Record of interviw by #BBC #Panorama #GutterPress Reporter – a week before #LabourLeader election

Posted on September 10, 2015


By Mary Lockhart

Like several happy Labour members outside the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow after the Jeremy Corbyn rally there, I was interviewed by the BBC’s Panorama programme. The interview lasted for longer than I expected, and I was surprised to find myself feeling under investigation.

From the outset, the questioning seemed designed to discredit Corbyn by discrediting the ordinary supporter. My status as a Labour member was first to be probed, and I spotted that one, and stressed my long term membership.

Next, a sneerily posed question about what I thought he could offer the Labour Party. To which I replied that I thought he would energise and engage the membership so that they developed the policies and felt they understood the narrative and the vision, and could articulate it in a way that made sense on the doorstep.

Then came a reminder about the number of times Corbyn had voted against the leadership,and when I said many Party members, including those who elected him to represent them in Islington, agreed with him, came the old “Yes, but do you REALLY think he could ever become Prime Minister?”

And when I had dealt with that – told him I think Corbyn will make the Labour Party as a whole electable, which means its leader will become PM – he countered that the Left never wins elections, and off we went on 1945, and then the success of Tony Blair. Which again I refuted, on the basis that I maintain the Labour Party would have won in 1997, almost whoever was its leader.

So we moved to “Corbynomics”. And I said there was no such thing. That the advent of Corbyn indicated we had moved us away from Thatcherism, and Blairism, and that what the interviewer called “Corbynomics” was in fact socialist economics, but with a move away from the centralised nationalisation of the 1940s to localised and democratically participative mutual public ownership for the 21st century. I even said that as a member of the Co-operative Party, I was particularly interested in this.
(He did not pursue that line!) And i said that many economists said Corbyn’s plans for the economy would work. “Not many” quoth he. And I said “Not yet, but a few – and i think there will be more”.

Next up was the comment that Corbyn was hardly a great orator, with which I agreed, but said that oratory was no longer widely practised, and often made people, especially women, feel hectored and shouted at, instead of communicated with. So again we moved on. And now I felt I was being lured into something dangerous, and didn’t know what. Alarm bells were ringing. But at first, the question seemed innocuous. What had I known about Jeremy Corbyn before this leadership contest? Easily answered.

Then, did I know about his support for international terrorism? His links to some highly unsavoury characters? That he was Chair of the Stop the War Coalition? Did I know that he had described this terrorist and that as respected friends? Could I really believe that such a man was fit to be Prime Minister of the UK?

And I answered partly about previous prime ministerial close friendships citing Thatcher and Pinochet, Blair and Berlusconi, in part about the nature of movements and the elements within them which practice violence to achieve their ends, but largely about diplomacy, and the language of diplomacy and discourse, and said that a man who had not proved himself capable of using such language and building bridges for discourse was not fit to be Prime Minister.

Whereupon, I was thanked and dismissed, pursued by a researcher who took my contact details so that Panorama could get in touch if they needed to follow anything up.

Which, of course, they never did.

This week’s Panorama documentary on Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for…