Monday, 13 June 2016

Gordon Brown, The EU and The Media

For weeks, the media have been complaining that the Labour Party, and in particular Jeremy Corbyn have not been campaigning vocally in support of EU membership.  In part, of course, what they mean is that they have not been providing the kind of uncritical support for the existing EU that Cameron is providing.  In other words, just as Syriza's opposition to EU imposed austerity did not compute with the media, with them still insisting on fighting for that position from within the EU, so the media cannot compute the idea that workers might want to stay in the EU to fight with other EU workers for a different kind of Europe.  The media were, of course, happy then to cover Saddiq Khan's sharing of a platform with Cameron, which could only act to send a confused message to Labour voters.  After all, why would Labour voters want to vote for the kind of Tory Europe that Cameron envisages?

But, of course, the truth is that Labour Party members, including Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been campaigning for a Remain vote, over the last few weeks.  Corbyn has spoken at numerous town hall meetings over that time.  But, the UK media are lazy.  Its much easier for them to begin with a simple narrative and then run with it, and to bring in all the usual suspects, usually has been nonentity politicians with an axe to grind and a media profile to maintain, to reinforce it.  Its much easier to have various TV programmes with assorted talking heads from within the media itself to reinforce that narrative.

Trying to understand and to explain a more complex or nuanced message is apparently beyond the wit of these very highly paid professional journalists, and actually going out to cover what Labour politicians are doing is far to hum drum for people who consider themselves to be celebrities in their own right.  I saw the same thing this morning on US CNBC, who interviewed Yanis Varoufakis. Even after he tried to explain to them his position, they did not seem to be able to overcome their own narrative and conditioning so as to understand his position of opposing austerity whilst supporting remaining inside the EU.  But surely, you were in favour of Grexit, they continued to insist.

I watched with interest a couple of weeks ago, when the media interviewed Tim Roache, the new General Secretary of the GMB.  Roache had made a comment critical of Corbyn, and the need for him to speak up more on the EU.  They no doubt expected him to reinforce this narrative, but were immediately disappointed.  Roache welcomed Corbyn's speech on the Thursday, saying that it had been excellent, and went on to argue that his approach of rejecting the Tory view of the EU was spot on, and further disappointed his interviewer by insisting that the LP must confront more vigorously the idea that immigration was a bad thing.

So, the media coverage this last week continued in the same vein.  When it was announced that Gordon Brown was to make an intervention, it was to be expected therefore, that the media would give it full coverage, given their complaints at the lack of LP activity.  On the day of the proposed speech, the BBC again provided the tease to keep viewers hooked waiting for the big event. Eventually, Brown appeared, though the BBC managed to miss the start of his intervention.  For five minutes Brown warmed up with a series of jokes and humorous anecdotes.  He was just getting to the crux of his speech, when the BBC cut away.  That was the end of their live coverage of Brown's speech.

What was the reason?  The BBC cut away to a speech of Theresa May in Parliament.  Why?  The fact was that the very same coverage was being shown on the BBC Parliament Channel!

It once again shows the inadequate nature of media coverage of the LP, and often its downright political bias.  Its time the Labour Movement had its own Internet TV Channel so that we can bypass the biased media.  At the very least, the LP should have a Youtube Channel so that events like that today can be immediately screened.  In fact, there is a good argument for the LP and TUC getting together and doing its own media production, of all their events, and then selling it to the media outlets under tight guidelines of use.

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