Propagandist - what the papers said about anarchism and G20

In the absence of a realistic threat to the status quo from Islamic fundamentalists, the state has tentatively been trying to paint anarchists as a parallel and growing internal threat to the nation.

Despite minimal evidence, the conjecture of the police that a major anarchist atrocity is inevitable has been taken almost verbatim by the mainstream media and was pushed even further during the G20, with several ludicrous stories appearing about what the movement might get up to appearing.

Rob Ray picks some of the best for Freedom.

Submitted by Rob Ray on May 1, 2009

Daily Mail

Not, for once, the most hysterical voice around – an honour which must go to the Evening Standard. However their suggestion that activists ‘pelted police with bottles as they tried to save a dying protester’, echoed uncritically from the police report by every other major paper, was among the most vicious libels to appear.

In lighter news, the Mail noted that a bête noir of the paper, Russell Brand, had been in attendance on the day, neatly capturing in the form of a single ‘sleb’ their favourite editorial line that the activist milieu is made up mainly of effete decadents.

The Mail was also responsible for perhaps the most bizarre bit of reporting of the week, suggesting that a popular hand cream, Charity Pot, has been funding those extremist coves at Plane Stupid. Reporter Barbara Davies was outraged to find that of £250,000 raised for charity by the product, some £2,000 of that had gone to Plane Stupid, and the CEO of the company was even thinking of making… da da daaaa… a personal donation!

Outside these tantalising glimpses into the worlds of celebrity and smellies however, the Mail does win the award for most hyperbole in a single feature, for its ‘Undercover with the anarchist mob’, by Arthur Martin, who “struggled to maintain the pretence that I was one of these hate-filled anarchists” during his month-long sojourn in the depths of the circled-A hordes.

Poor old Arthur was outraged by the threatening characters in face masks, shrugging off their injuries from police (who apparently ‘fared little better’ than the protesters in the injury stakes, interesting perspective there Arthur, I didn’t see many shots of bloodied cops knocking about even in the most sympathetic press reports, did you?), led by the grand puppeteer Chris Knight.

Seriously, where do these people come from? Bless him Chris is many things but the shadowy head of a lethal gang of organised bully boys looking to tear down the banks? Really?

Anyhoo, Arthur’s main complaint appeared to be how downmarket everything was – repeated five times in the one piece. Sorry about that Mr Martin, if they’d been aware you were there I’m sure they would have broken out the Bollinger specially, but who knew that some people have to live with dodgy sofas in this day and age?

Daily Telegraph

The Torygraph went one better than the Mail, reckoning it was ‘bottles and other missiles’ that got thrown at the medics of Ian Tomlinson “in front of a cheering mob”, forcing police back before they finally got to the injured man and pulled him to safety.

The trusty paper of Colonel Blimp also brought us shocking news that anarchists are capable of using mobile phones to co-ordinate actions, and that some of the protestors were (gasp) foreign.
Alongside other papers, the Telegraph’s sleuths suggested that the Wombles had reformed (having been unaware as recently as the Heathrow protests that they’d broken up in the first place). Never let a name go once you’ve got it hey lads?

On the subject of a police raid which found disabled weaponry and fireworks, the headline “G20 Terror Plot Foiled”, followed an admission somewhat further down that ‘disruption’ was the worst thing being considered by police, was a good bit of er, artistic license on the part of the sub.

Evening Standard

Where to start? The headline ‘Anarchists recruit children’, by Finian Davern and crime correspondent Justin Davenport was a particular corker, saying that twisted individuals would be ‘infiltrating’ meetings of pupils to push their “message of hate” - presumably with carefully concealed bottles of helium and extreme plastic surgery to hide their height, bulk and wrinkles.

The Standard also ‘outed’ Mark Brown and Alessio Lunghi as ringleaders of the protests, in an astounding piece of investigation which must have cost them several minutes in their press cuttings room looking for the box of ‘people whose names we actually know’.

Their evidence for this startling assertion? A conversation between the two which they allegedly saw but didn’t hear. My goodness, people with similar political views having a conversation before a major demonstration? Break out the manacles.

Alessio, who was unlucky enough to get named as ‘chief’ of the Wombles a few years ago and have his photo put in the DMGT’s archive (DMGT own both the Daily Mail and the Standard), had earlier in the month already been ‘revealed’ in the Eeen Stanna as head of the entire direct action anarchist movement, as part of an article which reckoned a black bloc armed with their own riot shields, truncheons, biker helmets and steelies would be confronting police.

If anyone actually saw any of these armoured fighting machines crashing through police lines, let us know.

Not to be outdone by their sister paper and the Telegraph, the Standard proudly stated in their headline about Ian Tomlinson that not only was it bottles and missiles, but bricks which had come flying in at the brave bobbies trying to save him. It’s just a wonder they didn’t notice the kitchen sinks being lobbed from the back of the crowd – oh dear I’ve said too much.


Suggested that “anarchist cells” would peel off from the main demonstration and swoop on up to 138 targets across The City on April 1st (assuming a half-dozen people per target, well over 800 comrades would need to be independently organised in total secrecy to carry that one off – by the way they got this figure from a list of buildings which had been publicly circulated) and said that protesters had “barricaded” themselves into a convergence space (the Standard reckoned it had been “seized”. So had squatted a building, in other words.

Alongside everyone else, the Guardian repeated the police story about being assaulted by bottles during their attempted resuscitation of Ian Tomlinson, despite having access to photos of a protester putting him in the recovery position in the first place – hardly the actions of a baying mob. In their favour, they did at least run a second story later, suggesting that this might not be the only version of events, and their subsequent reporting on the subject has been genuinely good.


Was surprisingly quiet on the whole, but did manage to run a piece about how protesters were handing out pamphlets giving advice on how to outfox police kettles (anarchists in not wanting to be penned in shocker), uncritically parroting the police line that the pamphlet might propagate violence, before revealing that the contents of the pamphlets listed entirely non-violent methods.
Um… yeah…

ITV News

The TV channel gets a special mention only because they hilariously cut into their afternoon programme with a big ‘Breaking News’ banner across the bottom of the screen – to announce four windows had gone at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Breaking News… geddit? Well I thought it was funny. Also, under what circumstances is a couple of broken windows worth ten minutes of breathless national news reporting? Can I report those kids who put through my uncle’s greenhouse the other week?


And in a late-breaking rush, the Times gets in on the act with it’s entirely unbiased representation over raids launched against two London buildings connected to the protests, RampART in Whitechapel and a squat in Earl Street.

Again mirrored by every other major title, the Times held forth on the raids capturing ‘violent protestors’, one being found with a ‘bladed article’ (breadknife? Spatula? How dare they use bladed articles in their own buildings).

Allegedly one woman, while being hauled away for daring to stay in a politicised atmosphere, totally unreasonably spat at a policeman. Oh the humanity! Doubtless our brave bobby will be deeply traumatised by this violent event, having seen nothing so vicious ever before in his career as a Met officer.



14 years 4 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by tmaltby on November 27, 2009

Yea thats pretty good - i was actually there that day and my friends were at the scene of Ian Tomlinson's death.
One of them is a 5th year medic at Barts, London and she gave him medical assistance until (and this is all caught on film) the police charged them off!

Was really scary though to know what had happened and that it wasn't a heart attack and then get all the media, well practically all running the polices line. 'The Guardian' were the best on this issue, i think the guy won an award recently for best investigative journalism or something, and were central to collection of all the evidence.

The standard were awful the daily express were as well running articles like 'anarchists to take over city' - maybe the square mile although that would be a BIG kettle but it's just the ridiculous fear fueling about it all!