Thursday 30 January 2014

The mainstream media oligopoly

The main reason I devote so much of my time to writing blog posts and producing infographics is that I believe that the mainstream newspapers are failing in their duty to keep the public informed. Instead of informing the public as they should, the press has become a kind of corporate closed ideology echo-chamber for the promotion of the right-wing neoliberal orthodoxy.

The newspaper market in the UK is absolutely  dominated by an oligopoly of seven news groups. 

The largest by far is the Murdoch controlled News UK which controls well over a third of the newspaper market and includes the S*n, which is inexplicably still the most widely read "newspaper" in the country, despite the filthy lies they published about the Hillsborogh disaster (if you read the S*n you are clearly not a true football fan) and their unyeilding support for Margaret Thatcher's socially and economically destructive neoliberalisation agenda.
The next largest is the Daily Mail Group which has nearly 20% of the market share (plus the most visited "news" website in the UK). The Daily Mail is owned by the tax-dodger Jonathan Harmsworth and is famed for its long history of supporting the fascist ideology and printing utterly disgusting bile designed to rile the public into supporting ever more right-wing policies.
The third largest newspaper group is the Mirror group, which puts its allegiance behind the New Labour party, but this editorial line against the neoliberal policies of the current government is sure to be softened whenever New Labour get back into power with their appalling ideology of neoliberalism-lite.

The fourth largest is the Northern & Shell Group which is run by the pornographer Richard Desmond, who also owns Channel 5. The largest circulation paper Desmond owns is the Daily Express, which runs the Daily Mail close for the title of most extremely right-wing rag in the UK.

The other three are minnows in comparison. The Telegraph (owned by the reclusive Barclay brothers) preaches the same brand of neoliberalism as Murdoch, Harmsworth and Desmond. It is notable for its core following of delusional right-wing ranters (check the comments section beneath virtually any Telegraph article for all the evidence you need). Where the Telegraph do deserve some credit is their exposure and moralist condemnation of MP's expenses, not that that has stopped them though.

The Guardian used to be a left-wing newspaper, but after 13 years of apologising for the blatant neoliberalism of New Labour, then transferring their allegiance to the Liberal Democrats, it is absolutely clear that they all too often sing from the neoliberal hymn sheet now. The saving grace for the Guardian is the Comment is Free section which occasionally publishes articles that are explicitly critical of the neoliberal orthodoxy (although all credit is revoked again for a ridiculous editorial praising Iain Duncan Smith for his compassion and the tendency for inexperienced Guardian journalists to repeat blatant neoliberal dogma as if it is fact). Another saving grace is their coverage of the Five Eyes spy scandal when many other publications have turned willfully blind eyes.

The smallest of the seven is the Independent, which is controlled by the Russian oligarch Alexander Lebidev and his son Evgeny. It is by far the youngest of the seven having been founded in 1986. The Independent has a history of neutrality at general elections (instead of telling their readership how to vote as the other six do). The Independent has the least neoliberal editorial line of the big seven (for example: Owen Jones' "Agenda for Hope" extols traditional social democratic values) but they have a tiny market share of less than 3%.
The vast majority of newspaper coverage in the UK is presented from a right-wing orthodox neoliberal perspective, which is entirely at odds with the popularity of social democracy amongst the general public.

The majority of British people support social democratic ideas such as the nationalisation of natural monopolies (see graph), but this is neither reflected in the print media, nor in Westminster politics - where all three Establishment parties (the Lib-Lab-Cons) adhere to the same right-wing pseudo-economic ideology of neoliberalism, as promoted by the mainstream press.

There is a Misinformation War going on and the majority of people have been rendered voiceless by it. The majority of people believe in social democracy and fairness, whilst their newspapers and political parties constantly promote the ideology of neoliberalism which leads inevitably to crony capitalism, which results in austerity and wage repression for the majority, whilst the tiny establishment minority enrich themselves via enormous socialism-for-the-rich schemes (bank bailouts, quantitative easing, corporate outsourcing, PFI ...).

