The ‘Unconstitutional Animus’ Against UK Labour Leader

JVL Introduction

The civil service clearly has it in for any potential Corbyn government, briefing against it for some time now. The recent claim that Corbyn “lacks both a firm grasp of foreign affairs and the domestic agenda”, is one example; the funding of Integrity Initiative, organised by the government’s Institute for Statecraft, another.

H/t Robert Jones

This article was originally published by Consortium News on Tue 16 Jul 2019. Read the original here.

The ‘Unconstitutional Animus’ Against UK Labour Leader

Johanna Ross spoke with David Miller, a propaganda researcher, after the recent publicity of U.K. civil service murmurings about Jeremy Corbyn’s “fitness.”

Special to Consortium News

A couple of weeks ago, The Times of London published an article about senior civil servants fearing U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn was “too frail” to be prime minister.  Reportedly they also thought he “lacks both a firm grasp of foreign affairs and the domestic agenda.”

This is the same civil service that is supposed to maintain complete neutrality and according to its code “must not act in a way that unjustifiably favours or discriminates against particular individuals or interests.”

Corbyn fought back, arguing that it was unacceptable that civil servants were briefing newspapers on an elected politician. He demanded an independent inquiry into who was spreading such fabrications in the press and “compromising the integrity of the civil service.”

For David Miller, a professor of political sociology at the University of Bristol, who investigates concentrations of power and ways to hold them accountable,  the idea that the British civil service may not be impartial in its operations is hardly surprising.

Far from ever being objective, he told Consortium News that the civil service now clearly has “an unconstitutional animus against a potential Corbyn government and has been briefing against it one way or another through various agencies for some time now.”

Catalog of Smears

Indeed, the anti-Corbyn bias within the establishment has been obvious in the catalog of smears on Corbyn and his team since he came to the Labour leadership; from allegations of being a “Soviet sleeper” to being “anti-Semitic” and now to questions about his overall fitness.

Miller said most of the allegations were created by a number of organisations and individuals who are “involved in a faction fight with the Corbyn leadership.”

Noam Chomsky, a leading U.S. social critic, is among those who have spoken out against what he termed a “witch hunt” against the Labour leader and his supporters.

Whether or not anti-Semitism exists in the party, Miller said the accusations are out of hand.  “Almost everyone who says anything which is either critical of Israel or critical of the party’s response to the anti-Semitism crisis is denounced as an anti-Semite,” Miller said. “The question is how long will it be before everyone sees that the people who are involved in this have overreached themselves.”

Attempts to undermine potential socialist governments are of course, not new.

Miller gives the example of the Zinoviev case – when a fake letter was published in the Daily Mail in 1924 just prior to the general election, suggesting Communists in Britain were taking orders from Moscow. The goal was clearly to undermine the British Labour movement.

As another example, Miller offered the “Information Research Department,” first proposed in 1947 and sold to the cabinet as a bipartisan, anti-Communist and anti-American propaganda operation. In fact, Miller described it as a “secret, covert, anti-Communist propaganda operation which in the 70s was engaged in undermining the Wilson government.”

Today, Miller said, similar agencies in the U.K. government are doing the same thing.

Harold Wilson in 1986. (Allan Warren, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Integrity Initiative

As an example, Miller cites the Integrity Initiative; organized by the government’s Institute for Statecraft, which has a stated mission of countering “Russian disinformation and malign influence by harnessing existing expertise and establishing a network of experts, opinion formers and policy makers to educate national audiences in the threat and to help build national capacities to counter it.”  Its website is incidentally now empty pending an investigation into the “theft of its data” – after a hack exposed detail of the extent to which the government-funded program was itself engaged in disinformation.

Miller, who runs the Bristol-based Organisation for Propaganda Studies, said the scheme was found to be spreading its own disinformation and openly criticizing opposition leader Corbyn and his party.

“Corbyn has recently said in relation to the most recent criticism from the civil service that there are people in the establishment that are trying to undermine Corbyn, his office, his advisors and supporters of him,” Miller said. “And that’s what the Integrity Initiative was doing.”

Cartoon published by Punch after the Zinoviev letter was released, depicting a Bolshevik campaigning for Ramsay MacDonald, head of the short-lived Labour government of 1924. (Wikimedia Commons)

Miller said this was clear from the very beginning of the Integrity Initiative when it was regularly engaged in tweeting or retweeting attacks on Corbyn and his closest advisors.

Miller calls the use of taxpayers’ money to interfere in domestic politics an affront to democracy.

“A government-funded project was engaged in attacking the leader of the opposition,” Miller said, “which is unconstitutional and something the U.K. civil service should not be involved in… they crossed the line when they started attacking Corbyn. And when we look back on this period, the Integrity Initiative, its funding by the Foreign Office and its base in British military intelligence will be one of the strands of the activities which will be seen to have been a secret state campaign against the elected leader of the Labour party.”

