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.”

By Johanna Ross
in Edinburgh, Scotland
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.”

Controversial BBC graphic seeking to link Corbyn to Russia.

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. 

David Miller: Faction fight against Corbyn. (University of Bristol)

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.

Miller also points to the case of former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. “Despite what may now be said by some elements of the security state,” Miller said that British agencies were engaged in an active plot to undermine Wilson’s elected government.

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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43 comments for “The ‘Unconstitutional Animus’ Against UK Labour Leader

  1. Tim Jones
    July 20, 2019 at 03:10

    I wish Jeremy Corbin the good fortune to withstand those in power and upset the current British status quo. ‘When the swords flash, go forward. When the shafts fly press onward..’

  2. Michael McNulty
    July 18, 2019 at 05:52

    After he won the second round to remain Labour Party leader Corbyn should have left the party to form a new socialist party, taking his large following and their subscriptions with him. He would have had three years behind him with a new movement, one which would not have had the back-stabbers and poisoners he’s having to deal with daily. It would have been quite established now and a real political force. I think the Labour Party is so polluted that the left must break away; it’s the only way we can overturn the excesses and failures of neo-liberalism which for most people is a truly dreadful system.

  3. Maz Palmer
    July 17, 2019 at 15:02

    They are all much worse than bozos (or Bezos); they are all plutocrats, oligarchs, neo-liberal neo-fascist capitalists. That is what all of this is about: this is all a campaign by capitalists, plutocrats, oligarchs, monarchs, aristocrats, to keep expandable, pitiful average plebs from ever voting for something better than corporate serfdom and debt slavery.

    • Hopelb
      July 17, 2019 at 21:52

      Upvote!

  4. Piotr Berman
    July 17, 2019 at 14:55

    “lacks both a firm grasp of foreign affairs and the domestic agenda.”

    It makes me wonder how Teresa May and her Cabinet, including the next PM, fares in such assessment. Nincompoops, loud mouths, poodles, and worshipers of woodoo economics.

  5. July 17, 2019 at 14:22

    I get it. Corbyn is Pro-Palestinian, anti-war and Pro-Worker so they are trying to get rid of him.

    All I see are articles attacking him. Are there people/forces behind him supporting him? Is his support significant among other Labour MP’s and the Public at large?

    • Piotr Berman
      July 17, 2019 at 16:11

      The problem is that UK public opinion is quite chaotic at this point and “everything is possible”. At some point, four parties had roughly the same poll numbers: Tories, Brexit, Labour and LibDems. However, in the last two weeks Labour and Tories gained with Labour ahead. In a system with single seat districts, “anything can happen”, and a recent by-election suggested that Labour may have an advantage in “foot soldiers”, volunteers who walk around a district chatting up voters. The internal fights in Labour attracted many new members, and from the point of view of “sensible folks in the Establishment”, this is the worst type of rubble. No respect for monarchy, the Trident, necessity of low taxes on business and the rich and so on. And anti-Semitic to boot.

      So the meaning of “Corbyn is frail” is that while he himself seems mild mannered, his victory will unleashed the unwashed hordes wrecking everything which is good and he hold dear, like the monarchy, the Trident and so on.

    • Piotr Berman
      July 17, 2019 at 16:45

      The problem is that UK public opinion is quite chaotic lately and “everything is possible”. At some point, four parties had roughly the same poll numbers: Tories, Brexit, Labour and LibDems. However, in the last two weeks Labour and Tories gained with Labour ahead. In a system with single seat districts, “anything can happen”, and a recent by-election suggested that Labour may have an advantage in “foot soldiers”, volunteers who walk around a district chatting up voters. The internal fights in Labour attracted many new members, and from the point of view of “sensible folks in the Establishment”, this is the worst type of rabble. No respect for the monarchy, the Trident, the necessity of low taxes on business and the rich and so on. And anti-Semitic to boot.

