Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Great Stomping Stegosaurus of Rampant Communist Destruction

So the Corbyn camp's new press strategy - namely, there is no press strategy - is going down quite badly with the press.

This isn't so surprising and I suspect that it's going to be due a rethink sooner rather than later, but it's worth asking - why is it that the new Labour leadership think they're better off barely speaking to the press at all?

Well, perhaps this column by Danny Finkelstein in today's Times will give us an insight.

The general topic is Corbyn's personal political philosophy.   In considering the Labour leader's outlook, Danny names Kruschev; the Black Panthers; Huey Newton; Stalin; Mao; Castro; Che Guevara; Ho Chi Minh; Pol Pot; Hezbollah; Hamas; Osama Bin Laden; Iraqi insurgents; Isis; Sinn Fein; the IRA; al Qaeda; Hugo Chavez; "homophobes, beheaders and anti-semites".

Not to be outdone, the opposite page features fellow opinion creature Oliver Kamm dragging the Nazis into his febrile thoughts upon a rumour that Corbyn may wear a white poppy to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day.

Kamm isn't talking about any cast-iron statement that this will happen, you understand.  He's talking about a mere rumour, one that even he concedes is likely false.

Nonetheless, the mere existence of a rumour that Corbyn might wear a white poppy is all that Kamm requires to consider him in close proximity to various World War II pacifists; the armed forces of Nazi Germany; the British Union of Fascists; Oswald Mosley; actively pro-Nazi organisations and "the ferociously anti-semitic Marquess of Tavistock". 

Which, taken together with Danny's burblings, may or may not leave Times readers with the impression that Jeremy Corbyn himself is a giant, genocidal Nazi Communist.

And remember - these guys aren't rent-a-denunciation hacks, dragged in to condemn this or that in fiery tones as the situation demands.  This isn't the Sun, putting Corbyn in a bikini and boo-hissing him in a style that's accessible to eight-year-olds.

Finkelstein is an associate editor of the Times, a veritable pillar of respectable British journalism.  Kamm, tool though he is, is the paper's lead editorial writer.  Together, they sit smack-bang in the middle of the amorphous blob of pompous stodge that is centre-right British opinion, in the pages of the nation's paper of record.

But let's be clear - these musings about Mao and Hitler haven't been prompted by any actual news events, other than the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is now leader of the Labour Party.  There's no pretense that these pieces are responses to any particular action or statement, and none that any new event justifies their hysterical tone.  They exist, just because of who Corbyn is.

Now, we might say that this is all Labour's fault for electing the chair of Stop the War as leader, and we might well have a point.  Even so, I think it'd take a bit of a hard fucking neck for e.g. Danny to claim that circumstances have forced him beyond his will to ramble on about Pol Pot's proper place in Corbyn's political thought.  Anyone pulling this kind of cavalcade of cartoonish evil out of their backside in a political discussion knows exactly what he's doing, and only insults your intelligence by claiming otherwise.  

Still though, this is probably why the Corbyn team have decided to avoid the press wherever possible.  Papers like the Times, led by determinedly ridiculous hacks like this pair, managed to portray Ed Miliband - a timorous-looking politics-bot with a particular gift for vacuity and blandness - as some kind of great, stomping stegosaurus of rampant communist destruction.

The new Labour leadership seem to have looked at that, and then at these havering tools, and thought - what's the point in even speaking to them, if all they can do is call you names and compare you to war criminals?  And the Labour leaders may even be right.

They probably aren't, of course, but it never hurts to see things in their proper context.


Igor Belanov said...

The whole raison d'etre of Corbyn's leadership is that he is anti-establishment. As such, the party has to do things differently. Letting the press foam rabidly at the mouth is a good strategy, as it makes them look ridiculous and suggests that Corbyn really is standing for 'the little man' and represents a serious threat to the powerful.

I'm a bit worried by this rumour that Corbyn will sing the National Anthem in future, because it makes him look hypocritical and will never satisfy the media anyway. I would prefer him not to make any apologies, as yesterday's ridiculous media charade got some of the best publicity for republicanism I've ever seen.

Cian said...

Jon Snow's been a nice contrast with most of the media:

Hardly an easy interview, but a respectful one. And Jeremy gave pretty straight answers to all of the questions.

dsquared said...

The thing is, this shows why Oliver Kamm was, despite occasionally, presumably for simplicity, claiming otherwise, never really a "hedge fund manager". (Really? Oh yes. He worked at a hedge fund company for just over three years but his FCA Register entry is very clear. For the vast majority of his career, his registration was "CF21 - Investment Advisor", same as mine. That covers the giving of advice on investments, but not the management of funds. At the end of September 2007 he finally got a CF27/30 which in principle would have let him manage money, but he left the Register less than a year later, at the start of July 2008. He never held any FSA/FCA ticket which would have allowed him to exercise senior control functions.) If he had been, he'd have understood basic concepts of position management.

Which is to say, if you want to go short on a stock, you don't immediately put all your capital into that short position on day one. The reason for this is a) if it goes right, you won't be able to increase your position and b) if it goes wrong, you maximise your losses. You "pyramid into" a high conviction idea.

