The broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics.– Emmeline Pankhurst
My birthplace of Doncaster – home of the Mallard itself – missed out on the chance to host the National Railway Museum, which is now instead based in York. While a Canadian friend I took to visit the place thought it was the most boring thing she’d ever seen, I found it fascinating. How terribly British of me!
But while there, by far the most interesting discovery for me was the revelation that the Duke of Wellington was immensely concerned about the development of the rail network across the country because ‘it will allow the lower orders to go uselessly wandering about.’ He actually said that.
Of course, it’s important for elites to enjoy their avarice by ring-fencing themselves off from those who are, as a result, left with very little – it’s how they get away with a situation where around 1% of the global population control half of all the world’s wealth. The filthy rich riding the gravy train enjoy their spoils as the poor are kept behind borders – be that in the southern hemisphere, the East, Eastern Europe, or in Northern England; every part of the world has its traditionally poorer areas, the localised conclusion to this approach being the “ghetto.” Former Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra called ghettos “modern day concentration camps.”
Today, those of us who reside in Northern England – traditionally industrial, working class, and socialist – find ourselves having to find about a hundred quid to be able to get to our nation’s capital of London by train on a network sold off and bought up by corporations like Richard Branson’s Virgin. Yes, it effectively still stops us “lower orders” from moving about and bothering those in the areas of wealth. Enjoying a drink in a nice Soho bar one evening, a friend of mine and I got told to keep our voices down because regular customers could hear our northern accents, which they clearly found most unsavoury. At least they could rely on the expensive, privately-owned rail network to at least attempt to stop us “lower orders” showing up very often.
With the British public clamoring for a reversal to rail privatisation, former Labour leader Ed Miliband took a step in the right direction by suggesting the state ought to be able to bid for ownership of the networks – albeit with the government £1.5 trillion worse off after its little gift to the banks. But current leader Jeremy Corbyn has been bold enough to represent the public interest and call for control of the railways to be wrested away from corporate ownership, even personally demonstrating the packed carriages of the sold out trains – and sold out in more ways than one.
Of course, an establishment media that conveniently eventually fell asleep during David Cameron’s tax affairs scandal and Tory election fraud suddenly pounced into action to aid and abet their corporate friends as Richard Branson’s Virgin attempted to deny their train carriages were ever crowded and that Jeremy Corbyn was lying – offering their own CCTV images to the press in a break from normal protocol.
This clip exemplifies everything a statesman is, and all that a journalist is not; it’s public relations work for vested interests in direct opposition to our own interests:
The right-wing media barrage was evident from day one, and I’ve already written about that and the importance for them to stop Corbyn talking about policy – to prevent these popular ideas gaining support from the people, and sweeping him into greater power. The more they talked about his love life, his clothes, his diplomatic history, the more Corbyn talked about policy. And this was dangerous; a threat to the status quo right from the start. They were so used to riding the gravy train that they were now more than a little worried.
Some Labour figures, like Will Simpson of Soft Left Politics, claimed they totally accepted the democratic decision of the party and its members with enthusiasm, only to then attack Jeremy Corbyn later. Owen Smith himself did exactly the same. Others, like then-unknown Jamie Reed, made a name for themselves by immediately issuing statements suggesting that, in this case, democracy was wrong, and they were right, damn it.
Meanwhile, several Labour politicians plotted against him to the point where they leaked his plans to give the Tories a heads-up against him, and briefed Nick Robinson’s replacement Laura Kuenssberg, the media establishment’s “Journalist of the Year.” It became apparent that his leadership was a glitch in the Matrix; it was an unplanned anomaly that all of the metropolitan elites needed to undo. The newspapers, radio stations, and television channels were key tools to do this.
American documentary filmmaker Michael Moore welcomed the rise of Bernie Sanders in the States, and Jeremy Corbyn over here: in a Western culture sick and tired of career politicians, democratic socialists like these were an effective counter to the thick right-wing thuggery of the Tea Party and UKIP. You may remember Michael Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine (still one of his best), where he got into “gun nut” Charlton Heston’s house by flashing his membership card for the National Rifle Association, reiterating to him that “I’m a member of your organisation” so he could then go on to demand answers, eventually exposing him.
This media technique was applied by Britain’s Ben Ferguson while shooting the documentary The Outsider. He introduced himself as a Labour party member, building up enough trust with Jeremy Corbyn over two months to then arrive at the inevitable conclusion that the newly-elected Labour leader was unfit to take the party into a general election.
Owned by Disney, Vice Media enjoyed an additional $70 million investment from Rupert Murdoch in 2013, and one year later launched Vice News, which produced The Outsider. Similarly to Panorama and Dispatches in their own ill-fated quests to dig up dirt on Corbyn and the Momentum movement, Vice News failed in its attempt to assassinate Corbyn’s character, the greatest success of The Outsider being its feeding of headlines to national newspapers quoting Corbyn saying Labour “held on” to many council seats in amongst his string of successes in defiance of adversity – the papers spinning it as an admission that, instead, Labour barely “HELD ON” changing the entire context and subsequent narrative in talking about these council elections.
