John Pilger: "The British people are radically off-message"

E.C.Apling E.C.Apling at
Sun Nov 28 10:30:44 MST 1999

Despite the many interesting threads on this group recently I do not seem to
have found the time or energy to contribute anything original - but, since
Lou posted an article by John Pilger, I thought - at least I can post
another! [which does not appear to be - yet, anyway, - on their web-site]


John Pilger: The British people are radically off-message, their values are
not those of the Third Way crusaders.  [New Statesman, 29 November 1999]

Steve Bell's "Guardian" cartoon of Ken Livingstone disporting himself before
Tony Blair while Blairite functionaries, their faces as death masks, shove
ared rose up his rear, was all that needed to be said.  The farce of the
London mayoral selection is matched by Livingstone's brand of populism.  The
man who joined Blair and Nato in backing the murderous assault on Serbia and
Kosovo tantalises an electorate desperate to vote against everything new
Labour stands for.  For all the hype and Blair's abuse of him, Livingstone
is on-message, bar one issue: handing London Underground to the lethal
Railtrack.  He knows how strongly people feel about this; it is his ticket.

Tragically, a principled, popular candidate standing as an independent and
opposing the new Labour agenda would not only win, but lay the foundation of
a movement capable of challenging the single-ideology state.  Livingstone
represents merely the lost opportunity.  At the same time the realisation of
Blair's coup and its destruction of democracy is growing: witness the
historically low turnout in the European and local elections, even the
devolution polls.

"Looking through Orwell's farmhouse window at today's Britain," wrote Rodney
Atkinson in "Europe's Full Circle", "British voters see the worst aspects of
both Conservative and Labour administrations.  Both are engaged in the
corporatist and covert corruptions which marginalise and exploit individuals
and families.  Both parties are a threat to all free associations which lack
the power to lobby, manipulate and feed off the power of the state."

With its deceptive popularity ratings drawn from within the narrowest
boundaries, new Labour understands little of the public's cynicism.  The
media is its protector and illusionist.  An intellectually dishonest
drawing-room game known as the Third Way is promoted among Downing Street's
pets, as if it has meaning other than more of the same.  That Blair is often
seen in Europe as a belligerent reactionary, and in the United States as
merely useful, is not reported here.  The popular upheavals growing in
France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Greece against Third Way policies are not

Like the Continental Europeans, the British are equally off-message.  In the
wake of new Labour's victory, the laissez-faire guru Samuel Brittan wrote in
the "Financial Times" that his followers should count themselves lucky to
have Blair, as Labour would almost certainly have won on a socialist
platform.  The British public, he lamented, remains "hopoelessly
collectivist".  Whether or not they are collectivist, there is a critical
intelligence and common sense in the way people arrive at their values.  The
Third Way crusaders in power must despair, that in attacking single mothers
and "shaming" deprived schools, they do not gain in popularity.  Year after
year, the trustworthy "British Social Attitudes Survey" shows that the
British people are not innately conservative, as journalists and politicians
caricature them.  On the contrary, they are increasingly tolerant and
supportive of the variety of ways people try to construct their personal
lives.  They reject overwhelmingly the growing divide between rich and
poor - by remarkable majorities, including 87 per cent, the highest in the
survey's history - and support the redistribution of wealth and income and
tax-funded support for public services.  Three-quarters believe that profit
should be invested and to the benefit of working people; barely 3 per cent
believe shareholders and managers should benefit.

The Third Way wisdom is that the influence of class is less than it used to
be.  The reverse is true; sons and daughters of unskilled workers are,
proportionally, no more likely to go to university than they were in the
1970s, especially now that new Labour has ended free higher education.
Three-quarters of people surveyed believe that the notion of a classless
Britain is nonsense, and that a class war is being fought.

Yet this remains subversive, as those who know it to be true face a media
wall.  Politics are given time according to their spurious lobby rating,
while political entertainment is provided in the ritual pillorying of an
Archer, a Hamilton.  "Reform", which journalists use incessantly, has become
Orwellian; it now means destruction.  "Restructuring" means the same, and
"wealth creation" actually refers to the extraction of wealth by the
relentless stripping and merging of companies.  That noble concept
"democracy" is just another rhetorical device.

In an interview in the "Observer" of 21 November, Blair was allowed to weave
his new fatherhood into propaganda that read as if he were reciting it.  The
new baby means more than winning in 1997.  Yes, of course.  In the
"Guardian", he spoke about "concerns for Cherie's health".  No link was made
with the privilege into which the child will be born and the child victims
of Blair's policies and belligerence.

I have just returned from Iraq, where I saw many children dying because of
an economic embargo that has succeeded in entrenching the regime of Saddam
Hussein, while destroying the young and vulnerable.  Food relief and drugs
are allowed, but a diabolical system of prevarication and delay controlled
by the Blair and Clinton governments ensures the death of newborn babies and
infants - more than 4,000 deaths amonth, says the United Nations.  Denis
Halliday, a former assistant under-secretary of the UN who accompanied me,
calls it genocide.  The suppression of this in Britain, unlike the
unsurprising antics of Jeffrey Archer, is a true scandal.

Greetings to all,
Mailto:E.C.Apling at

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