      So the meaning of “Corbyn is frail” is that while he himself seems mild mannered, his victory would unleashed unwashed hordes wrecking everything which is good and that we hold dear, like the monarchy, the Trident and so on.

    • July 19, 2019 at 23:14

      Quite agree James, Corbyn represents an end to predatory government by merchants, to the attacks on the Judiciary by Crown prosecutors (mandatory sentencing, etc), to the impunity of the intelligence service in domestic work and the likelyu restoration of honour, fidelity and caring in the policies of the central government.

      Given the appalling state of the world I think Corbyn, once elected, might consider pulling up the drawbridge in the same way China did after their revolution and sorting out the mess that merchants, Tories and Blairite Tories have caused.

  6. Jeff Ewener
    July 17, 2019 at 13:26

    Gob-smacking. To call a man with the intelligence, experience, sensitivity & integrity of Jeremy Corbyn “unfit” to be the British Prime Minister, while a monstrosity like Boris Johnson is standing on the doorstep of Number 10 – just takes the breath away.

    • rosemerry
      July 17, 2019 at 15:45

      Not to mention the former “New Labour” leaders whose policies fell far away from the traditional policies Corbyn has held to and which caused so many Britons to support him as leader.

    • Hayman Fan
      July 18, 2019 at 11:49

      Integrity? Are you joking? Corbyn has been anti-EU for 40 years. In fact, he is the only main party leader who voted leave in the last people’s vote (aka the referendum). But he has tried to hid that fact. He has been sitting on the fence and playing politics with the issue. Many fools in Britain believe Corbyn is a remainer. A man of integrity would have explained to the British people his long held position on the EU and Brexit. But he didn’t do that because he isn’t a man of integrity. He wants to con his way into power and if he gets there (looking unlikely right now), he and his Stalinist henchpeople will wield that power ruthlessly.

    • ashley retallick
      July 20, 2019 at 13:39

      What ever Corbyn’s position on the EU is or has been in the past, he is the leader of a democratic party that decides it’s important policies at party conference. He doesn’t set party policies, he abides by them. The Labour Party is a Remain party and campaigned to remain, broadly speaking, as did Corbyn. And it was as the result of democratically decided policy. As for the rest of your rantings (“Stalinist” etc) pure fantasy.

  7. July 17, 2019 at 12:37

    Fascinating article. May we repost it on jvl.org.uk?

  8. Eddie
    July 17, 2019 at 12:36

    Comment that I posted on the Malware article do not post.

  9. Zenobia van Dongen
    July 17, 2019 at 11:39

    In English-speaking countries anti-Semitic is just a code word for pro-Islamic. Miller himself is deeply involved in efforts to make extremist Islam respectable and justifying terrorist indoctrination.

    • July 17, 2019 at 13:05

      Okay, I’ll take your comment as made in good faith but you will need to back it up with good evidence. Where is it?

    • Qui?
      July 18, 2019 at 03:22

      Palestinians are semites, as the rest of the Arabs. So who is the real antisemite now?

  10. Truth first
    July 17, 2019 at 11:37

    A “communist” who is against war, nukes and massive inequality is OK by me.

    • Hayman Fan
      July 18, 2019 at 07:28

      Is it indeed. Then your are a fool. Pol Pot was a communist who was against war and nukes and massive inequality. But implementing totalitarism by force didn’t turn out well for the Cambodian people. And it wouldn’t turn out well for the British people either. Except for Corbyn and his henchpeople of course.

  11. dean 1000
    July 17, 2019 at 10:42

    Jews in Europe and the US have gone from being heavily discriminated against to having much more influence on government than their numbers warrant.

    I’m going to tell the Netanyahu joke to make my point. Don’t know who to credit. Kudos anyway.

    “It is not anti-Semitic to disagree with Benjamin Netanyahu as he is as white as the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.”

    Given the influence of US and European Jews it is well past time for them to stop screaming anti-semitism when someone has a divergent opinion. They should stop using Semitic people as human shields.

