The 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.”
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.”