Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rupert Murdoch's divide and conquer tactics


On the last day of April 2015, in the week before the UK General Election, Rupert Murdoch's S*n newspaper told it's readers how to vote. I'm not going to get into the ethics of foreign billionaire press barons using their massive propaganda empires to interfere in our elections by explicitly directing people how to vote, it should be pretty obvious that I don't approve.

This article is about the extraordinary discrepancy between the endorsement of the Tory party on the front page of the S*n newspapers in England and the endorsement of the SNP on the front page of the S*n newspapers in Scotland. Not only did the S*n endorse completely different parties, but the arguments they used were bizarrely contradictory too. The S*n in England listed "Stop SNP running the country" as one of their three main reasons for voting Tory, whilst the Scottish edition urged the Scottish public to vote SNP to keep the Tories out of power, and accused the Tories of selling the public a "lie".

Presumably the "lie" that the Tories are selling to the Scottish is precisely the same lie that Murdoch listed as his 1st reason for the English to actually vote Tory; the counter-factual assertion that the Tories have been keeping the economy on track, when anyone with the faintest connection with reality knows that their economically illiterate austerity experiment has severely hindered the recovery, caused the longest sustained decline in wages since records began, thrust millions of people into hardship and extreme poverty, and achieved little but the doubling of the wealth of the tiny super-rich minority.

It's no surprise that Murdoch is backing the Tories in England and continuing the right-wing propaganda narrative that the last 5 years have been some kind of glorious economic success story, rather than the slowest post-crisis recovery in British history caused by George Osborne's ridiculous ideological austerity experiment. What is quite surprising is that his papers are backing the SNP in Scotland, because the SNP are a centre-left political party who have actually voted against the Murdoch approved neoliberal agenda of the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition far more often than the Labour Party over the last five years.

There are two potential explanations for this. The first is that Murdoch famously hates to be seen to have backed a loser, so even though he hates the SNP's centre-left agenda, he's decided to endorse them, rather than implore the Scottish to vote Tory and then watch them completely ignore him, thus proving his irrelevance. In my view this is a rather simplistic explanation and the truth has more to do with Murdoch's absolute hatred of Ed Miliband than with his desire to not appear impotent and irrelevant to his Scottish audience.

It's no secret that Rupert Murdoch loathes Ed Miliband, and is terrified of the Labour Party proposals to limit the percentage of the media that can be owned by a single organisation. In my view these absurdly contradictory endorsements are part of a deliberate right-wing divide and conquer strategy designed to minimise the number of seats Labour can win, and to make working with the SNP as difficult as possible should Labour form the next government by stoking up as much anti-Scottish resentment in England as possible.

The Labour Party currently holds 41 seats in Scotland, but recent polls have suggested that they are in danger of losing most of them, if not every single one of them. A Labour bloodbath in Scotland will be entirely deserved for the way they so willingly joined in the Tory fearmongering campaign against Scottish independence instead of setting out their own vision for Scotland and distancing themselves from the politically toxic Tories as much as possible, but it will be great news for Rupert Murdoch and the Tories. Without their political heartland of Scotland, the Labour Party will find it almost impossible to win enough English and Welsh seats to form a majority government, meaning that if they do take power, they'll likely be in a very weak position.

The explicitly anti-SNP agenda in the English S*n is clearly part of this divide and conquer strategy. The more English people who can be programmed to hate, fear and despise the SNP, the harder it will be for the Labour Party to form a broad anti-Tory agreement with them.

It shouldn't matter what your opinions on the SNP are, stoking up hatred of the SNP in England and encouraging the Scottish people to actually vote for them has to be one of the most duplicitous divide and conquer strategies that Rupert Murdoch has ever tried to pull off.


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.






