Bias?…in the entertainment news?

austerityThere is an ongoing debate about the nature of bias in the news.
Some people actually believe that their favourite news source (paper, TV channel, web site) is not biased – that it has some objectivity.
Others know that this is a laughable idea based on the reader/viewer’s own cognitive bias.

Nothing seems to kick up my twitter friends so much at the moment as the perceived bias of the BBC News.

Many people are posting their disgust at the absence of coverage of their demonstrations, or perhaps of how biased the coverage of Prime Minister’s questions is, and they are often exaggerating or quite wrong about this…jumping on a bandwagon without examining the evidence.

Likewise some staunch defenders of the BBC seem to obsess about ridiculing these exaggerations and blanket statements dismissing them as “lazy memes” yet also avoiding the evidence of a long running bias, and more recent abject stance towards the Overton Window the BBC itself helped to move to the right.
Paul Mason has highlighted this following his being “eased out” of Newsnight for stepping outside the window to the centre left.
This is all arguable – and ripe for better debate – what it is not, is dismissable. Unless of course you are part of the group that wants to maintain the status quo and the position of that damn Overton window.

To help illustrate where some of the reality lies I take you back to my own experience of being a freelance sound recordist for both Channel 4 and BBC news during the miners strike of 1984. From the safe distance of over thirty years, some of the bias has now been quietly admitted to.

Take an example of picture editing, of which I was a first hand witness, that got the miners at Port Talbot steelworks picket justifiably riled. So frequently did editors decide to belittle miners and big up the police that they turned an HTV emblazoned Volvo upside down as it sat up the lane from a miners family support meeting in the Valleys.

For those unfamiliar with the strike and Thatcher’s determination to destroy the union that had previously humiliated a conservative government, -a tiny bit of background to just one month in South Wales:
At the height of the strike in South Wales an idiot strike supporter dropped a rock from a motorway bridge on a “scab’s taxi”. It killed the driver. This was a disaster for those two individuals and their families, and a shame and hammer blow to the miners, tarred with the brush of that one man’s insane act. The media quite rightly gave the incident massive coverage.

Some weeks later, me with the picket strictly limited to 6 people allowed big lorryanywhere near the steelworks gates, I was pointing my mic at these massive lorries bringing in coal to beat the strike – (not these actual lorries – much older ones)
The M4 convoys had police protection on a large scale, but most had no tax discs, many had bald tyres, and all of them enjoyed swerving at speed to make the pickets jump out of the road.

The police did their best to stop us filming this for C4 news. They got in the way as soon as we focused on the lorries windscreens (they had just heard the pickets shouting “SHOW THEY HAVEN’T GOT TAX DISCS”).
Then we were deemed to be inflating the picket number above 6 so we were forced to leave (camera, sound and director somehow counted as pickets).
But S4C showed our footage at least – of these terrifyingly fast moving huge lorries swinging past the pickets – as part of their news coverage.

HTV on the  other hand were also covering the strike at that time. The HTV footage of the road-illegal lorries was shot from a different spot.
This one.
motorway bridgeNice and safe for the camera crew, easy lunching nearby…
The difference was dramatic and I suggest it was not some random decision to use the POV of someone who had dropped a rock killing a taxi driver. It very neatly made the lorries and their drivers look like potential victims.

So before any commentary is added, without any sharp interviews, the scene is already set by the imagery of nominally the same event.
“Photographs don’t lie? – nothing lies so effectively.

Orgreave_faceoffThis well known image is taken from Orgreave. It unwittingly reflects an early reality from the strike.
Initially local police did the policing of the pickets, including in South Wales where the Valleys loyalty meant that the police would not arrest or assault their mates and neighbours in the NUM for no reason, they policed the picketing as per the law but would not go further.
This was not helping Maggie and the establishment objective – to destroy the power of the unions and do it by crushing the miners. So they introduced new laws and practices. Infamously they made “suspicion of travelling to a picket line not of that person’s employment base” an arrestable offence.
This law was written in such a way as to be a licence to prevent any car travel,
(many police states stop short of writing that power into law).

They also did another thing that the news media never reported. They moved police forces from one area to another – so Yorkshire police were camped in South Wales, Notts Police in Yorkshire, and so on. This broke the loyalty to geographic worker community and made the police feel like advance brigades in a war.

