Socialist Worker

Murdoch leads the lying pack

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 1827

A STRIKE often brings out the best in working class people. It always brings out the worst from the rich who run the media. The handful of men who control most newspapers and TV stations hate strikes and strikers. They unleash every lie, every bit of filth, to try and demoralise strikers and turn other people against them.

In the firefighters' dispute the pack has been led by the Sun. On the first strike day its front page read 'Fire Union Chiefs Are Saddam Stooges'. The evidence was that two FBU union officials, Bob Pounder and Howard Western, had visited Iraq, 'donned Iraqi robes' and spoken out against sanctions on Iraq. Then the Sun 'revealed' that FBU leader Andy Gilchrist has a picture of Che Guevara on his office wall.

The Sun ranted, 'Gilchrist and his far-left cronies never wanted the dispute settled. They wanted a revolution. How Che would have loved it.' The next day's Sun described the firefighters' action as 'killer strikes' and ran the headline 'How Many More Have To Die?'

All of this, of course, from the paper which urges on 'killer strikes' by US and British warplanes against civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Sun also returned to the attack against FBU official Bob Pounder. He had allegedly been rude to a Sun journalist. Perhaps days of constant calls to his mobile phone and the systematic harassment of his wife and family had something to do with it.

Another Sun revelation was that Bob Pounder had backed a firefighter who had been disciplined for refusing to salute a superior. This is the Sun which denounces the 'outdated practices' that firefighters are said to cling on to.

Dredging the bottom of the barrel, the Sun laid into FBU general secretary Andy Gilchrist for being a 'posh schoolkid' and 'attending the fee-paying private Bedford Modern School'. In fact, when Gilchrist started at secondary school, Bedford was a direct grant school and so part of the state sector. The claim is also incredible hypocrisy from a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch, who went to the most exclusive public school in Australia, Geelong Grammar (Prince Charles was sent there).

Unlike Gilchrist, whose father was a seafarer and whose mother worked in a school kitchen, Murdoch (basic salary today £5 million a year) had his parents' establishment connections available to him.

He prospered particularly through the influence of his mother, Dame Elisabeth. The Sun's lies recall its disgusting coverage of the Hillsborough football disaster. Four days after the tragedy in which 96 people died its front page read, 'The truth - some fans picked pockets of victims, some fans urinated on the brave cops, some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life.' Every one of these claims was a lie. On Merseyside people were incensed and organised boycotts of the paper.

It was good to see firefighters burning the Sun last week. It is not just the Sun that pumps out lies. The Express tried to link the strike to 'the risk of terrorist attack' and added, 'Firefighters should know when they are well off.' The Express is one of Richard Desmond's papers. He grabs as much in a week as a firefighter does in a year. He has amassed around £250 million from his porn mags and trashy newspapers. The Mail has also torn into the firefighters. Its main theme has been that firefighters are causing fire deaths.

If Vesuvius erupted today and destroyed the city of Pompeii, the Mail's headline would be 'FBU To Blame'. Under the headline 'Strike Claims Its First Victim' the Mail told the story of the elderly woman who died tragically in a fire in Newtown. There is no evidence that the strike had anything to do with her death. The Mail also denounced the 'pensions and privileges' that others can only dream of.

The Mail is owned by Viscount Rothermere. He sits on a fortune of £847 million. Might he be a little more privileged than a firefighter? Not to be outdone in the slurs department, the Telegraph says, 'It seems quite possible that Evan Davies choked to death in Halesowen because of the deliberate policy of the FBU and Andy Gilchrist.'

Earlier the Telegraph had said firefighters 'do not do badly', and it also attacked firefighters for allegedly passing jobs from father to son. The Telegraph is owned by Conrad Black, a man who gets £4.6 million a year and who built his empire on the basis of a $7 million inheritance left by his father.

The press, with the connivance of the government, will pump out more lies. The elite who run the media are trampling on the truth to beat the firefighters and to halt a wider revolt. Socialist Worker will try its best to ensure the firefighters' case gets heard.

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Article information

Sat 23 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1827
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