featured, Guardian Watch, Labourcoup
Comments 44

Labour Coup falls back on dishonesty, identity politics and smears

by Kit

owen and angie

The Labour Coup just won’t die. It has become the masked killer from a b-list horror film. Lurching from one unlikely scenario to another, staunchly surviving an endless series of self-inflicted wounds, each one alone capable of felling a lesser being. Most observers knew it was all over the moment Corbyn refused to resign, if it survived that it was only by clinging to faint hope that they could keep him off the ballot. The NEC’s vote effectively put a stake through its heart. It is over.

The frantic struggling, as the traitors in the PLP and their media accomplices refuse to go quietly, is frankly undignified. The weasel-worded insinuations, and laughably obvious attempts to rig the rules, are pathetic. If the vote is anything even vaguely approaching fair, then Corbyn will win. The slimy tactics of his opponents will only drive people to the other side.

That Smith and Eagle have turned on each other demonstrates the values on display here. This isn’t about “saving Labour”, this is about grabbing power, about the basic principle that no real person of principle should ever be allowed influence, and about the preservation of a corrupt parliament where every smiling suit and skirt – from either side – is part of the same club. These are people of such low moral character that they can’t even act to preserve their own way of life, without layering in the need to polish their own gargantuan sense of self-import. Shallow egos that have gutted and cannibalized their own “movement” in its cradle.

The Guardian, or The Observer, are determined not to give up the fight. As of this morning they have an interview with Owen Smith, an article by Peter Walker, a column by Tom Watson, a polemic by Angela Eagle and some kind of…offering from Nick Cohen (I’m not sure what to call it…but reading it made me need to take a shower). They all say the same thing in slightly different words.

The message is same as it has been for 10 months – confused, ephemeral, abusive. There is no discussion of policy. There is narry a mention of political issues at all. There’s certainly no references to the LSE research into media bias against Corbyn.

Eagle’s column is especially disingenuous. She writes:

“…the party is as divided and disunited as I can remember. The current leadership has settled into a sectarian comfort zone – the effect of this has been to provoke personal attacks on MPs, a string of death and rape threats and bricks through windows.”

…neglecting to mention that the “disunity” came when the PLP deliberately plotted to remove the democratically chosen leader of the party, not through a straight leadership challenge, but through emotional blackmail and political leverage. It is the actions of her faction, sideways thinkers and sideways actors, that split the party open.

That she mentions the threats that have never been confirmed, and then proceeds to pluralise the bricks as if it were a campaign as opposed to a single incident, is absurd. There’s nothing to suggest Momentum, or any Corbyn supporter, had anything to do with the brick (singular). For all we know the “rape and death threats” are as real as the “threatening phone calls” that cancelled her Luton event, or the “homophobic abuse” that never happened. It’s perfectly possible these acts, if they are real, are being paid for by rich Labour donors in order to undermine Corbyn. It’s perfectly possible they simply didn’t happen at all.

But let’s say they did. It isn’t Corbyn, or his supporters, who have “provoked personal attacks on MPs”. Neither Corbyn nor McDonnell have collapsed into ad hominem rhetoric as much as the coup-plotters. You know what provokes people? You know what makes people angry? Being ignored. Being insulted. Being told that they don’t matter and have no power. That’s what makes people angry.

Democracy, as its core concept, is about the even distribution of influence. A democratic system cuts power into millions of tiny pieces, and hands one piece out to each person. “Here, this is your voice”, it says “you can make yourself heard”. In this way you put a halt to violence, you cap people’s frustrations by telling them that THEY have the power to change things. If you take away that influence, if you shout down their voices, if you tell people that they are wrong, that they don’t understand, that you know better than them….then you are attempting to seize their portion of power. You are silencing their voice. You are fuelling their anger.

That’s when bricks start flying.

It is not Corbyn, or McDonnell, or Momentum or Unite that have provoked the public, it is the 172 MPs who brazenly declared war on the democratic process. It is a political class who, for years, have padded their expenses and voted for pay increases and claimed for second homes, and all the while pretended to be working for us…and then ignored our voices.

