On the Home Stretch to Begin Changing the Political Landscape. Don’t Waver…

11873764_10153006596411975_2006740219491115952_nThe mainstream media’s talent for orchestrating anti-people politics knows no bounds. But they’ve not been having much luck trying to halt Jeremy Corbyn’s front-runner status in the Labour leadership race.

Indeed, all the dire warnings of Labour going over cliff edges, never winning another election and becoming a party of protest would appear instead to be galvanising support for Corbyn.

So this week they decided to go all out with the anti-Semitic card (though the story never got real traction, probably because it was hard to make it stick against a lifelong anti-racism activist).

The Jewish Chronicle kicked off with seven “Key questions Jeremy Corbyn must answer” accusing him of choosing “to associate with racists and extremists”. It was then forced to go on the defensive when dozens of prominent Jews took the paper to task in an open letter that stated: “Your assertion that your attack on Jeremy Corbyn is supported by ‘the vast majority of British Jews’ is without foundation.”

Corbyn subsequently offered the paper a measured response to each of the questions asked. He has also said calling him anti-Semitic is “ludicrous and wrong”.

In the meantime, Channel 4’s Cathy Newman asked Corbyn the same questions …  over and over again, refusing to accept any answer, interrupting, goading and putting words into his mouth. Having failed to get the answers she wanted from a steadfast Corbyn, she tweeted about his “anger” during the non-angry interview that had just been aired.

Then, faced with a Twitter backlash, she told The Independent that after the interview Corbyn took her to one side and was shaking with rage. That would seem, to say the least of it, extremely unlikely since he was remarkably calm during the interview and almost immediately went before a large crowd to deliver a considered and hopeful speech.

The Telegraph jumped on the bandwagon to suggest Corbyn was “under growing pressure” for his “links to controversial figures” such as the leader of Hamas (who, incidentally, Blair has had four meetings with since April). And the Daily Mail as usual went over the top to call Corbyn “a ‘cheerleader’ for a controversial fanatic who glorified the murder of British soldiers…”

Given the last few weeks of low-grade bile and vitriol we have witnessed, Owen Jones has warned of a “firestorm” if (dare we say, “when”) Corbyn wins. Attacks will no doubt come not only from the media and the Tories but also from his own party. So we do need be aware of the nefarious machinations and ready for the coordinated attacks.

The real story is about hope

But we should not allow ourselves to be diverted from the best story of all; the one that the polluted mainstream wants to go away – the thousands of people who have been filling halls and meeting rooms north, south, east and west, bearing new hope for the future.

We Ladies were lucky enough to witness this exuberance first hand. Ealing Town Hall was one of the many venues that were totally over-subscribed, and Corbyn took the time to speak not only to those in the overflow room but also to the crowd outside before moving into the meeting proper.

The energy in the packed hall was palpable – with a crowd of different ages, races and genders. Enthusiastic young people were particularly visible in the audience, among the volunteers and even on the platform, given an equal voice.

Corbyn’s sensible and honest stand on issues from anti-austerity to housing to green jobs to Trident was exactly what we have been waiting to hear, as was clear from sustained applause throughout and a final standing ovation.

And truth to tell, this kind of rare excitement in parliamentary politics is hard to ignore.

Sensing the way the wind’s blowing?

Writing in The Guardian, Ray Greenslade observed that Corbyn was beginning to attract some positivity from the press, as “even the pro-Burnham Daily Mirror and the anti-Labour Daily Telegraph carry articles that reflect the growing enthusiasm for Labour leadership’s front runner”.

Some of that positivity may be spreading to the Labour party as well. Tom Watson, perhaps hoping for a boost in the deputy leadership race, adopted a “conciliatory tone” towards Corbyn, insisting the front-runner was “no Trotskyist” and the four contenders had more in common than not.

Andy Burnham, meanwhile, hedged his bets, saying he’d serve in Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet and accusing senior Labour figures of “circling the wagons” against Corbyn and creating “bad blood” (though his campaign director continued suggesting they might challenge the outcome of the election “on the grounds of infiltration from other parties”).

Voting with heads and hearts

This week We Ladies voted for Jeremy Corbyn to be the next leader of the Labour Party. We did so without hesitation, as soon as we received our ballots. We see it as a lifeline to build a movement that can pull Labour out of the neo-liberal hole it has been digging for far too long.

