It started back in late June with the sacking of Hilary Benn after Jeremy Corbyn was awoken in the early hours by his shadow foreign secretary who informed the Labour leader of his intentions to make clear that there was no confidence in him. Benn’s sacking triggered what now appears to have been pre-scheduled mass resignations of Labour MPs from Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet.
The saga moved into a new chapter when Labour’s National Executive Council ruled that Corbyn, as the incumbent, was entitled to an automatic place on the ballot for the forthcoming Labour leadership election. Corbyn will be challenged by Owen Smith after Angela Eagle dropped out.
Before Eagle abandoned her bid to replace Corbyn, she set in motion what now appears to be a clear campaign to undermine the integrity of the leader of her own party. Eagle called on Corbyn to ‘control his supporters’ after a brick was allegedly lobbed through a window in her constituency office.
This was followed by claims Corbyn himself endorsed bullying after he insisted a ballot by the ruling NEC be held in public. Well known activist, and Corbyn supporter, Owen Jones was accused of trying to intimidate members of the NEC by lobbying them to vote in favour of allowing the current Labour leader on the ballot.
Anti-Corbyn allegations and innuendo have received massive coverage in the media, with newspapers and broadcasters falling over themselves to headline each and every claim. Anything that can be used to reinforce the ‘bullying’ narrative has been, and has been reported relentlessly.
Even BBC Scotland has got in on the ‘Corbyn Bully’ act as can be heard in the three recordings below broadcast by Good Morning Scotland on July 13th.
The accusations of bullying have continued. Some have bordered on the pathetic, such as the Labour MP who claimed Corbyn had ‘threatened’ to call the MP’s dad to ask if he would have a word with his son. This made it onto the news pages of the BBC.
Corbyn’s leadership rival Owen Smith has ensured the bullying narrative is maintained with statements and speeches smearing his leader. Smith has also sought to extend the abuse claim to one of misogyny.
The ‘bullying’ line is now gently morphing into one of misogyny with headlines and claims implying women are being singled out.
The latest claim is that a Corbyn supporter broke into the parliamentary office of a Labour MP who resigned from the Shadow Cabinet. The Corbyn aide is alleged to have intimidated staff of the Labour MP. This was, believe it or not, the lead story across the BBC on Sunday 24th July.
The campaign to demonise Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters is in full swing. If the narrative is to be believed, Corbyn is surrounded by bullies who threaten and intimidate. Journalists and opponents are being harassed by a ‘Corbyn Mob’.
But we’ve heard this song before haven’t we. In the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum the Yes campaign was subjected to a similar line of attack. Independence supporters were accused of intimidating opponents and of issuing threats. The Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall even claimed that there was a smear campaign being led by “the top of the Yes campaign and Alex Salmond”.
It mattered not that there was scant evidence for any orchestrated attacks, it mattered only that the allegations were circulated by the Unionist media. The term ‘Cybernat’ was specifically coined in order to provide an identifiable derogatory label for the mythical hordes which attacked and silenced their peace-loving pro-Union counterparts.
Replace the SNP with Jeremy Corbyn and the smear campaign is almost identical. Angela Eagle’s claim that Corbyn supporters attacked her constituency office is remarkably similar to a Better Together claim that their HQ was being regularly attacked by SNP supporters.
The pro-Union campaign published an article which included the following allegations: “Our campaign HQ comes under attack with almost daily attempts of sabotage from SNP activists.”
No evidence of any coordinated attack was ever forthcoming.
Claims of a death threat against Angela Eagle are also remarkably similar to notorious episode involving Scottish comedian Susan Calman. Despite no evidence ever materialising of any death threat, the claim that Ms Calman had received a threat to her life dominated the Scottish media for days during the referendum. It was the subject of several BBC Scotland broadcasts.
The misogyny accusation was also a key element of the Better Together smear campaign during the independence referendum. Playing the anti-women card was a regular theme from the No campaign and its media supporters. It was almost impossible for the Yes campaign to offer criticism of high-profile female Unionists for fear of being accused of misogyny.
Two women became synonymous with the ‘Cybernat abuse’ line of attack – JK Rowling and Clare Lally.
The people who introduced the ‘ugly mob’, ‘division’ and ‘threats’ line were almost exclusively leading members of the No campaign. This message was repeated by professional journalists and reporters in Scotland’s broadcast and print media as the recordings demonstrate.
One newspaper, The Herald, even went as far as to suggest that Yes activists could cause carnage at polling stations.
The ‘bullying’ claims of course endured beyond the referendum. Indeed the subliminal tactics adopted by Scottish Labour during the 2015 Holyrood election campaign have been copied by Owen Smith as he bids to portray Jeremy Corbyn as a misogynist. Take a look the two videos below.
Note how Jim Murphy surrounds himself with young females as he approaches a small group of SNP activists. Now watch Owen Smith in this BBC broadcast as he accuses Jeremy Corbyn of endorsing misogyny.
Jeremy Corbyn, like the SNP, is a threat to the British establishment. He is a threat to the power and privilege enjoyed by the wealthy elite. That is why he is being targeted by those on the right of the Labour party and the powerful elite they represent.
The parallels with the independence movement are striking. The SNP was for years ridiculed as a single issue fringe group with no prospect of ever achieving power. When they became a serious threat, the media changed tactics and sought to smear them. It’s still going on.
Claims that Corbyn cannot win a UK election are as untrue of the Labour leader as they were when made of the SNP. The reason he is being targeted is not because he cannot win an election, but because the elites know he can. Jeremy Corbyn can give England its own version of the SNP.
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