EU stance now overlaps with the Morning Star’s!

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I am not against debate.

But it is good to get enough background context to back up the valid instinct that you are being lied to.

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Knowing who funds the article you are reading usually tells you more about what is being written than the words themselves.

The fact that the Morning Star is dead against the EU shows how strongly the unions must really feel about Brexit.

Phillip Coggan of the Economist tweeted about the parallels with UK 1930s politics recently. This was possibly in relation to the Nicky Morgan and Oliver Letwin suggestions of a temporary technocratic Unity Government.

George Lansbury (grandfather of actress Angela) became head of the Labour Party at a time when they split and one half (not his) joined a Unity Government.

Lansbury once edited the Herald, a workers’ newspaper that eventually became The Sun.

Funny to see the spectres of Mosley and Lansbury rear themselves once again.

Perhaps they never really ever went away.

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Theresa May’s Corruption-as-a-Service and the Visit of the Torturing Saudi Prince

PLEASE WATCH THIS 5 MINUTE VIDEO

Bloomberg has just shown that the May Government’s proposals to shut the Serious Fraud Office are part of the UK’s post Brexit offer of Corruption-as-a-Service.

UK territories already include tax havens like Jersey and the Cayman Islands, so why not go the whole way and get rid of fraud prosecution altogether?

Steve Middleton, Financial Adviser and Founder of Bank Confidential, says that if you’re an up-to-no-good financial services outfit, who would you rather be on your case, Hercules Poirot or Inspector Clouseau?

That is the current state of affairs in the UK with the FCA, Bank of England, City of London Economic Crime Police, Audit Firms, Law Firms, SFO and the revolving door with the Banks.

As long as regulators are muzzled and employees afraid to speak out, the culture of Omertà that financial journalist Ian Fraser has said exists in UK financial services will never go away.

A potential whistleblower has to jump through many legal hoops in order to get whistleblower status and all for very little reward.

See it. Say it. Sorted.

The government’s recent “See it. Say it. Sorted.” campaign applies to unattended baggage and foreign looking individuals,

But as pointed out by the Bloomberg Report, the government’s entire post Brexit strategy is premised on suspect packages of cash making their way into the UK financial system with absolutely minimal questions asked.

The “See it. Say it. Sorted.” campaign is run by British Transport Police which reports to the Home Office.

Contrast that with typing  “Speak up”, “Whistleblower” into a UK-based search engine. What you get is a fractured wild west of consulting firms all of whom are competing with each other to get private sector contracts to help companies deal with whistleblowers.

That’s right, containing whistleblowers is a business opportunity in the UK whereas in the US they have their own whistleblowing agency which pays whistleblowers in the case of successful prosecutions.

Hostile Environment

The hostile environment that Theresa May has chosen to create for immigrants in this country does not extend to dirty money, dictators, or the proceeds of massive financial crime.

Senior Saudi Officials are in town this week. The type that hire American mercenary firms to torture their own cousins in American owned Marriott Hotels in order to extract $100 billion and show everyone who’s boss.

This would be equivalent to Amber Rudd hiring ex-Met Chief Phillip Hogan Howe’s new HSBC financed security firm to torture the previous Home Secretary Theresa May for a few months in exchange for her and her husband’s pension and most of their life savings.

Of course all talk of British made bombs being dropped on innocent hungry Yemeni children is off limits.

The UK is still angling for the Saudis to give clearance for Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil firm,  to float on the London Stock Exchange.

Such a transaction would allow for millions in commission to float through to the City of London and to the advisers on the deal – HSBC.

One of the main advantages the UK has over the US is that in the UK no-one will ever bring a lawsuit agains the Saudis for harbouring terrorists.

In New York, lawyers are licking their lips at the chance of winning compensation for 911 victims from Saudi Arabia as 11 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.

If Gadaffi had to pay for Lockerbie than why not the Saudis?

So UK really is selling immunity as a service. The ultimate form of liberalism. We believe in a form of diversity that takes in acceptance of war criminals and genocide as well as mere guns, drugs and terror.

I interviewed anti-corruption campaigner and HSBC Whistleblower Nicholas Wilson during the last election and he explained the situation nicely:

Nicholas Wilson has blogged, tweeted and spoken about these issues and UK politics in general from an HSBC angle. The data he presents and the power mapping he has done points strongly to the systems that are in place to protect the UK establishment as well as transnational corporations at the expense of much human life and the environment. To those of you who are interested in political puppetry and the revolving door, I strongly suggest following his campaign.

Public Relations

You have to admire the chutzpah of these Tories. It’s all done in plain sight and they only ever lie about it when questioned.

This puff piece in defence of Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) is by an employee of the Islamaphobic Henry Jackson Society and appears in the Independent which is owned by the same Russian Oligarch that employed George Osborne to edit the Evening Standard.

The Standard and Independent’s mission is therefore clear: Oppose Brexit but promote anything which protects billionaires, like money laundering.

Osborne

On Thursday George Osborne, current editor of the Evening Standard and architect of extended austerity policies that inflicted misery on millions, issued a self congratulatory tweet upon the news that the austerity deficit target had finally been met, two years after he was ejected and nearly 8 years after it started.

 

The question i ask myself is whether anyone is going to get the Labour Party to debate these issues openly and vigorously and put clear unambiguous pledges and policy in its manifesto that can stop this sort of thing forever.

Those who wish to contribute, please step forward.

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Who’s Regulating the post-Brexit Conversation?

For in the hand of Yahweh there is a cup, full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours it out. Indeed the wicked of the earth drink and drink it to its very dregs.