The newspapers in the UK barely question the core ideological tenets of neoliberalism, and in fact, most barely even mention neoliberalism by name - even though it is the unquestionable economic orthodoxy of our age. Their tactic is to repeat the Great Neoliberal Lie, that the economic crisis came about because of "excessive welfare spending by the state", rather than the reckless debt fueled financial sector gambling spree that actually caused it.

One example of how the newspaper oligopoly fail in their duty to inform the public what is going on is the appalling lack of coverage devoted to issues of huge national importance. Incredibly important issues such as the ongoing Tory privatisation of the NHS, Michael Gove's ideological destruction of the education system, the introduction of disgracefully illiberal legislation such as Secret Courts, the Gagging Law and Iain Duncan Smith's abuse of the parliamentary process in order to stick two fingers up at the courts have been completely buried under a tide of celebrity gossip and vapid personality politics.

A great example of how wedded the mainstream press are to the neoliberal ideology (that they won't even mention by name in print) is the furious reaction of the right-wing press to Ed Miliband's pseudo-socialist plan to cap energy prices for 20 months. Ed's plan isn't actually socialist at all, if it were, he'd have been promising to renationalise the energy infrastructure of the UK and run it as a democratically administered not-for-profit public service (as the vast majority of British people would actually like him to). The reaction of the Daily Mail was particularly telling. Instead of attempting to defend the cartel like behavior of the energy companies enabled by privatisation, they turned their fire on Ed Miliband's deceased father. It takes a truly breathtaking amount of hypocrisy for a newspaper that is owned by a man who lives abroad for the purposes of dodging tax on the profits, and which openly propagandised for the Nazi party and the British Union of Fascists during the 1930s, to deride as "unpatriotic" a man who fled Europe to escape the Nazis (that Harmsworth's great-grandfather was openly propagandising for), signed up to join the Royal Navy at the first opportunity and lived in the country that adopted him for the rest of his life.

The big question is this: Why should a few press barons be allowed to spread such biased political propaganda and tell people how to vote?

The obvious answer is that they shouldn't, but it suits the agenda of the political establishment to have it that way, because the press barons push the exactly the same neoliberal agenda that the Lib-Lab-Con establishment parties adhere to.

The only ray of hope is that the New Media (comprised of social media and small independent blogs) is providing an ever larger platform for dissent against the neoliberal orthodoxy of the establishment. The potential for the New Media to threaten, or even overthrow, old establishment orders has already been demonstrated time and again in Egypt, Hungary, Italy and Greece. Another
great thing about the New Media is that it is participatory. The New Media allows us to select the issues we consider important, and to share them with our peers, instead of passively relying on an oligopoly of newspapers to drip-feed us the news in their own narrow terms. I believe that it is for precisely these reasons that David Cameron is so keen to introduce censorship of the Internet and of non-profit organisations.

Another Angry Voice is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only source of revenue for Another Angry Voice is the  PayPal  donations box (which can be found in the right hand column, fairly near the top of the page). If you could afford to make a donation to help keep this site going, it would be massively appreciated.

Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive "I'm Above the Law" legislation
The JP Morgan vision for Europe
The Daily Mail: A history of Fascism, Racism and Homophobia

Wednesday 29 January 2014

The Tory Gagging Bill is passed

Despite a massive campaign of resistance, the Tories managed to pass what has become commonly known as "the gagging bill". I prefer to refer to it as "The Protection of Corporate Lobbying and Silencing of Legitimate Debate bill" because that is precisely what it is. The mainstream corporate press have played along with the government by continually referring to it as the "lobbying bill", despite the fact that the majority of the lobbying industry will remain entirely unaffected by it. Essentially the bill protects in-house corporate lobbying operations from any kind of official scrutiny, meaning that a cloak of secrecy will still shroud their influence upon our politicians.

