I never intended for this blog to be a place for me to air my political views and, in fact, very few of my posts have had anything to do with politics, but it is just a fact that, right now, politics is on my mind a lot. I have mentioned a few times in the past the disdain I have for the British media. Once upon a time I considered the British press to be a bastion of impartial journalism. I now see that was naive. There has always been bias in various titles, even going back decades, only now it has become much more blatant.
I have a real problem with the way a large chunk of the British media, both print and broadcast, has treated Jeremy Corbyn since he became leader of his party. I suppose on paper I should be the stereotypical Labour voter, having grown up in a working class, council house upbringing etc, but the fact is I don’t believe in being a lifelong supporter of any party, put into a neat pigeonhole from which I am never expected to move.
I am now in my fifties, so have had the vote for over three decades. I have never declined that opportunity. Over that time it has gone to various parties, and even independents from time to time, at least at local level, as leaders, policies, the political and economic environment and context has changed. I vote on the available policies that I support at the time of each vote. I don’t take it for granted that the party I voted for several years ago will still be in tune with my beliefs now. I believe party leadership and policies change more often the wishes and beliefs of voters.
I am neither a hater nor a devoted fan of Mr Corbyn, but I do respect his integrity. Once upon a time there were many more politicians like him, who cared about sticking to principles without having to consult media and PR firms or repeatedly drone out cliché soundbites. He is one of a rare breed, but after years of style over substance politicians in the front line, he is a refreshing change. For much of the last 20-30 years, there was very little to divide the parties, with the centre ground being really rather crowded. As May has taken the Tories further right and Corbyn Labour more to the left, it is simpler now. That said, there are still internal divisions in the two main parties, but Corbyn crucially has more support among the voters than his own MPs, and it is their support that is crucial.
The media, however, hate him with a passion and fury that is quite shocking. He is unelectable, they claim. Nobody is unelectable. Anybody who stands for election is electable. It is up to the electorate to decide who is electable, not the media. They have run a vicious smear campaign against him. He is a traitor, they say, he is pro-IRA, they say, he is anti-British they say, but for all their blustering, they offer precious little evidence.
They tout a photograph taken of him with Gerry Adams in 1995 as evidence of his support for the IRA, neglecting to mention that this was the year after the Downing Street Declaration, when the Conservatives under John Major were in power and the Northern Ireland Peace Process was underway, that would later lead to the Good Friday agreement and the Stormont parliament, at which Adams would take a seat as an MP, and would subsequently be photographed meeting members of the Royal Family. You don’t hear the Sun accusing the Queen of being pro-IRA, though.
They also neglect to mention that there had been a channel of communication open in secret between the Government and IRA for decades, and that Gerry Adams had met with representatives of the Conservative Government, in a meeting arranged by Willie Whitelaw, as far back as 1972, nor do they mention that before the 1995 photo of Adams with Corbyn was taken, Conservative cabinet member Douglas Hurd had already met with Adams on the orders of then prime minister John Major.
They then claim he was pro IRA because he gave a speech in which he described the shooting of three unarmed IRA members in Gibraltar in 1988 as an “aberration”. This was not because he was standing up for the IRA, but standing up for the law, justice, and human rights. It is a slippery slope when we condone sending in the SAS to deliver what amounted to State sponsored execution of the three IRA members.
Regardless of what they had done in the past, or were believed to be planning to do at the time, the sending in of the SAS suggests that there was no intention to arrest them or bring them to justice. Mrs Thatcher was not after justice. She wanted revenge. Revenge for Brighton or other atrocities committed by the IRA (whether or not these three were personally involved). The fact that they were unarmed was overlooked, swept under the carpet. The fact that there were opportunities to arrest them at the border between Spain and Gibraltar but they were not taken up was whitewashed. Corbyn objected to this, and rightfully so, in my opinion.
Stating that the Government had no legal or moral right to murder three unarmed people, even if they were suspected terrorists, is not supporting terrorists, nor supporting the organisation to which they belonged, it is supporting morality. It is objecting to a Government acting like a dictatorship. Jeremy Corbyn was an opposition MP, not a member of the Government, nor even the Shadow Cabinet. He was within his rights, and even duty, to speak up against actions of the Government which he felt were objectionable.
This was all nearly 30 years ago, but now the British media, led largely by billionaires who stand to see their cosy tax haven fortunes put at risk if Corbyn gets in and moves to get them to pay their fair share on the vast sums they make from the British taxpayer, are gunning for Corbyn. Any opportunity they can find to slate him, they will take it.
They say he has refused to denounce the IRA, but this is not true. He just refused to denounce only them. In his view, all terrorism is deplorable, so he denounced all the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland, which included not just the IRA but also the UVF and the UDA/UFF. This was the opposite of the bias of which he is accused, but an even handed condemnation of all the bombings, all the beatings, all the killings, regardless of which group was behind them.
They say he is planning to put everybody’s taxes up. This is not true. He has clearly stated that there will be no tax rises to anyone who earns below £80,000.
They say his manifesto is an impossible wish list, but it is the only one of the manifestos published by the major parties that is actually fully costed.
To summarise, I am no Corbyn fanboy, but I am less of a fan of the British media’s cynical plan to smear his name at every turn in order to protect their bosses’ bulging pockets. The media as we once knew it is a dying beast, but it is at its most vicious in its death throes.