Northern Umbrella’s aims are positive. We want to gather together everyone working for a better North of England. But we also think a brolly is going to be handy to shelter us from the storm of shit that is going to rain down on the North in 2017.
UKIP now has a new leader, Paul Nuttall, with a clear plan for his party: he is going to stop fighting the Tory party for votes in the South and concentrate entirely on attacking Labour in the North and Wales. He has the money lined up and he has the media lined up. Or, more accurately, the money and the media have got Paul Nuttall all lined up. Prepare for the deluge.
Here’s Paul Nuttall with Nigel Farage. And here’s Nigel Farage with Rupert Murdoch and Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian oligarch’s heir who owns ‘i’ newspaper and the London Evening Standard. They’re at a garden party at Lebedev’s house, in the grounds of Hampton Court, Surrey.
Later, Nigel Farage, Rupert Murdoch and Liam Fox, the Minister for International Trade, sat down for a chat over lunch in a marquee. Here’s the link.
With a new government in place, and supplicants like Liam Fox at the cabinet table, Rupert Murdoch is having another go at taking total control of Sky TV. As Vladimir Putin will tell you, the propaganda power owning newspapers gives you is as nothing compared to owning TV. Murdoch’s plan is to turn Sky TV – which is already pretty bad – into a non-stop pure propaganda channel, like Fox TV in the USA.
The North voted for Brexit for many reasons, but the slogan that perhaps appealed the most to many Northerners was “take back control”. Northerners have taken that control from the Blair-Cameron elite and handed it straight to the offshore oligarchs like Rupert Murdoch, who care frighteningly little about what now becomes of the North and its people.
When asked why he was so opposed to the European Union, Rupert Murdoch replied: “That’s easy. When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice”. What Murdoch and the offshore oligarchs want is control of the public agenda and of all the political options: full spectrum dominance.
The only blot left on the picture of such dominance is Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party. The offshore oligarchs want politics to be a wrestling show between a Blairite Labour party and the Tories. But the Blairites have lost control of the Labour party, so they will use Paul Nuttall’s UKIP as a means of battering it hard. They’re betting they win either way: either UKIP replaces Labour, or an obedient politician takes Labour back over.
So get ready in 2017 for continuous propaganda to be poured onto the North from London by the newspapers, TV and talk radio of Murdoch, billionaire tax exile Viscount Rothermere and billionaire pornographer Richard Desmond. As the Brexit negotiations – which cannot possibly go well for the UK – start to go badly, the message will be that the North is being betrayed: by trades unions, by Bremoaners, by the BBC, by the pure evil that is John McDonnell.
This will have traction because many feel the North has been betrayed, or abandoned. The clever trick will be to switch the blame from people who really abandoned the North – the oligarchs themselves – to anyone and everyone who is an obstacle to their control of what happens and what gets talked about. Interwoven through it all, the overarching message will be: fight back by switching from the Labour party to Paul Nuttall’s UKIP. They don’t need this message to work on everyone: just on enough people to cripple the Labour party.
And if Paul Nuttall ever shows any signs of independent life, they will cut him off at the knees.
The North is very vulnerable to this coming propaganda onslaught, because it does not have its own independent media. There are the regional offices of the BBC and traditional local newspapers, but none of these is strong enough to set the news agenda. That gets handed down from London.
So, what to do?
Fortunately we in the North have friendly neighbours who have experienced such a propaganda onslaught and taken steps to protect themselves from it in future: the Scots. Since the 2014 referendum, Scotland has been awash with independent media initiatives. A good one among many is Common Space. It has news, opinion, magazine features and serious policy discussion; it even provides the “Common Market”, a space for products from independent Scottish small businesses.
The North has some independent media, and on this website the Northern Umbrella is currently trying to catalogue it and provide a guide to it on our media page here. But the North has nothing to compare with Common Space, and we need it fast. It’s not the full answer to the offshore oligarchs, but it is a start, and it does deny them 100% full spectrum dominance.
Meanwhile in England, there are an increasing number of media reform initiatives, for example the London-based Media Reform Coalition and Stop Funding Hate. These are very worthy campaigns, but North needs a specifically Northern dimension to the media reform agenda, and the North itself must develop that, working in partnership with the London-based groups.
If you’re interested in helping, please contact us at northern dot umbrella at hotmail dot com.