Monday, January 21, 2013

Thatcher's Poodle Repeats The Same Old Lies

The reaction of those instrumental in spreading the lies about Hillsborough has ranged from seeming remorse (the late, unlamented Irvine Patnick) through to a claim of victim status (the specimen that is Kelvin MacKenzie). Bernard Ingham's response has been that of the cornered rat, lashing out in characteristically venal fashion, despite the findings of the Hillsborough Panel.
Ingham was at it again last week with an outburst which says so much about the individual whose actions during the 80s warranted the soubriquet, "Thatcher's poodle" ( ).
Revelling in his ignorance & hubris, Ingham declared that he hadn't read the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report & also claimed that "political games were being played."
Clearly, Ingham is well-qualified to identify "political games" when he sees them. After all, the role he played in helping Murdoch to acquire both The Times & Sunday Times in 1981 can be filed under the category of political machinations ( ).
Ingham's charmless ejaculation of bile reminds me of what the right-wing hack Donal Blaney wrote a few weeks ago on the Daily Mail's Right Minds blog ( ). As someone who was at Hillsborough, Blaney is very much in a minority of one when he exonerates Patnick et al. That may well have everything to do with Blaney's hard Right politics & nothing to do with reality; an ideologue always inhabits a bubble. Indeed, Blaney refers to Patnick as "the Tory MP who worked most closely with the police". Well, that's one way of putting it.
Expressing astonishment at the condemnation of those such as Patnick, Blaney goes on to say:
"When I attended the Carling Cup Final at Wembley last season, I was greeted by the sight of a banner that read: 'Expose the lies before Thatcher dies'. What lies is Lady Thatcher responsible for exactly? None. The Bishop of Liverpool made that plain in the Hillsborough Report but why let facts get in the way of years of grievances, real or imagined?"
Blaney's professed incredulity is couched in characteristically Daily Mail terms. As such, it attempts to distract attention from the cover-up at the highest levels of government. It's a cover-up whose origins lay in the visit that Thatcher, accompanied by Ingham, made to Hillsborough just 24 hours after the disaster, as David Conn noted in a Guardian piece last year. The article quoted Ingham ( ):
" 'You can't get away from what you were told,' Ingham said. 'We talked to a lot of people; I am not sure if it was the chief constable. That was the impression I gathered: there were a lot of people tanked up outside.' "
Conn later focused specifically on Thatcher's involvement in the cover-up:
"Margaret Aspinall, chair of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, said Ingham's explanation that the 'tanked-up mob' account was given to Thatcher by the police confirmed the families' long-held suspicions.
" 'The prime minister got it from the very top, from the police force which caused the deaths of the 96, then went on to blame the fans. It's an absolute disgrace and it sickens me.' "
For Blaney's information, the Bishop of Liverpool made no specific mention of Thatcher at the launch of the Panel's report. As for his sneering reference to "years of grievances, real or imagined", perhaps Blaney might find it instructive to read a government paper released under the 30-year rule at the end of 2011 ( ).
Maybe we shouldn't be so taken aback by Blaney's words. After all, as someone who is pleased to be described as the nearest thing the UK has to a Fox News commentator ( ), Blaney seems to be an arch-exponent of denial & delusion, as this classic blog post from October of last year attests: .
However, it's to Ingham that we must, reluctantly, return. His disdain for those he regards as the architects of their own tragedy sits uneasily with an episode from his own ostensibly law-abiding background ( ).
Additionally, Ingham's willingness to believe any old pack of lies he's told explains his presence in Chris Morris' brilliant spoof on the evils of the deadly drug "Cake" back in 1997 ( ).
Given Ingham's , ahem, chequered track record, it's puzzling why he continues to be viewed by the media as a credible commentator, a point you could make to his agents, United Agents (email: or phone +44(0)2032140884). 

Speaking Truth To Power

Seeing as today is George Orwell Day, here's an apt quote from the man himself:
"Journalism is printing what someone else doesn't want printed: everything else is public relations."
That observation has lost none of its relevance.