The BBC news showed the infamous “Orgreave riots” in their main bulletins as miners throwing rocks and attacking static lines of police and police on horseback – then, the police on horseback charging back. That little “slip” of an edit helped shape the public opinion of miners as scum who attack policemen whilst speech editing helped show Scargill as their raucous Marxist leader.

The reality of Orgreave was the other way round.
The police charged a peaceful static line of miners and they then charged back.

orgreaveThis photograph did not make the news mainstream channels at the time. It shows a photographer being attacked as part of that police charge.

No outrage from the BBC?
Of course not, they had already towed Maggie’s line with the shameless editing and much more. To go back on their version of events would make them look self contradictory and ridiculous. So even sympathetic journalists in the know stayed quiet, just let it ride.

Back to the present day and people wanting to disect bias in the BBC coverage can focus on (just for example) Laura Kuennsberg, James Landale or Nick Robinson patronisingly sneering at Jeremy Corbyn or sycophantically interviewing their mate, David Cameron in his kitchen.

Looking at their linked Wikipedia profiles – Isn’t it strange how none of them have ever been in poverty, had to get their nails dirty, fight for union rights, or budget in order to buy a pint of milk? Instead they have been cosseted in a path of privately schooled entitlement, that holds the promise of a place in the Lords or at least a major gong.
Hard to see Paul Mason as anything other than a temporary “token northerner” gesture in that line up isn’t it?

This is not new.
BBC News is not, and never has been, about “truth”…
(though some of course must be used)
No one wants the truth – including you. That would be way too uncomfortable, messy and loose ended…no, we want our news to keep us all on the level path.
The TV news is part of a system of entertainment under the guiding control of the establishment (which includes Labour governments) and has been since its inception.

And congratulations if you know who these people are and what connects them:-
Joseph Albert Pease, 1st Baron Gainford
George Herbert Hyde Villiers, 6th Earl of Clarendon
John Henry Whitley
William Clive Bridgeman, 1st Viscount Bridgeman
Ronald Collet Norman
Sir Allan Powell
Philip Inman, 1st Baron Inman
Ernest Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe
Sir Alexander Cadogan
Sir Arthur Fforde
Sir James Fitzjames Duff
Norman Craven Brook, 1st Baron Normanbrook
Lord Hill of Luton
Sir Michael Swann
George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe
Stuart Young
Marmaduke Hussey, Baron Hussey of North Bradley
Sir Christopher Bland
Gavyn Davies
Lord Ryder
Lord Michael Grade

Yes, that’s right – it’s a game of spot the blue collar worker,
the blue party member
and the team of blue blooded, establishment protecting, board of governorship chairs of the BBC since 1930.
Gavyn Davies is highlighted as an exception because as a multi-millionaire he was surprisingly more Left wing friendly than most, and resigned after the Hutton enquiry was used to bring the BBC back to heel, (and how that has succeeded!), after it dared to criticise the Blair government for possibly “causing the death by suicide” of David Kelly for trying to reveal the truth about war-based Blairism.

It isn’t about Party bias!
The establishment has successfully pulled the two longest running Labour governments in my lifetime to heel. They spied on Wilson to the point of sending him into a paranoid state, and they successfully turned Blair into a privatisation and greed-friendly true blue (and now advisor to David Cameron). The establishment:
you may be sick of hearing the word and unable to truly define it, but whatever it is, it is always seeking to remain in control, always wanting to win more, always in power, and always playing the little people off against each other…

The BBC not biased?
bury another miner – he’s got balls on.




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Ever since I was a little person…

.genderqueer..I have accepted some norms and questioned others.
Throughout my childhood I remember several occasions when I pondered what it meant to be a boy or a girl. I was very clearly pronounced to be a boy and I played happily with many boys and girls – one of those girls becoming my best friend, a girl-friend.

I also remember, now just through a photograph, a scene of me dressed as a girl, sheepishly holding my sister’s hand, knowing that she really wanted me to be a sister – not a cis-ter.

I somehow knew then, that I could not be what she wanted, but as time went by I also questioned whether I could be the male that everyone else seemed to want me to be…I slowly accepted maleness because it was easy, perhaps my dominant side, and allowed me to join the better-off club. By aged fourteen I could clearly tell that boys had a much easier life than girls, and yet I longed to get back to that world where my girl-friend, Jane, and I could play trains, and all sorts of games, indoor and outdoor, kiss on the swing, and for it to be completely unimportant what society, or our genitalia said we should be…

When I moved to Aylesbury, boyorgirlaged sixteen, and wanted desperately to fit in to a new school, I was so grateful when Adrian Needs asked if I wanted to go to the Friars club the next Saturday. I had no idea what this club was, or what music act the 80 pence would allow me to see, but I was in “the club”, with “the hip boys” from school.

