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The metamorphosis of Andrew Gilligan

Andrew GilliganAndrew Gilligan, it should not be forgotten, once saw better days. Thirteen years ago, the BBC reporter’s role in making clear that the Blair administration purposely sexed up the first of the two dossiers advanced in fraudulent justification for the invasion of Iraq should rightly have won him every journalistic prize going, not to mention the plaudits of the entire left.

Predictably, the New Labour machine responded with all the brutal fury it alone could muster. ‘Scuse French if I quote verbatim the party’s then director of communications Alastair Campbell, a thuggish adversary with rather better claim to the epithet ‘Stalinist’ than the incumbent, who openly averred his determination to ‘fuck Gilligan’.

Fuck Gilligan Campbell proceeded to do, and fuck him most royally, come to that. For the crime of reporting a story that was pretty much on the money, Andrew lost his job, and was subject to some spectacularly salacious innuendo about his solitary sexual practices in Private Eye. For many years, his name was unfairly upheld as synonymous with sloppy journalism.

All that, of course, was in 2003, and the years immediately thereafter. Fast forward to the current decade, and he has now sadly re-emerged as specialist in churning out meretricious ostensible exposés of Labour activists for the benefit of politically prurient Telegraph readers.

He’s hardly Britain’s sole purveyor of vindictive high-octane Corbynista bashing. Far from it. But the regularity of his broadsides do make him stand out, even at a time when socialists are being exposed to a level of vituperation unprecedented since the heyday of Bennism.

In the 1980s, the victims were the likes of Joan Twelves and Greg Tucker, Linda Bellos, Diane Abbott, Bernie Grant, Derek Hatton, Mandy Mudd, Pat Wall and the man the Sunday Express (27/10/81) memorably branded ‘IRA-loving, poof loving’ Ken Livingstone. Some of those at the sharp end were friends of mine then, and some of those who have not subsequently passed away I am glad to call friends still.

Today, it seems only the names have changed. Andrew Fisher, James Schneider, Christine Shawcroft, Simon Hewitt, Michael Chessum, Frankie Leach, Louise Whittle, Marshajane Thompson, Jackie Walker and Jill Mountford, to name but a few, have all been hung out to dry by sections of the rightwing mass media.

Spent convictions – and shamefully, even the criminal records of people’s parents – are plastered all over the public prints. Past political follies and asinine Tweets are relentlessly brought to light. If there is no dirt, what the heck, these guys are fair game to be named and shamed anyway.

This sort of treatment comes with consequences. Most obviously, job prospects may suffer. There will be strains in family life. And I know for a fact that some comrades that hit the headlines in the 1980s paid a price in terms of their mental health, and it wouldn’t surprise me were that to recur this time round.

Let us be clear, nobody has been caught red-handed running Kalashnikovs for Islamic State, or dangling kittens over bunsen burners as sweet little Sunday School kiddies look on aghast.

The targets for Gilligan’s venom have done no more than to engage in the democratic process, and given up more Saturdays to sit in committee meetings than anybody reasonably should.

Gilligan’s latest epic appears under the headlineThe radical hard-left Momentum activists mounting a ruthless purge of Labour’.

Purge? My, how wonderfully evocative of the USSR in the 1930s that term is, and entirely deliberately, of course. But Momentum has ‘mounted a purge’ how, exactly?

Since Corbyn’s election to the Labour leadership last September, not one single MP has been deselected, and, to the best of my knowledge, not one single party member has been expelled on ideological grounds.

If some MPs are not chosen again as candidates in 2020, that will be through the mechanism of trigger ballots rather than the mechanism of triggers. No-one will be shot in the back of the neck and the family presented with the bill for the bullet.

Old uncle Lavretiy Beria would no doubt be thoroughly ashamed of those of us now branded his spiritual children for wimping out, but hey, that’s the way it is with the new kinder, gentler politics. We’re just too damn nice to our opponents.

The suggestion in the subhead that ‘the identities and backgrounds of those controlling Momentum can be revealed for the first time’ is equally daft. Anyone could readily have ascertained the identities and backgrounds of everyone mentioned via an expedient no more strenuous than entering their names into Google.

Of course, people who engage in politics at any level should be subject to scrutiny. But repeated corrosive attacks in mass circulation newspapers, with no means of redress, raises the obvious question of just who is being bullied here. Clue: it isn’t hapless Blairite MPs.

I’m not one of those lefties who makes counterproductive calls for state intrusion in what still counts as a free press, even in broadsheets owned by tax exiles with their own private Channel Island. Vindication will come through the success of the Labour left project, if it comes at all.

But Andrew – a guy I used to know well enough to be on first name terms – really needs to rethink this tawdry little vendetta and recall that the best traditions of the investigative journalism in which he once excelled do not run to kicking seven shades out of the defenceless.

It’s all a long way down from rocking governments, isn’t it, mate?

66 Comments

  1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    What a nasty little article; so to sum up for you, when a fairly honest journalist, (and the DT has done a sterling job of exposing and publicizing the endemic graft, corruption and malfeasance of almost all our MPs and also of our public servants and charity bosses etc, and not just those on the Labor bench,) when he exposes wrong doing on the part of someone you don’t like it’s somehow admirable, (it is; and Blair was an utter charlatan,) but when the same man then does the same thing to you or to your seedy mates he’s despicable.

    “If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years, about 600 people – including me – would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”

    Hunter S. Thompson

    1. James Martin says:

      Rather than just attack the Labour Party and socialists with your constant negative trolling on this site how about instead trying to present a positive alternative. If you can’t do that (and I really do doubt you can) please just go away.

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        I don’t really regard myself as being a troll, (but who does?) but for once I’ll stoop to it.

        In but a single paragraph you manage to sum up exactly why, the membership of the British labor Party is now down to a mere 388,407.

