Picking fights with the establishment

18th January 2020


BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg – more lazy journalism

The field of candidates for the Labour Party leadership is not a hugely inspiring array but it is becoming clear, even this early in the race, who the political and media establishment do not want to see win; Rebecca Long-Bailey.

The relatively modest platform of reforms aimed at taming some of the worst excesses of capitalist austerity, otherwise known as the Labour Party 2019 election manifesto, has been branded as a template for ‘Corbynism’ by the lazy journalists of the BBC, including Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg.

There is of course no such thing as Corbynism, as Jeremy Corbyn would be the first to point out.  As a shorthand however it allows the likes of Neil and Kuenssberg to use the term as a trope for anything, or anyone, they regard as being remotely left of centre and, by implication, a threat to the established order.  In this way Rebecca Long-Bailey, before she says a word, is caricatured as the ‘continuity candidate’ of Corbynism.

Needless to say, in the world of Neil and Kuenssberg, Corbynism is a failed project and therefore anyone associated with it must be defending the indefensible.  After all, does the 80 strong majority enjoyed by Boris Johnson not signal the death of Corbynism?

In their usual shoddy approach to the issues Neil and Kuenssberg make every effort to undermine the intelligence of their viewers and characterise the Labour leadership according to the lowest common denominators.

Summarising on the Andrew Neil Show on the BBC this week Kuenssberg casually referred to Long-Bailey as “the party machine’s preferred candidate”.  Kuenssberg went on to offer her assessment of the desire of Labour Party members to “move on”, something she regarded as unexpected “given how strong Jeremy Corbyn’s teams grip has actually been on the levers of power inside the machine”.  Neil then chipped in to suggest that, “continuing Corbynism without Mr. Corbyn looks to be more difficult than they might have expected….”; Laura couldn’t agree more….

The programme had featured an extended interview with leadership candidate Lisa Nandy, who performed reasonably well and kept some of Neil’s usual excesses in check, but fell well short of being convincing.  Nandy wobbled on selective education and devolving power to communities.  She failed to address the need to halt the obsolete Trident nuclear weapons programme.

On the question of anti-Semitism she regarded characterising the Board of Deputies of British Jews as Conservative backing, and asking them to condemn Israeli atrocities in the Gaza strip and West Bank, as anti-Semitic.  Nandy’s shallow grasp of the issue was alarming.

Long-Bailey meanwhile secured the backing of the Momentum pressure group inside Labour, a further red rag to those looking for more evidence of her ‘Corbynist’ and hard left credentials.

Outlining her position in The Guardian this week, Long-Bailey stated that,

“The next Labour leadership team must not junk our values, or abandon plans to deal with the big challenges of the age.  Instead we must plot our path to power then deliver it.”

Seeing the need to galvanise Labour’s grass roots and the communities it should be representing Long-Bailey calls for,

“…a government for and by the people…a popular movement to turn the British state against the privatisers, big polluters and tax dodgers that have taken hold of our political system.”

It is a bold recognition of the need to combine extra-Parliamentary action with action in Parliament to bring about change, stressing the need to “pick a fight with the political establishment.”

It was such a break with the political consensus which saw Jeremy Corbyn rise to such levels of popularity before the 2017 General Election.  It is exactly what gave the political establishment such a fright that it unleashed the systematic campaign of vilification, which went right through to the 2019 General Election.

For Rebecca Long-Bailey, the fight with the political establishment is already underway.




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