On top of all that, the idea someone who voted for the Iraq war can claim the moral high-ground because somebody threw a brick into an empty office is pretty appalling. I’m not sure how many windows got broken in Baghdad, but it was probably more than one.

Her article contains no policies except “inclusiveness”, no arguments except “I’m a gay, working class woman”. Vague patriotic slogans, self-pity, justifications and plenty of criticising Corbyn, including this beauty [my emphasis]:

Jeremy appeared to think that by appearing on television and saying he was seven out of 10 in favour of staying in Europe this would appeal to people who were not sure themselves. Instead it just gave them permission to vote Leave.

If we’ve learned anything about Angela Eagle in the last few weeks, it’s that she doesn’t believe in people having permission to vote for things. Not a great quality in an MP. We don’t need Corbyn’s permission to vote for, or against, anything. We don’t need permission at all. That’s kind of the whole point of the system. This phrase demonstrates just how in line with modern political thinking Eagle is, it reveals a core of authoritarian contempt for the electorate. It would not be out-of-place in a speech from another uncharismatic blond, running for office on the other side of the Atlantic. The “progressive left”, it seems, may have named themselves ironically.

All of that may be entirely moot, of course, because it seems Eagle is old news. Too tainted by the Iraq war, too embarrassed by her squib of a campaign launch, and frankly too atrociously poor at public relations herself to merit further discussion. She will soon consign herself to the dustbin of history…probably on the promise of being Smith’s Shadow Chancellor should he win the leadership. A sort of Poundland version of the deal done between Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. Polly Toynbee, Eagle’s lone cheerleader, has shuffled off to buy more gin and complain about twitter to anybody with the patience to listen.

Owen Smith is now where it’s at. You can tell because, not only does he get a puff-piece interview which tries to make him look ordinary and principled, he then gets an article (by Zoe Williams) about how ordinary and principled he is. Neither of them mention his efforts, while a PR rep for Pfizer, to promote the privatisation of the NHS. Both of them pretend he had no hand in the planning or execution of the coup…despite openly acknowledging this tweet from John Mann MP:

Both articles repeat Smith’s story about John McDonnell saying that he’ll split the Labour party “if that’s what it takes”, without reference to the fact that McDonnell has categorically denied he ever said any such thing. They portray Smith as a reluctant challenger. A decent man, called to action against Corbyn. Despite being an “enthusiastic convert to Corbynism”, he was compelled to run for leader because he “shared the doubts of his colleagues about the person leading them”.

What follows is an avalanche of anecdotes, all from one side, designed to make Corbyn look like a doddering incompetent. They paint a picture of man who can barely function, one wonders how Corbyn manages to dress himself, let alone be an MP for 40 years. Once again, there’s not single piece evidence any of this ever happened. This interesting nugget of information is buried at the end:

A mysterious group called Saving Labour, which declines to comment on its leadership or funding – allegedly for fear of being abused– is organising over a hundred street stalls, paying for content on Facebook and even mounting an advertising campaign in the pages of the Guardian and the Observer in order to collect voters who will oppose Corbyn.

There’s a “mysterious group” backing the anti-Corbyn movement, it has no named leader and no known sources of funding. You would think, then, that a newspaper would investigate further. You would think any journalist worth his salt would delve a little deeper. The subject is never expanded upon.

This is Saving Labour’s website. It claims to be a group of “concerned citizens” interested in “saving democracy”. That’s it. No names. No list of backers. No policies. No candidates. That such an “organisation” can be used as a source by newspapers is astounding – it follows in the recent tradition of Guardian sources on that score. Bellingcat, the “citizen journalist organisation” is actually an unemployed admin assistant with no journalistic or photographic training, and no talent for either. The “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights”, is one man living above a corner-shop in Coventry. Saving Labour? Nobody knows. It is from such sources that our “news” is produced. Why? Because they produce handy soundbites that conform to the pre-written narrative.

Just like Owen Smith.

And so we come to Nick Cohen, and his festering wound of a column, demonstrating everything wrong with a Western political establishment that long ago abandoned truth as an ideal. The Western world, and the media especially, no longer talk of morality as an abstract absolute of black and white, or even a subtle spectrum of shades of grey.