        Pretty hard to any kind of positive spin on that?

        Just too damn many of the wrong kinds of voter, (we used to be called socialists.)

        But if people like me did bugger off as you ask; the only person, that people like yourself would then have left to talk would be, “yourself,” and that way lies madness.

        But I’m sure you’re starting to realize that already.

        1. James Martin says:

          Really, is that it Weston? Is that the sum of your positive alternative, that the Labour Party in less than a year has doubled its membership and that that it is still rising on a daily basis? Calling someone like you a troll is being far too kind.

  2. gerry says:

    David – you must be the last person in the UK who expects decency or even fair play from the UK press! Didn’t you see the Leveson proceedings? UK journalists – including Milne and Gilligan – are amongst the worlds’ worst, most shameless and amoral creatures on the planet…easily bought and paid for, and willing to corrupt public servants in the pursuit of a story.

    So no illusions David – every publically active Labour person should – as of now – work through all their social media accounts, and delete anything they dont want made public, be they pictures or words. They must warn their closest family and friends to prepare themselves for what miay be to come…and , asap, our party press and communications people ( like Milne, sadly) must get proactive, and not be constantly reacting to these smears and slurs: go on the attack against Gilligan, for heavens sake…go on the attack against the press, who we nearly had on their knees after the Milly Dowler phone backing horror. Fight back….just yesterday the press were linking Jeremy to the notorious paedophile Tom O’Carroll who apparently joined Cumbria party after Corbyn’s victory: so also we must not give them any ammunition like allowing in this disgusting man, and we must get organised as a party now…

  3. David Ellis says:

    The problem with Momentum is precisely that it is not launching a purge. In fact it seems positively determined to keep the right wing sweet by appeasing it and won’t even seek to expel people many of its ranks would have described as war criminals not so long ago. If there is not a purge New Labour MPs will ride back to power (if his support for Cameron in the EU referendum hasn’t already screwed Labour as an electoral force by then) on Corbyn’s anti-austerity coat tails only to then form a government of national emergency with the Lib Dems and Tories that will carry on the policy of screwing working people. Let’s get this purge on. Let’s make it a badge of honor to be part of the New Labour Clearances.

    Apart from that the left will always be easy pickings for the right wing press because it is riddled with opportunists and the cancer of Stalinism that means it gets embroiled in all sorts of degenerate nonsense.

    1. John P Reid says:

      Momentum isn’t Even affiliated with the Labour Party if it was and it was running the party,and had permission via the NEC to change the rules, to say why it felt justified in doing so,as the right of the parties views didn’t fit in,with the party, then it may be on to something.

    2. James Martin says:

      But David, why should anyone do what you ask when you are not even in the Party? You remind be of an annoying loud-mouth eejit that stands near me at home games and who always shouts his opinion on what the players on the pitch should be doing and their lack of intelligence for not following his instructions. As it happens if you want to deselect your Labour MP if you have one you merely need to get along to your local CLP meetings and start building support for a trigger ballot. Of course what happens in other CLP’s is entirely a matter for *their* members, it’s something we call ‘democracy’.

      1. David Ellis says:

        Well yes that is what needs to happen. My point is that Momentum should be organising to make that happen. Perhaps you could address that?

  4. jeffrey davies says:

    hmmm blair babies aint wanted by the peasants the press need to be brought back to earth yet nothing about these tory whose culling of the stock through benefit denials carrys on while you point out that a reporter gets his hmm isnt it pathetic that the aktion t4 rolls on without much of a ado while everyone talks lovely jeff3

  5. John P Reid says:

    Yes the Tory press only a section of the press mind you, were anti some on the left, but look at the ammunition livingstone and Co gave them, he seized power in a coup, Linda bellow banned white police officers from using the councils toilets, Canteen,and that 1987 party election broadcast, Bernie burnt the police got a bloody good hiding, Diane Abbott all white people are racist,those comments nay have been took out of context, but out canvassing in Essex that year, do you know how many votes it drove away from labour, maybe those comments were right for those people to say,as they believed ,in what they were saying,the electorate didn’t, but it’s not always important to go along with the electorate, or even labour a core vote

    That’s why labour members should be allowed to campaign for vote Leave.

  6. There is a calumny against Jon Lansman in the Gilligan Telegraph article which should be attacked immediately. Lansman is described as 40 years old. Try 58. I am even older, and there is a role for old codgers. But if Gilligan cannot get Lansman’s age right, how accurate is the rest of the article? Jon, you must protest.

    Trevor Fisher

    1. John P Reid says:

      He said lansman was a 40 year veteran,not a 40 yer old one

  7. Mick Hall says:

    A good article by Dave but looking back to the 1980s, I dont believe the reputations of any of those smeared were damaged, After all Ken went on to become Mayor of London.

    Although I agree with Dave when he wrote those Gilligan smears may lose out in the jobs market. Thus it has always been for left activists, especially if Trade Unionists.

    I tend to believe the Tory MP Alan Clark had it about right when the media exposed his sexual peccadillos, etc. he just shrugged his shoulders and said so what that is for me and my family and then said very politely fuck off.

    Almost everyone has baggage or done something foolish in their youth, for christ sake Cameron fucked a dead pig’s head. Unless it was sheep shagging or committing violent crimes it is no one else’s business.

    There will always be Gilligans in this world, they need to be treated with the contempt they deserve
    the lesson is never talk to these hack or believe what they write.

    Sadly and I have to say this, the Labour movement in all its forms is often only to willing to believe the worst about comrades. For example it is beyond me to understand why the LP suspends members as soon as someone makes a silly accusation.Mud sticks, often unfairly.

    What this often means is the accused has to prove their innocence, when it is for the prosecution to do prove them guilty. The guy who was at centre of Grangemouth Oil Refinery brouhaha was a good example of this.

