This isn’t decency, it’s double standards

10269360_10154927389390118_5539080808494383588_nKenneth Fleming says the whiff of hypocrisy that sits at the heart of the Corbyn project has become an acrid stench.


“The Tories have just had a former PR man stroke lobbyist as their leader – David Cameron. You will know that in America, and here, people find the link between politics and lobbyists distasteful, and having been a former pharmaceutical company lobbyist will not help Owen Smith.”

Diane Abbott used to work in television production and PR before becoming an MP, a career path very similar to that of Owen Smith. That didn’t stop her holding up his professional past on the Today programme yesterday.

Ms Abbott knows that lobbying in the United States and United Kingdom are very different disciplines. I know this too, because I worked in a public affairs consultancy in Edinburgh for three years, like many, many party members who have held similar roles across the UK. But knowing the truth hasn’t stopped Abbott or the Corbyn campaign using Smith’s past against him.

So Owen Smith used to work in a Government Affairs and Policy role for Pfizer. Is this an automatic disqualifier to being leader of the Labour Party? I mean, there are problems with major pharmaceutical companies, absolutely, but he wasn’t a publicist for Skeletor was he?

Still Diane winks away about how much party members love the NHS, while memes flourish alleging that Owen Smith lobbied for its privatisation. Jeremy Corbyn even asked Owen Smith to agree that the NHS should be free at the point of use, although Smith had confirmed this earlier this week and throughout his career. I’ve seen plenty of garish graphics on Twitter, but not a shred of hard evidence to back up the anti-Smith propaganda. On the contrary, I have seen evidence that Smith helped to fund work at IPPR that argued for choice in the NHS, but against privatisation.

There may some be some Corbyn supporters reading this who might well reject it out of hand. Arrant apologism by one corporate sell-out for another. Fine. They probably have a point.

What I cannot accept is the condemnation of Owen Smith for his professional past, while at the same time Jeremy Corbyn’s record as a backbench MP is so glibly excused. Accepting money from a TV channel that was banned in the UK for its part in filming the torture of an Iranian journalist? Support for the Cuban Solidarity campaign? Inviting representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah to the Commons and calling them your friends?

Corbyn’s defenders might reply that engaging with illiberal regimes and terrorist organisations does not necessarily mean endorsing everything about those regimes or those organisations. They might say that engaging with these actors fosters dialogue, and this precipitates reform. Again, they probably have a point.

But if this is the case, why is Owen Smith personally accountable for the industry he worked for, when Jeremy Corbyn is not personally accountable for the people he has worked with? Jeremy Corbyn’s past is contextualised, and Owen Smith’s is caricatured.  Speaking up for pharmaceutical executives is beyond the pale, but speaking up for Castro is not.

The whiff of hypocrisy that sits at the heart of the Corbyn project has become an acrid stench.

This is a man who rebelled against the democratically elected leaders of his party over 500 times, but then states at his leadership launch yesterday that his MPs have a duty and a responsibility to be loyal to him now.

This is about politics that was supposed to be straight talking and honest, but which has resulted in the alleged treatment of Thangnam Debonnaire, Lilian Greenwood and Conor McGinn.

This is about defining Owen Smith as anti-welfare, when Jeremy Corbyn himself appointed him Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions. This is the rhetoric of no personal attacks which condones veiled comparisons between this former member of the Labour shadow cabinet and a former Tory Prime Minister.

Corbyn was supposed to be different. Better. Purer. But in the end, Jeremy Corbyn is just like every other politician. Morally complicated and morally flawed. The difference is he is just not very good at being a leader.

Every time someone resigns from Corbyn’s cabinet they tell us that he is essentially a decent man. They do it with the same weary resignation as someone apologising for their pissed mate down the pub. “He’s not like this when he’s sober…” That’s Jeremy Corbyn: the sermonising student in the union bar, drunk on incoherent moral indignation about the bad people in the world.

The reason he is incompetent is not just because he lacks the skills, but because there is no substance or consistency to his politics, just a messy clutter of things he is against, with no clarity about what he is for.

This contest has just begun, and we have been reminded that the defining characteristic of Jeremy Corbyn’s politics isn’t the decency, it is the double standards.

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31 thoughts on “This isn’t decency, it’s double standards

  1. OK you dont like Jeremy Corbyn Kenneth, I get it. The question is, what are you going to do if he wins the leadership vote? Stay and continue the attrition or leave? Its a question a lot of Labour people are asking themselves. Form a new Party? The ultimate betrayal? I can smell your dilema, its a bit like Corbyn’s hypocrasy I suppose.

    1. I’m still not sure yet, but I do appreciate your concern and kind thoughts.

  2. I am going to stay whatever, because it is my Party, built by people like me over the years with a proud tradition of achievements in successive governments, improving the lives of working people. This age of anxious populism will pass. Its various tribal leaders on the left and right will have tickled their supporters’ pious generalities long enough for their vacuousness to be apparent to all but the usual rump. I will even continue to vote for a Party led by a vain, stubborn, incompetent leader, safe in the knowledge he will get nowhere near real power. (I am not so sure about Trump in the USA). There will be many thousands who know that the important people are ordinary voters. We won’t be bullied out of a party we love by people who always hated it. We’ll rebuild it, as we have done before.

  3. Kenneth, I heard Owen Smith give an interview on the BBC where he attributed to Corbyn all the sins of misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism and bad treatment of women. As though none of this ever existed previously.
    All political Parties will have these problems to a certain extent, but to lay the blame all on one individual in Labour is just daft. And this is the man who Smith claims to want as President?
    Labour is washing all its dirty linen in a very public way, to the delight of its enemies.
    Blairism, Corbynism, Brownism etc etc—all now terms of abuse—-where does this end?
    It used to be said of the Trots and Maoists, that they fought over more and more obscure points of principle, until no one understood what their differences were—-and no one cared.
    That is increasingly what is happening with Labour—-they are fighting each other because its a fight, not over anything of substance.

