Will Nick Cohen, the Guardian’s Hapless Islamaphobe, Ever Get Something Right?
Will Nick Cohen, the Guardian’s Hapless Islamaphobe, Ever Get Something Right?
When Nick Cohen Makes a Prediction It’s Safe to Assume the Opposite Will
there’s one thing that I won’t forgive Nick Cohen for it’s forcing me to defend
Jon Lansman, Momentum’s owner and dictator. Yet that is the position that he
put me in on 18th August 2018 when The Spectator printed my
letter defending Lansman against charges that he hadn’t pursued my expulsion
first let me digress. There was a time, at the beginning of the Blair
government, when Nick Cohen was a decent journalist. I even looked forward to
reading his column in The Observer. No one was a more indefatiguable
defender of asylum seekers from the depredations of a racist New Labour
government than Cohen. Cohen was a mainstream Tribune style journalist.
Letter to the Spectator refuting a few of Nick Cohen’s habitual errors
something happened. As with Christopher Hitchens it was 9/11 and then the war
with Iraq. From being a left-wing
journalist Cohen became transformed into an anti-Muslim bigot. No one, not even
David Aaronovitch, banged the war drum more assiduously than Cohen. He did it,
he said, in support of his anti-Baathist Iraqi friends, seemingly oblivious to
the hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, the murderous rampages of American
troops, the torture centres and the deliberate policy of setting Shi’ites
against Sunnis with all the devastatingly sectarian consequences that followed.
To Cohen Iraq was a holy war and unlike Aaronovitch he never publicly recanted
(Aaro promised to eat his hat, although to my knowledge this never happened).
Let us just say Cohen lacks a certain self-awareness
Cohen became one of the authors and founders of the short-lived Euston
Manifesto group of neo-cons and imperialists. For him opposition to war meant
you were inextricably intertwined with Islamic fundamentalism and inherently
anti-Semitic. Naturally when Jeremy Corbyn came along Cohen joined the rest of
the chorus at the Guardian/Observer in his ceaseless attacks on Labour’s
most radical and left-wing leader ever. Nothing was too dirty or discredited to
attack Corbyn with but it is nonetheless worth remembering that once upon a
time Nick Cohen was a decent and genuine journalist.
Cohen operates under the pseudonym of ratbiter at Private Eye, acting as
a conduit for whatever misinformation about the Left that the Right supplies
him with. It is an appropriate name as his journalism, if that’s the right
word, is certainly verminous. In this capacity he has written a series of
attacks on Momentum’s Left in Brighton and in particular on my friend and
comrade Greg Hadfield.
article ‘Meet the New Nasty Party’ in the 20th April edition
is replete with mistakes and distortions. Apart from the almost obligatory
attack on Greg, who uncovered a £100,000 slush fund run in secret by a right-wing
Labour Councillor Leslie Hamilton, which has only just been passed over to the
Labour Party, Cohen suggested that I had subjected Cllr. ‘Poison’ Penn to such
a severe degree of harassment that she had to call in the Police.
it’s true that she made at least two complaints to the Police but it’s also
true to say that the Police refused to act on either complaint and made it
clear to me that they don’t consider the cut and thrust of political debate as
harassment. But for Cohen an allegation is ipso facto a fact. Only the
fact that I am already suing the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism for libel and I
have the Jewish Chronicle and a certain unnamed councillor in my sights has
prevented me adding Lord Gnome to the list of worthy recipients of a libel writ!
befits a good socialist, not only does Nick Cohen write in Private Eye but
he is a columnist at that well known socialist weekly The Spectator. And
there it was that he attacked poor Lansman for not doing enough in the fight
against ‘anti-Semitism’. Cohen starts off his column with the brainless comment
that ‘being a Jew on the Corbyn left is soul crushing.’
is tempted to ask Cohen how he would know since he is neither a Jew (despite
his name) nor on the Left. This is despite two articles, 7 years apart, from
Cohen threatening to become one! Hatred is turning me into a Jew, (12.2.09.) Why I’m becoming a Jew and why you should, too (19.3.16.)
It’s called doing a Maureen Lipman after the Zionist actress who managed to be
converted into a Tory twice in four years.
would be churlish to explain all Cohen’s lies, errors and and twisting of the
truth. For example in his allegation that Christine Shawcroft supported a
Labour candidate who posted a Facebook article calling the Holocaust a hoax. In fact Christine, when she supported Alan
Bull, was unaware of his comments and although Bull publicised a Holocaust
denial article he didn’t personally endorse it.
a paragraph describing Lansman’s attitude to me Cohen states:
Even when activists
are expelled from Labour for their foul conduct, they are not expelled from
Momentum. Labour kicked out Tony Greenstein after he called Labour members
‘Zios’, ‘Janus-faced whores’ and supporters of ‘Israeli child abuse’. Lansman
wanted to expel Greenstein from Momentum but lacked the political courage to do
so. He backed off because Greenstein ‘will make a big deal of’ the process,
‘possibly including lawyers’.
are more errors than sentences:
I called Zionists ‘zios’ not Labour
members, ‘Zio’ being short for Zionist like Commie is short for Communist.
