Welcome to CAMPAIN. We’re a non-partisan group pushing back against gross misinformation and misrepresentation in public affairs and news media.
The problem is illustrated by many examples, including the false information on weapons of mass destruction used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the concealment of facts about the phone hacking scandal over many years, inaccurate allegations about Muslims, Government’s persistent and unlawful failure to disclose details of COVID-related contracts and the partisan reporting of politicians who blatantly misinform the public.
Many people have already forgotten about the phone hacking scandal, and very few have read the book by Nick Davies, who did most to expose it. It’s called “Hack Attack”. Like no other event, the scandal revealed corruption and institutional failure at the heart of the UK. It particularly involved the press and the police, while Davies noted that the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had shown “alarming signs that it was failing to act independently of the police”. The punishments eventually handed out were not commensurate with the gravity of the crimes committed, and the whole affair has left behind an abscess of unfinished business, one that a government with an 82-seat majority can conveniently ignore.
This misinformation and misrepresentation is very damaging to our democracy. At the very least, it compromises our ability to make rational decisions, and in the worst cases it corrodes our civil liberties, freedom of speech and association, and creates a climate of fear and self-censorship.
We have observed the latter in the chorus of unsubstantiated allegations about rampant antisemitism in the Labour party. Journalists endlessly repeated these allegations, while failing to mention readily available evidence that contradicted them, something we would describe as “censorship by silence”. The allegations reached fever-pitch after Labour members elected Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, and materially affected voting in the General Election of 2019. More recently, Keir Starmer and his supporters have been using the allegations as a pretext for purging left-wingers from the Labour party, many of them Jews who stand up for the rights of Palestinians.
We call this the “antisemitism scam” and consider it to be among the worst political scandals of 21st century Britain. Politicians from all parties, and a host of public figures, jumped on the bandwagon. It is a major blot on our credentials as a democratic nation, and something that those of us who remember Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt of the 1950s never expected to happen in the UK.
CAMPAIN is only one of multiple organisations wanting to reform Britain’s mainstream media to make it more honest and accountable. We could for example cite the Hacked Off Campaign, Jewish Voice for Labour, Byline Times, the Media Reform Coalition and a host of others. Other organisations, such as the Labour Campaign for Free Speech and the Free Speech Union are pushing back against restrictions on freedom of speech, from differing political perspectives. We approve much, and in some cases all, of the work done by these organisations. We particularly applaud those that have tirelessly campaigned, against Government opposition, for the effective regulation of the press and a full investigation of police corruption during the phone hacking scandal.
So, what’s different about us? Why create a new organisation? What’s different about us is that we are opposed to misinformation and misrepresentation as a matter of principle -- regardless of the target. An important example of this is our objection to the smearing of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left as antisemitic, where we can broadly categorise the response of these other organisations as follows:
Those who are fighting the smears in the name of the Labour left and its socialist agenda, and
Those who are keeping quiet and avoid mentioning the topic
The first group does not represent the many who are not of the Labour left but who strongly oppose the way Israel and its supporters are smearing people in this country. One such person is the Conservative politician Sir Alan Duncan who, in his 2014 speech to the Royal United Services Institute, said that:
“For far too long, those who have made a moral stand against Israeli misconduct and in favour of justice for Palestinians have been trashed, traduced and bullied. This, and the character assassination of critics, cannot be allowed to continue”.
The problem for Labour left groups is that they are fighting battles on two fronts, one for the heart and soul of the Labour Party, and another for justice in Palestine. The two issues get hopelessly mixed up, and many of their opponents are opportunistically using the antisemitism card to harm and undermine the left.
The second group has a variety of motives for not mentioning the topic, of which we can identify the following:
Some assume “there is no smoke without fire” and don’t take time to examine detailed evidence that shows the accusations are hollow.
Many are sceptical of the accusations but don’t want to defend people of the Labour left with whom they are not politically aligned, and
Many fear that if they put their head above the parapet on this topic, they themselves will be targeted as “antisemitic”, face legal action by well-funded opponents and lose financial support. Most of these organisations are working with slender resources so the potential financial consequences are very threatening.
We therefore felt that there was a need for an organisation that is not politically aligned that will oppose misinformation and misrepresentation on principle, regardless of who is being targeted.
We hope you will sign up to our newsletter and consider joining us, by pressing the appropriate buttons on our Home page. Thank you for listening.
Transcript of our Home Page video
In this video published in 2022, our former Chairman Rodney Watts explains that CAMPAIN is not politically aligned, and opposes misrepresentation on principle, and regardless of who is being targeted. We welcome all who support this approach, whether you come from the right, left or centre or have no previous political affiliation. Please bear this in mind where Rodney mentions the treatment of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. We have varied opinions about Corbyn’s economic programme and his approach to Brexit, but are united in our opposition to those who have defamed him with lies, or have chosen to remain silent about this momentous abuse.