To say that seeing David Bowie was life changing would be an understatement. It was not just me that felt the ground shift, most of my new friends at the Sir Henry Floyd School also appeared to be a bit liberated by this charismatic star who was delightfully crossing the gender boundaries and powerfully OK about it.  We were all immediate members of the unofficial Bowie fan club.

Fast forward past the years of film business work, (& more Bowie gigs), the separation from gender-fluidity as an ideal that developed from work in the film business, and we get to the subsequent brushes with the issues of sexuality and fluidity that sometimes seemed to fill the social work training course.

One woman, Jacqui Jabloui, the director of Cardiff MIND, opened (or reopened) the eyes of many of us with her tutorial group course on the nature of sexuality. I realised when we we were asked to stand on an imaginary line, between the poles of being 100% straight all my lifetime, and 100% gay all my lifetime… that I was nearer the pole of 100% straight than to the centre line, but that I had moved up and down between those two points ever since I was a baby.

This set in motion a determination that my children (then less than 1 year and unborn) would never be forced by us as parents to be one way or another…

Now I sit in my room, having read the debates about male/female/other – Germaine Greer’s frightened feminist arguments, that trans people apparently threaten to spoil…
I am not “found”,
I have not “completed a journey”
and I am not trans, being quite comfortable in my male skin after all these 60 years…
what I am is fascinated
and determined to support the idea that a genderqueer world would be the best world.
When CN Lester was on Newsnight and told “…you were born a woman..”
and replied, “No, I was born a baby”, my heart soared with recognition.
That is what I was born, what we are all born.
I have no desire to force people into being of a different gender identity to that which they own, but…
does it not strike you as possible, that we do not need to separate people by these gender definitions?
The feeling I get, of a glimpse of human unity, when discussing any topic with people who describe themselves as somewhere in the movement for gender fluidity and trans liberation, is such a good one.
I can sympathise with women like Germaine Greer who have fought a long hard battle for a more solid defence of female status. It has often been the case that equality battles have foundered on race/culture, other oppressed group’s overlapping political issues, but I cannot go along with the notion that it is equality that is under threat from trans people lobbying about being able to choose unisex toileting facilities.

There was a private club in Newport, exilio-gay-clubthe Speakeasy, which was in the basement from the Stowaway club, where I took my best punk band photographs back in the late 70s. The owners always invited me and the bands down for a drink after the gig had finished and the Punk punters were all leaving. It was notable that Siouxsie Sioux was one of the few band visitors who was instantly at home down there.

The club was a gay club, yes, but among the transvestites and all others (all of us using the one, unisex toilet), I got to know a couple who had been together for 8 years, 4 of these as a gay male couple, and now as a straight couple, (their words),
but unable to get married – because Julie’s sex change operation did not allow her legal recognition as a woman.
I joked that since this was a gay club they shouldn’t even be members any more.
We laughed.
What a ridiculous idea…


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Remarkable judgement

savileSwiftly following the exposure of David Cameron as someone who avoids questions about his destruction of the NHS by saying he has some expensive suits, we have had the report on the Savile affair within the BBC.
The squirming has been palpable on the radio airwaves.

When it comes to being judgemental, my mother, who recently celebrated her 90th birthday, was one of the least negative people I have ever met.
Us boys might be discussing some foul dictator or despotic politician and she would almost always come out with a line about , “I’m sure he has some good points…”,
She was very patient and loving towards the wide range of tramps, pontificators, ladies with hats, schizophrenics, snobs and idiots, that are a huge part of vicarage life.
And today we have heard how people failed to realise that Jimmy Savile was a monster in foul clothing – The BBC culture is blamed and yet even our former prime minister Margaret Thatcher saw fit to invite him for Christmas with her family 11 times.

and yet…
it took my mum just 15 seconds of contact with him at a big fete in 1970 where she was one of the volunteers, for her to change the mood of the ladies from the church. One had asked her what was her impression of the man after he had kissed her hand as he went around the stalls and she immediately said, “Disgusting man, horrible and soulless”, I remember it so well because it was incredibly shocking to hear her speak with such vehemence about anything – certainly not about another human being.

