Current Affairs Politics

The UK General Election Gets Dirty

Watching the general election campaign in the United Kingdom from this side of the Irish Sea the Brexit-fuelled contest between the ruling Conservative Party and the main opposition Labour Party seems to have taken on a distinct whiff of UK politics in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, when speculation about allegedly “hard left” governments being elected into office unleashed a wave of paranoia and fear-mongering among the right-wing press. A wave that persuaded some of the country’s more reactionary journalists and newspaper editors to dip their toes into half-baked anti-democratic plots with establishment figures of a distinctly authoritarian and conspiratorial bent before they retreated back to more familiar methods of thwarting the “communist threat” posed by the likes of Labour leader Harold Wilson and others.

Arguably the same thing is happening again with the contemporary head of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, and the outside possibility that he might become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (and what’s left of the colony in Ireland). Attacks on him in the British media have reached saturation levels in recent days, despite the metropolitan media’s supposedly majority liberal bias, with each new story on the Islington North MP growing more apocalyptic than the one before. To most reasonable observers Corbyn appears to be very much in the mainstream of left-wing party politics in Europe, not too dissimilar from other figures elsewhere on the Continent and certainly not the ideological aberration or anarchism that many in the UK apparently believe him to be. Sure, by the staid standards of Westminster he’s something of a “radical”. By the standards of other European legislatures? Not so much. In fact, the 21st century Jeremy Corbyn is a seriously toned down and defanged figure from what he was in the past, a harmless beard-and-sandals democratic-socialist or social-democratic type. And certainly one who has more claim to the latter tradition than the likes of the neo-liberal and politically promiscuous Lib Dems.

In any case, South Africa’s much-praised Daily Maverick publication has an expose on some of the forces the Labour Party is facing in Britain quite beyond the normal contest for votes.

Officials in the UK military and intelligence establishment have been sources for at least 34 major national media stories that cast Jeremy Corbyn as a danger to British security, new research shows.

The stories — which quote former or current members of the army, navy and special forces, as well as MI5, MI6 and an ex-senior civil servant — have averaged one every six weeks since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party in September 2015. There have, however, been significant spikes in frequency during the 2017 and 2019 general election campaigns.

There is a strong suggestion that, for some stories, intelligence officials have themselves provided secret documents to journalists as part of what appears to be a campaign.

Every story has been picked up across national print media, often setting the news agenda and chiming with statements from Conservative government ministers. Nearly every story appeared in four papers — The Daily Telegraph, The Times, the Daily Mail, or The Sun.

Our research also found 440 articles in the UK press since September 2015 specifically mentioning Corbyn as a “threat to national security”.

The intelligence services and the military are supposed to abide by the “constitutional principle” of non-involvement in political affairs. But the numerous instances of serving national security officials briefing against Corbyn in the media raises questions about whether this principle has been upheld.

As I said, very 1970s.

10 comments on “The UK General Election Gets Dirty

  1. Feardorcha

    The whole antisemitism non-story is another stick used to beat Corbyn. I think he’s ineffectual and a bit boring but if I was living in Britain I’d make sure I voted for him in every election just so ‘they’ wouldn’t succeed. I’ve never seen such an example of smearing. I wonder what the problem is with him, as opposed to the other Labour leaders given a free pass in the last few decades.

    • Boring!! Are you in the dark mate?
      …but not when it comes to fighting Facist and Colonialism. Corbyn and Livingston are the only two MPs that stood with Irish Rebublicans as the comrades took the arm struggle to the streets of England.

  2. Boris Johnson is even more vulnerable to abuse and criticism – not smearing, in his case, as it’s all true – so the obvious response is to attack Corbyn. It’s interesting how many people are saying they are voting Tory, not because they support Johnson but because they oppose Corbyn. If you point out that with Johnson’s record he could sell out to anyone and so is even more untrustworthy they go very quiet.
    The other, more alarming supporters of Johnson are the ones who think that he is eminently qualified to be PM because he is a liar and a turncoat.

  3. Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton by the FBI. Drugged by an FBI informant, and shot to death in his bed by Chicago police.

    The same types of people and the same types of organizations are up to the same types of antics as 50 years ago and it’s not just in the UK.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard about the statistically anomalous number of Ferguson activists that have died since the protests. Or the pattern of suspicious daylight gang style murders of African American activists and community leaders in other cities in the US. I’m not sure what is going on, but there is something stinking and definitely worth further investigation.

    I think it would be worth a moderate investment in assuming this is just the a piece of what is going on and there’s much more to discover

  4. I always wonder when I read the British press or listen to the Radio or watch TV which of these journalists are employed by MI5 or MI6. Not so long ago in order to get a job at the BBC you needed to be vetted by MI5. They all go to the same schools and Universities. Most are recruited at University. I often wonder what happens those who turn down the approaches of the Security Services and how to effects their careers. Jon Snow of Channel 4 News was approached but turned their kind offer. And that’s only the ones working for the British. I’m sure the CIA and the Mossad have friendly journalists on the pay roll as well. And it would not take a genius to figure out who some of them are especially the ones working at the BBC.

    • I’d think as a casual reader that the likes of the Pakistani and Indian content on the BBC could do with serious oversight.

  5. Ref state control of journalism, see this article, and also the article further linked therein:
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/01/07/inte-j07.html
    Regards Corbyn. He is a lifelong servant of the Labour Party, and as such is a loyal servant of imperialism, of the important ‘left’ variety.
    His siding with Irish and Palestinian nationalism tells you a lot, in the sense that said nationalist movements, leaderships, ideologies are no threat at all to imperialism and capitalism.
    Being that these nationalists are local wannabe capitalists in waiting. Negotiating, with arms, for a slice of the capitalist exploitation of what they regard as their working class, to use as they see fit.
    Nationalism as a progressive movement ended a very long time ago.
    See this article on trade unions and nationalism:
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/09/28/matu-s28.html

  6. Faha has posted the first part of his constituency analysis and it makes for grim reading for Unionism. LucidTalk’s first bit of constituency polling has been reported in the Irish News and they are more conservative in their estimates thinking only NB and Foyle are in contention, with the DUP slightly favoured in NB.

    • I’d be surprised if SF took North Belfast though South Belfast seems a surer bet for the SDLP (though I wouldn’t discount the possibility of the DUP holding on too). Foyle is looking good for the SDLP as well. SF could emerge out of this one MP down, the SDLP two MPs in the plus.

      However there is a lot of local speculation that Dodds is in trouble. But then again, loyalists and DUP reps seem to working hard on the ground and in a coordinated manner to rile up unionist voters. By all accounts the rhetoric and the threats are getting very nasty behind closed doors in loyalist areas. Which local nationalist/non-aligned voters are well aware of. If the DUP lost both Belfast seats things could get rather dark rather quickly.

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