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Friday 5 August 2016

Labour’s Chakrabarti Mess

While the debates got under way between Labour’s current leader Jeremy Corbyn and his challenger Owen Smith, the attention of the outside world was on other matters, prominent among which was the release of Young Dave’s resignation honours list. Or rather, that attention should have been focused thus, but instead the media has homed in on the one Labour nomination for a gong, former director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti.
Shami Chakrabarti ((c) BBC)

There are few better qualified to bolster the ranks of Labour’s peers than Ms Chakrabarti, and we should not lose sight of that. But the way this appointment has been handled speaks volumes about the current state of the party, the appalling lack of communication by the leader’s office, the inability to tackle issues when they first appear (rather than leaving them to gain traction), and a tone deafness to real world opinions and events.

Let’s take the problems for Labour one at a time.

Corbyn had previously said there was no need to nominate peers. His first instinct was to concentrate on reforming the Lords, but now he has changed tack. He didn’t give a promise or commitment, as some of the opportunists are claiming today, but as with so much about this appointment, it does not look good.

The peerage nomination was leaked. Ms Chakrabarti was asked a number of times about whether her name had been put forward for a peerage in the weeks leading up to her report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party being presented. This became an open secret. That is not good enough.

Tom Watson was kept out of the loop. The decision to put Ms Chakrabarti’s name forward was kept from Labour’s deputy leader. That meant Watson only had Corbyn’s previous statements to go on, and as he’d heard nothing to suggest otherwise, even after Cameron’s resignation honours list was leaked, he went on a media offensive yesterday, giving Dave some well-deserved stick, only to have his own side pull the rug out from under him today. That is inexcusable.

The claims of Labour anti-Semitism were allowed to take root. Corbyn, of all politicians, has an unswerving commitment to tackle any form of bigotry, racism, religious hatred, sexism, or any other kind of discrimination or hatred. But when accusations of anti-Semitism were made soon after he became leader, he failed to confront them adequately. This has spilled over into the row over Ms Chakrabarti’s peerage.

A golden opportunity to land a blow on the Tories has gone begging. After Tom Watson’s interventions earlier this week, the issue of Cameron’s resignation honours list was an open goal that Labour could not miss. Even supportive papers like the Mail have been enraged by Dave’s largesse. But Labour has accompanied their putting through an open goal with then running up the field and putting in their own net.

All this has come together in terrible media coverage. Instead of the focus being on the Tories, we have the Chief Rabbi and representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews lining up to talk - wrongly - of Ms Chakrabarti’s report into anti-Semitism within Labour as a “whitewash”, when it was no such thing. But the impression that Labour was not doing enough about anti-Semitism had been allowed to go unchallenged for so long. So media coverage starts from that point, whether or not it is correct.

Previous Labour leaders have made mis-steps, but this is far worse. Pa Broon was notorious for being accident-prone. Mil The Younger forgot parts of speeches, left his notes for the Sun to pick up, and tripped stepping off a stage on Question Time. But Corbyn’s leadership is in a class of its own when it comes to pitching Labour MPs into despair. He and his office are failing totally to communicate - as in both talking, and listening - with the rest of the Parliamentary party.

The legacy of this mess will be significant. Ms Chakrabarti will have her name needlessly tarnished. Labour MPs will mostly remain hostile to Corbyn’s leadership. The possibility of further antagonism will remain high. The Party will take that much longer to heal. And all the while, the Tories will get a free pass, with Theresa May’s greatest problem being the Europhobes on her own benches who are congenitally unable to understand that leaving the European Union is rather more complex than a snap of the fingers job.

The mess created by Jeremy Corbyn nominating Shami Chakrabarti for a peerage is entirely of his own making, and that of his inner circle. It is for them to sort themselves out, and do so in short order. If not, there will be a repeat, with the certainty of night following day. And that would - make that will - be unforgivable.


Anonymous said...

The "The mess created by Jeremy Corbyn" is because energies are being sapped by a relentless campaign of denigration that includes 100% of UK's media (including the toads at The Mirror) and those on the sidelines like Zelo.

It seems Zelo & the Blairites are totally ignorant to the damage they have done to Labour. It's doubtful the schism created by the right-wing of Labour will ever be healed unless Corbyn has a chance to continue with what are very reasonable and traditional Labour Party values. There is a chance that a party united behind will succeed.
The loss of Jeremy Corbyn will mean the Labour Party cannot win when there are are several millions voters who simply will switch off.
And if you think the appalling Tom Watson would have any chance as a leader- and that is the untold story here- then it's apparent the Blairite wing has now lost all concept that it's 2016 and not the glory days when a Tony Blair could dominate a vacuous and adoring media.
In fact it shows how out of touch the right-wing of Labour really are when they simply cannot accept that the man whose principals they aspire to is possibly the most hated man in Britain.
Sad to see Zelo Street begin to white ant every now & then.

