Archive | September, 2012

Andrew Mitchell & the media spin

25 Sep

Having been confronted with saturation coverage of the ‘gategate’ affair as it has been labelled in some quarters I was struck by the media’s attempt to ‘spin’ the story. They (the media) are definitely presenting the story as a ‘who said what to whom’ event & therefore turning it into a smaller & less revealing spat than it could otherwise have been.

It does appear that if reports are accurate either Mr Mitchell or the police officers are lying.

If it is the police then for many this would be nothing new, after all think of the revelations in the Hillsborough report to name merely the latest example. But given that a policeman’s notes are admissible in court as factual evidence, fraudulent note-taking by constables has serious legal ramifications. It must also borne in mind that these are NOT run-of-the-mill bobbies, the individuals concerned are members of an elite group of a highly trained protection detail, whose skill-set would, one imagines, contain the ability to accurately recollect & transcribe a recent situation for further records & analysis

If it is Mr Mitchell who has lied then he has no credibility & his political career is surely over. Furthermore if he did in fact say what he is alleged to have said then it portrays the higher echelons of the Tory party in a very unflattering light & merely confirms the worst suspicions of many died-in-the-wool Tory opponents: namely that the Tory party is at its heart the party of rich, privately educated, tax-avoiding, elitists who are irrevocably wedded to the ideas of entitlement, superiority & divine rights to rule & get their own way. The affair again throws into stark relief this administration’s default setting is to protect its own. Thus rather than upholding higher ethical standards by members of the Government (& indeed all elected representatives), instead we have seen yet another series of tawdry attempts to ‘draw a line under the story’. which merely serve to underline the perception of self-serving contempt for the lower classes who elected them.

Which brings me to the media’s spinning of the story. 

The most illuminating omission in the media’s coverage has been its acceptance of the discrepancy between what happens to you or I if we swear at a police officer who instructs us to take a particular action & the treatment of Mr Mitchell and there can be NO doubt that these highly trained & competent officers knew exactly who he was.

Imagine how the events would have unfolded if instead of a rich & well-connected Tory politician the cyclist had been an ordinary Londoner (heaven forbid if the gentleman in question had been from one of our capital’s more visible ethnic minorities).

Had it been you or I we would have been detained & if our ‘noses were clean’ & we were proven to be otherwise upstanding, we would probably have received a caution & sent on our way. Although it is equally possible that had a van been available, or the officers been so minded, we would have made a trip to the nearest police station.

Had we been of less-upstanding appearance we would have been arrested & held for a time before being either a) officially cautioned or b) charged with a Public Order offence and given a date to appear in court.

We most definitely wouldn’t have received the support of a high ranking civil servant nor the head of the Metropolitan Police.

That the media unquestioningly accepts this behind-the-scenes use of power & connections to protect a member of a ruling elite raises serious questions about the role of class, privilege & rule of law in an allegedly 21st century democracy. It would appear that the media is all too accepting of elitism, privilege & unlike the police officers in this most definitely ‘knows its place’.

Western Media biases & myopic reportage

18 Sep

Over the last week the Western Press & media as a whole gave a rather telling insight into their biases, agendas & positions they favour, in particular the in-built biases & pre-decided positions which shape their coverage of the Middle East as a whole & Lebanon, Syria, Iran & Israel in particular. 

Consider the coverage of the Pope’s visit to Lebanon. The Holy Father visited Lebanon, which if our media is to believed is a barely functioning state, riven with ethnic & religious rivalries & teetering on the edge of anarchic violence. Yet the spiritual leader of one of these ‘warring’ religions not only chose to visit this ‘hell on earth’ but to conduct an open-air public ceremony in the capital Beirut. There was very limited coverage in our media in comparison with the conflict in Syria & the events in Libya & Iran.

The next telling item concerns the group Hezbollah, which according to our media’s narrative is a terrorist organisation of rabid Islamists. The only major coverage of Hezbollah in the past few weeks has been in relation to the pronouncements of their leader on the ongoing protest around the deliberately inflammatory video insulting the prophet Mohammad.

