3 June 2017

General Election - Is Labour on the threshold of victory?

No one has been more disappointed with the success of Labour’s campaign than the Labour Right and Zionist Jewish Labour Movement

At the very start of the election campaign, when all was doom and gloom, I published a post Labour Can Win if Corbyn is Bold – the Key Issue is Poverty and the Transfer of Wealth John Woodcock Must Not be Allowed to Stand.  This was at a time when the Tory lead was 20%.  I wrote:
It was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics.  Seven weeks is a political eternity.  Theresa May has taken a gamble that her 21% lead will hold.  It is a gamble that she may yet come to regret.

There is only one direction that her lead can go and that is down.  Once her lead falls then a snowball effect can take over.  What is essential is that Labour marks out the key areas on which it is going to base its appeal.  The danger is that Corbyn is going to continue with his ‘strategy’ of appeasing the Right and appealing to all good men and women.  If so that will be a recipe for disaster.
No election is guaranteed to be without its surprises.  Theresa May is a cautious conservative.  She is literally the product of her background, a conservative vicar’s daughter.  Reactionary, parochial and small-minded, she is a bigot for all seasons.  What doesn’t help is that she is both wooden and unoriginal.  The danger is that Corbyn tries to emulate her.

Strong and stable Mrs May found that her slogan had made her a figure of fun as she dodged having to directly debate Jeremy Corbyn.  She even sent her Home Secretary into bat for her in the debate between party leaders earlier in the week, despite Rudd having only lost her father two days before.
It would be a mistake for people to be over confident at the fact that the Tories made major slip-ups over things like the Dementia Tax, taking food of children’s tables etc.  It is clear that the Tories and the Mainstream Media (BBC et al.) are going hell for leather over the question of Corbyn’s devotion to the State, be it Ireland, Terrorism or  Trident.

The essence of what I wrote was correct.   The Tory lead has shrunk.  My fears that Corbyn might backtrack have not come to pass in the economic sphere.  Labour’s manifesto was unexpectedly radical.  But in one particular area, the State and Security, Corbyn has retreated from all the things be has believed in in the past.
The Guardian has done its best to undermine Corbyn since he was elected
When Corbyn began to draw links between British foreign policy and the terrorist bombing in Manchester he held back.  He should have been more up front and said that it wasn’t simply a question of speaking to everyone and being peaceful but that we, the British and Americans, created the very terrorists who are now detonating bombs in Manchester and Europe.

Andrew Neil gave Corbyn a hard time in his interview and Corbyn was on the defensive throughout.  But he didn’t need to be with this Tory toe rag.  Neil started off by saying in his interview that Isis was in existence before the Iraq War.  Wrong.  They came out of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which itself only came about as a result of the invasion.  But even more importantly, Corbyn was not on top of the facts about the genesis of the development of terrorism.  If Isis came out of Al Qaeda, then Al Qaeda came out of our involvement in Afghanistan.

Theresa May was always happiest speaking to carefully selected audiences
Even before the invasion of Afghanistan, we had been sponsoring a range of Mujahadeen and Islamic terror groups in the country ever since the Soviet invasion in 1979.  We helped create both Al Qaeda and the Taliban (via the Pakistan secret service ISI).  We invited Saudi sponsorship of a multitude of Jihadist groups.  You don’t take my word for it.  Even Hilary Clinton admitted that the US created al Qaeda.  Just as Israel created Hamas. 
The other aspect of the ‘terrorism’ attack is Corbyn’s links with the IRA.  Despite his denials it is a fact that Corbyn heavily supported the Republican movement and Sinn Fein in particular.  Corbyn was right to do so (he didn’t support or oppose the IRA specifically).  But the point is that the IRA were not terrorists.  They came from a community, 45% of northern Ireland, which was forced into a Protestant supremacist statelet that they never agreed with in 1921.  In 1918 an all Ireland election had produced an absolute Sinn Fein majority.  This didn’t suit the British therefore they ignored the election result.

