BREAKING: Labour leader leaves national television interview with pants on fire

by Rob Marchant

You could be forgiven for thinking that Andrew Marr’s interview last Sunday was to be an unremarkable one.

The first 16 minutes are fairly anodyne: the leader’s normal waffle on economics and the standard, disingenuous, face-both-ways position on Brexit. Important, but all things we know already.

From 16:25 we get onto Corbyn’s view that transgender people can self-identify, an issue rightly concerning a number of Labour women who see the incorporation of this into the Labour rulebook as a change fraught with opportunities for abuse, at “cis” women’s expense. A fair point. But to be realistic, this is an issue of probably minor importance to the electorate at large.

Then, nearly 19 minutes into a 21-minute interview, Marr, in a Lieutenant-Columbo-like manoeuvre, comes up with “just one more thing”, as he is metaphorically walking out the door, away from the scene of the crime.

“I was reading a poster, about an event celebrating the Iranian revolution, at which you spoke.”

Marr is gently pointing out that he had actively supported the Iranian regime in the past and not merely “engaged” with it.

“What?” The normally genteel Corbyn, for a second, is so startled, he almost snarls.

At this point, Corbyn recomposes himself and explains that he was on a delegation to Iran with other MPs, including former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, discussing nukes and human rights. So that’s all right then.

But it wasn’t all right. It wasn’t at all.

We should first of all explain that Marr – although he was clearly not briefed in enough detail by his researchers to challenge Corbyn – was clearly talking about an entirely different event, in the UK and not Iran.

This is the event that Corbyn actually spoke at (from 1:56 – hat-tip to Dan Hodges, formerly of this parish).

It was a celebration by pro-Khomeinists in London, 2014, a mere 18 months before becoming party leader. It was nothing to do with the Iran visit at all, and Corbyn did not have the alibi of being one of many MPs on a delegation.

In the clip, Corbyn is effusive in his praise for the regime and, in particular, its “inclusivity, tolerance and acceptance” (subtext for human rights). He predictably blames current tensions on maps drawn up a century or more ago by the Allies. Ironically, he is here expressing his strong desire for disarmament and peace, even as the country he spoke about is building up its nuclear capability and preparing to stymie the inspectors three years later.

All this in mind, in the context of Iran, at least, it is difficult for the phrase “useful idiot” not to spring irresistibly into one’s mind. Rather than confronting them on human rights and nuclear abuses, he is actively complimenting the regime and, to a large extent, in his office as a British MP, legitimising it by his presence at the rally.

But back to the interview. Let us assume, for a moment, that Corbyn is genuinely mistaken and not deliberately evading the issue by answering a different, more benign point from the one Marr made.

Apparently now caught off guard, there then follow, astonishingly, three outright lies in rapid succession from the Labour leader.

While the Guido Fawkes blog is hardly staffed by friendly Labour supporters, it is difficult to argue against the following conclusions they made:

  • Corbyn says he took money from PressTV “a very long time ago” (it was 2012, only three years before becoming leader).
  • He says he stopped when they “treated the Green movement the way that they did” (no, that was 2009, three years before).
  • He says that he had, on each occasion, “made my voice very clear about human rights abuses” (all the appearances are available on YouTube and there is no evidence that Corbyn did any such thing).

After the third lie, it feels as if, somewhere in the studio, there is a cock about to crow.

But the sad thing is this: we barely notice now. This is where politics has got to in 2018, in the era of Trump.

Think about it: the Leader of the Opposition says three things which are easily proved to be untrue on national television in the space of around 20 seconds and the public barely bats an eyelid. And this phenomenon is not at all normal in any historical sense, at least in peacetime.

Ah, but they all do it, we hear someone say in a cynical tone. Tony Blair and the 45 minutes, eh?

But they don’t. At least, not in Britain, up to about 2015, they didn’t. Blair’s message, based on the best intelligence reports available, may have got mangled or exaggerated. You may agree or disagree with military action in Iraq, fair enough. But he never, ever, tried to scramble for an answer, lie and obfuscate because of something embarrassing in his past. Corbyn has no choice: his past is full of embarrassments and this is the age of the internet, where everything is available.

