Friday, 24 November 2017

Power Of The Press

Some remarkable insights into the murky world of politics and the press barons is emerging from the on-going investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of Sky. It would appear we could have had prison ships re-introduced courtesy of the Sun.  This from BuzzFeed:- 

Ken Clarke Says David Cameron Did "Some Sort Of Deal" To Win Rupert Murdoch's Support

Ken Clarke has claimed David Cameron may have done "some sort of a deal" to win the support of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers in the run-up to the 2010 general election, culminating in senior executives at the Sun demanding the government introduce prison ships to the UK because the newspaper was running a campaign on the issue. Clarke, who served as justice secretary in Cameron's first cabinet, said he found himself lectured by Rebekah Brooks, the former Sun editor who later became chief executive of the newspaper's parent company, on the need to put prisoners on ships off Britain's shores.

"Quite how David Cameron got the Sun out of the hands of Gordon Brown I shall never know," the veteran Tory MP said. "Rupert would never let Tony [Blair] down because Tony had backed the Iraq war. Maybe it was some sort of a deal. David would not tell me what it was. Suddenly we got the Murdoch empire on our side."

He continued: "We won in 2010 and I found myself justice secretary, lord chancellor. Within a week or two we had got Andy Coulson on board – I think he was Murdoch’s man, that was part of the deal I assume – as the press officer. I am not being totally indiscreet. Nobody seemed bothered by it very much."

Clarke made the comments earlier this month while giving evidence to the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into Murdoch's bid to take full control of the broadcaster Sky, but they have only just been released. The Tory politician went on to describe efforts by senior management at Murdoch's UK news operation to introduce prison ships.

"Within a few weeks of taking over my prime minister arranged a meeting with Rebekah Brooks. Rebekah Brooks described herself as running the government now in partnership with David Cameron. I found myself having an extraordinary meeting with Rebekah who was instructing me on criminal justice policy from now on, as I think she had instructed my predecessor, so far as I could see, judging from the numbers of people we had in prison and the growth of rather exotic sentences. 

She wanted me to buy prison ships because she did accept that the capacity of the prisons was getting rather strained, putting it mildly, it was not the way I described it. She really was solemnly telling me that we had got to have prison ships because she had got some more campaigns coming, which is one of her specialities. I regarded this as a very amusing conversation and took not the slightest notice.As long as I was justice secretary we would not have any of this. I do not think my successor needed any promoting from Rebekah so it all went back to the norm."

Labour peer Lord Falconer, another former justice secretary who was also giving evidence to the investigation, expressed shock at the revelation and said he had been the subject of similar lobbying while in Tony Blair's government: 

"When I became the lord chancellor responsible for prisons I was rung up first of all by the prime minister, then by the chancellor of the exchequer, then by the home secretary, separately, all asking me why in the face of the prison crisis I was not considering prison ships. That was 2007. That is an amazing piece of information, the extent to which the Murdoch press was able to get, at least, for all the reasons that Ken said. Let me tell you prison ships are a very bad idea!" At the hearing Clarke also mocked the idea that Murdoch would maintain existing standards at Sky News if he was allowed to take total control of the news channel.

The idea that we allow the owner of Fox News to buy Sky News, assuming he will resist the temptation and be a changed man who will carry on running according to British broadcasting standards, entirely impartial ... Believe that, you believe anything. We do have a particularly low level, a ridiculous level, of public debate in this country at the moment. It does become ever more tempestuous, scandal ridden, shock horror crisis and all the rest of it. It would be a great thing if we could stop and protect objectivity."

A spokesperson for Rebekah Brooks declined to comment.


According to the Independent, Ken Clarke added:-

Mr Clarke said he did not know how often Mr Murdoch now visited Downing Street, but suggested he believed Prime Minister Theresa May would still be in contact with influential media proprietors. "This rumbles on through politics. It still does," he said.

"I do not know how often Mr Murdoch goes in to Downing Street. He does not come to England as often he used to, pretty regularly before, I think. "The Prime Minister, and Ms May's advisors, would tell her that she cannot possibly stop seeing those people. Gordon Brown used to prefer being on the phone to them all day. The idea that they are not influential is certainly absurd."


Clearly the stakes are pretty high and Murdoch is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. This from the BBC website a couple of weeks ago:-

Sky has threatened to shut down Sky News if the news channel proves to be an obstacle in Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox bid.

