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Jeremy Corbyn tells Labour Conference free press in UK 'has too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths'

Jeremy Corbyn quickly targeted the UK press in his speech at the Labour Party conference, claiming a free press in this country “has far too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths and to smear the powerless, not take on the powerful”.

The Labour leader, who delivered his speech in Liverpool earlier today, spoke more broadly of the need to “protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power”.

He noted the plight of journalists from Myanmar, Turkey and Columbia who are “being imprisoned, harassed and sometimes killed by authoritarian governments and powerful corporate interests just for doing their job of trying to find out the truth of the oppression that happens in their societies”.

But he ramped up the anti-mainstream media rhetoric, popular with left-wingers, calling out to party supporters that they can “challenge their [the media’s] propaganda of privilege by using the mass media of the 21st Century: social media”.

Corbyn also reasserted Labour’s support for Leveson Two, which has been dropped by the Government. He said it was “something the last prime minister promised but failed to deliver”.

An amendment to the Data Protection Bill to push through Leveson Two ping-ponged between the House of Lords and the House of Commons before finally being defeated in May.

Corbyn laid out his policy ideas for the media in more detail last month in delivering the Alternative McTarggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival, reported by Press Gazette (including Corbyn’s full speech).

There he said: “A free press is essential to our democracy, but much of our press isn’t very free at all… I want to see journalists and media workers set free to do their best work, not held back by billionaire owners or the by the state.”

The majority of the UK printed press is right-leaning, with the Guardian and the Mirror the only daily left-leaning titles.

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay

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2 thoughts on “Jeremy Corbyn tells Labour Conference free press in UK 'has too often meant the freedom to spread lies and half-truths'”

  1. I just despair of the entire situation.

    I am proud to be a journalist and I believe journalism is a noble profession – but the national press makes that position extremely difficult to defend, particularly in the Brexit era.

    The national press descends into histrionics every time Corbyn attacks them – but the fact is, everything he’s saying about them is true. They lie about him all they time. They concoct stories and manipulate information undermine constantly. One newspaper even edited a photo to make it look like he was dancing at a Remembrance service. Remember that?

    So you have this farcical situation where both sides of the argument are wrong and both sides’ conduct is dangerous.

    On the one hand, you have the national press lying and spinning all day, every day, to smear Jeremy Corbyn, and constantly being caught in the act and exposed on social media, which demeans our entire profession, has made our media the least trusted in Europe, is destroying newspaper circulations and, in turn, is causing newspaper advertising to flatline.

    On the other hand, you have Corbyn responding by backing measures which would restrict press freedom and financially cripple many struggling local and regional newspapers – who are entirely blameless in the entire situation – to the point where they would be forced to close down, causing regional democratic black-outs and significant unemployment.

    As a struggling reporter at an ethical regional paper, you can’t side with the national press because their conduct is egregious and indefensible, but you also can’t side with Corbyn because he wants to trash your industry, steal your job and destroy all local political accountability.

  2. “The majority of the UK printed press is right-leaning, with the Guardian and the Mirror the only daily left-leaning titles”. What ROT!! The Times, The Observer and The Sunday Times all lean to the left of centre, and the Daily Record very much so.

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