MORE ARTICLES FROM
 ANOTHER ANGRY VOICE 
                 
Austerity is a con
                                       
The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK
                
The myth of right-wing patriotism
                         
How George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
                        
Recommended reading - heterodox economics
           
Why 73% of UKIP supporters should actually vote Green
                     
How the Labour Party completely lost the plot in Scotland
                                                
Rupert Murdoch's evil empire
                            

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Austerity is a con


The Tory austerity narrative is a simple and oft repeated one. It doesn't matter that "we've got to cut our way to growth" is nonsensical from a macroeconomic perspective, it's been repeated so often now that millions of people accept it as fact.

Some people (myself included) have maintained all along that it was always a simple con designed to give the Tories an excuse to continue their agenda of transferring ever more wealth to the tiny super-rich minority under the guise of bringing the national debt under control.

There is bountiful evidence that the austerity narrative is a misleading one, especially the myriad of counter-factual Tory slogans used to support it. They claimed that "we're all in this together" while handing the UK's income millionaires an average £100,000 per year tax cut and trying to defend 200%+ bankers's bonuses from new EU rules. They claimed they were "making work pay" whilst overseeing the longest sustained decline in average earnings since records began, and slashing in-work social security; and they claimed over and again that "Labour bankrupted Britain" when it was George Osborne that lost the UK's AAA credit ratings for the first time since the 1970s.

Now that their government is over we can look at what ideological austerity has actually achieved.

The first thing to note is that George Osborne's austerity agenda has spectacularly failed to achieve what he claimed it was going to do when he came to power back in 2010. He claimed that ideological austerity would have completely eliminated the public sector deficit by 2015, but it hasn't even been halved. This failure means that the debt is still growing dramatically, the UK has suffered its slowest economic recovery ever, and George Osborne has created more new debt in just 5 years than every single Labour government in history combined!

The last set of economic figures released before the 2015 General Election show that despite Osborne's efforts to dope the economy in 2014 and 2015 to create an election winning "feel good factor", GDP growth fell to a paltry 0.3% in the first quarter of 2015.

Given that George Osborne missed all of his 2010 economic predictions and oversaw the slowest economic recovery on record, it's absolutely clear that any signs of economic recovery that have happened since 2010 have happened despite ideological austerity, not because of it.

Anyone who claimed that ideological austerity was never actually about reducing the national debt or stimulating economic recovery can feel completely vindicated by George Osborne's failures, however there was a secondary part claiming that the actual purpose was to oversee a vast transfer of wealth from the majority of ordinary people to the tiny super-rich minority.

That ordinary people are poorer is borne out by the fact that British workers have endured the longest sustained decline in average earnings since records began and by the fact that more working families than ever before are reliant upon housing benefits as a result of poverty wages.

The evidence is just as clear that the super-wealthy minority has done incredibly well while the rest of us have been suffering the effects of Tory ideological austerity. In April 2015 The Sunday Times revealed that the 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain have doubled their wealth since Labour's last year in office.

The conclusion is inescapable. If we judge ideological austerity by what the Tories claim the objective was (getting the national debt under control), then it's been a spectacular failure, but if we judge ideological austerity by what others claimed the objective was (transferring as much wealth as possible from the majority to the super-rich minority) then it's been a resounding success.

The sad thing is that despite the abundance of evidence that austerity is a con, there are millions of people out there who are so wedded to the austerity narrative, that they're going to go out and vote Tory because they are genuinely concerned about the state of our public finances but unable to grasp the simple fact that Tory ideological austerity is a con that has spectacularly failed to resolve our public sector finance problems because that's not what it was ever actually meant to do.  



 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.







MORE ARTICLES FROM
 ANOTHER ANGRY VOICE 
                 
The decline in political participation and the rise of the non-traditional parties
                                       
The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK
                
The myth of right-wing patriotism
                         
How George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
                        
Asset stripping "Bankrupt Britain" with Gideon and Dave
           
Why 73% of UKIP supporters should actually vote Green
                     
The "Making Work Pay" fallacy
                                                
The Tory PCC election farce
                            

Monday, April 27, 2015

Could the extreme bias of the Murdoch press actually be helping Ed Miliband?


