Friday, 12 August 2016

The Irish Times on Trot Claim!

by Les May
IN an article I wrote on 20 July I drew attention to a report by the Media and Communications Department at London School of Economics and Political Science with the title 'Journalistic Representations of Jeremy Corbyn in the Mainstream Press: From Watchdog to Attackdog'.  The study analysed articles in eight national newspapers between 1 September and 1 November 2015, and included both right and left wing press. It found three areas where Corbyn has not been treated fairly; through lack of voice or misrepresentation;,through scorn, ridicule and personal attacks, and through association.
Tom Watson's claim that tens of thousands of new members are being manipulated by Trotskyists to turn the party into 'a vehicle for revolutionary socialism' seems to me not far from fantasy as Britain's two Trotskyist parties can muster only about 4,000 members between them. But it will no doubt be taken seriously in some sections of the English press.

A long article in Thursday's Irish Times by its London Editor, Denis Staunton, headed 'Trotsky claims reveal deep schism in Labour Party' provides an international perspective on this.  Some of his comments are worth repeating in full.

'MPs and much of the media are bewildered by Corbyn's enduring appeal among the membership and his ability to inspire so many to become active in politics for the first time.   His success owes much to his apparent authenticity, a refreshing change of style from the professional political class which has dominated both main parties for a generation.

'But Corbyn's support is also an expression of the membership's determination to be heard by a parliamentary party it sees – sometimes unjustly – as out of touch.  The fact that Smith is running on a platform which is ideologically almost identical to Corbyn's only serves to reinforce the impression among many party members that the MPs challenge to the leader was also a move against the membership.

'Watson's patronising suggestion that young members are the unwitting puppets of conniving old Trots reflects a broader attitude among Labour MPs which views the massive influx into the party as a threat rather than an opportunity.  If they wish to regain control of their party, MPs will have to win the argument among the membership.  To do that, they must first decide on the argument they want to make.'

Watson's claims seem to me singularly unhelpful.  Far from bridging the gap between Corbyn's supporters and the Parliamentary Labour Party they serve only to widen it as, even though he may wish to deny it, they are little more than a calculated insult to those who are inclined to vote for Corbyn.

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