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7May/156

The Tory Press

Someone complained recently when I took a pop at the Tory party and its breathless cheerleaders in the right-wing media. That much of the UK print media is biased is not news, nor is it news that it usually tells its readers which way they should vote. But the black propaganda employed by the Tory press in this election has been extraordinary, not only that but the interests of the billionnaire - often foreign - owners of the newspapers has been nakedly evident. Essentially, these newspapers are trying to force their readers to vote in the explicit interests of their owners, which is to say they are being instructed to vote Conservative.

It is a particularly insidious, vicious undemocratic form of advertising imaginable - and this blog is frequently about the sinister aspects of the advertising industry. So to those who want to have a whinge that a blog that occasionally makes them laugh is detouring into politics, I say this: you haven't been paying attention.

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As the Tory press has seen its power wane - due to disruption from the internet and other sources of information - it has grown increasingly shrill in its demands that its readers do their bidding. The prospect of Ed Miliband as Prime Minister seems to drive newspaper proprietors to the edges of sheer terror - not, as they'd have you think, because they think he'll ruin the country but because they think he'll ruin it for them. Which is to say that people who could literally roll around in aircraft hangars of cash might be asked to pay more money, and they government might consider whether it's actually a good idea that our press is run to protect the vested interests of a load of evil wizards from Westeros. Ask yourself why these people want you to vote Conservative; ask yourself why they hate Ed Miliband; ask yourself why they are attempting to derail the choice of millions of British people.

Like a caged animal, they have grown more vicious and the rise of Russell Brand here is instructive. Whatever you make of him, the shamanistic shagger has an uncanny ability to command the interest of young people, when virtually no-one else can. Brand's Youtube Channel, The Trews, has over a million subscribers and is growing. The Sun has a readership of under a million - and it's falling.

The notion that these people may be on the brink of losing the influence they have wielded to suit their own purposes for decades is inconceivable to them, so the whole kitchen sink has been thrown at Ed Miliband. A tiny cabal of rich old white men is trying to influence the outcome of our democratic general election.

Not only that, they're prepared to challenge our constitution should they not get their own way and have been pushing the narrative that a Miliband government, run with the assistance of the SNP, would be illegitimate. It would not - and challenging such as government would be to challenge hundreds of years of Parliamentary democracy. It would be a coup.

They have stoked nationalism in an attempt to prevent people from voting Labour. Fear the Scots, they tell the English; hate the English, they tell the Scots. It's a scorched Earth policy that will almost certainly pave the way for a second Scottish referendum that will almost certainly be an Aye vote. No matter that the Tory party is actually called The Conservative and Unionist Party, the Tory press and the Tory party will willingly break the United Kingdom if they have a shot at stopping a Labour government. It's the ultimate political act of cutting your nose off to spite your face.

They've told a deliberate lie, along with the Tory party, that says Labour ruined the election. They've told us that we need austerity, when we demonstrably don't. Miliband stabbed his brother in the back; he looks funny eating a bacon sandwich, he'd get rid of nuclear weapons and he had some girlfriends.

I'm not blind to the faults of the Labour Party or Ed Miliband, but I've looked on in horror at the increasingly crazed attempts to influence a democratic process; the sort of rampant partisanship that caused US media advisors to state they even they have never seen anything like it; for right-wing commentators and politicians to question whether things have got out of hand.

The Tory press is famous for complaining about the BBC being a 'state broadcaster' - the irony is apparently lost on them in an election where they have explicitly acted as the mouthpiece of the Conservative Party, from repeatedly pushing the lines dreamed up by Tory strategist Lynton Crosby, to publishing letter drafted for them by Conservative Party headquarters (above) to even emailing readers directly to plead with them.

In this situation I've felt the need to be part of an alternative narrative - on that confronts these hideous vested interests and the lies they will go to any lengths to tell. They are trying to fool voters to return a government that is probably not in the interests of the majority of people; to return a government that has ruled - and will continue to rule - in the interests of a minority.

Screenshot 2015-05-07 15.08.37

It's outrageous political sleight-of-hand, audacious politicking. It's also deeply sinister - and it increasingly alarms me. Trying to get people to buy unflushable bog roll, or featuring an unworldy arse in an advert is one thing - trying to influence how a nation is governed is in a different realm altogether. Yet the methods are the same.

The political spinners are the greatest magicians in the world - and some of the most dangerous. They act at the behest of people who are enemies of fairness; people who see the cost of everything and value of nothing; people who will act to protect their business interests at the expense of institutions that the rest of the world envies: the NHS, the BBC, libraries, museums, forests, coastlines, judiciary, parliamentary democracy. To them, these things are collateral - either a resource to be exploited, bought, shut down or eradicated. They see Ed Miliband threatening to stand in the way, so he must be destroyed.

The press - The Sun, the Mail, The Times, The Telegraph - are the means by which they convince us that these things must fall, that we must bow to their will. Do not see them as newspapers, see them for what they are. The most dangerous adverts for the most dangerous people inside - and outside - our country.

EDIT: Don't simply take my word for it - have a look at this independent academic report on the media's coverage of the 2015 General Election

10Apr/154

Samsung Galaxy S6 James Corden Advert

James Corden baffles me. He's actually quite a good actor and isn't utterly dreadful - despite his annoying ubiquity ramping up the irritation quotient. But I have never once found him remotely funny. And when the rest of the world finds something funny that you don't, it's discombobulating.

Gavin And Stacy, not funny. Horne and Corden, not funny. Lesbian Vampre Killers I'll admit I haven't seen, but does anyone on God's green Earth think it's likely to be funny? His Comic Relief skits that Premiership footballers think are hilarious, not funny. James Corden, fundamentally, is not funny.

James Corden Advert

Consider this James Corden advert for the Samsung Galaxy S6 phone - it is not remotely funny and I honestly can't see how or why anyone would disagree with this analysis. A man wearing a beard (Wilf, his 'alter-ego') and being pretentious isn't funny; it's one of the hoariest cliches imaginable about directors. People being freaked out by special effects is not funny. That's one of the hoariest cliches going about oversold adverts. Taking the piss out of Apple - a bit rich coming from global megalith Samsung - isn't funny, it's one of the most frequently-trod memes out there. All told, it's an incredibly unfunny advert.

Corden is described by Samsung as the 'man of the moment' and 'humourous'. The Drum describes Corden as 'personable' and the advert as and 'tongue-in-cheek'. Wow, hold me back.

"I don't need this," says Corden at the end of the advert - and that's what so odd. No, you don't need it: you don't need the money, the exposure or another unfunny thing on your CV and we don't need it either. Undercutting the over-exposed, rich and successful is a bit of a recurring theme in Corden's stuff - but isn't he all of those things? He's mates with David Beckham, Gary Barlow, David Cameron and Andy Murray. It's like satire done by people who literally don't understand satire.

Corden seems to be the golden boy at the moment, for reasons I can't really fathom. From his oddly creepy documentary following around Gary Barlow - someone else who has attached themselves to David Cameron for reasons not especially obvious - to his day editing The Sun or twatting around with Beckham, it's as if the roly-poly funnyman seeks out media opportunities designed to irritate most right-thinking people.

James Corden Advert Beckham

"Hilarious spoof advert"

Famous people chumming around with other famous people is one of the most aggravating things imaginable - Corden seems to have made a career out of it. I love Britain for its irreverence and its inclination to cock a snoop at the rich and famous.

James Corden Book

The blandishments of Corden - and his resulting popularity - seem to fly in the face of all of that. Like so many others I can only look on when Corden appears on my screen with genuine puzzlement. James Corden just isn't funny - is he?

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