Last week saw a renewed wave of attacks on Labour and its leadership by supporters of the arrogantly-titled “people’s vote” (PV) – also known as “FBPE-ers” because of the “follow-back pro-Europe” #FBPE hashtag used by many of them on social media.
Those attacks culminated, at least for the moment, in a splash of near-identical articles quoting almost rote – and completely uncritically – from a PV press release as if it was news, which appeared within twenty minutes across a number of mainstream ‘news’ outlets.
The attacks consist, in large part, of PV supporters claiming that the ‘news’ of Corbyn’s intentions regarding Brexit mean they won’t ‘now’ vote Labour as long as its position remains unchanged.
Of course, it’s not ‘news’. Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto – on which it surged to destroy Theresa May’s parliamentary majority – stated that Labour would honour the referendum result and in fact the policy goes back well before that.
But that’s not the only misleading aspect of the latest attacks. Even a slight scratching of the surface of this wave of ‘outrage’ shows that not all is as it seems – as case studies, including one ‘celebrity’ example, show.
Emma Kennedy is an author, voice actor and TV writer who is unmistakably passionate about stopping Brexit. When the ‘news’ about Labour’s position was published – it’s not accurate to say it ‘broke’ – last weekend, she quickly tweeted that she would not vote Labour ‘now’:
The clear suggestion is that this voting intention arose out of the ‘news’. However, Ms Kennedy is a prominent anti-Corbyn commentator of long standing – and a browse of her social media history shows that this is anything but a new decision.
As recently as September, Ms Kennedy was commenting on Labour’s policy not to try to stop Brexit via a new referendum – showing that Labour’s continued position this weekend was not news to her:
Going back to April this year, she tweeted about an abundance of reasons she felt existed not to vote Labour:
But Ms Kennedy’s resolution not to vote Labour dates back further. In spring of this year and the preceding autumn, she was advocating for another party – or even one that doesn’t yet exist:
And at the general election in June 2017, she voted LibDem:
And as early as 2016, as Corbyn contested Owen Smith’s ill-judged challenge for the Labour leadership following the EU referendum, Ms Kennedy was already indicating she wouldn’t vote Labour with Corbyn as its leader:
This 2016 tweet raised the question of how she had not voted Labour ‘twice in my life‘ in 2016, but then had still ‘only not voted Labour twice‘ after not voting Labour again in last year’s general election. In a statement to the SKWAWKBOX, she said that this was because one of the occasions was a local election:
I regard myself a Labour voter. My natural home is the centre of the Labour Party. I have voted Labour at every general and local and E.U. MEP election. Until I moved two years ago, I lived in a marginal ward where every vote counted. Immediately after the Iraq War my conscience would not allow me to vote Labour. I voted Liberal Democrat. I returned to voting Labour. At the last general election I voted tactically because I now live in a very safe Tory seat. I voted Lib Dem because they were second at the last GE in this seat. I continue to vote Labour in locals. I’m not sure how much clearer I can be. My home is Labour. I want to vote Labour.Emma Kennedy
The single most important matter for the nation at the moment is Brexit. I want to vote for a party that will promise a second referendum. I believe Jeremy wants Brexit and I think his lack of leadership has been woeful. I will vote for any party or coalition that stands on a Stop Brexit platform.
And that’s my position.
On the tweets, if memory serves right, the Green vote was for locals and Lib Dem’s was for General.
In any event, it’s clear that Ms Kennedy’s aversion to voting Labour under Corbyn goes back long before last weekend, in spite of her tweet that she ‘now’ couldn’t do it.
You’ve lost my vote – that you didn’t have anyway
The phenomenon is widespread, with a host of claims of ‘lost’ support that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
For example, during a discussion of the ‘MSM’ articles and the PV response to it, one Twitter user claimed that Labour had now ‘lost’ her vote and those of her family because of Labour’s position.
But when challenged about it after a search of her Twitter feed, she admitted that she had not voted Labour at the last general election either, so the vote was not ‘lost’ relative to Labour’s previous electoral performance – and certainly not as a result of the recent ‘news’ about Labour’s Brexit position:
How it looks
The reaction of people without a PV-axe to grind tells a harsh truth to the leaders of the PV campaign and the ‘stop Brexit’-obsessed activists, bots, astroturfers and sock-puppets making claims on social media that don’t stand up – it looks like a big tantrum to those outside it.
This tweet from Ed Poole sums up very well the impression it creates:
This tongue-in-cheek comment from media activist Aaron Bastani sums up how transparent the tactic is:
While this from Twitter user Ben Jolly captures the dark side of the PV-obsession and its human cost:
Some of the sudden escalation of such nonsense appears to be from people with genuine motivations – if a questionable grasp of their own voting history. Other parts look like a deliberate campaign to try to create a false impression of voters deserting Labour because it won’t back the so-called – and utterly arrogantly-titled – “people’s vote”.
But the scale of the nonsense, all supposedly triggered by a transparently-coordinated and dishonest campaign of mainstream media ‘news’, when the second-referendum ship has already sailed, makes the motives of those whipping it up all too clear.
And as usual, it’s got more to do with trying to attack Corbyn’s electoral strength than about its purported reason.
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