Labour’s lead matches 1997 – but the fight must go on

Labour’s lead matches 1997 – but the fight must go on

Did you know that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is now as popular as it was when Tony Blair won the 1997 landslide election? Probably not.

The Observer’s Opinium poll has Labour two points ahead of the Tories, by 42% to 40%. YouGov earlier this month had Labour three points clear, 43% to 40% (remember that number: 43%).

It is not enough for Blair, who told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I still say come on, guys, we should be 15, 20 points ahead at this stage.”

This from the man who predicted electoral oblivion for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. If Blair’s crystal ball had told the truth, Labour would have been wiped out after the June election. Instead of that, he complains that Labour is only three points ahead of the Tories!

I challenged someone on Twitter whose response to the YouGov poll was: “Not good news for Labour. In any normal parliamentary cycle they should be further ahead.”

I asked him which “normal parliamentary cycle” he was referring to. I don’t remember the Tories taking a lead after their defeats in 1997, 2001 or 2005. Labour barely got above a three-point lead during the entire coalition government of 2010 (and even then its lead turned out to be exaggerated by pollsters). When WAS this mythical “normal parliamentary cycle”? I got no response.

Corbyn’s opponents from both sides of the parliamentary divide are keen to talk down his achievements by belittling them. But let’s look at some figures.

Remember that one I quoted above – 43%?

Blair might have forgotten this, but that is the share of the vote that he won as Labour leader in 1997 – the vote that led to a massive 179 majority. That is where Labour now stands in the polls.

Put like that, 43% doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

So why doesn’t Labour now hold a commanding lead? The answer is simple.

Britain has moved back towards a two-party state in recent years, largely as a result of the coalition and then the collapse of Ukip. Whether you think this loss of diversity is good or bad, it has had one major result: it has propped up the Tories.

Theresa May’s party – despite the scandals, crises and incompetence  –  is consistently polling around 40%.

Not only has she gained the votes of disenchanted Ukip supporters, but she has benefited from the collapse of the Lib Dems. In 1997 the Lib Dems won 17% of the vote, rising with each election to 23% in 2010.

Now the Lib Dems are polling at just six per cent – a disastrous collapse, but great news for May.

Some believed that “progressive” Lib Dem voters would desert to Labour after the coalition, but that didn’t happen. In my Calder Valley constituency, for example, they moved pretty much en bloc to the Tories.

So what next?

I was asked in June if I thought the general election had been a “high water mark” for Labour under Corbyn. At the time I wasn’t sure but I’m now convinced that Corbyn’s Labour CAN go higher. Higher, that is, than the party ever did under Blair.

The irony is that Labour’s chances will to some extent depend on a comeback by the Lib Dems (and Ukip, though that seems unlikely).

There is a large section of the public that will never, ever vote Labour. It’s in Labour’s interests that those people are turned off by May.

In the meantime, there is much work to be done as the battle isn’t over yet. Labour supporters must not become complacent and think the next election – whenever it comes – is a foregone conclusion. The Tories haven’t got where they are today by giving up easily or without a (dirty) fight.

Things can change, and they can change fast. Earlier this year I was still saying that Corbyn was unlikely to win the next election which, at that time, was expected in 2020. Not because of him, but because ANY leader of ANY opposition party is unlikely these days to overturn a majority in just one parliament. That’s what modern political history has taught us. But I did add a caveat: that applies unless something extraordinary happens.

Happily, something extraordinary did happen. One morning, the Prime Minister looked into her mirror – provided by her right-wing media friends – and it told her she was the fairest, and the strongest, and the most stable of all. So she called an election – and we all know what happened. That mirror had lied to her.

When will the next election be? Shadow chancellor John McDonnell believes it will be soon, and the Labour Party is much better prepared this time.

A poll lead of two or three points might not seem that impressive, but think back to when the election was called in April. Some polls had Labour 20 points behind at the start of that campaign. I’ll settle for three points ahead at this stage of the game – but I’ll be fighting to increase it.

