Category Archives: Jeremy Corbyn
Peter Oborne and David Hearst state that the former Labour leader was the victim of a carefully planned and brutally executed political assassination Neither of the journalists are Labour Party members, and one of them has worked as a political correspondent and commentator for The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail, three stalwarts of Tory opinion-making. But both care greatly about accurate, truthful journalism. Both of them, as British citizens, cherish the tradition of fair play and decency.That is why they believe everyone should be concerned about the picture painted of Corbyn by the British media for the four years he was leader. Their recent article, summarised here, may be read in full here.
The media abandoned any form of the objectivity or fact-checking they apply to almost everyone else. Accusers became judge, jury and executioner.
Corbyn was never the monstrous figure presented to the British people. He was never a Marxist. He was not hell-bent on the destruction of Western capitalism. He was a socialist. Nor was he an antisemite, and there is no serious evidence which suggests that he was. He told jthe journalsists that antisemitism is an evil which has been tolerated and accepted for far too long in British society.
He was a flawed politician who made mistakes. But he also possessed personal decency and authenticity, which has scarcely been acknowledged amidst the thousands of hatchet jobs conducted against him in the press and wider media. That is why we thought it was important to conduct the first major interview with Corbyn since he stepped down as Labour leader on 3 April this year.
We wanted to give him a chance, which was largely denied him as Labour leader, to tell his side of the story. We also wanted to expose one sombre truth; Corbyn was the victim of a carefully planned and brutally executed political assassination. He was never given a chance by:
- the bulk of Labour’s parliamentary party
- and many officials, some of whom campaigned harder against their elected leader than they did against the Tory government
- and by senior figures connected to the British state, including former spy chiefs, military officers and civil servants,
Falsehoods and misrepresentations
Lie after lie was told about Corbyn, day after day, month after month. For the last four years very few journalists have bothered to do their job to fact-check the claims and report fairly on him.
In our review of Tom Bower’s book “A Dangerous Hero”, we investigated and exposed a farrago of falsehoods and misrepresentations in what was presented as a major biography of the Labour leader published by Harper Collins, one of Britain’s most significant publishers. Several instances fare given.
By another irony, once he had won the election, Johnson adopted a number of Corbyn’s policies which he had previously denounced as unworkable. He has abandoned planned cuts in corporation tax, announced plans to nationalise Northern Rail and announced £100bn funding for infrastructure projects.
The mob have got their way. Corbyn is back to where he was at the start of this bizarre journey, an MP well respected locally in North Islington and on the back benches. His allies have been purged from the front benches. This kind of mob politics threatens democracy itself because without truthful and honest public discourse, dark forces make their presence felt.
International Workers’ Day – bank holiday concert in Rome, 2019
Some points from Jeremy Corbyn’s May Day message:
“May Day is international workers’ day, but also a day of peace. Let us heed the words of UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres in calling for a global ceasefire in conflicts. Pouring weapons into Saudi Arabia makes the humanitarian disaster of Yemen even worse.”
The years of austerity have left our NHS working at 94% capacity, our care homes, mostly privately run, virtually full and over one million people waiting for social care of some sort. Our local authorities, whose budgets have been slashed by the austerity doctrine, were expected to cope as the crucial local element in dealing with an emergency.
From testing, to supplies of personal protective equipment to support for companies to survive or workers to survive be they self-employed or employed by others – the government has been found wanting. Failure to procure test equipment and ventilators at the time of the WHO warning has cost time, and lives.
Inequality in Britain, poor air quality in working-class communities, the work of black and minority ethnic communities in our care and health services and the disproportionate death rate are all exposed by this crisis. Being told to work at home if you have reasonable house and garden is one thing. Being told to try and work at home in a tiny flat with a large family is very different. Being told to stay at home when you are rough-sleeping homeless is obviously a nonsense.
NHS and care workers, delivery and postal workers and those that keep our communities clean and safe. Let us never hear another Home Secretary describe migrant care workers and cleaners as unskilled: they are the ones who keep us alive, not hedge-fund managers.
Our demands are for no return to austerity, for proper investment and support for jobs and a green revolution so that the clean air and city birdsong of the lockdown don’t just become a memory, but our normal life in future.
Some points from Len McCluskey’s May Day message:
With millions facing unemployment and an economy on the brink of ruin, Conservative government ministers have ‘engaged seriously’ with trade union representatives for the first time since Margaret Thatcher ‘effectively banned contact’.
They recognised they were in serious trouble and intense daily meetings between unions, ministers and civil servants in BEIS, the Treasury, the Cabinet Office and No 10, have taken place from which the job retention scheme and other pay protection agreements emerged. Our work with government led to securing the furlough scheme and persuading a reluctant Treasury to extend it.
We used our relationships with leading manufacturers and industry bodies:
- helping to establish the Ventilator Challenge
- working with firms the length and breadth of the country to co-ordinate the mass manufacturing drive needed to provide the safety kit our front-line staff must have to stay safe
- demanding the appointment of a minister for PPE to address the chronic shortages of the vital safety materials urgently needed by NHS and social care workers
- working with industry bodies and companies to find safe and secure ways back to work in certain industries, including automotive and construction and
- ‘calling out’ employers putting their workers and the public at risk, or who are using coronavirus as an excuse to lay people off.
