The NUJ: Enemy of Free Speech
“Why do you have to keep banging on about the National Union of Journalists? ” Irish colleagues used to ask me. I always responded by instancing the NUJ’s vicious pro-abortion policy, which compelled its members, through their subscriptions, to support the British National Abortion Campaign which was pressing for abortion on demand, for any reason, right up to birth. Very few of them took any notice, some saying they were personally pro-life, as though that absolved them from all responsibility.
Anyway, a trade union should surely refrain from pressurising its members to take one particular side on a subject as controversial as abortion. Particularly when these members are journalists, and therefore in a position to influence public opinion.
I have just read a book which confirms my opinion of the NUJ. But the work is not not about abortion at all; for all I know, the author Dave Abbott, a retired sports journalist, may be quite anti-life. He’s certainly anti-religion. It’s called Dark Albion: A Requiem for the English (Sparrow Books, 2013) and it’s a howl of protest against the things Abbott thinks have gone wrong with his country. Leftists would call it as a “racist” book, but it’s much too profound and well argued to be dismissed like that.
I intend to do at least one more post on Abbott’s book, as I think it’s important, but for now I want to concentrate on his ferocious attack on the NUJ and its “Guidelines on Race Reporting” issued in the 1970s. He describes it as “an influential document in the suppression of free speech in this country”. As he says, the guidelines state clearly that parties opposed to mass immigration must be reported only in negative terms, that journalists must promote immigration, and that whenever settlers (by which he means immigrants) commit a crime their ethnicity should ideally not be revealed. As he says, the document resembles a Communist Party directive in the Soviet Union, rigid instructions rather than guidelines:
It stridently champions diversity and multi-culturalism, banning NUJ members from even the slightest criticism of ethnic settlers…For decades journalists have used their influence to manipulate public opinion and the main reason for that are these strict guidelines which all journalists must respect and which dictate what can or cannot be written or broadcast. These guidelines imposed by the NUJ have had a baneful effect on British democracy by establishing systematic censorship.
Three weeks after two Moslems hacked to death soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, and tried to decapitate him, just down the road in Thamesmead a man named Daha Mohammed slit the throat of a disabled man in a wheelchair named Colin Greenway. Journalists could not cope with this murder. It came too soon after the Rigby killing, was too nearby and had a similar element of Moslem butchery. And so there was a news blackout.
(There was indeed; but it transpired that the killer was mentally ill and pleaded guilty to manslaughter.)
These guidelines had been created by one Denis MacShane, who was sacked by the BBC after using a fake name to call a radio phone-in programme he was working on at the time. During this call he accused the leading Conservative politician Reginald Maudling of being a crook, for which Maudling threatened to sue the BBC. Despite being discredited as a journalist, MacShane remained an NUJ official, even becoming its president. The distinguished London Times columnist Bernard Levin wrote:
I do not much care to be told how to do my job as a journalist by a journalist who was sacked for professional misconduct, has been unable to find regular employment ever since, and at present lives on a payment which comes out of the union subscriptions paid by me and my fellow members of the NUJ.
Perhaps the crowning irony is that the BBC sticks rigidly to the “Guidelines on Race Reporting”. So the organisation obeys the rules of the man it fired for misconduct.
MacShane then entered politics, becoming Labour MP for Rotherham in Yorkshire. In this capacity he stole thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money by filing fraudulent expenses claims. In 2012 he had to resign after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee suspended him for a year for the “gravest” abuse of expenses they had ever seen. He admitted faking 19 invoices totalling £12, 900. He escaped going to prison for fraud only because he insisted the evidence against him was protected by parliamentary privilege and could not be used in court, and the Commons agreed that this was indeed the case. MacShane had already trousered £125,000 over seven years in expenses by claiming his shabby garage was his constituency office.