The Tories and their media allies are still – in spite of absolutely unequivocal evidence to the contrary – pushing the lie that Corbyn and Labour are ‘rowing back’ on a supposed ‘election promise’ to cancel all student debts.
Some rags are screaming about Corbyn’s ‘humiliation’ over student debt, but in fact are only humiliating themselves in their desperation. Other outlets are simply talking of it as if it’s fact — often without anyone present to put them right, although bravo to Labour front-bencher Sarah Champion for calling out BBC host John Pienaar when he did it, for the second week in a row, on his latest Sunday morning politics show on Radio 5 Live:
John, you’re better than that. You know that that wasn’t a promise.
Clearly he’s not better than that – but he’s just one of a host of TV presenters, politics pundits and others supporting a Tory lie that is as shameful as it is transparent. But journalist Paul Mason thinks he knows one reason why the media might be so eager to play along:
Robbie Gibb was the editor of the BBC’s Sunday Politics and Daily Politics programmes until he rejoined the Tories as Theresa May’s head of communications this month.
The Tories are attempting to justify their lie based on a single interview Corbyn gave to NME, fixing on ‘I’ll deal with it’ as if it’s a manifesto promise. The party issued a press release using that interview as the sole justification for their claim.
But the Independent‘s political correspondent Jon Stone spotted the deliberately-misleading way they had edited their quote from that interview:
The Tories are really scraping some barrel-bottoms – but all they’ve ended up doing is betraying their own terror of Corbyn’s Labour, which now stands far enough them in most polls to win an outright majority if another election were called.
That and their absolute bankruptcy of ideas, with its resulting desperation to cling to any straw, no matter how thin, frayed and faeces-covered, to try to smear their opponent in the minds of the electorate. If they had anything better, they’d be using it. They haven’t, so they’re reduced to this embarrassing nonsense.
But as Mason points out above, we have a thing called the Internet now, to put people right about such deliberate, mainstream fake news and even to allow them to ignore its originators. So let’s use it and get the word out.
Postscript: Mr Gibb now works for the Tory government, which has the inconvenience of being subject to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act – and of not being able to hide behind the ‘purposes of journalism’ exemption the BBC can misuse to avoid revealing its own discussions of what to (mis)represent and how.
So SKWAWKBOX editor Steve Walker has submitted two FOI requests to the Cabinet Office – this one:
and a corresponding request for all correspondence specifically concerning Corbyn and student debt since 1 June, the date the NME interview was published.
The government has four weeks to respond. Watch this space for updates.
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