Kate Buffery
Aug 1, 2016 · 4 min read

Despite his protestations, Owen Jones has taken sides. The choice at the moment is between Corbyn or Smith. Jones doesn’t want Corbyn as he is. And Corbyn’s already indicated that he’s not likely to change himself to fit in with Jones’ suggestions as to who he should be. The upshot is that Owen Jones is desperate to poke holes in Corbyn and show the world he is right to want those changes. And this all helps Owen Smith no end.

Jones’ attempts to poke holes in Corbyn in a youtube interview a couple of days ago didn’t manage to make much of an impression, so he’s now pressing more questions in a blog, free from the distraction of Corbyn being able to answer them.

Owen Jones pretends not to mind that his ‘advice’ to Corbyn is being ignored, but shouting out long and hard about his credentials and banging on about the areas where he sees Corbyn as sorely lacking (even if, like a prosecuting advocate he raises them as questions), indicates that he hopes at least some of his readers will mind on his behalf. He’s not the first person in the bubble to discover that the fact that Corbyn is ‘decent’ and ‘listens’ doesn’t mean he’s just a vessel waiting to be filled by those who insist they ‘know better’.

And Jones’ blog looks too like the work of man who is sure he ‘knows better’ and feels unfairly spurned. He too readily uses the excuse that he is being true to himself whilst using his position to compromise that of a leader he ostensibly supports. He’s under no obligation to put right the proven media bias against Corbyn (which he brushes off as readily as Corbyn’s most fervent detractors) but I don’t see a genuine principle at play in deciding to do the opposite. And there is hypocrisy in his attempt to add weight to his criticisms by, on the one hand bigging up his credentials in supporting Corbyn, whilst on the other adopting the hackneyed ploys of every MSM detractor to undermine him.

For example the glib comparison of JC with Foot (but no mention of the ‘Falklands effect’ of course). Or his suggestion that Corbyn’s not been visible enough in speaking out about hate crimes post Brexit. (In fact when Corbyn did so, MSM reported the proven fabrication that he’d ‘lunged.’ at a female journalist.) And Jones even takes up the much used quote of the ‘Corbyn supporter’ who said ‘winning is not important’— but in true MSM style omits the caveat of the original, — ‘if we’re going to offer the same policies as the Tories’.

In raising the question of ‘media strategy’, Jones again follows the MSM lead in undermining the relative importance of social media —though its influence in building Labour support is clear, and it’s recognised as having won Obama his victory. By contrast he concentrates on the importance of MSM and seems keen to blame Corbyn for the problems he’s having — which is odd as the real problems: the bias, prejudice, partiality, collusion, hostility etc. were experienced in parallel by Sanders in the US. I’ve not heard anyone blaming Bernie’s media strategy. When dealing with a hostile press ‘strategising’ may limit the damage but won’t solve the problem. But Jones is nonetheless determined that we do all see Corbyn’s efforts as the problem. He tells Corbyn supporters that we ‘must’ question media strategy! If I do…..I can see that Corbyn is absoutely right to concentrate on the ripple effect of social media. I can see that he challenges press treatment without allowing it to become a whine. And I get the size of the problem Corbyn faces in media bias (which Corbyn manages reasonably well and which doesn’t get to be less of a problem just because Jones is clearly bored of hearing about it). But to understand the leadership media strategy and management in greater detail the leadership would also have to be accountable to us in greater detail.

It is divisive to encourage the membership to want to micro-manage the leadership in areas where they are under huge pressure and where the strategy has at least in part to be able to adapt to the particular. And we have to be wary when we are being asked to do so by someone who makes no secret that he wants more of a say in leadership decisions.The irony is that if Owen Jones were really driven about media strategy, he’s better placed than any of us to have an impact in redressing the current imbalance in the press. Instead he writes an article which has the PLP and their supporting media, singing from the rafters.

But strategising for Corbyn’s victory, is something that Owen Jones prescribes for Corbyn and ordinary supporters but not for himself. So, constraints and restraints on Corbyn — but Jones must be able to write what he likes when he likes. He raises various other questions in his blog. They can all be answered in equivalent terms and with equivalent irritation at Jones’ assumption that they cover issues which members /the Labour leadership haven’t thought about. We are aware that this isn’t a dress rehearsal. Hence the commitment. Owen Jones may not be.

From outside the bubble a huge number of Labour members, have judged Corbyn to be the best possible option to guard and promote the democratic socialist agenda. If you truly believe in democracy and in socialism Owen Jones, ask not what Corbyn or Corbyn supporters should be doing for you — but what you should be doing for this movement. Whilst you are using media pressure in the hope of changing the mindset of an elected leader so that it more nearly reflects your own, you become a dead weight in Corbyn’s leadership campaign despite positioning yourself above it.

    Kate Buffery

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