In an attempt to restore some of his fast-disappearing credibility, Jonathan Freedland gives a half-hearted, over-qualified apology to Jeremy Corbyn. It’s self-serving, dishonest, and far more revealing than he meant it to be.
Following the surprising (to some) election result, the Guardian has seen their big-name Op-Ed writers desperately trying to claw-back their credibility. For those of us who could see, and understand, the real support that Labour have been gaining in the two years since Corbyn was elected it has been amusing to watch.
Jonathan Freedland’s damp article tries to both rewrite the author’s history, morally justifying his outrageous bias, claim he was right all along and undermine the electoral result. In trying do all this it not only falls between two stools, but face-plants straight into a third.
Freedland on pre-election predictions:
…barring a couple of polls dismissed as rogue outliers, nothing suggested that Theresa May was about to throw away her parliamentary majority.”
This demonstrates the dangerous insulation of the Westminster “bubble”. It was palpable, given the progress of the campaigns, that any fair vote was going to be much, much closer than headlines declared. It was obvious to anyone watching Theresa May scream her “policies” out into the world from a motorway lay by, in front of pre-approved reporters and paid supporters waving signs, that she would struggle. Comparing that to the spectacle of Corbyn speaking to thousands of people in packed town centres all across the country was startling.
The distance between reality and the world of the media is becoming frighteningly wide. They seem genuinely surprised when the real world doesn’t correspond with the lies they tweet at each other, the myths the publish and the dreams they print. It’s moving from dishonesty into schizophrenia at this point.
Freedland on his “opposition” to Corbyn:
I opposed Jeremy Corbyn when he first stood for the Labour leadership in 2015, and thereafter, and I did so on two grounds. First, on principle: I was troubled by his foreign policy worldview, with its indulgence of assorted authoritarian regimes, and by what I perceived as his willingness to look past antisemitism on the left. But more immediate was an assessment of his basic electability. I wanted the Tories gone, and simply did not believe Labour could pose a serious electoral threat under Corbyn.
Firstly, he did not “oppose” Jeremy Corbyn – he attacked him, smeared him and slandered him. As did everyone else at his paper. And everyone else in the media. And everyone else in Westminster. The whole political establishment united against the man, including his own party. The Prime Minister called for his resignation during PMQs.
The reasons Freedland gives for taking part in this undignified pile-on are as self-serving as they are false.
Regarding “foreign policy” – appearing on Iranian TV [Freedland’s cited example] is hardly endorsing autocracy. Certainly it can’t be as bad as selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, or Israel, or training terrorist proxies in Jordan to kill people in Syria. Government backed crimes which never seem to trouble Freedland.
That a man who cheered on illegal Imperialist wars, and subsequent crimes against humanity, in Libya and Syria can dare take up the moral high ground over a non-interventionist, one who has been proven correct time after time, is sickening.
Antisemitism on the left is almost entirely fictional. A McCarthyite tactic used to deflect all criticism of Israel, or Zionism in general. Freedland is no stranger to this tactic.
As for “electability”? It is a nonsense concept. An invention of a fake-left wing media to bash a man whose actual policies were beyond condemnation, whilst maintaining their illusory “liberal” label.
Freedland on the election:
Lest we forget, it was not enough. Labour still lost, even when faced with the weakest Tory campaign in at least 40 years.
Even when he is attempting to be contrite, he can’t take responsibility for his role in this. He doesn’t mention his attacks, and those of other journalists and neo-liberals, as (deliberately) handicapping Labour’s campaign before it even started. He doesn’t mention the attempted PLP coup that destroyed Labour’s cohesion at a time when a united alternative would have posed a huge threat to an unstable Tory government.
Part of the reason the shambolic Tory campaign was able to limit Labour gains to 32 seats, is that they were starting from a position of massive strength – gifted to them by Red Tories in the press and MPs more concerned with remaining part of the in-crowd than trying to better society.
Corbyn was hobbled and undermined at every turn, presented with an almost impossible task…and, even so, he nearly pulled it off. This deserves more than a grudging half-apology, it deserves genuine respect.
Freedland and his ilk will give Corbyn neither.
The truth is, the reason Freedland opposed Corbyn, and will continue do so even as he insincerely tries to win-over his increasingly estranged leftwing readership, is that he doesn’t want socialism anywhere near government.
Freedland doesn’t want to “get rid of the Tories”, he wants to rebrand them. He wants Tory economic policy under a false-flag of “liberal values” and drenched in fake progress. He wants equally low pay for everyone, and to make sure racial minorities have fair access to food banks.
He’s wealthy, and perfectly happy to let poverty spread and to sell off the NHS and look-on as society crumble, he just wants to do it from a position of faux-concern.
That’s the legacy of Blairism, it appealed to people who are self-centred capitalist me-firsters at heart, but who want to hide behind a mask of social conscience. The same kind of people who want to go to war to protect peace. Who bomb to save lives. Who can say or do anything whilst maintaining their pristine self-image and snow-white conscience.
The real point of this election is that people voted for Corbyn even though Freedland, and everyone like him, kept telling them not to. That every concern-trolling phony-liberal earnestly claiming to be “troubled by Corbyn’s unelectability” was largely ignored.
People don’t really listen to “journalists” anymore, and this sort of self-serving dishonesty is the reason why.