We have previously documented the extraordinary campaign by Blairite elements of the Labour party and the corporate media to tar Jeremy Corbyn with the stigma of anti-Semitism (in spite of his lengthy record as an anti-racist campaigner including 50 occasions where he has stood with the Jewish community).
The double-standards employed to do so have been so shameless and Orwellian we feel compelled to document them.
A genuine “free press” would call out double-standards. Instead, the press have amplified claims against Corbyn while ignoring or minimising counter evidence. This has enabled smoke and mirrors from Corbyn’s enemies to build to such a raging fire that newspaper front pages in the run up to the 2019 General Election claimed that he posed an “existential threat” to British Jews.
The full list of double standards is below. The way these have been presented, shaped and barely interrogated by the corporate media is the only reason the Corbyn anti-Semitism narrative hasn’t been laughed into history.
Double Standard #1 – The Left-wing of Labour must unite behind Starmer…say MPs who spent 5 years undermining Corbyn
What do Lisa Nandy, Steve Reed, Shabana Mahmood, Lucy Powell and Thangam Debbonaire have in common?
All resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet to undermine him, campaigned against him in the leadership election this triggered…then joined a group called Labour Together that rapidly called for unity when Corbyn was finally replaced by Keir Starmer.
“It is Labour’s responsibility to bring the country back together,” a Labour Together report claimed after Starmer’s election, “but first we must bring Labour together.”
Neither the report (nor any corporate media precis of it) mentioned their previous attempts to tear the party apart.
Nor did it feature quotes from the days when Labour grandees and peers committed themselves to sowing division and briefing against Corbyn at every opportunity. Hello Peter “I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of (Corbyn’s) tenure in office” Mandelson. You were not alone!
Double Standard #2 – Demanding an impartial complaints process…until this clears Corbyn and party leadership should demonstrate partiality and “intervene”
Obviously you’re clutching at straws trying to link an anti-racist to racism. There was, therefore, a concerted effort by opponents of Corbyn to highlight apparent interference in anti-Semitism complaints while he was leader.
The EHRC report, whose conclusions the corporate media uniformly reported as damning, did find evidence of “unwarranted interference by Corbyn’s team,” Richard Sanders and Peter Oborne of Middle East Eye report. “But in many of the examples it cites it is clear the leader’s office was interfering, not to prevent investigations for antisemitism, but to speed them up”.
One of the recommendations of the EHRC report was that Labour set up an independent committee to deal with complaints.
How did Corbyn critics react when a committee independent of Labour leadership reinstated JC after his suspension?
They applauded Starmer for his hugely controversial decision to deny Corbyn the whip – “precisely the political interference condemned by the EHRC” Jewish Voice for Labour observed.
Double Standard #3 – Leaking information to the press on the AS scandal is brave “whistleblowing”…until the leak is in Corbyn’s favour and therefore totally unacceptable
As we have already highlighted, Blairites continually briefed against Corbyn and leaked, gossiped, even secretly recorded him (hello Margaret Hodge!) to stoke the media firestorm. Some were astonishingly open about this. Here’s more from Mandelson: “Something, however small it may be – an email, a phone call or a meeting I convene – every day I try to do something to save the Labour party from (Corbyn’s) leadership.”
The press gobbled up these tidbits, filling column inches with diatribes against Corbyn where claims of his “incompetence” and “inability to get a handle on anti-Semitism” were never placed in the context that these were claims from political rivals.
A “free press” feeding ravenously on such scraps must have been hugely interested in an 800 page leaked report containing explosive revelations in the opposite direction. The “Labour Leaks” document demonstrated that Labour’s general secretary Ian McNicol and a Blairite circle around him:
- plotted to replace Jeremy Corbyn even as he fought the 2017 election
- expressed disappointment when Corbyn polled well (i.e. looked like he might win the election!)
- secretly funnelled money to anti-Corbyn candidates
- sat on anti-Semitism complaints to make the leadership look ineffectual/unconcerned
- made outrageous comments about members of Corbyn’s teams such as hoping an activist would “die in a fire” and calling a senior figure a “bitch-faced cow”.