By the same token, Cameron did not make things up about Brexit (although his opponents did, as did David Davis recently over impact analyses), or before that as PM. Neither did Brown, Major or Thatcher. Or their opponents as Leaders of the Opposition, up to and including Miliband. Because British politics is not Russian politics and is, amazingly, one of the most truthful and least corrupt (if not the least corrupt) in the Western world.

Besides, the media would call you out on it and it would be a big deal. But what Trump, Putin, Fox News, Breitbart and the age of the internet have jointly pulled off is a masterstroke: it’s to weaken confidence in an independent press altogether and, by extension, in democracy.

In short, Trump’s “fake news” is a disastrous meme, cancerous to democracies everywhere. While it may sometimes be true, those who use the words most frequently seem, unsurprisingly, to be the same people who have been caught lying. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Vladimir Putin, who stands to gain most from this killing off of trust in democratically-elected politicians and the media, must be, as Lou Reed once put it, “laughing till he wets his pants”.

The moral is simple: politicians shouldn’t lie, and British ones mostly don’t or, at least, didn’t. But in this brave new world of fact-free politics, it is desperately sad to see a Labour leader – a Labour leader – put himself at the front of that particular queue.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left


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27 Responses to “BREAKING: Labour leader leaves national television interview with pants on fire”

  1. Eamonn says:

    Sadly as long as the public at large (and a sizeable number of left leaning political journalists) continue to view Corbyn as a well meaning if slightly eccentric grandfatherly figure then he will continue to get away with glossing over his past, in particular the shameful support for Iran and also for militant Irish Republicanism. The PLP seem content to go along with this for fear of upsetting their new Momentum masters, so all in all a very depressing state of affairs.

  2. Vern says:

    The use of spin and lies was started under Blair with his partners Mandelson and Campbell. Not one of these guys has a shred of credibility or honesty remaining. I would say that my having an interest in politics changed for the worse under Blair and then Brown as a result of the lies. I became disenfranchised and began to believe that none of them really care 2 shits about the average Joe’s.
    Now in 2018 we have a guy old enough to be someone’s Grandad spewing lies and deciept – sitting on the floor of a train, student

  3. Vern says:

    Continued
    Lying about no spaces on a train to curry favour in privatising the railway. Lying about clearing student debt. Lying about his various memberships. Lying about his support of regimes such as Iran. Lying about having a fully costed manifesto – the numbers are clearly wrong.
    The reference to Grandad is relevant because at his age find it despicable that people should still think that lying to people is acceptable behaviour.
    I will say it again – there is a very good reason why the Labour party kept him “back of house” for 35 years …….God help us all if he is ever PM.

  4. John P Reid says:

    Popcorn ready, for breakfast

    Really think LU is wasting your time, trying to convince Corbynistas that their leader isn’t all that
    An article about a Harringey councils ex leader,or see how well the council election results go, in the middle part of London, maybe the solution

  5. Richard MacKinnon says:

    If Rob Marchant is trying to tell us that lying is new to British politics, “politicians shouldn’t lie, and British ones mostly don’t or, at least, didnt’” then Rob Marchant is either a fool or worse, a lying hypocrite.
    I find it quite annoying to read something that the writer claims he/she believes to be true when in fact it is a complete nonsense, that they, the writer know is a complete nonsense, but claim it regardless.
    It is insulting when someone knowingly tries to deceive you. It is the typical patronising behavior favoured by preachers, snake oil salesmen and politicians down the ages.
    What is it Rob? Are you a fool or is it that you think that we are that stupid?

  6. Frederick James says:

    What Eamonn said. Plus:

    Marr is *routinely* unbriefed, don’t blame it on his researchers: a fish rots from the head. He doesn’t want to do the spadework, just to simulate a cosy Primrose Hill dinner-party chat with his political friends for the benefit of a grateful nation. Needless to say, the BBC is happy to oblige.

  7. Mike Homfray says:

    More evidence of Marchant bringing the party into disrepute.
    Wonder when he will grasp that his Not Labour has gone forever.
    And that no-one cares about this sort if issue and those who do don’t wish to vote for us anyway. They might vote for Not Labour, though.