As Seamus Milne so excellently put it: “A democratic eruption is transforming Labour. If it continues, it can change the electoral landscape too.”

Scaremongering Plumbs New Depths as Blair Prophesies Labour “Annihilation”

a3-posterThe hysterical railing against the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn being voted in as Labour leader is now embarrassingly over the top. Blair has become the voice of doom, seeking to ramp up fear among the Labour rank and file. According to him, if we vote in Corbyn, “it won’t be a defeat” at the next election but “will mean rout, possibly annihilation”.

The Guardian front page manages to juxtapose Blair’s mad rantings about precipices and destruction with photos of a world in flames (actually a fire at a Chinese port).

The Telegraph, of course, has also jumped on the bandwagon with the Blair ‘story’ as its headline and added a quote from Jack Straw attacking “the hard-Left candidate’s (sic) ‘economic illiteracy’”.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail has decided to launch an attack from another angle with its “exclusive” story supposedly revealing Corbyn’s “‘long-standing links’ with notorious Holocaust denier and his ‘anti-Semitic’ organization” (note that even in its own headline the DM has to use quotation marks for these bogus claims).

And, given that Corbyn’s ‘rivals’ are the three callow automatons, Burnham, Cooper and Kendall – who represent the very worse aspects of New Labour – even Blair’s ex-spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, is hard pressed to make a choice and can come up with nothing better than “anyone but Corbyn”.

And what of these other contenders?

Really you’d think the Labour Party would be thrilled with all the new members and the energy they are bringing to the contest. 21,000 people joined the party shortly after the election, appalled that the Tories had won, but the BBC tells us numbers have since leapt up to reach “299,755 [full members], with a further 121,295 people paying £3 to become registered supporters and 189,703 joining up through their trade union”.

Alas, there hasn’t been much of a welcome for them.

According to Channel 4 News, the three muppets have written a joint letter of complaint about “the integrity” of the leadership process. Apparently alarmed by its democratic bent, they find it “unreasonable” for an election to be taking place “without the provision of a full list of voters” – which they won’t get for another five whole days.

It’s unedifying (but hardly surprising) to find those supporting the candidate lagging way behind in fourth place being the most vociferous. Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale who nominated Kendall, made the incredible claim that up to a third of the new supporters who signed up in his own constituency should not be voting and that the election probably isn’t “tenable” because of “horror stories from around the country in terms of entryism”.

However, the BBC reports this issue is being dealt with and “about 1,200 people have been banned from voting in Labour’s leadership contest because they support rival parties”. The Beeb also points out that the “sheer scale of the surge” in membership “and the relatively small numbers of people … in fringe left wing parties suggest entryism fears may be overblown”.

The purge itself may be overzealous, in fact, with it sometimes being hard to know why someone has been struck off the list. Anti-Blairite “comedian and writer Mark Steel”, for example, tells The Independent he has been barred despite his only other memberships being Crystal Palace and a snooker club.

Returning to real Labour values after the Blairite coup

In response to Blair’s article, a spokesman for the Corbyn campaign very sensibly said: “We are keeping our campaign positive and remain focused on our policies that offer the sound economic choice of investment and growth, not the politically driven agenda of austerity and cuts preventing economic recovery.”

As Michael Meacher, a Labour former minister, says, “The Blairite coup of the mid-1990s hijacked the party to the Tory ideology of ‘leave it all to the markets and let the state get out of the way’”. In fact, he points out, Thatcher claimed that ‘New Labour’ was her greatest triumph.

Corbyn is not only refreshing, he has set out policies that fit the times and needs of the majority and puts them forward in a straightforward manner that will surely cause Cameron problems at PMQs.

Can Corbyn and his camp sustain the surge of hope and optimism he has brought to the leadership race in these past few weeks? Or will Blair et al. succeed in scaring Party activists into sticking with the despair of austerity under Burnham, Cooper or Kendall?

We ladies are standing firm for the policies we agree with. Will you?

About that Cruddas Poll… The Guardian joins hands with panic-stricken Labourite “moderates” to stem Corbyn’s anti-austerity tide

As highlighted in our last blog, Tony Blair recently emerged from the dark side to warn Labour supporters against taking “a lurch to the left” in the leadership contest and to advise “people who say their heart is with Corbyn (to) get a transplant”.

