I thought it would be helpful to explain my general perspective on the media and the endless warmongering by our governments. One of my observations about many independent news sites is that while you can see much of the readership is enlightened and knowledgeable on these matters, sometimes people feeling vindicated for their beliefs retreat back to their comfort zones.
For example, this site may include many discerning ex-Guardian readers who’ve seen the light and are content they are reading articles which represent their views. But what’s next? My thinking is we need to reach out to others and the way to do that is appeal to the ‘lurkers’ reading this site. In my experience on a site like this the majority of readers are lurkers and never comment because they are slightly behind the curve and don’t feel knowledgeable or confident enough to join the debate.
So my take on this is that to some degree we now need to take the next step, gather what we know and put this is into plainer, simple language to appeal to more people .
JEREMY HUNT’S ARTICLE
Last week the Foreign Secretary was writing in the Evening Standard setting out his strategy for fighting so-called fake news.
The title was:
Britain champions free speech, so we’re leading the war on fake news’
My initial thoughts went back to when I was part of the Libel Reform Campaign about 7 years ago trying to change the draconian libel laws in England. At this time London was known as the libel capital of the world because of the notoriously easy ride libel claimants received in our courts. Trivial claims were entertained so much in the courts that the law was becoming a laughing-stock and free speech was dead.
Thankfully the campaign succeeded in changing the law. But I must admit to being surprised that according to Jeremy Hunt Britain has evolved in 7 years from this to ‘champions of free speech’.
But Hunt’s article should be of obvious concern coming from a Foreign Secretary of a state which has waged numerous wars in the last 20 years based on lies and fake news. But more of that later. This is a rough summary of what he said.
Hunt says that Britain has a free press and so should lead the way on the fight against fake news. He explains the correlation between those states which are the least corrupt (like the UK, according to him) and a free press. Those states most corrupt tend not to have a free press.
Hunt explains that the reason there is less corruption in states with a free press is because corrupt behaviour is more likely to be exposed by the press so there is a deterrent effect.
OK – I guess that all makes sense and many less informed people reading Hunt’s article would not take issue with much of what he said.
However, I would argue that what Hunt has written is superficial and false and he knows it . I believe that at many layers in our society including the media, government and at corporate level there is a veneer of respectability. However just by looking beneath the surface, it all falls apart. Let’s look at a few examples in the context of the points Hunt made:
THE PRESS IN THE UK
Hunt says we have a free press. My description would be we have a controlled and dumbed-down press. Yes, free on some levels but on the most pressing matters of the day such as foreign policy, the media are in the pocket of the UK Government. If you look at the many mainstream newspapers and channels on offer, their narrative on foreign affairs are all the same and closely aligned with government policy. Rarely do they deviate from this.
For example, if you’ve been observing mainstream media over a period of 20 years or so, you would have noticed coverage of regime change wars we’ve waged have been of omission, dumbing-down, distraction and sensationalism. And following each war promoted by the media the truth finally is revealed that they were misreporting all along.
Newspaper barons such as Murdoch have vested interests in the outcome of wars in the Middle East. Meanwhile the tabloids are obsessed with celebrity trivia and distracting audiences away from the reality of our world. The largely unreported Saudi genocide in Yemen with our support and arms is a prime example of the lows our media have sunk to
So, I would argue that to someone who cares about the world and wishes to be informed of the truth, the UK press is far from free.
CORRUPTION IN THE UK
We may well be in a league table of one of the least corrupt countries but this seems more about perception than hard facts. If you had to bribe your way through an African airport on arrival you would probably call it the most corrupt country in the world. But the league table showing us as less corrupt, I believe is another illusion. It doesn’t take much to find corruption lurking at many levels in the UK and here’s a few examples.
The financial services industry in the UK is riddled with corruption. Most of it is undetected, ignored and unpunished. The Alternative Investment Market (AIM) is a prime example where investors are ripped off by companies that list on this market and by other financial sharks committing market abuse on a daily basis. This behaviour is out in the open but the regulators dismiss complaints. They smooth over concerns raised with platitudes and simply ignore them.
The UK regulator intervention into financial crime is a drop in the ocean, hopelessly ill-equipped for the job, merely picking off and punishing a few offenders.
This corruption is replicated in our insurance industry where vulnerable consumers are ripped off by insurers and our legal profession where unethical and criminal behavior is updated daily on the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Disciplinary Tribunal website.