  8. peter carabine says:

    Corbyn’s Labour party polling is very concerning with the Conservatives ahead even at this period when most things are in serious meltdown. The long term corrosive effect about him , his weak persuasive powers and scary Momentum in all of the national press is evaporating Labours vote and his shadow team come over as unknown ineffectual ideologues ( with the exception of Keir S. and Emily Thornberry).

    This party is no where near government based as it is on a class war outlook – so no sympathy from UK business , no sympathy from the middle class , suburban oldies or white van man or younger SE or Midlands’ aspirational voters in the marginals. Corbyn is not a Blair or Sturgeon or Macron or Trudeau and no one is convinced he can bring more economic growth, business reforms or more social justice which these centre left / centre politicians did. Labour has lot its intelligence and the clever Tory boys will be running the UK for many years yet as they did under Micheal Foot.
    .

  9. @Richard: Please provide some evidence of the preponderance lies in British politics before 2015 which were not immediately called out as such, with consequences.

  10. Richard MacKinnon says:

    Im not even going to waste my time looking this up. Off the top of my head I can think of Alan Clark (economical with the truth), Jonathan Aitken (the simple sword of truth), Boris and his £350m bus, Miliband/Cameron/Clegg and ‘The Pledge’, and of course Blair and his WMD.
    Nearly all politicians say things they dont believe or avoid answering a simple question with an honest answer. It happens every day on every political programme. I remember Paxman asking the same question to (I think it was) Micheal Howard 25 times. Never got an answer so he finished the interview. That is a form of lying, refusing to reply to a question when you know the answer but prefer not to give it.
    I happen to agree with you regarding Corbyn, I think he is a con man, weak and out of his depth, and a fake. His election as leader was a monumental cock up and I think it is going to wreck the Labour Party, but dont try and tell me he is any different from the rest of them.
    I dont believe people go into politics to do good. I believe they see politics as a career. There is another lie that all politicians tell.
    I say fake because he never planned to be ‘leader’. He put his name forward to mix things up and show up the lack of choice in the other candidates. It was not a serious challenge, at that point in time. It was a spoiling tactic and the chance to get himself a bit of air time, the oxygen of all politicians. He is where he is by default; the total inability of the Labour Party to manage itself. He has survived in politics by adopting the position of ‘likeable principled rebel’ and it has worked well for him for 35 years.
    The funny side of all this is, he seems determined to play the part to the final scene. And the really funny thing is he might just pull it off. That is why British politics at this time is so fascinating.
    Personally I dont think he will lead Labour to victory at the next general election. I think the Momentum organisation will ensure that that will never happen. And that is why I think Corbyn is weak. He cannot control Momentum. He probably realises how destructive it is but he is not strong enough to cut it out of the party.
    Most Labour MPs know all this. They tried last year to topple him and the opposite happened, he strengthened his position. There is another lie. Every Labour MP that backed Owen Smith last year is now right behind Jeremy. As they say in Scotland, aye right.
    Rob, I enjoy discussing politics, but please raise the bar a bit.

  11. John P reid says:

    I wonder when Mike homfray will twig that there are still people in the labour party who actually don’t hold his view of

    “those swing voters wont vote for us so we can’t try to appeal to them as its not important enough to try to win them over and actually win a election, as we might as well not be labour if we have those sort of voters”

    and when we see people suffering and the only way to stop it is to actually to be more that a Corbynite protest group and get voters who won’t vote for us at the moment, It’ snot a moral victory losing on a far left manifesto if there’s people suffering under the tories

    Mike you’re right no one cares about Rob’s view or New Labour ( I assume was what you meant)

    you’re right to say new labour has gone forever ,but the Trotskyite student politics reveultionary party of Tony Ben and the sort Corbynites are trying to bring back isn’t sucssesful, and, Corbynites don’t care about winning working class votes any more than Blair did post 2011,
    Tony Benn tried to pretend to be working class ,he wanted that sort of vote, what is going and may well be gone forever is the labour party appealing to whole chunks of the working class

    and just criticising those who say it’s Corbyn critics who aren’t helping hen Corbyn surrounds himself with people who can’t stand the working class like Emily Thornberry, Naz Shah, or Seamus Milne, Is no different

  12. Dave Roberts says:

    A good article with the predictable responses from the Corbyn apologists. Things either did happen or they didn’t. When Corbyn did these things he was a noisy but uninfluential back bencher always on the side of whoever he considered to be the underdog. The reaction of the Corbynistas is that other people did the same things so its all right. No it isn’t.