    1. John P Reid says:

      In livingstones case, the smears on his penal life, were alleging he was a hypocrite,more recently when it was revealed he had 6 kids by 4 partners, he was portrayed as hypocritical for being a ‘lad’ when before they use to say he was into gay. Orgies, the reason he lost the 2008 mayoral election was Lee jasper was seen to have waged millions, which, not criminal, again were Tory Smears, compared to what Boris got away with.

  8. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

    If Gilligan had any integrity at all he wouldn’t be working for the Telegraph.

    The main stream media are all treading the same path, it is as it has always been, working against the interests of people in favour of corporate power.

    The media have lost ground in recent years, people are far more sceptical than they used to be, the trouble is they just don’t know who to believe.

    The point that seems to be missed in all of this is that the media are pin point focussed on destroying socialism. Whilst we are fighting on all fronts, like a scatter gun we are thinly and widely spread.

    We need to unite around two over-riding principles, 1. That we can afford our public services. 2. That money is not created by wealthy billionaires, but printed out of thin air every time the banks make a loan.

    People are wedded to the capitalist system because they think they are the providers of jobs, we need break that particular mould of thinking and demonstrate how people are the real creators of wealth and capitalists merely syphon wealth upwards at all our expense.

    Instead of chasing the media we should be leading the debate, John McDonnell and Jeremy are in fact doing that with their journey around Britain with leading economists who are challenging the mythology perpetrated by Neo-Liberals everywhere.

    We must rebut the lies and deceit in the press but fundamentally the membership themselves need to understand money creation and how it can be used directly into the economy, Banks and Big business are obsolete forms of job creation, until our own people understand that thay can’t properly rebut the right wing media.

  9. Mike Homfray says:

    Gilligan? Pond life/flotsam at best, waste of oxygen at worst.

  10. Bazza says:

    I recommend people read Ken Livingstone’s biography which I did at Christmas and you will hear an interesting perspective on this particular individual.
    Of course right wing journalists find their niche in the market; and their job is to attack and smear the Left to help keep their masters, the rich and powerful in power.
    They are propagandists, with nothing really to say.

    1. John P Reid says:

      His book was full of inaccuracies like

      the 1000 foreign prisoner released without deportation all happened in 2005 most happened in 2002-2004

      Or Gillighan was sacked, from the standard,

      or that when they were discussing the re admittance of him it was Charles Clarke who boasted he’d rigged the leadership to prevent it, it was a rig, it was just a majority was needed

      He also said that he’d predicted Mrs thatcher would have a swing against her in 1987 and Bernie grant would have a swing towards him,in constituencies, Finxhley and Tottenham respectively,when the opposite happened

      Or that in 1992 there were bigger swings towards labour in working class areas than mid for class ones, again the opposite happened.

  11. Bob says:

    Dave is of course correct in his attacks on Gilligan’s present-day witch-hunting. However, it doesn’t help his case that he uncritically defends Gilligan’s 2003 “research” into the Iraq dossier. For example, Dave completely misrepresents Campbell’s “fuck Gilligan” quote. He just concludes that because Campbell was in the wrong over the Iraq war Gilligan was in the right. It’s just not true. The reality is that Gilligan’s falsification of David Kelly’s evidence was an early example of the same unprincipled and malicious journalism in which he engages today. I wrote an article a few years ago on this subject, which was posted (under a misleading title) at Socialist Unity:

    http://socialistunity.com/gilligans-sexed-up-attacks-on-ken-livingstone/

  12. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    As someone who generally speaking would welcome some more diverse, challenging and even dare I say it radical articles here, from different people, (people other than the, “usual suspects,”) I have read this article, (little more than personal attack on someone you don’t particularly like,) along with another recent and equally vacant and even more self obsessed contribution, from a narcissistic, (at least she comes across as such; I’ve never had the misfortune to actually meet her so i don’t know,) 19 year old student at Manchester University, (somehow I doubt she’s studying heretical physics, but of course I could easily be wrong,) who apparently labors under the complete misapprehension that she’s, “a Feminist,” (the feminists that grew up with would have ground their teeth at that one had any of them read it,) and few things have depressed me more or been more indicative of the by now almost complete moral, intellectual and political bankruptcy of the post Blair labor party than this drivel.

    When we voted for Jeremy Corby we were all expecting more positive and constructive than;

    Nobody likes me,
    Everybody hates,
    Think I’ll go and eat worms.

    But you need to understand it’s all because of that ghastly Andrew Gilligan and the Daily Telegraph.

    So, “Forward thinking for the democratic left,” not so much ?

  13. the student is studying international relations and is at Manchester Metropolitan University, not Manchester university, and getting the most basic facts wrong about people you do not like is unacceptable.

    Who and what are simple questions and the information was in the original article. Do you ever do any homework?

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Yes is here are some numbers.

      Population of the UK 65 million

      Membership of the Labor Party 388,407

      Readership of the Daily Telegraph 494,675

      As for the student at Manchester University, (so not as I had already surmised budding theoretical physicist after all,) I read her tedious article as it was presented to me here and I thought it was inane.

      I shouldn’t need to do, “my homework,” that is after all one function of Left Futures, is it not ?

      But putting that aside, I voted for Corbyn, but I doubt I’ll be doing so again given what the result has been.

      It’s often been said of Labor party they they are always far more preoccupied with sniping at each other and that they hate each other, far more than they hate the Tory’s and given the stuff that Tory’s are doing, but back here on planet Eart,) to sick, the disabled and unemployed I find that sickening.

      With the current moral, intellectual and political collapse of the Labor party in the UK an abyss is opening up in politics, (compounded by unaccountable and undemocratic cooperate incursions in almost every facet of our lives,) that has some deeply troubling historical precedents, in Germany in the 1930 into such a political vacuum came one Adolph Hitler to full it.

