Tory Fascist Lie Machine The Daily Mail Has Met Its Match

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In the 1930s, Theodor Adorno offered cogent criticism of the mass media, stating that it gave rise to ideology by standardising and stereotyping cultural “goods”, and it weakened people’s capacity to think in an autonomous and critical manner. Everyday life becomes  the ideology of “its own [notable] absence”. Put another way, the “news” constitutes a reification of an extremely narrow range of our human experience.

Adorno and the Frankfurt Institute of [Critical] Social Studies generally proposed that this had rendered the public more susceptible to the ideology of Nazism and fascism. The media is simply a way of transmitting ideology, and is a mechanism by which dominant and powerful social groups are able to diffuse ideas which promote their own interests. Louis Althusser regarded the media as an integral part of the ideological state apparatus.

So I had wondered when the right-wing media bullying, character assassinations and lie campaigns against Ed Miliband would begin. Miliband  has previously boldly demanded the breakup of Rupert Murdoch‘s media empire over the phone-hacking scandal. Today Ed Miliband has stood up to Paul Dacre, the most corrosive Fleet Street editor. This is a bold and direct challenge from Miliband to the propaganda of an established status quo, of course.

After the Mail  attempted to claim that Miliband’s late father “loathed Britain” on the basis of one adolescent diary entry, Miliband points to his immaculate record of service in the Royal Navy, mentioned only in passing by the paper:

He arrived, separated from his mother and sister,  knowing no English but found a single room to share with my grandfather. He was determined to better himself and survive. He worked as a removal man,  passed exams at Acton Technical College and was accepted to University. Then he joined the Royal Navy”.

In a thoroughly decent, balanced response in the Daily Mail,  Miliband takes a steady aim at the paper for running a loathsome virulent gutter attack on his father, Ralph, under the despicable headline “The man who hated Britain”. Miliband writes:

It’s part of our job description as politicians to be criticised and attacked by newspapers, including the Daily Mail. It comes with the territory. The British people have great wisdom to sort the fair from the unfair. And I have other ways of answering back.

But my Dad is a different matter. He died in 1994. I loved him and he loved Britain. And there is no credible argument in the article or evidence from his life which can remotely justify the lurid headline and its accompanying claim that it would “disturb everyone who loves this country”.

Many politicians have seen members of their families traduced by the Mail  but few, if any, have responded as Miliband has. He has taken a decisive and brave path; yet another defining moment of his leadership, and a verification of his integrity and skill in handling malicious right -wing media rhetoric. He says:

When I was growing up, he didn’t talk much about the Holocaust years because it was a deep trauma for both sides of my family. But he did talk about his naval service. The Daily Mail’s article on Saturday used just a few words to brush over the years my father spent fighting for his adopted country in the Second World War. But it played a bigger part in his life than that”.

But whilst defending his father against the Mail’s  alleged charges, he also uses his article to open a wider debate about much needed press standards and ethics. Here are the important closing paragraphs:

Britain has always benefited from a free press. Those freedoms should be treasured. They are vital for our democracy. Journalists need to hold politicians like me to account – none of us should be given an easy ride – and I look forward to a robust 19 months between now and the General Election.

But what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday was of a different order all together. I know they say ‘you can’t libel the dead’ but you can smear them.

Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in the Second World War, or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a ‘grave socialist’.

The Daily Mail sometimes claims it stands for the best of British values of decency. But something has really gone wrong when it attacks the family of a politician – any politician – in this way. It would be true of an attack on the father of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, or mine.

There was a time when politicians stayed silent if this kind of thing happened, in the hope that it wouldn’t happen again. And fear that if they spoke out, it would make things worse. I will not do that. The stakes are too high for our country for politics to be conducted in this way. We owe it to Britain to have a debate which reflects the values of how we want the country run.

With this clear and well-measured response, Miliband has set a standard, drawn a line in the sand, signalling that unlike previous leaders, he will not tolerate press abuses for fear of political retribution. I say bravo.

In the particularly notable section on “leadership and character” in his conference speech last week, Miliband declared:

The real test of leadership is not whether you stand up to the weak, that’s easy; it’s whether you stand up to the strong and know who to fight for”.

Today, Miliband has certainly demonstrated that he is prepared practice what he preaches. It’s remarkable that a newspaper which has previously condemned commentators for “speaking ill of the dead” when Baroness Thatcher died suddenly sees fit to put aside it’s faux scruples for this all out attack on the deceased Ralph Miliband, with the sole intention to discredit his articulate, decent and honest son, who has truly become a big thorn in the side of all things conservative.

And regardless of whether readers share his politics (and the comments section of the Mail’s  website suggests many readers take a more favourable view of Miliband’s proposed energy price freeze than their paper), Mail readers will respect the decency of a son defending his father. Milband’s article is yet another plain indication of what a powerful and open kind of leader he is. That’s a shot in the foot to you, there, Dacre.