This is illuminating precisely because in relation to the Pope’s visit to their country Hezbollah guaranteed the Holy Father’s safety & helped ensure that the entire visit went as planned. So if Hezbollah is the type of organisation portrayed in the media with the overwhelming levels of support in the South of the country why would it not disrupt the Pope’s visit? And how could it possibly guarantee that some of their most militant followers would ‘go off the reservation’ if Hezbollah are as unreasonably Islamist as they are portrayed? Furthermore why did our media not highlight it’s acquiescence in the Pope’s visit?

Which brings me to the points I wish to raise. Our media has been given a particular agenda to pursue with relation to the Middle East, especially in relation to Israel’s neighbours. This agenda has to do with the media’s portrayal of the surrounding countries &/or their regimes as dangerous, unstable, murderous & incapable of reasonable dialogue. Furthermore they are portrayed as being either religious bigots, or under threat from religious bigots, particularly anti-Israel & anti-Western Christian values. This image is definitely at odds with the actions of Hezbollah during the Pope’s visit. Hezbollah is avowedly anti-Israel, but by it’s conduct on the Pope’s visit has demonstrated that it could be a negotiating partner given bona fides across the table.

So what about the portrayal of Lebanon, it’s society, its factions & government? Lebanon is usually portrayed as being riven by religious strife & suspicion. Its factions being incapable of stable rapprochement & always on the verge of civil war. Remember too that it is this very instability & the intransigence of Hezbollah which have been the justification used by the IDF for the regular ‘incursions’ into Lebanon in recent years (acts of war if the roles were to be reversed). Lebanon has seen repeated internecine strife in the past decades, some home grown, most in part at least instigated by it’s neighbours through proxies to create governments more suited to their tastes, & Hezbollah is indeed tainted by this as it is at least in part funded & armed by Iran. However as it has repeatedly demonstrated in the past 20 years Hezbollah has grown. It is a de facto government in Southern Lebanon with widespread popular support. A position only bolstered by it’s success in repulsing the attacks by the IDF. My point is this we are being badly served by the one-dimensional demonisation of what is a functioning multi-cultural & moderate state, with a sizeable Christian community in the Middle East. 

Our media cannot report this due to their parroting the pro-Israel anti-Islam line which our policy-makers have decreed is the TRUTH of the situation.

One further idea which sits uncomfortably with the Israel as the only haven of peace & stability in the region surrounded by chaos. We interfered in the affairs of the region to remove dictators & provide democratic stability & Western values. In which case name one other country in the region where the Holy Father could hold an open air Christian service without violent demonstrations. Libya? Egypt? Iraq? Or  indeed any of our steadfast allies in the Gulf? Or Israel perhaps? Yet in Lebanon where we haven’t been able to fund civil war the people of the country demonstrated tolerance & civilized values at work.

Which brings me to a further point which our media has been criminally but obediently silent. Namely the ethnic violence against Christians in the region, often by regimes we have put in place or actively supported. In Syria we are vociferously supporting an Islamist insurrection which is more genocidal & intolerant of minorities than Assad, which is why the Christina communities in Syria are taking up arms ON HIS SIDE! Yet Hague, Clinton the EU et al are all vocal in their denouncement of Assad & their extolling of the revolutionaries. Similarly in Libya, Egypt & Iraq.

Bush, Blair, Obama & Cameron have all spouted the ‘clash of civilization’ & hatred of our Western values arguments yet they are all actively complicit in the eradication of Christianity from the region. They may blame & demonize Muslims in this regard but they are quite happily setting up & supporting regimes which carry out the very policies they claim to find abhorrent.

Yet our media continues with the narrative of fanatic Arabs, incapable of self-government without our help &   an oppressed populace crying out for our help. The behavior of the Lebanese people & their ‘factions’ during the Pope’s visit gives the lie to this preposterous position.