Monday, 25 July 2016

GUEST POST Resisting the lie machine by William Bolton

An academic study by the LSE has detailed how the mainstream media has forsaken its duty to be society’s watchdog to take on instead the role of the establishment’s attackdog against Jeremy Corbyn.

The study shows systematically how the Fleet Street attackdog does its work.  Here are some quotes from a typical piece by Carole Malone in the Daily Mirror last week: 
Jeremy Corbyn's supporters are like Lenin style bully boys who'd send women to the gulag
No Corbyn rally is complete without violence or the threat of it.

And so on it goes.  Corbyn is a bully boy, he incites violence, he's an anti-Semite, he’s a misogynist.  This weekend we discover he’s a burglar.  (He particularly likes to bully and burgle women, we are being led to believe.)  

We have been here many times before.  It's from exactly the same playbook used by the media in the miners’ strike, about Hillsborough, and in 2003 during the build up to the invasion of Iraq. It was used too against the ‘Yes’ pro-independence campaign in Scotland.  

We, who think ourselves more sophisticated consumers of Fleet Street’s bile, affect to be unaffected by it.  But the spin doctors know that if they throw enough mud, some of it sticks, and a little nagging doubt is created: maybe the Corbynites do have a problem with women, or Jews, or Asian women being strong and standing up for what they believe in. 

The strategy of “sowing the seed of doubt” was invented by the PR industry for big tobacco and has been pursued relentlessly for over a decade by professional climate change sceptics funded by the fossil fuel industry. 

But it’s not just about the crudest propaganda.  The Guardian also wants Corbyn out and it uses a more insidious approach.  

In this post I want to pick up a small example of how the nasty anti-Corbyn stuff is being blended in with “nicer” anti-Corbyn stuff – “more in sorrow than in anger” material that is aimed at Labour people who may think themselves immune to the crude propaganda, but whose vote in the leadership contest might yet be swung away from Corbyn.   

Reporters need to report on something, so they act in cahoots with the PR industry and the Parliamentary Labour Party, which has geared up to feed them a steady stream of anti-Corbyn stories.  Craig Murray explained how the system works: showing how a single heckle from an employee of Alastair Campbell’s company Portland Communications gets to be a front page story in The Guardian. 

My example from today is the story by Guardian political editor Anushka Asthana currently in pole position on the Guardian’s worldwide website, the news that the Labour  leader in the House of Lords, Baroness Angela Smith, has decided she can no longer support Jeremy Corbyn.  This Labour peer, who is little known to the general public, comes out against Corbyn with the absolutely standard-issue line that has been doing the rounds for weeks: "I support his politics but he has proved an ineffective leader":
Smith said she had worked hard to support Corbyn after his election, including appearing on television to welcome his new style of politics. But she claimed that he had failed to prove himself a strong leader.  Smith was particularly critical of Corbyn’s performances at shadow cabinet meetings. Asked if she was impressed by him, she said: “No. I wanted to be, I would have liked to be, but I wasn’t. And I wasn’t alone. He was good at giving people their say, but I wanted to see more engagement in the debate. He listened politely but the role of leadership is to bring those strands together.”

Baroness Angela Smith was a staunch follower of Tony Blair and is very firmly on the Blairite wing of the party. In order for the Guardian to be a credible unbiased source, it should have given the reader some information about what wing of the party she is from, or challenged her assertion that she "wanted to be...would have liked to be" impressed by Jeremy Corbyn. Instead of informing its readers, the Guardian is deliberately exploiting their ignorance of the facts to collaborate with Angela Smith to get one of the currently approved attack lines into the paper for the umpteenth time.  

And why on earth is this article given such prominence on the front page?  I suspect the Guardian may be worried that some people might be being put off by the surfeit of "nasty anti-Corbyn" stories which are proving to be untrue.  As the “he burgles and harasses Asian women MPs” story has collapsed during Sunday, they have hurriedly reached for one of their stockpiled "more in sorrow than anger” anti-Corbyn stories, and tried to move the news agenda on. 


  1. Hi Tom.
    Owen Smith is plugging this more in sorrow line with his aim "to continue Jeremy's good work" whilst shifting him upstairs and praising his radical side. It would be funny if not so insidious. The Guardian is backing this to the hilt. Compare and contrast the two stories over the w/e: the "break in" at the Houses of Parliament and the "bullying" where Corbyn "threatened" to ring someone's Dad! At the same time there is a calm article about Smith addressing an audience of 100 (hand picked?) women, declaring that he will lead a campaign in the Labour Party against misogyny. And no one picked up on the irony of this same person having elbowed Corbyn's potential female opponent out of the way the previous week. And the Guardian is the best newspaper we have in this country.

  2. William Bolton26 July 2016 at 20:32

    Craig Murray has an excellent new post at comparing the US Democratic party's collusion with the mainstream media to spin Bernie Sanders supporters as violent bullies and the PLP spin doctors' work to do the same with Corbynistas. What's the link? A 'playbook' (ie shared unwritten professional PR expertise) on how to influence neutral party members' views. The lesson is clear - mobile phone technology must be used to film as much as possible so that the work of the lie machine can be disproved. The meeting of the Brighton CLP where the party establishment, having lost a fair vote, alleged bad behaviour and suspended the party is a case in point.

  3. William Bolton26 July 2016 at 21:08

    There are two sides to every story - here's Conor McGinn MP at

    "In the last fortnight, Jeremy's supporters have subjected me and other Labour MPs to a torrent of abuse and threats. In my constituency, a group of people gained access to my shared office building under false pretences and filmed themselves protesting outside the door of my office, in an incident that has been reported to the police. They threatened to disrupt my surgeries and events I was attending, requiring me to have a police presence at those last weekend."

    Here's the other side of the story:

    Just to pick up the sexual politics side of it: the Canary is saying that the contretemps was between a 10 female Corbynistas and 6 male Labour MPs and councillors. When Conor McGinn MP refers to a "group of people" is 10 women what he means?

  4. I think where this paranoia starts to fall down is when we examine the fine detail of who the establishment is and how do they issue their commands. For example in relation to the EU referendum we might assume that Cameron, as prime Minister represented the establishment, and yet most of the tabloid coverage was pro-Brexit. Of course many tycoons like Murdoch are in favour of Brexit - but what in this case happens to the normal command and control mechanism of the Cameron establishment? Do the two establishments have a punch up it out to decide which one gets to control the media over this issue?
    Then we have individual journalists. Do they all have memos telling them to slag off Corbyn mercilessly and if so why has nobody ever leaked one of these memos? Why have journalists not rebelled? And what is the motivation for Guardian journalists to attack him? It is the paper of choice for most people on the left. They have probably lost readers and money by not backing him.
    Then we have the fact that so many people who have intially given some backing or at least the benefit of the doubt are steadily becoming disillusioned eg Owen Jones. Surely you dont think MI5 have got to him.
    Using Occam's razor- a much more mundane explanation is that the problem is Jeremy Corbyn.