Monday 14 September 2015

Corbyn: the distortions start here

Barely had the announcement of Jeremy Corbyn's stunning victory in the Labour leadership election been made than the Tories were on the airwaves with their demolition ball:
 "Labour are now a serious risk to our nation's security, our economy's security and your family's security."

I believe this was originally an obviously carefully prepared "tweet" from David Cameron, and it has been repeated ad nausiam by the (carefully chosen?) Defence Secretary  Michael Fallon.

In an earlier post I have discussed an article by Jonathan Freedland which describes the Tory PR department's tremendous skill in coining simple and attractive phrases to convey their message, however misleading, or downright untrue, the message might be.  That above is an excellent example.

Claiming that Corbyn's election is a threat to our economic security is a bit rich, to say the least, coming from the party whose policy of deregulation caused the crash in the first place,  whose policy of "expansionary contraction"  failed in its two prime objectives  (preserving our AAA rating and eliminating the deficit within one parliament) and resulted in the slowest recovery in modern times, whilst running, and still running,  a record and unsustainable balance of payments deficit (far more serious than the much publicised government internal expenditure deficit.)*

As for our families, those dependent on benefits have their security not just threatened but removed by the present government's policies, especially if they have a spare bedroom.  And even for the well heeled, there are calculations by respected economists that the reversal of the recovery, under-way when Labour left office, by the "expansionary contraction " policy,  has cost the average family some £4 000.(see Mainly  Macro, 15th February and 17th April).

But these truths are not what the clever Tory quote implies, and they are not what is reported and commented on by the right-wing media (or even, alas, the "impartial"  BBC.) Rather than standing to one side in carefully contrived  balancing acts, Labours sulking former front benchers should be storming the studios and ensuring that the facts are told.

The accusation of the threat to national security is more arguable because it depends on assessments of hypothetical situations.  The case for the  renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent has been admirably put by "Anonymous" in his comments  to an earlier post.  It can equally, and in my view more plausibly, argued that the British deterrent is now an irrelevance and that,  if the cost were transferred to more and more effectively equipped conventional forces, these would make a greater and more appropriate  contribution to the creation and reservation of word peace.  Similarly the benefits of our continued membership on NATO, created as a response to the cold war, are debatable.  The French left it and have survived intact.  Leaving it would be no guarantee that we would cease to coat-tail the US in their military adventures, though that would be less likely under Corbyn.

It may seem a cheeky comparison, but it seems to me that there are parallels between the euphoria created by Corbyn's victory and the "Gleggmania" which followed the first Leaders' Debate in 2010.  Gleggmania evaporated in a couple of weeks,  and, rather than gaining we Liberal Democrats actually lost seats.

Corbyn has created a new and exciting atmosphere.  Rather  that squabbling  and  thus giving the Tory PR machine free rein, Labour's "big hitters" need to get out and about and explain and support Corbyn's many perfectly credible proposals.

And Tim Farron and his band should join them.

*  For an informrf assessment ( published today)of Labour's economic record whilst in government, see:


  1. The French left it and have survived intact

    The French never left NATO; they just stopped putting their forces under NATO command. They continued to be bound by the treaty obligations of mutual defence, and they continued to take part in joint operations with NATO.

    I don't know if that is what Corbyn has in mind when he talks of leaving NATO, because he is purposefully vague on the matter, but he may mean leaving entirely, which is not what France did.

    1. I stand corrected: I wasn't aware of that aspect of France's action. Nor of course am I aware of Corbyn's exact intentions, but I don't see the NATO issue as being of first order importance.

  2. Prepare for attacks on Corbyn from the demented right exacerbated by the refusal of former shadow cabinet members to serve under him. Political suicide.

  3. I wonder what you think of Corbyn's shadow cabinet appointments? My impression is that he is a clever man who has performed a difficult balancing act with some skill.

    1. I'm not familiar with most of the names so I can't really comment on the over-all picture. The most interesting question for me was would he appoint Angela Eagle or John McDonnell as Chancellor. Eagle would have shown a willingness to compromise, McDonnell to stick to his guns. Given that so many Labour MPs, and even some in the shadow cabinet, don't seem to be in a compromising mood anyway, I feel he's made the right decision.

      The economic advisor "behind the throne" is a Richard Murphy, who is highly respected as a founder and leading light of the Tax Justice Network, an antidote to the Tax Payers' Alliance. Between them they should be able to do some very effective probing of Osborne's claims, and offer a viable and convincing alternative.

      The row over no woman in the top four jobs is silly, and I like his response that today Health and Education (both women) are just as important as, say, the Foreign Office, if not more so

    2. I like his response that today Health and Education (both women) are just as important as, say, the Foreign Office, if not more so

      It doesn't exactly help him defend against the attack that he doesn't care about Britain maintaining its place as a world power, though.

      (As indeed does Anthemgate…which is not (just) about not singing the national anthem, it's about not singing the national anthem at a memorial event after you've declared your wish to abolish the armed forces. Taken together you must admit those things do rather make his comment to the the defence of the realm look less than wholehearted).

    3. He's probably sufficiently realistic to recognise that Britain no longer has a "position as a world power" to maintain. As to "anthemgate" (I like the coinage) see today's post (16/09/1`5)

  4. He's probably sufficiently realistic to recognise that Britain no longer has a "position as a world power" to maintain

    He can think that, but he should also realise the vast majority of the population — you know, the ones the newspapers are written for — do not agree with him.