The week-long media distortions in the reporting of the alleged nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skriprol and his daughter is indicative of a democracy in crisis.
When, in the days following the tragedy, Theresa May referred in glowing terms to British democratic values, embodied in a “free press” controlled by foreign billionaire tax evaders, many observers must have been left shaking their heads with incredulity at the sheer arrogance of the woman.
Eager to politically exploit the unfolding of events in Salisbury to maximum affect, the prime minister undertook a staged PR walkabout in the city where, in a failed attempt to shed her robotic persona, she was photographed being handed a bouquet of flowers, cradling a baby and fist-bumping a young person.
In what was a typically knee-jerk reaction to the alleged poisoning, May gave Russia 24 hours to respond to the allegations that Putin ordered the attack. What many people are apparently unaware of (due to the fact that journalists have largely failed in their duty to report it), is that under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), Russia is allowed 10 days to respond.
When Russia formally requested that the UK submit a sample of its evidence to the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for inspection, May refused the request.
On March 14, the UK government also blocked a Russia-drafted UN Security Council statement calling for an urgent inquiry into the alleged incident. By refusing to rush to judgement, the leader of the official opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, took a far more rational, diplomatic and conciliatory approach culminating in his insistence that the government abide by its obligations under international law.
In view of the fact that the City of London is awash with dirty Russian money, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell proposed the introduction of an oligarch levy and other measures to tackle corruption which the Tories rejected, presumably on the grounds that it would mean the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, handing back the £160,000 he admitted to receiving live on television by way of a Russian donation.
The government and their corporate media stenographers reacted to Labour’s rational stance by condemning Corbyn as if they were singing from the same hymn sheet. Thus, in the days following the media’s portrayal of the Labour leader as a ‘traitor’ and a ‘Kremlin stooge’ on their front pages, BBCs Newsnight presented a photoshopped image of Corbyn in sinister red set against a Red Square backdrop.
It is quite clear that ever since the BBC propaganda piece, Saving Syria’s Children, the media have been attempting to soften the British public up for yet another full-scale UK intervention in the Middle East.
It’s been 15 years since the U.S and U.K began raining bombs down on the people of Iraq and 7 since Libya was set on fire. In 1998, the UNs chief weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, announced that the policy to contain Saddam had worked and that Iraq had been effectively disarmed and hence was no longer seen as a threat.
However, the attacks on the Twin Towers changed all that, exposing the lies to Washington’s own propaganda. With the notable exception of John Pilger in the Mirror, this series of events wasn’t acknowledged anywhere in the mainstream at the time and to this day remains a footnote in history.
By contrast, the small minority of journalists who reported the narrative accurately were widely depicted as ‘conspiracy theorists’.
Then as now, those who dissent from the political-media establishment narrative view of the world are smeared with similar epithets.
Many corporate journalists who claimed to have learned hard lessons from the WMD debacle in Iraq are the same journalists who are currently regurgitating the UK government propaganda line in relation to the alleged Russian poisoning even before a speck of evidential dust has settled.
Further, journalists in almost total lock-step have once again failed to express any skepticism in terms of acknowledging that the Western imperialist proxy war in Syria represents the same regime change continuum that involves the theft and control of the regions natural resources.
There have been some notable dissenting voices. Rather surprisingly, for example, Channel 4 News journalist, Alex Thomson, has cast a robust critical eye over the events in Salisbury, while Mail on Sunday columnist, Peter Hitchens expressed shock at the treatment meted out to Corbyn.
But these kinds of skeptical voices represent the exception to the rule. As recently as March 16, the Guardian was still carrying an article which claimed that only the Russian state could make the kind of nerve agent allegedly used on Sergei Skripal and his daughter despite the fact that former UK diplomat Craig Murray proved beyond dispute “that ‘of a type developed by Russia’ has zero evidential value and is a politician’s weasel phrase designed deliberately to mislead the public.”
In truth, allowing the evidential dust to settle has never been the intention of the political-media elite. Rather, their ulterior motive has been to demonize Putin as part of a wider geo-strategic line of attack which, as John Pilger puts it, amounts to “a carefully constructed drama….in order to justify the actions of Nato, Britain and the United States.”
On cue, these actions look set to take military form with strikes against Russian forces in the Syrian capital, Damascus seemingly planned for the near future.
“In case lives of Russian military personnel are put in danger, the Russian Armed Forces will respond with certain measure to both “missiles” and “lauchers” which are delivering these projectiles.”
According to the RT article, Russia believes that such an attack will be widely covered in the Western media and may ultimately be used as a pretext by the US-led coalition to launch strikes against Syrian government forces.
“Washington repeatedly warned that it would conduct more air strikes against Syrian forces if chemical weapons are used in the country. French President Emmanuel Macron also promised to “strike” Syria if any evidence emerges that chemical weapons were used against civilians.”
These are extremely dark and worrying times. The conformism of the mass media and the shouting down of all voices who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy, is not illustrative of the kind of democracy I have grown up with, but reflects something far more sinister.
Columnist Peter Hitchens commented on the new McCarthyism:
“There’s no real spirit of liberty left in this country. War, or the danger of war, is always an opportunity to silence troublemakers.”
In the second part of the discussion with Lisa MacKenzie, Jason Hickel and Sharmine Narwani host Ross Ashcroft teased out from his guests their bold predictions about what's in store for 2020.