Yesterday, I wrote a blog about the Jeremy Corbyn tour – known as #JC4PM – which the media had failed to cover. I wanted people to know about the existence of the tour, but I also wanted to alert people to the fact that none of the newspapers I contacted were interested in reporting it. Journalist after journalist told me that the story was ‘not newsworthy’.
'Not newsworthy' is obviously not a scientific term. It's purely subjective. And it's also plain wrong if you consider what the #JC4PM tour is.
The #JC4PM tour was drawn up in the same spirit as the rallies that were organised by local activists during Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign. It was spontaneous. Comedians, musicians, poets and political activists were all enthusiastic about putting on big shows to show solidarity with Corbyn and to rally the troops in the same way as he had last summer. We were not asked to do this by the Labour Party - or even by Jeremy Corbyn's office. It was something we drew up together.
There is a fantastic range of talented people who will perform or speak for Jeremy, including Charlotte Church, Michael Rosen, Brian Eno, Ken Loach, Billy Bragg, Mark Steel, Jeremy Hardy, Francesca Martinez, Mark Serwotka, Shappi Khorsandi, Arthur Smith, Patrick Monahan, Janey Godley and many more. Some big names have said they are happy to perform but they are booked up for the dates we have already planned. So there are even more surprises to come.
As someone who has put on comedy night fundraisers for the Labour Party for over three years (I've raised over £100,000 in over 160 events), I can tell you that many of these names would do nothing for Labour before Jeremy Corbyn was leader. Labour developed a bad name - associated with the illegal Iraq invasion, with supporting benefit sanctions and staying too quiet on Tory austerity.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
However, now more celebrities are backing Jeremy Corbyn because he represents hope: a move away from top-down politics where we are invited to debate and discuss policies that have formerly been none of our business.
So why aren't the media reporting on the #JC4PM tour? Why is it being dismissed as not newsworthy? Why aren't we being told that Jeremy Corbyn has support from across entertainment and culture and that these talented people are prepared to put their reputation on the line for the Labour leader?
The answer to these questions seems to be that many in the media don't want to report a story about how leading musicians, poets, film-makers and comedians support Jeremy Corbyn. It wouldn't go along with their narrative and would undermine their own credibility with their readers. They want Jeremy Corbyn to look like a loner who has little support, or only the support of people that the media have already demonized – those mysterious “loony lefties” who aren’t talented and successful celebrities. Probably best to ignore it altogether.
But, when I drew attention to this on my blog, I think I still managed to make a difference.
The response has taken me by surprise. I have had 7,000 hits in under two days. And since people began discussing it, stories about the tour seem to have begun to appear in newspapers that previously reacted with disinterest.
Many in the media may oppose Corbynomics but, in the end, they have to respond to the people’s interest.
The #JC4PM tour starts at the O2 Forum Kentish Town on Thursday. Tickets start at £10 and can be bought online at http://o2forumkentishtown.co.uk/
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