Miller would like to see an investigation into the attacks on Corbyn and whether they had been effectively funded by the Foreign Office, but doesn’t hold out much hope of that happening.

Six months ago, Shadow Home Secretary Emily Thornberry demanded answers to how this could have happened, with no result.

And Chris Williamson, a Labour MP and Corbyn supporter who was trying to investigate the Integrity Initiative, found himself suspended from the party after he was targeted with allegations of anti-Semitism.

Corbyn’s call for an independent investigation into the civil service leak to the press has also, as expected, been rejected by the government.

Johanna Ross is a freelance journalist based in the United Kingdom.

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Comments (11)

  • Sheena says:

    Wow. Just Wow. The Stop Jeremy Corbyn at all costs horrendous establishment and Israeli regime lobby campaign even involves the civil service, government bodies and OUR MONEY. Just DISGUSTING. I read today that BoJo the EVIL CLOWN will be spending from taxpayers around £100 MILLION on a BREXIT PROPAGANDA ad when 16 MILLION people are living in abject poverty and dying as a result of tory savage cuts. THIS IS WHAT YOU EXPECT IN NORTH KOREA. Feel ashamed to be British.

  • Liberty says:

    Jeremy Corbyn must be the most smeared and bullied politician of all time. He never sold out his principles for money or power( Wally Watson take note), has stood by our sides when we came under physical attack, never saw Malicious Mann or Horrible Hodge on the frontlines, has always championed peace not war, lives modestly, even gets bashed for having an allotment, never been afraid to speak truth to power,never wavered in his support for oppressed minorities, Immigrants and the brutalised Palestinians. Unlike the hypocritical baying bunch of Friends of Israel nasty stooges who organised the bloody witch hunt against our FRIENDS. Sick of them all.

  • Kevin Baird says:

    I agree wholeheartedly but I do believe that Comrade Jeremy is out of his depth, displays a lack of strong leadership and comes across as an idealistic backbencher lost in the cut and thrust of real politiik

  • Terry Barry says:

    Oh yeah – lost in the thrust of real politic! What a load of nonsense- he is an amazing leader – how he manages to cope with the HUGE umprecidented in my 74 year lifetime, campaign of daily smears against him I do not know – he is super human – potentially the greatest Party Leader ever. And do we ever need him right now!

  • Huw says:

    In response to Kevin’s comment: Corbyn certainly has his limitations, which his government would have to work around, but a lack of spine is not one of them. I genuinely wonder how any of his predecessors or rivals would have coped with the ceaseless barrage of mockery, smears and downright lies he has been subjected to from virtually all of the media and both sides of the House for three years now. I honestly think it would have broken most other men. His fortitude, his self-control, his truth to himself and (clearly) the very healthy hinterland that sustains him are all huge assets to a prime minister, whatever experience and “first-class intellect” he may lack. Plus, if I can borrow the word, he is a mensch!

  • John Burton says:

    The national and international governing establishment will continue to do whatever they can to prevent a UK socialist government led by Jeremy Corbyn. They may succeed; they have everything on their side except truth and justice. So, they just might lose. But if Labour members fail to recognise and support the strength of Corbyn’s idealism, resilience, and moral leadership, we are less likely to see a socialist government. We should not collude with the “cut and thrust of real politik”.

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    I agree with the last three comments. Huge resilience, moral courage and decency. Bernie Sanders succumbed to much less vicious attacks from the Democratic Right and then we had Trump. Its just possible that his detractors on all sides may have overreached themselves.. I admire the loyal steady young members of the Shadow Cabinet he has built around him. ( by contrast with Johnson).. I call that leadership.

  • John says:

    My one quibble is the picture used at the start of the article.
    It suggests JVL are buying into the Corbyn = Moscow Agent nonsense.
    You don’t know how others might spin this.
    Please use a different picture in future.
    [Web editor: the photo comes from the orignal article where it had the caption “Controversial BBC graphic seeking to link Corbyn to Russia.” We used it as a featured image and lost the caption in the process. We trust our readers know that we are not endorsing the idea of Jeremy as a Russian agent!]

  • Gregory Douglas says:

    Recently an original supporter of Jeremy Corbyn told me she thought: “Jeremy has lost the plot and should resign, but wondered who was good enough to follow him!” Precisely, if he resigned now he would be betraying all of us desperate for a truly Socialist Government.He has to continue to show the foretitude that has got him through so far and wage a strong Socialist campaign in the election that will inevitably follow Boris Johnson’s blustering failure. As Harold Wilson famously said:”A week is a long time in Politics!”

  • Peter Copelyn says:

    Terry Barry you speak a load of poppycock particularly as Kevin’s comments have gone way over your head.
    Jeremy’s integrity is not being questioned at all. What is being questioned is his ability to lead us to victory.
    Forget all the intellectual posturing, we need a stronger leadership!!
    Get off your high horse and get us votes

  • John Land says:

    Who cares animus shaminus WE gonna win the election hands down.
    The austerity advocates will be history and Bojo a fossil.

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