The fact that the so-called "lobbying bill" does so little to regulate the activities of corporate lobbyists isn't even the worst of it. The truly appalling part is the extensive second section of the bill which is clearly designed to silence critics of the government such as charities, voluntary organisations, protest groups, trade unions and religions (
(which despite the bile from the obnoxious anti-theist ranter brigade, have done much good work in promoting social justice).

The intention to use this new legislation in order to revoke the freedom of speech of organisations that criticise government policy was made absolutely clear by the language used by Iain Duncan Smith in his tirade against the Trussell Trust food bank group earlier in January.

Liz Hutchins, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said it was "a bad day for anyone wanting to protect the environment, save a hospital or oppose tuition fees" and Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) said that "We must be clear: civil society must never lose its voice. We must stand up for our beliefs and refuse self-censorship. ACEVO will work tirelessly to ensure that this Bill does not gag charities and campaigners". Others have noted that this bill will impose a massive regulatory burden on charities and voluntary organisations, which is yet another demonstration that David Cameron's "Big Society" is a hoax. If the Tories actually wanted a "Big Society" there is absolutely no way they would be nailing charities and voluntary organisations down with such burdensome and illiberal legislation.

The bill was passed on the 28th of January 2014 after government ministers carefully unpicked the amendments made to it by the House of Lords in exactly the same was as they crippled the Lords amendments to another piece of disgustingly illiberal legislation last year - the bill which led to the creation of Secret Courts in which the defendant can be found guilty in a courtroom that they are not allowed to enter, on charges that they are not allowed to know, based upon evidence that they are not allowed to see.

The Liberal Democrat complicity in this cannot be underestimated. Just as with the Secret Courts legislation in 2013, without their votes this grotesquely illiberal gagging legislation could never have been passed into law. The fact that this political party still continues to refer to itself using the word "Liberal" is as Orwellian as the decision to continually refer to this legislation as a "lobbying bill", when its primary purpose is quite clearly to silence legitimate political debate.

In my view it would be utterly foolish to rely upon the New Labour party to repeal the "The Protection of Corporate Lobbying and Silencing of Legitimate Debate bill" because should they win the next election, the meaning of the legislation changes from "mustn't criticise the Tory government" to "mustn't criticise the Labour government". 

It would clearly be in the interests of the New Labour administration to keep the bill, in order to keep some of their own critics at bay. If there are any red tribalists reading this that are disinclined to accept this interpretation, why not have a little think about how much of Thatcherism the New Labour party repealed between 1997 and 2010? That's right, they didn't just "not repeal" the right-wing neoliberalisation of the UK economy that happened under 18 years of Tory rule, they spent their 13 years in power actively continuing the neoliberalisation agenda in all kinds of ways, such as the deregulation of the financial sector (that led to the 2007-08 financial sector insolvency crisis), the privatisation of the Bank of England, blasting countless billions on botched PFI economic alchemy schemes, turning a blind eye to tax-dodging and kicking open the doors to the privatisation of the NHS, Royal Mail, the education system, the social security system and the justice system.

What now?

One possibility is that mass non-compliance with the rules will render them literally unenforceable. If charities, voluntary organisations, protest groups, trade unions and religions all refuse to comply with the regulatory burdens of the legislation, what can the Tories actually do about it? Perhaps they could set about stripping dozens of charities of their charitable status, banning voluntary organisations, attempting to shut down protest websites like 38 Degrees, outlawing trade unions and boarding up churches - but this kind of totalitarianism would surely be a PR disaster for the party.

If the Tories attempt to enforce the rules on a few specific organisations (such as the Trussell Trust - which is clearly in Iain Duncan Smith's line of fire) there is the distinct possibility that they will end up drawing far more publicity to the cause they are trying to censor than had they just left things as they were and simply accepted that some organisations will inevitably decide to criticise some government policies.