    Marr is currently the best interviewer on TV and is an obviously well briefed presenter who thinks on his feet. His TV series are always well researched and presented and I have read several times his excellent ” Ruling Britannia” published in 1995 and still worth a read today. The posts from Mackinnon, James and Homfrey above are ludicrous and verging on blatant lies. A good article.

    The concern should be that Labour aren’t several dozen points ahead in the polls given the state of the government. That’s the main concern not the pie in the sky world of Momentum and supporters.

  13. Anne says:

    I personally find the lies that Boris Johnson tells far more offensive as they have a direct impact on everyday lives – the £350 million for the nhs on the side of a bus. Now look at the state of the nhs.
    I also found the lies coming from Damion Green regarding porn found on his work computer disgraceful – also, Mrs May saying that she did not know about his advances to a Tory activist when the activist states that she informed number 10. If they are lying about these matters what else are they lying about.
    MPs should be whiter than white. Their behaviour should be exemplary. Sadly many fall short of this benchmark. Gavin Williamson (another promoted beyond his abilities) telling porkies about a past affair.

  14. Richard MacKinnon says:

    We will have rejoined the EU before I get a comment posted on Labour Uncut.

  15. Anne says:

    Wasn’t it Gove who made the silly statement about not trusting experts and now we have Reece Mogg rubbishing the civil servants because they have produced reports on Brexit that he does not agree with – his mask slips and his true colours are on display. Well I for one value the reports by experts. Good interview by Amber Rudd – the Tories would find themselves being better received if they listened more carefully to the sensible voices in their party, and of course the ‘experts.’

  16. John p Reid says:

    Labour list had become as bad as labour uncut
    Brexit is ‘Hard’ And isn’t progressive , the House of Commons is full of white working class men so labour should have Trans BAME disabled all women short lists. I hardly read it now, funny progrsss and momentum agree on this stuff

  17. Tafia says:

    @ Peter Carabine and his shadow team come over as unknown ineffectual ideologues ( with the exception of Keir S. and Emily Thornberry).

    You are taking the piss right?

    Starmer is the reason Warboys might be released and Thornberry is a pure fake – Lady Nugee. And that is street level ‘pleb’ opinion of both of them. If ordinary working people openly mock and scoff them then they are hardly vote winners.

  18. Tafia says:

    @ Anne the £350 million for the nhs on the side of a bus. Now look at the state of the nhs.

    Show anywhere where the bus said 350m would go to the NHS.

    If you can#t you are a liar or stupid. (PS – you cant.)

    Wasn’t it Gove who made the silly statement about not trusting experts<
    The ‘experts’ wrote the financial prediction Remain used in the referendum. Idiots believed it. Did you believe it Anne? Did the Remain campaign? The current one, that the Guardian obsessed about for nearly two days, was mostly written by the same people -do you believe that?

  19. Tafia says:

    @Anne the Tories would find themselves being better received if they listened more carefully to the sensible voices in their party,

    The Tories currently lead by 4% – midterm. That is disastrous for any opposition.

  20. John Wall says:

    As we’re now paying into the EU money pit until 2021 there can be no £350m for anything before then – unless there is a magic money tree.

  21. Anne says:

    I am totally fed up with these, mainly white middle aged bigoted men shouting and bowling on programs like question time about Brexit and writing on blogs like this one – yes I do feel a rage against them. Time, I think for another suffragette type movement.
    It is truly time we voted out people like Boris Johnson. Paxman is certainly correct in saying that Cameron was the worst pm in modern times because he changed the course of history. Teresa May would make a very good civil servant – getting on with the job but hopeless as a pm because she is unable to stand up to the bully’s in her party.
    Bye way I can trace my ancestry back to the 13th century in this country – more than Boris Johnson can and I suspect these white middle aged bigots who are doing great damage to our country. I feel entirely justified in making these comments.
    I would like to see unions more involved with Brexit negotiations, especially Francis O’Grady – less from these narrow minded right wingers who want to bring our great country back to the 1930s.