The nation is currently being led by a Tory who worshipped Maggie,  one with less intelligence and understanding of international politics – and even worse judgement of character. The destruction of our institutions and greedy theft of money from the poor to give to the rich is happening because we have allowed elitist snobs with a sense of entitlement to fulfil their fascistic fantasies.

My mother was sure that some really nice people went to Eton – and she was probably right –
I still say we should burn it to the ground
and be harshly judgemental of a group of people more disgusting and ten times more damaging than Jimmy Savile.

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Forgiving abusers?

prayinghandsThis is something I normally do not consider, since my professional and personal inclinations are to concentrate entirely on the needs of victims.
But there are several different types of abuse, and let’s start by saying, here and now, this is a look at abuse of position.

In any relationship with a power imbalance, whether domestic, managerial, adult/child, wealth/poverty or other, the possibility of abuse is always there and is always one of power abused.

When it comes to social work and other jobs in the civil service, if an older powerful man with the gift of offering a job, texts suggestions that she might enjoy a good spanking, to a teenage job applicant, it’s fairly clear what must happen. They have to be suspended and, upon proof, dismissed for gross misconduct. They are then deemed to have made themselves unemployed and cannot claim job seekers allowance for 12 weeks.

Simon Danczuk – you may immediately be thinking.
and yes, this is precisely what should happen to him as a public servant who has abused his position of power over a vulnerable young woman.

Some have said that, since she was past the age of consent (just), she is not vulnerable and this is “not such a big deal”. I’d say no, it was clear cut but, that it is worth exploring what moral and professional rules should apply to such cases when, for example, the victim is not definable in law as such. (i.e. no actual law of the land has been broken).

In social work one has a position of power, no matter what age differences apply between client and professional. It is perhaps easier to see when the client is under age, but as teachers know only too well, that area is policed – and offences punished – heavily. When an adult client trusts a professional counsellor, doctor, or priest, and that professional finds themselves sexually attracted to said client, – and that client finds the professional equally attractive and actively responds to their “love”, then what we have is the classic breach of professional code. In a Danczuk type case, I strongly suspect that the HCPC would revoke Social Work professional registration in perpetuity.

There are plenty of grey edges to this type of breach. A doctor who is perhaps treating someone who has mental health problems, finds they are drawn to the patient as a sexual partner, they both wish to consummate this and so s/he ensures s/he is transferred to the list of a different practice, so they can then start a sexual relationship – no longer as doctor and patient. That is possibly within acceptable professional codes. The fact that the position of power was what started the process of cathexis and led directly to a relationship between one powerful adult and another vulnerable one, is morally very dubious, but not a breach of the strict professional code.

A priest who counsels a parishioner is another case in point. Take the typical pope-molestationexample of a male Anglican priest seeing a troubled young mother whose relationship and mental health stability have failed, and who seeks “God’s guidance” in pulling her life back together. Let us also say that this priest is married and proceeds to have an adulterous affair with this vulnerable younger woman…
What would the church do on being made aware of this situation?

I have been informed that the adultery in this hypothetical case is an offence that warrants suspension from the priesthood, for a period of time…and …that’s it?

To me there is a much more serious issue for the church, (of England, but this applies to all others), to address than the adultery, damaging though that might be. The professional breach, the abuse of power is, in my view, much worse than that of the example of the doctor, and than a professor shagging one of his/her students.
The issue when someone comes seeking “God’s help” and gets help from “God’s representative”, that then becomes line-crossing abuse, is in so many ways far worse…

Suppose they began with counselling sessions – using theological examples of how Jesus helped the vulnerable, and his teachings on compassion?
No problem (at least for the religious) I presume.
Suppose they developed a friendship born of her desperate need and his desire and they then prayed together, and found that “God blessed their feelings”,
Suppose they then moved in together, told everyone that God had approved their union, and that he was getting divorced, and all was fine…
Suppose that this new relationship fails and the priest sees he “made a mistake” and goes back to his wife, who, in a spirit of Christian forgiveness, takes him back…
Problem over?

Church rules should, in my view consider the breach of counselling rules to be a permanent bar from the priesthood, above and beyond any issues to do with their attitude to the adultery.
But the Bible has nothing to say about professional conduct, and quite a bit to say about the sin of adultery (for which, throughout history, it is the woman who tends to get very severe punishment). The Bible is in fact, quite clearly, an entirely inappropriate reference book for guidance for anyone living and working in a post medieval era.