As they did in India and Palestine, the British pursued a divide and rule tactic, setting off Protestants against Catholics.  That is what led to The Troubles from 1969 onwards.
For 50 years Catholics in the north suffered horrendous violence, discrimination and gerrymandering  When they formed a civil rights movement in 1969 it was batoned off the streets.  The Catholic ghetto of The Bogside in Derry was attacked by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the para military B-Specials.  There were riots as barricades were erected and the Catholics defended themselves.  That led to the troops being sent in, ostensibly to protect the Catholics but in fact to prop up the existing state.

That was where the IRA came from.  It initially stood for I Ran Away.  The old IRA had been disbanded.  They were called the Officials whereas the new IRA under Martin McGuiness and Gerry Adams (Adams was commander of the Belfast Brigade) were formed from scratch and in fact fought a war against the Officials, who were Stalinists moving to the Right.

Why were the IRA not terrorists?  Because  they had a mass base of support in the working class Catholic ghettos and represented the most oppressed section of Northern Ireland society.  Today they are the most successful party in the Catholic community and indeed are virtually on level pegging with the Democratic Unionist Party.  When the IRA planted bombs they gave warnings.  30 years ago a massive 1500 Kg bomb devastated the heart of Manchester and yet not one person was killed because there was a 90 minutes warning.  Unlike the scum of  ISIS who deliberately sought to kill innocent children, the IRA went to extreme lengths not to kill innocent people.  Of course sometimes they got it wrong as with the Birmingham pub bombings  Sometimes the warning weren’t passed on.  Yes they killed innocent people but not deliberately so.

The British army be it in Ireland or Iraq killed thousands of innocent civilians.  They invented a term – ‘collateral damage’ to explain it away.  Yet no one calls the British army terrorists.  What we had was a colonial war with the British army supporting the existing regime.  That regime was unsustainable and politically it had to be collapsed via direct rule  Even so the cause of Ireland has not gone away and won’t go away until the Partition of Ireland is eradicated. 

It is a great pity that Corbyn and even more so John McDonnell didn’t acknowledge that they supported, not peace but the Republicans.  Not only would it have been more honest it would also have explained and negated the attempt to put the ‘terrorist’ label on Corbyn and company.  
Unfortunately Corbyn and his advisers chose to do what they had done on Palestine.  Retreat behind meaningless platitudes.  On Palestine he moved from a position of support for Palestine solidarity and opposition to Zionism, which he explicitly supported with his sponsorship in 1984 of a conference which explicitly called for the disaffiliation of Poale Zion (now the Jewish Labour Movement) to one of support for 2 states.  In essence Corbyn has no criticism of Israel, which is the most racist state in the world.

Where to for the Election?

I do not have a crystal ball.  My initial predictions, that there would or could be a hung parliament was based on my assessment of the situation.  This is still quite possible as the Tories are widely detested for  their attacks on the working poor, people on benefits and the continuous privatisation of the NHS.  They are seen as the party of a vicious class rule, which is what austerity is about.

That does not, however, mean that the Tories will necessarily be defeated.  People do not vote in line with their class interests.  The whole purpose of the patriotic card, used by a succession of ruling class scoundrels from Pitt to May, is to blind people to their real interests.  It is saying that British workers and the poor have more in common with the rich and the ruling class than they do with each other.  The Tory press of course is doing its best to foster illusions in Strong and Stable.

Labour could still become the largest party but I also sense a vigorous fightback by the Right.  It seems that one part of the prediction I made will not come true.  The Lib-Dems are not going to gain enough seats to prop up another Tory coalition  At the moment they are tipped to win just one extra seat.  By ruling out any form of pact with Labour under Corbyn, the Lib-Dems have guaranteed their own irrelevance.

We could be in for a period of political instability such as we have not known for 40 years.  This is one of the hardest elections to call.  A Tory government is still possible if it cobbles together a coalition of the Lib-Dems & the Ulster Unionists-DUP.  Even a majority Tory government cannot be ruled out.

