Friday, 14 September 2018

Just a FEW things you might not know if you rely on mainstream media (MSM) PART THREE: political business as usual #LaboursVisionForBritain (and the world)

Just a FEW things you might not know if you rely on mainstream media (MSM) PART TWO: political business as usual #LaboursVisionForBritain (and the world)

The Official Opposition: business as usual – some examples  

1.  Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?

In a rare article focusing on what Jeremy Corbyn MP is actually doing and proposing in his vision for a country that works #forthemany Patrick Maguire writes:

Few political journalists spend much time in Corbyn’s other universe, as I did for a week last month. Hacks and Corbynsceptics at Westminster often ask: “Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?” It has become a rather lame running gag, but they are right to say he isn’t “on the pitch”, or, rather, their pitch. This summer, like the one before, and the one before that, Corbyn has been where he is happiest. On the road, in his favoured political universe. For Labour , this is precisely the point. It isn't the Corbyn of Westminster that will win them back Tory seats like Mansfield, they say - but the Corbyn on the road... 

And in a welcome break from the MSM problematisation, even at times (too many times) demonisation, of Mr Corbyn, and those of us that support him and UK Labour, Maguire continues: 

Corbyn's detractors privately deride his rallies as a symptom of a cult of personality. Their leader, they say, is preaching to the choir. His team sees is differently. Labour's institutional focus is no longer, as one puts it, "obsessing about what the deputy political editor of the Telegraph thinks" ... 

Waiting in the queue [at Stoke Stadium], I am struck by how profoundly ordinary it is. [my emphasis]

2. Some #SocialistPolicies

Yesterday I read a number of pieces reporting and reflecting on Diane Abbott MP’s speech on ‘Labour’s plans for a simpler, fairer migration system’. It was a wide ranging speech and I include just a little (from near the beginning and near the end) here:

A former Tory Prime Minister referred to migrants ‘swarming’ into this country. If you believe this rubbish, it’s little wonder the current Prime Minister calls for ‘deport first, and appeal later’. All of this is to cast migrants as a problem. Government Ministers then pledge to ‘deal with’ this problem, or at least limit it. We have had a net migration target in this country of “below ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND” since 2010. And it has never once been met.

Where did this target come from? What analysis was it based on? What study was made of the effects of achieving it, or not? No-one in Government can say. Or will say. This is not really a target at all. It is fake. It was plucked out of the air, without any evidence. It has never been met. The failure to meet it is blamed on others.... Its actual purpose is to allow permanent campaign against migrants and immigration in general…. When living standards have suffered the steepest fall since the 1930s, who should we blame? Those who crashed the economy and the Tories (and the Lib Dems) who imposed austerity to bail them out? Or the Government’s answer: Let’s have scapegoats, and blame those who had no responsibility for the economic crisis…

Instead, Labour begins from what is best for this country. As we have said many times, we will put prosperity and jobs first. To accept the immigrants we need, and those who are entitled to be here. To manage migration in a way that benefits us all.…

So, if you ask me, will there be more or fewer migrants? I can’t tell you this. Just as this Government can’t say how many migrants will come here even though they are foolishly and recklessly trying to control the numbers. They have damaged our economy and our public services in the process. And never even come close to the target. We will not do that. No plucking arbitrary numbers out of the air, failing to meet the target, and whipping up a panic when those targets are inevitably missed. 

The truth is this: Either you can have rational, evidence-based criteria for migration. Or you can have numerical targets. But you can’t have both…. Our aim is a just system, one that treats people fairly and humanely. A rational system, based on evidence. Above all it will be an immigration system that works for our society, for our economy, for the prosperity and well-being of all of us. It is an immigration policy in keeping with Labour values. It is for all businesses, all workers, for nurses not just for city traders. For the many, not the few.

