Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Here's what Jeremy Corbyn actually said in the speech the anti-Corbyn mob are going berserk about


A spectacularly misleading article in the Independent by the little-known hack Benjamin Kentish has gone super-viral on Twitter after it's been picked up by the anti-Corbyn mob (a combination of marginalised pro-neoliberal Labour right-wingers, Tory concern trolls, and extreme Remainers who are just as prepared to lie and deceive  to achieve their agenda as the Brextremists are).


In this article I'm going to go through some of the stuff Jeremy Corbyn actually said in his speech, and expose the cynical selective quotation and manufactured outrage tactics that helped this shocking piece of "journalism" to go mega-viral.

Selective quotations

The Independent article about Jeremy Corbyn's speech to the EFF (the British manufacturing industry) manages to squeeze two selective quotations from the speech into the title alone.

This selective quotation tactic has really got the anti-Corbyn mob and the Remain extremists frothing at the mouth.

When Jeremy Corbyn actually spoke about the "benefit" of Brexit, he was actually making the point that the Tory government had squandered the "one benefit" of Brexit, which is the way the devaluation of the pound should have made British exports more competitive.

Here is the relevant section:
"Our exporters should be able to take proper advantage of the one benefit to them that Brexit has already brought – a more competitive pound. 
After the EU referendum result the pound became more competitive and that should have helped our exporters. 
But they are being sold out by a lack of a Conservative Government industrial plan which has left our economy far too reliant on imports."
Omission of this vital bit of context can only have been deliberate.

The next selective quotation is even worse. When the article quotes Corbyn talking about "cheap labour from abroad" the objective is clearly to get people furious that he's seemingly attacking immigration and the free movement of labour within the EU, but what he was actually talking about was the problem with globalisation and the offshoring of production to sweatshops in places with extremely low wages, poor workers' rights, and weak environmental standards.

Here's the relevant section of the speech in full:
"For too many of our people today the spread of insecure work, low pay and zero hours or temporary contracts is causing stress, debt and despondency.  
 It could not be clearer that change is needed, we must aim for something better.
Our new economic approach is necessary because for the last forty years a kind of magical thinking has dominated the way Britain is run. 
We’ve been told that it’s good, even advanced, for our country to manufacture less and less and to rely instead on cheap labour abroad to produce imports while we focus on the City of London and the financial sector.  
 While many economics professionals, politicians and City types insisted this was all a strength the banking crash confirmed it was in fact a profound weakness.  
 A lack of support for manufacturing is sucking the dynamism out of our economy, pay from the pockets of our workers and any hope of secure well-paid jobs from a generation of our young people. 
This is why Labour is committed to turning things around."
It's also worth noting that as well as the "to produce imports" part having disappeared, the word "from" has mysteriously appeared too.

In the body of the article the selective quotation tactic is continued with another use of the brazenly traduced "cheap labour from abroad" quote to imply that Corbyn is attacking immigration and the free movement of Labour rather than critiquing the offshoring of manufacturing and production.


Given that the selective and inaccurate quotation tactic was used both in the body and the title of the article, there can be little doubt that the idea was to manufacture as much outrage as possible. And the sheer number of outrage shares on Twitter just goes to show that this kind of cynical and dishonest manipulation works a treat.

Trump

The article works incredibly hard to create the impression that Jeremy Corbyn is imitating Donald Trump's "America First" rhetoric, rather than expressing his concerns about globalisation, privatisation, and offshoring that have remained consistent for decades.

This attempt to enrage the reader by casting Corbyn's speech as some kind of Trump-style posturing is particularly misleading because the speech actually criticises Donald Trump three times!

Here are all of the mentions of Donald trump in the speech:
"No amount of desperate attempts to cosy up to President Trump would compensate for the damage done by getting this [Brexit] wrong. Now is the time to put people’s jobs and living standards first."
"It must be said however that wanting to build it in Britain is not turning away from the world, nor some return to protectionism or Trump-style trade wars."
"A botched Tory Brexit will sell our manufacturers short with the fantasy of a free trading buccaneering future which in reality would be a nightmare of our public services sold to multinational companies and our country in hock to Donald Trump whilst we all eat chlorinated chicken."
It takes some incredible amount of chutzpah to cast a speech as Trumpian when the content is highly critical of Donald Trump, but that's exactly what's been done, and exactly what a massive number of delusional right-wing "centrists" and easily-led Remainers have fallen for.

The rest of the speech

The hatchet job article worked incredibly hard to whip up fury over a few selective quotations and a desperately misleading effort to portray it as Trumpian rhetoric, but in doing so it neglected to even mention other aspects of the speech.

