Category Archives: 2019 General Election

Baron McNicol in the FT: ‘Corbynism must end with Corbyn’

On Saturday, Iain McNicol’s article ‘Corbynism must end with Corbyn’ was published in the Financial Times

As a post Corbyn entrant to the Labour Party I had only dimly heard of McNicol, so read around and discovered that he had been general secretary of the Labour party from 2011 to 2018 and now sits in the House of Lords. Then came a disturbing account of his wrecking tactics in his Wikipedia entry, condensed in The Jacobin by Daniel Finn:

“The party leadership has put a lot of effort into revamping Labour’s disciplinary processes so that real cases of antisemitism can be dealt with more quickly. Much of this work has been done since Jennie Formby took over as Labour’s general secretary in April 2018, replacing Iain McNicol, who was bitterly hostile to Corbyn. Some of the party officials who departed with McNicol had been slowing down the handling of cases, whether through incompetence or malice, knowing that Corbyn’s team would get the blame from the British media”.

No physiognomist needed

Finn described MacNicol as being one of the influential political players from Labour’s right-wing, anti-Corbyn faction which has a negligible organisational base in the party and unions but is closely linked to supportive media outlets. This faction is composed of Blairites and some MPs from the 2010 intake who believed themselves to be contenders for the party leadership once the Corbyn project collapsed.

MacNicol’s theme: “Clause One of the Labour party rule book states that the party’s purpose is to ‘promote the election of Labour party representatives at all levels of the democratic process’. It does not state that its function is to be a radical protest party. The fight is now on for Labour’s soul and the future”.

After taking credit for 2017’s ‘professionally-run campaign with strategic goals, a cutting edge social media campaign’ he refers to ‘a freshness that appealed to a broad coalition, including many hard-to-reach voters’.

This freshness was actually due to the surprise appearance of an honest and caring politician, the first in many decades.

Corbyn’s spectacular insurgent campaigns stand as vivid demonstrations that, as he said upon taking leadership of the Labour Party in September 2015, “things can, and they will, change.” Corbyn’s ease on the campaign trail and assured performances on TV transformed perceptions. He became Labour’s great asset (Alex Nunns)

MacNicol continued: “What did Labour offer? Everything to everyone and that was the problem . . . Corbynism has been an abject failure. We need a strong leader to reignite the party and connect with voters”.

Quickly disposing of Rebecca Long-Bailey: “If elected, she would kill any chance of Labour improving its electoral prospects” he moved on to focus on Keir Starmer, attracting the bulk of the support from MPs, the backing of Unison, the largest trade union and appointing a campaign team drawn from both left and right of the party

Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips – ‘capable of driving the transition Labour needs- – are likely to gain the necessary support to have their names on the ballot paper.

He ends, “A renewed Labour party, with a strong leader, could win the 123 seats needed to secure a majority . . . on April 4 take steps honour the promise of Clause One and move back to bidding for power or remain a party of protest.

So must the party resurrect New Labour? Will Corbynism and the bid for truth, peace and justice, end with Corbyn?






New petition calls for a full independent inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 General Election

There has been longstanding official and unofficial censure of BBC bias

The BBC is seen by many as failing to fulfil its Charter’s first declared ‘public purpose’, ‘to provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them’.

For some years frustrated correspondents have sent the writer copies of their letters criticising the BBC for its biased reporting, adding the unsatisfactory standardised replies they receive. In similar vein is one by Gary Barker, headed by the following cartoon:

Readers are also encouraged to read Steve Beauchampé’s eloquent article in the Birmingham Press which opened:

“Five friends have told me recently that they have either stopped – or severely curtailed – how much BBC news and current affairs output they digest. All were once avid consumers of such content, none could be described as being on the extremes of political thinking, none would claim that the Corporation is guilty of ‘fake’ news, and none have turned instead to social media or become keyboard warriors or internet trolls to get their views across.

“They are, in their different ways, frustrated at the BBC’s failure to adequately reflect their own political beliefs and the lack of balanced debate on issues that matter to them. And they are irritated at some of the Corporation’s presentational tropes and the cheapening of the discourse that often accompanies it”.

