Adapted from a Media Lens book review: This Land – The Story of a Movement by Owen Jones
In his latest book the Guardian’s pet lefty charts the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn who he describes as a ‘scruffy,’ ‘unkempt’, thoroughly shambolic backbench MP, ‘the most unlikely’ of contenders for the Labour leadership.
In May 2015, Corbyn reluctantly dipped his toe in the water of the leadership contest, saying: ‘You better make fucking sure I don’t get elected’.
Jones argues that while Corbyn was indeed relentlessly savaged by forces inside and outside the Labour Party – including the ‘mainstream’ media, with ‘profound hostility’ from ‘the publicly funded, professedly impartial’ BBC – he was out of his depth, his team making constant, massive mistakes.
He portrays himself as someone who fundamentally agrees with much that motivated Corbyn, emphasising that his disagreement lies in tactics and strategy.
But we note a remarkable pattern of omissions and his serious misreading of the antisemitism furore that engulfed Corbyn.
While other contenders refused to give direct answers to questions, and were caught squirming between their principles and their political compromises, Corbyn spoke with immediacy – sometimes rambling, always authentic, always passionate.This Land, Owen Jones
Ironically, Jones does plenty of his own ‘squirming’ between ‘principles’ and ‘political compromises’ as he airbrushes out of existence facts, views and voices that are consistently and conspicuously Guardian-unfriendly.
Above all, ‘Corbyn’s entire career had been devoted to foreign affairs’. Thus, deep popular outrage at the Iraq war is key in understanding his popularity.
Yet, in discussing this, Jones makes no mention of Julian Assange (or WikiLeaks), of Noam Chomsky, or John Pilger – the most important anti-war voices .
Jones’ previous book, The Establishment, published three years after NATO’s assault on Libya has a single mention, noting that UK voters were ‘Weary of being dragged by their rulers into disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya…’
That the US-UK assault resulted in mass death, ethnic cleansing, mass displacement of Libyans and the destruction of the entire country does not get a mention.
One day after NATO bombing had begun, like someone writing for the ‘Soaraway Sun’, Jones commented:
‘Let’s be clear. Other than a few nutters, we all want Gaddafi overthrown, dead or alive.’(Jones, The case against bombing Libya’, Left Futures, March 2011)
After all, Jones tweeted, ‘this is a popular uprising, not arriving on the back of western cruise missiles, tanks and bullets’.
As was obvious then and indisputable now, he was badly mistaken – the West, directly and via regional allies, played a massive role in the violence.
As though tweeting from the NATO playbook, the same Guardian columnist now analysing the peace movement supporting Corbyn, wrote:
‘I’m promoting the overthrow of illegitimate and brutal dictatorships by their own people to establish democracies.’ (Jones, Twitter, 18 July 2012)
Jones mentions Saudi Arabia’s disastrous war in famine-stricken Yemen exactly once, again in passing: ‘…Labour MPs refused to back Corbyn’s call for a UN investigation into alleged Saudi war crimes in Yemen’.
He simply ignores the Western propaganda wars on Iran and Venezuela.
There is no mention of the Guardian’s lead role in destroying Corbyn; although, ironically, Jones does celebrate the fact that, ‘I wrote the first pro-Corbyn column to appear in the mainstream media: a Guardian piece’.
The silence is unsurprising because. ‘I’m barred from criticising colleagues in my column.’ he tweeted.
Of his own opposition to Corbyn, in the Guardian and elsewhere, Jones writes: ‘Although I voted for him again in 2016, I had a period of disillusionment before the [June 2017] general election – something which still riles his most ardent supporters.’
This ‘period of disillusionment’ began long before the election. The year before he wrote: ‘… Labour generally, and the left specifically, are teetering on the edge of looming calamity.”
Adding: ‘Many of you won’t thank me now. But what will you say when you see the exit poll at the next general election  and Labour is set to be wiped out as a political force?’
In February, 2017 he wrote:
‘My passionate and sincere view is Jeremy Corbyn should stand down as soon as possible…’Evening Standard, 3 February 2017)
Time and again, Jones criticises the Corbyn leadership for failing to deal adequately with antisemitism accusations concluding that the crisis ‘need never have happened’.
This is nonsense. The crisis had to happen because sufficiently powerful forces within the Labour Party and Conservative Party, and across the corporate media, were determined to make it happen.
Compare Jones’ account with that of Norman Finkelstein. In an interview with Russia Today Finkelstein commented: ‘Corbyn, he did not present a threat only to Israel and Israel’s supporters, he posed a threat to the whole British elite. Across the board, from the Guardian to the Daily Mail.
“The entire British elite, during this whole completely contrived, fabricated, absurd and obscene assault on this alleged Labour anti-semitism, of which there is exactly zero evidence, zero.’
“Yeah, so there are a few crazies, but there’s no “institutionalised” anti-semitism in the British Labour Party. There’s no threat of anti-semitism in British society. It just doesn’t exist. It’s all being designed and manipulated… “
I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, as you know, but this is a conspiracy.Norman Finkelstein RT
Nor does he cite a September 2017 report by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, which found levels of antisemitism among the left-wing, including the far-left, the same as the general populatio
Or the October 2016 report by the Commons home affairs committee, which found: .. there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.’
Instead, Jones pours scorn on leftists who ‘still were in denial, claiming that the antisemitism crisis had been entirely manufactured by a media “out to get” Corbyn…’
He does say that it was a vicious circle, and it turned to nobody’s benefit – least of all Corbyn’s.
This is absurd. Quite obviously, the smear campaign was to the very real benefit of the political and media forces trying to crush Corbyn.
The claims targeting Corbyn were fake and they depended on ignoring a mountain of evidence indicating that Corbyn is a passionate, committed and very active anti-racist which was accepted by essentially everyone before he became leader.
Corbyn’s great anti-semitism ‘scandal’ was a non-story, a fabricated non-event, a Soviet-style propaganda smear. Sufficient numbers of people wanted it to be true because they wanted rid of Corbyn.
Everyone else bowed their heads to avoid the same career-destroying smears.
The incompetence of Corbyn’s team may have made things worse, but the truth is that a form of ruthless fascism arose out of British society to crush an attempt to create a more democratic politics.
Needless to say, Jones has not one word to say about the lead role of his employer, the Guardian, in the crushing of Corbyn.
To read the complete review click MediaLens
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