The treatment of UK Labour's 2019 campaign and Whitlam's Labor Government is eerily similar, writes Bilal Cleland.
Much is made of the right to vote, of the independent allocation of electorates, open access to political ideas and free expression of opinion in our democracies.
However there is no protection of truth in political advertising, no guarantee of access to the mass media by the various political positions and there is no balance in media ownership, with a few individuals dominating the landscape in the English speaking countries.
The Diminishing United Kingdom
In December this year, we witnessed the demolition of the British Labour Party under a barrage of lying propaganda, the loudest voices claiming the Leader of the Party was an anti-semite. This was stoked by the Israeli lobby, as Corbyn had advised that he would recognise Palestine if elected. Support for Palestinian rights is portrayed as anti-Jewish by the extreme right.
Numerous factors went into this result, including most notably a Labour Party ambivalently straddling an irreconcilable divide on the issue of Brexit, but it is also undeniable that the election was affected by a political smear campaign that was entirely unprecedented in scale and vitriol in the history of western democracy. This smear campaign was driven by billionaire-controlled media outlets, along with intelligence and military agencies, as well as state media like the BBC.
Corbyn designated Rupert Murdoch as one of his targets should he win power.
The Guardian, in November, wrote:
The charge sheet Corbyn described Murdoch as a 'billionaire media baron … whose empire pumps out propaganda to support a rigged system'. His red top newspapers were at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal, which led to the closure of the News of the World.
In early 2017, Murdoch was named as plotting with Blair supporters in the Labour Party.
Labour MPs are conspiring with Murdoch-owned newspapers in a new “soft coup” against Jeremy Corbyn, his Shadow Chancellor has claimed.
It’s planned, co-ordinated and fully resourced. It is being perpetrated by an alliance between elements in the Labour Party and the Murdoch media empire, both intent on destroying Jeremy Corbyn and all that he stands for.
The 1975 coup and election
44 years ago on 11 November 1975, I was in a meeting in Spring Street Melbourne with the "Disadvantaged Schools Program" of the Australian Schools Commission, when a public servant reported that the Government had been overthrown. I very confidently told her that was impossible as there could be a civil war in such an event.
I have never forgotten how Bob Hawke called for calm and took a very passive role in response to this coup.
As the facts became known and as we entered into the most vicious election campaign I can remember, the country became deeply divided. The poisonous role of the mass media, particularly the Murdoch media, was unforgettable.
It was reported that:
News Corporation chief Rupert Murdoch directed his editors to kill Whitlam some 10 months before the downfall of Gough Whitlam's Labor government, according to a newly released United States diplomatic report.
The U.S. National Archives has just declassified a secret diplomatic telegram dated January 20, 1975 that sheds new light on Murdoch's involvement in the tumultuous events of Australia's 1975 constitutional crisis.
The Murdoch propaganda newspapers were so partisan in attacking Whitlam and supporting Fraser that journalists at The Australian took industrial action in protest.
There was an atmosphere of hysteria which led to a terrible defeat on 13 December 1975 from which the Labor Party did not return to power until 1983.
Those Australians who were politically aware were given notice of American intentions towards our government in 1973 when Marshall Greene "the coup master", was appointed by Nixon as U.S. Ambassador to Australia.
In 1961, he was the senior American diplomat in South Korea during a coup that toppled a democratically elected government and replaced it with a vicious dictator.
In 1965, he was senior US diplomat in Indonesia when a coup brought Suharto to power. About a million people were killed.
In 1974, Ted Shackley, with a long career which included the Chilean coup against Allende, became head of the Eastern Division of the CIA, covering Asia and Australia.
The lease for Pine Gap was due for renewal in December 1975. Whitlam was considering its closure.
On 10 November 1975, Shackley sent a cable from the CIA to ASIO’s Director-General, threatening to remove ASIO from the British-U.S. intelligence agreement because he considered Whitlam a security threat.
The Prime Minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country according to the CIA.
According to Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap:
“This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House … a kind of Chile [coup] was set in motion.”
On November 11, 1975, the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia, he was dismissed by the Governor-General.
The ALP has since that time, never raised its head in opposition to the imperial master in Washington, so it has remained safe from coups while in office.
Obedience and compliance are the main themes of Australian foreign policy and are bipartisanship.
Whitlam holds a very special place in the hearts of those who seek to establish an independent foreign policy for Australia. There are no signs at all that his successors have similar aims.
Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.
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