How did the press actually respond? We reported at the time:
Most mass media outlets covered the story, but two surprising motifs emerged in the coverage: the notion that the report was “a last-minute bid to “smear whistleblowers” and “discredit allegations” of antisemitism in the Labour Party” and that the leak itself was the story.
The BBC website’s original article on the issue devotes around 50% of its space to discussion of the report and the remaining 50% to the leak and the potential smearing of whistleblowers. None of the malicious quotes from high-ranking party officials are published or closely alluded to.
A press that is only capable of perceiving political motivations in one direction isn’t “free”, it is owned.
Double Standard #4 – Corbyn must be anti-Semitic because he’s shared a panel with people who have expressed anti-Semitic views…say people who would NEVER accept being held accountable for the views of those they have shared platforms with
Take a look at any article scratching for links between Corbyn and anti-Semitism and you’ll be directed to the fact that he has shared platforms with Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamic political parties.
Why do we think that Corbyn, a man whose pacificist, anti-racist credentials were never questioned in the 30 years before he became Labour leader, would do so?
1) Because both parties are involved in the struggle for Palestinian rights and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza that has been continually condemned by the UN and Human Rights groups.
2) Jeremy Corbyn loves violence and terrorism and/or is a raging anti-Semite
If your answer is 2…well done! A career in the corporate media awaits!
(By the way, if you do make it into the media don’t worry about the fact that Tony Blair posed for pictures with Colonel Gaddafi, is listed in Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous black book of contacts and recently smiled happily alongside President Bolsonaro of Brazil, a man who is a self-described “proud homophobe…if I see two men kissing in the street, I’ll hit them” and said to a congresswoman she was “not worth raping”. Articles in the corporate press claiming Blair is, as a result, a paedophile, homophobe and fascist murderer are unthinkable (for one thing, they’re too busy giving him a platform to criticise Corbyn))
If you still doubt whether a political agenda is at work we advise you to reflect on the story of photographer Samuel Hardy, who unwittingly snapped Corbyn smiling at a pro-Palestinian rally as bystanders walked behind him with a Hezbollah flag. On the day Corbyn won the Labour leadership election things “kind of exploded” and Hardy was approached by an Israeli newspaper asking him to “name his price” for the image.
Hardy had to request numerous other media outlets stop using the image out of context.
“It’s wrong on so many levels,” Hardy said, “knowing that your photo is going to be used to describe something that really wasn’t there.”
Double Standard #5 – Corbyn must be suspended for stating the plain truth…say people who apparently stand for freedom of speech and the pursuit of truth
Journalists and politicians love to tell us how much they value freedom of speech and the truth. When Extinction Rebellion blockaded the Murdoch printing presses, front bench politicians from both parties lined up to condemn the awful treatment of
their mate Rupert the “free press”.
Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, has described journalism as “weighing the evidence and saying on the balance of probabilities … this is the truth.” His counterpart on the BBC, Laura Kuenessberg, would apparently “die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC”.
Strange, then, that neither Kuenssberg, Peston or, so far as we can tell, any corporate journalist queried the fact that Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party for stating an obvious truth – “the scale of the (AS) problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
There are, after all, objective ways to test whether Corbyn’s claim is correct. An academic study by Glasgow University professor Greg Philo found that “on average the public believes that 34% of Labour members have been reported for anti-Semitism” when the true figure was less than 0.1%.
The public thought the problem was 340 times worse than it was but there were NO political or media overstatements?
Angela Raynor, Keir Starmer’s deputy, admitted herself that there was truth in what Corbyn said – but went on to suggest that this was beside the point.
The corporate press, passionate defenders of free speech, kept an impressively straight face. Laura Kuenssberg even went so far as to (impartially?) suggest that Starmer had “no choice” but to deny Corbyn the party whip.
No choice but to bar an ex-leader from his party for saying something even its deputy leader concedes is true!!?
Can you hear Orwell spinning?
