PSYCHOLOGICAL WEAPONRY #2: THE MSM MIRROR
Yesterday we saw the particularly blatant use of a common psychological method for undermining Corbyn. It is often used by anti-Corbyn Labour MPs but is most commonly found in the pages of MSM newspapers so I call it “The MSM Mirror”.
As we know, the image produced by a mirror shows the reverse of the actual object facing it. In the same way, Establishment news outlets try to reflect back at voters something that resembles what actually happened, but is in fact the reverse of it.
The objective in nearly all cases is to neutralise Corbyn’s successes. Every time he has something that would normally be counted as a big success, the establishment desperately try to neutralise it by arbitrarily declaring it to be a failure.
Of course every party leader has successes and failures, times when they are on the ropes, times when they are humiliated and times when they look like omnipotent master of all they survey. Normally, because nothing is really at stake other than that politician’s pride, the MSM are happy to report these ups and downs as they might report the career of a football manager. Corbyn, though, with his open Socialism and refusal to accept the Thatcherite consensus, represents a genuine threat to those currently with wealth and power. In his case there is something at stake. The Establishment and its mouthpieces, therefore, are constantly involved in paranoid and rather sweatily desperate attempts to ensure that his successes are not portrayed as such. They do this by arbitrarily declaring it to be a failure not a success and then making this the story rather than the government screw up.
The most recent and most blatant use of this tactic occurred yesterday following yet another spectacular Tory U-Turn. For the the second year running, the government was forced to abandon a major plank of its own Budget statement, the raising of NI contributions from the self-employed. Hammond has been in trouble over this daft proposal ever since he made it last week, and “Labour” MPs have been helpfully distracting us from his woes by attacking, er, their own party leader on the issue.
Yesterday, however, Hammond humiliated himself further by abandoning the policy. Corbyn and McDonnell, in contrast to their own backbenchers, had been determinedly opposing the policy all week, and were now triumphantly vindicated. The government, by contrast was looking weak, chaotic and incompetent.
With their usual sweaty desperation, Establishment pundits fell over each other as they rushed to plug the dyke.
See, it turns out that the real failure here was not that of a government too weak and incompetent to implement its own programme. No, it was all the fault of Jeremy Corbyn for, er, not asking good enough questions about it at PMQs. There were several things wrong with their reasoning as it related to this particular story.
Firstly, even if Corbyn’s performance at PMQs had been unspeakably awful , that should still be a minor story compared to the huge government cock-up, latest in a long line of such cock-ups. The fact that the anti-Corbyn establishment sought to make a “fluffed” Question Time a bigger story than the collapse of a Budget in itself gives the game away.
Secondly, Corbyn’s performance was NOT bad at all. Have a look at it on YouTube. He said pretty much what would be expected of an opposition leader in such a situation and covered all the points you might expect — the government is in chaos, the policy broke a manifesto promise and the Federation of Small Businesses had condemned them. May then answered him with some standard party political knockabout, same as she would have done against anyone else. What else were people expecting? May to run from the Chamber crying? May to shake Corbyn’s hand and say “You know what, Jeremy, you’re actually right”? Again the key point at stake is not the party political knockabout at PMQs, which is almost irrelevant, but the fact that the Tories screwed up their own budget. All Corbyn needed to do at PMQs was to point that out. As he did.
Really, though, the ins and outs of this particular example are not what matters. What matters is what it reveals of the wider psychological gamesmanship employed against Corbyn, to neutralise his triumphs by weirdly labelling them as disasters. Also what it reveals as to the sinister way in which mainstream journalism operates, repeating the same co-ordinated message across multiple outlets.
There is a follow-up to this tactic which is even more hilarious. Having deliberately and ludicrously made a major government cock-up into a story about Corbyn, they now try and blame HIM for this happening. You get a selection of the same pundits who made the story about him, now pompously and flatulently making derisive comments along the lines of “only Corbyn could turn this into a story about him!” Er, no, you did that not Corbyn you idiots.
One final point: There are those who like to claim that the U-Turn (and all similar U-Turns) were not connected to anything Corbyn did. That they were the result of opposition from Tory backbenchers or the Lords. Well firstly, there have been 30 such U-Turns in the 18 months since Corbyn became leader. One or two might be co-incidental but are such people seriously asking us to believe that THIRTY doesn’t constitute a pattern? Remember that before Corbyn became leader the Labour Party was so afraid of opposing what the Tories did they were abstaining. On Austerity.
However, even if it were true that government reverses are unconnected to Corbyn the point would still stand. The Establishment cannot afford to have a government looking weak when there is a Socialist opposition waiting in the wings. So they rush to make the story about that opposition instead.