“I never felt this way about our national broadcaster. They have always been my ‘Go To’ media outlet for gaining an understanding and appreciation of world affairs . . .

“But things have changed, and one issue above all has led me to question my primary allegiance to the BBC’s news and current affairs output. It is the coverage of the Labour Party and anti-semitism.

“I have never been a Labour Party member and have no intention of becoming one. But I voted Labour for the first time in thirty years at the 2017 General Election because the social democratic policies they offered resonated with me in a way that the centrist stance of New Labour never did”.

One example of the transformation of many BBC reporters into aggressive points-scoring inquisitors, is Laura Kuenssberg’s 2015 interview with Jeremy Corbyn

The BBC was later officially censured for breach of accuracy and impartiality in Laura’s News At Six report.

Several petitions and a host of readers’ letters have challenged the BBC’s failure to respect its mission “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain”.

Following the July petition addressed to parliament, a call for a Public inquiry into bias in the BBC, the latest petition for a full independent inquiry into the BBC’s coverage of the 2019 General Election may be read here.






Could the election have been rigged – or is this baseless conspiracy theory?



On the record

Everywhere he went Corbyn drew crowds that would fill up stadiums, Johnson was booed.

Out of everyone who registered to vote only a third did – yet Johnson managed to get a huge majority, though he didn’t win many more votes than the Tories did in the last election.


True or false?

Postal voting was a scam with reports from Royal Mail workers of votes still being in sorting offices after the election – a frequent charge made, as yet, only on social media.

Laura Kuenssberg had seen the postal vote outcome before election day.

Two of the companies contracted to run the postal vote process were disbanded a day or two after the election results – a frequent charge made, as yet, only on social media.


As the petition on BBC bias gathers strength these allegations should be investigated.











Political strategist in the FT: Corbyn-Labour’s ideas are framing the decisions the new government is making

Johnson is ‘parking his tanks on Labour’s lawn’

Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that the Labour party “won the argument” in the UK general election has stunned some commentators, but John McTernan a widely experienced political strategist, argues that – to use Corbyn’s words – Labour has “rewritten the terms of political debate”.

The Conservative party won the election, but they are far from winning the battle of ideas. In the Financial Times today McTernan describes Johnson – elected on the promise of “getting Brexit done” – as being devoid of policies which would retain the new electorate the Conservatives now represent. He cites the worst Conservative attempt to devise an agenda aimed at working people shown in an infographic after a recent budget in which their boasts about cutting tax on beer and bingo., was widely burlesqued (below left).  

That one-dimensional vision of working-class needs and desires has been ditched, he feels, but the void has to be filled — and that is where Labour policies present themselves.

McTernan points to the funding for NHS concession on nurses’ bursaries packaged with other policies as a significant reversal of direction and says that Mr Johnson’s promise to intervene, to buy British and to use state aid to protect UK industries is also being interpreted as “another example of parking his tanks on Labour’s lawn”. He comments: “When Tory plans for new council house building are announced or the remake of rail franchising begins, it will all be the hand of Mr Corbyn”.

But, he asks, “at what point does the mask actually become the face?”

Not in the immediate future, fear those concerned about the post election disability ruling by the government’s Department for Work & Pensions.

A historical perspective

McTernan (right) summarises a process which started with Mr Corbyn’s predecessor Ed Miliband:

  • Labour would propose a policy.
  • The Tory government would denounce it as extreme.
  • The tabloid press would pile in.
  • Then the government would adopt it after all.

It happened with energy price caps. And it happened with the living wage. But he ends:

“(S)omething deeper is going on. From corporate capitalism to housing, from climate change to transport, Labour’s ideas are framing the decisions the new government is making” – a movement that is not going to disappear.






Yesterday the British rejected truth, peace and justice: now they will suffer the consequences


Many will be dreading the impact that the money-takers will have on the lives of the vulnerable – having already seen the state of the NHS and the hoops though which the disabled have been forced to jump.

As predictions of a Tory government gained credibility, the pound started to rise and stocks in the utilities and oil and gas sectors were ‘boosted’ (FT) when London-listed shares started trading at 8am.

