The real – Right wing authoritarian meets Pinochet
The fake – Déjà vu: the Tories seem to imply that every Labour leader has “links” with the IRA and need a “coalition of chaos” to succeed.
There is a picture of Corbyn circulating in both the mainstream media and on social media that was taken in 1995 with Gerry Adams, of Sinn Fein, in an attempt to try and link Corbyn with the IRA, albeit indirectly. The picture was actually taken after the Downing Street Declaration (an agreement between the UK and Ireland that the Northern Irish people had the right to self determination) which led to the first IRA ceasefire.
Corbyn contributed to the debate by pushing the IRA to abandon the bombings and sit down to negotiate since the 1980s. Margaret Thatcher held secret meetings with the IRA with the very same objective. By 1995, the Conservative Prime Minister John Major had taken the first hugely important steps towards peace in Northern Ireland. Blair built on that with the Good Friday Agreement, which led to lasting peace.
Corbyn has publicly denounced ALL acts of terrorism. Several times.
You never hear of the Tories being “concerned” about Prince Charles’s links with the IRA, do you.
Or Donald Trump’s
and curiously, Boris Johnson’s (what a complete hypocrit).
The Conservatives win general elections by using a combination of lying, smearing the opposition, misquoting the opposition and micro-targeted psychological manipulation that largely entails fearmongering and more lies. Furthermore, much of this approach is being embedded in “dark ads” on social media, which target individuals, and are tailored according to the psychological profile of the recipient, to manipulate their perceptions. The profiling is based on “big data”, collected from a variety of sources, including social media platforms. The role of big data and social data and the micro-targeting of voters to influence voting decisions and election outcomes cannot be ignored.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), a public body in charge of data protection in Britain, began a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes last month. In a statement, an ICO spokesperson said:
“These tools have a significant potential impact on individuals’ privacy,” adding that public awareness about how personal data was being collected online was generally low.
“It is important that there is greater and genuine transparency about the use of such techniques.”
Facebook itself has declined to comment on its advertising sales strategy for the British election.
In 2015, I wrote an article about Cameron being subjected to much ridicule after he misquoted the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, by taking his comments out of context, during the Prime minster’s Conservative party conference speech. This led to thousands of people sharing a video of Cameron himself describing Osama bin Laden’s death as “a tragedy.”
Corbyn’s original comments had come from an interview with Iranian news channel, The Agenda. During the interview, Jeremy Corbyn, who was actually introduced as an “outspoken rebel in the Labour party’s ranks”, said:
“There was no attempt whatsoever that I can see to arrest him, to put him on trial, to go through that process.
This was an assassination attempt, and is yet another tragedy, upon a tragedy, upon a tragedy.
The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy. Tens of thousands of people have died. Torture has come back on to the world stage, been canonised virtually into law by Guantanamo and Bagram.”
However the malicious Cameron made no show of an attempt at quoting Corbyn correctly and instead used the old quote out of context, to mislead people, claiming he felt Corbyn somehow constituted a “threat to national security.” This is a long running theme in Conservative propaganda.
BBC’s Steven Sackur has previously said that as soon as Corbyn was elected as Labour party leader, the Conservatives “issued propaganda” suggesting that Corbyn is a “threat” to national security. He also pointed directly to the government’s fundamental lack of accountability, transparency and democracy in the unprecedented move to refuse to share military and intelligence information in 2015, which is conventionally shared with the leader of the opposition.
“National security” is a theme that has run through the Conservatives campaigns and media commentary since. It works because it generates fear. It’s the political use of psychological manipulation at its very worst, as it presents an “enemy” for the public to vote against, rather than something inspiring to vote for.
The Conservative party always emphasise and distort issues of national defense and magnify our perception of threat, whether of foreign aggressors, immigrants, terrorists, or “invading” ideologies like Socialism (see the Zinoviev letter, for example). They reduce and present the world as a frightening place, and justify authoritarian policies to remedy the perceived threats. This is then used to portray the party as “strong”, and any opposition as “weak”.
The Conservatives, with the cooperation of much of the media, are using this strategy of tension, designed intentionally to create public alarm, to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, intensive psychological operations and false flags in order to achieve their strategic aims – to portray the left as a “threat” to the wellbeing of society – and it reverberates around the media, to be used as part of an arsenal of pro-establishment, anti-progressive propaganda to discredit Corbyn. That is before he even has an opportunity to put the record straight. Yet even a glance through the Labour manifesto shows that this “threat” patently untrue.
The Labour party has again accused the Conservatives of creating “fake news” after a Tory attack video that went viral was edited to show Jeremy Corbyn refusing to condemn the IRA, when in fact the Labour leader said: “I condemn all the bombing by the loyalists and the IRA.”
The 85-second montage of Corbyn’s quotes has been circulating online for the last week and has been viewed 5.3m times, three times more than any other political campaign video. The Conservatives are also paying Facebook to insert it into people’s news feeds. It is subtitled: “On June 9th, this man could be Prime Minister. We can’t let that happen.”