A Labour spokesman said: “Ed Miliband wrote his right to reply article because he wanted to state clearly that his father loved Britain. He wanted the Daily Mail to treat his late father’s reputation fairly. Rather than acknowledge it has smeared his father, tonight the newspaper has repeated its original claim. This simply diminishes and exposes the Daily Mail further”.

It will be for people to judge whether this newspaper’s treatment of a World War Two veteran, Jewish refugee from the Nazis and distinguished academic reflects the values and decency we should all expect in our political debate”.

This comes at a sensitive time as the privy council decides this month whether to accept a royal charter proposed by leading newspaper groups or by the three main political parties.

So the Daily Mail is opening up opportunity to discuss, not to mention, re-write history. Let’s explore this further. I seem to recall that the Mail has notably disseminated fascist ideology on many previous occasions.

On 6th February, during his first cross-examination in the Leveson Enquiry, Dacre openly admitted that the Mail  had used the private detective Steve Whittamore, who was jailed in 2005 for illegally accessing information, but Dacre claimed that the rest of the British press had done so too. Oh, right, let you off then.

Peter Wright, now a former editor of the Mail on Sunday, had said in his Leveson examination that the paper continued using Whittamore for 18 months after his conviction, which Dacre effectively confirmed.

Dacre’s many hate-filled and nationally divisive headlines following the imposition of the Tory-led barbaric benefit cuts that promote an ideological pre-Victorian regressive separation of our fellow citizens into the categories of deserving and undeserving poor, demonstrates plainly that this is a person without morals, compassion or the capacity for critical evaluation and telling the truth.

Here are some critically evaluative, truthful citations from the Mail during the 1930s, and they may explain why the Mail  has been so strangely and uncharacteristically silent when it comes to championing its own “glorious” past. Never mind, I shall speak to fill the notable absence of comment on the matter.

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Some history: Viscount Rothermere, of Hemsted in Kent, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1919 for the press Lord Harold Harmsworth, 1st Baron Harmsworth. He had already been created a baronet, of Horsey in the County of Norfolk, on 14 July 1910, and Baron Rothermere, of Hemsted in the County of Kent, in 1914. Every holder of the titles has served as Chairman of Daily Mail and General Trust plc. As of 2009, the titles are held by the first Viscount’s great-grandson, the fourth Viscount, Jonathon Harmsworth, who succeeded his father in 1998 (see above.)

Current Mail Corporate directors are:

  • Lord Rothermere
  • Peter Williams
  • Paul Dacre
  • Padraic Fallon
  • Charles Dunstone
  • Nicholas Berry

Lord Rothermere and the Mail were editorially sympathetic to the [then] Tory Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Rothermere wrote an article entitled “Hurrah for the Blackshirts” in January 1934, praising Mosley for his “sound, common sense, Conservative doctrine”. This support ended only after violence at a BUF rally in Kensington Olympia, which rather forced the issue later that year.

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This headline appeared on the front page of the 8th July 1934 edition, and accompanied a piece on Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists that read, in part:

If the Blackshirts movement had any need of justification, the Red Hooligans who savagely and systematically tried to wreck Sir Oswald Mosley’s huge and magnificently successful meeting at Olympia last night would have supplied it”.

Subsequent articles emphasised the paper’s unwavering support, and on 15th January 1934, the BUF was described as: “a well-organised party of the right ready to take over responsibility for national affairs with the same directness of purpose and energy of method as Hitler and Mussolini have displayed”.

This parallels the Mail’s similar enthusiasm for Fascist parties elsewhere in Europe, especially Adolf Hitler’s burgeoning Nazi movement: “The sturdy young Nazis are Europe’s guardians against the Communist danger”.

On 24th September, 1930 Lord Rothermere, wrote:

These young Germans have discovered, as I am glad to note the young men and women of England are discovering, that it is no good trusting to the old politicians. Accordingly they have formed, as I would like to see our British youth form, a Parliamentary party of their own. […] The older generation of Germans were our enemies. Must we make enemies of this younger generation too?”

On 10th July 1933, Rothermere continued:

I urge all British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations of its opponents. The most spiteful distracters of the Nazis are to be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call “Nazi atrocities” which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny”.

On 7th December 1933, Hitler wrote to Rothermere in person:

I should like to express the appreciation of countless Germans, who regard me as their spokesman, for the wise and beneficial public support which you have given to a policy that we all hope will contribute to the enduring pacification of Europe. Just as we are fanatically determined to defend ourselves against attack, so do we reject the idea of taking the initiative in bringing about a war. I am convinced that no one who fought in the front trenches during the world war, no matter in what European country, desires another conflict”.

