“Active Measures” isn’t just the name of a new film detailing the decades long grooming of Trump by Russian intelligence. It’s a long-standing propaganda technique from the Soviet days, focused on stirring up division amidst opponents from the outside. 

If there is a parallel between this and the constant haranguing of our opposition party by the media, then it’s often successful. Labour supporters who are frequently drawn like magnets to binary put-downs like “hard-left or “tory” might reflect on whose interests they are ultimately serving. 

With the government credibility and popularity in poor shape, especially around the bungling of Brexit, elite pressure on the opposition has to be kept up. 

With Labour’s adoption of IHRA standards earlier in the week, the furore about anti-semitism may diminish for a while.

So the “Attack Corbyn” wheel has been spun and not for the first time it’s landed on “Speculation About A New Centre Party.”

What does “centrist” mean in this discourse? Basically, it means accepting neo-liberal economics, just not of a strand that is riven with social bigotry.

Who indulges this speculation? By and large, it’s those same media and political “chattering classes” and “elite” that the media tell us are out of touch. And it often escapes these “experts” that we already have a supposedly centrist, pro-EU party with roots going back hundreds of years to the 2nd oldest tradition in our political culture. But given that the LibDems struggle to break double digits in polls, it’s questionable that there’s much appetite for a similar new party among the broader public.

Predictably, Blair is doing the rounds promoting these ideas, having just got cosy with Italian fascist Matteo Salvini – a player in Bannon’s project to consolidate far-right politics across Europe. Blair’s meeting got a small amount of coverage but tends not to be mentioned as a challenge to his credibility. Perhaps knocking around with fascists isn’t really that controversial to establishment journalists.

There is at least a push-back against this “centrist” narrative. The likes of Novara Media, emphasising that policies such as rail nationalisation, or people being able to afford to live off full-time wages, are genuinely centrist with broad appeal.

Labour’s internal problems may well continue, there could even be a split. But this should be primarily an internal matter, not one dictated by coordinated attacks that have been relentless since Corbyn’s name first went on the leadership ballot in 2015. The “Attack Corbyn” wheel will continue to spin, including a trial run of a new addition about Iranian infiltration of the party. 

It seems only independent media in the UK will provide a substantial counter-balance. Ideally, this can be achieved without being overtly partisan. It shouldn’t be taking side with Labour or Corbyn. It should be about providing a balanced analysis – a function which we can’t expect the billionaire/ establishment media to fulfil. 

Stephen Durrant

The Media Fund

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