Let me begin by laying my cards on the table: Faisal Islam is one of my favourite broadcasters. He doesn’t echo what I want on everything: he’d not be political editor of SKY News if he did. But he is a model of what good broadcasters should be, a wonderful example to his colleagues on all the mainstream media networks in Britain, IMHO. What makes him so good?
- Faisal Islam has a great sense of humour. As such, he makes politics, economics and current affairs entertaining and a joy to listen to. By contrast, at BBC News Channel no one comes close, although Chris Mason is perfect when he gets on the telly, which, alas, is almost never. Having a sense of humour is vital if we are going to have an informed electorate, and if we don’t have that we will all pay a very heavy price, which is why Brexit was voted for, and it is why Donald Trump and populists like him are gaining traction all around the world today.
- While I don’t agree with everything Faisal Islam says, I never doubt for one second that he believes what he’s saying – other than the rare occasions he’s deploying the invaluable devil’s advocate strategy of teasing out the truth, for the benefit of everyone including any intelligent interviewee. Devil’s advocacy was something Faisal used spectacularly well during his interview with David Cameron with one hilarious joke that was, I believe, one of the key turning points in the EU referendum campaign: I have my suspicions that Faisal wishes he hadn’t publicly humiliated Dodgy Dave to quite that extent, but it’s too late to do anything about it now… Anyway, whereas other broadcasters come across as entirely amoral – hopeless individuals who would say anything if they got paid to say it -, Faisal isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. He’s not the only broadcaster with this kind of integrity, but they are pretty rare these days. When I disagree with Faisal, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s not just a mouthpiece for his bosses. And that is very reassuring. It makes real debate possible. Faisal Islam is being attacked by a section of Brexit supporters, and a lot of it constitutes vile racism. Faisal is absolutely brilliant in how he exposes these twitter trolls.
- Faisal is also the bravest of those broadcasters who feels the EU referendum vote can be dismissed, to a significant extent, as illegitimate due to the way the voters were misinformed, albeit by both sides. I one hundred percent agree with him on this. And it happens to be one reason I don’t have a problem with the Owen Smith wing of Labour MPs trying to stop Article 50 being triggered. Indeed, I think it’s in Jeremy Corbyn’s interest to pay a great deal of attention to some of what his critics have been saying about the extent to which the EU referendum result is genuinely illegitimate. If the parts of what Owen Smith is saying were blatantly plagiarised, albeit with some credit going to him (meaning it’s not really plagiarism, right?), by Jeremy Corbyn, I’d have no problem with that: even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and much of what Owen Smith says on this makes a great deal of sense to me on this narrow issue.
- However, while Jeremy Corbyn may have questions to answer vis-a-vis triggering Article 50 – and I am in no doubt that he does -, there has been an orchestrated smear campaign against him by Owen Smith’s voters in the last 24 hours, and Faisal Islam has played a role in protecting these witch hunters, albeit not, in my opinion, a malicious role.
Let me be clear that any criticism I have of Faisal doesn’t mean I’ve revised my attitude to his integrity. I don’t doubt for a second that he believes everything he’s saying and doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong, and it’s possible that he hasn’t and that he’s not even guilty of serious carelessness. However, I do think he’s been naive and allowed himself to be used by Corbyn’s enemies to mislead voters in the Labour Party and in the wider electorate.
Faisal Islam is trusted by political anoraks of both left and right for very good reasons. When he attributes views to Jeremy Corbyn, most people assume he must be dealing with legitimate criticisms. But I have my doubts.
What Faisal did yesterday was pass on what looks to me like second-hand gossip by anonymous individuals identified to an elite as ‘Team Corbyn’. Do these allegedly official spokespersons genuinely sum up what Corbyn thinks about the single market? Does Faisal have a shred of evidence of this?
I am really pleased that it is Faisal Islam who will be asking Jeremy Corbyn, and Owen Smith, questions at the last Labour leadership Hustings on SKY News next week. I know he’ll be as fair as he was the last time he did this. All Corbyn’s voters are grateful to Faisal for doing something that no other broadcaster at any of the networks did during the EU referendum. Like several SNP politicians, Faisal had kind words to say about Jeremy Corbyn on delivering votes for the REMAIN Campaign. The rest of Faisal’s SKY News colleagues simply peddled the official line that Corbyn was deliberately sabotaging the REMAIN Campaign. Faisal rejected this outrageous smear, and I am extremely grateful to him for doing this.