      Few people now regard the outcome of that as having been desirable and that’s just one possible scenario there are others; all equally as dire for the ordinary working people whom the post Blair Labor party have turned their collective back on.

    2. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Oh by the way and I’m not a graduate as far I’m concerned or care, (for most purposes and certainly for this purpose,) a university is just a university, you may as well criticize me for my inability to conjugate a Greek Verb for all the relevance it has.

      I judged the article only on it’s merits and the author by her article and I found both to be equally dumb.

  14. Curlew says:

    They are all fast becoming the equivalent of schock-jocks now.

    As the printed press gasps its last, each journo is trying to get as much coverage as possible before they move to a digital presence where the number of followers counts towards their pay.

    Although digital news could be the great equaliser, it will also present a rapid falling in journalistic standards.

  15. Bob says:

    Just to add, Dave’s article is also notable for the absence of any reference to, still less criticism of, Gilligan’s previous record of witch-hunting, much of which has had distinct racist undertones.

    For example, the vicious and baseless attacks on Ken Livingstone’s then equalities officer Lee Jasper in the Evening Standard during the London mayoral election campaign in 2007-8. I could be wrong, and no doubt Dave will correct me if I am, but I can’t recall him indignantly denouncing “Andrew” over that at the time, and he evidently doesn’t think it’s worthy of mention now. Nor did Dave feel moved to denounce Gilligan over his relentless, endless smear campaign against Muslims in Tower Hamlets – the hysterical “Britain’s Islamic Republic” crap about the East London Mosque or the obsessive attacks on Lutfur Rahman.

    Dave didn’t think those victims were entitled to his support at the time and he evidently hasn’t changed his mind today. You’d have to conclude that he’s only decided to come out against Gilligan now because this time it’s an organisation of which Dave himself is a supporter that is on the receiving end of Gilligan’s witch-hunting.

    The whole notion of Gilligan having undergone a recent “metamorphosis”, in which he has abandoned “the best traditions of the investigative journalism in which he once excelled” and suddenly turned into an unprincipled stitch-up merchant, is just a total fantasy. Gilligan has used those methods for years, and Dave has either cheered him on (the Iraq dossier) or remained silent (Lee Jasper and Tower Hamlets).

    1. David Osland says:

      Bob, you know well – as we have discussed this face to face and online – that we have different analyses of political Islam in Britain and the attitude the left should adopt towards it.

      What you are not entitled to do is to infer anything from my silence on any given issue.

      If I don’t write on something, you don’t know my stance. End of.

      1. Bob says:

        Your “stance” was that Gilligan witch-hunted Lee Jasper, the East London Mosque and Lutfur Rahman – with considerably more viciousness and dishonesty than he’s witch-hunted Momentum – and you didn’t raise any objections at all. No doubt you thought that was just Gilligan excelling in “the best traditions of investigative journalism”. Go tell that to Lee Jasper.

        1. David Osland says:

          Bob, your accusation seems to be that I do not extend political support to people and/or institutions I do not support politically.

          You have me bang to rights there, Sir. I am crushed before the power of your remorseless logic.

          But it is inadmissible to infer from my silence that I endorse any criticism of Mr Rahman, Mr Jasper or ELM *from the right*.

          1. Bob says:

            Here is someone named “Dave Osler” (you may know him) writing at Liberal Conspiracy in December 2009.

            http://liberalconspiracy.org/2009/12/08/sexed-up-the-vindication-of-andrew-gilligan/

            As you can see, the article is a glowing tribute to Gilligan’s qualities as a journalist, involving a complete cover up of his actual role in the Iraq dossier controversy.

            Bear in mind that this article was written after Gilligan had been central to a disgraceful Evening Standard campaign against Ken Livingstone’s administration the previous year, in which smears and insinuation had substituted for actual investigative journalism.

            Did Dave Osler see fit to mention Gilligan’s part in this? Not at all. He had this to say about Gilligan’s career following his forced resignation from the BBC in 2004: “He has worked since, but has not enjoyed the prominence his talents undoubtedly deserve.”

            Seriously, this Dave Osler – a self-proclaimed left-winger – was prepared to write that about a man whose witch-hunt of Lee Jasper had plumbed new depths in yellow journalism.

            As for your assertion that your failure to oppose Gilligan’s anti-Muslim witch-hunts in Tower Hamlets was due to your position on “political Islam in Britain”, I can only observe that your knowledge of that particular subject would fit without difficulty on the back of a postage stamp.

            Whenever anything to do with Islam or Muslims comes up, your response is invariably characterised by ignorant bigotry and lazy stereotypes.

  16. Dear Mr or Ms Craig WEston,

    I really don’t care if you are a graduate or left school at 14 as both my parents did, doing your homework is basic – getting both the university and the subject being studied wrong when they are stated in the original article is unacceptable. Whether you are doing an academic course or training to be a car mechanic. Both good in my view, and both require getting the facts right.

    You are also confusing sales with readership The Daily Telegraph has more readers than it sells, and that would be the relevant figure in terms of impact. However all non tory politicians have to deal with the tory dominance of the print media, and Gladstone recognised this with the Midlothian campaign. If they could never be beaten the Tories would always win.

    Trevor Fisher.

  17. Gilligan, it should be noted, has been proved correct (by the NCTL findings) over the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham schools, as opposed the (for instance) the Guardian, the SWP and the NUT, who denied that there was any real issue there.

    1. where has Gilligan commented on Trojan Horse? If you want to claim there are problems in those schools, 5 out of 6 of them are academies, you need to start with the OFSTED reports, which gave all of them a clean bill of health. Park View Academy went from outststanding to special measures in a month, and Chief Inspector Wilshaw went in personally to investigate what was going on, as his inspectors had missed what is was. If anything. There were no jihadists found by any of the inquiries

      As far as I know, Wilshaw’s conclusions were not published. If Gilligan published anything I would like to see it. Did he go into the schools? The inspectors did, and saw nothing wrong.