Double Standard #6 – Corbyn’s mild attempts to clamp down on internal dissent show his “intolerance” and “Stalinist tendencies”…say people who applaud and encourage Starmer’s draconian clamp down on left-wingers
Double Standard #7 – The voice of significant Jewish groups and individuals must be heard…unless they’re supporting rather than criticising Corbyn
Blairites and the press have been desperate for the public to hear the “voice of the Jewish community” on anti-Semitism.
Strangely, they seem to consider this a unified voice.
“I know that this has been another painful day for the Jewish community” Keir Starmer said when he took the decision to deny Jeremy Corbyn the whip.
Barnaby Raine, a young Jewish academic, highlights in the below tweet that The Board of Deputies of British Jews also appear to think that the Jewish community is an entity that speaks with a single voice (ironically, isn’t that a form of anti-Semitism itself?)
Safe to say, you won’t see this kind of analysis in the mainstream media. The Board of Deputies of British Jews (27K followers on Twitter) and other groups critical of Corbyn like the Jewish Labour Movement (18K followers on Twitter) were widely quoted by the Guardian and others when Corbyn was suspended.
Jewish Voice for Labour (20K followers on Twitter), who expressed support for Corbyn’s statement, didn’t receive nearly as much coverage. They certainly don’t seem to have been factored into the “voice of the Jewish community”.
No wonder Andrew Feinstein, a former MP in Nelson Mandela’s ANC party, has spoken passionately of people who have “given themselves the right to decide who is and who is not “the right kind of Jew.””
Feinstein has been especially critical of the Establishment media’s go-to anti-Corbyn MP Margaret Hodge. Hodge, Feinstein notes, profited personally from Apartheid South Africa, but is now given a “free pass” by the press to say what she likes on another matter of racism (including directly calling Jeremy Corbyn “a fucking racist and an anti-Semite”).
Jews on the other side of the argument, no matter their credentials, struggle to make themselves heard.
The late David Graeber, a celebrated Jewish anthropologist and writer, tweeted “in Aug 2019 I tried repeatedly to get a piece in the Guardian suggesting anti-Corbyn saboteurs in the LP [Labour Party] were fanning the flames & doing so was itself #antisemitism. Editor told me explicitly I would NOT be allowed to criticise Corbyn’s critics motives”
Noam Chomsky, “arguably the leading intellectual alive” (New York Times), has spoken repeatedly on the issue: “the charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being, a party that is actually committed to the interests and just demands of its popular constituency and the great majority of the population generally.”
Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors, has said the claims against Corbyn have “nothing whatever to do with antisemitism”.
The Jewish community is diverse and contains many groups and individuals who passionately defend Corbyn and his right to raise the plight of Palestinians without being smeared as an anti-Semite. The fact that this diversity of opinion isn’t reflected in media coverage is instructive about their true concern for the Jewish community.
Double Standard #8 – AS claims make Corbyn completely unfit to lead the country…unlike blatant racist Boris Johnson
Jeremy Corbyn is ““unfit to be prime minister”. How many times did you read a version of that on the front pages of newspapers in the run up to the 2019 election?
The precise version we’ve quoted comes from ex-Labour MP Ian Austin, Gordon Brown’s former “right-hand man”, who claimed that “the Labour Party has been poisoned by extremism, intolerance and anti-Semitism under (Corbyn’s) leadership” and urged Labour voters to vote for the Tories instead.
This would appear to be a strange choice when the Tories are led by Boris Johnson, a man whose anti-racist credentials include:
- Using the terms “picaninnies” and “watermelon” smiles to refer to members of the British commonwealth
- Comparing Muslim women wearing burkas to letterboxes and bank robbers
The above quotes are reasonably well known. Less well known is that Boris Johnson wrote a novel called Seventy-Two Virgins: a Comedy of Errors.
iNews report that “the book refers to Arabs as having “hook noses” and “slanty eyes”. A mixed-race person is described as “coffee-coloured” while some people are called “half-caste”. The word “negroid” is also used.”
Interestingly, iNews do not report that the novel also contains an anti-Semitic trope. If Jeremy Corbyn had written a novel including the line “the oligarchs who ran the TV stations (and who were mainly, as some lost no time in pointing out, of Jewish origin)” do you think they would have reported it?