Corruption comes in many forms within our government and House of Commons. Expenses and other financial scandals, sexual misconduct and conflicts of interests. And these institutions are over-represented with the privileged few and the cronyism this environment breeds.
So to summarise, corruption may well be a way of everyday life in some parts of the world – but this tends to be out in the open. Corruption is big in the UK but is not described as such. Like many other things corruption operates under the counter and is less obvious so you have to delve a bit to understand the extent of the problem.
‘FAKE NEWS’, PROPAGANDA & OTHER STATES
Jeremy Hunt complains of fake news and propaganda of foreign states. It seems he’s decided that it is for him and our government to choose what fake news is and I would guess this means critics of his policies will be on the receiving end of the ‘fake news’ fight.
The reality is if you’ve been observing UK mainstream news over the last 20 years and especially recently, propaganda has been at full blast. Sensationalism over alleged chemical attacks in Syria, anti-Russian hysteria including troll factories, hacking and whatever Trump’s been writing on Twitter. It’s a complete circus and an insult to the intelligence of viewers who are gradually waking up.
The main give aways for me is the rush to judgement over the alleged Syrian chemical attacks and so-called Novichok and newsreaders presenting conjecture as fact. If you take some time to reflect, we are on a fast-track journey back to times of McCarthy. Hunt’s article simply reaffirms this is where we are heading.
UK FOREIGN POLICY
For me, corruption at home is something we have to accept and deal with internally. But my red line for corrupt behaviour is when we impose ourselves on other countries through regime change policy.
The fact that the Evening Standard article was written by the Foreign Secretary is significant and perhaps sends us a message that future foreign policy is going to be even more aggressive and dissent against warmongering shut down
We all know of the numerous regime change wars. Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen but how many of us have actually reflected on the history of this chaos? How many of us simply watch events as they unfold and then move on to the next without linking them up to build a true picture of how corrupt we’ve become in the world order?
We all lead busy lives and with a biased pro-regime change media its easy to be distracted and unfocused. But just reflecting on this for a few moments should bring this point into context.
A final point on how corrupt we’ve become through our foreign interventions is the UK funded White Helmets ‘rescue group’ in Syria. For those who’ve done 30 minutes of research will tell you without any doubt they work with Al Qaeda terrorists and are behind the chemical attacks and fabrications in Syria. Meanwhile our government and Jeremy Hunt in particular presents them as heroes.
The White Helmets through their provocations are probably the biggest threat to world peace today. Their last provocation nearly caused a direct confrontation between Russia and USA. Yet they were recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This absurdity alone should make anyone wonder whether anything Jeremy Hunt writes should be taken seriously.
MOTIVES FOR THE WAR ON ‘FAKE NEWS’
With the narratives of regime change wars, alleged chemical attacks and hacking crumbling in the eyes of an increasing number of people, the establishment have become rattled. They fear exposure of their corrupt behaviour which can be discovered with increasing ease.
In the last year or so, the tone in the media has changed to something more aggressive. Whereas before they would try to defend their narrative or ignore criticism now they operate through smearing independent journalists and experts. History shows that when those who are corrupt and under threat of exposure they will cause a diversion by creating enemies to try to convince the public our way of life is under attack.
And Jeremy Hunt’s article about ‘fake news’ is largely based on the fear that those in the establishment who have committed war crimes and supported terrorists in Syria and elsewhere will one day be exposed and brought to justice.
A cursory review of our press and corruption could well lead someone to think Hunt’s article is impressive. But like so many things in life if you look beneath the surface and connect events past and present , things are not as they seem at all. Corruption is corruption in Africa, Russia and elsewhere. Corruption in the UK is not recognised as such and that’s the difference.
Just like a controlled UK press is described as a ‘free’ press. It’s all a nonsense.
Fake news is alive and has been for years. But the fake news I refer to is that in the mainstream media and Jeremy Hunt’s article. So I think it’s up to us to take the fight to them. To do nothing would give the corrupt the excuse to clamp down on our right to free speech and in the worst case scenario start yet more wars which surely will affect us directly in time.
Kevin Smith is a British citizen living and working in London. He researches and writes down his thoughts on the foreign wars promoted by Western governments and media. In the highly controlled and dumbed down UK media environment, he’s keen on exploring ways of discouraging ideology and tribalism in favour of free thinking.
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