      Trevor Fisher

          1. Jim Denham says:

            Bob: you’re simply wrong, as the NCTL enquiries have shown. Teachers in Birmingham know that there has been a campaign by ultra-reactionary Islamist forces to take over state schools. There is ample evidence of this including homophobic, misogynist and anti-Semitic emails from the conspirators. The only people who seem wilfully blind to this are the SWP, “Left Unity”/ISG, the NUT and the Guardian.

  18. I read the Torygraph selectively and do not read Gilligan. Poisioned chalice. As an educational writer I do read (selectively) OFSTED reports and those for the Trojan Horse schools were rosy. After Trojan Horse broke the Birmingham Mail was still publishing them, and it was clear that Wilshaw’s establishment had failed to pick up what was happening. If anything.

    What Wilshaw said after he went in personally – and I do not remember the HMCI of schools going into a school before – is insubstantial.

    There was a problem in East Birmingham schools, but no more so than in other schools in religious dominated areas, as other faiths show. In some jewish schools exam papers are changed when they do not accord with the faith, as the TImes Educational Supplement has reported.

    For Trojan horse, always remember one thing in this mess of misinformation. The local community did NOT want faith schools and did not get them. there are no muslim faith schools in East Birmingham

    In a faith school most of the practices complained of would be legal.

    And not just faith schools. The segregation of girls and boys is not good in my view, but when the Sec of State was before the Select Committee, the then chair pointed out the hypocrisy of Morgan complaining as she had been to a single sex girls grammar schools. A faith schools can segregate on gender lines.

    We have no idea what happened in the Trojan Horse schools, but the day school at the university of Birmingham staged for the purpose at which Gus Johns spoke, and local muslim parents, established that reporting of the issue had conformed to a one sided and partisan pattern. OFSTED – which has to be defended against Tory attacks I would suggest – has to be condemened for having no idea what happened, before or after. Its a major failure of the inspectorate.

    And a small point but not insignificant. The picture the Torygraph used is of a replica erected at the site of Troy by the Turkish Tourist Board. I was there last autumn and if anyone wants the image, I took pictures and can supply. The real Trojan horse if it existed left no remains. And when Schliemann excavated the site which has several layers he dug straight through the Homeric site as he did not believe he had discovered it.

    Much like the investigators into the 6 schools in East Birmingham which we still have no idea were practising…. what? Don’t ask OFSTED. THey gave them grade 1 awards and praised Park View Academy in particular

    Trevor FIsher.

    1. James Martin says:

      The Birmingham schools issue is indeed complex with many conflicting layers and problems. You have the issue of academisation and the loss of local democratic oversight (both from the LA and parents) in favour of unaccountable governors whose only monitoring from DfE was probably a cheer that they had broken away from the ‘bureaucratic tyranny’ of the LA as part of Gove’s ‘revolution’. Then you have the hated Ofsted whose only function these days under Wilshaw seems to be to attack teaching unions and demoralise undermine the profession. In the schools themselves it is quite clear that there was a level of reactionary religious bile being poured out by some Muslim teachers with the backing of some Muslim governors. And while I take the point that equally reactionary religious mumbo jumbo pours out in various other faith schools (having taught in both Catholic and CofE state schools I can attest to the religious crap that is fed to kids in them), the fact is that these were not Muslim schools but, allegedly, secular community ones so things had gone very wrong indeed (as the recent banning orders for some of the teachers involved shows).

      The lessons though for socialists are clear. We must stop academies and free schools and bring them all back into local democratic control with recreated LEAs. We must campaign for all state schools to be secular community establishments for kids of all faiths and none and where religious instruction is for the home, church, mosque and temple. And we must ensure that a curriculum based on science rather than creationism is in place at every single school, monitored by a supportive inspectorate (the Finnish model) after we scrap Ofsted.

    2. Jim Denham says:

      Trevor: it is simply not true that “We have no idea what happened in the Trojan Horse schools”. The NCTL hearings have exposed exactly what went on: an organised campaign by ultra-reactionary Islamists to take over state schools. WE have the evidence of the email group run by the conspirators, full of misogynist, homophobic and anti-Semitic comments. All this is now on the record.

      1. I suggest comrades read the select committee findings, which did not accept this. The National Committee on Teaching Leadership is a government committee whose CEO is appointed by the Secretary of State.

        Why accept this when there are other inquiries which are not involved in the state machine and have no reason to go along with it?

        I see you are still not accepting that OFSTED failed to pick up any problems in the schools? DO you accept that Park View Academy and other schools were given Grade 1 awards by the OFSTED inspectors or not? These awards are on the record.

        There are currently hearings into the dismissals going on and the detailed issues are sub judice. However the evidence has never proved a conspiracy. What is clear is a religious grouping which had tried to influence the teaching in the schools. No different from Faith schools, except that the faith schools are legally allowed to do so. The muslim community in east Birmingham did not want Faith Schools, which may be why the fundamentalists behaved as they did.

        Mysogny, homophobia and anti Semitism are loathsome, but are not a conspiracy. Catholic schools in my area are full of people which just those views

        They are not supporters of ISIS. Nor has anything in East Birmingham shown that there was anything of that kind happening.