Welcome to the world through the lens of the corporate media and centrists. On one hand you have a man with 30 years of anti-racist activism, on the other Boris Johnson and his blundering, ingrained, old-English racism.
Which one is unfit to be prime minister?
Double Standard #9 – Labour cannot under any circumstances downplay or suggest that anti-Semitism has been exaggerated…but we’ll completely ignore Islamophobia
It’s hardly “whataboutery” to highlight that if you’ve spent the last four years obsessively amplifying anti-Semitism complaints (to the point where the public think the problem is 340 times as severe as it is) you should be pretty eager to deal with other forms of racism.
A report into Islamophobia in Labour landed right in the middle of the Corbyn suspension debacle. It found that “more than a third of Muslim Labour Party members and supporters have witnessed Islamophobia within the party…44 per cent said they do not believe the party takes Islamophobia seriously and 48 per cent have lost confidence in the party’s complaints structures.”
59% of respondents reported that they did not feel “well represented by the leadership of the Labour party.”
It’s almost as if the party have been focussing on one form of racism to the exclusion of all others!
So have the media.
Research published on Medium.com by investigative journalism student Patrick Elliot highlights just how much more coverage anti-Semitism has received in the British press:
There is no way to reliably compare the actual incidence of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in society, Elliot notes, “but it is safe to say antisemitism has not been four times as rampant as Islamophobia has in the UK over the last decade.” For one thing “there are more than 10 times as many Muslims as there are Jews in Britain”!!
A reminder: Corbyn was suspended from Labour for stating that the scale of the anti-Semitism problem in Labour was overstated…including by the media.
Double Standard #10 – Retweeting an article that may contain an anti-Semitic trope fatal to your career if you’re a Corbyn ally…directly tweeting an anti-Semitic trope no problem if you’re a Starmerite
We document here the utterly ruthless way in which Corbyn ally Rebecca Long-Bailey was booted out of the shadow cabinet for retweeting an article that mentioned, in passing, something that could be construed as an anti-Semitic trope.
Imagine, then, how worried Steve Reed must have been when the implications of calling Jewish businessman Richard Desmond “a puppet master for the entire Tory cabinet” were brought to his attention.
Fortunately for Reed he has a solid track record – not of opposing racism but of opposing Corbyn (he was one of the MPs who resigned from JC’s cabinet to trigger the 2016 leadership election”)
“Steve deleted the tweet and did not mean to cause offence” said Starmer, dismissing calls for Reed’s resignation – a decision that “reeks of double standards”, Jewish Voice for Labour noted.
Lisa Nandy, another member of Starmer’s shadow cabinet, got herself into trouble by stating in an interview that anti-Semitism is a form of racism that “punches up”…feeding into the anti-Semitic trope that Jews tend to be at the “top” of society.
Not to worry, though, Nandy also undermined Corbyn at every possible opportunity. Funnily enough, given Starmer’s ongoing attempts to purge Corbyn from Labour, Nandy resigned from JC’s cabinet because his allies had been “absolutely determined to fight” their rivals ”until one or the other had been smashed”.
You may wish to refer back to Double Standard #6 at this point.
Is our list of double standards exhaustive? If you think we’ve missed any please let us know and we’ll add them.
Our list should certainly be enough to highlight, beyond any doubt, that the mainstream press joined a political campaign against Corbyn.
This campaign is of wider significance. It highlights, as the propaganda model predicts, that the make-up of the mainstream media – controlled, owned by and beholden to advertising funding from billionaires and corporations – ensures that the public are allowed no significant democratic choice.
Corbyn, the closest the British public have come in years to a choice beyond the narrow, neoliberal consensus of Blairities and Tories, posed an unprecedented threat to this consensus – and was met with an unprecedented level of vitriol and truth twisting.
Finally, Corbyn’s critics have him down – and they keep kicking. Boot him out of the party, deny him the whip…it’s almost as if they can’t stop themselves!
It’s as if Corbyn is the enemy centrists can never satisfactorily slay, the Freudian nightmare that rises up again no matter how many times they try to stamp him into the ground.
Corbyn represents a glimpse of a politics beyond the failed, neoliberal consensus.
Let the truth stand.