The future for the planet is dire, with business-as-usual Neros fiddling on either side of the Atlantic
Dec 16-Jan 1st – two Gloucestershire correspondents reflect on the election results
Mervyn Hyde quietly predicted two things to himself after the Conservative victory on December 12 and his depressing predictions were confirmed. He has seen:
- gloating triumphalism on the political right
- the re-emergence of long rejected, nasty right-wing policies, like capital punishment and blood sports,
- and the political right using the election result to claim that socialism is dead and buried, perpetuating a rabid neo-liberalism.
He reminds us that the opinion polls showed – when simply presented with the policies with no party label attached to them – Labour’s policies were very popular. And in the popular vote, yn’s Labour won more votes in 2019 than Miliband’s Labour achieved in 2015.
But despite these facts, commentariat propaganda proclaimed that Labour’s policies had been “firmly rejected” and that they had “the worst election defeat since 1935” – a “disaster”.
Hyde’s verdict: “Wrong, wrong and wrong”
The election result actually showed Remain and 2nd-referendum parties winning more votes than Leave parties – with the Tories only winning an overall majority because of our undemocratic voting system. For well over a year now, opinion polls have been confirming that we are now a Remain country by a comfortable majority – which is why Brexiteers were terrified of having another referendum. His conclusion:
“Our antiquated voting system has to go. The election result actually showed Remain and 2nd-referendum parties winning more votes than Leave parties – with the Tories only winning an overall majority because of our undemocratic voting system . . . However I don’t believe that a form of PR would change the situation politically: the media has a massive influence and affects the outcome, whether under a PR or first-pass-the-post voting system”.
Richard House notes that the establishment commentariat is already hard at work creating a false narrative that the result is a rejection of socialism and Corbynism, rather a triumph for the brilliantly deployed self-preservation instincts of the ruling class and their control and manipulation of vast swathes of the population’s access to information.
Its carefully deployed narrative about Labour’s alleged “biggest defeat since 1935” has rapidly become a taken-for-granted “truth,” even in some Labour circles. But it’s a narrative hopelessly caught up in a first-past-the-post ideology — conveniently ignoring the fact that Jeremy Corbyn won more votes in 2019 than did Ed Miliband in 2015. Like Mervyn Hyde, House advocates a fair, proportional voting system, under which a Corbyn-led government would probably have been elected — albeit, perhaps, one held together by uneasy alliances.
The narrative was at best hopelessly simplistic, and at worst mischievous or just plain wrong. In reality, he continues, the election was lost through a highly complex toxic cocktail which included:
- the Brexit wild card,
- an unforgivingly undemocratic first-past-the-post voting system
- and an unprecedentedly vicious Establishment assault on Mr Corbyn’s Labour.
A relentless, ethics-free Tory machine awash with corporate money, played its populist hand well enough to get over the line using the fortune in their war chest, donated by the rich and the powerful. One arm of the propaganda assault was the Tories’ carefully targeted cold-calling of swing voters. Richard knows voters, for example, who were repeatedly rung up in the campaign and told that if they voted Labour, the country would have a communist government.
He fears that – because lies, deceit and unadulterated propaganda were imported into our electoral system to an unprecedented extent – democracy may well never recover and comments: “The relentless attacks on Jeremy Corbyn constituted the most vile character assassination campaign on anyone in British political history. Goebbels would have loved it”.
But, he adds, Labour made at least three major errors in this campaign
- They didn’t wage a sustained exposure of the establishment media’s propaganda assault on them.
- Labour spokespersons and MPs didn’t receive training on how to spot and deconstruct bias and embedded and concealed establishment narratives in media interviews, then “out” them in live interviews on the media (as Tony Benn famously and brilliantly used to do).
- Labour didn’t include a commitment to a fair voting system in its manifesto. “old-politics” tribalism prevails in the party’s leadership, which seems to prefer a majority Tory government to introducing a fair voting system though that might mean we’d have to sacrifice the chance of ever again having a majority Labour government.
The ritual condemnation of Labour’s leadership by Labour’s centre-right – in its carefully choreographed attempt to drag the party back to being the capitalism-friendly party of old – and the far-right’s appalling, power-at-any-price behaviour, will generate a race to the ethical bottom. Once the “ethically disgraceful behaviour” genie is out of the bottle, the winner will be the party who tells the most effective lies, and who cheats more successfully.
