Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sold Out

The relationship between the Guardian/Observer and Blair's government seems to have taken a new turn today with a particularly craven leader in the Observer.

"Better a bungled raid than another terrorist outrage" blares the headline. They, like the government, seem determined to sell the idea that the police had "no choice" but to conduct last week's raid in the way they did. This, despite the fact that the same paper also tells us the police were not actually particularly enthusiastic about the idea of the raid and were concerned about the quality of the intelligence.

In fact, the leader reads as if Downing Street and the Met's press office wrote it, not the journalists of a leading progressive newspaper. Is it nostalgia or was there once a golden era when the Guardian were able to critically assess the pronouncements of Blair's ever more authoritarian government? I seem to remember that they used to manage it. Not anymore apparently.

The idea that it might be better not to have had a bungled raid doesn't seem to have occurred to them. The notion that police operations should be driven by calm rationality, not politically motivated hysteria, just isn't up for discussion. And the worry that these sorts of heavy handed operations are likely to alienate people and be ultimately counter-productive is of no concern to the Observer. These just are not alternatives to be considered. There is only one way; Blair's way.

Then there's the fact that the police appear to have been reluctant to conduct this raid. That should also raise the question as to who actually ordered that it should go ahead.
Whitehall sources told The Observer last night the reservations were passed up the chain of command to senior officials in the office of Sir Richard Mottram, the government's security and intelligence co-ordinator, but despite the concerns the police were ordered to go in. [From the second linked article.]
By who? Sir Richard's office? Sir Richard is "the prime minister's top security and intelligence adviser". Was there politicial interference in what should be an operational matter? This again is of no concern to the writers of today's leader.

Likewise, the fact that a man was shot and could easily have been killed seems to have passed them by. It's an irrelevance. Not for the guy with the hole in his shoulder, I'll wager, but he's just a Muslim, not a part of the "law abiding majority".

I guess we're just going to have to get used to the fact that there's a new member of the authoritarian right "string 'em up" tabloid press in this country. This new member of the "better us safe and them sorry" club is, it seems, particularly beholden to the current government.

The Observers' editorial team appear to have finally succumbed completely to Blair's constant manipulation of the terrorist threat for his own political purposes. Given the relationships and sympathies that exist betwen New Labour and Guardian journalists, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. But I can't help feeling extremely disappointed.

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Anonymous said...

The Observer has been more reactionary than its sister paper The Guardian for as long as I can remember. This first came to my notice in pre-9/11 days of the vilification of Demon Internet directors for running a USENET news server with some rather unsavourily-named newsgroups.

. said...

As anonymous says, the Guardian and Observer may as well be ran by different companies. The Observer is becoming increasingly hysterical and moving to the right, while the Guardian more or less seems to have stayed in its usual place of being at times craven but critical. I think it's as much to do with the rivalry between the editors, as there's no love lost between Alton and Rusbridger, as anything else.

Neil Craig said...

I've never been able to trust the integrity of anything from this stable since the Guardian said that anybody who didn't support the Bosnian Moslems was guilty of "a sort of anti-semitism" despite the fact that they knew it's leader Izetbegovic was a former auxiliary in the SS & publicly committed to "neither peace nor co-existence" with Christians & Jews.

It is disgusting that racists like these continue in the trade of journalism.

Simstim said...

IIRC, the Observer swallowed the Government's case for the Iraq War hook, line and sinker, while the Graun was a bit more cautious.