The runup to the invasion of Iraq was, as is well know, accompanied by a complicit and cowardly press that rolled out every lie as though it were golden and adhered strictly to the Bush administration guidelines. I think it was the moment when the liberal readership, which is really the core newspaper readership for the majors, became disenchanted – and have never returned. Though the right entertains itself with a narrative about a timelessly liberal press, in reality, that liberal moment endured for around 3 decades in the U.S., and was spotty, at best, in criticizing the Cold War foreign policies it reported on.
However, the level of distortion in the British press coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for the Labour leadership is, to my mind, unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like it. While Britain, famously, has a suck press culture that mostly entertains itself by hounding celebrities to death on the tabloid level, and bloviating with Oxbridge pomposity about the wonders of neo-liberalism, on the other, it mostly adheres to a code of at least ersatz neutrality when reporting the news. Corbyn, however, has the effect on editors at the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent, the Telegraph, and the Times of very bad acid. Remarkably, Corbyn seems to have the hide of an elephant. Normally, a politician subject to abuse like this would get so tied up with denials and explanations in response to these bogus slings that he ends up looking like Laocoon. Corbyn, though, doesn’t really seem to care. Which truly eggs on the press hysteria. The reports of his antisemitism, of his sympathy for Osama bin Laden, of his advocacy of segregating women in trains because of his inherent sexism, etc. – which all are childish distortions of things he has said – have had no effect on his popularity. They have had an effect on the press however. Unable to accept the fact that their circle jerk is not working, they now bemoan the end of the Labour party and the inevitable thousand year Reich of George Osbourne.
Well, the election is in five fucking years. And my guess is that a lefty anti-austerity program is going to look pretty good under two scenarios: a., Britain’s economy continues to generate benefits for the richest and stagnation for the medium income set, or b., Britain is caught, like the rest of the world, in a downturn emanating this time from China, which will make the British bet on the finance as their leading economic sector seem extremely stupid.
Surely I am not the only person who suspects the business cycle might not be too kind to the Tories. This is another driver, I suspect, of the establishment hysteria. They really hate Corbyn’s policies because they suspect they might seem pretty attractive under these scenarios.
I am prejudiced. I think most of what Corbyn supports should be pretty standard. Including revamping the foreign policy to emphasize peace rather than war, which, so far has the century traveled into insane violence, seems radically pacifistic to New Labour ears.
Those much laughed at demos of 2003? I’m hearing an echo in this race. Maybe ignoring a million people wasn’t the greatest idea after all.