A 1940 studio portrait of Bette Davis. Photo: Wikimedia/Alexander Kahle A 1940 studio portrait of Bette Davis. Photo: Wikimedia/Alexander Kahle

Lindsey German on the full extent of electoral media manipulation

It’s fairly obvious from the last few days that there is a coordinated attack now ramping up which is aimed at doing everything it can to prevent a left Labour government in Downing Street. Since the beginning of the week there have been successive onslaughts on Corbyn and Labour from in turn Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, Tony Blair, career war criminal, the chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis who relaunched the antisemitism attacks and Andrew Neil, right wing Tory attack dog who took the Murdoch shilling as editor of the Sunday Times.

Between them, they have combined to accuse Corbyn of being a threat to national security, unfit to hold office, soft on terrorism, a profligate spender, and an enabler of antisemitism. These narratives have been gleefully adopted throughout the media. I was struck by the tone of the Today programme yesterday which claimed in its news that Corbyn had been ‘forced to’ admit that some lower taxpayers would have to pay more – when in fact he had said so last week quite voluntarily.

This was followed by an extraordinarily aggressive interview from Nick Robinson who demanded that Richard Burgon say Labour was sorry for antisemitism, and went on to attack Labour over taxes and finding money to compensate the Waspi women who have been denied their full pension rights.

We need to be aware of what is going on here. There is a real fear that the polls – which still show the Tories well ahead – will turn out to be inaccurate, or that the gap will be closed as it already slightly is, and that Corbyn will get elected. So the next two weeks will see a worse onslaught even than we have seen previously. Already the chorus from journalists is that Corbyn must apologise to the Jewish community – something he has done at least twice already, and which he has no reason to do.

He is quite rightly refusing to do so every time a journalist or right wing politician demands it. However much he apologised, the apologies would never be enough. This is a witch-hunt and every concession given to the witch-hunters will only lead to them demanding for more. Every compromise, every apology, every attempt to draw a line, has been met with renewed intransigence.

Witch-hunts work because people become intimidated, and also because they believe that by conciliation and compromise they can stop the witch-hunt. The opposite is the case. Standing up to them is the only way to stop them. They also have to be taken on politically. The adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which defines criticism of Israel as antisemitic, was the response to one such previous witch-hunt and it has cost Labour dear. It has also made solidarity with Palestine harder.

However, the whole attack on Corbyn and his policies is obviously not just about antisemitism – it’s about stopping policies which threaten the rich and powerful.

This has become all too apparent with the growing vitriol aimed at the Waspi women. Robinson’s attack on Labour was in fact an attack on women having the right to full pension entitlement, and indeed on the idea of universal benefits. He claimed that compensation for the women would benefit people such as Theresa May and Harriet Harman. Pensions are a universal benefit so any compensation for them will be universal as well. If a tiny bit of that goes to rich women they can be taxed on it – another policy which is leading to outcry.

The aggression against Labour shows the Tories and their friends are rattled. The polls are getting closer and I would expect that to continue. The right wing plan B – the Lib Dems – are tanking, and even they have had to abandon their hubristic claims about being on the verge of forming a government.

Perhaps most worryingly for the Tories, there has been record voter registration in the last few days, much of it young people, which can only help Labour.

So things are getting more worrying for the Tories – hence the barrage of attacks, lies, innuendo and deceit.

Expect it to get a lot worse in the next two weeks. To paraphrase the words of the late, great Bette Davis, ‘fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride’.

BBC news values in the gutter

What should be the more important news item: the revelation of documents showing British government ministers prepared to do a deal allowing US companies access to the NHS, or a (untrue) claim that Jeremy has not apologised for antisemitism? The BBC obviously believes the latter.

This is nothing but collusion with the government party against the left. It is shameful but it reminds me of the duplicity of the BBC over the Iraq war and Blair’s lies. I note now that Andrew Neil has failed to agree an interview with Boris Johnson, despite the BBC telling Labour that he had. Thick as thieves and far less principled.

Lindsey German

As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.

Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.