Procurement
"If [Theresa May] is so serious about taking back control why has her Government offshored the production of our new British passports to France?  
Workers in Gateshead were making them and that work has been taken away from that community. 
Unsurprisingly the French aren’t queuing up to have their French passports made in Britain.  
We have plenty of capacity to build train carriages in the UK and yet repeatedly over recent years these contracts have been farmed out abroad, costing our economy crucial investment, jobs for workers and tax revenues. 
Carrying on like this is simply not sustainable."
Critiquing Tory anti-EU rhetoric
"Too often, we have been told by Conservatives who are ideologically opposed to supporting our industries that EU rules prevent us from supporting our own economy. 
But if you go to Germany you’ll struggle to find a train that wasn’t built there, even though they’re currently governed by the same rules as us. 
When the steel crisis hit in 2016 Italy, Germany and France all intervened legally under existing state aid rules but our government sat back and did nothing."
Regional development
"The next Labour government will rebalance our economy so that there is prosperity in every region and nation. We will do this by setting up a national investment bank and a network of regional development banks to provide capital to the productive, real economy that secures good skilled jobs."
Housing
"We will focus relentlessly on ending the housing crisis caused by the Conservatives and their uncompromising commitment to the free market. We will build homes for the many not investment opportunities for the few and with them will come a new generation of zero carbon homes, creating new training opportunities and skilled jobs."
Solar industry
"Once innovators [in solar development], we are now falling back as the industry takes off across Europe. And why?

 British solar firms were hit by cuts to subsidies in 2015 and 2016 and changes to business rates for buildings with rooftop panels.

 Why did the Tory government do this? To save a few pounds in the short term, yet it has cost us jobs and innovation.

 As a result between now and 2022 France is forecast to add five times as much solar capacity as the UK, Germany ten times."
Outsourcing
"When there are billions of pounds of public money and thousands of skilled jobs at stake we cannot just focus on saving a quick buck when awarding these contracts.  
It is a totally false economy. Instead by considering public interest such as job creation and the supply chains, we can grow our economy in a way that works for everybody. 
Just today a cross-party committee of MPs has said that the stated reasons for contracting out services to save taxpayers money and to encourage innovation in delivery are too often simply not being met. 
In the words of the Public Accounts Committee 'there has emerged a small group of large companies which are expert at winning contracts but do not always deliver a good service'."
Customs Union
"BMW, Airbus, and companies after company has warned of the real and damaging effects of Conservative customs chaos. 
Theresa May and her warring cabinet should think again, even at this late stage and reconsider the option of negotiating a brand new customs union. 
This decision needn’t be a matter of ideology, or divisions in the Tory Party. It’s a matter of practical common sense. 
It’s not often that the Labour Party and the Institute of Directors, the CBI and the TUC agree, we need to negotiate a new customs union. What will help our manufacturing industries? 
The companies themselves are giving us a clear answer. The government should listen to it. 
But the Prime Minister seems more willing to listen to Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson. 
Never before has a Prime Minister discarded the interests of the country so recklessly in favour of the interests of their own party or their own self-preservation." 
A new deal for British businesses
"The very richest companies must pay a bit more tax and pay their workers better and in return we will train our people to have the skills our economy needs, upgrade our creaking infrastructure and provide the planning and support to help industry compete on the world stage. 
And those companies that we do business with as the government will have to be at the forefront of best practice to create social as well as economic value. 
Firms our government does business with will have to: properly pay their taxes, respect workers rights, provide equal opportunities, protect the environment, train their workers, pay their suppliers on time and end boardroom excess by moving to a 20-1 limit on the gap between the lowest and highest paid. 
That is the deal that we want to make with businesses, it’s one that will benefit our whole economy." 
Propaganda

The sheer amount of detail that was left out in order to traduce and distort Corbyn's speech into looking like a trumpian extreme-Brexit anti-immigrant rant is extraordinary.

If the so-called journalist had any integrity at all he would surely have focused on the fact Labour are committed to securing a customs deal with the EU (a very significant difference from the Tory approach), and would have at least bothered to mention the bold "new deal" that Corbyn offered to Britain's business leaders.

But no, Jeremy Corbyn's bold "new deal" offer to British business leaders that formed the actual conclusion to the speech wasn't even mentioned once!

The truly sad thing is that it's highly likely that vastly more people will end up believing the warped version of events described in this shockingly deceptive hatchet job, than those who will actually encounter a more honest account of what was actually said.

What you can do:
  • You could share this AAV article on social media to provide a more honest interpretation of what Jeremy Corbyn said.
  • You could share the full transcript of the speech (here)
  • You could add your comments on the Independent article to point out what a deceptive hatchet job it is, or correct people on social media who are using this desperate piece of propaganda to launch their own deceptive anti-Corbyn rants.

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