My own moral code says that the self delusion involved in “prayers that get answered”, typically to suit a personal desire, is not something I can ever forgive. You have to go right back and undo the deluded belief of “knowing God”, and “hearing him tell you what he wants”. Without doing that, there can be no real repentance, no acceptance of personal responsibility, and therefore no forgiveness from me.
You may feel differently?

The idea that there are priests, all over the world, pretending, YES, pretending – to offer God’s comfort to the mentally disturbed, vulnerable, or otherwise gullible, masses – is a massive problem.
Along with other forms, including the indoctrination of children into these delusions, this is abuse on a massive scale,
of the people,
by organised religions.

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The established media spin more as their influence wanes

sun o bin

Cross refer the news reports and newspaper headlines these days and it is easy to expose the tricks used to spin a quote into drama that suits an established agenda.

This has always been the case of course, but with Jeremy Corbyn as their target it has suddenly become more desperate and more obvious due to the McCarthyite tendency in the mainstream news media.
But some are “not that biased” you say, (perhaps referring to the BBC or Guardian), really?
Yes, they are.
99% of BBC commenting news journalists had the same upper class schooling as Osborne, Clegg and Cameron,  rather than the commoner’s version of learning of Labour MPs, Skinner, Corbyn and Johnson. Nick Robinson was a former leader of the Young conservatives and many more BBC hacks go on to right wing organisations as a career enhancement than go to work at Ruskin college. They have been trained, not only to keep the establishment boat steady, (which is the opposite of good journalism) but to ridicule and mock anyone who presents a serious risk of exposing the clay feet of an establishment that cheats the poor to feed the rich more caviar.

This is Nick Robinson’s school, Cheadle_Hulme_SchoolCheadle Hume, Stockport,

…where Conservatism was plumbed into the water supply.

As for newspaper barons, sitting in their tax free non-dom or private island homes, we really do not need to debate why they will do everything short of blatant imprisonable offences to knock Corbyn, and anyone else with political power, daring to promote democracy and people over profits.

An example –
corbyntodayThis story was widely reported by the BBC and others as “Corbyn denies that Immigration is an issue”..
a subtle difference you might say. But then, when the context is changed to counter this…

…which is phrased yet again in all tabloid Twitter headlines out of context to say “Burnham admits immigration a major problem” – many supposedly news reporting hacks now hail these quotes as supporting the idea of “a disastrous split” in the cabinet.
But when you compare what these two actually said, they were between them admitting that Labour had handled this badly in the past, and that while there can be localised problems, the long term benefits are evidenced and clear.
That’s my spin, perhaps, but it is closer to what they actually said than the BBC and Guardian can manage.

Laura Kuennsberg, across many platforms of the BBC this evening, sounded delighted as she described the “aghast” fellow cabinet members because Corbyn had gone against Labour policy and stated that he would never launch a nuclear strike as PM…(we knew this from day one)
“Labour could be in meltdown”, she said, “Corbyn has upset his ministers by contradicting Labour policy”.
But take in the whole of BBC interviews, including the one SHE conducted with him, and you will know that he had already talked about the need for debate and allowing different views, and that whatever his party voted for as policy he would abide by. He was then asked, if he was PM, would he launch a nuclear strike. It was the same question he had answered to Sarah Montague on the Today show 6 hours earlier- when his answer, “No” was hailed by Paul Waugh on twitter thus…
waugh tweetThe irony of his own comment “#boom” was possibly deliberate but could as easily be read as his own insane desire to blow up the planet… (subconsciously assuming his Westminster womb is spared?).

There followed a “host” of at least one Labour MP saying how they had stood for election on a mandate of retaining the nuclear force. One John Woodcock, said that Corbyn’s position, “made the grotesque horror of a nuclear holocaust more likely”.

This is an MP from the part of Cumbria that has its livelihood staked in the nuclear energy industry; his stance is as a long standing lobbyist for everything nuclear. So perhaps the “holocaust” he was foolishly referring to was the metaphoric one of his constituents lost jobs, and his ticket to ride…

They could have begun to have the serious debate on “why nuclear?” – but the issue is trickier than my much retweeted statement about it being about bigger dick pics – the fact that John Woodcock and nearly all others neglect to mention is the trade off between nuclear power and nuclear weapons – while it is possible to have one without the other there is a reason that Iran has had such a hard time from the international bully police in creating a nuclear energy plant. Weapons grade plutonium is a by-product of the nuclear energy industry – but it is only ever raised as an issue by the campaign for nuclear disarmament…

And all the time the press are focusing on spinning Corbyn’s quotes, and the somewhat tortured attempts of his establishment-trained fellow MPs to bring about party unity by… failing to understand what he is saying altogether.
The people who brought you “screw the poor, kill the disabled, close the libraries, end Human Rights laws, force the NHS to break up and be ruined, while snorting cocaine and wanking in a dead pig’s mouth
– seem to be immune from criticism.

