Observer hack attacks Jeremy Corbyn – and triggers a war of words

Jeremy Corbyn: falsely accused YET AGAIN.

What was Sonia Sodha thinking?

“Keir Starmer was right to exile Corbyn,” she wrote. “Labour has a duty to voters, not to rebellious members.”

And: “The party leader correctly sent a signal that democracy is about winning votes, not indulging nostalgia among a minority.”


Did Ms Sodha hear the same speech I did?

Starmer used the opportunity provided by the Equality and Human Rights Commission whitewashing his anti-Semitic attacks on left-wing Jews to again tar Mr Corbyn with the anti-Semitism brush, along with any Labour members who supported Corbyn’s “Scandinavian” style of socialism.

And then Starmer told socialists across the party that if they didn’t like his leadership, he wanted them to get out.

So anybody who takes his advice won’t be voting for him, then. So much for Starmer’s duty to voters and to winning votes!

I don’t see where nostalgia figures in what happened at all.

And that’s just looking at the first two paragraphs of Ms Sodha’s Observer article!

She makes basic errors of fact:

  • The EHRC’s report of 2020 did not find Labour responsible for “institutional antisemitism” as she claimed – indeed, it ruled that Labour was not guilty of such an offence.
  • Ken Livingstone – and Pam Bromley – may have been found to have unlawfully harassed Jewish party members, but both are currently (as far as I can tell) embroiled in court action against the EHRC over this claim; it is wrong for her to publicise the former without also confirming the latter.
  • Claims of “appalling” abuse against Luciana Berger from within the Labour Party have been debunked (although she did receive abuse from right-wing activists who had nothing to do with the party)(there are far too many examples for me to provide links here); Margaret Hodge submitted hundreds of complaints – the vast majority of which had nothing to do with Labour Party members.
  • Jeremy Corbyn did not accuse the EHRC of the EHRC of “dramatically overstating” the extent of antisemitism in the party “for political reasons”; he said that, in general, the scale of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party had been overstated by its political opponents.

  • Mr Corbyn has no reason to show contrition because he had not “presided over” anti-Semitism in his party. In fact, he worked hard to eradicate it and succeeded in reducing it until anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was far below not only that in other political parties but also well below the national average as well. Under Mr Corbyn, Labour really was the safest place for Jews. That is not true under Keir Starmer.

And let’s have a few facts that she missed:

  • The report said that Labour discriminated against people who had been accused of anti-Semitism in 42 of the 70 cases the EHRC examined, meaning complaints were exaggerated.
  • The report wrongly blamed Mr Corbyn’s Labour leadership for failing to do enough – or act quickly enough – to implement recommendations for improvements, but it also showed that this situation was quickly put right when Jennie Formby took over from right-wing factionalist Iain (now Lord) McNicol as general secretary; it was party officials working under him who had been dragging their feet.
  • The leader’s office was found to have interfered in several investigations – but often the prejudice was against the people who had been accused of anti-Semitism, and not against anybody Jewish.

So Ms Sodha’s claim that Starmer’s decision was “principled” and “morally correct” because Mr Corbyn hasn’t shown any contrition for the anti-Semitism he “presided over” is baloney because he didn’t preside over it – he worked hard to stop it.

Starmer’s decision therefore comes across as narrow-minded factional hysteria. Ms Sodha’s description of him as a “leader of integrity” is risible; he has opportunistically hung an unwarranted attack against an innocent man on the EHRC’s announcement.

Ms Sodha says Mr Corbyn’s “deep unpopularity in 2019 was a significant factor in Boris Johnson’s resounding victory” but fails to accurately record the reason for that unpopularity: false media reporting of issues like anti-Semitism that has clearly gone uncorrected in the mainstream media to this day.

Still, she gets one aspect of Starmer’s leadership right: he’ll sacrifice any and all principles in order to grasp power.