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Lies, damned lies – and no statistics

Lies, damned lies – and no statistics

Once upon a time the Tories were so complacent that they just mocked Jeremy Corbyn. Now they are in such a panic that all they do is tell lies about him.

The Conservative general election campaign was one long “Project Fear” attack on Corbyn. It didn’t work.

As he pointed out in his speech to the Labour conference: “The day before the election, one paper devoted 14 pages to attacking the Labour Party. And our vote went up nearly 10%… The British people saw right through it. So this is a message to the Daily Mail’s editor: next time, please could you make it 28 pages?”

It seems the Tories never learn. Everyone has heard that old definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result. Everyone, it seems, except the Tories.

This week at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester we have been hearing all the old lies, all the old personal attacks.

On Sunday, Theresa May told Andrew Marr’s show on the BBC that “at the Labour Party conference, the Labour Party themselves recognised that they would wreck our economy. They can’t deliver.”

Marr said: “I don’t remember that speech.”

She replied: “Run on the pound? Run on the pound from Labour? That’s what they said a Labour Party would mean in this country.”

 

Except, of course, they didn’t.

John McDonnell told a meeting that Labour was planning for government and, sensibly, was planning for all eventualities – including a run on the pound (let’s leave aside for now that May didn’t seem to understand the difference between a run on the pound and a run on the banks).

It’s the sort of planning all sensible businesses do: plan for the worst possibilities to be prepared for anything.

It’s the sort of planning David Cameron should have done ahead of the EU referendum last year. Instead he was asleep at the wheel. Have the Tories learnt anything? It would appear not.

Michael Fallon repeated the biggest lie on BBC’s Daily Politics (though he is not the only one to do so) when he claimed that Corbyn promised during the election campaign to wipe out student debt.

He, of course, did nothing of the sort.

Iain Dale of LBC had wrongly claimed on the Marr programme that Corbyn raised the issue of wiping out student debt, but he didn’t. NME did, in its interview with him.

May would no doubt have responded – if NME had interviewed her – by laughing mirthlessly, saying “I’ve been very clear” and then going on to avoid the question. Instead Corbyn gave an honest reply, admitting that he didn’t have a simple answer but he would look at ways of helping those who were burdened excessively. He did NOT say he would write off the debt.

So just remember that next time you hear anyone repeat that lie. In fact, you can quote his full reply:

 

JCstudentdebt

 

There’s another laughable lie going round at the Tory conference and it is this: Britain under a Labour government would become a Marxist state. It’s odd, because all these Tory ministers have been expensively educated – many with philosophy, politics and economics degrees from Oxford – so you’d think they might understand the difference between a Marxist economy and a social democratic one.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said: “It cannot be left to one political party to make the case for the market economy.”

We’ve heard a lot this week about “the market”. But what market is there without a fully-functioning state infrastructure and citizens with money to spend?

More sinisterly, Hammond reportedly told a £400-a-head dinner: “You have to decide to combat this menace (Labour) or collaborate with it and let it get into power.”

Collaborate? Is he comparing Labour to the Nazis now? How desperate ARE these Tories?

In his conference speech, Hammond referred to the 1970s – a tired old trope about Labour being stuck in the past.

But some of us remember the 1970s. We remember when people had jobs, proper jobs with security and pensions. When a single-income family could afford to buy a home. When students graduated without debt. And when inequality in this country was at a historic low.

“Ah, but what about the uncollected rubbish and the power cuts?” is the inevitable response, usually from those who weren’t even alive then.

Yes, there was a bin strike in early 1979, and it lasted for a month. But the power cuts happened during the 1970-74 Ted Heath Tory government. It was Heath who put the country on a three-day week to save power.

Boris Johnson picked up the theme of the 1970s in his conference speech and walked into a trap he had set himself: “We must accept that when we talk about the 1970s we imagine people instantly understand about power cuts, the three-day week, union bosses back in Downing Street, state-made British Rail sandwiches.