So, with The Outsider’s hatchet-job not executed as well as they’d hoped, the political and media establishment then got together to portray Corbyn’s train experience as a “publicity stunt” in the same way Michael Moore pulled off “publicity stunts” to raise awareness of the scandalous bank bailout. By this rationale, we would have completely rejected any credibility of the message of the Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in protest because, hey, it was a “publicity stunt.” Perhaps Tony Blair’s disciples shouldn’t be talking about “publicity stunts” given their own track record of using them so cynically themselves.
But apparently, Corbyn’s “media strategy” is awful. Even if this were true, would it be a shock? Media gurus with ruthless ambition tend not to be attracted to campaigns of politicans who won’t open doors to big corporations for them. Of course, if Corbyn did somehow get himself a top-of-the-line public relations team, the media establishment would use it as evidence that “traingate” was a publicity stunt orchestrated by the very best in the business. He can’t win.
So what the Labour leader does instead is just highlight issues straight from the heart. What matters is the purpose. Jeremy Corbyn has been on the right side of history, at little or no personal gain (in fact, even sometimes to the detriment of himself).
But John Mann is a very different kind of MP. Like most career politicians who just want power and fame, Mann’s value system, like the late New Labour project itself, remains a machine with no fuel but plenty of hot air, and he quite happily revealed that Owen Smith had been willing to challenge Jeremy Corbyn since the beginning of 2016. By the spring, Margaret Hodge was maneuvering to commence machinations against the leader. And in the EU referendum campaign chaos, while Jeremy Corbyn was doing more than almost anyone else in his party to campaign for the country to choose to remain in Europe, Hilary Benn was instead busy gathering signatures to mount a vote of no confidence in his leader.
Another attempt at pushing Jeremy Corbyn’s buttons was in exploiting the strong link between the Labour leader and firebrand former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who was an opponent of the fascist Daily Mail and Evening Standard and oftentimes a champion of human rights at home and abroad who had long supported the Palestinian cause and opposed the Israeli state’s atrocities carried out in the name of Zionism – which, you know, exists separately from Judaism the same way ISIS operates in contrast to the billion peaceful, pacifist followers of Islam around the world.
Livingstone regularly gave interviews on the subject, and so no doubt footage was trawled through with a fine tooth comb and any newer media appearances scrutinised for slip-ups or discrepancies or anything that could be used to damage Corbyn. Inevitably, the moment soon came, and Livingstone was caught pointing out the allegations that Nazis supported Zionism – which somehow, in our neo-McCarthyist era, of course automatically meant he was suddenly a racist anti-Jew; an anti-Semite – and our friend John Mann was there, quick as a shot, to shout at him and point the finger, complete with the press corps in tow, as their news room colleagues concocted a narrative about, get this: ANTI-SEMITISM IN LABOUR, a party founded on the principles of standing up for oppressed peoples!
Even Momentum, arguably the most exciting mass movement to happen in party politics since the birth of Labour itself, with a membership of 12,000, was accused of “anti-Semitism” even with its high-ranking Jewish figures. It was important that your usual white Anglo-Saxon Protestants told us who the anti-Semites were, even if the accused were Jewish – the same way they claim Christmas is at risk of being banned because “it offends Muslims,” when Muslims almost always say no such thing. The establishment were calling the shots – the same rich, white old men as ever, telling us who were the anti-Semites and who were the commies and who were the ones wanting to ban Santa.
The media, then, had successfully backed Corbyn into a corner: to do nothing would have been political suicide and the opening the plotters had needed as the media kept beating the drum and singing from the hymn sheet of the McCarthy witch-hunt. Corbyn spoke out on anti-Semitism and suspended Livingstone from his party. And yet his popularity still sustained in the face of the press corps as 75% of their coverage was said to misrepresent him, a staggering statistic.
Despite losing a key socialist ally in the former Mayor of London, Corbyn went on to lead a Labour party that forced Tory reversals, won by-elections and mayoral elections, Sadiq Khan cleverly riding the wave of Corbynism to get into office and yet at the same time keep himself away from – then even turn against – Corbyn himself, as Labour elites mobilised more to find ways to oust their leader, their media contacts offering a blackout on these additional little-known yet massive victories, to protect the public from any awareness of Corbyn’s ability to win.
It was important that every single day, people were put forward in the press to talk about Corbyn being a “weak leader.” Even my own friends and family, some formerly staunch self-professed “Corbynistas,” started to concede “Ah, actually, maybe he’s not strong enough to lead Labour to victory.”
If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes accepted as an axiom, even in direct opposition to the facts of reality. And that’s how you stop someone successful: you create a narrative that they’re miserable failures, so people fall out of love with them. We love winners; hate losers – just ask the Americans who championed such a culture. Meanwhile, the American media itself took a businessman who inherited a fortune and completely squandered it, and portrayed him as a success: Donald Trump is now president-elect of the United States.