        Trevor Fisher

        1. Bob says:

          Here is the Education Committee summarising its findings in its report “Extremism in schools: the Trojan Horse affair”:

          “All our witnesses also accepted that they had found no evidence of extremism in schools…. The one example given by Ian Kershaw is clearly unacceptable and action should have been taken by the school to prevent it, but a single instance does not warrant headline claims that students in Birmingham — or elsewhere in England — are being exposed to extremism by their teachers. The Birmingham City Council Trojan Horse Review Group was firm that it did not ‘support the lazy conflation – frequently characterised in the national media in recent months – of what Ofsted have termed issues around “a narrow faith based ideology” and questions of radicalisation, extremism or terrorism’. We agree…. We also note that we have seen no evidence to support claims of an organised plot to take over English schools.”

          A succinct refutation of Gilligan’s lying, distorting, scaremongering crap.

          http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmeduc/473/47304.htm

          1. Jim Denham says:

            That Committee’s findings have been challenged and refuted by teachers in Birmingham: the NCTL findings show that Gilligan’s coverage was largely correct.

          2. Bob says:

            I see that one of the “Trojan Horse” teachers, Inamulhaq Anwar, is appealing against the NCTL ban.

            His NUS representative, Tony Pearce, described the NCTL’s decision as a “total miscarriage of justice”, adding: “We are firmly of the view that the NCTL panel committed numerous errors in reaching their view that Mr Anwar was guilty….”

            Pearce said that the NUS believed it was the “inherently negative view of Muslims and Islam, promoted by the Department of Education (DfE) and the press in general throughout the Trojan Horse affair, that has influenced the panel to make inaccurate findings against Mr Anwar”.

            http://schoolsweek.co.uk/trojan-horse-scandal-teacher-appeals-indefinite-ban-claiming-islamophobia/

            http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/former-trojan-horse-linked-school-10944798

          3. Bob says:

            Of course I meant NUT.

  19. David Ellis says:

    The whole piece is pointless when the real problem is not people reporting that Momentum are leading a purge of the right wing but that they are actually not. In fact now Corbyn has ditched the historic anti-EU position of the left in order to retain unity with the New Labour right. A historic betrayal.

    1. James Martin says:

      Ah good, you must have been getting worried David as it seems that your brand of sectarian swamp politics simply can’t survive without a ‘betrayal’, you must be very relieved that you can now ignore what is happening in the Labour Party and carry on preaching at us as before.

      1. David Ellis says:

        Clearly you do not take your politics seriously. Corbyn has chosen Project Fear over opposition and a struggle for socialism. This is a moment of existential danger for the labour movement and the labour party.

    2. John P Reid says:

      Just to point out some of the right of the Labour Party, from Bryan gould, Austin Mitchell, Peter shore,even Hugh Gaitskell have been a euro sceptic, I note that David Owen and lord glasman both on the right of the party are canvassing for brexit,and backed Ed M for leader.

  20. Bob is correct The Select Committee had no axe to grind and reported correctly that the evidence did not support the government’s position which had been widely supported by the media.

    There is of course examples of practices we would deplore, and I don’t deny homophobia, mysogny and anti-Semitism exist in the local community – they also exist in non muslim areas and I pick up some unacceptable indicators particularly among Pentecostal Christians and Jewish fundamentalists. Not anti-semistism amongst the latter, obviously. But the communities are like any others divided and have many reactionary elements.

    What did not happen was a jihadist plot However the mishandling of the problems – and there were some problems – might just create the very extremism the Telegraph imagines they were reporting on.

    Trevor Fisher

    1. Bob says:

      Here’s the front page of the Birmingham Mail from March 2014, with its screaming headline based on the notorious “Trojan Horse” letter that was a transparent forgery and didn’t contain a single reference to jihadism anyway.

      True, Gilligan was not involved in this particular report, but it illustrates the outbreak Islamophobic hysteria that his irresponsible journalism consciously played to, without the slightest concern for honesty or accuracy.

      http://www.islamophobiawatch.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Birmingham-Mail-jihadist-plot.jpg

      1. James Martin says:

        Was the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter a fake? Yes, almost certainly. However, the actions of some Muslim teachers and governors, and the previous role of organisations like the MCB, is still a cause for concern that goes beyond the fact that some of the teachers have now been banned from teaching and Tahir Alam banned from being a governor. Alam remember was the author of the 2007 MCB document for schools ‘Towards Greater Understanding’ and while much of that was uncontroversial (explaining the dietary and religious festival issues that schools could accommodate), others were very controversial indeed, such as recommendations that Muslim pupils should be allowed to not do subjects like dance, music and drama. And there lays the heart of the problems here. No child is born a Muslim (or a Christian or a Jew or anything else), they are born into families that have differing belief systems (my own 9 year old is now an expert in his school on Dionysus and Selenus, my own gods of choice following many a visit to various pubs with me over the years). And for the sake of social cohesion all children should be in the same schools learning to respect each other. But for the sake of integration it is simply not acceptable for a child on account of the religious mumbo jumbo believed by his or her parents to be able to opt out of lessons like those. Because if a child for ‘religious reasons’ cannot learn to be creative then what else, for ‘religious reasons’ do we allow exemption from science lessons too? Indeed, this was precisely some of the reactionary nonsense that was going on at the allegedly secular state funded schools in Birmingham (with or without a ‘plot’), and it is the job of socialists not to brush that under the carpet with cries of ‘Islamophobia’, but to expose it to the light for the crap it is and redouble the necessary criticism of reactionary religious ideas in *any* school.

  21. The attack here is only on Muslims. Other faiths also have extremists and the same charges can be laid against them. CHristian extremists who believe that the bible is the literal truth do want their children to be removed from these lessons, yet there is no criticism of them. And what of the faith schools that teach the world was created in 4004bc? Whether they can be stopped as they do not have to follow the national curriculum is a moot point.

    Personally I support the ACCORD organization which does advocate a balance curriculum that no religion can opt out of.

    When I read attacks on one religion and its extremists and no mention of others, it is clear that there is no concern for a balanced education despite the rhetoric.

