Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Guardian and Jones now working hard to 'moderate' Corbyn

As a gloomy Guardian come to accept the 'calamity' of a Corbyn victory, an anguished piece by political correspondent Patrick Wintour provides a useful indication of the next major effort to stifle any Corbyn movement for real change.

Wintour seems, firstly, barely able to believe it has actually 'come to this':   
In a fortnight’s time, if opinion polls and most other available evidence are to be believed, Jeremy Corbyn will be elected leader of the Labour party, placing the most unexpected pressure on the political management skills of a man who has previously run only the planning committee of Haringey council in north London.
We will then have the spectre of Corbyn the 'indulgent amateur' facing the 'real deal' of parliament and the 'wrath' of his party:
Within days of his election on 12 September, he will meet his MPs, only 20 of whom ever truly backed him. Two days later, he will face prime minister’s questions, an event he has watched from the backbenches for the past 32 years. A fortnight later, he faces four days of scrutiny at a traumatised Labour annual conference.
And, following this, the resentful, 'rightful reckoning' of 'Labour's best': 
At some point in this melee, he must appoint a new frontbench that may have lost some of its best talent. He will need to appoint a chief whip who is likely to be told by many Labour MPs that Corbyn is entitled to receive the levels of loyalty he gave previous Labour leaders – none. [Italics added.]
Wintour could have depicted all this as a fresh and exciting new time, a reinvigoration of debate, a first step in sweeping away the old machine politics and elite institutions. 

But this is your dutiful Guardian, always giving 'sensible' lessons on the 'achievable'.

Having apparently failed in its 'stop Corbyn' exercise, the task now for Wintour and the Guardian is containing radical Corbynism. Central to this effort is Owen Jones, lauded by Wintour in his piece as a vital voice of moderation. Mocking 'hard-left' calls for Corbyn to pursue a serious radical agenda, Wintour, instead, hails Jones's more "honest" account of the "challenges" ahead:  
Owen Jones, [Corbyn's] chief media ally, has written an impressively honest piece setting out how hard the challenge facing Corbyn will become. He urges Corbynites to deploy “message discipline”, reach out to the middle income people, the moderates in the Labour party, those opposed to immigration and more broadly to avoid internal confrontations “so that if he is attacked by those determined to undermine his democratically decided leadership they are exposed as the aggressors”. Corbyn should pick his fights with his fellow MPs.
Just as, we must suppose, people like Jones should 'pick their fights' without too much disturbance. The notion of Jones as "chief media ally" here doesn't, of course, include discussion of the Guardian's aggressive assault on Corbyn, or, for Wintour, Jones's own silence over such shameful attacks. But that's just part of the evasive narrative being peddled here. For Jones, as well as the Guardian, it's all about prudent avoidance.     
Another one of the fights Jones is urging Corbyn to avoid is over Britain's membership of Nato:
A Corbyn-led government has to pick its battles, because it already has enough of them. Take NATO: the merits of membership are so far from the mainstream of political debate, it would be pointless and self-defeating to pick a fight over it. Instead, Labour should suggest a more constructive role for Britain within the Alliance.
Yet, in an important counter-analysis, taking wider aim at Jones's moderating voice, John Rees more convincingly insists:
But less NATO is not really possible or acceptable. Neither is ‘less Trident’. Less ‘war on terror’ would be a challenge to the whole centre of British foreign policy. It would be a direct challenge to the British state’s standing in the world, and a breach in the special relationships with the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel. That is why any threat to the ‘UK’s place in the world’ (including unity with Scotland or membership of the EU, as well as NATO membership) will be treated as an existential threat by the ruling class. And this is why Jeremy Corbyn should hold to the ‘No to NATO’, ‘No War’ positions that he has campaigned for over many years. Owen Jones is completely wrong to urge Jeremy to break his long-standing agreement with the anti-war movement on the NATO issue.
In urging that the Corbyn movement hold to a decisive left agenda, Rees also warns of the mass establishment onslaught still to come after September 12:
We have not yet even seen the forces that were deployed to stop Scotland voting Yes in the referendum.
You can be sure of the Guardian being a keen part of any such upsurge. 

In his fine 2011 article The Dangerous Cult of the Guardian Jonathan Cook writes:
The media – at least the supposedly leftwing component of it – should be cheering on this revolution, if not directly enabling it. And yet, mostly they are trying to co-opt, tame or subvert it. Indeed, progressive broadcasters and writers increasingly use their platforms in the mainstream to discredit and ridicule the harbingers of the new age. A good case study is the Guardian, considered the most leftwing newspaper in Britain and rapidly acquiring cult status in the United States, where many readers tend to assume they are getting access through its pages to unvarnished truth and the full range of critical thinking on the left.
Everything Cook says here confirms what a vital role the Guardian and other liberal-left media are playing in suppressing change. We need only look at its place within the 'corporate reality':
The Guardian, like other mainstream media, is heavily invested – both financially and ideologically – in supporting the current global order. It was once able to exclude and now, in the internet age, must vilify those elements of the left whose ideas risk questioning a system of corporate power and control of which the Guardian is a key institution. The paper’s role, like that of its rightwing cousins, is to limit the imaginative horizons of readers. While there is just enough leftwing debate to make readers believe their paper is pluralistic, the kind of radical perspectives needed to question the very foundations on which the system of Western dominance rests is either unavailable or is ridiculed.
This is the real work of the liberal establishment, serving to circumvent, mitigate, evade, moderate, incorporate, pacify and prevent any potential for serious, radical change.

While journalists like Wintour invoke the 'perils' of a collapsed New Labour, Jones forms part of the adopted vanguard on how to manage it, preaching an 'insiderist' message of system-safe observance. 

Cover-to-cover, you will search in vain for any mention of this kind of Guardian-type service to power in Jones's own The Establishment. Indeed, that kind of selectively narrow indictment - as with the current liberal-left denouncing of the right-wing press over Corbyn - serves as the most welcome establishment diversion, a coveted fig-leaf journalism that helps authenticate and protect the whole carefully arranged system of power.


The Team said...

Superb analysis John.

Note how the other Guardian hacks then reference in-house work (including Owen Jones) to support their management of the debate.


John Lynch
Sodium Haze

John Hilley said...

Thanks, John.

Yes, a very good point.

Following Patrick Wintour's approval of Owen Jones, Michael White's approval of Wintour and Jones:

"As such it is one of many urgent challenges to Corbyn’s Labour – read Patrick Wintour’s terrific analysis here - that the Tories are lining up to exploit. Read Owen Jones’s grave pro-Corbyn assessment here for a positive, if daunting, perspective."


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

A good case study is the Guardian, considered the most leftwing newspaper in Britain and rapidly acquiring cult status in the United States, where many readers tend to assume they are getting access through its pages to unvarnished truth and the full range of critical thinking on the left.

I did use to think that. The space they've been giving to war criminal Tony Blair to attack Corbyn has opened my eyes.

The Guardian is no better than The Washington Post (or The War Criminal Post, as I like to call it), with the constant granting of oped space to the likes of Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams.

Anonymous said...

The chief role of papers like the Guardian are to control the parameters of what to think and what is achievable. Anything beyond that is either ridiculed or seen as a fantasy.