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WHAT a despicable performance by Andrew Marr in his BBC TV interview with Jeremy Corbyn this morning.
After an initial probing of the Labour leader over Brexit, he not only dug up the festering corpse of false anti-semitism allegations but detailed every instance from the past couple of years of systematic character assassination to pursue an agenda suggesting that this is a real problem.
Corbyn, as polite as ever, replied to Marr, but he must have understood that his answers counted for nothing.
For the BBC and its star performer what mattered was that a prime-time TV programme was banging on again at the outset of Labour’s annual conference about an unfounded accusation.
Any party leader invited to a major TV political interview for their party conference would have anticipated questions on their policies — yes, Brexit and demands for a second ballot, yes to anything new on anti-semitism and other forms of racism, but what about political and economic changes necessary to change society?
Yet Marr acted as though his researchers had handed him a sheet of notes prepared in midsummer.
Corbyn, shadow chancellor John McDonnell and other shadow ministers have been working to put flesh on the bones of their professed goal to, in that time-honoured Labour phrase, achieve a fundamental and irreversible shift in wealth, power and control in favour of working people and their families.
Why couldn’t Corbyn have been cross-examined on Labour’s proposals to return, water, Royal Mail, gas, electricity and railways to public ownership?
Have these become so non-controversial that the erstwhile pro-privatisation Tory and Liberal Democrat parties have rolled over and accepted that this is the way to go?
Of course not. Theresa May, Vince Cable and their acolytes remain solidly in favour of public assets being recycled into private shareholders’ profits.
But the main argument against giving the oxygen of publicity to Labour’s public ownership policies is that they are popular with the electorate.
That also applies to the party’s pledge to abolish tuition fees — brought in by New Labour and trebled by the Tory-Liberal Democrat 2010-15 coalition government.
The same goes for Labour’s commitment — or threat, if you’re a gouging employer determined not to pay their way — to abolish zero-hours contracts.
Does our national broadcaster actually believe that the millions who tune in to the Marr programme on a Sunday morning are uninterested in these and other social justice-based policies, preferring to hear old and discredited charges regurgitated?
Times of Israel columnist Robert Philpot, who has given full vent to the summer of bile directed at Corbyn, confided in today’s column that he doesn’t think the campaign has worked.
Philpot quoted Will Clothier, a senior research executive for Populus research and strategy consultancy, who, reporting on its findings for August, said that voters had picked up on stories about Brexit, Donald Trump and Boris Johnson but few raised Labour’s supposed anti-semitism.
“No more than 5 per cent mentioned the story at any point in the past month. In fact, it has never been mentioned by more than 5 per cent since hitting the headlines months ago,” Clothier said.
Philpot offers a range of suggestions as to why so few voters were seized by the barrage of abuse against the Labour leader, but these do not include the possibility that people know that this lifelong anti-racism campaigner just isn’t an anti-semite.
What will Marr and the BBC do next week to breathe life into this rancid slanderous corpse?
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