One thing is for sure: The Tory gagging legislation will not be applied to the corporate controlled mainstream press, and whilst charities and protest groups are gagged from criticising government policy, the cheerleaders of neoliberalism in the right-wing press (the Murdoch empire, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, the Express etc) will be allowed to continue spewing their brazenly biased Tory party propaganda.

The fact that the Tories will never silence their attack dogs in the corporate mainstream press presents dissenting groups with a potential loophole. If they declare themselves media organisations, or direct their criticisms of the government through media outlets such as their own newspapers, magazines or websites, the Tories would be forced to bring in draconian press regulation in order to shut them up.


In conclusion, this is extremely disheartening stuff. Despite the best efforts of the charitable sector, the Tory led government have brought in legislation designed to silence their critics. The 28th of January 2014 was yet another victory for authoritarianism over libertarianism. The country is once again a little bit less free than it was before.

The only ray of hope is that this legislation is so poorly conceived that it is doomed to failure. The best way to test this is through mass non-compliance, however, it may only take the bravery of a few organisations to turn this legislation against those that conceived it by ensuring that the Tory attempts to silence their critics backfire spectacularly by drawing far more publicity to the dissenting organisation than simply letting them alone would have.

Another Angry Voice is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only source of revenue for Another Angry Voice is the  PayPal  donations box (which can be found in the right hand column, fairly near the top of the page). If you could afford to make a donation to help keep this site going, it would be massively appreciated.

Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive "I'm Above the Law" legislation
The JP Morgan vision for Europe
Secret Courts and the very illiberal democrats
Iain Duncan Smith's tirade against the Trussell Trust

Tuesday 28 January 2014

The "Water cannons would have resolved the August 2011 riots" fallacy

This is a quick follow up article to my article about the Tory agenda to deploy water cannons against political protests in order to:
a. Intimidate people (especially the elderly, the disabled and those with children) from using their legal right to peaceful protest.
b. Turn peaceful protests into riots through the inflammatory effect of deploying water cannon against them.
Here is my original piece on water cannon deployment.

After trying to publicise the issue and ensure that more people actually understand what is going on, a number of right-wing apologists for the militarisation of the police have deposited very similar emotive arguments to suggest that water cannons would have helped control the August 2011 riots. Here is a typical example:
"Judging by the [opposition to water cannon deployment] on this thread I'm guessing nobody that opposes the use of water cannons was a victim of the UK Riots in 2011 when business, homes and institutions were being burned to the ground by rioting thugs?"
The first thing to note about this argument is that the apologist for the militarisation of the state has utterly failed to acquaint himself with the facts of the issue. Had he bothered to read the article at the top of the thread in question, or acquaint himself with the basics of the issue, he would have known that ACPO (the privatised police quango that are demanding the Home Office let them deploy water cannons against politcal protests) openly admitted that water cannons would have been ineffective in halting the "fast, agile disorder" and "dynamic looting" that took place during the August 2011 riots.

Even the organisation that is doing the most to build the case for the deployment of water cannons against peaceful political protests admits that water cannons would not have resolved the August 2011 riots, and had the water cannon enthusiasts bothered to check their facts, they would have known this.

The next thing to note is that aside from being completely ignorant of the facts, the above argument is a transparently emotive one, putting "victims" on one side of the debate and "thugs" on the other. The complete abandonment of traditional debating tools such as reason, facts and evidence, in favour of a blatantly emotive argument is typical right-wing fare. The wielders of empty emotive arguments assume that people in general are so stupid that they will allow their anger at the facile ("victims" vs "thugs") justification narrative to completely override their critical faculties.

The right-wing thrives on the production of anger inducing narratives ("scroungers", immigrants etc) in order to rile people up so that they are too angry to actually consider the actual facts and evidence properly. Unfortunately the public have allowed themselves to be played like this time and again. If this kind of emotive scapegoating tactic hadn't proved successful, then the right-wing (and their supporters amongst the corporate mainstream media) would have dropped it in favour of some other form of propaganda. That they persist with this emotion over evidence strategy is a clear demonstration that it works. 
These emotive argument strategies have become so familiar to those of us capable of reading between the lines, that we've come to expect very little else but empty and ignorant emotive arguments from right-wing types - such as those that approve of Tory plan to militarise the police so strongly that they openly propagandise for it on public forums.