“We think they get the reference but unfortunately going back to the 1970s sounds to too many people like a massive joint revival concert by David Bowie, Led Zep and the Rolling Stones.”

 

Yes, good point, Boris.

There was some pretty good music in the 70s too, but it was YOUR party that was responsible for the three-day week and the power cuts.

More seriously, Johnson said: “If you listen to the aspirations of the young people I meet around the world, you will find there is not a single successful global economy that would dream of implementing the semi-Marxist agenda of McDonnell and Corbyn of nationalisation and state control.”

Trouble is, all over Europe, let alone the world, there are countries implementing exactly that agenda, except they don’t see it as “semi-Marxist”.

Other countries, for example, still own their railways – and now they own ours too. So our fares, the most expensive in Europe, are subsidising rail travellers in France, Germany and Holland.

Many of Labour policies, far from being “hard left”, are regarded as mainstream in other European social democratic countries.

Labour’s position is looking more and more mainstream by the day – and the Conservatives are getting increasingly desperate.

Never mind the 1970s, it’s time to leave behind the tired old politics of the 1980s and 1990s. More and more of us are realising that those politics were built on the biggest lie of all: letting the rich get richer would make us all better off.

We won’t get fooled again.

Don’t let Israel weaponise antisemitism smears

Don’t let Israel weaponise antisemitism smears

We need to talk about Israel. No, we really do need to be able to talk about Israel, even though the Israeli government would rather we didn’t.

In particular, we need to be talking about the way the Labour Party is being smeared with accusations of “antisemitism” – one of the most poisonous slurs that can be pinned on anyone in post-1945 society.

It’s a nonsense, of course.

I guess it’s possible that in any organisation of more than half a million people you might find someone with suspect views, but the idea that the Labour Party in some way condones antisemitism is as outrageous as it is laughable.

 

Yet the mud is clearly sticking.

A BBC Radio 5 presenter read out a couple of messages about the Labour Party conference in Brighton and one listener said he or she could not vote Labour while Jeremy Corbyn was “soft” on antisemitism and condoned Holocaust deniers.

Even though the presenter added a disclaimer, making clear that Corbyn was not involved in Holocaust denial, it is hard to understand why the programme’s editors would have chosen to broadcast such an inaccurate and inflammatory message.

Let’s get one thing absolutely straight: I am not antisemitic. To use an old cliché, many of my best friends are Jewish. Members of my family are Jewish. I have always been passionately anti-racist.

Neither do I hate Israel. I have been there twice and find much to admire about the country.

But I do not like what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, and neither do many people in the Labour Party, including Corbyn. That is the problem.

Defenders of Israel usually make a big thing of telling everyone it is legitimate to criticise Israel without being antisemitic – but then they rush to label anyone who actually does this as antisemitic. They know exactly how toxic that accusation is.

So what was this “antisemitism row” that reportedly “hit” the otherwise hugely successful Labour conference?

A speaker at a fringe event – not part of the official conference – is reported to have said: “This is about free speech, the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum. There should be no limits on the discussion.”

Miko Peled was talking about free speech and its limits. He was not saying he was a Holocaust denier because he isn’t – though that wasn’t clear from many reports.

There are some things it is important to know about Peled, things that were entirely omitted from some accounts of this meeting.

He is not a Labour member – but he is a Jew, born in Jerusalem, a former member of the Israeli special forces, the son of an Israeli general and the grandson of a prominent Zionist.

Perhaps more importantly, from an Israeli point of view, he is an outspoken critic of his native country’s policies on Palestinians. Israel does not like being referred to as an apartheid state, which is Peled’s description of it.

 

That makes him a target for Israeli propaganda services.

We saw earlier this year what those services are capable of when an Israeli agent was caught on camera talking about “taking down” British MPs judged to be hostile to his country.

During the Labour conference, the Times tried to beat up another antisemitism row in connection with a group called Labour Party Marxists, an organisation unaffiliated to the party.