    Look at the mote in your own eye Mr Martin. And do you accept there are no Jihadists in Birmingham schools, as the Birmingham Mail claimed?

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. James Martin says:

      Yes Trevor, any and all religions can be reactionary, even Buddhism as witnessed by the near fascist Buddhist anti-Tamil groups in Sri Lanka and the violent anti-Muslim pogroms that were led by Buddhist monks last year in Burma. And yes, serious reactionary activities has gone on (and continue to go on) in a number of private faith schools including Jewish, Christian and Muslim ones. But the difference here that was and is unique is that these Birmingham schools were secular community comprehensive state schools, and what happened was allowed to take place largely as a result of academisation and the serious loss of both local and national oversight into them. That is not to say that other religions could not do the same in other academies (and indeed there are concerns in a number of free schools currently concerning a number of relgious groups), but this problem was Muslim, and personally I’m sick and tired of white-liberal guilt tripping with all its cries of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘racism’ whenever reactionary practices take place that happen to be Muslim ones because ultimately such an approach is anti-socialist. Find me a similar example to the Birmingham ‘Trojan’ state schools for other religions and I will happily attack them too, but I am not going to brush this crap under the carpet, some of what was clearly happening in those schools was disgraceful, and you don’t need a takfiri terrorist link to have to accept that. Personally I am against *all* state funded faith schools and always have been, but the problem here is that these were not even officially faith schools anyway which indicates just how bad it had got.

  22. this is not a question of guilt tripping but of historical and political accuracy. The question is whether was jihadism in East Birmingham schools. Bob has rightly given us the headline of the Birmingham Mail, a paper which has unique status in the city. It alleges Jihadist activity.

    There was none. If you cannot accept this then please stop trying to justify the activities of the government. The question of academies is relevant, but only in the sense that the national curriculum does not apply in academies or free schools or faith schools.

    The simple answer to the extremist issue is not british values, a complete nonsense (Scotland has never been under the Department for Education) but making all schools follow the national curriculum.

    Put that on the agenda and all the extremists will come out into the open and there will be strange alliances between muslims and other faith groups

    On Trojan Horse… the letter is now regarded as a fake and the select committee agreed there was no conspiracy.

    Except that there was. It was not, however, run by Muslims but by the people who wrote and circulated the letter. And those who ran with it.

    So lets get down to the basics. The Birmingham Evening Mail is wrong, there were no jihadists ins state schools in Birmingham.

    Yes or No?

    Trevor Fisher

    1. James Martin says:

      Trevor, I am actually not at all sure what point you are making here. As I’ve said the original letter was almost certainly a fake, but if you are saying that just because there were no ‘jihadists’ in these schools then everything is ok then you are very wrong indeed. I never claimed that there were, but the banning orders against both teachers and governors that have come out of this whole sorry episode are proof if any were needed that things were very wrong – and again, I challenge you to find any similar examples elsewhere to this, because I am aware of none. You do not need a link with terrorists to oppose the poisonous influence of religion in places where it should never have been in the first place. You do not need an active conspiracy to see that the appalling role of a leading MCB member Tahir Alam dovetailed into that of a number of Muslim teachers including those that have now been banned from the classroom for what they were doing. These things are facts Trevor, but the real question is why do you apparently want to ignore the reactionary role of religion in them?

      As to justifying the government, please tell me where I have done this? The central underlying basis for this scandal is in the academies programme under Gove that removed accountability and local democratic oversight, and on a secondary level in the way DfE and Ofsted now operate and if you think that getting an ‘outstanding’ from Ofsted means that there are no problems in a school outside of pupil data tracking, tick boxing and a few lesson observations then you know nothing about how Ofsted inspections actually work, Ofsted is a useless and damaging organisation that exists now only to attack and undermine teachers and it should be put out of its misery before it does any more damage.

    2. Jim Denham says:

      Trevor: you are simply *wrong* on all points: there *was* a plan by ultra-reactionary Islamists to gain control of Birmingham schools. The NCTL hearings prove it.

  23. the abuses alleged are found in other religious institutions. However they have been seen as muslim in a specific sense, as being part of the muslim dogma of Jihad, or Holy War. This doctrine is found in other religions but is explicit in some versions of the muslim religion, about which I do not claim to be an expert. It is a historical fact that in other periods of European history muslims have lived in peace with other faiths.

    However what was being alleged in East Birmingham was a plot – for which no evidence has been found and the Select Committee is explicit about this, to promote Jihad, which was the term used in the Birmingham Mail headline.

    You are evading the question of whether there was a plot to impose Jihadic teachings in these schools. There may be Jihadists in the schools, no evidence exists to show what people thought. SOme of the evidence offered to exclude teachers was thin, some more worrying but none that I am aware of indicated an organised conspiracy to advocate Holy War as the ISIS state is committed to do.

    You say that “you do not need an active conspiracy”…. but that is what the term Trojan Horse means. The same problem exists in the Birmingham Pub bombings, so lets bring that into the equation. The 6 men convicted were convicted of bombing the two pubs in 1974 that led to deaths and serious injuries. They were convicted not of being supporters of the IRA or the bombing campaign, which might or might not have been the case: it is possible – but as the on going investigation shows, they did NOT do the pub bombings for which they served prison sentences.

    The heart of both issues, which profoundly affects the Irish and Muslim communities in this city, the city of my birth, is that people were accused of offences for which there is no evidence to support the allegations – if the Trojan Horse allegations ever come to trial, which the authorities have failed to do, I have no doubt the defence lawyers would tear the accusations to shreds. However it was impossible to say this in 1974 and I was one of those who tried to say the Birmingham 6 were not guilty of the charges. Allegations are specific in both cases, evidence is missing in both cases.