  22. Anne says:

    Justine Greening is also correct in saying the youth will not tolerate these Brexiteers- they, of course, are more open minded and are looking at what is in the best interests of our country – regarding jobs and the economy- it is their future these white middle aged men are dicing with – ask Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel who consulted her children before she voted Remain.

  23. Anne says:

    Let’s hope Teresa May’s big mate Arlene Foster brings down this Tory government – bring it on. Was that bribe Teresa paid for the dup worth it?
    Regardless, if the stalemate is solved in Northern Ireland the Irish boarder will be the one of the biggest headaches for Brexit.
    The thing that really annoys me is the amount of time and money has been given to Brexit – a ridiculous waste of money – this could have been spent on our services – any service is more deserving. I am also against any of the MEPs getting any form of pension or compensation- I can’t for the life of me think why anyone would have voted someone like the conceited Daniel Hammond as an MEP – why vote for someone who does not believe in an organisation who employs him and pays his salary- there should be a petition to prevent this person receiving any money from the EU – who votes for these people!
    Let us all escape from this absolutely miserable government – give us our sanity back please.

  24. John P Reid says:

    Anne, why are white middle age men who voted Brexit ‘bigoted’ if anything that’s a bigoted view of them
    The suffragettes wanted votes for women, but not to have to join the army, you’ve got a vote now,and you think this is comparable with trying to stop Brexit?

    The DUP weren’t paid a bribe, the money they got goes to all of northern Ireland even people who, voted Sinn Fein, SDLP or abstained,

    Justine greening is just worried about losing her seat, as London becaomes, a middle class liberals dream trouble is the the difference between absolute poverty and riches in London,and violent crime going up, will just see middle age white flight to acroydin and surrey, yes labour don’t need surrey to win elections, but there’s areas that labour can never have a chance of winning again, if the demographics, see London become a labour city,and labour can’t win coastal tones, like bournmouth,

  25. Tafia says:

    Jesus Wept Anne – what a poor deluded naive fool you are. You don’t even seem to understand anything at all.

    White middle aged men bigots? What abiout the asians that voted Brexit?, The black vote? The women? The young Brexiteers? The LGBT Brexiteers? Are they all bigots as well? Does you insinuating LGBT Brexiteers are bigots make you a homophobe? or BAME Brexitters make you racist? What about the FACT that on the last General Election yur party stood on a manifesto pledge of out of the EU, out of the Single Market, out of the Customs Union, and that is still your parties official position. Is that why you single out wite middle aged men? Because you haven’t the back-bone to attack BAME, LGBT, young and women Brexiteers? What about the working class left wing MPs in yur party such as John Mann and Dennis Skinner? You are no more than a bigoted Remainer misandrist. and not a particulalry bright one at that.

    I could pull you to pieces over virtually everything you have written there and totally humiliate you – but I/ll just slice you a bit for now because it’s fun.

    Northern Irish Border – The government has made it’s position clear over this time and time and time again. Where you asleep? To remind you, we will not be putting a hard border in place on our side of the line no matter what. What the EU imposes on the Republic on their side of the line is a matter between Brussels and Dublin. Incidentally, being as this is a hot topic for you, I’m sure you watched the Varadkar interview at Davros on Bloomberg only a month ago. What did he say Anne? Come on, spit it out. I’ll remind you – he will not allow the EU to impose a hard border on his country – so in a stand-off between the Republic and the EU, who would you back Anne, because you have to back one of them at the total expense of the other.

    Then there’s reality. Boris Johnson is where he is because people voted him into Parliament. Just the same as people voted for him to be Mayor of London twice.