Jeremy Corbyn, and Paul Mason also, talked me round to back REMAIN at a time when my instinct was to call for a boycott: a plague on both your houses, due to the reactionary leadership of both official campaigns. But Corbyn was very clever in finding a way to legitimise a REMAIN vote from a left-wing perspective. I know for a fact that I am not the only Labour voter who was persuaded by Corbyn. It was, alas, Alan Johnson, Will Straw, Angela Eagle, Sadiq Khan, Rachel Reeves, Yvette Cooper, Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, Chuka Umunna, Tessa Jowell, Caroline Flint etc, etc, etc who kept turning this referendum into a counterproductive vote of no confidence in Dodgy Dave’s 24% Tory dictatorship. These were the right-wingers who kept pushing Labour voters like me away from a REMAIN vote. These anti-Corbyn MPs totally lost the plot. And they lost the referendum for Labour. Corbyn, on the other hand, did an excellent job. Unfortunately, Faisal Islam stood alone in promoting Corbyn’s right to defend his left-wing alternative to the politics that lost Scottish Labour 40 out of 41 MPs, all to the Scottish National Party. The disgusting way Owen Smith’s MPs behaved during the EU referendum proves, if we still needed any proof, that the time has come for Jeremy Corbyn voters to go on the offensive against the anti-Corbyn MPs. They lost the referendum, and they need to pay the price for this: votes of confidence in Dodgy Dave’s degraded glove puppets.
Who are Team Corbyn?
Who are Team Corbyn? I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Theresa May’s managed to get one of her police spies to infiltrate this secret body, leaking, sabotaging, acting as agent provocateurs, helping MI5 and GCHQ compile dossiers with which to blackmail Corbyn’s closest allies, maybe to expose something they’ve been working on, illegally, for a dozen years or more. Regardless of who they are, I have absolutely no ideas about the context of anyone passing on second-hand gossip allegedly representing Jeremy Corbyn’s views on the single market or anything else.
Why can’t Faisal simply wait until Corbyn gets the chance to speak for himself, with an ability to clarify his views, on camera, without editors taking things out of context? Let all voters get to see Corbyn clarifying things when words have been put in his mouth, or let us see for ourselves if he was silenced by broadcasters – maliciously or otherwise – by people with agendas drawn up by bosses who have the ability to sack, then blacklist, political editors who don’t help them dump Jeremy Corbyn the very first chance they get. Faisal Islam needs to give Corbyn the right to defend himself, not be bound by so-called spokespersons who may, for all I know, have secretly voted for Brexit and now intend to attribute to Corbyn what they would like him to defend, even though don’t have a scooby what he really wants to do.
What does Corbyn want out of Brexit negotiations?
So, what exactly does Jeremy Corbyn want to do now? Your guess is as good as mine, or maybe it’s not. I await with keen interest what he has to say for himself on these fairly complicated matters. Thus far, he’s kept his counsel, and I don’t have a problem with this. Let me explain why I’m glad he’s been keeping his cards so close to his chest.
Owen Smith is the ‘leader’ of a Chicken Coup that constitutes a slap in the face of half a million Labour Party members, and a great deal many more Labour voters, all of whom now demand votes of confidence in these 168 spoiled brats who rely on Iain McNicol’s industrial-scale ballot rigging. The NEC ballot riggers intend to set up two Labour Parties both of which back Corbyn, with one of them consisting of 200,000 atomised socialists, everyone earning their legitimately right to stand as in elections against the official Labour candidate. But, thankfully, none of them will do that because Jeremy Corbyn’s members will see to it that the CLPs don’t waste time with reselecting 168 spoiled brats who collude with Tory editors in the mass media to destroy Labour’s opinion poll ratings.
Under first-past-the-post, all socialists need to compromise. Jeremy Corbyn is creating the kind of broad church of anti-Tories that Tony Benn tried, and failed to achieve. The 168 McCarthyite MPs aren’t going to foment the splits on the left they so desperately want. We won’t help Theresa May form a majority government, as David Cameron did, with less than a quarter of the electorate, and with two-thirds of voters voting against Dodgy Dave’s Tory parasites. Jeremy Corbyn will get all socialists into the Labour Party before too long. And Iain McNicol’s ballot riggers are facing legal action from hundreds of thousands of his victims.
Jeremy Corbyn and Article 50?
What is Jeremy Corbyn’s attitude to triggering Article 50? He did call for it to be triggered as soon as REMAIN lost the referendum. I told him on twitter at the time this was a mistake. But that’s history. He’s had time to think things through and now we can all debate when, or if, it should be triggered. The issue of the single market is a red line for the capitalists who are the class Tory MPs typically represent. This creates massive tensions that hand incredible power to Jeremy Corbyn. The reason for this is that 100% of broadcasters insist that the EU referendum was a referendum on immigration controls and other right-wing positions which are certainly not the case, which is why many of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters did defy him and vote for Brexit anyway….
