Disinformation, Wikipedia tells us, is a term than derives from a Russian original, which was in turn “derived from the title of a KGB black propaganda department … Disinformation was defined in Great Soviet Encyclopedia(1952) as ‘false information with the intention to deceive public opinion’”. It is a concept that is alive and well in the UK today, with the decision to stand down by one Labour MP giving a prime example.
Gloria de Piero
Gloria de Piero has represented the constituency of Ashfield since 2010. This part of Nottinghamshire is a former coal mining area, and a heavily Leave voting one. She has decided not to stand again as the Labour candidate, but this could not be permitted by our free and fearless press to pass without embellishment.
So it was that the Murdoch Sun told readers “LABOUR’s Shadow Justice Minister Gloria de Piero quit last night - with a blast at the ‘intolerance’ in the party … The widely respected MP told members in Ashfield, a Leave constituency, that she had been subject to ‘grim’ abuse from second referendum campaigners”. This example was typical.
To show how typical, the Daily Mail told readers “Labour MP and former TV star Gloria de Piero QUITS amid 'utterly offensive' abuse from hard-Left - as she accuses Corbyn's party of 'lacking tolerance of different viewpoints’”. But it then added “Ms de Piero said she had faced online abuse from Remain supporters who opposed her support for Brexit”, which sounds rather different. Other papers trod the same ground.
Even the usually centre-left Guardian went with “The shadow justice minister, Gloria De Piero, has quit the Labour frontbench and announced she will not be standing at the next general election, citing the party’s ‘lack of tolerance’ … De Piero, the former shadow minister for young people and voter registration, said a ‘lack of tolerance for different viewpoints in the Labour party frankly worries me’”. And then came the Mirror.
The usually Labour-backing paper almost fell into the same disinformation hole as its fellow titles, telling readers “she said that the ‘lack of tolerance for different viewpoints in the Labour Party frankly worries me’ … She continued: ‘We have to have respect for each other, even if we disagree, because we are all part of this party. This party is about a set of values, not any individual, and we would all do well to remember that’”.
But at least the title was changed to “Labour MP Gloria De Piero quits as she 'cannot give commitment that members deserve’”, with the article being amended to let readers know “An earlier version of this article stated that Gloria de Piero was standing down because of 'lack of tolerance' in the Labour party. She has since stressed that this is not the reason for her decision and the article has been amended to reflect this”.
No decision to stand down taken by a Labour MP can be allowed to pass without being framed to enable severely adverse comment to be passed on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Worryingly, even the Guardian has been suckered into endorsing this framing. But the “lack of tolerance” narrative is disinformation, false information, intended to deceive.
That is only underscored by the Mirror being the only title prepared to admit framing the story wrongly. Unlike the former Soviet Union, the UK has no need of a state black propaganda department. Because the press establishment does the job instead.
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