"Human progress has never been shaped by commentators, complainers or cynics" - Tony Blair
The Labour leadership campaign of Jeremy Corbyn will be remembered for several notable reasons, not least the descent of the UK's corporate media into unremitting farce, with the Guardian in its role as vanguard of the 'liberal left' decisively leading the pack.
The media campaign against Corbyn is one of unprecedented intensity and vitriol. Establishment journalists and public figures have lined up to pour scorn, ridicule, condescension and misrepresentation upon the leadership hopeful (chronicled by Media Lens here and here).
Apocalyptic language has become the norm with dire warnings of the utter ruin awaiting the Labour Party if the unthinkable occurs. The initial tolerant amusement displayed towards Corbyn's leadership bid turned at first to irritation, then worry, disbelief, full-blown establishment panic and now horror with a YouGov poll putting Corbyn a country mile ahead of his rivals. Now that Corbyn is highly likely to be the next Labour leader the big guns have been rolled out.
The first is not so much a big gun as a big mouth, and a shamelessly misrepresenting one at that. Nick Cohen writing in the Guardian informs us:
The severity of the assault makes me wonder why so many unions are backing Jeremy Corbyn. It is not just that he has planted kisses on the backsides of half the tyrannies on the planet: including the posteriors of an Iranian regime, which persecutes its own trade unionists along with women and religious minorities; Putin and his kleptomaniac and irredentist Russian nationalist friends; Gaddafi, after his own people had executed him, and the Chavez gang, which somehow managed to reduce oil-rich Venezuela to penury.
Peter from the Interventions Watch blog posted a must-read response on the Media Lens message board that deals with Cohen's blatant dishonesty.
The Guardian two days later featured a summary of a blog post by former Downing Street Communications Director Alastair Campbell urging the Labour Party to choose 'ABC - Anyone But Corbyn'. The providing of a platform on a key UK democracy issue for Campbell, who notoriously had Tony Blair's discredited Iraq arms dossier 'sexed up' on his direct instructions and is therefore culpable in the lies that have led so far to the deaths of over a million completely innocent Iraqi civilians, was a new nadir for the newspaper.
Not to be outdone by itself, the Guardian went one better the very next day with a leading article written by a stone cold war criminal - Tony Blair - in which the former UK leader warns that Labour faces '...rout, possibly annihilation' if Corbyn becomes leader.
Annihilation is a strong word. Blair is presumably referring to neither the recent election results for Labour in Scotland nor the fate of the nation of Iraq, but instead to the sudden, violent end of Labour's corporate cronyism, its appeasement of the neoliberal forces that are tearing apart the UK's and indeed the world's state social services and dividing up the spoils among the already obscenely wealthy, a process that has brought unnecessary poverty, misery and death to untold numbers of people.
The Guardian leadership really ought to be made to answer why a man believed by millions of his own compatriots to be a war criminal is so often given prominent space to speak his mind on crucial issues within its pages. Would we allow Augusto Pinochet to pen a thoughtful comment piece on dealing with government opposition movements? Perhaps a human rights expose by mass-murdering Indonesian dictator General Suharto (described by Margaret Thatcher as 'one of our very best and most valuable friends')?
The Guardian (and other corporate media) going to such extreme depths to smear a man who only wants equality and justice for ordinary people - who wants to bring an element of control to the corporate forces that have the world's societies in a death grip - demonstrates the true role of the corporate media: they are merely PR outlets for their owners and the predatory capitalist system as a whole. Any threat must be dealt with, and the bigger the threat, the bigger the guns. Russell Brand's call for radical change was nothing compared to this: a socialist is now the clear favourite to win the leadership of the UK's main opposition party, and contrary to the witless forecasts of doom, Corbyn's honesty, his message of justice, hope and equality, and the growing wave of public awareness of the depredations of our corrupt political systems has the potential to carry him to victory at the next election.
In a political world where almost everyone is a phony, Corbyn is a rarity. In other words, he's no fake and everyone can see that; even his most strident critics habitually remark that he is a 'nice guy'. This provides a clue as to why his support continues to surge despite the high profile smears being levelled against him.
As is so often the case in these days of low-quality mainstream reporting, satirical websites have some of the best insight. The UK's Newsthump writes:
Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for the Labour leadership looks unstoppable after some genuinely dreadful people came out against him.
Tony Blair was the first truly awful person to really stand up against him.
In a studio interview the former ‘Ugly Rumours’ bassist and war-criminal called for all supporters of Corbyn to have their hearts cut out of their bodies, a strategy it is understood he first planned for all supporters of Gordon Brown during his time as Prime Minister.
This was followed by John McTernan making equally strong comments against Mr Corbyn, which everyone ignored until they remembered that he was chief of Staff to Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy. A man who’s performance in Scotland was worse than Edward the First.
Yesterday Alistair Campbell, or as he’s better known; Satan, recommended the Labour party adopted an ‘Anyone but Corbyn’ strategy, failing to recognise that Ed Miliband was ‘anyone but Corbyn,’ and that could have worked out better.
Jeremy Corbyn’s team are naturally thrilled at this.
“Well, it’s brilliant,” said a Corbyn insider.
The Guardian and other corporate media have engaged in this transparent smear campaign against Jeremy Corbin at the cost of the final remnants of their credibility, a credibility that no longer exists. Given this, the Guardian's high-profile leftist columnists Owen Jones, George Monbiot and the genuinely good Seumas Milne have to seriously ask themselves whether they wish to continue to lend legitimacy to the sham organization that pays them as gatekeepers or whether they should leave and report in some other independent capacity. Only an attention-seeking careerist or someone ignorant of their figleaf role would credibly stay.
Clicks and funds channeled instead to independent publishers like WikiLeaks, freelance investigative reporters and/or high-quality donations-only news sites/blogs would be a good start in the battle to regain a neutral, adversarial media.
Written by Simon Wood
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