Friday, 27 November 2009

Jeremy, Jeremy - What's Left?

Also wanted to highlight this slightly old news story about Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North MP) standing in on PressTV (Iranian state mouthpiece in English) for - you guessed it - George Galloway, that nasty apologist for dodgy Islamist regimes the world over.

It does underline the point made in Nick Cohen's excellent book, "What's Left?", where he uncovers the lengths to which the right-on brigade will go in cuddling up to awful regimes, so as not to be considered anti-ethnic. I'm sorry, Iran is a pretty ugly regime right now, and Jeremy, in doing this you are going from being endearingly altruistic to just plain naive.


  1. At least Jeremy didn't back the war against Iraq...

    Perhaps we should boycott state-owned BBC as the UK govt takes part in illegal wars in the Middle East.

    We've not got a good record in this region, Rob. Best not to throw stones!

  2. Ok James I can see you're up for controversy!

    Now, I appreciate you might not be for the Iraq war - fair enough - but to be honest I'm not sure what this has got to do with the post.

    Because two countries are in the same region - you and I don't have to withold our opinions on one because of what our government has done in the other. (A government which, by the way, I am not even part of or close to being so - at the moment I aspire only to the back benches, like Jeremy) Two wrongs, as my mother always said, do not make a right.

    Now, a question for you. Apart from your view on Iraq, and the fact that Jeremy is a nice guy - he is, I've met him a few times - do you approve of a British MP acting as a spokesman and supporter for this dreadful regime?

    Yes of course he has the right to do it, but the key question is, do you agree with him?

  3. That's a straw man - appearing on an Iranian-owned TV channel doesn't mean Jeremy Corbyn backs Iran's domestic or foreign policies - any more than presenting Top Gear makes Jeremy Clarkson a Labour supporter!

    Given that you, a loyalist, obviously backed the illegal and disastrous war in Iraq, which has helped destroy our party, I don't think you are in any position to be criticising Jeremy Corbyn.

    How that for controversy ;-)

  4. Hmmm, you have made a BIG, and not entirely correct, assumption about my opinions, with your word "obviously". However I am not going to accept the bait and start on the complex subject of Iraq (we'd be here for hours).

    However, to keep on the subject, Corbyn did not appear as a guest, but as a presenter. And you are nicely avoiding the question of whether or not he behaved badly.

    Do you not think that presenting there he helps legitimise a regime which is, by its own admission, anti-gay, anti-union and anti-women's rights? And that the government uses naive people like him? And yet the same Corbyn expects (and gets) our Prime Minister criticising human rights abuses on a trip to China?

    If a Labour MP appeared on a TV station run by, say, the BNP, wouldn't you think that was wrong of them? But because it's Iran, it's somehow ok? You're on very dodgy ground here.

    (By the way, Corbyn later had to admit his mistake and pull out of a later show, when he realised that the station really was a propaganda machine (doh!) and that freedom fighters within Iran were shocked by Western behaviour towards PressTV. Full story here

  5. Again, the BBC is state-owned. Jeremy Clarkson presents Top Gear - that doesn't mean he agrees with foreign and domestic policies of the UK govt.

    The BNP is a racist political party, Iran is a state. Obviously appearing on a party-owned channel would be a mistake, but on a state-owned channel? That's a different matter.

    Given that the whole affair has played up to the Iranian govts stereotypes, helping to re-inforce their propaganda - I'm not sure the outrage helps working people in Iran...

  6. James, how can you compare the BBC, which is a largely objective channel, free to criticise the government, in a country which embraces free speech, and PressTV, which is a propaganda channel, unable to criticise the government, for a terrible regime which does not allow free speech. The comparison makes no sense at all.

    By the way, a state-owned channel in a country which is not democratic is, by definition, a party-owned channel. So it is not a different matter at all.

    You'll have to do better than that...!

  7. Good points. Hadn't considered that.

    But I'm not sure that the BBC is terribly independent. It's bosses got a bollocking over coverage of the Iraq war - even though that wasn't very critical. And I don't recall seeing anyone on the BBC being critical of the financial sector until it went belly-up - I recall a Peter Snow documentary on wealth saying, like Lord whatsisname, that inequality and City greed was good for us.

    I don't know much about PressTV - I was under the impression it was an English language channel operating outside of Iran? A bit like the Western equivalent of the BBC's Persian service!

    I would dispute the whole approach of sanctions, etc, not engaging in dialogue with Iran. It's what the ruling elite want - and the US tactics of destabilisation don't help working people in Iran.

  8. Well I'd concede that the BBC is not 100% objective, but frankly even in a democracy it's probably about as good as you're going to get (try living in Italy if you want to experience media bias in a so-called democracy). In fact, quite often it gives a Labour government a much harder time than Tory papers do, as it strives to prove its editorial independence.

    By the way, I'd also point out that just because they don't agree with your viewpoint on the City doesn't make them not objective!

    Well, if only PressTV were more like BBC's Persian service, or even Al-Jazeera, it would be acceptable or even desirable. Note that I have no problem at all with the latter, in fact it's great to see a fairly independent, modern channel in the Arab world. No, PressTV is simply a mouthpiece for the regime, although until the election it was at least dressing itself up as something else. It was then massively criticised internationally for its completely one-sided reporting of the Iranian election. It's not quite Lord Haw-Haw, but it's

    On not engaging with Iran, I couldn't agree more, it's essential that we engage and don't let them play the hurt victim. Obama has clearly been much smarter than Bush on this. I think you are wrong to accuse him of destabilising tactics, Bush was guilty of this but Obama was quite scrupulous on not getting involved at the time of the Iranian election. Not sure if sanctions work either. However, in smart negotiation, there needs to be some stick as well as carrot.

    They are testing Obama now - like the Russians tested Kennedy - to see if he is strong or weak. And it is still pretty disturbing to think of this regime armed with nuclear weapons, which is practically a fact.

    That doesn't mean that we should try and start a war with them, but it does mean we need more than them saying a few placatory words for the international community, and then doing just as they like.

    Iran is culturally advanced, partly Westernised and could ultimately be a beacon to the Arab world. But at the moment it's very far from that.

  9. Sadly, Obama has not ended funding for clandestine activities within Iran. I fear that this will hinder good relations as much as the Iranian government's bluster.


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