Sunday, August 7, 2016

Alex Andreou's "Acid Attack" article


The Former Guardian columnist Alex Andreou has posted a savagely misleading Acid Attack of an article entitled "The Truth About Jeremy Corbyn" which attacks Jeremy Corbyn and derides his supporters on his blog. At the end of the article Andreou announces that he's taking a Twitter-break with an insinuation that the reaction of people who are opposed to the Anyone But Corbyn coup would be a load of intolerable abuse.

The article is misleadingly entitled "The Truth About Jeremy Corbyn"

This article is a response to Andreou's Acid Attack article and it contains no abuse other than references to the numerous examples of the generalised abuse that Andreou hurled at Jeremy Corbyn and the hundreds of thousands of Labour members who support him, and exposures of the multiple abuses of logic, reason and evidence that Andreou peppered throughout his unpleasant, intellectually dishonest and fundamentally contradictory hatchet job.

Concern Trolling

Andreou opened his piece by claiming that he used to love Corbyn as much as he now despises him by saying "I have been as vociferous in my opposition to Corbyn as I was in supporting him a year ago".

This contrasts jarringly with his admission later on in the article that he only voted for Corbyn because he was the least-worst of the candidates. here's exactly what he said:


"I voted for him in the first place, because I thought all four candidates last time were unelectable. So I thought: 'Fuck it. If none of them can reach out to the wider electorate, I might as well vote for the one whose politics most closely align with mine'."

If he admits that he only voted for Corbyn because Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall were even worse candidates then he clearly and demonstrably wasn't as keen on Corbyn in 2015 as he is keep to trash him in 2016.

Pretending that you loved something before you set about explaining how much other people should hate it is a classic dishonest debating tactic that is commonly referred to as "concern trolling". People like Andreou try to get you onside by saying they understand how you feel in order to then relentlessly work you into switching to their side of the debate.


Corbyn vs Smith

In his initial bid to win Corbyn sympathisers over with kind words before working them with a relentless tirade of anti-Corbyn rhetoric Andreou admitted that "Corbyn has been hugely misrepresented by most media" that "the right wing press has been responsible for the worst kind of monstering" that "the lack of loyalty shown by a small cabal of colleagues, briefing against him from day one, is vile"  and that "he was never properly supported or given a decent chance", but he dismisses all of that as being "the job he signed up for" as if that magically makes it all OK!

He then goes on to admit that Owen Smith is "a bit blah" and "ain't exactly Obama" which is just about the only reference to Smith in the entire 6,300 word hatchet job of an article.

Tellingly Andreou never admits that he supports Owen Smith, or gives any single reason why Smith would make a better leader than Jeremy Corbyn. But then the clear point of the article is to damage Corbyn as much as possible, not to explain why the only alternative option for Labour members to vote for would actually be any better.


Alleged abuse

Andreou constantly whines about the supposed abuse he's received for criticising Jeremy Corbyn, but forgets to cite any examples of it, never mind any proof that the abuse came from actual members of the Labour Party.

Of course nobody should have to put up with abuse, but as a relatively high-profile political commentator it's inevitable. Long-term readers of my work will remember examples of the abuse, insults and threats that have been hurled at me for expressing my political opinions. I don't like it, but I don't use the abusive comments of a small minority of people who comment on my page to generalise about larger cohorts of people like Andreou does.

In taking a stance that is highly likely to be seen as pro-establishment by his mainly left-wing readership, Andreou knew perfectly well that he was basically Above the Line Trolling, so crying because the people he has antagonised didn't like it is a pretty lame performance.


By weaponising the claimed abuse of unnamed individuals in order to attack one of the only mainstream politicians who actively avoids the kind of dirty personal politics that David Cameron, Lynton Crosby and the Tories have legitimised through their repeated use, Andreou is simply adding to the downwards pressure on the already dispiritingly low standard of political debate in the UK.

If Andreou really has suffered any serious abuse and intimidation he should report it to the authorities because stuff like threats of violence, bigoted abuse and cyber-stalking are all crimes that should be investigated. If it's just a case of inarticulate people telling him to "fuck off" because they disagree with him he should just ignore them.

