Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Novara Media: Left and Right Unite and Fight! (“Against Big Tec Censorship”).

with 18 comments

Yesterday this happened.

Novara Media is, frankly, not a must-read.

A glance at its site today (the first for a long time) reveals no doubt worthy articles on the German SPD (Germany’s SPD Is About to Take Power. Can It Stick to Leftwing Principles?), Green stuff (Planet B: Everything Must Change – Land and The Green Transition is Already Underway – And It’s Not Looking Pretty), a link to tele Sour with an interview with John McDonnell about the Budget. a long piece by the late David Graeber and David Wengrow taken from their widely reviewed and much-talked about book The Dawn of Everything (Forget ‘Liberté’ – 17th-Century Indigenous Americans Knew a Lot More About Freedom Than Their French Colonisers) Cde James Meadway (The Government’s Net Zero Strategy Is Beyond Disappointing) and something by Noam Chomsky.

That took fourteen minutes.

All worthy stuff.

But I’ve lost interest already.

Apparently they have a YouTube Channel as well.

Lo!

Novara Media’s press statement

According to Novara’s senior editor Ash Sarkar, Novara had received no prior warning and one ‘strike’ (YouTube operates a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy) before the channel was removed:We could only appeal in the way that everyone else can, which is that you reply to this anonymous email. You’re not even sure if there’s a human on the other side of it. And that’s why we thought that the only means that we have for getting an explanation is by going public and drumming up support. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the role of Big Tech:It’s a bad thing that private companies have got so much influence, but the fact is they do. And so when they do play such a key role in our democracy, and when they play such a key role in making sure that journalism can reach an audience, there needs to be some kind of democratically decided regulation of those platforms, because it has an impact on our democracy. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On lessons she has learned:Well, I think that what you see there are people trying to make sense of a rapidly changing landscape and they’re kind of grasping for arguments which suit the thing that they’re trying to focus on at the time. And I know that I’ve certainly been guilty of doing that…we don’t have a political framework of treating these as public utilities, having some kind of democratic oversight, and people grasp for the nearest available argument… And I think that that is something which has been a weakness in my own politics, right. This is something which I’ve gotten wrong. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the Left’s attitude to free speech:There has been a censorious turn to the left. It’s no good denying it. And there has been, I think, a tendency to say, because this conversation has the potential to bring in viewpoints which we deem hateful and harmful, that this conversation shouldn’t be happening at all. That is something which I disagree with. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On Novara’s cross-political support:What was really great is that support came from all sides of the political spectrum. Because it doesn’t matter where you are on some of the big issues of the day, we can all agree that an unaccountable American tech company having this much control of whether a fully regulated, British journalistic outfit is allowed to operate — that’s an incredibly sinister thing. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On the Trump ban:Well, one of the things that I was saying at the time is that this isn’t something to celebrate. This is not something to just sort of go ‘woo, Trump, we don’t like him, he’s a racist, he’s a fascist. He’s currently corroding democratic norms. It’s a good thing that Twitter is able to just kick him off’, because I was like ‘well, what if next time, it’s a socialist president? What if next time it’s somebody on the left?’ – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

Would Ash interview Anjem Choudray?No, I absolutely would not. And the reason why I wouldn’t is because Anjem Choudary does not need to win the debate in order to have effects which I think are incredibly harmful in order to be able to recruit, in order to radicalise, and potentially turn people towards violence. He doesn’t need to win the debate. – ASH SARKAR, UNHERDTV

On moving beyond the political divide:

This is much bigger than right versus left, UnHerd versus Novara, or anything else. What this is about is the ability of journalism to function, unimpeded by unaccountable tech giants. And that is something, it does matter where you are on the political spectrum, we all rely on journalism in order to make sense of ourselves socially, culturally, politically, it’s the lifeblood of a democracy. And if YouTube or Google or whoever else it is can just shut it off, no explanation, no justification, no warning. That is something incredibly dangerous indeed. –


Unherd is a predominantly (Cde James Bloodworth excepted and I have no idea or care what Bindel’s views are) ‘Euro-sceptic’ site – an antre from which a variety of national populists emerge to rant and rave against the Europen Union, liberal elitists, and ‘anywhere’ people. Giles FraserEd WestTanya GoldJohn GrayJames BloodworthMatthew GoodwinMaurice GlasmanJulie BindelMichael Tracey and Douglas Murray.

