With less than a month to go before the UK general election, all efforts are being made by political parties to further their agendas. Naturally each side is launching attacks on the other, but perhaps the most virulent campaign is that of the Conservatives towards Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. Their malicious accusations, particularly regarding allegations of widespread anti-semitism in the Labour party, which are without any proper foundation, have been propagated more or less since Corbyn came to power.
The anti-Corbyn propaganda reached its peak last week with an article in The Guardian entitled: “Concerns about anti-semitism mean we cannot vote Labour”. Signed by 24 ‘celebrities’, the piece stated that Jeremy Corbyn was ‘steeped in association with anti-semitism’ and that the opposition leader had ‘a long history of embracing antisemites as colleagues’. And yet a Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into antisemitism in the UK in 2016 found “no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party”. Furthermore, Labour’s own investigation the same year ruled that the party was not “overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism”. Some party members did resign over matter – but this equated to as little as 0.08% of the membership – hardly a widespread issue it seems.
We therefore have to ask ourselves, why is it that we, the British people, are constantly being bombarded with information that the Labour party, and leader Jeremy Corbyn himself is anti-semitic? One can only deduce that it is pure propaganda being promoted by the Conservative party, because the fact is, there is very little to attack the Labour leader on. His policies genuinely have the potential to become extremely popular with the electorate, some of which are truly revolutionary and would nourish what is a nation starved of welfare provision after years of Tory austerity. Free broadband internet for all, raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour, nationalising public services – including rail, bus and Royal Mail – and creating a state-run pharmaceutical organisation: what is not to like? Britain is now a society steeped in injustice, with record levels of poverty and homelessness and despite Johnson’s attempt to compete with Corbyn on welfare with talk of also raising the minimum wage, he simply can’t undo the years of Tory austerity and the damage it has done to the lives of millions of ordinary working Brits.
Yet the Tory propaganda machine is on full blast. On Wednesday, after the ITV leaders’ debate where Corbyn and Johnson went head to head, it emerged that the Conservative press office twitter account was changed to the title ‘factcheckUK’ during the course of their exchange. The fact that it was temporarily changed during the one-hour programme was clearly an attempt to mislead the public into thinking that this was an unbiased, impartial media outlet offering commentary on the Labour leader’s performance. It’s video entitled: ‘factcheckUK verdict: Boris Johnson is winner of the leader’s debate’ demonstrates a clear aim to deceive the public.
But we should not be surprised that a Johnson government is prepared to go to such lengths to mislead and dupe the electorate. Under the current Prime Minister’s leadership, such deception is an everyday occurrence it seems, to the extent that one of the questions put to Johnson at the debate on Tuesday night was about ‘trust’ and whether indeed he could be trusted. The PM has been caught out lying, whether consciously or not, on so many occasions, and was engaged in this even before he took office. In the run up to the EU referendum he was one of many claiming that the UK would save around £350 million a year by leaving the EU.
It is easy to lose count of the number of times he has lied since becoming PM. He said the Conservatives were building 40 new hospitals – this has been shown to be untrue. He keeps repeating that there will be 20,000 new police officers to tackle crime; misleading considering his party have taken 21,000 police officers off the streets in recent years. His propensity to be untruthful does not go unnoticed, and frequently makes headlines: ‘For nine extraordinary minutes, Boris Johnson stood next to his bus and lied and lied and lied without stopping’ and ‘PM Makes String of False Claims in BBC Interview’. And it’s a sad state of affairs when you almost except the Prime Minister not to tell the truth: ‘Johnson’s Brexit would devastate business; the CBI must be hoping he is lying’, Simon Jenkins writes in The Guardian.
And yet propaganda, it seems, works. For despite the woes of ordinary working Brits, they are still prepared to vote Conservative, for one reason or another at the ballot box. Personally, I find it difficult to work out why. One candidate is offering real solutions to the everyday strife facing working people, and another is promoting further uncertainty under Brexit and a continuation of the status quo when it comes to social provision. And yet people seem to be taken in by the glossy, slick packaging of the Conservative manifesto and Johnson’s buffoonish, amiable personality. ‘He’s one of the boys, isn’t he?’ one Leave voter told Sky News recently. I shuddered in disbelief. One of the boys? How many average blokes in Britain have attended Eton and the Bullingdon Club? And yet people speak about him as if he joins the locals for a pint after work at the pub.
It’s time for people to waken up and smell the coffee come December 12th. For people’s livelihoods are at stake.