John Pilger: THE BABBLING BULLSHIT (Politicians-Media)
Something is changing in Britain that gives cause
for optimism. The British people have probably never been
more politically aware and prepared to clear out decrepit
myths and other rubbish while stepping angrily over the
babbling brook of bullshit.
Britain: The Depth of Corruption
John Pilger ~ 28 May 2009
In his latest column
for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes how the
current scandal of MPs' tax evasion and phantom mortgages
conceals a deeper corruption that is traced back to the
political monoculture of the United States.
The theft of public money by members of parliament,
including government ministers, has given Britons a rare glimpse
inside the tent of power and privilege. It is rare because
not one political reporter or commentator, those who fill
tombstones of column inches and dominate broadcast journalism,
revealed a shred of this scandal. It was left to a public
relations man to sell the “leak”. Why?
The answer lies in a deeper corruption, which tales of tax
evasion and phantom mortgages touch upon but also conceal. Since
Margaret Thatcher, British parliamentary democracy has been
progressively destroyed as the two main parties have converged
into a single-ideology business state, each with almost
identical social, economic and foreign policies. This “project”
was completed by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, inspired by the
political monoculture of the United States. That so many Labour
and Tory politicians are now revealed as personally crooked is
no more than a metaphor for the anti-democratic system they have
Their accomplices have been those journalists who report
Parliament as "lobby correspondents" and their editors, who have
“played the game” wilfully, and have deluded the public (and
sometimes themselves) that vital, democratic differences exist
between the parties. Media-designed opinion polls based on
absurdly small samplings, along with a tsunami of comment on
personalities and their specious crises, have reduced the
“national conversation” to a series of media events, in which
the withdrawal of popular consent – as the historically low
electoral turnouts under Blair demonstrated – has been abused as
Having fixed the boundaries of political debate and possibility,
self-important paladins, notably liberals, promoted the naked
emperor Blair and championed his “values” that would allow “the
mind [to] range in search of a better Britain”. And when the
bloodstains showed, they ran for cover. All of it had been, as
Larry David once described an erstwhile crony, “a babbling brook
How contrite their former heroes now seem. On 17 May, the Leader
of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, who is alleged to have
spent £10,000 of taxpayers’ money on “media training”, called on
MPs to “rebuild cross-party trust”. The unintended irony of her
words recalls one of her first acts as social security secretary
more than a decade ago – cutting the benefits of single mothers.
This was spun and reported as if there was a “revolt” among
Labour backbenchers, which was false. None of Blair’s new female
MPs, who had been elected “to end male-dominated, Conservative
policies”, spoke up against this attack on the poorest of poor
women. All voted for it.
The same was true of the lawless attack on Iraq in 2003, behind
which the cross-party Establishment and the political media
rallied. Andrew Marr stood in Downing Street and excitedly told
BBC viewers that Blair had “said they would be able to take
Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in the end the Iraqis
would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been
proved conclusively right.” When Blair’s army finally
retreated from Basra in May, it left behind, according to
scholarly estimates, more than a million people dead, a majority
of stricken, sick children, a contaminated water supply, a
crippled energy grid and four million refugees.
As for the “celebrating” Iraqis, the vast majority, say
Whitehall’s own surveys, want the invader out. And when Blair
finally departed the House of Commons, MPs gave him a standing
ovation – they who had refused to hold a vote on his criminal
invasion or even to set up an inquiry into its lies, which
almost three-quarters of the British population wanted.
Such venality goes far beyond the greed of the uppity Hazel
“Normalising the unthinkable”, Edward Herman’s phrase
from his essay The Banality of Evil, about the division of
labour in state crime, is applicable here. On 18 May, the
Guardian devoted the top of one page to a report headlined,
“Blair awarded $1m prize for international relations work”. This
prize, announced in Israel soon after the Gaza massacre, was for
his “cultural and social impact on the world”. You looked in
vain for evidence of a spoof or some recognition of the truth.
Instead, there was his “optimism about the chance of bringing
peace” and his work “designed to forge peace”.
This was the same Blair who committed the same crime –
deliberately planning the invasion of a country, “the supreme
international crime” – for which the Nazi foreign minister
Joachim von Ribbentrop was hanged at Nuremberg after proof of
his guilt was located in German cabinet documents. Last
February, Britain’s “Justice” Secretary, Jack Straw, blocked
publication of crucial cabinet minutes from March 2003 about the
planning of the invasion of Iraq, even though the Information
Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has ordered their release. For
Blair, the unthinkable is both normalised and celebrated.
“How our corrupt MPs are playing into the hands of extremists,”
said the cover of last week’s New Statesman. But is not their
support for the epic crime in Iraq already extremism? And
for the murderous imperial adventure in Afghanistan? And for the
government’s collusion with torture?
It is as if our public language has finally become Orwellian.
Using totalitarian laws approved by a majority of MPs, the
police have set up secretive units to combat democratic dissent
they call “extremism”. Their de facto partners are “security”
journalists, a recent breed of state or “lobby” propagandist. On
9 April, the BBC’s Newsnight programme promoted the guilt of 12
“terrorists” arrested in a contrived media drama orchestrated by
the Prime Minister himself. All were later released without
Something is changing in Britain that gives cause for optimism.
The British people have probably never been more politically
aware and prepared to clear out decrepit myths and other rubbish
while stepping angrily over the babbling brook of bullshit.