    The left also likes to hurl anti-Semitism at political opponents when they don’t have a relevant answer.

    Unfounded criticism of Jews is anti-Jewish rather than anti-Semitic. Call it what it is.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    July 17, 2019 at 10:24

    Website design comment:

    I’ve noticed the “print” feature is no more. Please bring it back. I love reading essays on actual paper. Thank you.

    • July 17, 2019 at 23:30

      You can print any web page by using the browser’s print command, keyboard shortcut Ctrl+P by default. That results in a prompt to save the file as PDF. You can then open and print the PDF using your choice of PDF viewer.

  13. July 17, 2019 at 09:50

    Kulbhushan Jadhav Verdict by International Court Of Justice(ICJ). ICJ decided to announce the verdict about Kulbhushan Jadhav on 17 July 2019 that faces a claimed of spying in Pakistan by Pak Army.

    Kulbhushan Jadhav Verdict by International Court Of Justice(ICJ)

  14. July 17, 2019 at 06:26

    As Albert Einstein says Capitalism is an Evil supported by those who are terrified of Jeremy Corbyn because like Jesus he is a true Socialist

  15. Que Nelle
    July 17, 2019 at 05:52

    To be accused of antisemitism by zionists that champion the racist entity israel, is a badge of honor.

  16. Vivian O'Blivion
    July 17, 2019 at 03:30

    If the Integrity Initiative really is shut down, the little Simon Bracey-Lane will be free to cross the pond and campaign for Bernie just like he did in 2015 / 2016. Nah, just kiddin’, his cover is blown. But seriously, campaign managers for Tulsi Gabbard best be on guard against inflation from these snakes.

  17. Hayman Fan
    July 17, 2019 at 02:51

    Guys…be careful with this. Corbyn is a communist. He is surrounded by Stalinists. Their modus operandi is entryism + free stuff + perpetual attacks on cultural norms. They used to laud the USSR. Then Venezuala. Now China. If they ever manage to grab power, they will stamp on individual liberty. Just like China does. The Muslim vote is very important to them and whilst they despise conventional religions, they will happily ‘buy’ Muslim votes with anti Israeli and anti Semitic rhetoric. The loudest voices speaking up against Corbyn and his henchpeople are on the left. Be a little bit circumspect.

    • Truth first
      July 17, 2019 at 11:36

      A “communist” who is against war, nukes and massive inequality is OK by me.

    • July 17, 2019 at 13:09

      Errr… what…? Israel does enough on its own to show how anti-Arab and undemocratic it is without the need for Jeremy Corbyn to add anything. I’m a socialist. I support what Mr Corbyn is doing to promote socialism in the UK. There’s not the slightest evidence he’s an anti-Semite, and the tiny amount of anti-Semitism in the Labour party is dwarfed by what’s emanating from the right against Jews and Muslims.

    • Just say no
      July 17, 2019 at 13:58

      This is a joke right. You say communist and you reference China, but in the last century it was ok to ship nearly the entire industrial base of Western Democracies to China so that a bunch of fat cat tycoons, investment bankers, hedge funders et al could become so rich they finally had enough money to purchase the U.S. Government, and it looks like the government of Britain too. That’s where we are today.There may be “communists” lurking somewhere mostly in the imagination who are trotted out whenever a left person obtains a plurality. What has happened to Jeremy Corbyn is horrifying and we have our own issues in the U.S. with the endless smears and lies regarding the candidacy of Bernie Sanders. We live in a world of fabrication, sanctions enough to go around for everyone. Even the little state of RI is sanctioned by Moody’s for having the effrontery to pass a bill which “gives too much away to labor” but Moody’s and the other ratings agencies gave triple AAA ratings to junk during the “great recession” plain and simple, and no one cared. We need a Nuremburg trial for Capitalism and all its practioners.