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Hitler and the Viscount Rothermere

Lord Rothermere had friendships with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and directed the Mail’s editorial stance towards them in the 1930s. Rothermere’s 1933 leader “Youth Triumphant” praised the new Nazi regime’s accomplishments, and was subsequently used as propaganda by them. In it, Rothermere predicted that:

The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany”.

Stan Cohen’s “Folk Devils and Moral Panics” outlines a clear explanation of the way in which the media and those in a position of political power define a social group as a threat to societal values and interests. Fanned by screaming media headlines, Cohen demonstrates how this leads to such groups being marginalised and vilified in the popular press and public imagination, inhibiting rational debate about solutions to social problems that those marginalised groups are being scapegoated and blamed for creating.

Furthermore, he argued that moral panics serve to identify and expose the very fault lines of power in society. There is no consensus, only a constant attempt to superficially justify and maintain a corrupt system of gross power imbalances and crass politically created inequalities.

Conservative by name, and regressive by nature. We must continue to challenge and dismantle the Tory-directed media monologues.

And if you have any doubts about the right-wing stranglehold on the media, just go ask the Guardian editor-in-chief what happened to the hard drives that held Edward Snowden’s very informative disclosures.

Yes, that’s the unmistakable sound of jackboots approaching.

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With many thanks to Robert Livingstone for his continued and valuable efforts to expose this Government via his brilliant pictures.

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Please sign the petition to
 Speak up for decency in British politics

Update from Mike Sivier, 11th March, 2014: Naughty, naughty Daily Mail! Miliband story creates torrent of complaints


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43 thoughts on “Tory Fascist Lie Machine The Daily Mail Has Met Its Match

  1. Good post Kitty.This sort of behaviour is nothing new for the Daily Heil (sorry Mail ;-)) just look at some of the successful lawsuits against them:-

    Successful lawsuits
    2001, February: Businessman Alan Sugar was awarded £100,000 in damages following a story commenting on his stewardship of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.[88]
    2003, October: Actress Diana Rigg awarded £30,000 in damages over a story commenting on aspects of her personality.[89]
    2006, May: £100,000 damages for Elton John, following false accusations concerning his manners and behaviour.[90]
    2009, January: £30,000 award to Dr Austen Ivereigh, who had worked for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, following false accusations made by the newspaper concerning abortion.[91]
    2010, July: £47,500 award to Parameswaran Subramanyam for falsely claiming that he secretly sustained himself with hamburgers during a 23-day hunger strike in Parliament Square to draw attention to the Tamil diaspora protests in 2009.[92]
    2011, November: the former lifestyle adviser to Cherie Blair and Tony Blair, Carole Caplin received “substantial” libel damages over claims in the Mail that she was about to reveal intimate details about her former clients.[93]

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    1. Thanks the lovelywwoklady, wouldn’t you think that such costs would teach them some honesty and respect!?! But the political commentaries are very directed, and always extraordinarily biased, I’m sure

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  2. I cannot believe what the daily mail printed in response to Ed Millibands letter. I’m going to remain respectful to your blog but there’s a large list of swear words I’d like to call them. At the minute my loyalty to politics is about zero, until the money is taken out of it I have not faith that it cannot be corrupted, but this is ridiculous. If you want to talk about unsuitable leaders I’d say a PM with a degree in Philosophy and a man running the economy after failing his GCSE Maths exam and has a degree in history aren’t exactly suitable to be running a country. The DM’s attitude is just the type of attitude that sickens me about some people in this country. We all live on the same planet and choose our homes on that, in the country in which we live we all contribute to it in some way, his father chose this country as his home and in my opinion it was his home. As for his beliefs, you don’t have to love your government to love your country and if the government isn’t behaving in a manner that benefits that country as a whole it is not a slurr on that. I’ve never trusted DM anyway or any mainstream media for that fact, because when I investigate the claims they are usually misleading or outright lies. What a bunch of (insert appropriate word her.)

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  3. Hi Sue. I have just realized you and Kitty the same. Already respected you both immensely. Fighters for social justice with a bit of common sense thrown in! will post this but am posting the second half on my blog but with the link at the beginning. Blessings fellow fighter!! Poet Warrior http://johndwmacdonald.com

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      1. I fully expect he build-up to the 2015 election really is going to be horrible. After reading the predictable character assassination of Miliband’s father, which wasn’t even thinly disguised anti-Semitism, it was blatant, there can’t be any doubt about it.

        None of us can have any illusions about the fact that this was simply a “warning shot”. It’s going to get much worse. Miliband is seriously challenging the established order of the powerful neo-liberalists, and they REALLY don’t like it.

        Hunt endorsed the vicious attack on Ralph Miliband today, I heard him say that: “Ralph Miliband was no friend of the free market and I have never heard Ed Miliband said he supports it.” That’s because he doesn’t, at least not the ruthless dog-eat-dog elements of it that we see now, thanks to the Tories, and their race to the bottom, their retrogressive policy-making that has resurrected Poor law principles and Victorian living standards.