Acid Attacks


Not only does Andreou cry victim over the alleged abuse he's been getting, but he's so hypocritical that he peppers his article with critical, dismissive and abusive comments about Jeremy Corbyn and anyone who dares support him. Andreou  uses terms like "Armchair Che" and "achingly middle class Corbynistas" to denigrate Corbyn supporters and repeatedly accuses them of "fanaticism", "violent fervour","denialism", contributing to "clear patterns of wickedness" and being a "personality cult" and an "army" that will inevitably become "an instrument of violence".

This generalistic abuse is not the kind of language used by a guy who rejects bad faith tactics like abuse, smears, generalisations and condescension, they are the tactics of someone who revels in the kind of insulting muck-raking abuse that he bookends his article crying about.

Not only does Andreou use derogatory generalisations and accusations as weapons to belittle the hundreds of thousands of people from all ages, areas of the country and walks of life who support Jeremy Corbyn, he openly admits that he's "gone over the top" with his criticisms and then belligerent declares that "I stand by every acid word".


Owen Jones

Andreou actually tries to cite Owen Jones' 9 questions article as evidence against Jeremy Corbyn. The absolute gall of it is incredible.


Andreou's manipulative and highly contradictory Acid Attack article is in stark contrast to Owen Jones' article about Corbyn which actually did raise a number of legitimate questions.

Although Jones was critical of Corbyn the article was actually quite balanced and tried to engage with Corbyn supporters rather than attempting to con them with a bit of dishonest concern trolling then crudely smearing them for the rest of the article. 

You can read my response to Owen Jones' 9 questions article here.

Blame Corbyn


The entire article is littered with examples of Andreou blaming Corbyn for things that are clearly the fault of the Anyone But Corbyn coup-plotters. 

Andreou Blames Corbyn for the slump in Labour's poll numbers since the coup-plotters launched their inept effort to bully Corbyn into resignation

He blames Corbyn for the fact that the coup-supporting Labour establishment tried to rig the leadership election against him by disenfranchising 130,000+ Labour Party voters and then selling votes to non-members at £25 a pop

He even tries to blame Corbyn for the catastrophic implosion of the Labour Party in Scotland!

Scottish politics


Trying to blame Jeremy Corbyn for the annihilation of Labour in their traditional Scottish heartlands displays an extreme ignorance of Scottish politics. 

Scottish Labour lost 40 of their 41 Westminster seats at the 2015 General Election. This happened months before most people even knew who Jeremy Corbyn was. The election strategist for that complete meltdown was a Blairite called John McTernan. And guess what ... the guy who is actually most blameworthy for the Scottish debacle is standing alongside Andreou cheerleading for the Anyone But Corbyn coup.

This ludicrous effort to blame Corbyn for the damage that out-of-touch Labour right-wingers like Tony Blair, John McTernan and Jim Murphy did in Scotland is not the only example of Andreou betraying a deep ignorance of Scottish politics and the lessons that should have been learned from Labour's political suicide there.

In another section Andreou bitterly criticises Jeremy Corbyn for deliberately distancing himself from David Cameron's toxic Project Fear style Remain campaign.

I'm not too convinced that Corbyn has much idea about what to do about the Scottish mess he's inherited, but at least, unlike Andreou he had the good sense to recognise that 
sharing a platform with Tory fearmongerers during the EU referendum debate would have discredited the Labour Party even further in the eyes of all progressives.

The Scottish electorate abandoned Labour because they were sick of being treated like an insignificant irrelevance. Andreou exemplifies this complacent Labour attitude towards Scottish voters in his absolute unwillingness to consider the actual causes of the furious mass revolt against the Labour Party by one of it's most reliable demographics.

The EU debate

Andreou's article is full of regurgitated mainstream media attack points against Jeremy Corbyn. Even though Corbyn returned 63% of the Labour vote for Remain while Cameron's fearmongering returned 58% of Tory voters for Leave, all of Andreou's opprobrium is reserved for Jeremy Corbyn.