Welcome to the transparently untrustworthy establishment 4th estate where news journalism has not only become too heavily laden with comment, it has reversed its supposed role, now comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. It has become a “sneeritariat” Times, Torygraph, Tabloids, Guardian, BBC and more, all choosing to mock the common man and posing no challenge to conventional money-worshipping conservative thinking.

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Pig Mouth Questions (PMQs) postponed

The Guardian has kindly suggested some readers’ questions that do not focus entirely on, the corruptly appointed peer, Lord Ashcroft’s lovely biographical allegations of his student exploits as an over-privileged twat undertaking silly rituals. David-Cameron
So in that spirit, perhaps we can imagine his replies…
“Can the prime minister please explain…”

  1. While some people can take drugs and write it off as being “young and reckless”, what would you say to the thousands of other people who will end up with criminal records for doing the same? (Richard, via Facebook)

    “Well Richard, I’m glad you asked me that question, and that you are clearly someone who has moved from being young and reckless to being someone capable of understanding adult matters. The adult position is that all politicians become hypocrites once they attain power – it’s the only way the powers that be (MI5 etc) allow us to keep the job at all, OK?”

  2. Why is inviting a foreign power such as China to build nuclear reactors in the UK not a threat to our security? (Alex, via Twitter)

    “Thank you so much for the smart question Alek, but I must say, you appear to be suffering under some major misapprehension here. “Threats to our security” actually means only one thing, “Threats to rich people’s money” – as such we are very happy to work with torturing regimes that makes us richer, such as Saudi Arabia, and never decline  other moneyed people’s rights to invest in our country – whether it means a few thousand plebs are killed or not”

  3. Did David Cameron know of Lord Ashcroft’s non-dom status – and if so, when did he find out? (Robin)

    “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear that question, next!”

  4. Is this government still keeping up the pretence of being the “greenest government ever” or will it now be honest about being intent on expunging all the “green crap” from public policy? (Tony, via Facebook)

    “Well Tony, you have been doing your research, haven’t you, and I can only say that the “Green crap” comment was a joke, that I never said… really, because no one was listening, and I wasn’t there, I wasn’t even born when that happened.
    We will continue to be the Greenest government ever, as promised, I think you’ll find that the Green deal and other facts, real facts mind you, support this notion because the previous Labour government destroyed much of Iraq, so, you know…greener than them and all the previous ones, Hahahaaaa”

  5. Are Iain Duncan Smith and the Department for Work and Pensions going to be investigated after the recent revelations that a coroner proved that a claimant’s death was directly linked to being assessed as fit to work? (Rachel, via Facebook)

    “I take this seriously… I take this very seriously indeed. Iain was an excellent quiet party leader and has been an excellent torture I mean deprive the plebs, I mean money grabbing back, I mean – secretary, I mean excellent secretary. next question?”

  6. Are you ashamed about listening to Supertramp? (Andrew, via Facebook)

    “Now you really have gone too far. Supertramp are bloody excellent! OK!, they pump me up!
    and any MI5 agent will tell you that this is not any more a matter for ridicule than sticking my todger in that smelly pig’s mouth”

(PMQs drowned by a chorus of oink noises here)

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Nostalgia for Punk Rock: Sex Pistols did it first I guess

My past is catching up with me on Twitter.Elvis C 1978
Apparently there is an interested audience for my punk & reggae photojournalist work from the 1977- 80 era.

Sadly a large part of my collection, including all the original negatives, suffered from mysterious disappearance syndrome during my divorce, but I had a few print copies remaindered in an old box and last year I dug them out to please a keen French reggae fan who’d heard of my exploits.
Following his enthusiasm I thought I’d add a little more about those experiences.
First, as assistant social secretary to Tony Wilkins at High Wycombe College – where we booked an unknown band to support Screaming Lord Sutch, called the Sex Pistols, my version of the story of which is in Dave Roberts’ excellent Rock Atlas (latest edition)

scan0003…Through to my time in Cardiff Art College where Glenn Carmichael reignited my enthusiasm for punk and we set up the Fanzine, “Twilight Zoner”.