Rupert Murdoch is possibly the most powerful propagandist in the world. Every UK Prime Minister since 1979 has prostrated themselves at his feet in the hope of approval in his mass circulation propaganda rags. 

Perhaps some of our leaders have been more willing than others to push the Murdoch approved right-wing economic agenda of privatisation of public property, financial sector deregulation, tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich and attacks on the labour rights of the poor and ordinary, but they've all adopted Murdoch approved right-wing economics and sucked up to him for the approval they think they need in order to achieve political power.

It's already absolutely clear that despite Ed Miliband's feeble efforts to suck up to Rupert Murdoch by doing a spot of free advertising for the S*n, Murdoch absolutely loathes him and wants to see David Cameron back in power. In fact Murdoch despises Ed Miliband so much that he has berated his S*n employees on several occasions for not doing enough to ensure that David Cameron and the Tories win the 2015 General Election.

This pressure from above has led to ever more extreme hatchet jobs and outlandishly biased election coverage in the Murdoch press. The odd thing is that since Murdoch began putting the pressure on his employees to attack Ed Miliband as much as possible, Miliband's approval ratings have improved dramatically from unbelievably appalling (between minus 40 and minus 56) for the last 6 months to just plain bad (minus 18 in April 2015).

The problem for Murdoch is that years of anti-Labour propaganda must have already convinced almost all of the people who are credulous enough to rote learn their opinions from the S*n into thinking they need to go and vote for the party of wealth and privilege in order to keep Ed Miliband from borrowing too much money (even though the party of wealth and privilege has actually created more new public debt in just five years than every Labour government in history combined), so it doesn't really matter how much his employees up the anti-Miliband propaganda now; the gullible will have already been convinced, and anyone who is reasonably fair minded and capable of using a little critical judgement on what they read must be pretty unimpressed with the extraordinarily biased political coverage they're seeing in the S*n these days.

Perhaps Ed Miliband's personal approval recovery has less to do with the extreme bias of the Murdoch press and more to do with his own half-decent performances in the pre-election debates and the fact that David Cameron has exposed himself as a coward who is terrified of open debate whose only retort to any kind of question is a red-faced temper tantrum of angry rhetoric? I don't suppose that it's possible to know for sure whether the egregiousness of the bias in Murdoch's rags is contributing to Miliband's approval rating recovery, it just makes an interesting reverse correlation.


You don't have to be a Labour Party supporter (I'm certainly not a fan of right-wing economics hidden behind pseudo-socialist window dressingto see that Ed Miliband is the lesser of two evils when it comes to who the next Prime Minister might be, and that the more extreme the political bias in the S*n, the more fair-minded people are likely to conclude that if Rupert Murdoch and his cronies hate Ed Miliband so much, there must be something half-decent about him after all. 


 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.







MORE ARTICLES FROM
 ANOTHER ANGRY VOICE 
                 
The decline in political participation and the rise of the non-traditional parties
                                       
The terrifying scale of political illiteracy in the UK
                
The myth of right-wing patriotism
                         
How George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
                        
Recommended reading - heterodox economics
           
Why 73% of UKIP supporters should actually vote Green
                     
12 things you should know about the 2014 European elections
                                                
The Tory PCC election farce
                            

Monday, April 13, 2015

Why not voting is such a pitifully ineffective form of protest


Of the most commonly recurring themes that keeps popping up in the comments sections beneath my work,  the "if only everyone stopped voting ..." type is probably the most infuriating. The reason that I find these appeals for people to "just stop voting" so infuriating is that not voting is just about the most blatantly ineffective form of political protest imaginable.

I strongly believe in freedom of speech so I never delete comments from my Facebook page or politics blog simply because I disagree with them, so this article is intended as a riposte to those who take advantage of my anti-censorship stance to use my work as a platform to promote their "just stop voting" agenda.

The first and most obvious reason that not voting is such a feeble form of protest is that the result is totally indistinguishable from total apathy. If the opponent of the political status quo does exactly the same form of non-action as the hopelessly apathetic fool who doesn't care a jot about who rules over their lives or how the political system is structured, then how is it even possible to tell how many of those non-votes are ill-conceived protests and how many are manifestations of sheer apathy?


