Category Archives: Media
Richard House throws down the gauntlet in a letter to the editor:
The squalid shenanigans of the Labour right over the Chris Williamson question are beneath contempt.
Good old Tosh McDonald for sticking up for him (MPs hounding Chris Williamson are ‘bullies,’ prominent trade unionist says, M Star June 29–30); and I want to respond to the call by Tosh’s for Chris’s defenders to stand up and be counted.
First, on the letters pages of this and other newspapers, I have said exactly what Chris said about anti-semitism in Labour, in the speech for which he was suspended from the party. His statements were absolutely correct and factually accurate. Chris and I both passionately believe that to the extent that there is anti-semitism in Labour, it is abhorrent and must be eradicated.
But the scale of the media coverage that the anti-semitism issue has generated is grotesquely out of proportion to the actual problem.
It has been stoked, orchestrated and weaponised in a despicable anti-Corbyn putsch attempt by the likes of Tom Watson and the Labour right.
So, I’m saying it again here, in black and white and without mealy-mouthed triangulation or equivocation, just as Chris has rightly pointed out.
So come on, rightists: suspend me from the party, too. And if you do, I look forward to seeing you in court, where, once and for all, I’ll take great pleasure in exposing your shameful shenanigans for all to see.
These people’s divisive disloyalty and misconduct are in effect making the election of a Labour government less likely, and so if anyone should be suspended from the party, it’s them, not the likes of Chris.
Dr RICHARD HOUSE
Stroud Constituency Labour Party
A Corbyn government will need support from openly selected MPs and a mass members’ movement to bring about beneficial change
An editorial by Ben Chacko opens with a reference to civil servants apparently briefing the press against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a further sign of the strain a truly radical opposition is putting on our political system.
Chacko (right) predicts that this will intensify if he enters office:
“Labour’s radical programme will face parliamentary sabotage, which is why open selection of Labour MPs to improve the character of the parliamentary party is essential.
“It will face legal challenges from corporations with bottomless wallets, institutional interference from the judiciary and the EU if we haven’t left the latter, economic warfare, meddling by foreign powers such as the United States, perhaps even the military putsch mooted in 2015”.
John McDonnell has often said that when Labour goes into office we will all go into office – and Chacko stresses:
“We need to build a mass movement of trade unions, campaign groups such as the People’s Assembly and community organisations fighting for change in every workplace, every town hall and every high street to make those words a reality”.
Only by building up united and determined pressure ‘from below’ will the political-corporate grip on power be broken.
Read the Chacko editorial here.
Vic writes from Vietnam after visiting his children and grandchildren in Australia:
Poor old Jeremy, what a battle he has had since becoming leader. When first elected, I said to him: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!” [Porridge: Norman Stanley Fletcher]. He smiled and said: “I won’t.” And he kept that promise!
I’ve been active in the Party for well over twenty years, so I knew he was in for a hard time. You cannot convert a party of arrogant career politicians who are, or were, Bright Young Things [lacking life experience] with an ideology worshipping The Market “God” and Blairism. These Bright Young Things have been taking over our NGOs, charities, pressure groups, etc. over recent decades, as some sort of political parallel career.
I was at last year’s Progress*conference when the keynote speaker was the arch spin doctor, Alistair Campbell. They gave him a roaring, standing ovation!!! I remained seated!!
Of course, this Westminster bubble does not understand the meaning of “democracy.” Unlike in the past, members count for nothing! This is why the Blairites cannot come to terms with the Labour grassroots membership wish for even a moderate form of Socialism espoused by Jeremy AND that brilliant election manifesto!!
How could, for example, the Co-operative Party elite appoint a General Secretary who knew little, if not nothing, about co-operation? Was it because the Blairites have taken over the Co-op Party? A genuine co-operator is a Socialist at heart, but the abundance of Blairites undermine this principle. They are not truly Co-operators.
