BBC News, predictably, is treating a prediction ‘by the think-tank The Fabian Society’ of electoral disaster as news this morning. Not just news, but a main news feature – prolonged discussions with (of course) right-wing pundits all too happy to talk up the important of the ‘report’ and to talk down Labour’s political credibility.
Except it’s not a ‘Fabians report’ – it’s an individual comment, by someone whose opinion should surprise nobody and certainly isn’t ‘news’, although it’s timing is certainly convenient for enemies of Labour’s direction under its leader.
The comments are put out by Andrew Harrop, the General Secretary of The Fabian Society, an organisation with a longstanding link with the Labour Party – but they are his personal comments and not those of the Fabians.
How do we know? He says so, on his Twitter profile:
“The Society does not take collective positions” – no room for doubt.
So, given we’re dealing with a personal opinion, what’s Mr Harrop’s recent history in terms of comment about Labour? It’s a telling one – with a distinctly blue tinge.
In a ‘Labour List’ article in July last year, Mr Harrop writes about what he considers the way forward for Labour and says this:
‘Blue Labour’ is a right-of-centre group within Labour that infamously invited former prominent UKIP member Stephen Woolfe to speak at its recent conference. It includes right-wing opponents of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, such as Lisa Nandy and Graham Jones – and also invited as conference speakers individuals from notoriously right-wing ‘think-tanks’ such as Policy Exchange:
The thrust of the Labour List article is that Labour’s majority Left must compromise its instincts to accommodate those of Blue Labour and others similar if it wants to be electable.
Harrop also wrote a post-Brexit article on the Fabians’ website in August last year in which he attacked Labour’s leadership, members and the unions who support Jeremy Corbyn because
too many seem intent on putting narrow ideological purity ahead of electoral success, practical social reform and relationships with typical voters.
All this sound familiar?
If it rings a bell and makes you think of the incessant anti-Corbyn interviews by members of the Blairite ‘party within a party’ Progress, that’s not entirely coincidental. Progress also have their fingers in the Fabians pie to a significant extent and – along with some other organisations of vaporous left-wing credentials – are listed among the Society’s official partners, as well as numbering Yvette Cooper’s former advisor and others with strong Progress links among its officials.
In short, Mr Harrop’s document in no way constitutes ‘news’. It does, however, constitute another opportunity for the BBC and the Labour right to smear the party as unelectable by blowing its significance out of all proportion, into headlines it’s currently showing at least hourly and discussing with right-wingers in between those.
In other words, another non-event BBC News and publications like the Daily Mirror are all too willing to ignore any reasonable professional standards for – as long as it gives them an excuse to say, #smearwegoagain.
Especially if that coincides with the new public relations push by Jeremy Corbyn’s team to emphasise his absolutely authentic anti-Establishment, insurgent credentials – and with an already-successful ‘day of action’ on the government’s rail failure – as the angry response of some involved with the latter shows:
knew today was day we 'engage electorate on bread/butter issues' as they so often claim they want. Fuming
— Ali Dogan (@alidogan_uk) January 3, 2017
1000s of Labour activists braved cold this morning to campaign on rail fares, they then got home to find @thefabians sabotaged their efforts
— The Awakend #EL4C (@the_awakend) January 3, 2017
And this one is particularly apt:
Accurate report would say 'Fabians argue Labour must stand "midway" between Trump and Blair to win election'. Only that makes them seem mad pic.twitter.com/Ddw9vk53vL
— Solomon Hughes (@SolHughesWriter) January 3, 2017
The distraction is failing badly, though, as the #railfail hashtag is far outstripping the Fabians on social media.
Spread the word.
The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but relies on the generosity of its readers. If you can afford it, please click here to set up a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support!