Socialist Worker

Labour’s new leader, the press and a pig

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2472

Prime minister David Cameron having sex with a dead pig strangely did not top the headlines on Radio 4’s Today news programme on Monday of this week.

But for the five days after his election Jeremy Corbyn “in crisis” did—including “revelations” of his consensual relationships with other humans decades ago.

A bike-riding elderly man got promoted and unleashed a wave of panic and hatred usually saved by the media for asylum seekers.

The headlines have been surreal at times and often poisonous. The media attacked Corbyn for being a teetotal killjoy, and also for taking his supporters to a bar and singing The Red Flag.

After being blasted for not wearing a tie, Corbyn put one on for a Battle of Britain memorial service. He was blasted for having trousers they said clashed with his jacket.

They monstered him for supposedly taking sandwiches out of the mouths of war veterans.

They labelled him a grasping hypocrite for accepting his pay rise—without mentioning he claimed just £8.75 in expenses last year.

They lied about him abolishing the army and agreeing to kiss the queen’s hand to receive party funding. And how dare he be a staunch republican, how dare he not ask God to save the queen.

“Jeremy Corbyn sex dwarf eaten by otters” was a real headline. It was actually about an English Defence League member drowning, but was perhaps a low.

But there is method as well as madness.

Cabinet ministers called Corbyn a threat to national, economic and family security, while voting through plans to steal billions of pounds from the poorest people with tax credit changes.

­Labour figures joined in. John Mann, Simon Danczuk and David Blunkett delivered poisoned pieces to the Mail on Sunday.

Outraged 

Blunkett, who was so outraged at being hacked by News International that he took a job for them, wrote an apocalyptic piece titled, “Now wait for Labour’s thugs to march again”.

The media reflect the bias of normality under capitalism. So it is “good news” if profits are up. And it is only “official” politics in parliament that matters—not its effect on ordinary people.

Journalists are far more establishment figures than they like to admit. 

Part of this is class and education. There as many Oxbridge chaps in the news rooms as the cabinet.

The contempt oozing out of the lobby correspondents stood out. They were outraged that the grubby world of off the record briefings and unnamed sources that passes for political journalism wasn’t quite as relevant as it thinks.

The media also has a very narrow frame of debate.

Even the liberal papers are happy to pile in against Corbyn. But they balance that with the odd column saying he isn’t the anti-Christ.

So the Observer ran Ed Vulliamy criticising the paper’s Corbyn coverage. Which was nice but doesn’t really make up for the actual coverage.

And it is worth recalling that Vulliamy previously had a world exclusive from on the record senior CIA agent Mel Goodman. Goodman said the CIA knew there were no WMD in Iraq. This was in 2002—before the war in Iraq.

The Observer spiked it seven times. But they did run his mild “don’t pick on Corbyn” piece.

Left wingers are supposed to believe that the media are out to get them and an unelected cabal are plotting against us.

It’s nonsense of course. The Sunday Times’ prediction or promise that a Corbyn government “would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny” proves it.

There is no coup likely. But the kneejerk panicked response to any thought of change in favour of ordinary people, and media’s enthusiasm for encouraging it, is telling.

The best retort to their reaction to a threat to their control and power is to deepen and make real that threat to their control and power.


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