Polls during the EU referendum debate showed that Jeremy Corbyn was rated as by far the most trusted Labour politician and his tactic of speaking to the public like we're adults rather than a massive bunch of sub-juvenile halfwits who can be goaded into supporting one position or the other with fearmongering, threats, misrepresentations and outright lies chimed with a lot of people.

He was one of the only politicians to speak truthfully about the fact that the EU isn't ideal, but how it's better to stay in and try to reform it rather than bail out with no plan of action for what to do next, yet Andreou characterises Corbyn's EU stance as being dishonest!

Tunnel vision

Another regurgitated mainstream media anti-Corbyn attack point that Andreou blurts out is the so-called honours controversy over Shami Chakrabarti. Andreou lambastes Corbyn for appointing someone he admits is "thoroughly deserving" because it apparently "muted" the criticism of all of David Cameron's dodgy appointments.

How many of these dodgy Tory appointments has Andreou criticised? None of course.Like Peter Mandelson before him, Andreou was far, far too busy concentrating on weaving criticism of Jeremy Corbyn's one House of Lords appointment into his anti-Corbyn hatchet job to find a single word of criticism for any of David Cameron's 13 unelected cronies, another Tory donor turning down his peerage because of the storm of negative publicity or another of Cameron's dodgy Tory donors getting disallowed by the appointments commission.

Channelling Tony Blair


One quote from the article stands out because of its remarkable similarity to a sentiment expressed by Tory Blair back when he thought that his anti-Corbyn rants would serve any purpose other than sounding like a ringing endorsement in the minds of the millions of people Blair and his cronies drove away from the Labour Party.
"Right now, the only thing more frightening to any rational person than Labour losing the next election, is Labour winning it with Corbyn in charge." - Alex Andreou, 2016 
"Let me make my position clear: I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it." - Tony Blair, 2015
The sentiment that it would be much better for Labour to lose the next election than actually win with Jeremy Corbyn in charge is clearly identical. 

Perhaps if Corbyn's critics don't like being criticised as Blairites, they should consider not using the exact same form of anti-Corbyn argument as Tony Blair?

Honesty

Andreou weaves the theme of honesty throughout his article (even entitling it as The Truth About Jeremy Corbyn) which is ironic given that he shares the same objectives as the deceitful Anyone But Corbyn coup-plotters and people like Angela Eagle and Margaret Hodge who have repeatedly exaggerated and outright lied about abuse in order to inflict as much damage on the party leadership as possible.


Andreou's constant posturing as a truth-teller also clashes glaringly with his intellectually dishonest debating tactics, his brazen misrepresentations and the fact that his favoured Anyone But Corbyn candidate is a former PR man whose white shirt + rolled-up sleeves "normal guy" posing is just as brazenly dishonest as Eton educated former-PR man David Cameron's woefully transparent white shirt + rolled-up sleeves "man of the people" act.

it takes some brass neck to utilise honesty as a central theme in a bad faith Acid Attack of an article designed to assist the removal of Jeremy Corbyn and his replacement with an ideologically flexible placeholder candidate like Owen Smith.

Misrepresentations


One of the most woeful of Andreou's misrepresentations is his assertion that Corbyn would personally "deselect all dissenters and take full control".

Top-down Kinnockesque witch hunts and expulsions of ideological dissenters are not going to happen under Corbyn's watch. If Corbyn does use his likely re-election to put re-selection of MPs onto the agenda, the people who would make the decision to remove corrupt/complacent/party wrecking/self-serving/right-wing MPs would be local Labour Party members.

If re-selection does materialise, it won't be Corbyn taking "full control" of the party for himself, it would be Corbyn handing an awful lot more control over the direction of the party to the people who make up the party membership.

It's a complete liberty for Andreou to make honesty and truth central themes of his article, but to dishonestly characterise Corbyn's democratisation of the party as a dictatorial power grab.

Not only is Andreou dishonestly misrepresenting the situation, he's also dishonestly misrepresenting his own commentary as being an honest appraisal. The dual nature of Andreou's dishonesty warrants the coining of the term "meta-dishonesty" to describe it.

