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IN the final days of the dirtiest British election campaign I can remember, the moment that Labour has been looking for has arrived.
The Prime Minister, whose lies have flowed constantly, whose mass deceptions have been faithfully promoted rather than challenged by a supposedly independent mainstream media who have conspired to protect Johnson from scrutiny as much as possible, was finally exposed by one journalist not prepared to obediently toe the line.
Johnson’s completely amoral attitude on the NHS — the key issue that Labour has been pushing on most strongly through the campaign — was revealed to millions when he disgracefully pocketed the journalist’s phone after refusing to look at the image of a four-year-old boy from Leeds with suspected pneumonia forced to sleep on the floor of the local hospital due to a lack of beds.
The utter venality of the Tories’ relationship with the most senior political journalists such as Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston was laid bare in the aftermath.
The intellectually challenged Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, made an unscheduled trip to the hospital and was confronted verbally by a few protesters.
Kuenssberg and Peston quickly put out reports that they claimed came to them from “senior Tory sources,” that a member of Hancock’s team had been punched by Labour supporters.
No checking, no questioning of whether this might be simply an attempt to distract from Johnson’s earlier appalling behaviour, just instant and blatant repetition of a lie — a lie that enabled a wider set of right-wing journalists to spread a completely false narrative of paid Labour protesters displaying thuggery.
Video evidence forced Kuenssberg and Peston into embarrassing apologies.
By late last night, more than seven million people (hopefully many of them voters) had viewed that video, and as one tweeter commented — more than the numbers nationally who regularly watch the Queen’s Christmas speech!
In 2017 Labour’s surge in support owed much to its bold and distinctive manifesto — but that was helped to a considerable extent by the mainstream media actually heeding the legal demands on them for formal political impartiality in the election period.
Of course, that “impartiality” didn’t magically replace the fundamental anti-socialist ideological framing that had become the standard setting over many years, but in 2017, Labour’s efforts during the election period were widely reported on.
And, maybe because of media workers’ utter exasperation with the pathetic and robotic campaign by Theresa May, Labour’s key spokespeople were given many opportunities to express themselves without constant interruptions.
This time round there has been no pretence at implementing impartiality rules.
The broadcasting corporations are clearly hoping they will get no more than a slap on the wrist after they help to achieve the result they clearly desire.
The negative, accusatory, attitude of interviewers of Labour politicians has been plain to see. Labour clearly has to take interview opportunities when it can, in the full knowledge that they will be interrupted and diverted from their main points, and challenged with irrelevancies and issues deliberately misunderstood and blown out of all proportion — not least by what is described completely falsely as “Labour’s anti-semitism crisis.”
There is no crisis of anti-semitism in the Labour Party. There are incidents, usually over-the-top social media comments on Palestine and zionism which consciously or unconsciously use anti-semitic tropes. They involve a tiny number of Labour members, and a wider set of individuals who are not Labour members, some of whom self-identify as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour has a responsibility to deal with those members, however small their numbers, who have made anti-semitic comments. In the first instance that must be through education.
But there is definitely a huge crisis of racism and tolerance of racism in our country.
The people paying the highest price for that at street level are Muslim and refugee communities.
Those paying the price of racism at an institutional level are principally Caribbean-born members of the Windrush generation and their families, as well as young black people seeking work, or wishing simply to be treated fairly by the police.
Those paying the price for the menacing activities of a splintered but emboldened far right certainly include the Jewish community, as anti-semitic attacks rise and far right anti-semitic tropes spread virally through social media.
All of these different forms of racism have been massively aided by a Tory government that has lurched to the right not only in recent months under Johnson, who has made little attempt to hide his personal racism, but under the arrogant upper-class racism of Cameron and the petty vengeful racism of Theresa “Hostile Environment” May.
Reports from many areas suggest that Islamophobia is commonplace in Tory parlance. And a number of Tory candidates are under investigation right now for anti-semitism.
While any anti-semitism stands in complete contradiction to Labour Party values and Labour’s record of campaigning for equality and non-discrimination, Tory anti-semitism fits well within its long tradition of bigotry on class and ethnic lines, its decades-long resistance to equality legislation as “political correctness gone mad.”
Added to this are its alliances today with populist right-wing anti-semitic and Islamophobic governments and parties in Europe (especially in Poland and Hungary) and Donald Trump, and Johnson’s open links with the white supremacist and anti-semite Steve Bannon.
If Labour fails to prevent a Tory majority tomorrow, one factor will be the complicity of individuals, mostly non-Jewish, in key positions across the media.
They have been aided by the right wing of the Labour Party, including leaders of the Jewish Labour Movement, alongside the right wing of the Jewish community, who know better but have decided that a victory for the racist Johnson and his far right friends is preferable to a radical left-wing Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government.
Labour knows the situation with the mainstream media and has directed huge resources to its social media campaigning, which will be particularly influential with younger voters whose ranks have been swollen very considerably just before the deadline for voter registration.
The Establishment war on Corbyn has been unremitting but it cannot prevent key Labour messages getting through.
The assumption by the Tories that they would be able to make this an election purely about Brexit was successfully punctured by Labour in the first few days of the campaign.
Sky TV’s insistence on branding all its election coverage since the day the election was announced with the banner headline “The Brexit Election” daily looks more ridiculous.
Labour must seize the moment and the momentum it has with its central campaign focus on the NHS and other key themes such as the Climate Emergency/Green Industrial Revolution and the ending of austerity.
In this final day it is absolutely imperative that these are communicated not simply as strong, well-reasoned arguments but with as much passion and anger as possible.
It must reprise its powerful arguments about the rigged system, whose interests the Tories are trying to protect, and must continue to proclaim that Labour is on the side of the 99 per cent who have everything to gain from a Labour victory.
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