Monday, 3 October 2016

Obnoxious Nicky Cohen

I break my long and mysterious silence merely to draw everyone's attention to an egregious piece by right wing lefty Nick Cohen in The Guardian / Observer:
The Daily Mail might have compiled the far left’s hitlist of Labour MPs. Seven of its apparent deselection targets are women: Angela Eagle, Jess Phillips, Stella Creasy, Louise Ellman, Anna Turley, Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth. Of these, Angela Eagle is an out lesbian and Louise Ellman, Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger are Jewish. Most are young by the standards of politicians and nasty old men have always enjoyed humiliating young women with ideas of their own. 
The Corbyn gun club does not only have women at the end of its firing range. A list of MPs Jeremy Corbyn claimed had been abusive towards him included many men. But when Labour activists talk of the men most likely to be deselected the list narrows to three: Neil Coyle, Wes Streeting and Peter Kyle. Wes Streeting and Peter Kyle are, since you mention it, gay.
Well, it is nice to see Nick is really making an effort to unite and heal divisions!

Note the language: 'the far left's hitlist'; the 'Corbyn gun club' and women 'at the end of its firing range.'  This is the language of violence, shameful after the murder of Jo Cox.

Note also the mention of a list.  What list?  Does he mean the list of MPs alleged to have been abusive or disrespectful towards Corbyn or his supporters?  It can't be, because that list does not mention Angela Eagle, Stella Creasy, Louise Ellman, Anna Turley or Ruth Smeeth.  What list is it, Nick?  You can't just claim - in the very first line of your article - that there is a hitlist, name the names on it and then not actually produce the hitlist.  If you want to make up any old shit you like, quit the Guardian column and get a blog.  You've said there is a list.  Produce it, please.

Note the description of Corbyn and his inner circle as 'Nasty old men' - is this really the language of grown up discourse, Nick?  And the headline (which Cohen may not have been responsible for) repeats this unjustified, childish smearing.  'Good and Brave' Labour MPs need to be defended.  From the 'Nasty old men' (Why do you hate old people, Nick?) who are presumably also bad and cowardly.

(Nick then goes on to lay into Shami Chakrabarti, writing off the investigation she conducted into antisemisim in the Labour Party as a 'sick joke of an “inquiry” into left antisemitism.'  Sorry, Nick, what were you saying about nasty old men humiliating young women (you patronising fart!) with ideas of their own?

He doubles down on this by commenting how 'the Livingstone left accuses Jews of always raising fake claims of antisemitism to silence criticism of Israel.'  the emphasis on 'always' is Cohens, by the way, not mine.

Ken Livingstone is, of course, a dickhead who has said many stupid things over the years, often about Israel.  But I doubt Livingstone has ever accused 'Jews' (nice bit of elision there, Nick) of 'always' making false claims.  Cohen may have strayed into libel here, if Livingstone is in a litigatious mood.  I'm not sure he will appreciate his name being used in such a manner.

(For what it is worth, the 'Livingstone Formulation' Cohen mentions earlier does not refer specifically to Jews, or claim that it is always being deployed.  In 2006, Livingstone said, "For far too long the accusation of antisemitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been."  No mention of Jews there, Nick, you naughty boy!  I suppose adding 'Jews' into the paragraph added a bit of emotive colour.  Because no-one, quite rightly, likes people who bash Jews.)

Nick finishes with a curious flight of fantasy where he contemplates what  'Emily Thornberry, Diane Abbott and the rest of Corbyn’s prominent women supporters' should be saying. (One would have thought a 'nasty old man' like Corbyn would not have 'women supporters.'  It must be some sort of Stockholm Syndrome.  Why else would they stand by someone who delights in 'humiliating young women'?)  It includes the bizarre claim that deselection of these women must be an act of misogyny:
Even though Jess Phillips and Stella Creasy are my opponents, it would be intolerable for them to lose their seats to misogynist enemies, just as it would be intolerable for antisemites to drive out Ruth Smeeth and other Jewish MPs.
Note how Cohen is deploying his own version of the Livingstone Formulation.  Any criticism of the likes of Eagle, Phillips, Creasy, Ellman, Turley, Berger and Smeeth (the names he mentioned earlier) can not be for genuine reasons around competence or simple dissatisfaction; it has to be the result of misogyny or antisemitism (why not both, Nick?).  Impressively, Cohen manages to libel the candidates replacing these MPS, characterising them as 'misogynist enemies' and 'antisemites' before they have even been selected, or the sitting MPs even deselected, or even before any move has been made to deselect them.  Talk about demonisation.  This is pre-demonisation.  If any of these MPs stand down or are deselected, Cohen has already proclaimed whoever replaces them a misogynist or antisemite.

There is lots more.  Berserk religious imagery (Corbyn is Pilate.  Does this make Owen Smith Jesus Christ?), references to the French revolution and Stalinism.  It is a genuinely strange piece of vitriol, more appropriate to some obscure little blog (unlike Cohen, who comes across as a rather nasty old man himself, I have a trace of self awareness), not the pages of a major newspaper.

1 comment:

swordfish said...

Cohen was always going to play a key role in the Blairite-Brownite "anti-Semitism" smear campaign against Corbyn and Momentum. It's what he's all about. And, yes, that easy, unspoken conflation of "Israeli apologists" with "Jews" in general is a key facet of Cohen's modus operandi. As it is of every other two-bit hasbara propagandist.

Cohen's also, of course, jumped onto the PLP plotters' "Momentum are Misogynist Trolls" bandwagon. All somewhat undermined by the fact that women Labour Party members disproportionately voted Corbyn in both the original and the latest leadership elections and that Momentum activists are disproportionately middle-aged women.

I'm in the UK at the moment and I've just had dinner with my lesbian-feminist cousin (a kiwi long domiciled in London). She joined Labour in order to vote for Corbyn and has no doubt that the UK Labour Party Establishment has been exploiting gender politics and spurious claims of anti-Semitism for their own political purposes.