I asked this question at the Annual Co-op Party conference when Jeremy took office. “If you are co-operators, do you support Jeremy Corbyn?” The reply was a great deal of embarrassed responses. The then leader, John Woodcock, resigned shortly after shaking my hand!
Jeremy needs the big rallies, to show the strength of the membership’s support for him. His Glastonbury appearance was soooo significant! Of course, the adulation is overwhelming at Labour Annual conferences.
Below in Broxstowe last weekend
And young supporters are also not swayed by media, career-minded ‘independents’ and deputy leader
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
“I’ve had a very interesting week in politics. I’m obviously very sad at some of the things that have happened and very sad at some of the things that have been said. Walking away from our movement achieves nothing. Not understanding where we have come from is a bad mistake.
“Because when people come together in a grouping, in a community like the Labour Party, there’s nothing we can’t achieve together for everybody . . .
“Labour, for me, is my life – and I’m very sad at people who have left our party. I really am. I say this to them: in June 2017, I was elected on a manifesto, Emily was elected on a manifesto, Richard was elected on a manifesto, Gloria was elected on a manifesto – it was the same manifesto . . . the Labour Party believes in equality and justice, that is what was the centre of our manifesto, and that will be at the centre of our next manifesto . . .
“When the media talk about the bravery of those who walked away, Anna Soubry voted for austerity and said it was a good thing. Almost immediately after leaving Chris Leslie tells us that we should not be ending university fees … and we should be cutting corporation tax and increasing the burden on others.
Mr Corbyn also addressed the anti-Semitism issues within the party, which MPs Luciana Berger and Joan Ryan both cited as they quit Labour this week:
“When people are racist to each other, then we oppose it in any way whatsoever. If anyone is racist towards anyone else in our party – wrong. Out of court, out of order, totally and absolutely unacceptable. Anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any form and in any way whatsoever, and anywhere in our society.”
He added: “I’m proud to lead a party that was the first ever to introduce race relations legislation and also to pass the equality act and the human rights act into the statute book.”
Extract from the latest article:
In his outstanding essay, ‘The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)’, Norman Finkelstein, Jewish author of ‘The Holocaust Industry’ and the son of Holocaust survivors, comments:
‘The degree of anti-Semitism infecting British society has been the subject of numerous polls over a sustained period of time. These surveys have uniformly, consistently, and unambiguously concluded that anti-Semitism:
(1) has long been a marginal phenomenon in British society, infecting under 10% of the population,
(2) is far less salient than hostility to other British minorities, and
(3) is less pronounced in the UK than almost anywhere else in Europe.’
Finkelstein argues that Jews have considerable power within British society. Indeed, the intensity and longevity of the campaign targeting Corbyn’s ‘antisemitism’ in part reflect that influence:
‘Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.”‘
As Finkelstein says, ‘it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts’ of this kind. Noting them has nothing to do with ugly, racist fantasies about Jews controlling the world.
‘Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically elected head of the Labour Party. His ascendancy vastly expanded and galvanized the party’s ranks. Corbyn has devoted a lifetime to fighting racism; like eponymous labor organizer Joe Hill, where workers strike and organize, it’s there you’ll find Jeremy Corbyn.
‘By British and even global leadership standards, he cuts a saintly figure. On the opposite side, mostly unelected Jewish bodies have dragged Corbyn’s name through the mud, slandering and defaming him. They have refused to meet with Corbyn, even as he has repeatedly extended olive branches and offered substantive compromises. Instead they issue take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.‘
Finkelstein summarises accurately: ‘The transparent motive behind this cynical campaign is to demonize Corbyn, not because he’s a “fucking anti-Semite,” [the words of former Labour minister Margaret Hodge] but because he’s a principled champion of Palestinian rights’, although ‘a broad array of powerful entrenched social forces, acting on not-so-hidden agendas of their own’ are all seeking to destroy Corbyn.