No, in the modern world, Cohen’s world, morality is an absolute in the worst possible sense. He is moral, so everything he does is moral. Morality is a condition of an adherance to the consensus. That’s Nick Cohen’s world. In that universe it’s perfectly possible for a “good person” to be pro-war, to slander people, to lie both actively and by omission.

That is modern political thought – expressed through Blair and Obama and…pretty soon…Hilary Clinton. It is a total reversal of the accepted paradigm, going back thousands of years. Where once a person was defined by their actions, now actions are defined by the people who do them.

We are good, they are bad. Hence, we do right, they do wrong.

That is the premise upon which every Nick Cohen article is based. That is the premise that allows him, here, to admit to campaigning for an illegal war which cost at least a million lives…and yet claim moral authority over anti-war protesters because they went on Iranian television.

He writes about the “insane conspiracy theories against Labour MPs”. A vague accusation, so lacking in specifics that you have to make an assumption in order to offer a refutation. Let’s assume he is referring to the claims that the coup was plotted weeks or months in advance. These are hardly insane considering the Telegraph printed a story about the coup 10 days before it happened, that Angela Eagle’s leadership website was registered 2 days before she resigned, and John Mann was approached about backing Owen Smith for leader 6 months ago. Not forgetting all the ties to Portland Communication.

Again we see the total disregard for truth, or evidence, or reason. The same attitude marks Western coverage of Ukraine, of Syria, and of Brexit. The attitude that you can lie something into existence, and deny a fact until it goes away. It is the attitude of people who believe, as Karl Rove said:

We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

I have written about the modern media’s struggle to enforce fake reality on a world in which they are increasingly obsolete. It is a struggle, much like the Corbyn coup, which the Guardian refuses to acknowledge is over. Katherine Viner wrote a long article a few days back, in essence a 6000 word plea for money. It was headlined:

How technology disrupted the truth – Social media has swallowed the news, threatening the funding of public-interest reporting and ushering in an era when everyone has their own facts.”

The basic point, aside from “We are struggling PLEASE send us cash!”, was that the world needs “proper journalism”, because social media is unreliable and allows people “pick their own facts”. More honestly she would say social media allows people to get all the facts and make up their own minds. That the media are losing their ability to shape our certitudes.

The coverage of Corbyn is a perfect illustration of this.

This isn’t about the leader of the Labour party, this is about a political establishment panicking in the face of an important realisation: They are not in control. They thought they could control Ukraine. They thought they could control Syria. They thought they could control Corbyn. They thought they could control Brexit. One by one the small plans have twisted and corrupted and become unrecognisable, the grander scheme – if a coherent one ever truly existed – has been scattered to the winds. The world is refusing to cooperate, and all they can do is carry on repeating lines from an increasingly irrelevant script.

What we have here is more than just an attempted, domestic coup. What we have here is microcosm of a political and media establishment that is slowly going insane. What we have here is their last recourse, their attempt to control reality by equal measures of fear, denial, abuse and dishonesty. And what we have here, perhaps reassuringly, is an abject failure.


44 Comments

  1. chrisb says

    Corbyn’s chances of winning a national election are hampered by his refusal (so far) to consider the role that immigration plays in capping workers’ wages and in overstretching the NHS, education and housing. He needs to come up with credible policies that convince people outside of his own narrow base. Vague promises to tax the rich will fool no one.

    The issue of immigration also makes Corbyn’s critics within the PLP totally irrelevant to current political discussion. Were they to split off from Labour, they will find a cold welcome from their hoped for corporate sponsors. Why fund neoliberal-lite when you can sponsor the real thing?

    Unless the issue of immigration is addressed, UKIP will continue to take more of the working class vote, potentially splitting it three ways if we have a SDP 2.