As a freelance photographer (I kept the art student bit quiet) I always got into the Top Rank (Cardiff) and Stowaway (Newport) clubs for free and managed good access to the bands.
Getting to interview Nico however, was a piece of luck/bluff that I felt I deserved for being one of the few true fans in the house that night.
She was supporting Siouxsie & the Banshees who had broken big following their signing to Polydor (much campaigning graffiti of “Sign the Banshees” had preceded this), but the crowd was ignorant of Nico and one idiot threw some chewing gum that stuck in her hair. She cut her set short and went to her dressing room in tears. Cameras at the ready, I found a back way through the Top Rank corridors thanks to a bouncer friend and was greeted at her open door by a guy who started talking right away,
“You must be Pete, I’m sorry but she can’t do the interview right now, she’s too upset, but if you can just wait a bit I think we…”

At this point would you have said, “I’m not Pete…”?
me neither.
Soon, Nico beckoned me in and I sat with her and her manager, immediately apologising for the bad Cardiff crowd and that idiot who threw the gum.
Only after about five minutes of conversation did she smile and say,
“You’re not Pete are you?”
By this time I was feeling secure enough to say, no, I was just a freelance photographer but also massive fan of the Velvets and her…
She cheered up on hearing that and not long after, Cardiff friends including Wendy (left of frame in the pic) turned up and she allowed them in,
8 genuine fans in the crowd of 2000.

This pic of Siouxsie was taken at the scan0004Stowaway the year before that gig with Nico, a gig with far fewer fans, the Banshees not yet such a widely known band. Being in with the Stowaway management I went downstairs to the Speakeasy “sister” club after the gig with the band and the small entourage.
Siouxsie was the coolest customer, as the transvestite and transgender clientèle of what was a members only gay club swanned around. She calmly ordered a G&T and settled deep into her chair whereas some weeks later, a sweaty Jimmy Pursey of Sham69, in the same room, looked like he’d have a panic attack.

Steve Severin went on to use this photo for his own graphic design background for the cover of ZigZag – the transatlantic magazine that had a huge standing with most fans and music journos I knew. Unfortunately my copy of that cover and his correspondence has suffered the same fate as my negs…

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Meat is not murder, but where do you draw the line?

George Monbiot knows – the logic of a meat eater.

Many on Social media have been outraged by his eating of a roadkill squirrel, but it is the hypocrisy of any meat-eaters among that group that is truly shocking.
It seems to me we need to draw out what it is all about, this argument over meat, veganism, and morality:-
Is it all about the morality? (as in “meat is murder”)
Is it mainly the health factor for you?
the sustainability?
or the “I can’t kill anything” position?

I know a couple of individuals who are apparently at the opposite ends of the whole vegetarian/omnivore debate:
First up, a friend, let’s call him John, is an omnivore.
He loves his meat, and fish, is not too bothered where it’s sourced from, or even if it is still alive when it goes in the mouth.
This end of the spectrum I call “all is allowable”.

At the other end of this spectrum comes a former Jain Monk I met at a Hindu retreat in west Wales. His name has probably changed again by now but then he was going by the name Krishna.
He believed that we should all have evolved by now, beyond eating the flesh of living things. He also believed in veganism to the point of rejecting every purchase if it had any trace of animal matter in it whatsoever.
When he was a Jainist he had a mask with fine gauze to prevent him accidentally inhaling any flying insects (and thus killing them) and he trod carefully, and some co-monkeys used a soft brush to clear the path they walked to avoid stepping on any walking bug – though he admitted he only saw this actually happen once.

Morally the latter position appears easier to defend
Logically, it doesn’t feel as though it is sensible however.
There are groups who take it a step further than moderate Jains in believing that vegetables can feel pain and should not be killed. The Fruitarians (Virginia McKenna’s children are devotees I believe) would not eat a carrot as the whole plant is killed in its devouring. Fruit and certain vegetables that grow like fruit are the only permissible edibles – I suspect that this diet would probably lead to premature death if followed permanently – some say this dietary craze was what caused Steve Jobs’ pancreatic cancer. Most vegans I have known rely on B12 injections sooner or later and anyway, can never objectively untangle the web of moral conflict that I outline below.