A post in August by anti-rootless cosmopolitan campaigner Paul Embery…

“While Labour was preaching the gospel of a militant cosmopolitan liberalism, post-industrial Britain was mourning the weakening of common cultural bonds and a lost sense of community and belonging. “

Embery is entitled to his opinions. But he is thin-skinned, and seized with the undeflectable belief that he has a special bond with the real working class wrapped up in mourning for the golden threaded neighbourhood ties- nay bonds ! -of yore.

I for one feel personally insulted by one of his latest sorties. Embery suggested that left-wingers has no shown enough sadness pr tributes after the murder of Southend MP David Amess, that we thought, at bottom, that he was ‘really’ human – The Left’s shameful tribalism Reaction to the death of Sir David Amess has been dispiriting

There is worse.

A lot worse.

The Red-Brown Front grows:

Steerpike doesn’t browse Novara Media much these days. The Corbynista website has ceased to have much in the way of news value since the Magic Grandpa stood down as Labour leader early last year. Nowadays the unholy trinity of literal communist Ash Sarkar, under-employed YouTuber Michael Walker and David Brent tribute act Aaron Bastani spend most of their time moaning on Twitter about Keir Starmer’s beastliness to their comrades on the left. 

(Note: pretty accurate summary)

But now Mr S has found an unlikely common cause with the Trotskyite trio. Novara has today announced that Google-owned YouTube has deleted their channel, supposedly without warning or explanation. This follows the news a fortnight ago that a speech by Tory stalwart to Big Brother Watch on vaccine passports had been unceremoniously purged from the same site – again with no prior warning.

The Red-Brown Front Spiked:

The deletion of Novara Media is an outrage

YouTube’s censorship of political discussion has got to stop.

Novara is demanding the channel be reinstated immediately, and anyone who believes in free speech should support this. Free speech is for cringey pseuds, too. We at spiked may disagree with their identitarian, jargon-laden word salads, but we will defend to the death their right to say them.

YouTube is not just any platform. With over two billion monthly active users it is essentially the video platform. If journalists or activists or filmmakers are deprived access to it, simply because YouTube bigwigs take a dislike to their opinions or output, this has a profound impact on their ability to get their ideas out there and to express themselves.

New Statesman: (a serious article by Sarah Manavis which has to be read).

Is Novara’s channel back up now? 

Yes. After two hours of public outcry – including from right-wing outlets and commentators, such as Guido Fawkes and Mail on Sunday columnist Dan Hodges – the account was reinstated, at around 1:30pm on Tuesday afternoon, the same day.

 

So why did YouTube do this? 

It’s not entirely clear. A YouTube spokesperson told the New Statesman: “Novara Media’s channel was briefly removed after it was flagged, but upon review, it was then immediately reinstated. We work quickly to review all flagged content, but with millions of hours of video uploaded on YouTube every day, on occasion we make the wrong call.” YouTube did not give details as to why the account was initially flagged.

What does this mean for the media’s relationship with Big Tech? 

Even if it was a mistake, it is concerning that one of the UK’s biggest left-leaning media voices could be erased from a major platform so abruptly. In the past two years, Big Tech has been increasingly scrutinised for the power it holds over a free and fair press, and this incident should serve as a reminder of the outsize influence online platforms have in deciding whose voices are the most valuable in the digital media landscape.”

*****

Sarkar continues being Sarkar.

The CC of the Tendance is concerned about Ash Sarkar.

Like the other mourning ‘Corbynistas’ who run Novara Media she seems lost politically. Perhaps she thinks that issuing statements into the aether about left and right uniting against ‘big tech’ have no real consequences.

With the likes of Douglass Murray and oleaginous Priest of Brexit Gilles Fraser.

Not to mention the backing of Spiked…

This looks like one set of Identitarians (Novara Media) uniting with another gang of National Populist Identitarians.

In short, red-brown confusionism.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2021 at 9:51 am

18 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on A Riverside View and commented:
    They took down a video by David Davis, nothing! They took down their stuff, boo hoo.