One thing that should be changed is the fact that Sinn Fein don’t take their seats because they won’t swear allegiance to the Queen.  Why should honest Republicans have to swear allegiance to a Monarch they don’t believe in?  Many MPs have been republicans, for example Tony Benn, but they had to lie to become MPs.  This should be one of our most immediate demands. 

The great danger, if that if Corbyn gets within a whisker of becoming Prime Minister, a number of Progress and Zionist Labour MPs – West Streeting, Louise Ellman, Joan Ryan (Labour Friends of Israel), John Mann, Peter Kyle, John Woodcock, Hilary Benn etc. are in effect going to refuse to support Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.  All their lies that they opposed him because he was ‘unpopular’ with the people, in reality Murdoch and the Mail, will disappear.  We will see that these arch-rightwingers are fiercely opposed to Corbyn  because they hate socialism.

Anyone who thinks the Right will make peace if Corbyn wins the election or gains enough seats to make a deal with the SNP and others is mistaken.  The fight with the Right will continue and regardless of the vote Corbyn must stay Labour leader until new elections when the rules have been changed to allow someone with 5% of PLP nominations to stand.

That is why the battle inside Momentum will take on a new significance.  Jon Lansman is intent on appeasement come what may.  A fight against the Right and their Zionist friends is the last thing he has on his mind.  Our job is to mobilise to remove any MP who refuses to support Corbyn as Prime Minister if that opportunity comes about.  We will have shown that radicalism is not unpopular.  Despite all the media flack, people have warmed to Corbyn’s ideas, even though they have in many cases been watered down.

It is to be hoped that housing, which has barely been mentioned figures.  That rent controls, security of tenure starts to figure.

We are living in exciting times.

Below are two articles by Jonathan Cook, an ex-Guardian journalist now living in Nazareth who points out the poisonous and treacherous role played by the Guardian since Corbyn was elected.  It was the Guardian, in the form of Jonathan Freedland and Owen Jones, which led the ‘anti-Semitism’ attack on Corbyn and the Left.  They are both good articles and well worth reading.

Tony Greenstein

1 June 2017
Those journalists who should have been behind Corbyn from the start – who could have been among his few allies as he battled the corporate media for nearly two years as Labour leader – are now starting to eat humble pie. Polls suggest that Corbyn may be gradually turning the election around, to the point where the latest poll, published in the Times, indicates that Britain could be heading for a hung parliament.

No one is surprised that the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times have been relentless in their hatchet jobs on Corbyn. But it has been disconcerting for the left that the Guardian and BBC never gave him a chance either. He was in their gun-sights from day one.

Owen Jones, a Labour stalwart and Guardian columnist, should have been Corbyn’s number one ally in the press. And yet he used the invaluable space in his columns not to challenge the media misrepresentations, but to reinforce them. He engaged in endless and morose navel-gazing, contemplating a Labour rout.

In an Evening Standard interview in February, he imparted the following wisdom: “Things change but only if people will it to be.” But then almost immediately ignored his own advice, saying that if another Labour leadership election were held: “I’d find it hard to vote for Corbyn.

In eary May, Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian’s most senior columnist, wrote a commentary entitled: “No more excuses: Jeremy Corbyn is to blame for this meltdown.” In fact, though he did not mention it, he had been making that very same argument for the previous two years.

But as Corbyn has begun chipping away at Theresa May’s lead – and equally significantly, forced the media to widen the public debate into political territory it has avoided for nearly four decades – Freedland finally admitted this week, very reluctantly, that he and others may have misjudged the Labour leader.

Freedland’s reassessment, however painfully made, was still an evasion. He and Jones continue to avoid facing up to the central problem of British politics – and must do, because they are at its very heart.

The lesson of Corbyn’s much-improved polling, according to Freedland, is this:
If May is returned with a Commons presence far below the expectations of even a month ago, it will suggest that one more bit of conventional wisdom needs to be retired along with all the rest. It will prove that campaigns matter.