And the wealthy establishment, corporations, right-wing tabloids, and four-fifths of the press owned and controlled by non-dom, non-tax-paying billionaires living overseas, will do anything and everything in order to destroy the possibility of a genuinely left-progressive political party being elected. Richard House ends:
“A demonstrably fair voting system has to be part of the package we put together for attacking neo-liberalism. The times we’re in couldn’t be more grave or dangerous: the future for the planet is now truly dire, with two business-as-usual Neros fiddling on either side of the Atlantic”.
Many who watched ‘a grandstanding Andrew Neil’ interviewing Jeremy Corbyn commented on social media or wrote to the BBC like this Yardley Wood reader – were “appalled at AN’s aggression and bullying manner. . . JC did remain calm but was not given a chance to fully answer any of the questions”.
It is simply false to assert that Corbyn “refused to apologise” for antisemitism in his party. Rather, he ignored a bullying demand for an apology for something for which he has no reason to apologise.
Corbyn thankfully has the nous to spot a propagandist elephant-trap when he sees one, and to simply ignore it – and he was absolutely right not to allow himself to be positioned into apologising by a grandstanding Andrew Neil, whose sole purpose was to create his own newsline that would then generate a storm that would consume Corbyn.
Mr Learmont-Hughes appears not to be aware of the new book by reputable academic researchers, Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief (Greg Philo et al., Pluto, 2019), which provides chapter-and-verse on the orchestrated establishment assault on Labour and Corbyn around antisemitism.
He might also be surprised to hear that since 1977, there are at least 50 instances of Corbyn having proactively supported challenges to antisemitism and having supported Jewish causes, Of course the critics can’t acknowledge the latter, as it would fatally disrupt their Corbyn-beating narrative.
The Chief Rabbi is merely the latest weapon to be deployed by the “Destroy Corbyn By Any Means” Project; and the BBC’s wall-to-wall reporting of this non-story in particular has been an outrage, and in flagrant contravention of their legal responsibility for neutral political reporting in general election campaigns.
Richard comments on the resignation of Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman
Louise Ellman is quite right, Corbyn isn’t remotely fit to rule the kind of Blairite neoliberal polity that she and her ilk are wedded to. The discredited ‘New Labour’ party of which she used to be a member has now thankfully been jettisoned into the dustbin of history where it belongs.
Like countless thousands of other Labour Party members, Richard rejoices that Jeremy Corbyn has no intention of running that sort of pale-blue Tory-lite government that the ruling class establishment successfully ‘bought off’.
Her frequent accusations of anti-semitism have been discredited in a dossier recently published by Jewish Voice for Labour which may be read here
This JVL investigation details clashes between Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman and Constituency Labour Party members, including Jews, who say they have been the victim of baseless allegations of antisemitism, wild charges based on a contested interview recording and a scurrilous dossier posted anonymously on a far-right blog. This and much more is backed up by 16 appendices in the report including interview transcripts, letters, email exchanges, reports and submissions.
For the first time, the silenced voices of members of Ellman’s constituency party can be heard countering the uncorroborated attacks on them in the BBC Panorama documentary Is Labour Antisemitic? broadcast in July.
The Liverpool Echo reported the Labour leader’s ‘hero’s welcome’ at packed city centre rally four days ago
Liam Thorp commented, “Mr Corbyn won’t have any problems retaining seats in Liverpool” – despite attacks from the opposition, mainstream media and those disloyal MPs who have consistently sought to undermine this popular leader including deputy Tom Watson and Jess Phillips – who spoke with impunity about stabbing Jeremy Corbyn.
Richard House ended by rejoicing that the Tory-lite rump in the Labour Party continues to get smaller and smaller and many who have watched, aghast, the merciless three-year onslaught by these disloyal Labour MPs, will share a sense of relief at their defection.
Richard House of Stroud writes: “Please share/cascade this timely article around the web”: Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is a crucial ally in the fight against antisemitism:
Over 200 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party sign a letter urging that anyone seeking an end to bigotry and racism should back Labour and Corbyn:
The Guardian has reported that a number of implacably anti-Corbyn MPs have left the Labour party alleging a failed “approach to dealing with antisemitism”, with Luciana Berger criticising Labour for becoming “sickeningly institutionally racist”.
We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party concerned about the current rise of reactionary ideologies, including antisemitism, in Britain and elsewhere across Europe.
We note the worrying growth of populist rightwing parties, encouraging racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. In Britain the far right is whipping up these prejudices, a threat that requires a resolute and energetic response. But instead we have seen a disproportionate focus on antisemitism on the left, which is abhorrent but relatively rare.
