I have to admit that I was momentarily fooled by the Guardian’s Fake News about Jeremy Corbyn supposedly deciding to whip Labour MPs into supporting the Article 50 bill that hasn’t even been written yet.
The title of the Guardian article when shared on social media reads “Corbyn to impose three line whip on Labour MPs to trigger Article 50”.
When I first saw the headline I thought “what the bloody hell is Corbyn doing? What an utterly stupid position to take!” because it would obviously be complete lunacy for the leader of the opposition to declare that they’re going to force their MPs to vote in favour of a government bill before anyone even knows what’s actually going to be in the government bill. Such a move would be an open invitation for the government to fill the Article 50 bill full of all kinds of unacceptable nonsense.
After the initial feelings of anger and disappointment generated by the headline began to dissipate, a bit of investigation soon revealed that the article didn’t actually contain a single quote of Jeremy Corbyn, or any of his team saying that they’re going to whip Labour MPs into supporting the Article 50 bill.
About halfway through the article it actually admitted that the real Labour Party position is that “no formal decision on whipping had been made and the party would seek to amend the bill if it did not meet its priorities for negotiations”, which is completely at odds with the article headline that claims that Corbyn will order Labour MPs to vote in favour of it.
The big problem here is that vastly more people will have seen the article headline in their social media news feed than will have actually clicked on the article, read at least half of it, and then clocked that the headline was clearly contradicted by the actual contents of the article.
John Shafthauer at The Canary explained the problem very clearly when he pointed out that The Guardian has taken this reality:
Labour MAY tell MPs to vote a certain way DEPENDENT on what’s in the bill.
And turned it into this:
Labour WILL tell MPs to vote a certain way REGARDLESS of what’s in the bill.
There’s no escaping the fact that the Guardian has invented a Fake News headline about Jeremy Corbyn and spread it all over social media.
I was far from the only person to be duped by the Guardian. I’m a huge fan of the Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas, but she fell for this Fake News headline and shared it on her Twitter feed.
It wasn’t just the liberal-left who got duped by the Guardian’s Fake News headline either. The Spectator (a right-wing news comic owned by the tax-dodging Barclay brothers) worked themselves up into a synthetic rage over Corbyn’s supposed hypocrisy. How dare he be a serial backbench rebel and then impose a three line whip on his own MPs?
Probably the worst thing of all about this Guardian Fake News headline is that it came in the same week as Theresa May announced that the long-awaited Tory “negotiating strategy” we’ve waited six months for is a ludicrous threat against our 27 former European allies that represents a massive lose-lose situation for the vast majority of British people and British businesses.
Either the EU gives in to the Tory demands for a massively uneven playing field where banks and major corporations get preferential access to the Single Market while ordinary British people, independent traders, small and medium businesses and the like suffer the economic damage of getting locked out, or the Tories get rebuffed by the EU and then set about following through on their threat to turn the UK into a bargain basement corporate tax haven.
When the focus of criticism should have been on Theresa May and the Tories, the supposedly left-liberal press were far too busy fabricating Fake News headlines to damage Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to bother attempting to counter the absolute tide of euphoric uncritical guff in the right-wing gutter press about Theresa May’s woeful threat-based posturing.