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Hatchets and Knives.

Written By: - Date published: 12:06 pm, January 9th, 2018 - 20 comments
Categories: International, Jeremy Corbyn, journalism, making shit up, Media, newspapers, Politics, Propaganda, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, uk politics - Tags: , ,

A couple of days ago I wrote a post on what Emily Thornberry (UK Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary) had said about Iran. In not so many words, I wrote that it was “not permitted” to posit a view or analysis that ran counter to official narratives.

Well yesterday, both The Guardian and the Independent provided nice examples of what I was on about.

After her Radio 4 interview, Emily Thornberry submitted a facebook post that expanded on her basic points. (Here it is here.)  The Guardian decided to report on that as her seeking to clarify herself – suggesting she was muddled, or that her position was untenable and she had done somewhat of an “about face” on the whole issue. The Guardian doesn’t link to her facebook post in the piece although that’s what the piece is built around. It (as usual these days) does not allow for comments, applies questionable interpretation to some of her post and, not surprisingly, avails itself of the opportunity to smear Jeremy Corbyn.

The Independent goes further with an editorial running a sub-header accusing Emily Thornberry and anyone with similar views of “appalling moral cowardice”.

The Deputy Political Editor of The Independent wades in with a piece that’s essentially dishonest insofar as it suggests a thoughtful and nuanced approach to another county’s internal affairs is somehow condoning the killing of protesters. Funnily enough, it’s accompanied by a photo of a sizable protest in Tehran – presumably a pro-government rally then. Though, of course, no mention is made of that likely fact. And of course, it also seizes the opportunity to have a go at Jeremy Corbyn – this time, not for speaking at an event marking 30 years since the overthrow of the Shah (as reported in The Guardian), but for appearing on PressTV in the past. 

Nothing about the situation in Iran then. Nothing about pre-existing grievances within Iran’s diverse ethnic communities, nor any exploration of any likely historical context of those grievances. No acknowledgement, let alone exploration of the complexities that exist in Iran. Nothing even about sanctions and their likely impact on the country’s economy.  Nothing much beyond a reiteration of simple and simplistic official “truths” alongside condemnation and smearing of those who aren’t “toeing the line” because , y’know, it’s black and it’s white.

“Iran Bad.” –  and you’re either with us or you’re against us.

And between this current bullshit and other stuff of recent years, I’m concluding that “the powers that be” within western liberalism must be wanting me as an enemy. Which is fine. If I’m to be their enemy, then they can be my enemy too. I’m not alone in having that take.

20 comments on “Hatchets and Knives.”

  1. Ad 1

    Thornberry looks like she is having to cover for the approach of her leader Corbyn. It’s his style not to commit to specific interventions in Middle Eastern affairs and let a good volume of dust settle before proposing action.

    That approach never works well with the mainstream media, who need emotion to propel the story.

    Her Facebook post talks about reading volumes of analysis on Iran. Great. Her task as a politician is, using that analysis, to form the phrasing that is compelling and frames the popular discourse, and at least a part of that is framing emotion so that the networks can use it.

    Luckily I don’t have the job of her comms director and help her boil her messaging down better.

    I don’t view this kerfuffule as fatal to her – just a good training-ground scorch before she gets Foreign Secretary at the next election and faces the cameras while holding the decisionmaking pen.

    • Bill 1.1

      I don’t think it’s injurious, let alone fatal. I’m just running with how liberal media pushes official narratives and kills debate. Unlike others, this one can be tracked/mapped from when it began.

      I don’t think she’s “having to cover” for Corbyn’s approach. I think it’s her own view, and yes, it aligns with Corbyns. In the BBC Radio 4 interview, she was clearly speaking her mind.

      Some of the comments below The independent article are fairly intelligent btw.

  2. SPC 2

    Sounds like the piece in the Dom Post then by Liam Lehir, which does not mention the economy either. The reason is obvious, they are mounting a campaign for EU/NATO sanctions (not going to be passed by the UNSC), to exacerbate political unrest over economic difficulties. Not that they mention sanctions, because if they did it would be obvious why they were doing it, to support the USA against Israel’s enemy (and undermine the nuclear agreement). Shy supporters of the “Zionists”?.


    Economic analysis of Iran.


    A long term drought played a part in the early political protests in Syria.

    To those citing suppression of dissent in Iran, as per Damascus years ago, why no similar concern over the suppression of Palestinian protest by the IDF with continued theft of occupied land by settlers, why no push for sanctions …

  3. Marcus Morris 3

    I have just read that article in the Guardian and struggle to understand what you are talking about. It seemed balanced and fair to me and I could find nothing that “smeared” Jeremy Corban. Where does it suggest that her thinking is “muddled”. I had better go and have another look.

    • SPC 3.1

      The reason for the “sensitivity” is historic, it is the pressure placed on Labour in the media over any independence in their foreign policy (from the Tory if that party is in government, or from those in the media pro the special relationship with the USA if Labour is in government).

      And a lot of people are and have been invested in the left having a “better” foreign policy position – and the US Democrat Party and UK Labour Party, given the special relationship, are important to that.

    • Bill 3.2

      I thought I’d explained clearly enough, but…

      As I wrote, Emily Thornberry expanded on what she’s said on BBC Radio 4. The Guardian, headlines with what it claims are attempts to clarify, and in doing so, suggests there was something unclear about what she said on BBC Radio 4. There wasn’t. I quoted that segment of her interview in full in the previous post.

      I could have also dropped on The Guardian headline claim that she’s been criticised, and pointed out that the Guardian makes no mention that criticism has come from none other than the Guardian itself, and that it makes only a fleeting reference to Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat.