Regulators are investigating the deal amid concerns that Mr Murdoch's media empire could become too powerful. Sky told the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that the regulator should not assume "the continued provision" of Sky News. BBC media editor Amol Rajan said it was a "credible threat".

Fox owns 39% of Sky but wants full control of the satellite broadcaster. In a submission made to the CMA last month, but published by the regulator on Tuesday, Sky said it "would likely be prompted to 'review' its position if "the continued provision of Sky News in its current form unduly impeded merger and/or other corporate opportunities available in relation to Sky's broader business".

This would particularly be the case if shareholders objected to the merger not happening, Sky said. Closing Sky News would only be an option of last resort, and the broadcaster would try to find a buyer for the media company before that eventuality, the BBC understands.


We're all familiar with Liverpool still being effectively a 'no-go' area for the Sun as a result of that paper's disgraceful coverage of the Hillsborough disaster and here we have Owen Jones from the Guardian discussing the recent success against the Daily Mail brought about by the increasing power of new media:-  

Paperchase rejecting the Daily Mail is another victory against hatred

Paperchase bowing to pressure from campaigners and committing to no longer advertising in the Daily Mail has upset all the right people. It is a victory for basic decency. Britain’s tabloids are among the most hateful and vicious in the western world. They have long dictated what is deemed politically permissible – rallying behind policies that benefit the country’s rich elite, and either ignoring or demonising ideas, individuals and movements that challenge our unjust status quo. One of their key roles has been to deflect anger at injustice away from the powerful vested interests at the top, to scapegoats instead: immigrants, refugees, public sector workers, benefit claimants, you name it.

This bigotry has attracted the particular ire of activists, who set up the Stop Funding Hate campaign last year. Its premise is straightforward: if leading brands wish to advertise in and thus associate themselves with tabloids that whip up hatred against, say, Muslims or trans people, then they must be held to account. They are, after all, financially sustaining these hate campaigns. Stop Funding Hate had an early triumph when, last September, Specsavers pulled an advert from the Daily Express, a newspaper that has treated us to such headlines as “One in five Britons will be ethnics”, “Muslims tell British: go to hell” and “Britain must ban migrants”.

Now Paperchase has apologised for advertising in the Daily Mail, this hate-filled rag has the chutzpah to accuse the company of having “allowed itself to be bullied into apologising”. For the Daily Mail to accuse anyone of bullying reveals an intriguing lack of self-awareness, to say the least. This paper, whose less than glorious history includes cheerleading for the Nazis and Oswald Mosley’s blackshirts, is one of the most vindictive bullies in Britain. It whips up and legitimises hatred. It denounced judges ruling there should be parliamentary oversight of Brexit as “Enemies of the people”, a term you might expect to be bandied around by a totalitarian regime. When Theresa May announced her fateful snap election, the Daily Mail celebrated an opportunity to “Crush the saboteurs”, demonstrating its utter intolerance of political dissent.

But there is a wider story here. The power of the rightwing press is in a death spiral. It once believed it could dictate election results; during the general election, it did indeed pour unprecedented vitriol on a Labour party it tried to delegitimise as terrorist-loving extremists. And what happened? Forty per cent of the electorate voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s party and deprived the Tories of their majority. And the tabloids’ online influence is not growing enough to make up for falling print sales. The average age of a Daily Mail reader is 58, while a younger generation emerges that is well disposed to Corbynism and increasingly hostile to the sort of bigotry peddled by these rags. Don’t get me wrong: this cabal of hatred still wields huge nefarious influence, far more so than Russian bots on Twitter. Leftwing voices are still woefully excluded from the British press, despite the election result. But the corset is loosening: the stranglehold of the rightwing press over our democracy is weakening – and what’s more, it knows it.

Owen Jones


Finally, back to the Murdock Sky investigation, I spotted a reference to this bit of evidence  on twitter which gives worrying confirmation of the Establishment at work:-

"During the period News of the World operated Rupert Murdoch took a direct, personal interest in that newspaper, looking at key news stories especially political ones. He personally authorised a number of payments for politically oriented ‘news’ and checked all payments over £100,000 in later years. 

There was a direct link between M15 and the NOW editor, allowing that agency to drop off tips that, ultimately, were used for political blackmail. The sudden closure of NOW had two hidden objectives. First to conceal the scale of political surveillance by the paper, and the de jure blackmail operated by the paper. Secondly, to conceal the link with the Security Services and the Whips Offices in Parliament. 

