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Wednesday 22 July 2020

Labour, Panorama And Variable Facts

In the rock mockumentary All You Need Is Cash, about a fictional band called The Rutles (a spoof of The Beatles), viewers are told of how the group’s last days descended into acrimonious infighting: “amidst all this bickering, Let It Rot was issued as a film, an album … and a lawsuit”. The BBC Panorama broadcast titled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” looks very much as if it has become that album’s real-life equivalent.
The Labour Party made trenchant criticisms of the programme, the whistleblowers featured in it, and presenter John Ware. In retaliation, all except one of those criticised sued for defamation. Ware also sued Press Gang creator Paddy French, perhaps just to be on the safe side. Rather a lot of people were becoming extremely litigious.

But while The Rutles was played strictly for laughs, the legal actions launched against Labour have been anything but. And last week, when rumours circulated suggesting the party was going to settle the case, the unease among those on the left grew exponentially as the Guardian told readersAny apology will prove controversial among Corbyn loyalists, who questioned whether settling it is a good use of party funds”. There was more.

The Guardian understands legal advice provided to Labour under Corbyn’s leadership suggested the party could win the case. One Corbyn-supporting former member of its ruling national executive committee said: ‘It was clear advice: we were told that the Labour party would win the Panorama case. Then Keir came in and he seems to have decided to settle. If the legal advice has changed, it should be shared with the NEC”.

Well, now Labour has settled, and paid out the thick end of a million notes to do so. The Guardian once more: “The Labour party has apologised 'unreservedly' and paid out a six-figure sum to seven former employees and a veteran BBC journalist, admitting it defamed them in the aftermath of a Panorama investigation into its handling of antisemitism”.
Not everyone in the party was supportive: “Key figures in Labour when Jeremy Corbyn was leader are mulling a challenge to the party’s settlement with a BBC journalist and seven of its former staff over a libel case relating to a Panorama programme last year about its handling of antisemitism. It is understood the former Labour leader himself as well as his former director of communications Seumas Milne have taken legal advice”.

Quite apart from the expense involved, the question has to be asked - if legal advice had been received clearly stating that Labour would win the case, why abandon it now? Moreover, the idea that this will draw a line under allegations of anti-Semitism is for the birds: the settlement is being claimed as proof that Labour was an anti-Semitic party.

Add to that the deep unease among the party’s left wing at what appears very much like former leader Jeremy Corbyn, along with Milne and former General Secretary Jennie Formby being thrown under the nearest bus, and there is real danger of a damaging schism appearing - or a sudden and substantial reduction in membership.

Keir Starmer may have good reason for acting as he has. His problem, and that of his party, is that rather a lot of its supporters find the U-Turn exasperating and bewildering.

But many of them do know that they are deeply unhappy. I’ll just leave that one there.
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Anonymous said...

"Keir Starmer may have good reason for acting as he has"

Keeves may have reasons for acting as he has but I doubt that any of them could be characterised as 'good'.

Why aren't Labour 20 points ahead in the polls when they're up against the worst government in history? Keeves should resign!

Anonymous said...

Starmer doesn't "have good reason".

He has an evil right wing reason.

The fellow is morally corrupt and rotten to the core.

Jonathan said...

Starmer = Blair 2.0, what is going to happen now is a great purge of the Left.
I will leave it there,but Labour is dead now.

Anonymous said...

And when he does offer those of "the Left" the opportunity "not to be purged"....what do they do.................looking at RLB

Anonymous said...

I have spent the last few weeks trying to cancel my membership. I have emailed my CLP secretary, and the chair, and the membership contact form on the website, and haven't had a single reply from any of them!! How else can I cancel it?? I've cancelled the DD, but to be completely ignored is ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

"Variable facts"?....Are they from the same Newspeak stable as "alternative facts"?

Sam said...

The purge of the left has already begun. Perhaps Starmer has a cunning plan seeing over 10 million voted for a Corbyn government in 2019.
Starmer needs that 10 million plus so many more, but perhaps he has an alternative 10 million to replace them seeing he seems intent on insulting their integrity by demonizing in every way, the fact they voted for a man they believed would give them a better life.
One would think courting the left and being inclusive would be the wisest choice but it's pretty clear Labour will never again form government in the near future with the worst strategies I've ever seen. Shame.

Anonymous said...

If Labour had won the case, then it would show that a large part of the AS stuff was made up by people trying to damage the party. And those people are still working for or closely connected to the party.

It is particularly apt that the current Labour Party leadership decided that it couldn't run the risk of winning a court case that it had brought.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps Starmer has a cunning plan"

For an intelligent man, Keeves has adopted an at best incredibly risky strategy. Making Jess Phillips Minister for Karen; sacking RLB (but not Reed); adopting the 10 pledges (admittedly, along with all other candidates); announcing an inquiry into the leaking of the report but not the claims in the report; and now settling with the alleged 'whistleblowers'. It may play well in TV interviews and with my mum but I doubt it will gain many more voters than it's going to lose.

If it's meant to be Keeves' Clause 4 moment, it's a shit one. The Smiler* did show determination and strength in combatting, however wrongly, what he could characterise as the establishment. Keeves, in contrast, is showing weakness in just going along with the establishment.

* A reference to Warren Eliis' Transmetropolitan, where Blair is presented as a psychopath worse than Nixon, and one who believes in nothing.

Anonymous said...

"If Labour had won the case, then it would show that a large part of the AS stuff was made up by people trying to damage the party"

Now Keeves' actions make more sense. Or, at least, they did until Corby's statement. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jul/22/antisemitism-labour-settlement-plunges-party-into-civil-war What if the 'whistleblowers' sue and lose (as the evidence suggests they would when it is shown in open court? Keeves would then be in the position of admitting to accusations which a court has accepted are untrue.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 16.35

I cancelled mine back in January along with the DD as you have done, kept receiving emails from all sources in Labour and then received email on 4th July not only reminding me my membership was about to expire but that they had been trying to contact me about it, also by post as well!? I've no idea where they were sending them to as my home address/email hasn't changed in over 10 years!?

It seems they're either in a complete mess, or trying desperately to hang on to members who would appear to be leaving in droves. Or both, of course.

I just ignored all the other emails except for sending one on the 16th July to remind them I had already left but as yet have had no reply.

Ian Bradshaw said...

Starmer is trying to reduce the number of members in the Labour Party. He knows that parties with a small number of members do well in general elections.

J said...

Funny how any variance in the Labour membership figures were cause for a whole raft of press articles and reported on endlessly (especially when down by a few thou')... yet currently I have no idea if the membership numbers have changed up or down since Keeves Stoma won.