The Guardian has published a letter headlined ‘Stop Jeremy Corbyn’s trial by media over antisemitism.’
The paper explains:
‘More than forty senior academics write to condemn what they see as an anti-Corbyn bias in media coverage of the antisemitism debate.’
Mark. Not just forty academics, but forty senior academics. Why this quantity of Regius professors should be writing to the Grauniad about Jeremy Corbyn’s treatment in the media I have no idea. But I read on, and wade my way through the sixth-form politics letter to see who has signed.
Scanning the list I cannot recognise one name. Well, I think, perhaps they are not in fields I am acquainted with. Yet it is not just that. Many of them are from institutions that I have never heard of. A number are from institutions that almost nobody not actually on the payrolls of these universities could have heard of.
Not one of these ‘senior academics’ is at Oxford or Cambridge. Only two signatories are even from one of the UK’s top 10 universities, one of whom, ‘Bart Cammaerts’, is listed as being from the London School of Economics. I see from looking at the LSE’s website that this ‘Senior academic’ is in fact an associate professor in the ‘department of media and communications’ who is currently taking a sabbatical away from the rigorous demands of that role.
A whole glut of the signatories come from Goldsmiths, University of London – a college famous for making its graduates unemployable. But otherwise the signatories are from institutions such as the following:
The University of Brighton
The University of Winchester
The University of Lincoln
I hope I am not insulting any readers who have graduated from these institutions if I point out that none could really be considered ‘leading universities’ and that it is therefore at least contestable whether anyone at such institutions could be accurately described as a ‘senior academic’.
But being charitable I look into some of the signatories. I pluck one at random. William Proctor is listed as being at the ‘University of Bournemouth’. His staff page there describes him as a ‘Senior lecturer in journalism, English and communication.’ Here, without editing, is his own university’s description of his ‘work’:
‘He has published on a variety of topics including Batman, James Bond, Spider-Man, The Walking Dead, One Direction fandom, and the reboot phenomenon in popular culture. William is Director of The World Star Wars Project, a five-year study of the franchise from multiple perspectives which will culminate in 2020 with a multilingual, mixed methods global online questionnaire. The first phase of the project, 'The Force Re-Awakens,' attracted over 1800 responses in December 2015 prior to the release of Star Wars Episode VII.’
Others on the list are not so august. For example, one ‘Margaret Gallagher’ is not even listed as being at a university. She is merely given as being a ‘senior research consultant’. Where? We wonder. Surely if Margaret was a ‘senior research consultant’ at Cambridge University she would have said so, wouldn’t she? I hereby offer a box of Roses chocolates to the first reader who can find out where Margaret does her ‘senior research consulting’. Who knows, if William Proctor can wrench his head out of his comic books perhaps he could find out?
Of course it is understandable that these people might be die-hard supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. And it might even be understandable that they should wish to excuse the anti-Semitism that Corbyn has encouraged in the Labour party. But why would the Guardian choose to misrepresent their status? In an era in which we are all so exercised about the propagation of ‘fake news’, why should the left’s in-house paper describe someone in Bournemouth who writes about ‘One Direction’ as a ‘senior academic’. One wonders.