We believe that the Labour party under the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is a crucial ally in the fight against bigotry and reaction. His lifetime record of campaigning for equality and human rights, including consistent support for initiatives against antisemitism, is formidable. His involvement strengthens this struggle.
Labour governments introduced both the anti-racist and human rights legislation of the 20th century and the 2010 Equalities Act. A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn will be a powerful force to fight against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.
It is in this context that we welcome the Labour party’s endorsement of freedom of expression on Israel and on the rights of Palestinians. Labour is correct to recognise that while prejudice against Jewish people is deplorable, criticism of Israel’s government and policies can and must be made.
We urge all who wish to see an end to bigotry and racism, and who seek a more just society, to give their support to the Labour party.
Richard House draws attention to a letter by Ruth Steigman published in the Independent this week. She writes
In the 2017 general election, Labour gained 40% of the vote, and the largest increase in its share of the vote since the 1945 general election.
Jeremy Corbyn, who started the campaign 20 points behind in the polls, achieved this result following two years of attacks from all sides, and, in the words of the BBC, “in the face of a brutal onslaught from the print media”.
He had, again in the BBC’s words, “changed British politics” and “showed, amazingly, that Labour did not have to move to the centre to win votes but could do so from the unashamed left”.
Does this totally unexpected result explain the extraordinary escalation in the onslaught from the BBC and other establishment institutions since then?
Do the countless absurd smears stem from the fact that Jeremy Corbyn and his policies are now seen as a clear threat to the establishment in this country?
The Labour MPs opposing him see their power base in the party, established over the past 30 years, under attack, but know that with half a million party members behind him, a further challenge to his leadership would fail.
They do not understand that the era of submission to Thatcherite policies is over.
Anyone standing outside a polling station in May 2017 could see what these Labour MPs cannot: instead of the usual trickle of elderly voters, large groups of enthusiastic and optimistic young people turned out to demonstrate that they were not fooled by many of the unfounded smears of antisemitism, espionage etc, and that they understood the Labour leader was under attack from all sides because he stood outside the establishment, and because his policies threatened the political dogma that had prevailed since Margaret Thatcher won power 40 years ago.
Those who hold power naturally want the status quo to continue untroubled: power never cedes without a fight. But the people are eager for change, and want a government that serves the public, not powerful vested interests.
Jeremy Corbyn’s policies articulate their anger at the failed privatisations of public services, and widespread deregulation. Ordinary Labour Party members want MPs who will not undermine the party’s democratic processes, or sabotage their efforts to achieve a Labour government.
A Labour MP from the left of the party brought us our most treasured institution, the NHS.
Now that the country is suffering in every sphere under Tory austerity – from poverty to knife crime to slum housing – Labour has the policies to prove the BBC correct in their assessment that British politics has indeed changed, and moved, with the Labour Party, to the left.
This prompt led to the discovery of Ms Steigman’s signature below the following testimony in the Islington Tribune
This is Richard House’s challenging assertion as anti-Corbyn Labour MPs deserted the party in recent days. He continues:
“It’s too easily forgotten that the deserters are the same people who never accepted Corbyn’s leadership of the party from day one, and who’ve continually done everything possible – eagerly aided by their establishment media friends – to undermine him at every turn, so making his leadership job quite impossible.
“Remember the attempted MPs’ coup led by these people in their unconstitutional attempt to get rid of Corbyn? – this was long before the Labour Party anti-Semitism hysteria had ever been heard of.
“And having failed to displace Corbyn with their spiteful coup attempt, their fall-back was to concoct a carefully choreographed plan: namely, create a hysterical (but fictional) media storm about anti-Semitism; allow it to rage for a few months; then re-kindle it (literally making it up as they went along); and finally, when the fire was raging again, use this as a baseless pretext for splitting the Labour Party so we can have another five years of heartless Tory rule. Establishment job done.
“These “courageous” people have discharged their quasi-Tory bidding very well.
“Oh, and of course it’s just a coincidence that these deserters are all virulent Remainers who’ve never accepted the democratic result of the EU referendum, and will continue to do anything possible to reverse it.”
“One thing that May and Corbyn do have in common is that at least they’re trying to stay true to the democratic result of the EU referendum.
He concludes that – rather than having to devote huge amounts of time and energy defending themselves from relentless attacks from ‘serial underminers‘ within their own party – Corbyn and his team can now spend all their time on exposing the nation’s headlong social disintegration under Tory austerity.
And above all “inspiring us with their stellar policy portfolio”.
Dr Richard House
Source: Western Daily Press, 25 February 2019, p. 16–17