    Like

  2. Isabel Hardman said on the July 2015 SPECTATOR Podcast, yes, last year, BEFORE Jeremy was elected : “The Blairites I have spoken to say that it is better for him (Corbyn) to try to form a Shadow Cabinet, lots of people will refuse, then he tries to lead with a skeleton leadership team, and purge Labour HQ, so that there is no institutional memory, and then as much as two years after this, his leadership will fall…” Quite clear that the plot had begun before he was elected, to ensure he had no support to lead, and then they decided to depose him more quickly than two years following Brexit. Rosie Brocklehurst

    Like

  3. Robbie G says

    “For all we know the “rape and death threats” are as real as the “threatening phone calls” that cancelled her Luton event”

    Actually, we’ve spoken to the hotel co-owner who confirmed that there were no threats whatsorver. He took the decision to cancel the event himself as he wan’t told it was a PR event for Angela when it was booked.
    This was also corroborated by a local journalist:” A spokeswoman for the hotel said: “We can confirm that the event has been cancelled as we were unaware of the nature of the meeting.””
    Read more at http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/hotel-pulls-the-plug-on-angela-eagle-meeting-in-luton-this-afternoon/story-29502451-detail/story.html#RTkKu65pPMyjXCjL.99

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Denis Lenihan says

    Given the circumstances, is there scope to push for all MPs who have gone against the Leadership in the ‘vote of no confidence’ to stand down and put themselves up for re-election, if Jeremy is re-elected? In the interests of the Party and democracy………..

    Liked by 3 people

  5. proximity1 says

    At times like these my Boy Scout &tm; training serves me well.

    I recall that a very-well-sharpened axe is a Labour-saving-device when one is required to split something.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good. Need more of these articles and push them out to the General Public who need convincing as all they see is the colluding establishment media. NB: Spectator Blog in the Summer of 2015 with Louise Hardiman and John McTernan. (McTernan is the venomous rageaholic Blairite attack dog (who used to be an assistant librarian at Walworth Road when I worked there in the 80s, and is invited to spit poison by the BBC and Sky whenever he likes). The podcast which you should dig out, and I posted it on MomentumHastings three days ago, actually mentions that Labour grandees were talking (to the Spectator!) about the coup just prior to Jeremy being elected leader. So it was in the planning just before the announcement. They were prompted to speak to the Spectator and Hardiman, a right wing journalist, by the bookies odds which had Corbyn a cert for winning.

    Like

    • In an open letter Stathis Kouvelakis who served on Syriza’s central committee has invited the British Left to join “Plan B”.

      “The idea is quite simple: the existing European Union bars the implementation of any agenda that would halt — or even moderately slow — the advances of neoliberalism and austerity, as amply demonstrated in Greece. It is therefore absolutely urgent to break the founding European treaties, which enshrine perpetual neoliberalism and negate democracy and popular sovereignty. If this is not possible through negotiations — as once again the Greek case suggests — then a plan B, leading to an exit from the European Union — starting with an exit from the eurozone — is necessary. The plan needs to be specifically elaborated according to the needs of each country and also from the perspective of a genuinely new Europe to emerge from the ruins of the existing, failed European Union. Two international “Plan B” conferences have already been held, in Paris and Madrid, with more to come. I am certain that all the parties involved in the project would be delighted to see comrades from the British left participating in its forthcoming activities and starting a serious conversation about these issues. Such a move would no doubt help build the type of strategic thinking that is so much needed today. It would indeed be sad irony if — in a country with a rich tradition of labor struggles — the Left remained paralyzed under the weight of its own insufficiencies and contradictions at a moment when the dominant class and its political personnel are facing the most severe political crisis of the last decades.” (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/07/brexit-referendum-remain-leave-corbyn-racism-xenophobia-greece-austerity-eu/)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. mog says

    Every now and again you read something that so perfectly sums up the situation.
    This is an excellent piece of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Quizzical says

        Well I don’t know about your arse, and I don’t think I want to, but I agree with mog. I have just finished reading Nick Davis book, Flat Earth News – well worth a read – that supports Kit’s view of the role of the media in shaping our reality. Frightening.

        Like

  8. Philip Inglesant says

    savinglabour.com was registered on 25th June 2016. That’s the day before the mass resignations from Shadow Cabinet. Apart from that it has no contact details and the email seems to be hosted on Google. They web page doesn’t give any clues as to who designed or runs it. They have obviously gone to some trouble to remain anonymous.