    If you think Arlene Foster will bring down a tory government you are a clown. Two things – Foster would piss acid on her own children before she allowed an IRA loving scumbag enter No 10 because of her actions , and the other reason is because the Fixed Term Act effectively means that if May’s government falls, only a tory government can replace it – and it will be lead by Gove/Johnson/Rees-Mogg/Williamson, be far more right wing and far more hard Brexit. The mathmatics simply isn’t there for Labour, and the Fixed Term Act makes it irrelevant. (How come you don’t understand Ulster politics and don’t understand the Fixed Term Act – neither are difficult.)

    Your ‘absolutely miserable government’ is 4% ahaed of Labour in the Polls ( a disaster for an opposition mid-term) and the voters regard May as light years the better PM material than Corbyn.

    Brexit negotiations have got sod all to do with the unions. Most of them are still shell-shocked that their own samplings showed the majority of their members voting Brexit. They have a declining membership – and taking a position on one side or the other of the Brexit divide will cause it to decline faster. So they are quite content with where they are in this – on the sidelines cucking in their two pence worth now and again but never pushing the issue. As a point of interest, do you think when Unite backed Corbyn (twice) they didn’t know he was an ardent Brexiteer?

    You seem to have little idea of even how an MEP is elected – bizarre being as you claim to nbe pro-EU. It’s a list based vote. Voters can only vote for a party not a candidate. Nobidy voted for Hannan.

    Your comments about Greening are made without the slightest inkling of the voter base in her seat.

    And as for Cameron being the worst PM because he changed the course of history, any PM that doesn’t change the course of history is a flop.

  26. buttley says:

    @Rob Marchant says

    In the clip, Corbyn is effusive in his praise for the regime and, in particular, its “inclusivity, tolerance and acceptance” (subtext for human rights). He predictably blames current tensions on maps drawn up a century or more ago by the Allies.

    Except what he actually says is

    “its a great honour to be able to come here today, & speak to you & i will be as brief as i can & eh, our chair is going to ask me to cease in good time so we don’t run to long.

    When the director, thank you so much, spoke in opening this conference, i thought it was a very interesting address & its one that i wish, a much larger number of people in this country could have heard. Because he was describing the history & traditions of Islam, but he was also describing the inclusivity, the tolerance & the acceptance of other faiths, other traditions, and other ethnic groupings within Iran.

    And i think, thats something that eh most people in the west, simply do not understand.

    And em, my point is, that we to have a em, a much more, significant understanding
    of the history of Iran & Britain’s relations with Iran, if we’re to bring about a new chapter in relations, that i hope are going to bring about peace.

    Now i approach this whole issue, from the point of view that eh, i am, committed to a world free of nuclear weapons.

    I joined the campaign for nuclear disarmament when i was aged 15, long before i joined anything else. I’ve been in it all my life & I will be in it for the rest of my life, because i think weapons of mass destruction, that indiscriminately kill civilians are immoral, wrong, & nobody, including this country, should possess nuclear weapons, thats where i’m coming from on this subject.

    And secondly, I am the, one of the founders, as well as the current chair of the stop the war coalition & eh, in that context, i was strongly opposed & remain opposed to British involvement in the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq, but also the bombardment of Libya, And a whole foreign policy that seems to decide that the western powers namely, some of the European countries, plus the United States, have some sort of moral authority to invade & rule the rest of the world, they do not, they should not, and i want to see a world free of wars & free of invasion, rather than preparing for yet another war & another invasion.

    But i also think, that em, in trying to understand the history of Iran & the significance of the revolution in 1979.

    When we had a debate on Iran in parliament eh last year, i started talking about Britain’s involvement through the Anglo Iranian Oil company, through the first world war, through the second world war, …………….

    Which is nothing akin to what Rob alleges, & just shows his Tory alignment.

  27. Anne says:

    Apologies to all the white middle aged men I have offended by my use of the word bigot – it was a little harsh.
    Good points from Buttley – I know I was in favour of the war in Afghanistan but with hindsight I do think that was a mistake and, yes I agree many of us do not totally understand the complexities of the situation in the Middle East. I do travel to Dubai frequently and am always amazed by the opulence and then think of the contrast the destruction in Syria caused by war.

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