While many politics watchers digest today’s exhibition of punditry and interviewing, those spinning against any form of accommodation with the EU have been honing tomorrow’s press agenda, which will then be taken up by the broadcasters, in some cases without questioning its reasoning or veracity. And that’s just what those stirring this particular pot want - because tomorrow’s EU storyline is built on sand.
No John, it's THEM targeting YOU
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was subjected to the inquisition of the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm), where he declared that his party would not countenance what is being described as a “No deal Brexit”, a fall-back to WTO rules on tariffs. His stance was clear: to remain in the room - just as Mrs T did so many times, let’s not forget - and negotiate a deal beneficial to both ourselves and the EU27 countries.
Behold the all-powerful dispenser of editorial lines to take
That sounds a straightforward and reasonably principled stance. But for those out there on the right, who have the connections to the press, it is nothing more than something to be twisted and spun to suit their ends. So it was that the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog duly twisted and span. This included both their current and former members, as well as one suitably clueless hanger-on.
He certainly is
After McDonnell declared he would not countenance “no deal”, out came the Fawkes whopper: “Labour would accept any EU deal, however punishing. Great negotiating tactic guys”. No, he didn’t say that. But that is the line being pushed to their press pals taking shape right there. It also chimes with the petulant snippiness of Staines’ former tame gofer, the flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, now at the Murdoch Sun.
The lie is told ...
“Observer calls for UK to sign a blank cheque to Brussels and abandon Brits living on continent for fear of upsetting EU. Pathetic” he whined at a paper voicing opinions inconvenient to him. There was no talk of a blank cheque, and none of abandoning Brits in other EU member states. That’s just lying, plain and simple. But that is how the right-wing Europhobic mindset works. Paranoia and outrage are the currencies in play here.
... it gets added to a similar lie ...
This line is already being taken up by supposedly mainstream pundits, including the Mail on Sunday’s not at all celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, who has asked “Why isn't Marr pointing out if McDonnell won't countenance no deal it means accepting whatever EU demands”, even though he forgot the question mark (again).
... and the resulting Kool-Aid is duly imbibed
The dishonesty and stupidity here is plain to see - Hodges is a former Trade Union official, so knows the difference between “negotiation”, which McDonnell stressed in his Marr Show interview, and “submission”, which is what he is assuming. But he is also a close acquaintance of The Great Guido and a paid-up member of the Pundit Establishment.
Later this week, you will see the anti-EU right-wing assert repeatedly that Labour would accept any deal, suck up any punishment meted out, sign any blank cheque supposedly demanded by Brussels. And after one paper has run the claim, especially if it’s a major seller like the Sun or Mail, it will rapidly become received wisdom.
Of course, our free and fearless press could just stop taking their stories from self-interested liars and their otherwise clueless hangers-on. But that might involve doing some proper journalism, and for too many in the Fourth Estate, that will just not do.