Subliminal

A friend and I recently agreed that Naomi Klein’s latest book No is not Enough appeals less to Brits than North Americans.

We have other things going on like Corbyn and Brexit.

Media Hype

I like how the American media are so upfront. They openly discuss their administration’s white nationalism and deregulatory stance on health insurance, tax, guns, & net neutrality.

Here in the UK our deregulation is not so much spoon-fed as subliminal.

Just like with shadow banking, we know it’s naughty, we know it’s happening, but we act as though everything’s above board.

Too much Red Tape, Mate

The Brexit vote of June 2016 was sold as the perfect opportunity to take back control of our borders, recover sovereignty and cut Red Tape.

Click the image below for the original Sun article.

But exactly which regulations we’ll be cutting remains to be seen.

After all we’ll still need to retain the right to trade with Europe.

We’ll also need to keep our rights at work, protect our food, and look after the environment.

Countries will only trade with us if they trust our regulatory standards.

How will that happen if we become a totally unregulated space?

As Tax Justice Campaigner Richard Murphy puts it:

“We need rules. Try playing football without any rules. It doesn’t work.”

Captured Media

The lack of clarity from our journalists and politicians may be part of the problem.

Academics like Daniela Gabor, Prem Sikka, David Graeber, Vickie Cooper, David Whyte, Steve Tombs, and commentators like Frances Coppola, Ann Pettifor, Nicholas Wilson, and Ian Fraser are all reliable.

But few out and out hacks are prepared to rock the boat by asking difficult questions.

Even fewer politicians make meaningful commitments, give straight answers, or admit mistakes.

We don’t need no Education

In the midst of all this emerged Nigel Farage.

While the left and right were playing musical chairs in the centre, a gaping chasm opened up everywhere else.

All anyone had to do to occupy the space was point out the contradictions in the system.

Engineering of Consent

So in a strange social experiment the British public briefly entered an age of demagoguery. One that can’t be undone.

Where Thatcher, Blair and even Cameron got their voters mildly excited, unelected Mr Farage got the nation to  say “No” to the Establishment and  replace it with — the Establishment!

Post-coup nerves

The only problem with all this was that nobody ever thought that the Brexiteers could win. The Brexiteers themselves had no idea what they’d do once they won their coup.

As Hannah Arendt said of the British Empire:

It has often been said that the British acquired their empire in a fit of absent-mindedness, as consequence of automatic trends, yielding to what seemed possible and what was tempting, rather than as a result of deliberate policy. If this is true, then the road to hell may just as well be paved with no intentions as with the proverbial good ones.

Attention Hacker

In the following clip Nigel Farage strategically attacks ‘diversity’ before claiming that English is no longer spoken in many parts of the UK.


He’s our very own Donald Trump. The influence he’s projected over global politics is staggering.

Waistline Firecracker

By relentlessly attacking every MP in sight whilst having never been more than an MEP in Brussels, Farage has become the ultimate spectactor.

Like Lear’s Fool and Donald Trump, Farage has been able to speak populist truth to power without following any of the rules by which normal politicians are bound.

Deregulatory Fork

But just like Trump, he’s a vicious corporatist.

Earlier this year after asking if Trump’s an anarchist,  I asked anthropologist  David Graeber to distinguish between corporatists like Farage and fascists like Marine Le Pen.

It was Auntie wot won it

Before the referendum I asked the BBC how frequently Farage had appeared on Newsnight, Question Time, and The Today Programme — they refused.

I assume someone like Rupert Murdoch was supporting him.

In the wake of the phone hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry James Harding moved to manage BBC News after having edited Murdoch’s Times for six years.

Maybe he was leaned on by Murdoch to include Farage on the BBC’s radio and televised debates.

Despite being a fully paid up member of the Metropolitan Elite and presumably a Remainer, Harding knows which way his bread’s buttered.

Amusing ourselves to death

Though humouring his old boss would have been logical, what started out as a joke led to a constitutional crisis.

By attacking the EU and political correctness in the way that he has, Farage has managed to overturn forty years of food, employment, financial and environmental standards.

Farage is currently employed by Rupert Murdoch in the US and by LBC talk radio in the UK.

What happened

Neo-liberal economics was underpinned by a belief in the idea of infinite growth. But the rapid growth of the ‘left behinds’ who under Thatcher had been written off as the acceptable rate of unemployment led to a growing divide.

They had no way out of a life of austerity.

At the same time came the rise of the Metropolitan Elite with their skinny lattés and Polish plumbers

Et Voila!

Plenty of newspapers also told their readers to vote for Brexit.

They weren’t all convinced by Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and Michael Gove.

The Sun, the Mail, the Express, the Sunday Times, and the Telegraph are all still fervent Brexiteers.

Brexit Bill

But according to those Brexiteers who aren’t in the Cabinet, the Government are making a hash of Brexit.

The potential benefits of a Brexit deal are fast disappearing as the Government commits to paying more and more money to the EU.

What next?

  1. Who is going to stand up for UK regulation?
  2. How will a balance be struck between protecting UK business, UK citizens and non-citizens?

 

 

 

 

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Tory Confusion over Brexit

The Pound looks likely to collapse during the upcoming Tory Party conference

Financial Markets are looking for reassurance.

Instead they have been treated to David Davis.

Amber Rudd will remember her speech about companies having to report the amount of foreign staff on their books.

This policy was a disaster – but the Government don’t seem to have learnt a thing.

As a run on the pound is inevitable, it would be good to hear from Labour how they would react.