In my reading I came across an article by Polly Toynbee which prompted me to write this letter to The Guardian (I don't expect they'll publish it):

In her piece on Labour’s plans and proposals  for a ‘simpler, fairer migration system’ Polly Toynbee writes: Here’s another symbolic moment of contrast between the erratic behaviour of the bedlam party in power and the gradual laying down of solid policies by Labour, even if no one is paying much attention. My response to this is to ask the mainstream media, and I include The Guardian in this, to take a long, hard look at itself. Given that @UKLabour received 40% of the vote in the 2017 general election and that the Labour Party is, as demonstrated not least by the membership figures, a political movement of political, sociological and historical interest and significance is it not a dereliction of duty to pay so little critical (in the broadest definition of the word) attention to the wide spread support for, and the policy developments of, said Party?

@UKLabour have been busy over the summer, and into the new parliamentary session, with (some) MPs speaking and retweeting about existing policies. Just a couple of examples here:

Dawn Butler on international development and social justice:

‘A World For the Many, Not the Few’ is a policy paper setting out the Labour Party’s vision for international development and plans for government….THE WORLD WE LIVE IN A world for the many, not the few, will be a fundamentally fairer one. What people need and want in the UK, people need and want everywhere: our needs, our rights and our struggles to achieve them are one and the same. Yet we face a global crisis.…

It is time for another, equally radical, ‘1997 moment’. The Labour Party stands ready to lead the transition to a fairer world. The singular mission of international development under Labour will be to build a world for the many, not the few. Labour will wholeheartedly back the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a progressive route to building that world. Labour will set a second twin objective for all international development work and spending: not only to reduce poverty but also, for the first time, to reduce inequality.

Angela Raynor on the National Education Service:

Children are growing up in an environment where every defence against poverty has been eroded by years of austerity. In November, the Social Mobility Commission concluded there is a “fracture line running deep through our labour and housing markets and our education system”. Our society is less equal, more divided. It’s no surprise that the commission then resigned, with the former chair saying that he had ‘little hope’ of the current government making the necessary progress to change the trends in social mobility. Ministers have taken over six months to replace him and even now the commission is not ready to start its work again….

Since 2010…  Well over a thousand Sure Start centres have been lost, with hundreds of millions cut from that programme and even more from wider services for young people. The National Education Union found that there are currently 4.1 million children in poverty, with the Institute for Fiscal Studies warning that this may rise to 5.2 million by 2022.

The next Labour government will need to implement long-term and long-lasting reforms to turn this around. The NHS, our greatest achievement in government, has survived because the public feel strongly about an institution that supports them from cradle-to-grave. The National Education Service, which was outlined in our manifesto last year, will hold the same position as the NHS as an institution of equality and fairness; free at the point of delivery, funded by fair taxation. Social mobility is crucial to the NES, too, that’s why we will invest £5.3bn in early years, which includes more money for Sure Start.

And  Jeremy Corbyn on media reform:  

@Jezza4_PM10 new policies from Labour to clean up UK journalism, including: •Replace Tory appointed BBC Board with an ELECTED BBC Board •Charitable status for Citizen Journalism •Tech Giant Tax to finance public interest journalism •Cut BBC Licence Fee for poorer homes #ChangeTheMedia

The National Union of Journalists’ response to this includes:

"As a trade union we would agree on the importance of empowering journalists to act ethically, increasing diversity and equality in the media, tackling the concentration of media ownership and power, and enabling media workers to have a louder voice in their own workplaces and on decision-making boards.

The NUJ is not affiliated to any political party but it is important that politicians recognise the vital role of independent public interest journalism, and the grave price that some journalists have paid with their lives for speaking truth to power. We hope this speech is just the start of a more detailed discussion about how to bring change to the media that benefits journalists, journalism and society as a whole."

Labour do need to continue to work on their proposals and policies. The snap general election of 2017 necessitated a hastily put together manifesto. And yet it was the Conservative Manifesto that fell apart alongside a campaign based on little else than slurring the opposition Soon after the election which ‘surprised’ the very journalists (and some MPs) whose powers of criticality have improved very little since ( Mike Phillips put together For the Many: preparing Labour for power (published 2017 by OR Books). The collection (which I’ve bought but not read yet) includes chapters focusing on each of the Labour Manifesto’s sections discussing the strengths and shortcomings of the policies. Similarly, The New Socialist currently has a call out for articles addressing the topic ‘Beyond the Manifesto’:

Such debate, alongside the many and growing examples of alternative media and citizen journalism/activism, is it seems part of what is so frightening to the self-entitled establishment. We do not, of course, agree on everything, we do not all support the same political party, but there is a  growing number of us who think about politics for more than the apparent average of four minutes a week. And we are educating ourselves and each other and we are increasingly able to criticism and call out injustice, discrimination and #ToryLies when we see it.

