Mikey Smith, anti-Corbyn reporter for the supposedly ‘Labour’ Daily Mirror, attempted a hatchet-job on a leading female Labour MP today – and ended up simply displaying his own ignorance and his over-eagerness to jump on anything he thinks can be used to denigrate Corbyn or the MPs who support him.
Smith published an article today which claimed Rebecca Long-Bailey, one of the stars of Corbyn’s front bench, floundered under questioning by the BBC’s Andrew Marr this morning about Labour spending plans:
Smith claimed that the figures were not independent, because Labour had discussed them with the House of Commons Library (HoCL) and wouldn’t cover Labour’s spending plans because they were based on the effect of government tax cuts from the current tax year through to 2022, rather than on the duration of the current Parliament.
Unfortunately for Mikey, he only ended up embarrassing himself.
The figures were indeed put together by Labour – but using figures provided by the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) kept on record at the H0CL. In other words, Labour did the sums but the numbers they added up were inserted by the OBR, an at least theoretically politically independent organisation (and if they’re beholden to anyone it’s certainly not Labour).
Smith also focused on Ms L-B’s statement of 2020, when the figures are calculated up to 2022, but in context she is far more likely to have meant – perfectly correctly – that the tax cuts will be introduced by this government by 2020, the likely end of the Parliament, because Labour’s figures make perfectly clear which period they address:
Open mouth, insert foot, Mr Smith. Rather than apologise and issue a correction when his error was pointed out on social media, Mikey opted for a long Twitter discourse with himself, in which he attempted to show why he’d been right all along, but it couldn’t counter the commonsense view that he’d simply been wrong. Talking about a period starting from now and going into the future makes a lot more sense than talking about a parliamentary period that’s already almost half over.
Of course, you could be forgiven for thinking that a journalist for even a nominally ‘Labour’ publication would have been far more interested in attacking the Tories for giving tax-cuts worth about 9 months of the national NHS budget, rather than contorting to try to undermine an up-and-coming Labour politician and the party she wants to help into government. But it speaks volumes about his and his paper’s real motivations that there was not one word attacking the Tories in his article.
Hey ho. Such is the state of the UK’s mainstream media at the moment, to their shame.
More concerning, though, is that this appears to be the latest in a series of attacks on the female members of Corbyn’s front-bench team by figures who should be supporting them, with the likes of Diane Abbott, Shami Chakrabarti and the excellent Angela Rayner suffering similar treatment recently – not to mention the way in which Cat Smith was mocked by blairites just as much as by Tories for a sleep-deprived statement that could have been far more charitably interpreted, at the very least by her notional allies.
There’s an unpleasant misogynistic streak to this cheap ‘strategy’ of undermining women front-benchers that is, frankly, disgusting.
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