May Day is a celebration of workers and also strong trade unions, which have demonstrated during this crisis, perhaps as never before, why they are so needed. A start for paying back our workers with more than admiration and gratitude would be to ensure decent pay and secure, safe work – and make May Day in Britain a public holiday, as it is elsewhere.
Trade unions and working people in Britain have endured over 40 years of relentless attacks. We cannot allow this government to return to business as usual — that’s what got us here. It should not take a pandemic for government to value working people or to recognise the need for investment in our NHS and other public services. “The “new normal” must mean the labour movement keeps our seat at the table with a real plan for changing our economy for the good and for a long-term New Deal for Workers — the campaign we launched with the CWU, GMB and other sister unions”.
The pandemic surely demonstrates, too, the importance of a new normal in international economic co-operation and health planning. A virus anywhere is a virus everywhere. Countries like Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy or Sweden demonstrate that it is possible to negotiate solutions that are acceptable for workers and employers. Comprehensive economic recovery plans will clearly be needed to reboot the economy and allow industrial activities to re-emerge.
Jeremy Corbyn’s recommendation: “Those workers who are now being treated as expendable need union support, the self-employed need to be unionised and our movement must recognise the nature of the economy that austerity and neoliberal economics has brought us”.
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?
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).
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
- 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.
Noting that in this post-election period all the venom seems to be directed at Jeremy Corbyn, she reminds readers that the ex-coalmining families on the council estate that she grew up on, impoverished and barely scraping a living together, were betrayed not by socialist-led Labour but by a toxic coalition from the right and liberal wings of the establishment:
- first there is the Tory party, with such contempt for ordinary people it lied to them throughout the campaign,
- then a media elite of TV presenters and journalists who pretended impartiality while peddling distortions,
- and finally the right wing of Labour who weaponised antisemitism to undermine Corbyn when the overriding concern should have been directed at the rise in antisemitism and all other forms of racism in British society.
But, as Prof, Reay points out, none of these groups will suffer directly as a consequence of the neoliberal free-market capitalism which will soon be unleashed on a divided, mistrustful and misinformed nation.
It is the working-class people who spoke to her of not being valued, respected or listened to, whose lives will be further diminished as poverty intensifies and the privatisation of public services continues apace.
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.
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.
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’.
The revolving door between government & big business
Yesterday’s headlines review of ONS report: 2008-2019, richest 10% enjoy biggest gains in household wealth
It’s fashionable for people on the progressive left to call out and highlight the anti-left and anti-Corbyn bias of the BBC, but this claim needs some careful unpacking.
Academic research (e.g. LSE: Journalistic Representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the British Press: From Watchdog to Attackdog) certainly seems to support this view; but assuming it to be true for a moment, it by no means follows that all, or even most, journalists working for the BBC are themselves politically right-wing.
Parallels can be drawn here with the right-wing press. I’ve been reliably informed by a former Daily Telegraph journalist, for example, that at that newspaper, many of the journalists working there are well left of centre.
At the institutional level however, everyone knows what’s required by the paper’s owners and so a culture of right-wing and right-oriented commentary is created, which becomes an accepted norm to which all journalists employed by that title conform. In such organisations, moreover, the management are likely to be right-wing in orientation.
Something similar to this seems to be happening at the BBC, as political commentator Owen Jones pointed out at length on Radio 5 Live last Saturday evening (Saturday 30 November).
So perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised to see a former very senior BBC journalist and editor ‘coming out’ on the political left. I remember Nick Jones (right) very well from the miners’ strike in the early 1980s when he was chief political editor at the BBC, and when he was clearly doing his best as the time to be as even-handed and neutral as possible. Jones left the BBC in 2002 (aged 60), and I’ve heard nothing of him since. So I was mildly amazed to read in a recent issue of the Morning Star a feature article by him on media bias. Titled ‘Boris Johnson’s shock troops in the commentariat’ we read about how, ‘when the PM runs into trouble, he’s not short of obliging media pundits to rush to his rescue and deliver a hatchet job on Corbyn’.
Jones evocatively writes of what he calls ‘attack journalism’, their ‘character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn’, and their ‘conjuring up yet another hatchet job on Corbyn to help bolster the brilliance of Johnson’.
Listing a number of obnoxious headlines from an array of Tory propaganda comics, Jones then points out the sobering fact that Conservative-supporting newspapers account for 80% of UK newspaper sales.
But it’s far worse than even this, as the likes of the BBC pick up on and report the right-wing editorial lines of these papers, ‘feeding through to the commentary on television and radio programmes’. And the right-wing press commentariat also ‘command a far higher proportion of broadcast interviews and invitations to newspapers reviews on radio and television’, with press headlines commonly treated as news.
Jones concludes his article with a chilling observation: ‘Media coverage in 2017 was the vilest of any general election of my 60 years as a reporter’.
I fear 2019 might be even worse.’ From what I’ve seen to date, I think his worst fears have already come to pass, with the Cummings-driven Tory Dirty Tricks Department leaving all previous Tory attempts to propagandise the electorate trailing in his wake.
When a widely respected journalist of Nick Jones’s seniority and professional stature speaks so scathingly about the flagrant bias of the right-wing press, we really have to take it seriously. But just what we can do to neutralise the propaganda impact of this outrage to democracy is something that the left urgently needs to address – and preferably well before 12 December 2019.
Guest-blogged by Richard House Ph.D., former senior university lecturer in psychology, psychotherapy and early childhood studies, and now a full-time Labour Party and environmental campaigner-activist.