      1. Why do you doubt that Duncan?
        Do you doubt Gavin heard / saw it, or don’t you think it was said?

        Mr Smith is quoted as saying,

        “We have had a massive problem recently with misogyny and intolerance in the party, anti-Semitism, racism and the awful way in which women in the Labour movement have been treated. It’s been appalling to witness this, heart-breaking,” he told the BBC.

        Looks pretty clear to me, can you point out where the original OP’s analysis fails?


        1. He didn’t attribute those things to Jeremy, he said they had come to the fore under his leadership. That statement has the advantage also of being entirely accurate.

          1. And yet did you and I no discuss recently the comparison between how women are represented in the SNP relative to Labour? Didn’t you as usual blow Labours horn and praise them to the rafters regarding what you claimed was Labour superior attitude to sex equality?

            You still cant seem to keep a consistent point of view between one article and another.

            That’s the very epitome of dishonesty.

          2. You write that these things have come to the fore under Corbyn, yet to take the case of anti-Semitism, the majority of the alleged anti-Semitic incidents happened before Corbyn became leader. Not even in the world of ‘anything must be used to smear Corbyn’ can he be held responsible for events that happened before he was elected leader.
            On a more general level you write that the “statement has the advantage also of being entirely accurate” yet there are no details in the statement, the statement is a list of bad things without any evidential back-up. A great many accusations have been made, some may be true, but it is also true that many of them have been blatant attempts to smear, e.g the attempt to link Corbyn supporters to the disgusting anti-Semitic comments made about and to Luciana Berger MP.

          3. Smiths’ statement claims that these are RECENT problems. That is in no way accurate, “enitirely” or otherwise no matter how many times you claim that. Smith and his fellow plotters have smeared Corbyn continually for months, gleefully assisted by fellow blairites such as yourself.

      2. Duncan, you are thinking about the semantics of my comments, not their thrust.
        The implications of Smiths remarks are clear: that the problems raised by Smith have come to pass on Corbyn’s watch, and that he, Corbyn, has done nothing to alleviate them, and in that remark leaves the suggestion that Corbyn is in some way therefore complicit in those obnoxious events.
        Very nasty.

        1. I always know I’ve won an argument when someone tells me I’m talking semantics. Thanks Gavin.

          1. Sadly for you, but mostly for Labour, you have won nothing. A decent man has been, and is being, vilified to make a third rate challenger look good.
            Where were the rest of the Shadow Cabinet ( now resigned in cahoots) when all these racist, anti-Semitic etc etc events were occuring?—-over the period of a year, according to Smith.
            This contest is reducing Labour to gutter smears and will poisen the water for years.
            You can celebrate your small “wins” and be as triumphalistic as you want, Duncan, but I am not the enemy you need to conquer —–that exists in as disfunctional group of MPs as has ever existed.., no matter how this shambles ends.

    1. I haven’t seen that interview, Gavin so I can’t respond to that directly.

      This situation is immensely regrettable, as you outline well, and I think everyone involved needs to take their share of the blame. I’d include myself in that. I do disagree with you about what people are fighting for. This is about the future of a 116 year old political party. The tenor of the debate is influenced by the substance at stake.

  4. “There may some be some Corbyn supporters reading this who might well reject it out of hand”. I reject that sentence out of hand.

  5. ‘Corbyn’s record is so glibly excused’

    His record is what inspires his troops and terrifies our establishment enemy, including it’s Blairite.warmongers.

        1. Tut tut Mike, self determination isn’t for the likes of you & I.
          The PLP are who decides whats best for the plebs.
          Now be a good chap, and cast your vote for who John McTernan tells you to… it’s for your own good!

          1. Haha. Mike doesn’t have a vote! He’s a Labour opponent. That’s why he supports Corbyn.

      1. “Haha. Mike doesn’t have a vote! He’s a Labour opponent. That’s why he supports Corbyn.”

        I’m a Labour member.
        I have a vote.
        I support Corbyn.

        Is that a problem?

        1. Yes, it’s a huge problem for the future of our party. Corbyn is killing it.

          1. Only your Red Tory fringe extremist cult faction within Labour Duncan.
            He is trying to reclaim the original socialist Labour party to oppose Tories instead of abstaining or voting with them.

            Looks like you will have to change your website moniker to New New Red Tory Hame when your cult faction is forced to leave Labour for good.

            Who knows you may even become an unelectable prospective candidate for Parliament. They clearly don’t set the bar higher than below sea level so you have a shout.

  6. “Diane Abbott used to work in television production and PR before becoming an MP, a career path very similar to that of Owen Smith. ” Ehh no – Dianne Abbot was a Press Officer in Local Government – bit different from Owen Smith heading up the lobbying operation for a giant drug company ( where he was lobbying the government he had been a special adviser.

    One Is aimed at improving press coverage for a municipality … the other is to work at getting the rules made in the favour of shareholders. Not quite the same thing.

    1. 1980 – 1985 .Abbott worked as a researcher and journalist for Thames TV and then Breakfast telly.
      Smith was a BBC producer for ten years then moved into PR.

      Thats like saying the store manager of your local Tesco has a similar career path as the chairman of the board. They both work in retail afterall….. LoL

  7. “Haha. Mike doesn’t have a vote! He’s a Labour opponent. That’s why he supports Corbyn.”

    And yet my ideology is far closer to Old Labours than yours is Duncan I am ex Labour now SNP because I don’t follow parties I follow ideology. You’re the very epitome of “New Tory” Labour. Dishonest self serving and corrupt to the core.

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