        Conservative by name, and retrogressive by nature. We must continue to challenge and dismantle the Tory-directed media monologues.

        We need to do everything we can to continue to challenge and expose this corrupt bunch of arrogant elitist bastards, who’ve become so used to getting their own way. Expect a campaign that would probably put McCarthy to shame.

        Game on.

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      2. O Yes!!!!!! By the way Have you read 23 Things They Don’t tell you about Capitalism – by the Korean Cambridge professor If not – you’d find it very interesting and useful in your battles! Blessings! John ( Ha Joon Chang – I think)

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      3. Youll really enjoy and find it useful. It simply knocks pieces of ‘free-market’ ideological assumptions. Knows his stuff and writes clearly and simply

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      4. BROKEN BRITISH POLITICS-POLITICS ARE LIES DECEIT AND COERCION
        Grant Shapps the Tory Party Chairman was in an audience participation exercise chaired by Jeremy Paxman last night.Disaffected Tories were asked why they had jumped ship,one ex member mentioned the same sex Marriage Bill seemed a fore gone conclusion.Shapps replied that it was a free vote and MP’s voted as independents.Totally no mention of us the Electorate,MP’s are after all supposed to be our Voice in Parliament.Nor surprisingly was there any mention of the letter sent to the House of Lords signed by 15 Tory MP’s stating that they were threatened by whips “toe the party line or your career is over”
        Politicians have become too complacent they automatically rule us the Public out of the equation and now bully MP’s to conform to minority opinion.
        Corrupt outcomes by a Democratically elected Parliament are easily achieved when the heiracharcy of that party deem what the outcome should be.Shapps has also been found out to be an internet conman in his past.I have no qualms in stating that the Political Establishment is Corrupt and use Lies & Deceit to get disguised titled Bills through Parliament.The Gagging Act is called the Lobbying Disclosure Act,in essence it’s a law to stop anyone speaking out against Government.BSB
        http://brokenbritishpolitics.simplesite.com

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  4. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Was David Cameron on the TV news supporting Ed Miliband’s position on this matter? Interesting, that, considering his friendship with the Fail’s chairman…
    This is for those who don’t read the Daily Mail and therefore might have missed the conflict between that hack-rag and the Labour leader after it made entirely reprehensible (and unsupportable) claims about his late father. Who’s in the right? Read for yourself and make up your own mind.

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  5. Reblogged this on Life, Leeds United, The Universe and Everything and commented:
    A comprehensive demolition of the Daily Heil’s grubby attack on a man who’s been dead 17 years, who cannot therefore hit back or defend himself through the courts, who served his country at the age of 22 fighting in Normandy whilst Mail editor Paul Dacre’s 19-year-old father avoided military service to bravely report on show business in London, who fled the Nazis (who had gained the support of another of Dacre’s forebears who supported the British version of these thugs under Oswald Moseley) before World War II and remained grateful to Britain ever afterwards, despite harbouring grave doubts about its version of Capitalism and who, most offensive of all for Daily Heil was the father of Labour leader and next Prime Minister Ed Milliband. Kitty’s blog has dealt very thoroughly with an extremely unpleasant example of the excesses the right wing gutter press are capable of. Congratulations to her, and to Ed Milliband for his dignified and immaculately-reasoned response in the first instance. This blog is WELL worth reading – highly illuminating and unanswerably right.

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  6. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    In another excellent article, Kittysjones replies to and refutes the latest smear the Daily Heil has made against Milliband by showing how Lord Rothermere and the Mail both supported Oswald Mosley at home, and Hitler’s Nazis in Germany. The newspapers denied reports of Nazi violence, and even serialised the Notorious anti-Semitic forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. She reproduces the Mail’s infamous front page with the headline, ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’. She also quotes Milliband’s own right-to-reply article defending his father in the Daily Mail, refuting their smear and defending his father. The Mail’s attack on Milliband’s late father is no accident, nor simply a case of a lone newspaper stepping hysterically out of line. KSJ shows it conforms to the German Marxist cultural critic’s, Theodore Adorno’s, view of the right-wing press as constituting the means by which the capitalist state disseminates its ideology, which normalises the exploitation of the workers and so attacks any ideas and movements running counter to it. She also cites Stan Cohen’s work on moral panics to show how these are used to maintain the established order and marginalise and attack fringe groups believed to be a threat. Milliband is just such a threat, as the current Leveson inquiry shows that the Mail had continued to engage in illegal phone-tapping, along with the other newspapers. She concludes by stating that we need to continue challenging the Conservative ideas constantly spouted by the Right-wing press and media.

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  7. Came across your site by accident, and glad I did, this is a first rate analysis and I look forward to reading your other posts. I have been following this in the Mail comments and I am glad that it has backfired on them.

    Like

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