[Problem now solved?] For truth’s sake, pro or anti Corbyn, please complain to the BBC

CorbynUpdate, 11 p.m.: good news. The running headline now says “High Court rules Jeremy Corbyn has right to remain in Labour leadership contest without nominations from MPs.” This is accurate. Thanks to all who complained. It may have made a difference – we will never know.

Pro- or anti-Corbyn, or just interested in truth, please complain to the BBC. The running News Channel headline at 6 pm reads “Jeremy Corbyn welcomes stay High Court decision to throw out the bid to overturn his automatic inclusion in the Party’s leadership ballot DESPITE LACKING THE REQUIRED SUPPORT OF HIS MPs.” (emphasis added). The whole point is that under the rules, such support is not required, and this is spelt OwenSmithout in the court judgement itself, fairly reported on the BBC News website. I cannot believe that the BBC political staff are unaware of this. It is easy to complain on line; link here.

The challenger, Owen Smith, welcomed the Court’s decision.

7 p.m: not only do we still have this running headline (it persisted throughout the evening, but Laura Kuenssberg has just told us that the High Court had made its decision on the basis of the ruling of Labour’s National Executive Committee, whereas the website report makes it clear that he decided on the basis of the unambiguous meaning of the rules.

What do I think of Corbyn myself? I feel very strongly both ways. I admire his principles, ability to energise the base, and the bulk of his policies which his challenger is now scrambling to adopt. On the other hand, I would prefer the Party to be led by someone less ready to accept Brexit as a done deal, and was surprised at Corbyn’s decision to continue in post despite losing the confidence of so many of his own MPs. I have been utterly disgusted at the factual distortions coming, mainly, from the Blairite wing of the parliamentary party, whose rabid opposition to Corbyn from the outset was a disgrace. The outcome of the contest is bound to leave many disappointed, but I continue to hope that it will be generally accepted, so that Labour can get on with its job. And that is something that matters to all of us.

Corbyn image from The Spectator. Owen Smith image from BBC website

About Paul Braterman

Science writer, former chemistry professor; committee member British Centre for Science Education; board member and science adviser Scottish Secular Society; former member editorial board, Origins of Life, and associate, NASA Astrobiology Insitute; first popsci book, From Stars to Stalagmites 2012

Posted on July 28, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. John Wiltshire

    The mantra-“From each according to his ability- to each according to his needs” is well known. However, there is also another well known mantra “You don’t know what you can do until you try!” If there is no incentive to try then do we all evolve to lack ability and seek to satisfy our needs from the ever less proficient nanny state?

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    • I’m not quite sure how this is relevant. The central story is that the BBC was (is, when I last checked) telling lies. The secondary story was about how the power strugge in the Labout Party has been conducted. I also stated my own view that that we need a healthy Labour Party. (We also need a healthy Conservative Party.) Your own political philosophy is, on all three of these issues, beside the point

      And (rising to the bait, I fear) if you think that class-based injustices in the UK are not a serious problem, let me draw your attention to Theresa May’s speech of 13 July 2016:

      “That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others.

      If you’re black you are treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white.

      If you’re a white working-class boy you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university.

      If you’re at a state school you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately.

      If you’re a woman you will earn less than a man.

      If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand.

      If you’re young you will find it harder than ever before to own your own home. If you’re from an ordinary working-class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise.”

      That you transcended the poverty of your background is admirable. I fear it would be more difficult to do so today.

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      • John Wiltshire

        “I’m not quite sure how this is relevant.”

        “I also stated my own view that that we need a healthy Labour Party. (We also need a healthy Conservative Party.) Your own political philosophy is, on all three of these issues, beside the point.”

        The relevance resides in the issue of what constitutes “health” in the context of a political party.

        I take the view that the 20th century has been a great experiment in which the extreme right and the extreme left of the spectrum have both been shown to be seriously flawed. Obscene banker’s bonuses etc. on the one hand and the demise of the soviet experiment on the other bear witness to the problems.

        “And (rising to the bait, I fear) if you think that class-based injustices in the UK are not a serious problem, let me draw your attention to Theresa May’s speech of 13 July 2016:”

        I hail from a “lower-working-class” background and I spent my childhood in the austerity that followed the Second World War. However, I was offered opportunities and that really is my point. Those opportunities have always been there and they have been expanded very significantly since WWII.

        So a “healthy” political stance should be a balance between helping those is real need, stimulating and providing opportunities for those who can achieve and rewarding achievement when it is delivered.

