(Photo: US Embassy London)

With the local and London mayoral elections just around the corner, more misreporting in the right-wing press on Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan and party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In The Daily Mail, another attempt to try and portray Mr Khan as an extremist. In an article written on Tuesday with the headline LABOUR PLUNGED INTO FRESH RACE ROW AS VIDEO EMERGES OF LONDON MAYORAL CANDIDATE SADIQ KHAN USING ‘UNCLE TOMS’ SLUR AGAINST MODERATE MUSLIMS, the paper refers to a 2009 Iranian TV interview that has emerged where Mr Khan uses the phrase ‘Uncle Toms’.

The phrase originated in America and was often used in a derogatory way to describe a black person seen as obedient and subservient to white authority figures. The Daily Mail reports that use of the phrase is evidence that Mr Khan ‘views moderates with contempt’.

But although use of the phrase was ill-judged, Mr Khan – who was minister for community cohesion at the time – was speaking about attempts to engage with all parts of the Muslim community in the interests of counter-extremism.

The full quotation (which The Daily Mail ‘buries’ about two-thirds into the article) is: ‘I wish we only spoke to people who agree with us. I can tell you that I’ve spent the last months in this job speaking to all sorts of people. Not just leaders, not just organisations but ordinary rank and file citizens of Muslim faith and that’s what good government is about, it’s about engaging with all stakeholders. You can talk about articles in the newspapers about what an organisation might get but the point is you can’t just pick and choose who you speak to, you can’t just speak to Uncle Toms.’

So the point he was making was – if you want to tackle extremism, you can’t just engage with people who already agree with you. You have to engage with everyone. If he’s viewing people as ‘Uncle Toms’, he appears to include himself in that category also.

Mr Khan has since admitted that use of the phrase was a mistake. Politicians as well as others say ill-advised things occasionally. The current London Mayor Boris Johnson had to apologise for calling black people ‘piccaninnies’ back in 2003. There’s no evidence of The Daily Mail referring to Mr Johnson as ‘unfit to be London Mayor’ as it has Mr Khan.

Meanwhile, The Sun has hurled yet more mud at Mr Corbyn in an article JEREMY CORBYN RANTED AGAINST ISRAEL AND DEMANDED IT BE CUT OFF BY THE REST OF THE WORLD.

The article goes on to say that Mr Corbyn addressed crowds who ‘waved Hitler posters’ and ‘brandished Nazi swastikas’ at a Palestinian demonstration in Trafalgar Square in 2002.


(Photo: Tsering Lahmo)

The paper tries to make it appear as if the event was an anti-Jewish rally full of Nazi-loving types. What it fails to make clear is that it was a protest against Israeli government aggression towards its Palestinian population. The Hitler pictures and swastikas were directed against former right-wing Israeli president Ariel Sharon, who many believe should have been tried for war crimes.

Although the pro-Palestinian events that Mr Corbyn frequently attended undoubtedly did attract anti-Jewish individuals, they also attracted Jewish groups such as Anti-zionist Orthodox Jews and Jews For Justice For Palestinians, along with groups from other faiths.

One similar rally in Hyde Park, also from 2002, contains a transcript of a speech given by Mr Corbyn (available here) in which he talks of the ‘unity of Muslim people, of Christian people, of Jewish people and of people of no faith’.

Whatever one’s opinions of the Labour Party or the situation in Palestine, what is undeniable is that what is being written in these papers about both Mr Corbyn and Mr Khan is incorrect, part of a deliberate and orchestrated campaign by the Tory-supporting press to smear its opponents by searching through old footage and clippings to find anything that can be twisted and used against them.

Whether it’s done to further right-wing or left-wing causes, this kind of thing is tabloid journalism at its very worst.

Tabloid Corrections Facebook page: here.


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