The Joys Of A Free Press

In this post-Leveson age for the press it's good to know that the Augean stables have been cleaned out. Isn't it? Actually, there are one or two such stables in existence & they're not always to be found in the Murdoch empire. The People, a sister paper of the Oldham Echo, has been forced into a retraction which indicates that the bad old practices never really went away ( ).
Speaking of the Murdoch empire, you can always rely on The Sun to churn out lies, distortions & smears. The putrid old rag has been caught out in its attempts to do the ConDem's dirty work ( ).
Leveson said the last thing he wanted was to see his report gathering dust at the top of the bookshelf. Alas, that seems certain to be its fate.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

More Tea & Sympathy From Joe

I do hope the warm wine & canapes went down well at the city's waterfront today. Cameron popped by to appear with Joe "Tea & Sympathy" Anderson to help promote the city's International Business Festival next summer. The meeting of minds took place at the Museum of Liverpool. As befitting the venue, the message from Cameron (& one from which the Labour Mayor didn't demur) was ugly & brutal: the cuts will continue ( ).
Unsurprisingly, Cameron arrived via a rear entrance. His loyal, junior lieutenant Esther McVey, MP for Wirral West & champion of local regeneration ( ), however, found herself running the gauntlet of demonstrators, one of whom correctly informed Merseyside's answer to Sarah Palin: "Your cuts are killing people!" ( ).
Uncle Joe could have used the event to lambast the cuts' effects & declare that as Labour Mayor he will organise a campaign of civil disobedience against measures which have no electoral mandate. He could have said that, but instead delivered this gem ( ):
"As the first directly elected mayor of the city I confidently predict that the best days for the city are ahead of it as we continue to grow and become an economic hub and a major port once again."
Adopting the sort of rhetoric habitually employed by US politicians may not work to Anderson's advantage; predicting that the best is yet to come despite the ConDem cutters is guaranteed to invite a sarcastic Scouse response. Additionally, the notion that the city can return to being "an economic hub and a major port" will make many wonder if Uncle Joe was reading from a text prepared in 1913, not 2013.
(The US allusion is strangely apposite in Anderson's case. It appears that he covets the sort of powers enjoyed by US city mayors, such as Michael Bloomberg in New York, despite the fact that his remit is severely curtailed in comparison; a friend told me when I was in Manhattan that Bloomberg's electoral success with New Yorkers lay in the fact that he's perceived as a "Dad" figure, someone who will admonish excesses which are a consequence of civic leniency & address the city's electorate in a style resembling that of a resigned, weary tutor repeating something for the umpteenth time. Anderson may yearn to be seen as Liverpool's "Dad", dispensing quasi-paternal wisdom to his flock. Some hope. Whereas New York remains the world's most famous metropolis, Liverpool is, sadly, just another post-industrial city engaged in, at best, an existential debate about its purpose & role in the twenty-first century. )
Mayor Anderson made headlines in some of the national media over the festive break ( ). However, even this seeming warning of what the cuts will mean for local government was rather undermined with this assertion:
"Liverpool is succeeding because we have, like other cities, been given backing, and the results are starting to show in the confident city we have become."
Venture outside the city centre, to, say, Kirkdale, Norris Green, Netherley or Kensington & you'll find precious little of the "confidence" that Joe proclaims.
As if that wasn't enough, Joe made a point which would have had Cameron, Clegg & Osborne in paroxysms of mirth:
"Neither myself nor other core city leaders are denying the need for austerity or the need for local government to take its fair share of reductions in public spending. Our call is simply for fairness in how that austerity is distributed across the country."
Fairness In Austerity! Compassionate Cuts! Great slogans, wouldn't you say?
Anderson's acceptance of the need for cuts on the basis that we've all been living beyond our means buys into a myth which was exposed by Dan Silver in a Guardian piece the following day. Silver noted that the ongoing legacy of the 2008 financial crash was now presented as a government deficit crisis ( ):
"The financial crisis of 2008, which for many has discredited the dominant model of financial capitalism, has been maintained by those currently in power. It has been reconstituted as a debt crisis caused by government deficits."
It would have been welcome at today's exercise in mutual self-congratulation if Anderson had publicly & vocally shared this analysis of the situation, told Cameron so & declared his intention to stand up to the Tories. But he didn't. And he won't.
Happy New Year.