Another Angry Voice is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only source of revenue for Another Angry Voice is the  PayPal  donations box (which can be found in the right hand column, fairly near the top of the page). If you could afford to make a donation to help keep this site going, it would be massively appreciated.

Note: Don't forget to read the original article on water cannon deployment (if you haven't already)

More articles from
The Tory militarisation of the police

What is ... a Justification Narrative
A rogues gallery of dodgy Tory party donors
David Cameron's austerity to infinity speech
Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive "I'm Above the Law" legislation
The JP Morgan vision for Europe
The "Protection of Corporate Lobbying and Silencing of Legitimate Political Debate" Bill
A fascistic Tory redefinition of rights

More articles in the political myth busting series

Monday 27 January 2014

Why do the Tories want to deploy water cannons against political protests?

In January 2014 countless inaccurate articles appeared in the mainstream corporate press making misleading claims about "the police" wanting to deploy water cannons on the streets of England and Wales. It was essentially the same interpretation of the same story, reiterated time and again via the process of churnalism.

When we dig further into the story, it turns out that the main advocates for using water cannon on British protesters are Boris Johnson - who is not a policeman - and ACPO  - a private company which claims to be "independent" but which until 2013 accepted most of its funding directly from the Home Office (which is headed by Theresa May) and receives the rest of its funding from the Home Office indirectly through the various Police Forces of England and Wales.

ACPO (The Association of Chief Police Officers) masquerades as some kind of tactical oversight team for the police forces of England and Wales, however it has been caught up in numerous scandals including (but not limited to) blatant profiteering, developing (or allowing to develop) a secretive undercover team to embed agent provocateurs within protest groups, promoting the tactic of "kettling" (mass detention without trial) in order curtail the right to peaceful protest, openly fantasising to the press about using more "extreme measures" on peaceful political protests, unlawfully hoarding the DNA records of a million innocent people and using £1.6 million of anti-terrorist funds to rent some 80 Central London apartments, the majority of which remained empty for most of the time.

Despite their claims of "independence" from ACPO and the Home Office, it is absolutely clear that ACPO is a Home Office funded quango with an appalling track record of behavior.

When mainstream corporate media reports that "the police want water cannons", it is very important to remember that all of these claims have been based on a document produced by ACPO, which is a private company not "the police".

When we look at what the ACPO document actually says there are a number of deeply concerning issues to consider:

Probably the most noteworthy parts of the report are the sections in which the admission is made that the use of water cannons would have been almost totally ineffective in halting the "fast, agile disorder" and "dynamic looting" that took place during the August 2011 riots. The report goes on to admit that the only times in the last decade where water cannons could conceivably have been deployed in an effective manner were the Countryside Alliance protest of 2004, the protests against the Israeli military assault on Gaza in 2008-09 and the student protest of 2010. All of these protests were largely peaceful political protests that had been infiltrated by a tiny minority of trouble-makers (and who is to say that some of these trouble makers weren't agent provocateurs - which is hardly beyond the realms of reason).

These admissions are enough to demonstrate that ACPO are more interested in using water cannons against political protests than against the kind of mass rioting and blatant criminality that the public are actually concerned about. If their admission that water cannons would have been ineffective against the rioters and looters in August 2011, and their admission that they would have liked to use them against largely peaceful protests aren't enough to convince you that the deployment of water cannons has more to do with crushing political dissent than preventing criminality, then perhaps the next quote from the ACPO report may be sufficient?
"It would be fair to assume that the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest"
ACPO are assuming that the Tories ideological austerity experiment will lead to more political protests as the public wake up to the fact that they are being shafted by the Tory party and their rogues gallery of dodgy donors - therefore ACPO want water cannons. If you're not somewhat disturbed by these open admissions that ACPO want water cannons in order to suppress political protests rather than criminality, then you must be the kind of person that doesn't give the faintest damn that we have a legal right to express dissent in this country, and that the establishment are ever more determined to revoke it from us.

