The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.
Much to his embarrassment, U.K. Labour Party leader Keir Starmer hit the headlines last week, after footage of him being accosted by local activist Audrey White went viral. Millions of people around the world have watched the video showing Starmer physically wilting at the ferocity of White’s convictions, as she accuses him of “feeding into Tory ideology” and actively destroying his own party. Commenters have noted that footage of a politician actually being held accountable by a member of the public is as refreshing as it is entertaining.
Just days after the event, she received a letter informing her she had been purged from the Labour Party.
Ms. White has refused interviews with many major outlets but gladly accepted the chance to speak to Lowkey. A proud Liverpudlian, Ms. White was aghast when Starmer began writing a column for The Sun newspaper, an outlet owned by notorious arch-conservative billionaire Rupert Murdoch. The Sun has a particularly dismal reputation in Liverpool after it lied about the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, accusing Liverpool F.C. fans of urinating on and robbing the corpses of their dead comrades. In total, 97 people were killed after authorities botched their handling of a football crowd, leading to death by stampede and crushing.
Talking with Lowkey, Ms. White said she felt Starmer had some nerve to show his face in Liverpool after allying with Murdoch’s media empire:
I couldn’t believe that he had the gall to come to our city after writing in The Sun newspaper. I couldn’t believe it! I thought ‘how provocative is he?! When Jeremy Corbyn came, there were 10,000 people on a rainy Monday evening in the winter. Of course, Starmer had to sneak in the back door of the Spine Building to speak to business people. And then he had to sneak in the back door of my local restaurant. And lo and behold, he is in front of me with two wonderful filmmakers. So it was a gift.”
Ms. White’s comments echo many of the hundreds of thousands of people who joined the Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in 2015. Starmer, however, has dramatically reversed the party’s direction, suppressing dissent from below. On Starmer, veteran political scientist Noam Chomsky said that “He’s returning Labour to a party that will be Thatcher-lite in the style of Tony Blair.”
Audrey White is a longtime activist who first came to national attention in 1983. As the manager of a clothes store, she stood up for her workers’ rights to have company-supplied uniforms. In response, she was sexually harassed and fired on the spot. Her refusal to go quietly, however, plus the huge support she received from people around the country, ended with a change in the law that outlawed sexual harassment at work. White’s story was turned into the 1987 movie “Business as Usual”, starring Glenda Jackson.
Ms. White was also targeted by the press and the right-wing of the Labour Party during the anti-semitism crisis surrounding the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Today, she talks about the viral Starmer moment, Corbyn, the spirit of Liverpool, and her life of organizing.
Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.