An unwarranted attack on Podemos

Towards the end of the article Andreou really begins to lose the plot and allow his true anti-democratic agenda to shine through. At one point he tries to illustrate his claim that mass political participation is unworkable by citing an article in the Rupert Murdoch operated Times slagging off the Spanish left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos.

What Andreou fails to mention is that Podemos was only founded in March 2014, meaning that in just over two years they've gone from nothing to being the third largest political party in Spain with above 20% of the vote (just a whisker behind the second party) and winning the mayoral elections in both Madrid and Barcelona.

Imagine if a brand new political party took 20% of the vote in the UK and their candidates became the mayors of London and Edinburgh. Do you think anyone in their right mind elsewhere in Europe would be trying to write that off as a spectacular failure to score political points against a local politician they're waging a vendetta against?

Interestingly, as a self-proclaimed expert on Greek politics Andreou fails to make a much more telling comparison between Labour and the once powerful Greek socialist party PASOK.

PASOK made the mistake of embracing right-wing austerity economics and slumped from never receiving less than 38% of the vote between 1981 and 2011 to taking just 4.7% of the vote in 2015 and ending up as Greece's 7th party!

Instead of trying to paint the remarkable rise of Podemos in Spain as some kind of desperate failure, maybe it would have been more useful for Andreou to point out a real political catastrophe that actually happened, and explain how traditional left-wing parties peddling hard-right economics are playing on extremely dangerous political thin ice?


Participation vs Managerialism

It begins showing from around the middle of the article, but toward the end Andreou really starts losing the ability to hide his true agenda. The absurd attack on Podemos in order to try to discredit the concept of mass political participation is bad enough, but in his concluding remarks he demonstrates his true anti-democratic sentiments by describing the massive number of people inspired by Corbyn to become Labour Party members as an "army" that will inevitably become "an instrument of violence".

Andreou is clearly afraid of mass political participation. He's scared of the idea of allowing ordinary plebs to have any real influence over the political system. He's terrified of participatory democracy, so he's smearing the people who want to get involved as part of a violent mob.

Andreou obviously prefers the managerialist style of politics where an insulated political elite get to make the important political decisions and the lower orders are kept as far away from the political process as possible.

What seems to have passed him by is that the slick managerialist style of Tony Blair led us into the Iraq catastrophe that cost hundreds of thousands of lives, caused a huge refugee crisis and triggered a wave of sectarian violence that eventually culminated in the rise of ISIS. If the millions who protested against the Iraq invasion would have actually had some kind of democratic political mechanism to influence the managerialist political establishment, then perhaps all of that violence, and death, and suffering, and bloodshed, and misery could have been averted ...

But no ... In Andreou's version of reality the Westminster political establishment (you know, the ones who just wrote a blank cheque to renew Britain's stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction and are still allowing British corporations to sell arms to the disgusting Islamist Saudi Arabian regime) are the peacemakers, and the people who want to reform politics to make them more accountable to the British public are the loathsome violent threat that you should be afraid of.


Utter contempt for democracy

Andreou's article is riddled with confused logic, misrepresentations and outright hypocrisy but his contempt for democracy is the one thing that shines through the most strongly at the end.

He spends the article wildly generalising about how intolerant the so-called far-left are, insisting that Corbyn and his supporters are a far-left fringe who are "obsessed with purging it [the country] from anyone who thinks different" and then later in the article he says that "Corbyn must be ousted at all costs. Everything else can be fixed later".

The contrast really couldn't be starker. He's smearing Corbyn supporters for supposedly wanting to conduct an ideological purge, then insists that no matter what the outcome of the leadership election Corbyn and his supporters should be purged from the party at any cost!

Screw what the membership want. Screw the concept of participatory democracy. What Andreou wants is an ideological purge of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, and he openly admits that he doesn't care how much damage to the Labour Party it takes to achieve it. 


And most delusional of all he genuinely seems to think that a return to the orthodox old-fashioned managerialist style of doing politics will enough to undo the damage inflicted by the "destroy Corbyn and drive away his supporters at any cost" brigade.

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