Another roller-coaster of a week in the press for the leader of the opposition … I jest, it’s the same old same old. Roller-coasters require ups, as well as downs, and the British press don’t gift us anything so thrilling.
The latest stick trotted out with which to beat Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is the highly respected and respectable Stephen Hawking. We are led to believe that he has taken time out from framing the end of the world with a polite request for Corbyn to … you guessed it, resign.
…but he has allowed himself to be portrayed as a left-wing extremist.
Either Mr Hawking suffers from extreme political naivety, is being disingenuous, or we are not seeing the full picture here. Why would such an eminently informed and intelligent person think that Corbyn has ‘allowed’ himself to be anything? Who has portrayed Corbyn as a ‘left-wing extremist’ and how would Corbyn be expected to counter that portrayal … the Times does not ask. So are we not seeing the entire picture from what we are being presented in the published ‘interview’?
“I regard Corbyn as a disaster,” he said. “His heart is in….”
Where does the sentence go after ‘disaster’? ‘disaster’ is followed by a comma, Hawking has not finished his point but the Times have chosen to wield their editing at that moment at which they have what they want from what Hawking has said.
Let’s look at the quote in context of what precedes it:
I don’t see the question? What was Hawking answering? How did we jump from environmental disaster and Terminator Judgement Day to the leader of the opposition? And isn’t it clever to frame Jeremy Corbyn within the narrative of natural and other disaster? The Times prints two and a half lines from Hawking about Corbyn. The half a line leaves us with a question as to what else Hawking said and the second actual line is completely without context. A classic hatchet job, betrayed by punctuation and total lack of context.
So there is no substance to the Times headline giving equal weight to Hawking’s musings on humanity and Jeremy Corbyn but you can’t raise questions about what the Times says Hawking said without it being spun into a crazy Corbynista raving against the eminent Hawking and isn’t that just the point.
In the same toxic air that we’re so quickly becoming used to, Owen Jones springs up with another of his gems and another example of things not being what they seem.
Owen Jones has hooked a new one on his line on the twittersphere and it really does do a lot to add credence to those people who have been calling him a ‘Socialist’ Trojan horse.
I genuinely don’t know how Jones became considered a Left luminary or what he hopes to achieve with such posts but then I remember that he’s just a writer/commentator and not the Messiah … just a very naughty boy. Having read the tweet I’m left with confusion. Jones is clearly signalling in the tweet that he is no longer a Corbyn supporter, which many have argued has been the case all along, but if he does care what happens to Labour, what good does he think will come from such a tweet? The nature of the tweet, rather like the Times piece on Hawking, is either a clever(ish) little hatchet job or it’s simply bad ‘journalism’. Let’s presume it is bad journalism.
It is a first year undergrad question, a question that would be sent back to be revised and if it appeared as part of a dissertation in their third year we would be looking at a 2:2 student at best. There is lots wrong with the question, the primary being that it is leading and, as a piece of ‘journalism’ it is not just leading anyone who would answer but it is reinforcing tropes about the current Labour leadership and its supporters. Breaking the tweet down:
Genuine non-aggressive question to Corbyn supporters…
Any Corbyn non-supporters (and I include those who are neutral to Corbyn) will make an association of aggressiveness and Corbyn supporters. But I understand that Jones catches a great deal of flak for a lot of what he writes about Labour and Corbyn, so he could just be unaware of the impact of the language he has chosen can be and does, indeed, want to genuinely reach out to the Labour membership, with whom he has a fundamental disagreement of the direction for Labour.
…what do you think will happen if there’s an early election?
An open question that manages to not ask anything but Corbyn supporters will know what he is actually asking. ‘…do you think Labour will win if an election was called tomorrow if Corbyn is leader?’ but why didn’t Jones ask that question? 140 character limit?
Does it concern you?
And there we have the lead. ‘Does it concern you?’ What are we to make of that? For the Corbyn non-supporters we have a clear message; whatever happens to Labour, it is the responsibility of Corbyn and his supporters. With a single broad brushstroke the narrative being fed to the general public by the media and those wrecking Labour from within that Corbyn and his Corbynites are some batty cult has been reinforced. It presupposes that there can only be a negative outcome for Labour if an early election is called while Corbyn is leader.
But what of the ‘intended’ audience of ‘Corbyn supporters’? How does ‘Does it concern you?’ lead them? Firstly, it assumes that your answer to the unspecific question ‘…what do you think will happen if there’s an early election?’ has to be negative, otherwise, why would it worry you? It also presumes that whatever would happen if there’s an early election would not happen if Corbyn was not leader and isn’t that the point.
Jones doesn’t ask if Labour would be doing better if Corbyn got a grip of Labour’s ‘wreckers’ because a) Jones doesn’t believe that a grip can be got hold of the ‘wreckers’ and b) it would admit that Labour’s problems lie with its ‘wreckers’, not the leadership and then where would we be?
The only answer I can imagine that could satisfactorily answer Jones’ question is:
If there is an early election:
- The Tories might win a majority.
- Labour might win a majority.
- No party wins a majority and some form of coalition government would have to be formed.
It is very likely that the Tories will not repeat their shock tiny majority of 2015, it is equally likely that Labour would not achieve a majority either. Re-contesting the 2015 general election, with all that we know now, would not return the same result. Probably.
Does it concern me?
- A Tory majority? Yes.
- A Labour majority with the ‘wreckers’ still present? Yes.
- A coalition government that includes Labour? No.
Being a supporter of the current Labour leadership has no bearing on my answers to the second question. Do I think that Labour would be doing better in the opinions of the general public if the current leadership excised those people who have wrecking Labour from within? Yes.
Would I be more confident that Labour could attract sufficient support to form a majority government if Labour excised its ‘wreckers’? Yes.
Do I think it is likely, given Labour’s probable poorer standing with the general public than is warranted due to the efforts of Labour’s ‘wreckers’, that the Tories are more likely to form a majority government if there is an early election than they would if the ‘wreckers’ had not been wrecking Labour? Yes.
Is it in the best interests of the Labour party and Britain in general for Labour to allow the ‘wreckers’ to remain a part of or attached to the Labour party? No.
If an early election is called and won by a majority Tory government does it preclude the possibility that the Tories are not enough of a disgrace that they won’t be forced to call a further one within five years? No.
If an early general election is called will who the Labour leader is make a substantial difference to the outcome? I doubt it but I do think that Labour has no other option than tackle its ‘wreckers’ because, if it doesn’t Labour will be heading towards a self-inflicted disaster.
The narrative that Labour will rally public opinion only once Corbyn steps aside is false. Public opinion would rally if Labour kicked out its usurpers, got a grip of its public face, and utilised its army of members to carry the message into their communities. If the current leadership goes, in the face of the ‘wreckers’ stubbornness, then the membership will go with it. Labour will become a party defined by a small band of people servicing the egos and interests of wealthy patrons and Labour’s rejection by Scotland will be repeated in England and then it will be done. Labour carried its Scotland conquering heroes on their shoulders at conference in 2014 and made the mistake of confusing winning a battle with winning the war. 2015 demonstrated that error with aplomb. Labour cannot afford to repeat the mistake.