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near Retford, Bassetlaw
North Nottinghamshire
United Kingdom

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Who’s manipulating UK public opinion - and why? Try this...

EU Referendum; one of the most significant community decisions of the last 50 years - and how much of the debate has looked forward to the next 50 years rather than issues ‘of the moment’. Where will Britain, or even England, be in 50 years if we leave the EU? Where will our community be if we are on the outside of the world’s most powerful economic bloc?

Who’s pulling the strings of national newspapers? They are one of the biggest ‘manipulators’ of public attitudes, so who are they?
For a fairly brutal but brief overview, try this. For a much more in-depth consideration, try this article.
(05 Feb 2016)

David Cameron’s former Director of Strategy speaks out about ‘obscene’ salaries of top business people. Read his thoughts here... (May 2015).

Is there something wrong when the average Brit earns around £25k each year but a dress stolen after the Oscars ceremony cost £97k? Read more... (Feb 2015).

Have modern politicians lost the art of rhetoric? Read on... (Feb 2015)

An English referendum? - food for thought (Alex Salmond) - read more... (Dec 2014)

With almost daily news of fundamentalist groups committing murder, when are our authorities and media going to address the reasons for this?
If members of such groups are willing to commit suicide in their cause, we need to understand that cause as a first step to convincing them that they are misguided - if they are. Since Sun Tzu (see below) the notion of knowing your enemy has been a key aspect of overcoming them - and yet we still have official and media silence on this matter!

Where now after Scotland’s vote (19 September 2014)? Seems to me that the developing arguments about Scottish MPs’ votes in Westminster show just how London-focused our parliamentary representatives remain. If the UK really is going to devolve powers to local communities, surely we need not just a Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies but an English Parliament too - separate from the UK Parliament. This would take devolution to a logical conclusion and set a political landscape that could endure for centuries.

That discussions of how to separate ‘English’ (and Scottish, Welsh or Irish) issues from those rightfully under control of a UK-wide parliament will be extremely difficult, we don’t have to look far to see that it can be done; consider the US model of ‘state’ and ‘federal’. What is clear is that an English Parliament would need to sit outside London - why not (for instance) Birmingham which would position it much more centrally as far as English citizens are concerned.

What drives a Jihadist?
One of the most disturbing interviews I have heard for years took place on BBC News on Thursday 3rd July 2014.  Gavin Essler (BBC News) was interviewing Dame Sheila Rimington, former Head of MI5, about her most recent book.

As part of that interview, and following reports that airport security was to be stepped up following reports of new developments in terrorist weapons originating in the Middle East, Gavin asked Dame Sheila what she thought drove Jihadists to want to die for their cause. Her reply was shocking in it’s simplicity; ‘I don’t know’ she said.
What???! From Sun Tzu (Chinese General traditionally placed in the 6th century BC), author of the hugely influential The Art of War, there has been the crucial maxim, ‘know your enemy’. Only by understanding ‘where they are coming from’, to put into modern terms, can successful strategies be developed.

Are we to believe that UK (and probably US too) intelligence have not interviewed at least those who have renounced the mantra of jihad (Holy War) to plumb the core of their beliefs? What is it that has transformed an essentially ‘stand offish’ respect between Western European Christianity and Middle Eastern Islam? This seems to have developed during the 20th century, so what caused it? Surely this is what need to be explored if a core belief is to be uncovered; only then can it be countered.

The attached article, Executive pay ‘180 times average’ report finds appeared briefly on the BBC News website on 14th July, 2014 but mysteriously got buried deep within their website after only a few hours; pressure from interested parties or are we just suspicion-mongers?

The Royal Charter on Press Regulation has been strenuously opposed by leading editors from the start. However, what we have not heard much - if anything - about are the views of the press proprietors, those key individuals who actually own the press. Editors are, after all, simply employees carrying out their boss’s orders.

What would be really interesting to see would be a statement of the beliefs and aims of these shadowy figures. During the Leveson enquiry that lead to the proposed Royal Charter, we caught a carefully managed glimpse behind the secretive wall that is Rupert Murdoch, but what else should we know? What should the other proprietors be sharing too? Transparency is a much used word, but in terms of the media, is often completely lacking.

For an insider view of this important topic, read David Yelland, who edited the Sun for four years. He says the press is misleading the public and engaging in hysteria over press regulation plans.
Read more at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25148655

A quote that may be very relevant here (and has appeared twice in our community Newsletter) is:

Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to. (Hannen Swaffer (1879-1962). Clearly, not too much has changed!

Why is this important? Because there is abundant evidence that, the national press in particular, has an influence in moulding the national attitudes to a range of politically important issues. Just reflect on the sorts of headlines that you see on a daily basis regarding issues relating to:

    a. Britain’s relationship with Europe
    b. Attitude to people wanting to settle in Britain.
    c. Young people.
    d. Citizens struggling to make ends meet...

...to name but a few. It would be good to cross-examine these media moguls to find out which of their prejudices are being championed by their editors. Are headlines evidence-based or just prejudices, writ large?