    Kevin Algar

    October 27, 2021 at 11:12 am

  2. This is a conflicting one. We used, in the pre-internet days, to fret about the newsprint distribution policies of firms like John Menzies and the shelf control protocols of W H Smith. But at least there was always another newsagent to go to and order a delivery. But as Sarah Manavis rightly says “it is concerning that one of the UK’s biggest left-leaning media voices could be erased from a major platform so abruptly. In the past two years, Big Tech has been increasingly scrutinised for the power it holds over a free and fair press, and this incident should serve as a reminder of the outsize influence online platforms have in deciding whose voices are the most valuable in the digital media landscape.” I don’t think Novara either asked for or anticipated voices from the right and from the red / brown front to come to their defence – but then, they too, can feel the chill wind of Facebook and Microsoft blowing into their faces.

    David Walsh

    October 27, 2021 at 11:27 am

    • Being against the power of large corporations to take down political opinion is one thing. As you say it reminds you of the days, of my youth, of W.H. Smug.

      It’s completely another issue to call for unity, on a web-site which promotes the views of right-wing Blue ‘Labour’ Paul Embery and the extreme prejudices of national populists like Douglas Murray, between left and right.

      Andrew Coates

      October 27, 2021 at 11:34 am

  3. I take the point about “Unherd” (which I actually know very little about) but that argument will be – could be – extended to even using Facebook or Twitter as a vehicle, given the dire stuff these mega channels willingly convey.

    I think here Phil B-C put his finger on it (see https://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.com/2021/10/youtubes-attack-on-novara-media.html when he said (in his best sociologese) “private ownership of media infrastructure is incompatible with democratic principles. True, no one has to sign up to the platforms that increasingly dominate our lives, but they are crucial for the reproduction of personhood in advanced capitalist societies in the 21st century. Who goes online just to read websites any more? According to internet marketing outfit Global Web Index, some 57.6% of traffic is on the platforms, and this is only likely to increase with time.” He goes on to argue that the ‘left”, left undefined in both senses, should instead press on “to develop our own digital infrastructure so there’s always something to fall back on if the plug gets pulled.” But then, the last attempt to do that in media was in pre PC days in the shape of the now very late “News on Sunday” which staggered on failing for 6 months before it collapsed as a result of its own contradictions and loss of liquidity – not a hopeful portent when faced with the billionaire global platforms of today.

    David Walsh

    October 27, 2021 at 11:54 am

    • I began to receive Unherd notices in my E-Mail, without requesting them, some years ago.

      Phil’s post makes some good points but he lost me initially by saying, “Novara are a vital part of the news ecosystem in this country and cover stories and issues that the mainstream media pass by.” Is this a pitch? It is just not true. They remind me of what French leftists sometimes said of the LCR paper, Rouge, it is just Le Monde’s latest re-written for the left. For Le Monde read The Guardian No doubt they publish some things of note, but I can’t recall anybody saying “You *must* read this on Novara Media.

      Interesting information on Platforms – Word Press is one.

      A left platform? Well, there’s Labour Hub which is pretty good for a start, and doesn’t have people like Bastani – or Skwawkbox – on it.

      Something to fall back on if the plug gets pulled? That is one for the technically and funding minded…

      https://labourhub.org.uk/

      Andrew Coates

      October 27, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      • I suppose if I needed to get a take on what the remaining Corbynistas were saying on mainstream events, I’d have to go to Novara in preference to the yet to be sectioned Skwawkbox or the silliness of The Canary, but its not saying much. Incidentally, on the far right paleo-conservative ide of things, the totally barking mad “The Conservative Woman’ has issued a hysterical screech against the world and all its works. By someone called Neil Turner (never heard of him) it is here; https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/a-charter-for-our-liberation-from-tyranny/

        David Walsh

        October 27, 2021 at 1:37 pm

        • Well, he is against Big Tec…

          Media and Big Tech (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Amazon) actively suppress, cancel and de-platform any and all opposing views, such as those of renowned epidemiologists who oppose mass vaccination. In a slight shift, GB News and the excellent Nigel Farage are beginning to address some issues, but it’s a mixed bag.

