Friday, 26 August 2016
Wednesday, 3 August 2016
I did have to smile at the way GetReading reported on the open letters supporting the two candidates in the national Labour leadership election.
“Find out how many leading Labour party members in Reading backed Smith compared to those who came out for Corbyn” wrote veteran reporter Linda Fort.
The report then went on to describe how 40+ "prominent Labour members" had signed up to a letter supporting Smith and this was set along side a Corbyn supporting letter signed by 10 current councillors.
Make of that what you will - or what it implies.
The instigators of the pro-Smith letter have been telling each other on social media how delighted they have been with the coverage. Others have talked about the importance of winning the "PR war".
PR war? Is it a sign of confidence or desperation that the letter of 10 current serving Labour councilors needed to be met with a mighty barrage of 40+ signatures creating an impression – intended or not – of an over-whelming majority in favour of Smith?
I remember that in a previous national party leadership election a former leader of Reading Labour group proudly declared that he was "ABB" - anybody but Blair. Listening carefully to my fellow Labour members debates I have sensed that very many supposed "pro-Smith" are actually not that, but simply "ABC" - anybody but Corbyn.
Anyone familiar with the dark arts of propaganda knows the value of that the old saying “A lie will get half way round the world before the truth has got its boots on”, so it is not so surprising that there has been no clarification from the pro-Smith signatories that they are not all "leading Labour party members in Reading". I'm sure, by the way, this has never been their direct claim - just how the press interpreted it.
A scant inspection of those listed by Get Reading as pro-Smith include former Reading comrades who are now scattered far and wide - but are NOT members of the Labour Party in Reading. A few examples - my friend Howarth now lives in Newcastle, Morris in Plymouth, Hartley and King in London, Zieleinski in Scotland ... I could go on. All good honourable friends, but none living in Reading. And some, as one current councillor put it, "who are they?": please, be more respectful.
It was quite literally laughable – a good stunt well played – but not that funny when we think that many could soon be three-time losers in today's politics: on the losing side of the last leadership election, the losing side of the Brexit debate (something we need to think long and hard about in places like Whitley and Hexham Road), and if as expected , once again be on the losing side of the leadership elections.
If that proves to be the case, what will they have to say to the party and the town?
PS And by the way Linda, you could have described me as Cllr Terry's husband, rather than the other way round - Liz and I, at least, agree on that!