Ms Sodha wrote: “For Labour’s left flank… votes are not to be achieved at the expense of sacrificing their principles,” clearly implying that the so-called “moderates” (in reality, right-wingers who have very few political differences from the Tories) with happily go anywhere the wind blows if they think it will win them a few votes: “Democracy is first and foremost about winning votes.”

It’s Tony Benn’s argument about politicians being either “signposts” or “weathercocks”; a “signpost” always points in its direction of travel and you know exactly what they are, while a “weathercock” changes with the wind, meaning you can never trust them to do what they say they’ll do from one day to the next. Keir Starmer, as I’ve said before, is clearly a “cock”.

It follows clearly from this that Ms Sodha’s claim that Starmer’s “duty is to voters” is not how the current Labour leader sees his position; he reckons his first duty is to elevate himself, no matter what means he uses to do it. If he’ll sacrifice any policy position to achieve his aim (and remember, he has ditched all 10 of the pledges he made when he was seeking election as party leader), then voters cannot know what he will do and he clearly feels no duty to them at all.

She goes on to attack democracy; if members of the Labour Party can’t have equal say in the election of a Parliamentary candidate, then democracy has been betrayed. If party leaders can override constituency members in choosing who will represent them, then democracy has been betrayed. Ms Sodha denies this.

“It is fundamentally undemocratic to give the small, unrepresentative sliver of voters that constitutes the Labour party membership too much power to impose a leader that neither the party’s MPs, nor the country at large, think is decent and competent, or to impose an idiosyncratic choice of individual as a likely local MP on tens of thousands of voters,” she trumpets, unable to see the fundamental flaw in her argument.

What is that flaw? Simply that the membership of a political party describes its policies, beliefs and direction of travel – or should do so. The membership’s choice tells the voters at large what the party is about.

And – crucially – handing these important decisions over to the leadership simply gives power to an even smaller, less representative sliver of voters and must, therefore, be even more undemocratic according to Ms Sodha’s own argument.

So much for her.

The article has attracted a large amount of flak. Here’s just some of what I’ve found:

You can probably find more on the social medium of your choice.

Personally, I hope press regulator IPSO receives a barrage of complaints about this article.

Ms Sodha – and all at the Observer and sister paper The Guardian – should be ashamed.


  1. Jenny Hambidge February 20, 2023 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this article Mike. Being unwell withCovid I could not put into words how sick to the pit of my stomach and beyond after reading this piece in the Observer. Read it several times. Thought I was getting it wrong. But…but …but….that’s not true I kept saying to myself.
    Has the right-the far right infiltrated the Labour Party completely?
    Does truth not matter at all now? Polly Toynbee’s article a few days ago was bad enough but this takes the prize as a blatant attempt to so discredit Jeremy Corbyn that we will get a right wing fascist government which ever side wins.

    • Mike Sivier February 21, 2023 at 12:45 am - Reply

      I can see I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on what our friends… in the “yellow” press are up to. It’s a dirty job but I guess someone needs to debunk their nonsense.

      Sorry to read you’ve got Covid. I hope you feel better soon.

  2. Julia February 21, 2023 at 8:33 am - Reply

    I saw the headline in The Guardian (I don’t read its sister paper The Observer) and decided my blood pressure was high enough at the moment without reading it! So thank you both for doing so. Absolutely disgusting that so called ‘journalists’ get away with lying so much. Although The Guardian is a shadow of its former self, I do still have a look at the headlines and occasionally read an article but it seems to me the quality of its reporting is on an ever downward trajectory and full of ‘clickbait’ articles with very little serious ‘journalism’. Several of their contributors seem to me to have totally lost the plot! It was never a left wing paper but its founders must be turning in their graves.

  3. Tony February 21, 2023 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    Last year, I came very close to cancelling my subscription to the Observer. I was sickened by its warmongering, its lies about Jeremy Corbyn and its lies about Sirhan Sirhan being Robert Kennedy’s assassin.

    But I decided that it was better, on balance, to be aware of the lies it was printing.

    Not exactly a resounding endorsement though, is it?

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