          The British people have urgent need of a co-ordinated means of focusing effective opposition in specific, targeted areas such as green surcharges, energy price rises, the war on the motorist, lockdowns, school closures, mask mandates, forced Covid testing, critical race theory in schools, LGBT indoctrination in schools and restrictions on public Christian worship.

          “https://www.conservativewoman.co.uk/a-charter-for-our-liberation-from-tyranny/

          Andrew Coates

          October 27, 2021 at 2:21 pm

  4. I think a lot of the attacks on what is called ‘Big Tech’ (I had noticed myself that this term brings together Left and Right in the way that David Lindsay – who was banned from Twitter and went to Gab et al – always used to approve of), while understandable, are simply shooting the messenger.

    I think a lot of these people on the Left live in cities so always did have progressive cultural material to hand easily. They will talk about people being exposed to far-Right content, which obviously *is* a problem, but without mentioning the fact that streaming of Black pop is now equally open to all of us, including those of us who can remember the inequality of access in the age of physical media. In expressing their concern about the former, which I repeat obviously is a terrible thing, they fail to celebrate the advance and progression of the latter because they were the lucky ones before. In some cases, they actually make common cause with the Right in wanting to keep anything progressive out of rural areas; they justify it in terms of “it’s for different reasons so it’s OK”, disturbingly similar to Corbynite justifications of Islamist Jew-hate.

    I am absolutely convinced that, if given the power, some people in the current Westminster government would happily block Black artists on Spotify and YouTube for people outside big cities, and actually want to do that considerably more than they want to remove far-Right content. They gloss it up as only wanting to do the latter because it makes them look better. If this is “tinfoil hat” then so be it. If I didn’t fear the former I wouldn’t have any concerns whatsoever about the latter. I’m just worried that the powers might be misused by “national populists” on the Right to work to the *opposite* implications, censoring the *opposite* material, of what they are being promoted as doing.

    There is a disturbing tendency to understate and write out of history the petty little small-town prejudices from which the internet has been a liberating escape for at least as many, probably more, people than it has been misused to push them to the far-Right. Many of us no more want to be left in the hands of the former, which were always every bit as nasty and fearful as anything propagated by those on the far-Right who have misused the internet, than we want to be under the control of “Big Tech”. It’s easy for Leftists who always lived in cities to ignore and deny these things, but some of us have had different experiences.

    How “free and fair” has the print media here been since at least the rise of Murdoch, if not before?

    To read what some people say you’d think that social media invented racism in football, an extraordinary stance for anyone to take in a country where matches from the era when the Windrush generation first began to play the game in large numbers are regularly shown on Freeview and the venal reaction of precisely the people Paul Embery reveres is visibly apparent, with Brian Moore et al usually saying bugger all about what was right in front of them (there were exceptions among the commentators of that time, but not many).

    Even vaccine hysteria and Covidiocy have their roots in the 1950s English prejudice that it was “un-English” to know about science, the othering (inexorably linked with Europhobia and especially anti-German bigotry, c.f. Uncle Quentin’s being played by an accented German actor in the 1970s Famous Five TV series, and not unconnected to antisemitism) of science itself as “foreign” because of its emphasis on rationalism and logic, the prejudice whose relative decline outside Covidiot and Brexiteer circles Peter Hitchens always laments, the prejudice you can see incarnated in old films on Talking Pictures TV. It always would have been there.

    As I say, it’s not about trusting Google et al. It’s about recognising the faults of “Big Tech” while recognising that the British state, and the older-established media of Murdoch et al, aren’t to be trusted on this front either and are every bit as racist in all sorts of important ways. Obviously, “Big Tech” *is* allowing people to be exposed to dubious and disturbing content. But the glossing up of the world that existed before, at least for people in my position, is worrying me deeply.

