LTW extensively covered the recent ‘Justice’ tour, with daily on the road blogs from LTW boss and tour compere John Robb, we have also just posted an exclusive interview with ‘Justice’ headliner Mick Jones.
Another aspect of the tour was to support the on-going ‘Don’t Buy The Sun’ campaign – this is based upon the papers appalling reporting in the immediate aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
Here Pat Rodger gives his own thoughts and reasons why you should not buy The Sun…
If you needed any more reasons not to buy The Sun, I have some suggestions”Â¦and, in fact, my issues are not just with The Sun – what is it with the “popular press”Â these days? Here we are, in the midst of a serious economic crisis and yet the red tops focus on frivolous distractions such as “Simon picks Little Mix”Â (The Sun; Saturday 10th December) while the rest are full of vilifications of the poor and jobless: “1m empty rooms paid for by housing benefits… and it’s costing the taxpayer ÃÂ£500m a year”Â (Daily Mail, Monday 12th December).
In any civilised and democratic society that values freedom of speech, the press should exist to represent the issues of the day clearly and fairly, to give a voice to the readership/s”Â¦but what we have, instead, is an industry that is used to distract and divert from the real social, political and financial concerns and to stifle the voices of dissent.
George Monibot, writing in today’s Guardian, declares that “the men who own the corporate press are fighting a class war, seeking, even now, to defend the 1% to which they belong against its challengers”Â¦ reframing the major issues so effectively that it often recruits its readers to mobilise against their own interests.”
The irony is that the sad truth of this statement will only have an audience of those who are already aware of this sorry state of affairs.
The mega-rich press barons ”â the Murdochs, Dacre, Desmond – ensure that crime and anti-social behaviour are represented only as the actions of the feral poor carried out against the weak amongst their own or on the entirely virtuous and put-upon middle and upper classes.
And just as this cabal use their papers to call for a crackdown on those who protest, those who flaunt their poverty in the faces of the establishment, those who call for social justice ”â they also use their papers to urge for the relaxation of the rules and regulations imposed on business, bemoan the unfairness of taxation of corporate organisations and laud the culture massive salaries and bonuses for management.
Another member of the Cotswold set used a public service broadcaster to voice his view that strikers should be executed in front of their families claiming ”Ëexaggeration as humour’ but failing to acknowledge that this could be interpreted as inciting hatred ”â yet Clarkson gets his wrist slapped and flies to China and Australia at public expense (to shoot a Top Gear special). Yet numerous disaffected teenagers who used ”Ëexaggerated humour’ in their posts about the riots are still being processed in courts across the country.
Yesterday the majority of newspapers applauded proposed government plans to cut benefits for people in social housing who are living in properties that have more rooms than they “need”Â. The Mail ”â who featured the headline quoted above – also condemned “the growing scandal of under-occupancy that contributes to the housing crisis”Â yet utterly failed to consider the culture of second home ownership amongst of the wealthy, a practice that often prices local people out of the housing market and is a much more significant contributor to the housing crisis.
The press has a duty to explore and expose the truth form all perspectives, not just the truth the ruling classes would have us believe. The truth about the housing crisis, the truth about the need for immigrant workers, the truth about benefits and particularly about the way that the reshaping of the system is driving many sick and disabled people to take their own lives as their benefit is cut. These people, including those receiving treatment for cancer and service people suffering Post Traumatic Stress are condemned as scroungers and charlatans ”â yet the government’s own figures show that benefit fraud deprives the Exchequer of ÃÂ£1.1bn a year while the tax avoidance and evasion routinely practiced by the richest in society deprive it of between ÃÂ£40bn and ÃÂ£120bn a year.* And all this is overseen by a Chancellor who does not even pay tax into the system he controls (the family wallpaper business enables Gideon George Oliver Osborne to bank offshore).
So, not only are those at the top are no longer answerable to the laws the rest of us must abide by, the press refuses to expose the malpractice of the economic elite. And they do this because they are part of it all”Â¦party to it all. As the Leveson enquiry exposes the morally bankrupt behaviours of Murdoch and his ilk, perhaps it is down to the bloggers to take up the baton of responsible reporting and to expose a political system that has become both corrupted by and enslaved to corporate media.
* Figures from Department for Work and Pensions, 2009. Fraud and Error in the Benefits System: April 2008 to March 2009. Table 2.1, page 8; http://campaigns.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd2/fem/fem_apr08_mar09.pdf
HMRC, 16th September 2010. Measuring Tax Gaps 2010. Table 1.1, Page 7. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/stats/measuring-tax-gaps-2010.htm.pdf
and Richard Murphy, March 2010. Tax Justice and Jobs: The business case for investing in staff at HM Revenue & Customs. http://www.pcs.org.uk/taxjusticedoc