    • July 18, 2019 at 00:33

      “You say communist and you reference China, …”

      You are wrong is several ways. First, “There may be “communists” lurking somewhere mostly in the imagination who are trotted out whenever a left person obtains a plurality.” Corbyn was observed to be a threat the moment he was elected Labour leader, something that stumped large segments of “informed public”. Due to the surprise element, the anti-Semitic angle was not exploited properly, with possible exception of some Zionist whack jobs who harranged him. Instead, two points were raised that really jolted my attention. First, Corbyn was sooo extreme that he advocated discontinuation of Trident program and even, horror!, the entirety of British nuclear arms program. You could as well raise huge signs ?????? ?y???? ???????! on English shores. Second, his bicycling habits were compared to China during the orthodox Communist year, when riding on non-descript bikes was heavily supported by pre-Capitalist leadership. Mind you, a person of note may ride a bike without shame, but not the cheap and aged specimen favored by Corbyn. Finally, compromising photos were found showing Corbyn relaxing and revealing his red socks.

    • July 17, 2019 at 23:40

      @ “Hayman Fan”

      A rather dubious name, methinks. See https://preview.tinyurl.com/y3us8776

      Sounds like you just couldn’t stand not posting a troll comment on an article about your own activities, yes?

    • Tony Benn
      July 24, 2019 at 09:20

      What an utter cretin you are, try thinking for yourself rather than vacuuming up the Tory/Murdoch bullspite as if it were Ambrosia.

      A Communist surrounded by Stalinist’s?

      Corbyn is nothing more than a moderate socialist in the European mould, he is an average man at best who finds himself in an extraordinary position through largely a fluke and unconsidered political party processes.

      He is not a gifted orator or even very personally inspiring, he is decidedly average in almost every way – other than his hugely admirable INTEGRITY – you question that integrity on the basis of an anaemic straw-man argument, as the democratically elected leader of a political party he will champion the position that his party democratically elects to follow – that is how the system is meant to work, the polar opposite of the totalitarianism BS you accuse.

      So Pol Pot was against nuclear weapons, war and massive inequality? Not sure where you get Pol Pot’s view on nuclear weapons from and I doubt you could substantiate it but Jesus was against massive inequality, war and would by extension have been against any form of WMD, so what? It is as equally useless a comparative as the one you make.

      There remains however an indisputable fact that you will have to admit, very likely privately to yourself at least, your writings suggest you lack the virtue of honest self reflection.

      That fact is that Jeremy Corbyn possesses, DEMONSTRABLY possesses, the strongest anti-racism credentials of any leader of any British political party in the entire history of British politics – proven by a 40 year record of voting, campaigning and activism. This is an indisputable fact.

      For me at least integrity, honesty and compassion are far more desirable traits to be found in a leader than an in depth knowledge of the classics or the ability to deliver a nice turn of phrase.

      Another indisputable fact is there is no British political party leader alive today who can even come close to the consistency of Corbyn’s position over the duration of his four decades of public service.

      Corbyn put HIS PARTY’S stance on Brexit ahead of his personal view on the issue, our current PM, in stark contrast, balanced both Brexit positions and eventually bet on the one that he felt would be the most advantageous to HIS CAREER.

      The difference between the two sets of motivations is like that between heaven and earth but that’ll be lost on you and your McCarthyite ‘reds under’ the bed communist fantasies.

  18. ToivoS
    July 16, 2019 at 22:54

    This incessant accusation of antisemitism against anyone who supports justice for Palestinians does seem to be effective. A decade ago when I first noticed this smear tactic I assumed it would be self defeating on the part of the Zionists and their backers. It sort of seemed obvious that such a tactic would be self limiting with the broader world beginning to reject such slander. However, it seems the smear is more effective today than it was ten years ago. So depressing. Watching Corbyn’s supporters ripping apart his own base in the Labour Party in an effort to appease the Israelis is appalling — it seems the more that is conceded the more aggressive the Zionist become. Ten years ago it was proper to describe the West Bank as “occupied territory”, soon it will be considered antisemitic to even go that far.