If you start off by saying Corbyn is GodzillaHitlerStalin, where do you go from there? If he turns out to be quite moderate, you've done your nuts on credibility. If it turns out that he does spend the next five years wearing white poppies, pissing on synagogues and hiring skywriters to proclaim his love for Putin then ... well, five years is a long time, and you'd be surprised what people can get used to - the behaviour will become normalised simply because the sky will not have fallen in and 35% of people will just go "ah well, this is what Labour leaders do, and he's OK on Europe" (if you don't believe me, see how the FN have got normalised in France).

The purpose of the "honeymoon period" is to give the impression of giving someone a chance, so that when you later drop the hammer on them, it looks like they brought it on themselves. The way Kamm and Lord Finkelstein have played this, in a year's time they might get a wonderful scoop delivered of Corbyn personally saying "fuck the Yanks, I cheered on 9/11" in a crystal-clear recording, and when they go large on it, nobody will listen because they will be at the stage of kind of tuning out this sort of noise.

I still think Corbyn is a potential liability, and am a long way away from giving him my almost-as-coveted-as-FR's endorsement. But I think I'm now definitely in the anti-anti-Corbynite camp. They're clowns pretending to be statesmen.

Strategist said...

Anyone pulling this kind of cavalcade of cartoonish evil out of their backside in a political discussion knows exactly what he's doing, and only insults your intelligence by claiming otherwise.

Nice piece. Many thanks. It's a cliche to say politicians must go direct to the people via social media, and it's also a cliche to say that's not true, it doesn't matter what happens in the echo chamber of Twitter, if you are being hammered on the state broadcaster and in the popular press then you are finished.

But mainstream media professionals must be having some existential crisis soon because it's impossible to identify where they are adding any value.

Phil said...

Was it you who said on Twitter a couple of days before the election that you were in the Anybody But the Anybody But Corbyn Camp Camp? And they've only got worse since.

Phil said...

Sorry, previousl comment in response to D^2.

des von bladet said...

If you start off by saying Corbyn is GodzillaHitlerStalin, where do you go from there? If he turns out to be quite moderate, you've done your nuts on credibility.

I wish to learn more about the protocol whereby opinionists are discredited. (Short of actually being personally ruined by a libel case or something.)

I had more-or-less formed the opinion that Aaronovitch Watch was a study in the impossibility of that ever happening under any circumstances, but I am very willing to be corrected.

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying the spectacle of a series of spin-doctors popping-up and saying that what Jeremy Corbyn needs is some spin-doctors.

Des von Bladet - a good question. Do newspapers not have a duty to point out to their opinion-columnists when their logic is awry? Do they have to print something from Tony Blair in which some paragraphs have no discernible meaning at all?


organic cheeseboard said...

Opinion writing is just the old-fashioned version of internet trolling, so I don't think papers do have a duty to point out when logic doesn't work - part of the point of opinion writing is to make illogical and unjustifiable statements, to piss your readers off/pander to their prejudices.

Am guessing you might end up doing a post on the latest Nick Cohen pile of turd so I'll wait for that before whining on about it.

Anonymous said...

Woodrow Wyatt's column in the NoTW had the sub-head "The Voice of Reason". The Editor later claimed that this sub-head was a bit of satire but quite a lot of people took it seriously (such as Thatcher and the Queen Mother). It was indeed intended to annoy while confirming Thatcher in her prejudices (because it was her thoughts played back to her).


organic cheeseboard said...

You might not need to do the Nick C column, this is pretty good on it:

andrew adams said...
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andrew adams said...
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andrew adams said...
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andrew adams said...

Sorry about the deleted comments, perils of trying to post from my phone. Anyway… 

I have to say that I'm not massively optimistic about Corbyn and Labour's prospects in the coming years, but I really hope I'm prove wrong and as a fairly new Labour member (who didn't vote for him) I'll do the loyal thing and give him a chance to make a go of it.

I can understand why some in the party might strongly disagree with him on a lot of stuff. That's fine, they're entitled to argue their case within the party through whatever channels exist - I'm not in favour of (and don't expect there to be) purges of right wingers. But there comes a point where someone reaches such heights of BACAI that the only possible response is "Look, you lost. Really badly. Accept it or fuck off".

So yeah, I'd definitely put myself in the "Anyone But Anyone But Corbyn" camp. And incidentally the "Anyone but Corbyn" Twitter account has been rebranded Labour Maquis, claiming (ithout irony) that its aim is "Building broad alliances & resistance to the far left".  Well obviously not that broad.

ejh said...

Jeremy Corbyn is a vegetarian and so was stegosaurus

gastro george said...

Don't you think that it's about time that Corbyn put his vegetarianism to one side and starting eating meat. Because war heroes do, or "it's part of the job", or something ...

Charlie W said...

I think the trick with Corbyn is to take him at his word: it was his turn to represent the Labour left at the leadership election. Only this time, the representative won, and massively. He is not on his own. How well 'he' does is a function of how well characters like Ken Livingstone can bring their talent and experience to bear. The appointment of Neale Coleman is significant. One thing they will have to do is keep the authenticity: it's potent stuff.

On the other hand, I despair of the UK media. Genuinely scary this week, in the ferocity and triviality of the attack. McDonnell may well have to go, if the IRA stuff turns out to have impact.