Here's another damning admission from the ACPO report:
"The mere presence of water cannon can have a deterrent effect"
The deterrent effect on people considering whether to exercise their legal right to peaceful protest is obvious. If you're elderly, disabled or have children that want to attend the protest with you, the thought of being blasted with a high pressure cannon of very cold water, which according to the ACPO report would be capable of "causing serious injury or even death" is obviously going to be more than a little offputting.

The threatening tone of the report is clear. Here's an example:
"in the absence of the availability of water cannon tactics it is likely that police commanders would have to authorise alternative tactics (involving significant force) which may include [baton rounds], batons, mounted officers, vehicle tactics, police dogs or even firearms"
The gist of this being that if they don't get the water cannons they're demanding, they might end up using live ammunition on British protesters!

The ACPO report also admits that they intend to use water cannons even when there is no ongoing violent disorder and criminality at all. All they have to do is suspect that criminality is "likely" in order to use their water cannons on "planned events" such as political demonstrations.

"Water cannon will therefore only be used to respond to incidents of serious disorder or planned events where the intelligence picture suggests that serious disorder is likely."
One of the most alarming things about the report is that it openly admits that the presence of water cannon can be "inflammatory in a volatile situation". It is not even remotely difficult to imagine the scenario when these water cannons are deployed at political demonstrations. At the very least the crowd is going to chant "shame on you" at the police operators. Another easily foreseeable scenario is that some hotheads it the crowd might begin to throw projectiles (bottles, rocks etc) at the water cannons.

Essentially ACPO have admitted that there is a significant probability that the water cannons themselves will end up provoking the kind of disorder they are supposedly needed to combat.

Even from a Tory perspective this "inflammatory" effect looks dangerous. Do they really want news coverage of political protesters being water cannoned to hit the headlines in the lead-up to the general election? - How do they imagine that water cannon deployment would play on Twitter for example? The question boils down to this: Are the foreseeable political demonstrations against Tory austerity that much of an existential threat to the establishment that it is worth the extreme damage to the reputation of the government associated with water cannon deployment against political protesters? The answer will tell us a lot about the Tory mentality.

Another factor that should be addressed is the cost, which is especially stark given the fact that the principal reason behind the ACPO request for water cannons is to combat protests against the massive cuts that are going on elsewhere. New water cannons cost between £600,000 and £1,000,000 each and also have very high maintenance costs in order to keep them serviceable. Water Cannons are not manufactured in the UK so the majority of this money would flow straight out of the UK economy.

The Home Office response to the ACPO report is remarkable barefaced. This is what they had to say:

"We are keen to ensure forces have the tools and powers they need to maintain order on our streets. We are currently providing advice to the police on the authorisation process as they build the case for the use of water cannon."
The important thing to note about this quote is that Home relies upon the the fantasy that ACPO (a private company) is "the police" and that they are somehow independently building the case which the Home Office will assess. The fact that the ACPO quango is indirectly bankrolled by the Home Office isn't even alluded to. The reality is that if the Home Office didn't want to see water cannon deployment, this report would unquestionably never have seen the light of day. 

The reason for this deceit seems quite obvious. The Home Office (ie Theresa May and the Tory party) want to make it seem that it is "the police" that are demanding water cannons, rather than the Tories themselves wanting water cannons and using a privately operated Home Office funded quango to build the case that is then decided upon by the Home Office. 

Let me make it absolutely clear, if the decision is made that water cannons are to be deployed against political protests, the decision will be a Tory one. Not only do the Home Office have the final say, they also indirectly fund the supposedly "independent" body that produced the report building the case for deployment.