Despite the Westminster elites undermining him, attacking him almost every day – even writing for The Sun to do so – Corbyn has succeeded time and again. That under Corbyn’s leadership Labour have enjoyed any successes at all is testament to Corbyn’s popularity due to his social democratic principles, popularity that sees thousands of people lining up to hear his speeches and rallying in support of his views, though again, with next to no media coverage – but if these incredible rallies were on the evening news every time they took place, he’d look more like a winner, and we can’t have that, can we? It can’t be allowed to look like a movement; in fact, it mustn’t be seen at all. And it rarely is.
The media fall silent on Corbyn’s successes and scream headlines on even the tiniest failures. For example, Labour lost a single councillor in my humble city of Sheffield that rarely otherwise gets any attention at all, and it made the national news. The truth is, the councillor that lost the seat was anti-Corbyn. But the media didn’t bother mentioning that little detail much, instead portraying it not as a symptom of the party’s disunity but as DISASTER FOR CORBYN! Meanwhile, a massive parish win from UKIP was no big deal. And let’s not forget Corbyn’s historic mandate, with nasty little Labour plotter Luke Akehurst saying “we must change the membership.” He actually said that! (I’d cite this one, but his tweet since seems to have become “unavailable”). Fortunately, I took a screenshot:
Yes, the attitude was one of, “Keep having leadership elections over and over until we get the one we want…by any means necessary.” They hated the momentum behind Corbyn – namely, Momentum itself.
Momentum crowds – as incredibly diverse as any you’ve ever seen in this country, as you’ll know if you’ve attended one – were portrayed by politicians and their pals in the press as dangerous. Of course, this is dangerous to the establishment, but these depictions were of abusive, violent protesters, “Fleet Street Fox” Susie Boniface calling the peaceful members a minority, ripping into Momentum and Corbyn with such hatred and vitriol, and with zero irony. An entire group demonised; democracy itself deemed the enemy.
So what of the spirit of the Labour party we were told needed to be “healed” by preachers Angela Eagle and Owen Smith after they challenged their democratically elected leader to wound it so badly in the first place?
We must remember Jo Cox, assassinated by a right-wing extremist, and her legacy of believing we have “more in common.”
Clearly this is not a view shared by those in parliament, where the likes of Jamie Reed belittle and ridicule and mock our own party leader to contribute to the official opposition’s impotence as he, in particular, instead praises David Cameron’s successor, Theresa May. Apparently, as expressed by his aggressive opposition to Corbyn’s leadership since day one, he and his ilk do not feel we have “more in common,” but instead must refuse to support the party’s democratically elected leader. All the while, carefully orchestrated publicity stunts were still set up to hammer home messages to the mainstream media-consuming public in direct opposition to reality. Still, Corbyn expressed his desire for a “kinder, gentler politics.”
Although the country seems to have already forgotten the horror of such an incident, the Labour party suspended campaigning on the EU referendum for a few days after the murder of Jo Cox. But a brick through the window of the same building that also acts as a constituency office for Angela Eagle was apparently enough for party head honchos to ban constituency party meetings as they, one after another, were passing votes of confidence in Corbyn, which we must assume was just a coincidence. And let’s not forget that once again the press were right there at the scene to capture Eagle’s reaction to the broken window actually implying it was Corbyn’s own personal responsibility, even though the police, at the time of writing, have yet to capture the perpetrator (and you can be forgiven for suspecting David Cameron).
While Owen Smith was revealing his misogyny, Labour women instead attacked longtime feminist Jeremy Corbyn by blaming him for abuse they’d received. Quite incredible, as reality was turned entirely on its head like never before by a media that had blamed Scousers for the Hillsborough Disaster, portrayed picketing miners as aggressors against police, and reported to us that Saddam Hussein could launch a nuclear attack upon us inside 45 minutes. This was beyond anything they’d ever done. John McTernan was given airtime screaming about Jeremy Corbyn’s pacifism being dangerous. Yes, you read that right. It all became downright Orwellian. Even The Guardian made wild claims, only to offer corrections down at the bottom of their articles.
The Owen Smith campaign cleverly adopted a strategy where his supporters constantly read out from scripts saying people were dying because of Tory policies so we had to act fast and get into power – while Corbyn, not Smith, was the one with a track record of completely juxtaposing himself against Tory policy. Still, who needs facts when you can just prey on people’s emotions. After all, there’s a gravy train to ride.
Nonetheless, let’s face it, Jeremy Corbyn truly has “held on.” It’s a miracle he’s even managed to last this long. As I write, his deputy leader Tom Watson – not, by the way, subject to re-election to prove his worth – is busy talking to those plotting the next wave of attacks on their leader, on those around him, on the party membership, on those at rallies, and on Momentum. In truth, these people would rather see Labour lose to the Tories under Jeremy Corbyn than help those dying under the Tories, but to admit that would be too honest. And honesty, as you can see, has never really been their thing.