But that is not the real lesson. The turnaround in Labour’s fortunes is not chiefly about the party getting its act together, staying on-message and communicating better with the media. Rather, it is that the formal requirements of an election campaign – equal coverage, reporting the speeches of candidates, leaders’ debates – have made it much harder for the media, especially the broadcasters, to entirely obscure Corbyn’s winning qualities. His honesty, warmth and humanity eclipse May’s stiff, evasive and charmless demeanour.

It was precisely those qualities in Corbyn that proved so attractive to voters in the Labour leadership elections. He inspires a rare passion for politics when he is heard. That is why he is the only politician filling stadiums. That is why the Labour party now has hundreds of thousands of members, making it the largest party in Europe. That is why young people have been registering for the election in record numbers.

The demographic breakdown of support for Corbyn and May is largely generational. Corbyn enjoys a huge lead among young people, while May can rely on overwhelming backing from those aged over-65.

It may be comforting to imagine this is simply the natural order of things. Radicalism is the preserve of those starting out in life, while old age encourages caution and conservatism. This may be one factor in explaining the generational divide, but it clearly will not suffice. In much of the post-Thatcher era, the young have proved to be even more conservative than their parents.
The reason for the Corbyn-May split has to be found elsewhere.

The fact is that the young are least likely to trust the traditional, corporate media, and most likely to seek out information from alternative sources and social media, which have been fairer to Corbyn. Youtube clips of Corbyn’s speeches, for example, are one way to bypass the corporate media.

Conversely, elderly voters are mostly still relying on the BBC, Sky and the Daily Mail for the bulk of their information about politics. The over-65s have little sense of who Corbyn is apart from what they are told by a media deeply wedded to the current neoliberal order he is threatening to disrupt.

But neither Freedland nor Jones has been prepared to admit that all of the corporate media – not just their trusted scapegoat of the “rightwing press” – have been to blame for preventing Corbyn getting a fair hearing. It is an admission they cannot make because it would expose their own complicity in a media system designed to advance the interests of corporate power over people power, oligarchy over democracy.

A desire to avoid facing this simple truth has led to some quite preposterously contorted reasoning by Freedland. In a commentary before his recent reappraisal of Corbyn, he dismissed suggestions that the media had played any significant role in the Labour leader’s troubles. Freedland cited two focus groups he had witnessed. It is worth quoting the section at length to understand quite how ridiculous his logic is.

With no steer from the moderator, who remained studiedly neutral, they described Jeremy Corbyn as a “dope”, “living in the past”, “a joke”, as “looking as if he knows less about it than I do”. One woman admired Corbyn’s sincerity; one man thought his intentions were good. But she reckoned he lacked “the qualities to be our leader”; and he believed Corbyn was simply too “soft”. …

Corbyn’s defenders will blame the media, but what was striking about these groups was that few of the participants ever bought a paper and they seldom watched a TV bulletin. Corbynites may try to blame disloyal MPs, but, whatever its impact elsewhere, none of that Westminster stuff had impinged on either of these two groups, who couldn’t name a single politician besides May, Corbyn and Boris Johnson. They had formed their own, perhaps instinctive, view.

Blaming others won’t do.

How do people form an “instinctive view” on political matters, if they never read a paper, never watch TV and never attend a political rally? Through the ethers?

The answer should be obvious. They can do so only through conversations with, or impressions gained from, family, friends, acquaintances and work colleagues who do watch TV and read papers. Given that it is impossible for most voters to see Corbyn in the flesh, most are either getting their information and opinions directly mediated for them by the media, or receiving the mediated information second-hand, from people they know who have been influenced by the media.

Freedland’s assumption that it is possible for voters to form a view instinctively that Corbyn is a “dope” – the view of him that has been uniformly cultivated by the media – is laughable. It is evidence of a profound unwillingness to confront the power of the media, and his own irresponsible complicity in wielding that power.