  19. David G
    July 16, 2019 at 21:21

    In addition, in 2015, an unnamed, serving British general was quoted saying that if a Corbyn government implemented his well-established anti-imperial and anti-nuke agenda, “there would be mass resignations at all levels [of the military] and you would face the very real prospect of an event which would effectively be a mutiny.”

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-army-could-stage-mutiny-under-corbyn-says-senior-serving-general-10509742.html

    • B Hitchcock
      July 17, 2019 at 18:47

      One can only hope.

  20. Jeff Harrison
    July 16, 2019 at 21:07

    It looks like the British Political Class has the same problem as the American Political Class. No integrity, no honesty, no ethics. Just the sort of bozos we want running countries.

  21. David G
    July 16, 2019 at 21:07

    “… the ‘Information Research Department,’ first proposed in 1947 and sold to the cabinet as a bipartisan, anti-Communist and anti-American propaganda operation.”

    “Anti-American” is a slip, right? I assume it was pro-American (or pro-USAian).

    • July 17, 2019 at 04:17

      My apologies, I was paraphrasing the work of Lyn Smith in her article on IRD in Millennium in 1980.

      It should really be ‘anti capitalist’. According Smith the founder of IRD (Christopher Mayhew) put forward a plan to set up a cold war propaganda agency:

      ‘Mayhew put forward his ideas: the campaign should be as positive as possible laying stress on the merits of Social Democracy but, he pointed out “we shouldn’t appear as defenders of the status quo but should attack Capitalism and Imperialism along with Russian Communism” In fact at this early stage, the idea was more of a “third force” propaganda attacking Capitalism as well as communism (this, however, was not to last for, as later documents reveal, anti Communism soon cam to the fore).'(Covert British Propaganda: The Information Research Department: 1947-77, Millennium, 9(1), p68-9)

      In fact the idea that it would be anti capitalist was a ruse used by Mayhew to deceive the left members of the British cabinet. As my colleague and I Will Dinan summarised in our book A Century of Spin (Pluto Press, 2008, p130-1):

      IRD was not created with the knowing support of the Labour Cabinet. The author of the paper which went to the cabinet –
      Christoper Mayhew – was a Labour right winger and cold warrior. He dissembled to the cabinet about the purpose and function of the IRD by claiming that it was to be a ‘Third Force’ campaign, understood as policy intended by the left to be independent of both the US and the USSR. According to Mayhew himself:

      I thought it was necessary to present the whole campaign in a positive way, in a way which Dick Crossman and Michael Foot would fi nd it hard to oppose. And they were calling for a Third Force… so I recommended in the original paper I put to Bevin that we call it a Third Force propaganda campaign.

      As Mayhew noted, ‘the turning point’ was the speech of George Marshall the US Secretary of State in June 1947. From ‘the middle of
      1947 onwards, decisions were taken towards uniting the free world, at the expense of widening the gap with the Communist world…our immediate objective changed, from “one world” to “one free world”’.

      It is interesting, in this light, to reflect what might/will happen once a Corbyn government is elected with – how should we put this – a minority of leftists in the cabinet.

    • David G
      July 17, 2019 at 15:27

      Very interesting! I guess the propagandists back then had a little more finesse than the idiotic bludgeoning the US/UK establishment is laying on us these days.

      Thanks for the clarification, David Miller!

  22. Jeff Harrison
    July 16, 2019 at 21:05

    The British Political Class has the same problem as the American Political Class – No integrity, No Honesty, No ethics. Just the sort of bozos we need running countries.

    • Maz Palmer
      July 17, 2019 at 14:59

      They are all much worse than bozos (or Bezos); they are all plutocrats, oligarchs, neo-liberal neo-fascist capitalists. That is what all of this is about: this is all a campaign by capitalists, plutocrats, oligarchs, monarchs, aristocrats, to keep expandable, pitiful average plebs from ever voting for something better than corporate serfdom and debt slavery.

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