Indeed, no rational observer can see this as anything other than an extension of the relentless establishment attack on Corbyn, the mild socialist threatening to let democracy loose from its box. The objective of the antisemitism moral panic is obvious, writes Lindsey German of Stop the War:’removing Corbyn from the Labour leadership and his replacement with someone much more amenable to the needs of British capital, whether in the arena of foreign policy or in terms of domestic policies’.
David Hearst, a former Middle East editor at the Guardian, concurs: ‘The Labour leader’s opponents don’t care about anti-Semitism. They’ll just do anything to remove Corbyn.’
Hearst argues that Corbyn’s opponents are using: ‘the tactics of fascists – smearing, libelling, intimidating: ‘Unable to put up a candidate capable of defeating him by democratic means, at the ballot box, unable to attack him on his polices for which there is majority support in the country, Corbyn’s detractors have methodically and consistently set about the task of character assassination.’
We asked Noam Chomsky for his view on these issues. He replied: ‘The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally, while also authentically concerned with the rights of suffering and oppressed people throughout the world. Plainly an intolerable threat to order.’ (Noam Chomsky, email to Media Lens, September 9, 2018
Edited extract from a site run by Unite activist Steven Walker from Liverpool. The site’s address comes from his initials.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke in Edinburgh about his plans for changes to the media landscape. The full address may be seen on YouTube or read here.
‘MSM’ coverage of the event has tended to avoid reference to Corbyn’s question session with journalists and members of the public and the extensive ‘Q&A’ with actor Maxine Peake.
Dignity and understatement
The telling and moving segment of the Q&A came when Corbyn was asked about his experience of mainstream media attacks since he became Labour leader – and he responded with dignity and understatement, describing a ceaseless campaign of smears against him as “The papers being somewhat unkind about me”, before going on to make a steadfast defence of the need for journalists in a ‘vibrant democracy’ and to pay tribute to journalists who have risked and even lost their lives in the pursuit of truth.
About the many: for the poor and for our children.
When asked what he thinks it’s most important for the mainstream journalists to do now, his answer – as it has consistently been throughout his leadership – was all about others and their needs.
Others would add his policies on nuclear power and weapons, military intervention in other countries and on projects such as HS2, privatisation and the third Heathrow runway.
The article summarises: “No self-pity. No drama – in stark contrast to the behaviour of some Labour MPs who have suffered far less for far more cause. Just, as ever, a self-deprecating and completely authentic concern for others – especially those left vulnerable and deprived by our broken economic system and our skewed, dysfunctional mainstream media landscape”.
On the Cornwall Live’s website Tom D. Rogers wrote: “It seems that despite renewed predictions of doom and gloom for the Labour Party from the usual mainstream media pundits, and despite the best efforts of the right-wing media to portray him as some kind of jam-making, allotment-tending, left-wing reincarnation of Hitler, Britain hasn’t reached anywhere near ‘peak-Corbyn’ yet. On the weekend, a staggering 18,000 festival goers in Cornwall staged a completely spontaneous and staggeringly unified show of solidarity with the much-maligned Labour leader”.
ICM’s polling last week also had Labour ahead and the latest polling by BMGResearch shows Labour with a two percent lead over the Tories, up by two points on BMG’s last poll, with the Tories falling by a similar amount.
Roger’s continues: “It has been a summer of relentless smears against Jeremy Corbyn, his team and his supporters as the Establishment desperately tries to bring him down before the Democracy Review rule changes and Labour’s annual conference next month put the party beyond the reach of the Tory-Lites indefinitely. But those smears appear not to be cutting through. At the Boardmasters festival in Cornwall last weekend around 18,000 young people were participating in a huge ‘silent disco’ when the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ played through their headphones. The result was electrifying – and suggests that enthusiasm for the Labour leader has not dimmed even a little . . .
They know where hope lies”.
Jeremy Corbyn is speaking this evening at Stoke City’s ground – indoors rather than a stadium gig – and the room is already full: a capacity of around 600.
This is the scene outside as people queue out of sight to get in – his popularity appears undiminished, as the latest polling seems to indicate.