Anonymous said...

There are eight "items" listed in this article.

All of them are accentuated by mainstream media in far right monopoly ownership. If it wasn't these "items" it would be eight others. As unlamented unelected right wing Neil Kinnock (Owen Smith anyone?) found out to his discomfort......Well, discomfort till he got himself appointed to a cushy number as European Commissioner - where he promptly set about reducing conditions of employment for staff. So much for him and his "dented shield" shite.

It's true the Labour Party are in a difficult place. But that's where the "electable" cowardly and traitorous right wing of the party led them and the country. A place where boom and bust had been abolished, according to loser Gordon Brown. Only it hadn't, had it.

All of the listed "items" are nothing but PR bullshit that has absolutely fuck all to do with the lives of people and everything to do with maintaining the status quo of corrupt lies and propaganda.

The idea that decency should be corrupted even further merely to gain power (and out of fear or careerism do sweet FA that matters) is a long discredited load of crap.

But at least we now know where Tim stands on this issue. How sad for him that he should fall so readily for all the right wing muck. I thought him better than that......much better.

Phil said...

I for one am getting sick and tired of listening to Corbynistas angrily denounce *any* criticism of the Dear Leader as a right-wing smear. No matter how mild or justified the criticisms.

Look at Tim's track record of calling out anti-Corbyn smears on this blog and ask yourself which is more likely - Tim has suddenly sold himself out to Rupert Murdoch or Corbyn has genuinely dropped a clanger?

Unknown said...

Tim is no Blairite, and it does nobody any favours to call him one.

To take his points:

1. It doesn't look that bad either, except of course through the prism of the supposed hullabaloo. Let's not forget, it's Silly Season, and they have to fill the bulletins with something.

2. It seems it was discussed by Chakrabarti with friends and Kirsty Wark. Not Labour/Corbyn's fault, and linking to a nasty subtle-smear piece on the Mail Online doesn't do the argument much good.

3. Fair point, though I reckon it's 'not told' rather than 'kept from'. Bad management, but not 'inexcusable', given a) the Party and its management is in crisis in the wake of the coup, and b) we don't know whether Watson discussed his 'media offensive' without asking whether he should or not - communication is a two-way street.

4. Corbyn did confront them more than adequately, by setting up an enquiry, unlike any other party. The fact that his enemies kept pushing it, and some of the media went with it, with no basis in fact, is hardly his fault.

5. The media starts where it wants. The fact that it'll choose to go with the BDBJ rather than, say, Jewish Voice, is, once again, hardly Corbyn's fault.

6. It is not far worse than 'that bigoted woman'; nor immigration mugs and the stone tablet; and it's hard to communicate with the rest of the PLP when they won't communicate with you.

Last paragraph; you're right - once the Leadership election is over, Labour can sort themselves out by getting behind whoever the elected leader is. And if they don't, that would - make that will - be unforgivable.

Just to be clear; I'm no Corbynista, and I have my disagreements with him - his unequivocal support of the BBC for a start, his eschewal of PR and progressive alliances for another - but much of the criticism of him is hysterical overreaction. He's in the middle of a leadership election, and has spent the last few months fighting most of his colleagues, and a court case. Attack him for his policies, rather than the fluff.

ashie said...

The political ineptitude of Jezza knows no bounds. Shami could have had her well-deserved peerage in the next NY Honours list. That would have meant Labour could have attacked this list of cronies and there would have been no connection to the anti-semitism report.

Instead, it's full-on own-goal mode. Like his policies or not, he is a disaster as a leader, tactician and strategist.

Anonymous said...

Of course we could always bring back Tony Blair or Gordon Brown.

I suggest we ask the people of Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Syria.

Or Chilcot for that matter.

Oh for those Golden Days of mass murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people while ignoring poverty, housing and infrastructure and inflicting debt-for-life on students here in Britain.

I bet that Jeremy Corbyn can't beat THAT record.

Anonymous said...

I for one am getting sick and tired of listening to self-deluded "reasonable" people react hysterically when someone disagrees with Tim.

All because Tim has genuinely dropped a clanger.

Tut tut.

anubeon said...

Oh come on now, this is nothing compared to the heady days and outright corruption of cash for honours, and it is as nothing compared to the shady chronyism of of Dave little goodbye gift and dear Trish's unwillingness to bump on honour for SamCam's beloved stylist on the head. Focus on the minor irratant of an honest beseiged man nominating a tireless and world renowned human rights lawyer/activist for an honour, whilst Dave and the Torues flog the House of Lords to his chums and donors, if you will, but this is very much your own myopia at work, not a proportioned response to reality. It's like laying into Idi Amim for having a bit of brocolli betwix his two front teeth, whilst he chomps down a plateful of his erstwhile political rival.