      In other words, the impression is given that she has roundly or generally criticised, and that’s not the case, or if it is the case, it’s not backed up by way of examples in an article that gives headline space to the suggestion.

      A more honest headline would have reported that Tory MP Tom Tugendhat had criticised her. But then, why waste an opportunity to peddle an official narrative and (remembering here that The Guardian touts itself as being a voice of the left) put the boot in to a popular left leaning political party your publication abhors?

      The Corbyn angle comes in portraying him as somehow sympathetic to the government of Iran (celebrating 35 years since the Iranian revolution) and leaving the reader to form their own conclusions about that was about. And remember how it was alleged he was an IRA sympathiser too? And a big “thumbs up” guy for Hezbollah?

      It all adds up. It’s piling bullshit on top of bullshit – repeating a meme (of him siding with the bad guys) so that he eventually becomes tarred by that brush in the eye of the public. (In the same news cycle, The Independent “goes him” for having appeared on PressTV – same shit)

  4. SPC 4

    There is another factor in play here, and that is Tory attacks on Labour if they are not in lock-step on foreign policy.

    To the end of a bi-partisanship around sustaining the “special relationship” with the USA. Which of course led Blair down his path.

    Which would explain the pressure on Labour not to be seen as anti-Semitic (discriminatory for questioning Israeli policy), that is depart from the UK standing with the (pro Zionist) USA.

    It is a certain self-importance or pride in the UK that binds it to the USA coat-tail, as if they are partners (albeit ones who are merely first followers, a bit like a nation subservient to Riyadh in the Gulf). There is also an Iranian chauvinism and western nations attempting to exert pressure on their domestic politics through intervention (1950’s) have reaped the whirlwind since 1979. Doubling down on that is particularly inept, does no one learn?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      The UK often “departs” from US policy towards Israel and Palestine, as recent UN resolutions make clear.

      • SPC 4.1.1

        Not that often, with the UNSC Resolution in Dec 2016 they were working with Obama.

        The recent time, sure. But then no one stood with the USA (albeit Canada and Oz abstained – NAFTA and the deal with Trump over refugee intake explains why).

        And a real departure with the USA over Israel would have involved EU sanctions for the illegal settlements …

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Obama was far less ‘pro-Israel’ than previous administrations. There’s common ground, but the notion that the two countries are in lockstep doesn’t really stack up.

          • SPC

            I disagree, lock-step. Thatcher and Reagan, Major Bush and Clinton, Blair with Clinton and Bush, Cameron and Obama. But while Trump is POTUS, one would hope and expect to see a greater independence/divergence
            – such as the UK/EU not resuming sanctions on Iran.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Iran/UK relations have their own set of circumstances and public opinions.

              I’m not dying in a ditch over this: I think UK foreign policy in general is pretty shitty: selling arms to both sides of the Iran/Iraq war, for example, or arming the House of Saud.

              I just don’t think you can see them as US sock-puppets where Israel is concerned.

  5. francesca 5

    It’s extraordinary how slavishly in step with govt foreign policy supposedly proud and independent UK news outlets are.
    Here Glenn Greenwald has a go at Ofcom the UK media regulator that sets out to keep an eye on and punish those media sites guilty of “bias”
    The effect is a standardisation of views in line with govt policies
    Somewhere along the line we’ve become the Soviet Union without the benefits


    Anyone that steps out of line gets hammered

    • Bill 5.1

      Oh, Pravda was a singular publication controlled by the Kremlin. Western liberal media is a clutch of publications controlled by corporate interests who also happen to have an unhealthy influence on government policies.

      In other words, in both examples, media serve power. (Granted, the case of western liberal media is that bit more opaque than was the case with Pravda – which makes it much more effective as a tool of propaganda)

      • francesca 5.1.1

        Yes, thats an interesting point.
        Media now serves the interests of corporate behemoths, the same oligarchy our governments enable
        The difference is that our so called democracies are now oligarchies

    • D'Esterre 5.2

      Francesca: “The effect is a standardisation of views in line with govt policies
      Somewhere along the line we’ve become the Soviet Union without the benefits”

      It’s very sad. The UK is a part of my heritage; from my childhood, we were taught by our parents to believe that UK news outlets were commentators of record.

      It’s only as I’ve grown older and been exposed to dissenting views, courtesy of academia and the internet, that I’ve come to realise that the UK msm are as shabbily biased as the Soviet outlets they loved to criticise, back in the day.

      I no longer go to the BBC for any news; and the Guardian is left-wing in the same way as I’m the Pope. That is, not at all.

  6. Incognito 6

    And between this current bullshit and other stuff of recent years, I’m concluding that “the powers that be” within western liberalism must be wanting me as an enemy.

    I don’t think this is entirely accurate and that those “powers” want clear battle lines and then people to choose sides. Fence sitters and people with nuanced views are haunted and hunted down till they take sides. Anybody who attempts a neutral, sceptical or objective take on things is immediately accused of bias, hypocrisy, ignorance, stupidity, denial, at least one type of ‘ism’, and most ironically of taking sides as in: if you’re not with me then you’re against me.

    Taking sides is fairly easy and staying in one cult camp is made even easier but following your own path that meanders somewhere in the middle ist verboten! I think such a PoV might encourage others to bridge the gap, swap sides, or become conciliatory and compromising, which all pose a grave danger to status quo.

    • Bill 6.1

      When liberal capitalism is acknowledged as being a cult, then the next move doesn’t have to be so much about taking sides, as simply leaving the cult and acting or speaking against it.

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