Actually, we can and must. The frightful and unthinkable alternative is an extreme authoritarian right wing government with clear fascistic tendencies.
Another Facebook advert that was paid for by the Conservatives claims Corbyn wants to abolish Britain’s armed forces. This is false. The Labour manifesto pledges to spend 2% of GDP on defence and states: “We will ensure that our armed forces are properly equipped and resourced to respond to wide-ranging security challenges.”
A spokesperson for the Labour Party said: “The Conservatives are running a hateful campaign based on smears, innuendo and fake news.
“They do so because they have nothing to offer the British people and their super-rich donors fear Labour’s plan to transform Britain for the many not the few.”
For balance, the Guardian asked Conservative HQ if they wanted to highlight false claims in any Labour party advertisments, but it declined.
The media don’t help people sift facts from fiction either. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has claimed several times that she is “worried” about Labour’s ability to deal with terror threats. She based her claim on Corbyn’s “voting record”, saying:
“I am shocked that Jeremy Corbyn, just in 2011, boasted that he had opposed every piece of anti-terror legislation in his 30 years in office.”
Much to Rudd’s discomfort, Corbyn has replied:
“Can I just remind you that in 2005 Theresa May voted against the anti-terror legislation at that time. She voted against it, as did David Davis, as did a number of people that are now in your cabinet, because they felt that the legislation was giving too much executive power.” – Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, BBC Election Debate.
I looked at the voting records to fact check this. Corbyn is right, of course. Here is what I found:
On 28 Feb 2005: Theresa May voted no on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill — Third Reading
On 9 Mar 2005: Theresa May voted no on Prevention of Terrorism Bill — Rejection of New Lords’ Amendment — Sunset Clause
On 9 Mar 2005: Theresa May voted no on Prevention of Terrorism Bill — Rejection of Lords’ Amendment — Human Rights Obligations
On 10 Mar 2005: Theresa May voted no on Prevention of Terrorism Bill — Insisted Amendment — on Human Rights Obligations
Broadening my search, I also found:
Terrorism Act 2000 – legislation introduced by the Labour government which gave a broad definition of terrorism for the first time. The Act also gave the police the power to detain terrorist suspects for up to seven days and created a list of proscribed terrorist organisations.
May: Absent from the final vote (there was no Second Reading)
Counter-terrorism Act 2008
This legislation gave powers to the police to question terrorist suspects after they had been charged. It also tried to extend detention without charge to 42 days, but the Labour government abandoned this after being defeated in the House of Lords.
May: Absent from the vote
Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that destroys the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, or social group. The method involves a mix of open and covert methods, such as raising false accusations, planting and fostering rumours, and manipulating information. It may also involve exaggeration, misleading half-truthsto present an untrue picture of the targeted person. It is a form of defamation and typifies the Conservative overuse of ad hominem argument in debate.
The Labour leader’s rising popularity, particularly since his recent televised appearances, has led to the Conservatives stepping up their heavy targeting of Corbyn with nine out of 10 of their adverts attacking him, according to an analysis of 889 Facebook ads placed by the three main parties into the feeds of more than 8,000 voters. The data has been gathered by the Who Targets Me project and analysed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
One ad is subtitled: “A leader who supports our armed forces or one who wants to abolish them? The choice is clear: Corbyn and your security is too big a risk.”
By contrast, the Labour party hardly Theresa May in its social media campaign with only 9% of the 136 different ads seen so far by Who Targets Me referring to the prime minister.
The adverts that Labour is promoting hardest are related to policy, but the majority are urging people to get out and vote. The next most common topics addressed in paid for ads by the party are the NHS and tuition fees. The Conservatives are focusing most on smearing Corbyn, Brexit, the economy and security while the Liberal Democrats are using Facebook ads to talk about Brexit and dementia but also to seek donations.
The fact that the Conservatives feel safe enough to reduce politics to little more than smear and fear campaigning, and accusing anyone opposing them as subverting “the people’s will” indicates just how dangerously authoritarian they are.
It’s not as if the Conservatives have demonstrated any such democratic accountability and actually care about what the wider public think, until the run-up to an election day. Nor do they listen to what we have to say. A plurality of perspectives and healthy debate are the foundation of democracy, yet the Conservatives don’t want that.
Elections are supposed to provide choices: the opportunity for voters to have a say on the big issues. There is no shortage of serious questions facing Britain in 2017 – not just what type of relationship we want with the European Union after we leave, but on a much wider range of important economic and social challenges, after seven years of an unsuccessful “long term plan” of austerity cuts.
It’s time to ensure that your voting decision is based on real policy choices, a responsible decision that prioritises both societies’ and your own best interests, rather than on a fleeting emotional response from empty style-over-content marketing strategies, and superficial glittering generalities captured in a meaningess Tory slogan or meme. The Tories don’t do dialogue or democracy: they simply shout over their opponents and critics very loudly to stifle healthy debate. They also pay a lot of money to ensure that they saturate social media with toxic smear campaigns and lies.
Don’t let the Tories buy the election again.
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