Between 2009 and the closure of the paper extensive ‘weeding’ was undertaken in order to eliminate signs of blackmail, especially in relation to political stories. Rupert Murdoch’s personal interest in his UK media is political, not journalistic. This is evidenced by both the way he handled the NOW in particular but also in the news agenda of the Sun, Times and Sunday Times. All run a right wing agenda but more profoundly all ignore, most of the time, stories that might expose this bias and which might damage or embarrass parties Murdoch is supporting in Government." 

Former News International Employee.


  1. Clarke's reference to 'exotic sentences' sounds like IPPs, which suggests it was another of The Sun's ideas that did find favour with New Labour. It's also been rumoured that Gove is in the cabinet on Nurdoch's insistence.

    Aside from the yellow journalism of Murdoch, it's no surprise that money buys influence – it's why there is a lobbying industry. It's why Rolls Royce paid backhanders to win contracts and BAE was mired in a serious fraud inquiry over the Al-Yamamah deal with the Saudis until it was stopped on national security grounds by Blair.

    There is tendency to assume that some politicians impose policies and laws – in the face of all reasonable evidence – for idealogical reasons. But maybe the explanations lie in other motives. The growth of the private sector in the delivery of public services does mean that willing politicians win new friends and offers of consultancies when they leave office. G4S and A4E employed two former New Labour home secretaries, Reid and Blunkett.

  2. The most shocking thing about Ken Clarkes revelation is that it's not really shocking at all. We all know the power of the press and powerful corporations.
    In a world where we have fake news and alternative facts, a reality TV star as leader of the 'free world' who governs from a twitter account, and the butchers and greengrocers on our high street replaced by bookmakers and payday lenders, no one can really be surprised at the grip corporations have on government.
    It's how far it goes is the real concern.
    Will the UK become Orwells airstrip one after Brexit?
    Will we have a choice between 'I'm a celebrity' and the 'running man' for Saturday night TV?
    An even bigger concern is how do you disentangle it all when you can never be sure where the tail ends and the head begins?
    Orwell and the dystopian movies of the 80s seem more and more fact then fiction.


  3. LeaveEU, Hurrah! we Won!! Shut up Remoaners. What does Brexit mean? Well, Brexit means... Uh? Its not fair! It can't be that!?!
    **EU Capital of Culture**
    Ho ho ho!

  4. Well the Leave vote won (just) after nearly ALL our so called 'media; were brainwashing 24/7 for Remain. This means people have by n large cottoned on to the falseness of the MSM and no longer buy into it anymore, not easily fooled. YES, if we were to stay in the EU project we would be eventually just a province of the country formerly know as the UK but with all the tea n scones propaganda window dressing and YES would then become just airstrip one for the EU army et al
    Thank god we are getting out (or are we?)
    I would draw the same parallels of the CRCs with the jobcentres workfare/program, where our once great country was split into zones (EU approved zones)for the corporate contract carve up. Do you remember A4E anyone?, essentially a criminal organisation that faked documents, forged signatures of jobseeking 'clients', people jailed, suspended sentences. These were just the underling staff who were sacrificed, I feel sorry for them, it was a miscarriage of justice. Where were all the convictions for all the managers that instructed those staff to blatantly break the law?
    Data protection breaches wholesale and computer misuse act etc. Not to mention whole networks of conspiracy to defraud.
    Isn't it funny none went to jail? So how far does this rigging go? all the way to the top? to the masonic hierarchy? who really know?
    Just the tip of the iceberg of an endemic problem (then and yes now). oh and the allegations, just google A4E (now peopleplus) wiki.
    Fraudinvestigations and Allegationsfromformeremployees. So why do I mention this? well extrapolate all that into the whole country and all their offices and you get to millions being defrauded out of the taxpayer. Now extrapolate that to the other companies who were more than likely doing the same or similar things?
    Yes you guessed it Working Links was one of those work program companies. AND it doesn't really matter if they weren't technically illegal because most of their front companies who were supposed to be supplying the work program on behalf of WLs were in fact doing no such thing, just unqualified crap so they could tick box, send off forms, and get their money. I even experienced one local company operating on behalf of Working Links putting work program people with unpaid worker probationers, Yes you heard me so it was then official, you HAD in fact committed a crime by being unemployed.
    So it continues. Before that it was Serco who managed to screw millions out of the FND Flexible New Deal, another huge fraud that went unpunished.
    Now I understand these same kinds of companies and yes Working Links are running CRCs.
    So we must assume the culture of form filling, tick boxing for money without ANY type of real or effective service provided is continuing unabieted.
    One can only wonder what kind of scams are being done!
    Just what does WLs get paid for that they say they are providing but don't?
    Are the courses they provide actual certified courses? if so certified by who?
    (I get the impression they are not accredited or sanctioned by anyone, more like make it up as you go along)
    Do they claim for travel expenses they don't provide? I really wonder about those in rural areas.
    Do they claim money for their employees when they are not there?
    How many so called employees are really there just 2 days a week (alot) when the CRC says they are there all week?
    Do they claim for meetings that dont really need to happen?
    Where are the minutes of those meetings?
    How qualified are thier staff? what backgrounds and actual qualifications do thier staff actual have?
    are their lists for each office?
    Why I say this is this. Just take a look online at the number of FOIs the jobcentre/DWP gets about almost everything they do. Then have a look for those of the CRCs!
    So yes, its all well n good bleating on about Brexit but why arent you lot getting off your behinds and doing all the FOIs that are needed to expose these interlopers?
    I am R and thats my rant for today