Which leads me to…

3. The Dispatch Box

At PMQs this week (Wednesday 12th September) the Leader of the Opposition took the Prime Minister for task for the #ConsciousCruelty and #DestitutionByDesign of the government. There’s a clip on Jeremy Corbyn's twitter page, here (via your web browser):

@jeremycorbyn: @Theresa_May is pouring petrol on the burning injustices in our society. #PMQs

As ever those sitting opposite did nothing but bray, attempting to shout the LOTO down, hurling abuse and laughing at the plight of those whose lives are so much harder than their own. Karen Lee MP retweeting Corbyn’s tweet and clip wrote:

@KarenLeeMP: This is what the baying Tories didn’t want you to hear. Disgusting behaviour from disgusting people.

And similarly, Jo Platt MP:

@JoPlattMP: Appalling behaviour from Conservative MP’s at #PMQs today.

Screaming, shouting and trying to silence criticism doesn’t change the fact that Universal Credit is failing families across the country with child poverty rising #Disgraceful

In response to @theresa_may's PMQ tweet announcing that she is 'tackling injustice and racism' whilst Jeremy Corbyn is 'creating an institutionally racist party' (a phrase gifted to her by Labour's Chuka Umunna MP) there's this: 

@davidschneider:  “I’m tackling injustice and racism” says woman whose party just voted in support of the far right, anti-Semitic, Islamophobes in Hungary.


But despite:

@jeremycorbyn: The Tories brought shame on the UK by backing Hungary’s far-right government in a crucial vote in Europe. Theresa May trying to sweep it under the carpet is disgraceful.

The prime minister must apologise and explain why her party voted in the way it did.

The outrage from the MSM (particularly radio and TV), and others, on this issue has been somewhat muted!  

But to be fair BBC, Channel 4, Sky and others do have a heavy investigative journalism case load. Just see this example today from Michael Crick (Political Correspondent C4 News) complete with clip (again via web browser):

@MichaelLCrick: Jeremy Corbyn outside his house this morning, tells a BBC pool cameraman “Right, can you turn it off? And he raises his hand towards the camera.

Wow. What. Ground. Breaking. Journalism. (At the time of writing the ratio is LIKES 586. RETWEETS 387. COMMENTS 2851). Most of the commentators are as impressed (NOT) as I am. 

The continued scrutiny of everything Jeremy Corbyn has ever done, said, or (as some obvious mind-readers are absolutely certain of) thought; the simultaneous lack of attention to Labour policies and Labour MP's activities; and the lack of focus on #ToryShame and #ToryLies is not surprising. Just more of what we have become used to. With this in mind who could disagree with Kadira Pethiyogoda:

In future history classrooms*, students will likely be told the tale of the tag-team assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by the mainstream media and MPs. It will be taught as a harbinger of what is erupting into the most pivotal crisis facing Western politics in half a century: the chasm between ordinary people and the elites.

*And I would add sociology, politics, media studies … classrooms. 

These two tweets could easily be reworded into essay questions; 4000 words at least I'd say:

@docrussjackson: Tax exile owned Tory supporting right wing propaganda outlet the @dailytelegraph, whose readership comprises elderly bigoted Brextremists, compares @jeremycorbyn to Enoch Powell & @theresa_may to Nelson Mandela! Any ideas why is its circulation is down 19% over the last year?

@robjeffecology: @SkyNewsThe difference of tone and style in reporting between on May compared to Corbyn shows us our media is broken. Corbyn is an evil racist and May likes to get good shoes and dance we have learnt this summer apparently from them.

This piece is part of a series. See also:

Just a FEW things you might not know if you rely on mainstream media (MSM) PART ONE: political business as usual #GTTO

Just a FEW things you might not know if you rely on mainstream media (MSM) PART TWO: #ChangeTheMedia  

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