THE WAGES OF SPIN by Donal Kennedy


One hundred and twenty three years after King Richard III of England was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field (1475) his name was comprehensively blackened in a play staged by the Lord Chamberlain’s Company in order to extol the bloody Tudor Dynasty and its the reigning Monarch, Queen Elizabeth. With the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English Throne, as James l, the Lord Chamberlain’s Company became The King’s Men, and a blameless 11th Century King of Scotland, Macbeth, got 
portrayed as a monster, in order to confer a spotless pedigree on the
new Monarch.

Anyone watching BBC coverage of the current Queen’s most anodyne utterances must recognise how. four hundred years later, despite Cromwell, “the Glorious Revolution” and the extension of the parliamentary franchise, mercenary, grovelling, sycophancy remains the glue (or goo) without which Britain will fall apart.

The late Labour MP, Tam Dalyell, told how, when an English Teacher was teaching Macbeth as the 17th Century Spin Doctors wanted him

to understand it, he got up in class and said that Macbeth was never Thane of Cawdor. The teacher asked him how he could utter such heresy. “My father is Thane of Cawdor” the boy replied.

Dalyell was no flatterer of  over-inflated persons, one of whom, in the House of Commons, he denounced as “a bounder, a liar, a deceiver, a cheat and a crook.” His target was that latter-day Gloriana,

Margaret Thatcher.

I don’t know whether the Lord Chamberlain’s ancient, coveted duty of wiping the Monarch’s backside still exists, or whether it has been put out to tender to private contractors, or raffled amongst Empire


For 231 years, ending in September 1968 , no play could be publicly staged in Britain unless its script had been submitted in advance to the Lord Chamberlain and licensed by him. Is it fanciful to imagine that unacceptable scripts may have been used by him to perform another duty?  In the 1930s some plays were refused licences because they

might have caused offence to the Nazis and other Fascists favoured
by the British Establishment. That Establishment’s favourite Dublin
paper editorially welcomed Hitler’s accession to power a few weeks
after warning its readers of the dire consequences for Ireland if de
Valera and Fianna Fail  were to win a second term of office.

When I was about 11 years old I used borrow the adventures of “Bill Berenger” from Howth Library. My mother told me  that its author,

Douglas V Duff, was an ex-Black and Tan.

Duff, in a memoir, “Sword For Hire” asked of the “Weekly Summary” prepared in Dublin Castle under the direction of Basil Clarke and

circulated to the Auxiliaries and Black and  Tans  “When has there
ever been a more fatuous, childish, and lying government
publication than the Weekly Summary?”.The summary was
calculated to incite the Auxiliary and Tans to murder and other
atrocities. Clarke left the British Government Service in the early
1920s and set up one of the first Public Relations Agencies -“Editorial Services.” This was not a mere commercial enterprise but a “Crusade for Capitalism”  Employing many diehards from the British
Propaganda effort in Ireland involving intrigue, subversion and violence, it became The Economic League, blacklisting workers for its big business clients, and under the title “Aims of Industry”  was active in the Thatcher era.

One of Clarke’s team in Dublin Castle, Hugh Pollard, wrote – “The

Irish Problem is a problem of race, and it is rooted in the racial
characteristics of the people themselves …. they are racially disposed to crime”. Clarke’s team worked closely with the head of Special
Branch in London, Basil Thomson, and with Admiral “Blinker” Hall ,
former Head of Naval Intelligence, who had leaked the “black diaries” to the Press in 1916 to ensure that Roger Casement was hanged.

Hugh Pollard, a Colonel in 1936, together with another

“public relations lobbyist” flew a light plane from Croydon Airport to the Canary Islands, where they picked up Francisco Franco and
deposited him in Morocco, whence he launched his murderous
mutiny on Spain. When Franco took Madrid, Pollard became MI6’s
man in the British Embassy There.

(See BLOG “Turds of a Feather? -Two Guys Called Pollard.”

The British had a very effective spy ring in Washington in the early

1940s and ensured that FDR did not keep Vice President Henry A
Wallace on his ticket when running  for his fourth term in 1944. The
story is told in a cracking book by Jennet Conant called
“The Irregulars – Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime
Washington” by the American author Jennet Conant.

One of the agents, Ian Fleming, played a small part. But compared

with Jennet, (or Dahl) he couldn’t write for toffee.

One of the smartest agents  in that spy ring was David Ogilvy, who

created one of the world’s most successful  advertising agencies. 

As the world celebrates the Four Hundred and Fourth Anniversary of the Bard of Avon’s Exit,  The Wages of Spin continue to accumulate.

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