By Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and Rector (i.e. president) of the University of Dundee. Craigmurray.org.uk.
No matter how terrible the BBC is, it constantly manages to get worse. The BBC News this evening appears like an especially rabid Tory Party broadcast. Sarah Smith was just breathtaking, while I thought Laura Kuenssberg must be the Chairman of the Conservative Party.
Sarah Smith’s report from Holyrood was so astonishingly biased that a rather bemused BBC correspondent named Keane followed it with “But after Sarah Smith’s report let’s not forget that the SNP have won an historic third election”. Sarah Smith’s contribution was a voiceover of a photo montage of Ruth Davidson. Smith told us the election was all about Independence and the “stunning” Tory result was evidence that voters were firmly rejecting the idea of any second referendum. Cut to Ruth Davidson saying the Tories were firmly rejecting any second referendum.
Let us for a moment accept Sarah Smith’s contention that the Tories attracted those voters who do not want a second referendum. The truth of the matter is that just 1 in 9 of eligible Scottish voters, voted Tory. 21% of those who voted. So the proper conclusion should be that the Tories came a distant second and most people rather fancy a second referendum. Sarah Smith’s anti-independence tirade was gobsmacking, but then it was topped by some BBC pundit comparing Ruth Davidson’s Tories to Leicester City.
A foreign visitor would have had to be watching very carefully indeed to realise that the Tories had not won, and indeed got half the votes of the SNP. So the Tories are not Leicester, they are Newcastle. Yet the Tories in Scotland got four times the coverage of the SNP on the BBC news.
And so to the rest of the UK. Laura Kuenssberg seems to have a depth of hatred for Jeremy Corbyn which is more generally reserved for Fred and Rose West. She appears to be sponsored to say “anti-Semitism” as often as possible. She opened her report by saying that the results called Corbyn’s leadership into question.
The strange thing is that the results are near identical to Ed Miliband’s 2012 result at precisely the same Council elections. The net loss of Labour councillors is 12 out of over 2000, as I write. Miliband’s result was unanimously hailed in the media at the time as a triumph. Exactly the same result for Corbyn – including winning many councils in Tory Westminster constituencies in Southern and Midlands England – is a disaster.
An opposition party should make gains in council elections. But when that opposition party makes truly spectacular gains, but is still the opposition when they cycle comes round again, you can’t expect it to make further gains exponentially. Keunssberg stated directly that Labour has to be “piling on hundreds and hundreds of net gains” to have any chance. That is simply untrue. 2012 was Miliband’s high water mark. It was all downhill from there. Corbyn is exactly matching Miliband’s best ever performance, and doing so despite being tendentiously branded a mad anti-Jewish racist by the bitter Blairites in his own party. Plus under Corbyn, unlike Brown and Miliband, the London mayor is now Labour again
Miliband went downhill from 2012 precisely because, after his 2012 successes, the BBC and corporate media threw their entire firepower at Miliband. Corbyn has already weathered an even greater media barrage than Miliband ever suffered. It is by no means plain he will follow Miliband’s downhill trajectory from here. In England next year’s local election results – in a tranche of seats last contested when Miliband was already slipping back – will tell us a great deal more.