Press Watch 27/10/19

It may be that readers of Scarlet Standard do not - upon waking on a Sunday morning - reach immediately for the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Perhaps they ought. This weeks edition provides a two page spread full of vitriolic anti-Corbyn copy. Perhaps the most striking, but least enlightening contents amongst this stuff is an almost full-page article which debates whether Labour spokespersons are correct to say that many male giraffes display homosexual behaviour.

Yes, read it here first. The Mail’s critique of progressive views on sexuality is in part based on a debate about gay giraffes.

Meanwhile, some wonderful and very well placed Labour member has provided the Sunday Times with much of the content of the Party’s plans of the general election. This confidential document had until the ST got hold of it a very limited circulation. We wonder what kind of loyalty would inspire someone so well connected to give this to a Murdoch paper.

In a week when the nation heard the ghastly news of the death of more than three dozen migrants here in Britain, and the Commons were told of women being driven into sex work by poverty, you might think that today would be a time to reflect.

But the Telegraph decides to splash its front page with stories of alleged bullying by the Speaker, a job which he will hold for only a few days more given his announced intention to retire.

Reading some of the newspapers ought to lead us to be deeply concerned about the increasingly toxic nature of public discourse. In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times, Archbishop Justin Welby said Britain had become consumed by “an abusive and binary approach to political decisions” in which Brexit rivals treated their opponents as “my total enemy”. The archbishop warned that social media meant it had become “extraordinarily dangerous to use careless comments” in a society that was “polarised and volatile”. He was “shocked” by Johnson’s recent dismissal of warnings about extreme language encouraging death threats against politicians as “humbug”.

Welby’s intervention comes as two cabinet ministers revealed to the Times that at Thursday’s cabinet meeting the PM launched an outspoken attack on Labour MPs refusing to back his plans for a general election. “There they are sitting on their arses, luxuriating in their salaries,” he said.

The PM is reported to have told his colleagues that he would deploy “battering-ram strategy” to force Labour’s hand. “We will hammer them day after day after day,” he pledged. Cummings ordered ministerial aides on Friday night to devise “content” for a social media election blitz that is likely to raise the political temperature further.

The Archbishop argued: “There were a great deal of really difficult things, really bad things being said. Within an environment where we’ve seen the biggest rise in hate crime, and particularly anti- Semitic crime and Islamophobic crime . . . the amplification given by social media makes it extraordinarily dangerous to use careless comments.”

Perhaps we ought to listen to the words of Barack Obama this week in his eulogy for Elijah Cummings, the American civil rights campaigner remembered at his funeral as ‘a fierce champion of truth’.

He said elected politicians earn the title ‘Honourable’ when they are elected. “Its title we confer on all kinds of people when they are elected to public office. ‘We are supposed to use the word honourable when we introduce them”, he continued. “But Elijah Cummings was honourable before he was elected.”

There’s a difference if you were honourable and treated others honourably out of the limelight. The Prime Minister is now addressed as ‘Right Honourable’. We leave our readers to judge his demeanour both inside and outside of office and whether he has earned that title.

Press Watch is a look at the day's news by Labour MPs.

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