Theresa May’s government could be toppled due to the Prime Minister’s class wanting to sabotage Brexit if they can, and a simultaneous majority of anti-Brexit majority in parliament. The SNP, the Green MP Caroline Lucas and the overwhelming majority of the anti-Corbyn Labour MPs could form a powerful majority alongside a significant section of Tory MPs to, at the very least, delay the triggering of Article 50 until all of our bottom lines are satisfied. While many left-wing voters may not be happy with this unless the case for it is explained to them, Jeremy Corbyn has absolutely no choice but to participate in this anti-Brexit coalition of forces in Westminster. What Corbyn needs to do is refuse to help Theresa May and the UKIP-inclined xenophobes and ultra-Thatcherites to deliver their flavour of ‘Brexit’ which is the polar opposite of TUSC’s and the Morning Star’s. What Corbyn must do is make his specifically left-wing case for delaying the triggering of Article 50 until the time is right, and – let there be no mistake – it may never be right, not without a second referendum or a general election. What exactly is the left-wing case for frustrating Brexit negotiations?
Owen Smith repeatedly attacked Jeremy Corbyn for lying about voting to remain in the EU. His behaviour during that hustings was beneath contempt as it so often is, and justifies the anger of Labour members and voters. Corbyn clearly did vote to remain in the EU. However, he is also proud of his democratic credentials. That’s why he is inclined to defend voters who cast a vote in the referendum in a different way. Corbyn’s democratic instincts are to be commended. It is Owen Smith who has contempt for democratic votes, and would help the minority sabotage Brexit even if there are a thousand referendums, and he loses every one of them by 99% to 1%. Owen Smith is just an incorrigible hater of voters.
Jeremy Corbyn’s critique of the single market is hardly new, although broadcasters pretend this is newsworthy. Owen Smith’s MPs similarly pretend they had no idea that Jeremy Corbyn has a critique of the Single Market, which he wasn’t allowing to get in the way of calling for a vote to remain in the EU, given the nature of the government that would implement Brexit.
Jeremy Corbyn’s critique of the single market is one reason why there was such an incredibly powerful wing of the left who voted for Brexit. If Brexit does happen, then Britain’s negotiators should get the best deal we can, and that means jettisoning the parts of the Single Market we don’t like, the bits that most of the left-wing voters still in the EU also want to vote away the very first chance they get, a prospect that could be enhanced by external pressure from a post-Brexit Britain, should we end up with such a nation.
Although Owen Smith wants voters to believe he loves the Single Market in its entirety, there are two points to be made about this. Firstly, he and all his supporters who say this are out-and-out liars. Tom Watson is just the most prominent of Owen Smith’s cheerleaders who attacked Jeremy Corbyn during the EU referendum for reminding him that the single market set limits his contempt for the free movement of people. Owen Smith’s voters need to make their minds up about whether they do or do not want to echo Theresa May’s xenophobes in whipping up a climate conducive to hate crime arsonists. Do they want to do that, or would they prefer to join Jeremy Corbyn in resisting this? Free movement of people is something the left-wing of Brexit vote have little problem with, a fact that would be more widely known if British broadcasting networks were it not for the fact that, with rare exceptions, they are in the pocket of very powerful Tory multi-millionaires.
Owen Smith’s voters defend the very worst aspects of the Single Market would like to negotiate away from within, and they even want to help the anti-Labour CBI keep those reactionary aspects even if we leave the EU allowing Britain to get something better, something that never happened under Cameron or Blair because these anti-socialist politicians love everything reactionary. Just how idiotic is that?
Owen Smith has every right to defend his ultra-right-wing contempt for public ownership to save jobs surrendered by asset stripping, money laundering unearned income gambling, tax-dodging parasites. But he has zero right to impose his daft ideas on half a million plus Labour Party members. And that brings me back to my support for Jeremy Corbyn keeping his cards close to his chest on exactly what his bottom lines when it comes to triggering Article 50.
Jeremy Corbyn is a man of principle, and we all feel genuine love for him because of that. But he’s more than that: he’s also a democrat. If Jeremy Corbyn can’t win votes within the Labour Party, then, as all good democrats must, he will abide by majority votes. He won’t impose his position on the party on the basis it’s his party and he’ll do what he wants to. It is for Labour Party conference to have a wide-ranging debate on how to defend democracy – political as well as economic – if Britain is taken out of the EU. And it is also up to Labour’s conference to debate how to stop Theresa May exploiting the Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 to frustrate Labour voters, those who voted for Brexit in order to secure greater public ownerships, £350,000,000 for the NHS, higher wages due to a reduction in the supply of labour from the EU (which Alan Johnson and Will Straw’s Tory pals insisted was a good thing: low wages that are, as it helps rich Tory parasites!), and greater democracy, as well as ending the regressive taxation of VAT, while increasing corporation tax in the Tory class of capitalist parasites.
Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of a democratic mass movement of anti-Tories. He can speak for himself on the single market, and on whether or not Article 50 should be triggered by a 0.0% Tory dictator whose idea of democracy is to lower Prime Ministers Question Time to promote the tweets of Britain’s worst misogynist and racist apologist for murder. And Jeremy Corbyn has every right to say he’ll actually abide by a wider consultation of Labour Party members – at party conference, for example – rather than do what Owen Smith threatens to do: impose his prejudices on Labour when 90% or more members may actually vigorously disagree with him.