Yesterday, the mass media was agog at the spectacle of Peter Tatchell disrupting Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to mark the occasion of the United Nations general assembly signing the declaration on human rights in 1948. Tatchell, a man whose career since 1983 has been characterized by its use of stunts, claims he was highlighting Corbyn’s silence on Russian bombing of Aleppo. Leaving aside the lack of objectivity in news coverage of the Syrian conflict, Tatchell’s choice of moment for his latest stunt could not have been better timed. He knew that this would provide excuse for the mainstream media to launch another round of attacks on the beleaguered Labour leader. And attack him they did. The Guardian even took the time to remind us that St Tony had “condemned” Corbyn over the bombing of Syria. This is the man whose eagerness to bomb Iraq has led directly to the current conflicts in the Middle East. This is the man whose supporters in the Commons voted to bomb Syria. One of those MPs was Hilary Benn, who was applauded by the Tories for his “barnstorming speech” and grandstanding ignorance of the historical actualité.
It is no surprise that news providers covered the Tatchell stunt but not the actual event at which Corbyn was speaking. The media created its narrative through the magic of digital video editing, in which only those moments of Tatchell’s stunt were broadcast. However, The Cat has seen additional footage that tells a rather different story: it is one in which Corybn, though under attack, gives a clam and measured response to Tatchell. He wasn’t manhandled or harangued. The Tory press would have loved that. Can you imagine what would have happened if he’d pitched up to a UKIP meeting and had done the same thing? Can you imagine what would have happened if he’d done that when Blair was leader?
So what about Tatchell’s point? Has Corbyn done enough to condemn Russian bombing? As always, it depends on who’s asking the question. If the BBC, ITV, Sky or Tatchell himself is asking the question, then it comes with the added demand that if Corbyn is ‘guilty’ in their eyes, then he should do the decent thing by donning sackcloth and sleeping with a stone for a pillow. Nothing less will do. This is, at least, the subtext of Andrew Neil’s Twitter exchange with former Labour MP, Chris Williamson. Click on the images to access the conversation.
Neil is joined by what The Cat assumes are a number of Labour right-wingers (the names are real giveaways) and Tories, all of whom are flatulent with their own sense of self-importance and entitlement.
For his part, Tatchell is continuing to churn out his excuses.
That’s great, Peter, but you’ve chosen the wrong politician to attack. That reminds me, for a gay man, you don’t seem that bothered by Daesh, who continue to throw gay men from tall buildings. These are the people whom the mass media refers to as “the rebels”, while next door in Iraq, they’re called ‘Daesh’. Funny that.
What about Corbyn’s “silence” over Russian bombing? Well, Corbyn has condemned all sides in the conflict. I mean, aren’t all sides guilty of atrocities? Yet this is not enough for Andrew Neil, Peter Tatchell or our notionally free press. The hidden discourse to their claims is that Corbyn quietly supports ISIS/IS/ISIL/Daesh. But there is nothing on record to even remotely suggest that he does. This statement issued in the aftermath of the Paris attacks earlier this year attacks all parties involved in the conflict.
This article from Left Foot Forward published in October, repeats the demand that Corbyn “must break his silence on Assad and Russian bombings”. These things are gifts to the Tory press, the Tory Party and the Labour Right. But whatever Corbyn does or doesn’t say, you can be assured that a story will be assembled from a lot hearsay, speculation and lobby tittle-tattle.
Remember, the ‘news’ is just a collection of stories that have a beginning, middle and end. In stories, simplistic themes of good versus evil are crucial in driving the narrative’s plot. If you’re looking for impartiality or objectivity in the news, forget it. Go and read some critical theory instead.