The mainstream corporate media response to this story has been lamentable (a lot of lazy churnalism and hardly any original analysis). The political reaction has been extremely poor too. The Labour party have been virtually silent on the issue leaving the political space to be filled by Jenny Jones of the Green Party who said this:

"The further militarisation of our police will ultimately damage the public’s trust in them. This is a weapon that should never be used on anyone exercising their legal right to protest and has no place on our streets." - Jenny Jones (Green Party)
The right wing-response to this has been typically idiotic. Some even went as far as re-cherry-pick an already cherry-picked statistic from the report - a poll showing that 90% of the public wanted water cannons deployed against the August 2011 riots - to to crow that "the left is so wrong". This "argument" would have been hopelessly weak anyway, but the fact that the statistic is cherry-picked from a report which admits that water cannons would have been ineffective against the riots, makes it look award-winningly stupid. This bizarre use of public opinion statistics demonstrates little more than:
A. The general public knows bollocks all about effective crowd control.
B. The typical right-wing water cannon enthusiast doesn't have the faintest clue how to construct a rational argument to justify their assertions.
The ACPO report also states that "no significant public opposition to water cannon has been identified in response to media releases". I'm not sure what evidence they used to justify this claim since they didn't bother to cite any, however I think it's fair to assume that the vast majority of readers here are opposed, or at least have some serious misgivings about the deployment of water cannons against political protests (feel free to leave your opinion in the comments section).

One more thing to note is that the Home Office have no authority to deploy water cannons on the streets of Scotland, yet the ACPO report admits that they are perfectly willing to "should the need arise". I'm sure everyone in Scotland must be chuffed to bits to think that a police quango funded by the English Home Office would be willing to deploy water cannons against them "should the need arise".


I'll conclude by reiterating some of the main points. Water cannons are ineffective at preventing serious disorder like the August 2011 riots, but extremely effective at breaking up peaceful protests and deterring people from even daring to exercise their right to free protest in the first place.

We have open admission that ACPO intends to use these weapons on political protests, even when there is no ongoing criminality; and they intend to deploy them at political protests even though the water cannons themselves will be "inflammatory", meaning the cannons themselves are likely to be the factor that provokes the "disorder" to be used as a justification for their use.

If the Tories do decide to deploy water cannons against the public, they're either "shit-scared" that their policies are so unpopular that the public will rise up and tear down the establishment in protest, or they're taking a seemingly insane risk with their political reputation.

What you can do

Given that ACPO have made unfounded claims that there is "
no significant public opposition to water cannon" I believe that it is of utmost importance that people who oppose the deployment of water cannons against political protesters write to their MP and let them know in no uncertain term.

You can find the contact details for your MP using this page. Remember - If you include your full name and postal address in your message, your MP has a statutory obligation to reply to your concerns.

If you live in the London area, you could contribute your views to the (barely publicised) public consultation on water cannon deployment using this email address:
(Remember to include your postcode)

You could also sign this petition against the deployment of water cannons in England and Wales.
Another Angry Voice is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only source of revenue for Another Angry Voice is the  PayPal  donations box (which can be found in the right hand column, fairly near the top of the page). If you could afford to make a donation to help keep this site going, it would be massively appreciated.

Note: I included a link to the ACPO report near the beginning of the article (in green text) but I'll link it again here in case anyone feels inclined to check that my various quotations from the document are accurate, etc.

More articles from
The Great Neoliberal Lie

What is ... Wage Repression?
A rogues gallery of dodgy Tory party donors
David Cameron's austerity to infinity speech
Iain Duncan Smith's retroactive "I'm Above the Law" legislation
The JP Morgan vision for Europe
The "Protection of Corporate Lobbying and Silencing of Legitimate Political Debate" Bill
A fascistic Tory redefinition of rights

Friday 24 January 2014

Iain Duncan Smith: Slavery and Narcissism

Iain Duncan Smith has once again demonstrated how out of touch with reality he is. In an absurdly self-congratulatory speech he compared his "welfare reforms" (which are hopelessly inefficient, economically illiterate, dishonest, unlawful, discriminatory, fraud riddled, punitive, target driven, wasteful, incompetently administered and compassionless) with the abolitionist movement of the 19th Century!

