Defying the press onslaught

There has been no let up in the coordinated smear operation against Corbyn “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

It started in earnest in August 2015, at the point when it became obvious that Jeremy Corbyn was on course for a landslide victory in last year’s Labour leadership contest.

Stalwarts of the left are accustomed to unfair and biased reporting; just look at the way Ed Miliband was monstered for his very mild deviation from the neoliberal economics that is now political orthodoxy. But it has become clear that the overwhelmingly negative press coverage Corbyn has received is a coordinated assault from the forces of conservatism.

January’s reshuffle was a case in point: endless column inches painting a stark picture of chaos and infighting within Labour and speculation about Hilary Benn’s position. That the Tory press would attack the first socialist Labour leader for many decades is a given. But left-leaning titles doing the same is unforgivable, and it’s simply not the BBC’s place to display any bias.


Still, the BBC reported the reshuffle as a "a political pantomime" which "has again exposed his team’s lack of know-how in just getting things done," with "days of concern and chaos" (BBC Radio 4 News, 6 January 2016).

They went far further than this, however, in organising the on-air resignation of Stephen Doughty, a largely unknown Labour frontbencher who had been promoted by Corbyn. The Beeb was caught out when Andrew Alexander of the BBC’s journalism academy boasted about the scoop.

Let’s be clear here: engineering stories is something tabloid newspapers do, not publicly funded institutions that are required by law to report without bias. If they’d done the same for a Tory cabinet minister, BBC news editors would be looking for a job right now, and their funding would be cut even further.

In fact the BBC has long been infested by Tories. Nick Robinson, the editor of BBC news, is a former chair of the Young Conservatives, while his boss James Harding is a former Murdoch employee and close friend of George Osborne. Rona Fairhead, who leads the board of Governors, is a former HSBC director who still takes renumeration from the bank.

This is the tip of the iceberg as far as right wing infiltration of public media is concerned. Some time ago The Telegraph was attacked by one of its own former journalists, Peter Oborne, who accused the paper of allowing HSBC to vet negative stories about the bank before they were printed. If it’s happening at The Telegraph, it will be happening at the BBC.

Outside of the BBC, we have the Murdoch empire. Some of Corbyn’s most prominent critics in the Labour right are in the pay of Murdoch titles. For Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk this means £2,000 per hour to maul the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party.

It’s clear that all these strands connect. They want to obscure Corbyn’s message, his policies and his wide support. We can’t allow them to do this without challenge.

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