Domestically focused shares are also set to benefit

On voting day, former presidents, ministers, members of parliament, trade unionists, and political leaders from four continents signed an open letter.

The signatories called for a politics in which the interests of ordinary people could be advanced, social fabrics restored and the domination of an economic elite over democracies brought to an end, not just in Britain but creating a world for the many, not the few.

It said that Labour’s “commitment to a Green New Deal and radical action to bring about carbon neutrality” would be a “watershed in the battle to save our planet — and particularly its poorest people — from the consequences of ecological breakdown”, warning that that we are running out of time to tackle the climate crisis.






Australia’s right-wing government: the shape of things to come?

Australia is on high-alert as temperatures soar above 40C and smoke haze blankets the cities. 20,000 people in Sydney demonstrated on December 11th as firefighters try to save lives, property, wildlife, stock and pets. Their spokesman said: It is this Government, the NSW Government, who have failed,” he said. “We have got no water and a state and country that is in drought. We need a government that takes action” but climate activist Gavin Stanbrook said the people in power were “wedded to digging every ounce of coal out of the grounds.


Will the new British government even consider taking the action needed to mitigate the dire effects of climate change?





Media 108: why did IPSO, the press regulator, withhold the truth from voters?

 Land for the Many – a report presented to the Labour Party – raised what co-author George Monbiot has called a ‘storm of lies’ in the ‘billionaire press’.

After five months delay, the press regulator, Ipso, ruled against the Mail on Sunday’s false claim published under this headline: Corbyn’s ‘war on homeowners’: Proposal to grab more inheritances and tax increases in family house values. But the Mail on Sunday has asked for a review of the decision, delaying its publication, until after the election.

Though the report rejected the idea, the Mail on Sunday stated that it had proposed to levy a capital gains tax on the proceeds of the sale of a person’s house. The article quoted Boris Johnson, who claimed “this mad ‘tax on all your houses’ would cripple every Brit who owns or wants to own their own home” and the false claim was picked up on social media by other senior Conservatives.

The claim has also been used repeatedly in the party’s campaign materials, websites and Facebook pages. It was reproduced by most of the other billionaire papers and continues to be circulated.

Monbiot calls the ruling ‘a rare victory against the billionaire press’ but adds that it would count for nothing if buried until the election is over.

He comments: “Anyone who wants a better world finds themselves at war with the exceedingly rich people who own the media and the editors and journalists they employ. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but the wallet is mightier than the pen. News is the propaganda of the oligarch. Are we prepared to allow the proprietors of the newspapers, many of whom live offshore, to determine the course of our politics?” And ends:

“Futile as it often seems, one-sided as the war between truth and falsehood always is, we must fight the tide of lies. Don’t let them win this week”.

Answer from Hall Green reader by email:
Because IPSO is a construct of the mainly Tory press. Deliberately designed to be ineffective. 
What do we want – the implementation Leveson 2!
When do we want it – Friday!
When do we realistically expect it might happen – not until 2024 at least.






Tory failure on Clean Air Zone measures: backtracking or sheer inefficiency?

This disappointment is perhaps even more significant than the latest personal news items about Boris Johnson.

The original plans for Clean Air Zones in Birmingham and Leeds came after the Government had identified that parts of each city would probably fail legal air quality levels by 2020 and instructed both local authorities to tackle air pollution as soon as possible.

However, the introduction of the UK’s first Clean Air Zones is to be significantly postponed due to a Government delay in delivering the digital systems required to make the zones operational and enforceable.

Both Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council had been on track to implement Clean Air Zones until they were informed that:

  • The vehicle checking software needed to enforce the CAZ, which is being delivered by the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), will not be available until at least December 2019 — just weeks before the zones were due to come into force in January 2020.
  • The government, which was also responsible for delivering the system to collect payments, failed to meet a deadline for handing over the technology to check vehicles entering the charging zone.

In June 2019, therefore, Birmingham City Council announced that the Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which it had planned to introduce in January 2020, would be delayed until July 2020 at the earliest.

Martin Stride, Birmingham Friends of the Earth (BFOE), pointed out the delay will mean that people in those areas of Birmingham shown on the map below, will be exposed to harmful and illegal levels of NO2 for longer than necessary which could adversely affect their health.

