Gillian Brien Ep.55 #NewPolitics

‘Old politics’ and the cosy relationship between our government and a billionaire tax exile was back(sort of)in the headlines this week. In this toxic environment who’d want to be a politician? Step forward Community Activist, Youth Work Manager with (LGBT Youth Group)Belong To Youth Services and People Before Profit candidate in Dublin Central, Gillian Brien. She came into the tortoise shack to tell us how she wants to get into politics to punch up, not cosy up. We believe her, you will too.

Catherine Murphy #WeAreBetterThanThis Ep.50

For our 50th guest the tortoise shack is delighted to host TD for Kildare North and Co-Leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy. This wide ranging conversation covers Siteserv, Anglo/IBRC, the INM data breach, Denis O’Brien and above all else, Catherine’s desire to support a politics that serves the people and not just the vested interests.

Órla Hegarty #HousingCrisis Ep.49

When we started our series on the housing crisis DIT Housing Lecturer, Lorcan Sirr, told us we MUST speak to today’s guest in the tortoise shack, Architect and UCD Lecturer, Orla Hegarty. Mel Reynolds said if we could hand the reins of the Department of Housing over to her for a few hours we’d be on the road to tackling the crisis.

If anything, the lads understated her ability!

Terry McMahon #ThisIsOurIreland Ep. 45

Film was once the realm of myth making and escapism, but these days our politicians are the scripted actors who are playing roles in a PR Spun Irish success story. Award winning Actor-Writer-Director, Terry McMahon, joins us in the tortoise shack for a no holds barred discussion on Our Ireland, wanting to take over the GPO, Apollo House and the lies they were told by a government that wants to maintain the myth and normalise obscenity!
There’s also an incredible story about how Culture Ireland and our Government treated Terry’s movie success.
Warning: strong language and mature themes throughout!

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Brendan Ogle #Right2Change Ep. 44

Trade Unionist and Social Activist, Brendan Ogle is described in many ways, mostly as a radical. But as he said to us, what sort of country is it that deems the goals of housing, a decent healthcare system and a living wage radical? He sits down with us in the Tortoise Shack to talk about Home Sweet Home, Right2Water, Right2Change and creating a movement in pursuit of these goals.

Paul Murphy #JobstownNotGuilty Ep.43

Events at the Lidl in Fortunestown Lane, Jobstown, Tallaght gave a green light to the hard right(government TD’s included) to come out and smear an entire working class community over the actions of a few. So we were delighted to be joined in the tortoise shack by Solidarity TD for Dublin South West Paul Murphy, to discuss tackling class warfare, where to next for the Water Charges movement and what a real Left alternative might look like.


Martin McMahon #Gigification Ep.40

When it comes to knowing about Bogus Self Employment, Martin McMahon has literally written the book. But he could hardly interview himself. So we put a call out to DIT Lecturer, FOI Guru, Investigative Reporter and friend of the pod, Ken Foxe.
Having written the extensive piece, The Gig Is Up, Martin sits down in the tortoise shack to outline what is really going and why this practice is the real Social Welfare Cheating that Cheat Us All.

The Original Strategic Communications Unit

(Note, this piece is an accompaniment to our podcast with journalist Stephanie Costelloe)

In 1994, Tony Blair took to the stage as Labour Leader for the first time he must have thought he’d made a mistake. Blair knew that his values and beliefs weren’t compatible with those of the Labour Party. But Blair was not to be deterred by nearly one hundred years of party traditions.

No, Blair, as was often the case, decided that rather than allow the facts(in this case the Labour Party Constitution of 1918) to change his mind, he would change the facts to suit him. Tony Blair felt the hand of history on his shoulder, and that hand belonged to Alastair Campbell.

The Labour Party Constitution contained in it the famous Clause IV ; the socialist phrase “the common ownership of the means of production” which was taken to mean the Party’s commitment to socialism. It didn’t fit with Blair.

So Alastair Campbell simply rewrote it. The sentence became “to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential”. From socialism to neoliberalism in one swift edit.

Over the years that followed Blair went on to become the most successful Tory Prime Minister in Labour Party history. He is, in many eyes, one of the Tory Party’s Top 5 ‘best’ Prime Ministers. At his side for every step of the journey was Alastair Campbell.

Blair would go on to describe Campbell as a ‘genius’ and credited his Press Secretary and Director of Communications and Strategy with coming up with the slogan ‘New Labour’.

Campbell, as a former journalist, used his influence and experience to win support from the national media. By 1997 he had turned the Thatcherite Sun newspaper into a Blairite viewspaper. When Labour won the election in May of that same year, it was widely said that Campbell had become the Labour Party’s Chief Strategist.

In 2000 Campbell created the Strategic Communications Unit that became known as ‘The Grid’. The Grid would coordinate Government activity and use a ‘rapid rebuttal system’ to counter any criticisms of their activities or lack thereof. They’d bully media outlets and pick fights. Campbell himself, when asked about criticism of the government by the BBC journalists Andrew Gilligan and Susan Watts replied “fuck Gilligan”.

Campbell rapidly became the story. He was snidely called the ‘real deputy prime minister’ and many in the media felt that he was having a corrupting influence on the democratic function of government and crucially, that he was inhibiting their ability to report the news.

Blair, as a megalomaniac, decided he wanted to partake in the illegal invasion of Iraq. Needing a reason to do so, and a stick to beat parliament with, he turned once more to Campbell. It was Campbell who cobbled together the Iraq Dossier (Dodgy Dossier) in February 2003. You remember the Dodgy Dossier, it was the one filled with mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction and distortions of real intelligence reports?

The death toll following this PR Disaster is a stain that no Marketing Spin Cycle will ever wash out. But when later questioned about the Dodgy Dossier, Campbell replied “Come on, you didn’t seriously think we wouldn’t find anything”.

Tony Blair oversaw the birth of neoliberal economics that helped give us the global financial crisis. He out Thatchered Thatcher, selling off national infrastructure in deals that are still today having huge repercussions. The recent collapse of Carillion in the UK, with the potential loss of 20,000 jobs, was a Blair era project. His outsourcing birds are still coming home to roost with disastrous consequences, even 20 years later.

Blair and Campbell, a match made in marketing heaven. Campbell and Blair, a toxic blend of style over substance. Blair and Campbell, two egomaniacs that destroyed lives on many continents. I wonder do Leo Varadkar and John Concannon realise they’re just a cheap imitation of the original Blairite cluster bomb.

Tony Groves March 2018

Brian Hayes #Leotopia Ep. 37

Opinion poll after opinion poll puts Fine Gael way ahead of the rest of the chasing pack. Leo Varadkar is the most popular leader since Bertie. So do we live in a #Leotopia or are we just falling for the spin. Fine Gael MEP for Dublin, Brian Hayes joins us to discuss whether it’s an Irish success story, or are we buying the Strategic Communications Unit hype.
We also discuss the future of Europe, PESCO and Ireland’s neutrality.

David Hall #VultureFunds Ep. 36

The sale of 14,000 PTSB mortgages to Vulture Funds has awakened a public fed up of Bank scandal after Bank scandal. We are delighted to be joined in the tortoise shack by CEO of the Irish Mortgage Holders, iCare Housing and Director of Inner City Helping Homelessness, David Hall to discuss what is happening, why it’s happening now and what steps the State could take to prevent a potentially catastrophic impact on 40,000.

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