As Jeremy Corbyn’s post-leadership-election reshuffle of his Shadow Cabinet began to take shape over the last few days, a media narrative began to grow alongside it.
As so often happens, however, when people try to be too clever, they ended up giving the game away in a fashion that anyone paying even a bit of attention can discern. This means it can provide an invaluable lesson in how to perceive the media’s messages and how seriously to take them, if at all.
This narrative suggests that Jeremy Corbyn’s new-look front-bench lineup is ‘London-centric’:
Take this, for example, from Sky’s chief political correspondent, Beth Rigby – and note how it accepts the premise of a claim by a Tory MP:
Predictably, the Tory Spectator’s ‘Coffee House’ blog picked up and parroted the same line:
Ms Rigby then decided to hammer home her point more explicitly:
presumably hoping we wouldn’t notice that she only listed 3 people. The BBC certainly didn’t notice, as its Breakfast programme picked up the same theme the following morning, as did its news channel.
The i, Independent, Telegraph, Huffington Post and other outlets, including even the theoretically Labour-supporting New Statesman all then ran with the ‘Londoncentric’ theme or a variant such as ‘London clique’.
Right-wing Labour cuckoos also joined in:
It appears that this line was chosen – at least initially – to reinforce the risible (not to mention condescending) Tory message at their conference that the Conservative party is the one on the side of ‘ordinary working-class people’ while Corbyn’s Labour party is ‘out of touch’ (that they are, as Jeremy Hardy brilliantly rephrased it this week, that Labour are the ‘illuminartyfarty’).
The only minor complication (not that most of our ‘news’ outlets will let the facts get in the way of a good propaganda-piece) is this: it’s completely untrue.
The Shadow Cabinet consists of around 40 roles. No fewer than 20 of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet are from places that lie north of London. As a picture paints a thousand words, here’s a handy graphic of their locations:
and here are some of the MPs in question, who include some absolutely fantastic people I’m proud to know and some others I don’t have the pleasure of knowing yet:
Not shown is Business Secretary the excellent Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South. As Clive is a great bloke and I wouldn’t want him or you to miss out, here he is:
So, Corbyn’s new Shadow Cabinet consists of 50% of MPs who are not from London. Given the relatively high number of Labour MPs in London, the fact that some MPs such as Owen Smith and Angela Eagle don’t wish to serve and that some northern MPs such as David Anderson have more than one role, Corbyn’s cabinet cannot in any way be sensibly described as ‘Londoncentric’.
So, if we don’t have a Londoncentric Shadow Cabinet, what do we have? We have:
- a media complex in which a significant number of newspaper/-channel owners have a vested interest in promoting an anti-Labour message
- ‘journalists’ of whom are unhealthily close to right-wing politicians and advisors (including many on the right of the Labour party
- a number of opportunistic right-wing Labour MPs/functionaries all too happy to propagate nonsense if they think it will undermine a leader that doesn’t suit their former career ambitions
- and a culture of lazy journalism in which stories are simply swallowed and regurgitated as news, even by those supposed to be disinterested or left-leaning, without ‘due diligence’ to check whether the facts are correct
The upshot of which is that, partly deliberately and partly lazily, we have media that routinely mislead us, especially when it comes to a politics that genuinely challenges the status quo and the Establishment that wants to maintain it. The game is up.
What we don’t have is a Londoncentric culture or Shadow Cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn, or one that is ‘out of touch’ with the circumstances, hopes and fears of the vast majority of British people.
But if you believe what you’re told by the mainstream, without cognisance of what’s really going on and how corrupt ‘news’ in the UK has become, you’ll be misled.
Now they’ve given their game away, don’t be.