    Like

  9. rtj1211 says

    It’s an excellent article but it avoids the single most important issue:

    ‘Was Jeremy Corbyn Elected Labour Leader because of his principles and his policies, rather than his leadership abilities?’

    We can argue until the cows come home about what abilities you need to lead Her Majesty’s Opposition in the House of Commons, just as we can argue semi-independently about what abilities you need to lead the Labour Party through a necessary 21st century renaissance/funeral cortege (take your pick on what you think is most likely to happen).

    What I think can be deduced is that it is not necessary to be leader of a democratic political party to shape its principles, its policy stands and its priorities. It is necessary to be the Leader if the party is not democratic, rather autocratic, bewitched by a Presidential Cult and ruthless in whipping in its entire membership into a subservient doting herd.

    If you have a cult of Leadership which focusses solely on the Leader, rather than on a broad spectrum of talent, then the skills that you need are as follows;

    Rhetorical skills for forensic debating in Parliament.
    Skills in the political dark arts to confound the Prime Minister at PMQs or, at the very least, embarrass him using the strategy called ‘Killing Him softly with my song…’
    Skills in media management, relationship building with key media egotists, editors and influencers, in particular in the BBC, the national Press.
    Skills in inspiring the membership to build the party up to a membership of at least 1 million people.
    Pragmatic policy development skills taking into account Britain’s place in the world, it’s key neighbours and allies, its current economic situation and its current power levers.
    Sufficient ruthlessness to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of journalists vandalising the constructive work you are doing, particularly if they lie in print for smearing purposes.
    Judgement of your colleagues in the selection of a Shadow Cabinet capable of presenting itself as a realistic alternative government, in the eyes of the electorate (which need to be reached increasingly directly to avoid the institutional prejudices, distortions and outright anti-democratic actions of the Establishment).
    Maintenance of both an offensive- and defensive dirty tricks team, to be used as necessary to tear to pieces the analogous teams put together since time immemorial by the hard right of the Conservative Party.
    Identification of the key splinters in the Party and displaying superior judgement on how to manage them, bring them to a satisfactory closure etc.
    Ability to co-manage a 5 – 10 year strategic plan allied to 3 year electoral cycles, ensuring that continuity in party evolution occurs in ways that represent those voters who support the party, rather than self-satisfied London Luvvies who claim to be the Party’s true representatives in God’s Earth.

    Being a principled socialist is not a qualification to be Party Leader. Running campaigns outside Parliament is a worthy piece of experience, but is something to be outsourced to others by a party Leader. Not compromising on principles appropriately is the sign of a principled backbencher rather than a Party Leader.

    If you want to act like Gandhi, you need to ensure that you have sufficient key supporters in the Press to win the media battles that will ensue.

    If you haven’t realised that, one questions whether you are Leadership material……

    Like

    • John Crawford says

      Rtj1211 Your last point is amusing and also disingenuous, how on earth does a genuine socialist like Corbyn “ensure that they have sufficient key supporters in the Press”. Grow up please, the media is owned and run by right wingers.

      Like

    • RTJ 111
      Thatcher was shaped by Saatchi and Saatchi and Tim Bell to improve her voice, her steely piercing look, her grand bon mots -the lady is not for turning etc., She was not articulate or deep, lacked humanity.Kinnock always went on to long to score points effectively. Blair was an actor in a Paul Smith suit who was not a great orator nor deep or particularly bright. Brown was a terrible speaker and his economic knowledge not as good as we thought to put it mildly! . Corbyn has been poured into a dark suit and tie and it works. The rest of the polishing up is for later….anyway, Attlee hardly tickboxed all the external presentational and oratorical skills you want from a leader. He is a man for his time but it is his policies and ability to stand firm as the Labour Party shifts to the left to meet the poorer peoples needs, that is important.

