The last day or so has seen a set of media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn – proxy attacks, since those attacking don’t currently seem to believe they can dent his credibility and authenticity directly – that to observers of media trends might seem co-ordinated.
The theme for the attacks stems from the self-pitying complaints of right-wing Labour figures desperate for some way to smear members exercising their democratic right to choose who represents them on Haringey council – and who resorted to characterising the democratic candidate selections as a ‘purge’ or a ‘take-over’.
Echoes, still, of the ridiculous ‘entryist’ smears of the early days of Corbyn’s leadership – and transparently pathetic, since both left and right members want change and even some right-wing councillors have remained unchallenged.
The common denominator in the candidates supported by activists instead of deselected is clear – they all oppose the ‘HDV‘, the Haringey Development Vehicle that will involve the destruction of thousands of social homes to make way for redevelopment that locals call social cleansing.
The ‘MSM’ have featured at least three concerted attacks within the space of twenty-four hours all focusing, from one angle or another, on the supposed purge and attempting to smear Corbyn by association with the ogres daring to use their votes for candidates they agree with.
One, in the Guardian, involved digging up a rusted relic in the shape of Roy Hattersley, who
- tries to claim that Labour is in crisis – when what he means is that Labour is doing really well under people he doesn’t like
- appears oblivious or uncaring that he is praising and encouraging factionalism on the part of the people he likes, to combat largely-imagined factionalism on the part of those inconveniently successful people he doesn’t
- imagines that the success of the left in Liverpool (and other places) is down to former Militant pensioners, when in fact the former Militant pensioners are still busy but are not in the Labour Party and Labour’s resurgence as a genuinely-envisioned movement is driven by far younger members
- with a stunning lack of irony claims Haringey changes are being driven by entryists, when in fact one of the few wards in which the right has been successful there resulted from an anomalous influx of one-time-only members who all paid their subs on the night in order to vote for the council leader despised for her central part in – you’ve guessed it – the HDV
and a lot more dross besides.
Hattersley’s political career is most remembered for his Spitting Image puppet – and in his latest article he only succeeds in showing just how irrelevant and out of touch he is now.
But the intent is clear: undermine Labour members, claim they’re all in Momentum – they’re not – and hope some mud sticks to Corbyn and to somehow protect right-wingers in other places by ‘shaming’ members who want change.
The usual suspect
Another is a piece in the Independent by entrenched Blairite John Rentoul who, surprise surprise, shows how out of touch he is by claiming that Labour is only strong because of Jeremy Corbyn personally and completely missing that it’s Corbyn’s vision that has people engaged and impassioned – for a cause, not just a person:
He does, however, act as a ‘useful idiot’ in a couple of ways. First, he admits that local government is still a stronghold of Blairism:
This makes it perfectly obvious why Labour’s massively pro-Corbyn membership want change at local government level – and is exercising those democratic rights to effect change.
Secondly, he lets slip a phenomenon that those who have been watching carefully have noticed over the last week or two – that two of Labour’s front-bench women are being positioned as future leaders by those who oppose Corbyn’s vision:
Which leads us neatly onto the third attack.
Murdoch’s The Times featured an interview – of sorts – with Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner. It’s an odd piece, with extrapolation and commentary by the interviewer or journalist plays at least as prominent a role as Ms Rayner’s own words.
But where her own words do feature, some of them are problematic. One comment appears dismissive of left-wing activists, caricaturing them as wearing Guevara t-shirts and holding pointless student union nights about miners. She also describes the democratic attempts of members to select council candidates who represent their views as ‘heartbreaking’ – which has caused dismay among members in Haringey and around the country who are trying to remove councillors they feel have betrayed them and Labour values.
Ms Rayner posted a Facebook comment in which she said she had been misquoted or quotes had been used out of context. She also told the SKWAWKBOX that her comments about factionalism were general and about possible negative effects for the party and so were not aimed at Momentum, who she said should be welcome in Labour’s ‘broad church’.
If the Times misrepresented Ms Rayner’s comments, it only strengthens the impression that the article was structured to portray a damaging picture of the Labour Party, exploiting Ms Rayner’s perhaps unguarded comments for that purpose.
If the attacks are coordinated, a potential reason is not hard to identify.
Today, the company published a poll on the ‘State of the Parties’ – one that showed Labour with an eight-point lead over the Tories:
If Establishment media outlets are attempting to coordinate their attacks to maximise impact, an eight-point Labour lead would make a good reason.
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