The rich and the powerful will always be able to control more of the media than the rest of us. Which is why it is so important that we use the only weapon we have at our disposal. Our ability to speak truths that relate more honestly and more directly to the lived experience of the majority.
It is simply not possible for us to compete with the volume of the propaganda that tells us that nurses are holding the country to ransom. It is possible to say that it is wrong to ask the people who got us through the Covid crisis to quietly put up with having their pay cut whilst those who broke the rules make money by going on reality TV. Or go on lucrative lecture tours. Or enjoy the millions they made from dodgy contracts. Silence can be complicity and it is important to speak out in defence of those who need our support and call out the lies and hypocrisy.
Breaking up the monopoly on untruth
This principle becomes all the more important the more extreme the lies are. Night after night on Russian TV President Putin is filling the airways with the message that his special operation is a bit of necessary self-defence which is going really well. Those who oppose his cruel war have the advantage that their criticism of his actions will be echoed by increasing numbers of soldiers shivering in foxholes.
Day by day those who took huge risks to warn that it would end with body bags are making progress. No amount of oppression can prevent real information about what Putin’s war is about from leaking back from the front line and turning the country he has bled dry against him.
Massive propaganda exercises funded by very wealthy people can sometimes be very easily undermined. The Qatar government has more than enough money to bribe FIFA officials and corrupt politicians. Yet their efforts were significantly weakened by a few ordinary sports fans turning up wearing rainbow bucket hats and making fools of the authorities.
It does, however, always take a significant degree of courage and determination to voice difficult truths. Jewish people have the right to live in peace and freedom in full security of their property. Saying that attracts some criticism. Palestinian people also have the right to live in peace and freedom in full security of their property. Voicing that view attracts a lot more.
It has become very risky to state that rights must apply to all communities. The new government of Israel has put a proven racist who believes that settlers should take over the whole of the West Bank in charge of its settlement policy. That is not something that will cease to be a problem if the world stays silent.
In a time of deceit, silence is complicity
That importance of being honest is also important closer to home. Faced with the barrage of propaganda that has been issued in recent years over the supposed benefits of Brexit it has become fashionable in some quarters to regard staying silent on the full extent of the dangers as a wise tactical move. That never works. Those who peddle lies will never stay silent. It is not a clever tactic to fail to respond to lies. It is weakness.
Which is why the failure of the Labour Party leadership to speak the truth to the British public from start to finish of the whole Brexit disaster has been such an appalling mistake. The British economy is in tatters as a result of a far-right political fantasy and yet the leaders of the largest political party on the British left are still reluctant to call out the prime cause. How is our country supposed to start facing up to realities and begin to properly rethink its best future if people of goodwill refuse to speak out?
Deception must be firmly challenged by the opposition
Keir Starmer is well aware of the damage of Brexit. When he had ambitions to lead the Labour Party he began to call for a second referendum so that we didn’t leave until people had a chance to vote on the real deal instead of just on the fine promises.
These days he is much more circumspect. He seems to think that we mustn’t scare the horses in case it worries the voters in the red wall. Nothing could be further from the truth. The voters in the red wall areas need to hear the truth about why they are having such a hard time.
There is no shortage of media outlets telling them it is all about the result of what is happening in Ukraine or the aftermath of Covid or somehow the fault of people who are crossing the Channel in small boats. What there is a shortage of is the leader of the Labour Party stating the alternative case with power and passion.
Brexit has done huge damage to this country. It is deeply worrying that the leader of the opposition is refusing to call it out.