Given that one of Iain Duncan Smith's favourite welfare policies involves compelling tens of thousands of people (under threat of absolute destitution) to rescind their labour rights and work for free for his corporate mates, it is perhaps possible to believe that Iain Duncan Smith is simply engaging in a spot of "trolling". However, in my view he isn't comparing himself to great abolitionists like William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper as some kind of sneering juvenile wind-up, he is clearly delusional enough to actually believe the appalling nonsense that he spouts.

I don't normally go in for psychological analysis, but Iain Duncan Smith makes an absolutely fascinating case because he is such an unbelievable narcissist. In Iain Duncan Smith's worldview, he is some kind of infallible superhero and anyone who dares point out his appalling mistakes (which are far too innumerable to count) is to be instantly dismissed as "the enemy".

After Iain Duncan Smith's "Workfare" mandatory unpaid labour schemes were declared unlawful by the courts (due to the unintelligibility of the rules) , IDS repeatedly lied about what the court judgement actually said, then stuck two fingers up at the justice system by pushing a truly outrageous piece of retroactive legislation through parliament so that his "Workfare" rules would have been intelligible had they been written that way in the past!

After the courts twice declared that Iain Duncan Smith's Atos administered WCA regime for the disabled is inherently discriminatory, he simply ignored the rulings and continued as if the UK judicial system is some kind of minor irrelevance.

After he was rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for his egregious misuse of statistics he claimed that he was entitled to blatantly misuse statistics to justify his actions as long as he believes that he is right!

After the Trussell Trust food bank group provided evidence that the exponential rise in food bank dependency is linked to Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms he launched into a spectacular tirade which clearly illustrated his desire to have them silenced via the "Protection of Corporate Lobbying and Silencing of Legitimate Political Debate" Bill that the Tories are pushing through parliament despite massive public opposition.

It is absolutely clear that Iain Duncan Smith suffers from a psychotic level of narcissism. It doesn't matter how many catastrophic mistakes he makes, and it doesn't matter how much evidence is provided that he is wrong, his mind is filled with very little other than an overpowering sense of self-regard.

What is much less clear is the reason that the rest of the coalition government allow him to get away with one spectacular blunder after another. Unlike masters of deceit like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, the man clearly lacks the charisma to convince others of his own brilliance. So how does he get away with it?

There seem to be two different motivations. His Tory colleagues (the ones that unceremoniously removed him as leader of the Tory party in 2003 after it became absolutely clear how much of an incompetent charisma vacuum he was) hate the welfare state with a passion, so it makes some kind of perverted sense for them to put an incompetent moral and intellectual pygmy in charge of it, in order to inflict as much damage as possible.

The unyielding support for Iain Duncan Smith that has been provided by the Liberal Democrat members of the coalition is harder to fathom. There is absolutely no long-term political benefit to be derived from their undying support for Iain Duncan Smith (despite his regular displays of incompetence, malice, hubris, cognitive illiteracy etc). The only conclusion seems to be that they are prepared to actively support Iain Duncan Smith's reign of terror over the most vulnerable people in society because they believe it is a price worth paying for a few six figure ministerial salaries and the short lived sense of self-importance that comes with being part of the government.

In conclusion, the most offensive thing about Iain Duncan Smith's narcissistic and self-aggrandising comparison with the famous slavery abolitionists of the 19th Century is not the fact that he is responsible for herding hundreds of thousands of people onto mandatory unpaid labour schemes: It is the fact that the rest of the government don't just let him get away with being the dangerously psychotic narcissist that he so clearly is, they back him to the hilt and willfully allow him to continue his delusional reign of terror.

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