Union Barons and Media Barons

Since Ed Miliband became Labour Party leader, the tabloid press run by monolithic corporate media institutions have mobilized quickly to attempt to lessen the impact of his ascent and what will be – by definition – a populist progressive message in opposition to a ConDem coalition cash-and-carry government using the deficit to throw hundreds of thousands of public sector workers onto welfare, then, in turn, reduce the available welfare benefits…while they embark on mass privatisation.

Remarkably, the editors of these papers have taken a page from the McCarthy book: they’re calling Miliband “Red Ed,” bolstering their accusation with the relatively insignificant fact that voting union members – despite their votes being counted as less worthy than those of MPs – helped push the grand total of all votes cast for him into the majority. To say Ed Miliband is now beholden to these workers who voted is like saying Barack Obama will do the bidding of the people of the state of Ohio just because they contributed to his victory. This is aside from the fact that, as I’ve mentioned here already, workers are us and we are the workers.

Nonetheless, the press have gone full-blown McCarthyist in their scaremongering in order to try to marginalize a man who could become Britain’s Barack Obama – as early on in the game as possible. However, just as Barack Obama’s popularity expanded further with each passing portrayal of him as “socialist,” it’s possible Ed Miliband’s ratings will increase. In fact, only days after he became leader, Labour overtook the Conservatives in the polls.

But the biggest discrepancy of all in the McCarthyist media assault is the simple fact that the “union barons” – as they have been christened in the press – have far less influence or even track record of success than the newspapers’ owners themselves.

Let’s look, for example, at the last 25 years:

  • The Conservatives deregulated the media industry, opening the door for media barons like Rupert Murdoch to enjoy greater power, influence, and ownership
  • The unions were brought to their knees by the Tories’ cynical Ridley Plan, aiming to weaken workers’ rights by simply decimating the heavily unionized industries and, as a result, their communities
  • New Labour courted favour with Rupert Murdoch and big business by promising not only to go easy on the banks that were also deregulated by the Tories but also giving Murdoch plenty of room, in addition to nixing Clause IV of their party constitution that adhered them to nationalization
  • Tony Blair became the first Labour leader to receive boos from the Trades Union Congress
  • Despite promising to stop tax avoidance schemes by simply taxing businessmen on area of economic activity and not where they book, Gordon Brown failed to keep his word when he moved from being Shadow Chancellor to the real deal in charge of the Treasury – allowing Murdoch to cost the country the equivalent of 7 hospitals or 300 schools, and Lord Ashcroft to allegedly avoid millions in tax while funding his favourite blue-eyed boys, the Tories

As if that’s not enough, recently Channel 4’s Dispatches programme attacked the credibility of the unions, while Lord Ashcroft’s lawyers blocked an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama into his dubious financial affairs. That speaks volumes. It is not the impotent, emasculated “union barons” who pose any threat to our democracy, but the media barons and their editors who act as guardians for those they represent.

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