    1. Senor is muchos correctos aint a remoaner issue.

      Cameron, Grayling, Gove, Truss, Lidington...

  5. 21.36 I was thinking of doing a freedom of information request ( FOI ) in relation to working links. What would blogees like me to ask? Can you ask more than one question? I was thinking of asking sonething around how many staff have been cut since they took over, how many have left voluntarily, how many fully qualified probation officers are there across BGSW doing frontline offender manager work ( very few ) How many cases they supervise and how many of those cases are DV. Also something around SFO's which seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. Also the question of estates and interview arrangements. How many offenders being seen in open plan offices.
    I have often wondered about the working links managers qualifications to supervise staff as if they are an SPO. Would be good to know that too. Staff question these things but never get an answer. Given workingblinks managers lust for bigging themselves up and reeling off their CV's at every meeting I have no doubt that managers supervising OM's would say what their qualification was if they had a relevant one. Therefor I suspect we are being supervised by WL's staff with perhaps an HR or business background with sole interest in targets and zero understanding of offenders, criminology, psychology or social work and zero comprehension of risk and risk management!

    1. Unless I've seriously misunderstood things, I'm afraid being private companies, CRCs are completely exempt from FOI's - this was always going to be a problem.

    2. Yes, I guess part of the corporate profiteering design was to try and build in unaccountability.
      My understanding was that if a company were supplying a public service then they were liable for FOI questions.
      looking at the WDTK website it hasnt stopped peeps from trying

      However one reply on their from DDCCRC (Wlinks naked strimmer fame)reads
      ''Dear Mr Peter Williams

      This organisation is not directly covered by the Freedom of Information
      Act 2000 and so does not have to respond to your request and as such it
      would probably be inappropriate for us to attempt to respond however we
      will forward your request on to the Ministry of Justice''
      NB worth noting that the phone number given is now defunkt.
      Another classic strategy, keep on the move to avoid accountability

      So there you have it, it seems to ask the MOJ direct, who I assume with probably tell you to go direct to the CRC. Worth trying with a tesre question at first just to see who answers and then use that for any further FOIs.

  6. oh but hang on they did respond to an FOI in 2013
    so in 2013 they were covered but by 2016 they were not!!?

    Seetecs KSS CRC says go to MOJ

    West Yorkshire CRC same MOJ
    Staffordshire and West Midlands CRC same MOJ

    So I take it back, seems like folks ARE asking some Qs about CRCs. Must be quite a headache for them to keep ringing up and asking the likes of WLs to get a decent answer
    then search using CRC etc
    However I see alot of Qs are just that , questions whereas they should start by saying something like
    My request is about XYZ CRC, what information is held regarding ABC and XYZ

  7. WTF! They are exempt? That is ridiculous. So WL could be selling CTC estates and pocketing the cash or claiming money for completion of BBR programmes when they have not been completed or are compromised because they are being delivered bynonly 1 member of staff as opposed to 2 and we can"t even get an answer? Oh sorry, just realised one of these statements is actually true!
    Freedom.of information by someone in the know.
    Q. Are working links staff having to interview offenders in front of public/ children/ anyone who wants to listen in?
    A. Yes they are. At more than 1 location.
    Q. Have working links lost so.many staff over past 2 years of their own making, in order to save money and maximise their profits for shareholders that the service is now unsafe and putting public at.risk?
    A..yes. All true.
    Q. Have SFO's increased since privatisation.
    A. Yes.
    Need.I say more.