Monday 24 July 2017

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

When so much of the attention economy is organised around a moral deficit, that it lies frequently is hardly shocking. With little else in the news and silly season in full swing, the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn have shifted from scaremongering to telling lies about what he has and hasn't said or done. This morning the Daily Mail (who else?) screamed Corbyn's Student Debt Humiliation from its front page, accusing the Labour leader of u-turning on a pledge he never made and wasn't in the party's manifesto. That is Labour are accused of promising to write off student debts and then doing an about-turn. The Sun makes a similar argument in today's editorial too. The Express tried making hay with it, but who cares what they think.

The second follows comments Jeremy Corbyn made on Sunday's Andrew Marr. Asked about Labour's position on Brexit and the movement of workers after Britain has left the European Union, he said "there would be European workers working in Britain and British workers working in Europe as there are at the moment. What there wouldn't be is wholesale importation of underpaid workers from central Europe in order to destroy conditions, particularly in the construction industry ... You prevent agencies recruiting whole scale workforces and you advertise for jobs in the locality first ... what we wouldn't allow is this practice by agencies, it's quite disgraceful how they do it, to recruit a workforce, low paid, and bring them here in order to dismiss the existing workforce in the construction industry and then pay them low wages. It's appalling."

This earned the headline "Jeremy Corbyn: “wholesale” EU immigration has destroyed conditions for British workers" from the New Statesman, which has been taken up by sundry liberals on social media as proof of Jeremy's conversion to kipper-lite politics. Now, whether you agree or disagree with the statement made, it hardly lines up with what the NS said what he said, let alone UKIP's racist, bigoted ranting. What Jeremy did was make a point that anyone active in trade unionism will tell you is true. Employers purposely recruit overseas to undercut labour markets at home, a case of them bringing over workers and then lying back and watching the money roll in while it's those paid below market rates who bear the brunt of xenophobia and anti-immigrant hate. As always, it's worth remembering migrant workers don't cause low wages, employers do.

In both cases the substance - student fees, low paid workers from overseas - are just convenient stands to hang a coatload of lies on. There are three things at work here. Firstly, Jeremy Corbyn's enemies have thrown everything else at him and so are taking another tack. His greatest strength is his integrity, so why not call that into question by exposing him as a lying politician just like the rest? It doesn't matter that it's not true for some audiences. Many who remain attached to the old media are more likely believe such stories because if it was lies "they wouldn't be allowed to print it". Never underestimate the power and prevalence of audience naivete. Second, folks who've pointed out that students and the like are most unlikely to read these stories are missing the point. The first task for the Tories and their helpers is to try holding their vote together as the party frays and implodes. Reminding readers that Jeremy is devious as well as dangerous helps. In addition, there are Labour voters who read The Sun and The Mail. Not many to be sure, and obviously people with powerful media filters, but if a few can be shaken loose from Labour then that's helpful too. And lastly there is the attention economy as well. Outraged lefties have long been part of the audience the Daily Mail draws to its site and helping maintain the prices it charges for ad space. It also serves to drive a contrived story up the news agenda to the point where everyone has to cover it because everyone is covering it. Such a story might be untrue at worst and grossly exaggerated at best, but it helps keep others - like the trash the government dumped on the last day of Parliament out of the spotlight.


Anonymous said...

I saw Mr Corbyn in Telford last Thursday, lent him a gel pen, he spoke with a friend's daughter who is all of 7 and unlikely to vote in his parliamentary lifetime, whereas I am but a year his junior.

In between the pen and the girl, we looked one another in the eye and no words were said, there was no need.

What horrifies people is that the man is as straight as a die. He also knows his job, having done it successfully for many years.

He is a politician also, so please don't expect him to bend to your personal will anymore than I would expect him to bend to mine.

Jonathan said...

You can complain all you want about the Liberal media Phil, but it doesn't change what Corbyn said, it doesn't change the blatant flat out lie he told about the Single Market and it doesn't change the fact that he is supporting the disastrous position of hard brexit, which is going to devastate the economy and screw our people over

Anonymous said...

Christ alive Jonathan, you are bitter. And tedious.

Dylan said...

You sound like you ate the daily mail, the sun, and times for breakfast. Maybe a change in diet can fix your ills

Jonathan said...

Oppose hard brexit = reading the mail, sun and telegraph. I mean that's so far wide of the mark I don't where to begin.

Brett Hetherington said...

Great work on this post and video of establishment-man Marr's show. I've been using it on Facebook to correct the deliberate misquote, ie. lies. I remember watching it live back in July last year and it struck me as the exact kind of thing that needs to be said. As JC states: "The only people who benefit from this are the companies." Again, fine stuff on your part!