He reflected the shock and horror of the party’s “New Labour” wing at the unexpected insurgency of Jeremy Corbyn, the anti-austerity outsider candidate. The Blairites of New Labour, disdainful as ever of everyone veering from the “centre ground” mire, have heaped a torrent of condescension and abuse on Corbyn supporters inside and outside the party. Corbynites apparently run the gamut from being “petulant children” in the midst of a temper tantrum to “morons” suffering from mass delusion and emotional spasms. They are scolded, told to end the Corbyn madness and get behind “anybody but Corbyn”.

A suspect “poll” – a new low?

And just when we thought the whole sorry mess couldn’t get any worse, the Tory-lites opted to plumb new depths with (it must be said) a pathetically transparent attempt to manipulate the findings of a poll on Labour’s election loss. The Guardian was quite happy to donate column inches to the “story”, which read like a poor piece of propaganda for the austerity-loving candidates, Burnham, Cooper and Kendall.

The first clue was in the awkwardly worded headline and the clunky accompanying sub-head: “Anti-austerity unpopular with voters… Independent review shows abiding concern over economic deficit, and may fuel doubt about policies of Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn” [our emphasis].

According to Labour MP John Cruddas, who commissioned the report, for Labour to “reconnect with the electorate” to win in 2020 “will mean accepting some difficult truths. The majority of voters in England and Wales supported the Tories’ austerity measures”. (Really?)

Campaign Company, the polling firm that conducted the research, confirmed the message and who it was for: “the unpalatable truth for the left is that the Tories did not win despite austerity, but because of it”. The difficulty we had was in understanding how Cruddas and Campaign Company had deduced these “truths” about the public’s view of austerity in a poll asking “groups inside the party” a question that didn’t even mention “austerity”.

Who could blame us for being suspicious when The Guardian went out of its way, with no prompting or cause, to assure us that Cruddas is “respected across the party” (though no “truths” like his support for austerity and the Blue Labour tendency of the party). Or when we checked out Campaign Company (which we’d never heard of) to find it is not a member of the British Polling Council and from its website looks like a marketing company driven only by what messages its clients wish to communicate.

Truth to tell, The Guardian seems to have been the main pusher of the poll. The Independent sought Corbyn’s view and grouped comments from dissenting voices on social media under the headline: “Jeremy Corbyn – Poll that claims voters are pro-austerity actually shows the opposite” and RT News reported on a number of economists who “rubbished the poll”, but the rest of the media didn’t really take it on.

Guardian readers take issue with bias

The Guardian is letting down its readers on the issue of the Labour leadershp. In fact the day before the offending poll article, the so-called “liberal” paper ran an analysis of the balance of its Jeremy Corbyn coverage. Apparently “a sense that The Guardian had been unfairly dismissive” about Corbyn’s candidacy had “generated powerful feelings among some readers”.

Chris Elliott, who conducted the analysis, conceded that “in the early days of Corbyn’s charge, the readers rightly got a sniff that on occasions we weren’t taking him seriously enough” but he said that has changed. Elliot couldn’t find any evidence “that the negative pieces outnumber the positive pieces by as much as ‘five to one’, although that view is strongly held by some”. He further asserted that “tallies of positive and negative pieces are a dangerous measure, as The Guardian should not be a fanzine for any side.”

But what’s really going on?

Meanwhile, the “children” have refused to heed the “mainstream Labour figures, who fear that Corbyn would veer even further to the left than Michael Foot”. If anything the abuse and patronizing finger wagging has galvanized Corbyn’s supporters to new heights of enthusiasm. Despite reiterating the tired old tropes that Corbyn is “causing alarm among established party figures” and asking “if he wins, can he hold his party together?”, Nicholas Watt in The Guardian’s Saturday interview hits the nail on the head when he suggested that Corbyn’s “unspun approach appears to be cutting through to new voters who are tired of the soundbites and perfect presentations of established figures”.

Corbyn tells him: “This is about hope. … It is opposition to economic orthodoxy that leads us into austerity and cuts. But it is also a thirst for something more communal, more participative.”

Now who can argue with that?