BFOE has written to all Birmingham MPs to ask them to take the government to task over the delay and a template letter on its website may be used and adapted..It asked the following questions:

  • Will government provide sufficient resources and commitment to ensure that the vehicle checking software will not be delayed any further?
  • If the responsibility for delivering the payment collection system is to be passed to the city council, will it provide sufficient support and resources to ensure that this is not delayed?
  • To compensate for its part in delaying the introduction of the vehicle charging element of the CAZ, will the government now provide additional funding for other clean air measures which could be implemented quickly?  

Birmingham’s transport and environment chief, Coun Waseem Zaffar said the delay was “completely unacceptable” but outside the city council’s control: “The council has been fully on track to implement the Clean Air Zone from January 2020 on the basis of assurances from the Government that the vehicle checker would be in place by October this year.We are now unable to go ahead with our Clean Air Zone in January as planned.”








Media 107: BBC removes account of Corbyn’s popularity, FT retains news of his standing ovation in Brussels

Readers in Stroud and Uganda sent links to the social media scoop featuring answers made by the Mirror’s political editor Nigel Nelson during the BBC interview pictured below.

Saturday night’s 10.30 edition of the BBC’s nightly review of the following day’s newspapers broadcast an admission of Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity with the public. Click here for the video extract.

The BBC presenter had asked “Very quickly, what’s he like engaging with the public” and Nigel Nelson replied:‘The public love him. Wherever he turns up he’s greeted like a rock star’

Corbyn’s phenomenal energy, stamina and work-rate were covered. Nelson’s verdict: Corbyn is ‘prime ministerial’.

It was all too much – didn’t fit the mainstream narrative – and in the second edition of the review an hour later, Nigel Nelson’s contribution was omitted.

But the FT retained its account of the standing ovation for Jeremy Corbyn in Brussels not mentioned in other mainstream media.





Media 106: fearful establishment suppresses news of Jewish support for Labour

On Sunday, Jewish Labour supporters continued their protest at BBC bias during the coverage of the general election campaign, which includes persistent sidelining of expert Jewish commentators critical of the attacks on Labour.

The latest protest took place outside the BBC’s Portland Place headquarters in London on Sunday

Efforts to silence such news in order to prevent the election of a Corbyn-led government include direct party funding of a government which appoints the chair and four directors of the board of the ‘independent’ BBC. To the indirect funding of right-wing think tanks is added pressure from corporate lobbyists. These efforts are further strengthened by control of 71% of national newspapers and 81% of local newspapers, by corporations and billionaires (Edinburgh TV Festival, August 2018).

Members and supporters of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) said that the corporation’s election coverage “falls disastrously short of its own formal standards of accuracy and balance.” The repeated and unproven allegations that the Labour Party “is riddled with anti-semitism” were being reported by the BBC as “quasi-factual, with no indication that they are fiercely contested.” 

In a letter to BBC director-general Tony Hall and director of news and current affairs, Fran Unsworth, JVL co-chairs Jenny Manson (right) and Leah Levane said: “In the closing stages of an acrimonious election campaign, the BBC’s coverage of anti-semitism charges against the Labour Party has been both unbalanced and uncritical.”

The most recent example of BBC bias was its uncritical reporting of the Jewish Labour Movement’s resurrection of long-debunked allegations against Jeremy Corbyn and the party, adding uncorroborated charges from individuals, many of whom have already had their testimony powerfully challenged.

When Jeremy Corbyn delivered the Alternative Mactaggart Lecture, he told vital truths about the corporate media. The lecture ‘went viral’ last year and should be recalled during the approach to the UK General Election on December 12.

The clip began: “A free press is essential to our democracy. But much of our press isn’t very free at all . . . The unhealthy sway of a few corporations and billionaires shapes and skews the priorities and worldview of powerful sections of the media”.

Mr Corbyn then called for the BBC to be freed from government control and made representative of the country it serves.

Corporations, billionaires and their employees understandably fear that their ‘sway’ will be diminished by the election of Corbyn, who would form a government dedicated to ‘building a Britain for the many not the few’.