Corbyn is a “dope” not because that’s the way he’s seen by voters. He is a “dope” because that is the way he has been characterised for two years by all of the media, including the Guardian. The fact that a growing number of voters are starting to question whether Corbyn is quite the dope they assumed is because he has finally had a chance to talk to voters directly, even if in the leaders’ debate Jeremy Paxman did his best to prevent Corbyn from forming a complete sentence.

If we had a fair, pluralistic media driven primarily by the desire to serve the public’s interests rather than those of corporations, who can doubt that Corbyn would be winning hands-down in the polls?

2 June 2017

Dear Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett,

Congratulations on coming out of the Guardian closet and admitting that you have been a secret Jeremy Corbyn admirer all along. Your column, “I used to be a shy Corbynite but I’m over that now”, was excellent.

Interestingly, I noticed Jonathan Freedland, the paper’s senior commentator and its Corbyn-denigrator-in-chief (he has some competition!) – and your boss, I suppose – wrote an oped a couple of days ago admitting he may have misjudged Corbyn. Maybe that was the moment you finally sparked up the courage to come clean about liking Corbyn.

I was very interested in what you had to say about why you remained silent for so long.
I had become so used to political commentators popping up every time I expressed admiration for Corbyn’s principles to call me naive or a narcissist or an Islington-dwelling champagne socialist or a loony lefty, as though we were in some pompous game of whack-a-mole, that I began to sort of believe it.

Are you talking about Freedland? But I suppose there were lots of other ideological bouncers out there in liberal-media pundit land. It must have been hard. As you say, “Stop treating us like fools!”
But I never did stop believing in the same things Corbyn does – in equality, social justice, social mobility and peace. Nor did I ever doubt that families such as my own would be much better off under a Labour government than a Tory one. Which is why I’m going to vote for him again.
Great, Rhiannon! Shame it took so long for you to pluck up the courage to speak out.

Why should anyone feel embarrassed to back an anti-austerity politician in this context? Why should anyone who cares passionately about the NHS remaining safe from being transferred into private ownership feel ashamed to support a politician who is committed to it? Why should any young person – most of whom seem to be voting for Corbyn – cringe at voting for a party that has committed itself to tackling generational injustice?

Good question. Why should anyone feel embarrassed, especially a well-paid, career-minded young journalist like yourself?

Here’s a guess. Maybe because your own paper worked relentlessly to make even leftists feel stupid for supporting Corbyn. The group-think got so bad, even at the Guardian, that Owen Jones, a friend of Corbyn’s, was too embarrassed to come out with anything more than grudging support for him in the paper’s pages. He spent his columns instead agonising over what to do about Corbyn.
Even George Monbiot, your in-house radical, sounded almost apologetic telling us recently that he supported Corbyn. No wonder you were too afraid to tell your bosses how you felt, or to pitch to them a pro-Corbyn commentary over the past two years. Safer to keep that information to yourself.
I worked at the Guardian myself for many years. I know the atmosphere in the newsroom only too well. I can imagine it was hard to contradict all those older, “wiser” heads further up the Guardian hierarchy. I wonder how many of the other young staff felt equally frightened to speak up over the past two years.

The narrative has shifted so much in the Tories’ favour, to the point where to announce you’re voting Labour feels subversive and threatening. … The frame has moved, but we still have the same brains, the same hearts, and the same guts. And my brain, my heart, and my gut are telling me that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t back Labour at this crucial time.

Yes, the narrative has shifted so much in the Tories’ favour. I suppose that was because there were no left-liberal journalists there to challenge it. If only we had a left-liberal newspaper that could support a social democratic candidate like Jeremy Corbyn for prime minister. Oh, but wait – isn’t your newspaper supposed to be left-liberal?

Anyway, well done, Rhiannon. I am glad you wrote this piece. Let’s hope, there are more like it to come. Maybe now it looks like Corbyn is in the running, and the Guardian editors have realised that they have egg on their face and that they have alienated large swaths of their readership, they will be more open to letting young journalists tell us about how they have been secretly longing to confess their passion for Corbyn and his politics.

Best wishes,

Jonathan Cook

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