Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The NUJ doesn’t want to protect the powerless against the press – it just wants revenge on Rupert Murdoch

Peter Oborne has announced in the Telegraph this morning that he has resigned from the National Union of Journalists because it backed yesterday’s deal to place press (and internet) regulation in the hands of the very people who have most to fear from a free press – i.e. our left-liberal elite:
If the union represented journalists, as it claimed to do, it would have been up in arms at yesterday's squalid deal which has granted politicians power over newspapers for the first time in more than 300 years. It would have fought all the way. Instead the NUJ has been a largely silent and shamefaced collaborator with Hacked Off and its rich and powerful backers. I tried to warn the union's secretary Michelle Stanistreet about this, but she would not listen. Yesterday she threw her weight behind the stitch up between the political parties. (full article available here)
Why, I wonder, is Oborne so surprised? 

I know nothing about the NUJ’s current leadership, but I doubt if the organisation has  rearranged its spots much since I was a member at the BBC in the late 1980s. True, it spent quite a bit of time doing what unions traditionally do – protecting useless and workshy members at the expense of the competent and the hard-working, and grimly hanging on to decades-old Spanish practices and outmoded perks (when I joined, journos were still entitled to an annual allowance for theatre visits). 

But what I realised soon after joining was that the NUJ’s main purpose  – at least in my neck of the woods – was to campaign for left-wing causes: anti-Israeli, anti-American, anti-Tory, anti-Church, anti-Military, pro-IRA, pro-Labour etc. Basically, if the Thatcher government was for it, we were against it. Nowadays, of course, there’s no greater bogey-man as far as the Left is concerned than a certain octogenarian American media baron with an oriental wife, an Aussie accent, and a management gobbleydegook-spouting son. Even the old bugger’s chippy antimonarchism and hatred of the English upper-classes hasn’t earned the approval of the Left, because they’ve never forgiven him for backing the Left’s favourite whipping-girl, Margaret Thatcher, and - especially - for doing so much to ensure Labour's surprise defeat at the 1992 general election. 

Ms Stanistreet, who was born and raised in Liverpool and went to university there (nuff said!) was eighteen in 1992 when Murdoch’s evil Sun newspaper Won It for John Major against the rebarbative Neil Kinnock. For many lefties over the age of 35, that’s still the most painful experience of their political lives. I was producing the coverage from a count in East London on the night, and the Labour-supporting reporter I was working with was so upset with the unexpected result that he proceeded to behave like a petulant five-year old and got himself mentioned in the Daily Mail the next morning. Despite the fact that I had to go around apologising to officials for my colleague's hysterical rudeness, it was very, very funny. 

I could be wrong, and, for all I know, Ms Stanistreet and her union cohorts may all be staunch Tories who look back with gratitude to that glorious night when Rupert Murdoch ensured that Labour’s reign of terror would be delayed for at least another five years. But I somehow doubt it.

No, I reckon this is all about kicking the man who single-handedly smashed the appalling newspaper print unions in the eighties and – worse – helped keep the hated Tory junta in power for seventeen years. The NUJ’s support for placing the British press in the hands of left-liberal quangocrats and expenses-fiddling MPs stems from the pettiest of motives – revenge.  Freedom of the press - a glorious, nation-defining tradition stretching back hundreds of years - be hanged, as long as the Left gets its own back, and the rich, the famous and the powerful get to sleep more soundly, untroubled by the threat of having their dirty little secrets being exposed.

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