    As for OFSTED, I am a critic and read some of the positive reviews particularly the Park View Academy which gave it an outstanding rating. I am a close observer of OFSTED and it operation, and have broken off from writing a document about the Chief Inspectors report. He is right on many of the issues he is writing about, and I would recommend p17 on teacher shortages. However on individual schools the reporting process broke down in 2005 and needs urgent attention.

    This does not change the fact that while they missed much, they did not miss the Jihadist plot alleged in the press.

    It did not exist

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. James Martin says:

      Trevor, there you go again, jihadist plot plot plot. For the nth time I never said there was one so how on earth am I ‘evading’ anything, you are asking me to deny something I’ve never said in the first place. If you want to attack Gilligan be my guest, I won’t be defending the clown. If you want to attack the Birmingham Mail, fine by me I’ve never read it. But again I will ask you, because again you have given no answer, please find any other example where teachers and governors have been banned from schools for the types of religious related issues that led to these bans? Why are you so scared to oppose religion being misused in the classroom as it was here?

      You know people like you remind me me of the right-wing Zionist lobby in the Labour Party who have regularly attacked me over the years for my unstinting support for Palestine and in recent times for my support for BDS. Because what they do is say that we can’t possibly criticise Israel as the only Jewish state in the world surrounded by enemies, we can’t link the settler occupations to Apartheid. Why? Because in their twisted world view to do so is anti-Semitic at a time when the Jewish community already feels under renewed threat. And what is your argument? That because the Muslim community faces prejudice and threats that we should not criticise what happened in these schools, its Islamophobic, its racist or whatever slur you like. And like I said, I’m sick and tired of this middle class anti-socialist nonsense that has nothing to do with working class solidarity and everything to do with being unable to call out damaging reactionary ideologies for what they are.

  24. the thread here is about Gilligan and the material on the Daily Telegraph site, and the underlying issue is the alleged threat of a jihadist plot which Gilligan and others have made. The issue of other teachers and schools being banned for extremist activities is well known and the evidence is best looked at through the Accord web site.

    I am opposed to all attempts to misuse religion. If you read the TES last week you will see a very worrying article which argues that research into Northern Ireland schools (12th February) shows that even in ‘integrated’ schools pupils make friends only from their own religion.

    The Accord grouping is a broad alliance of secularists and non secularists to achieve a balanced approach to religion and I recommend colleagues join it.

    As for the yellow press, they have alleged a ‘plot’ which does not exist, and the select committee says did not exist. Individuals and indeed networks may be promoting their religions, and the national curriculum should be taught in all schools with an end to the academy and free schools programme.

    But this thread started with the Daily Telegraph and Gilligan. I am not an expert on either, so do not comment on them. But it is legitimate to say that other papers took the same view, as this thread started by looking at the alleged “Trojan Horse” plot as claimed in a letter which is now largely regarded as a fake.

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. James Martin says:

      Yes, Trevor, but fake or not that infamous letter that started all this turned out in reality to be very useful because without it then no doubt all those appalling practices and behaviour of the likes of Tahir Alam and the now barred teachers would almost certainly have still been going on under the radar.

    2. Jim Denham says:

      Trevor: there *was* a plot. Read the NCTL findings.

  25. the Birmingham mail report on Trojan Horse certainly has been challenged, and the issue is with the courts. To access the latest stage of the controversy, comrades should read the report in this weeks’ Birmingham post. Bob gave the link in his comment on 29th February.

    As the issue is slated to go to the high court, it is now sub judice and no comment on the cases which are in the pipeline can be made. However on the NCTL, would Jim Denham and James Martin at least accept that NCTL is a government body appointed by the secretary of state? That is at least a factual issue beyond dispute. I hope.

    THe High Court is at least independent of the government of the day, and it was the high court which aquitted the Birmngham pub bombers after years in prison. So we now need to see if the case in review goes to court

    Trevor Fisher

  26. Jim Denham says:

    Trevor: t rank and file teachers at Park Hall and throughout Birmingham know the essential truth of the Trojan Horse allegations. It really has come to something when the “left” is defending ultra-conservative religious indoctrination, racism, misogyny anti-Semitism and homophobia in schools.

  27. I have asked you to wait till the case gets to the high court and evidence is taken under oath, which does not occur in NCTL meetings.

    It may not get to the court, but it is a fact that it was the high court which finally accepted that the Birmingham 6 had been fitted up by the authorities.

    The question is one of truth. The court route is not ideal, but if it is taken I would at least wait to see what is said on oath.

    I Regret that in my earlier post today I did not put the phrase ‘Birmingham pub bombers’ in inverted commas, saying that the high court acquitted them which is true. Colleagues may not be aware of the Birmingham pub bombings, unlike the Guilford bombings they did not get an Oscar winning film (In the Name of the Father). Six men who were wholly innocent were convicted and would have been executed had we still had capital punishment in 1974. To this day we do not know who bombed the Carousel and Tavern in the Town pubs. ANd the campaign for truth continues.

    As it will over the Trojan Horse allegations. I would also suggest, MR Denham, that you take great care if you accusing me of “defending ultra conservative religious indoctrination, racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism and homophobia”? My record is very clear on all these issues, opposed and publically so on all these fronts. If that is what you think I am doing, follow the Duke of Wellington’s advice and say so rather than being ambiguous.

    Trevor Fisher

    Trevor Fisher

  28. Jim Denham says:

    The NCTL will deliver its ruling in June, Trevor, and I’m confident that thje truth will then be out – and the likes of the NUT, SWP and Guardian will have to wriggle and grovel their way out of it. The main reason I’m so confident of the outcome is that the racist, homophobic, antisemitic and misogynistic emails of the Park Hall “brotherhood” are already in the public domain. I’m not (btw) accusing you personally of being indifferent to these issues, but I *do* think you’re gullible and you’ve been taken in by the SWP/Guardian/NUT “denial” agenda.

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