I have questioned many people as I draw the line very differently to either extreme myself, and this has raised many more questions…

If your “line” is, to avoid all killing of any living animal, (sentient or otherwise) then you can only fail. One of the most obvious ways is in the washing of the face – every time you do this you kill over a million bacteria.
As well as living on your face, bacteria also enjoy a symbiotic relationship with humans by inhabiting the gut – and a dose of antibiotics usually reveals just how essential these are to proper digestive tract health. Dying to avoid defeating a bacteria that kills you is just selecting one type of bacteria’s survival over another.


George Monbiot’s position is pretty much where I sit – nothing wrong with eating meat, wearing leather, eating butter, cheese, yoghurt and more importantly, Lindor and the odd Crème Brulée.
Much more important is our attention to the ethics of how it is produced, the unsustainable nature of a meat-dominated diet in the context of world population survival, and the notion that we should not waste what we accept as an unavoidable by-product of our modern lives. We do not appear to want to curtail travel in a world where vehicles kill more badgers and foxes than insane culls and disgusting hunters have ever managed.

I agreed with a friend who said that the native American idea of “respecting the animal you kill for food” is a good one, one that involves remembering you take on the spirit of that animal. I share a liking for his idea that we could positively use the apparent cowardly aspect of, not being able to kill anything but still wanting to benefit from the deaths, to apply a simple planet assisting rule.
That rule is: After the age of say, 18, you can only eat animals of the type that you have, at least once in your life, killed yourself. (this would mean I could eat beef, chicken, game birds, mice and insects, but not pork or lamb)

Of course, it is unenforceable and impractical in modern Britain, but thinking about it, at least, should be compulsory. It is up to you where you draw your line, just never pretend that there is a definitive one that everyone can or should adopt.



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How the deputy PM betrayed the best coalition ever…

This Deputy PM “appeared modest and unassuming; he was ineffective at public relations and lacked charisma.” (Wikipedia) – but led the Labour party longer than anyone else and won two successive elections against a rampant wartime Tory opponent…

So what are the parallels between Atlee and Corbyn?

You can study the history online with ease, but I like to remember that Churchill was almost tearful at the ending of the wartime coalition in which Atlee was his deputy PM – though of course he expected the British public to rally behind him as “the winner of the war” and vote for the Tory party.

Instead they elected Atlee on a landslide, based on Keynesian economics, nationalising the utilities and infrastructure industries, and the creation of the NHS and welfare state…

Maybe they voted Labour because they understood that Keynesian policies worked better than pay cuts and union busting – or maybe they were just “keen on a change”.
Either way, Atlee changed the face of Britain for the better and it remained unchallenged as an economic method until Thatcher came along with her “no such thing as society” shtick…

He did all this long-lasting positive change in the face of massive wartime debt, a darker economic outlook than that of the period 2008 – 2018, he oversaw the shrinking of the commonwealth, an end to imperialist enslavement – but was also a passionate supporter of NATO and battling the cold war.

I wonder if many centre-right commentators, and Labour ones at that, lobbied against the naivety of Atlee and spent ages rubbishing him whilst offering no real alternative to Churchill’s history of controlling the riff raff by shooting strikers?

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The Poetry of The Donald

Donald J. Trump’s poems: trumpWorks of undoubted genius from Fox News “Pulitzerest poet 2015”
all words unchanged from published quotes, only punctuation has been corrected.

29th July 2015 “Perfect Polling”

Public Policy Polling,
known as PPP,
has just come out with a major poll,
putting me
number one with Hispanics,
leading all Republican candidates.

Told you so

29th. September 2014 “Loving haters”

Every time I speak,
of the haters and losers I do,
with great love and affection.
They cannot help the fact that they were born,

fucked up!
June 2015 “Mexicans”

When Mexico sends its people,
they’re not sending their best.
They’re sending people,
that have lots of problems.
They’re bringing drugs.
They’re bringing crime.

They’re rapists.

I will build a great wall and,
nobody builds walls better than me,
believe me.
And I’ll build them very inexpensively.
I will build a great, great wall,
on our southern border,
and I will make Mexico pay
for that wall.

Mark my words.
2014 “Obamacare”

You have to get hit,
by a tractor,
literally a tractor,
to use it.
Because the deductibles are so high,
it’s virtually useless.
It is

a disaster
“Beauty is real”

It’s tangible,
it’s solid,
it’s beautiful.
It’s artistic, from my standpoint.
And I just love

real estate.

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