LiamKav said...

I'm beginning to think that Corbyn could murder a kitten live on TV and there would still be some who would claim that it was the Blairites fault. Is there literally nothing that Jezza could do wrong?

And I'm probably going to regret this, but...

"Oh for those Golden Days of mass murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent people while ignoring poverty, housing and infrastructure and inflicting debt-for-life on students here in Britain."

Thank god all those things were immedietely stopped by the coalition and Tory governments. And of all the things to attack Blair on, poverty seems an odd one.

LiamKav said...

To expand, why is it every time there's a negative comment about Corbyn, someone mentions Blair? It's like a kid who's been told off and reponds by saying "well, my brother did something much worse".

Harry Ryder said...

This very much echoes my view, and I speak as a raving corbynista. We're fighting hard for you, jezza, but you sure do make it difficult at times

Harry Ryder said...

I detest Blair and idolise Corbyn. Nevertheless this article is bang on the money.

Matt said...

Although it could be a plan to expose the MSM for what they have become.

I am more angry about Sam Cam's hairdresser getting a gong and George Osborne becoming a "commander of honour". Yet I am being told by a 24 news cycle that I should be angry at Shami Chakrabarti who appears to be one of the most deserving on the list.

The only news I am getting is that they will use any stick they can find to hit Jermemy Corbyn with again and again.

Surely people can see through it?

rob said...

Well it does at least show that Corbyn is pragmatic aenough to use the disreputable honours system albeit to promote someone who deserves it.

If he had stuck to his principles then he wouldn't have forwarded any on his list. Ironic that he is playing this Westminster game yet not the one where he needs to take the PLP with him.

He is, after all a politician, like all the rest playing at the art of politics.

Leon Abraham said...

It's spurious to equate the Board of Deputies with "Jewish Voice". BDBJ can, through it's connection to various synagogue organisations, legitimately claim to represent a fairly large chunk of British Jews (not all, of course, but probably slightly more than half). "Jewish Voice" is one man with a blog and a twitter account.

LiamKav said...

"I am more angry about Sam Cam's hairdresser getting a gong and George Osborne becoming a "commander of honour". Yet I am being told by a 24 news cycle that I should be angry at Shami Chakrabarti who appears to be one of the most deserving on the list."

Several papers, including right-wing ones like the Mail, mentioned the hairdresser story on their front pages. More people in my not overly politically inclined office know more about that than they do about Shami Chakrabarti, so the news must have covered it in at least some detail.

The thing is, there's not much more you can do with that story. "Old PM gives award to the person who cuts his wife's hair" is funny, but it's also a dead-end. You do one article on it, but there's no real follow up. However, there's a lot more nuance, commentary and general interest on a story like Ms Chakrabarti's and what it reflects on Corbyn because of all the stuff Tim mentions in his post. That's not a conspiracy against Corbyn, that's just how news works.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone give a shit about ruritanian "honours" bestowed in a demonstrably corrupt and homicidal political system?

Nobody, it seems, apart from people who want one. The kind who knuckle their forehead at the drop of a Lizzy Von Windsor hat.

Unknown said...

Please stop retweeting and banging on endlessly about this non-story, or it might be assumed you have an interest in propagating anti-Corbyn propaganda. Thanks.

LiamKav said...

"Please stop retweeting and banging on endlessly about this non-story, or it might be assumed you have an interest in propagating anti-Corbyn propaganda."

Was... that a veiled threat?

rob said...

@ unknown

For a non story it seems to have an attracted a larger than usual number of comments.

It might be assumed you have an interest in rubbishing any story that goes against your grain, i.e. back to the politics of we're right you're wrong something that Corbyn professes to be against?

Anonymous said...

"...just how the news works..."

Yeah, right.

The news just sort of comes out with no biased input from far right monopoly owners, "journalists" and "editors."

It all just sort of ......well, happens.

Yeah, that'll be it.

LiamKav said...

That's not what I said. Of course there's bias in the news. I was arguing though against the specific point that Shami Chakrabarti got more press than Sam Cam's hairdresser beause of said bias by pointing out that her stylist was on the front-page of more than one right-wing newspaper. Also, if you think that the general public is more aware of the Shami Chakrabarti than the "Dave's wife's hairdresser got an award", I think you are overestimating how much attention the public pays to a story that's more than two days old.

Anonymous said...


Funny, that.

With you, it's always "...not what I said..."

I think you are overestimating your "ability" with the English language.