      Like

  10. Kathleen Lowrey says

    Very good line:

    On top of all that, the idea someone who voted for the Iraq war can claim the moral high-ground because somebody threw a brick into an empty office is pretty appalling. I’m not sure how many windows got broken in Baghdad, but it was probably more than one.>>

    Like

    • It’s even worse than that, the window broken was in the stairwell of a building also used by five other businesses, in an area known for petty vandalism.

      There is literally no evidence whatsoever that it had anything to do with Angela Eagles office. It was simply jumped on cynically by her and her team (why was a small broken window in a place that was not her office covered up with a labour poster?), and then trumpeted by all the press as the shocking violence of far-left ne’er-do-wells.

      Oh. look. I wonder why the blinds were drawn when the BBC came round? This kind of obsequious, craven reporting is a disgrace and unprofessional

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36779483

      And they all followed, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail Huffington Post and on and on. The story gathered pace and not one supposed “journalist” bothered to question the story … after all, Eagle and her mates, were all pushing it and it fitted a nice anti-Corbyn theme.

      Some people actually asked questions, and came up with the truth. eg:

      Some chap with a smartphone camera and a youtube account bested every journalist in the mass media?

      Some others have investigated and written about the truth of this “attack”. eg.

      http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/17/angela-eagle-lied-about-her-office-window-being-vandalised-by-a-corbyn-supporting-bully/

      But, this is not the professional, truthful, reliable and honest mass media, just some bloke with a blog, so it can be safely ignored. Damage done, the theme’s been set, let’s move on to the next “incident”

      Like

  11. Daniul says

    Polly Toybee is CIA: she’s been pushing pro-market pro Nato trojan horses for years, David Owens SDP, Tony Blair, Nick Clegg and no this fifth column.

    Like

  12. A very good article. It is interesting how the narrative pedallers at the Guardian are begging for money. Clearly they have dug their own grave with a product that has become increasingly irrelevant. Obviously when they abandoned their ideas of “comment is free” they didn’t realise that people don’t want to pay for propaganda which is freely available elsewhere.

    Like

    • icecream says

      They haven’t worked out a way to make money from their website and they can’t make money from print anymore

      To be fair, the paper has gone downhill because nobody is paying for it anymore, they are more and more full of bullshizzle because they need the money desperately. They do still make some interesting stuff, but they wouldn’t be able to stay open without shilling stuff as well

      Like

  13. ale bro says

    “atrociously poor at pubic relations” – is that a sexual slur or a typo?

    Like

  14. labrebisgalloise says

    Excellent piece, thank you. However, the empire has forbidden use of the word “traitor” so Digital Globe Services, Saving Labour, Cheltenham Ham-Radio & friends will doubtless be using their super-sophisticated Al-Gore-Rhythms to establish your true identity, just as they are using them to attempt to manipulate the forthcoming ballot.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. flybow says

    A very good piece. I stopped reading the guardian many years ago. I used to look odd on site working as a bricklayer reading the guardian. I found there was little in it for working class people. There is no newspaper worth reading anymore.
    Thanks to mohandeer for that link.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It seems members of Saving Labour are being asked to trawl through the party’s data to contact lapse members – illegally.
    Confirmation that Progress is behind this illegal stunt came very quickly, and you can read it for yourself here.
    So it really is happening – and is entirely illegal.The greatest irony is that, in encouraging this illegal activity, the Blairites are breaking the Data Protection Act 1998, a law passed by a Labour government – under their idol Tony Blair.
    http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/18/hackinglabour-the-new-wheeze-by-the-campaign-against-corbyn-is-a-criminal-offence/

    Liked by 1 person

  17. bevin says

    An excellent article. And in every way superior to anything that The Guardian can now produce.
    Let us hope that the philanthropists behind Saving Labour are soon identified and receive the public acknowledgement that their selfless work for imperialism deserves.
    I’m tempted to wonder where Mark Regev-one of the most accomplished liars in history-was when the “stalls” were being planned.

    Liked by 6 people

  18. Paul Rigby says

    Does anyone have a handy and up-to-date list of the Graun’s advertisers? I ask because I’d like to shop accordingly, and tell said advertisers why I’m boycotting their products and/or services.

    Liked by 5 people

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