The "just stop voting" advocate will often try to claim that if enough of us stopped voting then the election results would become illegitimate through lack of participation. Without explaining the mechanism by which the Westminster establishment parties would be removed from power after a mass non-vote, and without explaining what the system would be replaced with in the short-term, the 
"just stop voting" advocate is promoting a sheer fantasy. If they want us to believe that not voting is a sensible form of protest, the onus is on them to explain the mechanism by which the government is replaced with something better as a result of simply not voting. 

The idea that the Westminster establishment would just give up their grip on power if enough of us refused to vote is hopelessly naive because not only does it fail to explain the actual mechanism by which the election results would be rendered void, it also ignores the very real precedent set by the farcical 2012 PCC elections, which had an average turnout of just 15%, and in several regions (Hampshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Surrey, Norfolk, Humberside, Cumbria & Lincolnshire) the winning candidate garnered less than 5% of the eligible vote! Did any of these new PCCs refuse to accept their £65,000 - £85,000 per year jobs because of a lack of political mandate? Of course they bloody didn't!

If 99.2% of us stopped voting, then it's absolutely clear that the 0.8% of us who are actually members of the three Westminster establishment parties would continue voting for themselves, and the rest of us would simply be dismissed as not caring about politics enough to even bother.

It is also obvious that not voting is an ineffective protest because it simply increases the political power of those who do choose to vote. If the majority of people who oppose the system choose to not vote, those who support the system will be at an obvious electoral advantage. 
Some 40% of the electorate are political tribalists who will always vote for their favoured Westminster establishment party, so if 35% of the public refuse to vote then it's obvious that they are essentially condemning the rest of us to perpetual Westminster establishment rule. 

Not voting is also a very good way of ensuring that unpopular extremists manage to get into power. A good example of this is the way that UKIP managed to become the biggest UK party in the European parliament after winning just 9% of the eligible vote. The remarkable thing about this victory for UKIP is that for every person who voted UKIP another seven didn't bother to vote at all! 
If just one in six of the non-voters had voted for a genuine political alternative, then the election wouldn't have been won by a Tory Trojan Horse political party pushing a "more-of-the-same, but even harder" right-wing economic agenda.

It turns out that people who go around telling others to "just stop voting" are actually useful idiots who are of great use to the Westminster establishment parties (and to extremists like UKIP) because without this propaganda war against political participation, far more politically disillusioned people would actually vote against the Westminster establishment rather than implicitly supporting them through non-participation.

If we despise the current political system, then surely it is better to find a political party that is proposing to change the system, than to simply abstain and actually increase the chances that things will stay pretty much exactly as they are. 


If we want change, we've got to do like the Scottish, and actually vote against the Westminster establishment parties. However it is possible that there are simply no decent candidates in our particular constituency offering a better alternative than the status quo. In this kind of case it's really important that people at least turn out on polling day in order to submit a blank or spoiled ballot paper so that their protests are actually distinguishable from outright political apathy.

Whether you want to oppose the Westminster establishment by supporting a smaller political party that wants to reform the political system, or oppose the political system by voting "none of the above" by submitting a spoiled ballot paper, it's really important that you make sure that you are registered to vote. If you don't even bother to register to vote, your ill-conceived protest is going to be totally indistinguishable from complete political apathy.


Follow this link to register to vote. It only takes a few minutes.

Conclusion


The fact that people hijack my work to promote their ridiculous "just stop voting" agenda is bad enough because it is such a pathetically ineffective form of protest, but to promote a form of protest that is completely indistinguishable from complete apathy beneath the work of someone who is passionate about political reform is deeply disrespectful.

If people really feel the need to "protest" by not voting, then that's fair enough, but to actually propagandise for others to join them in this bizarrely ineffective form of protest beneath the work of a guy who believes in doing everything possible to achieve political change, well that's completely out of order. 



 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.