        Blaming the system is an easy option for those who are not inclined to try very hard and a system that delivers equal reward irrespective of effort it distinctly unhealthy.

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      • “So a “healthy” political stance should be a balance between helping those is real need, stimulating and providing opportunities for those who can achieve and rewarding achievement when it is delivered.”

        On this we agree. There is a danger in trying to deal with things at too high a level of generality. For example, I think there is a very good case for a nationalised railway system, as shown by the experience of the past 20 years, and for a nationalised postal system in order to provide a very effective social subsidy for rural areas. You may or may not agree, but we would discuss these things on a case-by-case basis, rather than by discussing whether public or private ownership is better in general, or by presuming that private ownership in such cases automatically generates the opportunities that you so rightly desire. As to whether there are more opportunities to social mobility now than there were 50 years ago, or not, that is a complex question of fact on which you and I seem inclined to disagree, although I doubt if either of us have enough knowledge to present a coherent case. I certainly don’t.

        As to what would constitute a healthy political party, I would describe as unhealthy the party that failed to regulate bank lending during a bubble, invaded Iraq without any reconstruction programme, vastly increased faith-based schools, used private rather than public finance in order to massage the budget figures, despite the fact that government can borrow more cheaply than anyone else, and manipulated its own system to prevent serious policy debate when there was a change of leadership. And so I would describe the Blair-Brown Labour Party as unhealthy. Whether the kind of Labour Party that Corbyn would like to see would be healthy, would involve a point by point policy discussion. Which is beyond the scope of my ambition. For what it’s worth, I am very optimistic that the Conservative party under May will be healthier than it was under Cameron, but of course it is too early to tell.

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      • John Wiltshire

        I keep returning to Churchill’s famous remark “Democracy is the worst possible system for organising society apart, that is, from everything else that has been tried.”

        The Conservatives are currently demonstrating that a pragmatic government that “gets-on-with-the-job” fulfils the basic and vitally important requirement that someone at least tolerably competent is running the country.

        They stand in stark contrast to the relentless soul-searching of the Labour party and the anti-British antics of the dogma-driven SNP.

        I currently rate them as being, by a long way, the healthiest of the currently available options and I look to Mrs May to ensure that my back garden remains British Territory.

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      • Again, if evaluating Cameron’s Prime Ministership, one would have to examine individual policies, some of which I would consider doctrinaire and very far from pragmatic. I have some interesting thoughts about what Theresa May might accomplish, but this is taking is too far off topic. We will see

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      • John Wiltshire

        ” I have some interesting thoughts about what Theresa May might accomplish,”

        Unify the Union perhaps? I certainly hope so.

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      • On acceding to power, one of the first things May did was abolish the department concerned with climate change. That strikes me as not pragmatist but totally bloody bonkers (to use the technical term). Had it not been for that act of stark, ideologically driven lunacy I’d have been prepared to wait and see; as it is, my reaction is exactly as when George W. Bush withdrew the US from the Kyoto Agreement, lying through his idiot teeth that the “science wasn’t yet settled.”

        Oddly enough, although I despised most of Margaret Thatcher’s politics, she understood the dangers of climate change, leading to the oddity that she consulted extensively with James Lovegrove, who I imagine might well be a staunch Corbynite. I’ve seen plenty of op-eds trying to portray May as the new Thatcher; if she doesn’t even get climate change right, this is going to be a mess.

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      • I hope you are wrong here. Having a department and having a policy are not the same thing, and having different agendas in different departments may be a good way of not getting things doe. We shall see

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      • Having a department and having a policy are not the same thing

        True. I may be wrong. But I’m not encouraged.

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  2. What do I think of Corbyn myself? I feel very strongly both ways. I admire his principles, ability to energise the base, and the bulk of his policies which his challenger is now scrambling to adopt. On the other hand, I would prefer the Party to be led by someone less ready to accept Brexit as a done deal, and was surprised at Corbyn’s decision to continue in post despite losing the confidence of so many of his own MPs. I have been utterly disgusted at the factual distortions coming, mainly, from the Blairite wing of the parliamentary party, whose rabid opposition to Corbyn from the outset was a disgrace. The outcome of the contest is bound to leave many disappointed, but I continue to hope that it will be generally accepted, so that Labour can get on with its job. And that is something that matters to all of us.

    Precisely my views. I don’t think it has yet dawned on the Blairite MPs how appallingly they’ve behaved, and how very obvious it is to everyone else that they have all the sensibility of spoiled children.

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