In 30 seconds, Richard Burgon reveals exactly what’s missing from the Labour leadership debate

Richard Burgon speaking at a Labour deputy leadership hustings
Support us and go ad-free

In a 30-second-long video, Richard Burgon revealed what’s missing from the Labour leadership debate by speaking out about the “demonisation” of Jeremy Corbyn.

This is barely getting a mention in the leadership race. But it should, for reasons that should be obvious to any potential successor.

“A decent man”

The first Labour deputy leadership hustings took place in Liverpool on 18 January. During the event, Burgon raised the media’s treatment of Corbyn, saying:

I also want to speak out against the demonisation of a decent man… There’s no city in this country that knows as much as you do about how newspapers, like the right-wing Sun newspaper, demonise decent people.

Liverpool knows what the right-wing press is capable of. Liverpool football fans endured a grotesque demonisation by the Sun after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. As The Canary previously reported, within days of the tragic crush occurring at Hillsborough Stadium, the tabloid effectively laid the blame at fans’ feet, claiming they were “robbing victims, urinating on policemen and beating them up”. That’s why Liverpool has boycotted the Sun for decades.

The media’s smear campaign against Corbyn has been abhorrent too. The Labour leader has faced regular attacks throughout his tenure. Possibly the most disturbing of them is the false notion peddled by press that the lifelong anti-racist is somehow an antisemite. Perhaps the most ridiculous is that we were at one time to believe he was also a Czech spy. Although the ‘scoop’ where the tabloids told people that Corbyn danced at sombre Remembrance Day ceremonies was also a pretty good contender for that.

Scream it from the rooftops

As Diane Abbott pointed out, Burgon got a rapturous applause for calling out the media:

That’s because many people – especially those in Liverpool – recognise how dangerous it is to have a media that lies and cheats freely. This threat is hardly a major talking point in the leadership campaign, but Rebecca Long-Bailey did raise it when she launched her campaign. Speaking to ITV News, she said:

Jeremy was savaged from day one by the press … We have a role as party to develop the image of our leader and to put them forward in the most positive way, but we also have a duty to rebut criticism and attacks.

She has also tweeted:

However, with the Conservatives’ hefty majority alongside Britain’s highly dysfunctional media landscape, Labour needs to do more than work out how to rebut criticism. It needs to play a strong role in defending the idea of not only a free press, but any semblance of a functioning press at all.

But with few candidates adequately calling out the press for its dangerous, anti-democratic behaviour (let alone those who facilitated the media in its anti-Corbyn smear campaign), it doesn’t appear that’s a role many of them see as a priority. More fool them. Because whichever of them eventually heads the party will be at the mercy of the same media machine. And if they don’t please Britain’s media masters, they may face the same fate as Corbyn.

Featured image via screenshot

We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support

The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.

The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.

So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.

Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. I have reached the conclusion that it is time to stop blaming the Tories, and the media for the mess this country is in. We need to stop blaming Boris and Maggie Thatcher. The blame needs to be placed where it belongs. Full square at the feet of those who keep voting for this monstrous sh*t show. The people of Liverpool have shown that it is possible to see through the lies, smears and propaganda. They have educated themselves to zone out the right wing nonsense. More communities need to learn from what Liverpool have done. Tories do not care. If you vote Tory, then YOU by definition do not care. Stop letting “shy Tories” off the hook. You can not vote Tory and pretend it is not your fault.

    2. I think you have chosen to misunderstand me on purpose. My comment clearly states “time to stop blaming the Tories.”. Fracturing off into identity politics, just makes it easier to pick us off in smaller groups. Communities need to unite and show people what voting Tory creates, and more importantly, what it takes away. The people of Liverpool have shown that the right wing media can be bi-passed. We need to learn more from such communities, if we are to convince people. That does not equate to “throwing rocks”.

      1. But you blame the voters, because they made the “wrong” choice, forgetting that “the voters” are just as able to see through all the “lies, smears and propaganda” as you are. Perhaps instead you should look at Labour to see why voters deserted in their millions for the Tories?
        Perhaps those voters were fed up being abused by ardent Corbynistas, fed up being told to “F..k off and join the Tories”, so they did.
        Perhaps they were among the 3.2 million who watched the Andrew Neil interview, and saw how Corbyn repeatedly refused to apologise for antisemitism in the party he leads. How he had no idea who would take the lead in promoting Labour’s Brexit deal in a future referendum. How he had no idea of the proportionate sources of income tax revenue, and had to concede he was wrong to say only the top earners would pay more tax. How, despite repeatedly claiming to have a fully costed manifesto, Corbyn had no idea how he would fund the WASPI women’s £58 billion. And how he blustered over his position on terrorism.
        Perhaps those voters watched the incontinent dribbling out of announcements during an election, like the WASPI’s £58Bn, like all families being £6,700 better off, like 20,000 extra teachers, etc., let alone the 4-day-week! Perhaps they didn’t believe Labour could possibly deliver their kaleidoscope of “popular” policies, so ignored them all, even the good ones.
        So instead of blaming the voters or the Tories, perhaps you should be blaming Labour for failing the country in its hour of need, and for putting Boris in No. 10 for the next decade at least!

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.