As someone driven to write, in part, by the bias of much of our mainstream media, it’s not often I’m left dumbstruck by misrepresentation of left-leaning politicians. But the widespread reporting that Labour MP and leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn plans to segregate British trains by gender was a new low, even for UK media.
It’s a gorgeous headline, and I understand the temptation to score hits as well as the next journo – but really, values have to come first.
After he joined the race to become next Labour Party leader, and potentially our next Prime Minister, the Party and the entire mainstream media (right and liberal) went into a spasm of hysteria. He has been called everything from Stalin to Chairman Mao. Then, to their horror, the public actually were inspired by his platform! Hundreds of thousands of new members joined the Labour Party so they could vote for him as leader. For £3, members of the public could register as a supporter and vote in the UK version of a Primary.
How did the Labour Party respond to this incredible turnout? They chose to literally disenfranchising potential Corbyn voters. I am among those the party banned from voting.
In a purge being referred to internally as ‘Operation: Ice Pick’, Labour HQ is purging the party of social democrats. The name is a particularly sick joke, referencing the weapon-of-choice in the 1940 assassination of Leon Trotsky by Stalinists. Supporters of Corbyn have been consistently derided as “Trots” throughout the campaign.
Almost our entire left-wing commentariat has been banned. Comedians Mark Steel and Jeremy Hardy, along with renowned author Marcus Chown and ‘Spirit of ’45’ director Ken Loach, prominent disability rights campaigner Francesca Martinez, and Union Leader Mark Serwotka– all have been banned from voting in the Great Labour Purge. In logic worthy of Orwell, or the novel Catch 22 – defenders of the purge argue that you can’t become a supporter of the Labour Party unless you are already a supporter.
So, this is the atmosphere in which the story broke.
That said, if Jeremy Corbyn suddenly abandoned his litany of Feminist credentials – the entire Left would kick him hardest for it. So what did he say?
“Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women only carriages,”
Is it true that women have suggested this? Actually, yes. In fact, Conservative Transport Minister Claire Perry raised it last October. After a pretty subdued response, it was dropped. For good reason, it should not become the responsibility of women that they are unsafe on trains because of violent, or sexually aggressive men.
Because Corbyn speaks like a human being, and not a political pod-person, he continued:
“My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself. However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.”
He doesn’t even hint that he is personally in favor of gender-segregating trains. He’s a plain speaker. If he wanted it, he would say so. He merely states that the issue has come up, he takes doesn’t dismiss women’s views on their own safety out of hand,so he will listen to the views of women on the matter, and pilot it if support for the idea were present.
That’s about as far from what is being reported as it is possible to get, without simply making it up from scratch.
So no, Jeremy Corbyn is not promoting or planning to segregate UK trains by gender. If you’re interested in the segregation of public transport though, you can always holiday in Israel, or Saudi Arabia – both prominent UK allies.
This has not however, stopped a rabid media from foaming at the mouth about it. Another reminder that we not only need to help build a new politics, but a new media too.
I am working with a team of extraordinary people to launch an entirely new, independent UK media outlet in Autumn this year! The Canary will bring you everything you love about Scriptonite Daily, all day, every day. We will be bringing you independent, well-researched, fearless reporting on news, politics, current affairs, science, tech, health and wellness – seven days a week.
We are now recruiting copy editors and writers to join our team. If you are interested, please send an email here to receive an application pack.