I didn’t call Labour members ‘Janus
faced whores’ but I quoted another member who called Owen Jones a ‘Janus
faced whore who bore the impression of the last person who sat on him’! Perfectly
Nor did I call Labour members
supporters of ‘Israeli child abuse’ I called one Labour member, Louise
Ellman MP this because she defended the well documented Israeli military’s
treatment of children in a parliamentary debate on child prisoners on 6th
What is completely untrue is Cohen’s
assertion that Lansman lacked the ‘political courage’ to expel me from
Momentum because of the threat I would resort to law. In fact, as the email I reproduce here shows,
Lansman was intent on expelling me but was worried about legal action which was
why he was forced to grant me a hearing (which he had initially opposed).
We do have to get rid
of Greenstein but I am a bit concerned by the process which he will make a big
deal out of possibly including lawyers
other words it was a straightforward lie by Cohen to say that Lansman lacked
the ‘political courage’ to expel me.
Indeed I was expelled by a panel which included Socialist Action’s
Carole Turner and Sam Tarry of the TSSA.
was forced therefore , against my better judgement, into having to defend Momentum’s fuhrer Jon Lansman from his even more right-wing detractor, Nick
Given articles as disastrous as the one above it is difficult to know what the Guardian/Observer sees in Cohen apart from his venomous anti-Corbynism
this was not the only instance of Cohen getting anything wrong. His article on March 19th 2017,
just before last year’s General Election, Don’t tell me you weren’t warned about Corbyn stands
as a monument not only to Nick Cohen’s lethal combination of stupidity,
arrogance and malevolence but to the Guardian’s vitriolic campaign against
Corbyn. Cohen wrote:
On current polling,
Labour will get around a quarter of the vote. Imagine, though, how the Labour
party will fare in an election campaign when its leaders are Corbyn, John
McDonnell, Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott, and its second XI consists of
Clive Lewis, Angela Rayner, Richard Burgon and Rebecca Long-Bailey. The Tories
have gone easy on Corbyn and his comrades to date for the transparently obvious
reason that they want to keep them in charge of Labour.
Cohen’s forecasts with those of this blog. Almost
alone amongst the political commentators I predicted that Corbyn would defy the
pundits in Labour Can Win if Corbyn is Bold . On April 20 2017, I wrote, with the polls showing the
Tories lead as over 20%
it was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics. Seven
weeks is a political eternity. Theresa May has taken a gamble that her 21% lead
will hold. It is a gamble that she may yet come to regret.
is only one direction that her lead can go, and that is down. Once her lead
falls, then a snowball effect can take over. What is essential is that Labour
marks out the key areas on which it is going to base its appeal. The danger is
that Corbyn is going to continue with his ‘strategy’ of appeasing the right and
appealing to all good men and women. If so that will be a recipe for disaster
May is a cautious conservative. She is literally the product of her background
– a conservative vicar’s daughter. Reactionary, parochial and small-minded, she
is a bigot for all seasons. What doesn’t help is that she is both wooden and
unoriginal. The danger is that Corbyn tries to emulate her.
predictions, that there would or could be a hung parliament were based on my assessment
of the situation. This is still quite possible, as the Tories are widely
detested for their attacks on the working poor, people on benefits and the
continuous privatisation of the NHS. They are seen as the party of a vicious
class rule, which is what austerity is about.
That does not,
however, mean that the Tories will necessarily be defeated. People do not vote
in line with their class interests. The whole purpose of the patriotic card,
used by a succession of ruling class scoundrels from Pitt to May, is to blind
people to their real interests … The Tory press, of course, is doing its best
to foster illusions in Strong and Stable.
…. The Lib Dems
are not going to gain enough seats to prop up another Tory coalition … By
ruling out any form of pact with Labour under Corbyn, the Lib Dems have
guaranteed their own irrelevance.
We could be
in for a period of political instability such as we have not known for 40 years
… A Tory government is still possible if it cobbles together a coalition of
the Lib Dems and the Ulster Unionists-DUP. Even a majority Tory government
cannot be ruled out.
In the wake of this I made an offer to the
Guardian. I would replace Nick Cohen and Owen Jones for only half their salary. Surprisingly my offer was rejected!