    (Case in point: Mike Read – yes, him – recently retweeted some old Britpop no-mark linking to a Telegraph article where “44 Conservative MPs” criticise Spotify for not paying artists enough. Clearly, its pandering to industry executive greed, after their long decline before Spotify took off, is disturbing. But those of us who a) remember John Major’s time and b) have kept our ears open can remember when such people absolutely wouldn’t, ever, have regarded pop and rock music as part of “our cultural heritage”, and we don’t regard their lifting the drawbridge as any better or more progressive than what came before, when it is so blatantly obvious that they wouldn’t care either way if Central Cee or Digga D never got a penny from their streaming numbers which are a good deal higher than those of quite a few of the artists the Right care about.)

    februarycallendar

    October 27, 2021 at 4:03 pm

  5. I can’t really listen to Novara much any more. I still like Michael Walker’s show and dip into it occasionally (mainly because Walker is a good presenter) but Ash Sarkar and Bastani are becoming increasingly unlistenable. Sarkar seems to rehash themes and jargon she’s gleaned from American left social media and shoe horns it into the British political context (it’s always a bad fit) and Bastani will promote any group who are seen as a threat to Labour. Remember his promotion of NIP and Galloway? Also his fawning interview with China Communist Party promoter Martin Jacques was disgraceful. He allowed Jacques to use dog whistles against the Uighurs which in a western context Novara would call Islamophobic without push back.
    One of the most divisive things Novara, and especially Sarkar, does is to try and split the working class down generational lines. They promote the lie that anyone over 50 is awash with cash and fantastically asset rich and that anyone who owns a property is somehow akin to a modern day “Kulak”. It’s about as subtle as a brick and bad politics. American style ID politics is also a big thing with them.
    For self described “communists” they also seem obsessed with the twists and turns of the reformist Labour Left. You’d think Communists would talk about revolution more?

    IainF

    October 27, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    • It is sad to watch the decline.

      Sarkar refers to Landlords as “bums”, which is odd even translated from American, and uses the pompous and cumbersome “gotten” instead of got,

      Then look at Bastani’s rubbish…

      Andrew Coates

      October 27, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    • Looking at the future Lord Bastini of Bournemouth’s twitter feed today, he is extremely chuffed about the support he has got from the right and, by implication, the red / browns. He contrasts that with what he sees as the real enemy of the piece – and its not YouTube’s bots. His opening gambit is “People can think whatever they like re censorship but seeing these, after so much support from Tory MPs & conservative journalists, is illustrative. It’s why viewing the labour right as the ‘centre’ is to fundamentally misunderstand it. I don’t quite know what they believe in.” following up with the sage comment that “It’s not to ‘dunk’ on any of these people, I understand it and twitter is often about triviality and a laugh, but I do honestly think a big part of the Labour right is more reactionary than actual Tories on quite a few things. Why? …Principally it’s because, in my view, conservatives don’t claim to necessarily believe in social & economic justice so take civil & political rights somewhat seriously. The Labour right doesn’t.”

      That ermine overcoat could be closer than he thinks.

      David Walsh

      October 27, 2021 at 7:01 pm

  6. You have to remember this channels are heavily monetized. Novara depends on this money to pay their bills along with the subscriptions they advertise via their social media pages. If these are stopped the money dries up. I guess they will unite with anyone to protect that regardless of political principles.

    IainF

    October 27, 2021 at 6:55 pm

  7. There is a wider problem of private control of social spaces, physical and virtual. If there are to be limits on what can be said publicly, that is surely something which should be decided by representative authorities and enshrined in law. Instead, we have private companies, mainly based in the US and concerned about US law, corporate reputation and public opinion, operating an effective global monopoly of the most important means of modern mass communication. It’s the digital version of the displacement of the high street by the shopping mall. This is an issue which could well bring together some odd allies – but so what? Your ally on issue A can be your opponent on issue B…

    Francis

    October 27, 2021 at 9:35 pm

  8. Just reading the examples of ‘political journalism’ given here, Ash Darker comes a Ross as someone playing at being leftwing, who really has no idea of the issues at stake and not really very bright

    Sue r

    October 28, 2021 at 7:34 am

  9. She strikes me as some one who is uttering performative nonsense. How can anyone take it seriously? Or, am I too old?

    Sue r

    October 28, 2021 at 8:09 am

  10. Andrew Coates

    October 28, 2021 at 12:01 pm

  11. Sorry, typing error, fat fingers, Ash Darker.

    Sue r

    October 28, 2021 at 12:14 pm

  12. Sorry, must be auto correct. Big Tech, eh!

    Sue r

    October 28, 2021 at 12:15 pm


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