Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 15, 2018

Richard Seymour on how “Project Fear” failed against Jeremy Corbyn

Filed under: Britain,electoral strategy — louisproyect @ 8:43 pm

(This is the latest installment of excerpts from Richard Seymour’s book on Corbyn. I plan to review the book for CounterPunch next week since it is such an extraordinary combination of brilliant analysis and prose mastery that suggests Alexander Cockburn and Christopher Hitchens in their prime. It is criminal that this young man does not have a job writing for the Guardian or the Independent rather than the fossils they employ.)

The class valence of Corbyn’s supposed unelectabil-ity varied, depending on whom one was listening to. According to an opinion piece in the Telegraph, Corbyn’s `sub-Marxist drivel’ showed that he had ‘no understanding of the British people’,” whose great middle class had no need of the types of Leftist reforms he proposed. A simi-larly splenetic piece in the Guardian held that Corbyn’s Labour was so `poncified’ [effeminate] that working-class voters had turned off in droves.” These claims reached a comical zenith during an otherwise unremarkable by-election. The Times had insisted that Labour was ‘counting the cost’ of Corbyn’s peacenik antics in Oldham, where a UKIP challenge was ready to reduce Labour’s majority to a margin of error. John Harris, in a video report from Oldham for the Guardian, held that `Corbynmania’ was about to collide with `reality’.’ Corbyn’s leadership was ‘looking increasingly fragile’, Harris averred, and cited an encounter with an anti-Corbyn Labour voter to suggest that perhaps the only remaining Labour voters would be the hardened tribalists who put the party first. There being no polling in this by-election, journalists relied on a combination of anecdotes, vox pops and their own prejudices. In the end, Labour held the seat not only with a sizeable majority of over ten thousand, but increased its share of the vote with a 7.5 per cent swing in its favour. The anti-climax was palpable, and the Telegraph wondered whether `Muslims worried about war’ might not be to blame for the victory.’

Other hit pieces strained for effect. For example, a story Telegraph — a paper that, more than any other, has been out for Corbyn’s blood — referred to claims that n had a consensual relationship with Diane Abbot in the 1970s as `damaging’. Janet Daley of the Telegraph cited a horror story from Haringey in the seventies in which Jeremy Corbyn, as a local councillor, may or may not have been indifferent to the squatters residing in a house next to hers. Anne Perkins of the Guardian, with a tone so stiff as to be almost beyond satire, complained that Corbyn would not sang the national anthem at a commemoration service: ‘it was his job to sing’. The Sun published a false story alleging that Jeremy Corbyn was a ‘hypocrite’ since, as a republican, he was willing to bend his knee and kiss the Queen’s hand in order to secure state funds for Labour. This was complemented by another Sun ‘scoop’, claiming, again falsely, that Corbyn ‘refused to bow’ to the Queen, in apparently trivial defiance of protocol. Such contradictory characterisations suggested something of an internal conflict in the smear department: was Corbyn an inflexibly, excessively principled left-winger, or a conniving opportunist? This dreary sequence of contrived stories reached absurdity with the media’s extraordinary attention to Corbyn’s precise comportment in the laying of a wreath at the Cenotaph [war monument], with piece after piece suggesting that his solemn nod of the head was not quite solemn enough.

1 Comment »

  1. […] Richard Seymour on how “Project Fear” failed against Jeremy Corbyn […]

    Pingback by “Richard Seymour on how ‘Project Fear’ failed against Jeremy Corbyn” | Louis Proyect: the Unrepentant Marxist | COMRADE BOYCIE — July 16, 2018 @ 3:11 pm


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