The Times story was based on an article written, the paper revealed in the final paragraph, by someone called Moshe Machover.

Machover, like Peled, is an Israeli Jew. Which raises an interesting question: if antisemitism is hatred of Jews, is it possible for an Israeli Jew to be antisemitic?

Speaking as a therapist, I’d say that would reveal an extraordinary and unlikely level of self-loathing.

Here are a few more questions.

Why did several of the papers reporting the so-called antisemitism row fail to make Peled’s background clear? Were they afraid the truth might undermine their “story”?

And what were the motives of certain Labour MPs who rushed to judgment?

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, said: “Anyone who says Labour doesn’t have a problem with antisemitism is in cloud cuckoo land.”

John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw and the man who aggressively abused Ken Livingstone in public last year, said: “The Labour Party Marxists should all be thrown out of the party, every single one of them. We want them investigated and then thrown out.”

We can only wonder why the party would bother holding an investigation when Mann has already judged them guilty.

We also have to ask WHEN this alleged antisemitism problem occurred in the Labour Party. Is it a coincidence that Mann and Streeting have been two of the most outspoken critics of Corbyn? Are they trying to suggest that the “problem” started two years ago when Corbyn became leader?

That seems unlikely as the most famous allegation of antisemitism – the one that resulted in MP Naz Shah being suspended by the party after she tweeted an old joke about Israel being like a state of the US – happened under Ed Miliband’s leadership.

 

Is anyone suggesting that Miliband, a Jew with relatives in Israel, is antisemitic too?

As it happens, conference passed a rule change – despite cautions from some Jewish Labour members – that will surely give it the most robust rules on antisemitism of any European political party outside Germany.

I still reckon you would probably find more antisemitism in your average Conservative club than in the entire Labour Party, but I doubt anyone from the media will be actively seeking out examples of antisemitism at the Tory conference.

And don’t for a moment fall for the idea that all those who claim to speak for British Jews are in any way apolitical. Many are quite clearly agitating against Labour both for their own party political reasons and to come to the aid of the Israeli government.

You might not know this, but Theresa May was a dinner guest of the chief rabbi on the night before she became prime minister. Now, it’s possible that Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has also had Corbyn round to dinner at his home, but if he has, I haven’t heard about it.

During the 2015 general election, even Miliband came under attack by the Jewish press in an attempt to turn Jewish voters against Labour.

Israel is prepared to fight dirty to prevent close scrutiny of its actions.

So it is important that we don’t let shouts of “antisemitism” stop valid criticism of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

When there is injustice in the world, we mustn’t be intimidated by bullies who know they can weaponise those smears to shut down debate.

Weak May on the way out – and Brexiteers are getting desperate

Weak May on the way out – and Brexiteers are getting desperate

Right-wing Tories are in a panic. Why? Because they know that time is running out on their plan to destroy Britain.

They are desperate to get us out of the EU in the most brutal and catastrophic way. They want to sneak through “reforms” that weren’t in the election manifesto. They want to reduce the state still further until it is barely functioning.

And they want to do it quickly because they are terrified that they have very little time left in government.

Look at them – Boris Johnson, David Davis, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Peter Bone, and the rest of their unpleasant crew – all pushing hard to avoid any compromise that might salvage something from the Brexit disaster.

And the irony is that the harder they push, the less chance there is of them getting their way because their infighting is making Theresa May’s government weaker by the day.

Former foreign secretary William Hague wrote in the Daily Telegraph that if the Cabinet doesn’t get behind May after her Brexit speech in Florence “there will be no point Conservatives discussing who is going to be the Foreign Secretary, Chancellor or Prime Minister in the coming years, because Jeremy Corbyn will be Prime Minister”.

We can only hope he is right.

But in the meantime every new day means we are 24 hours closer to our departure from the EU and the government still has no coherent plan or agreed position on the biggest economic threat to our country for decades.

As Rachel Sylvester – the respected Tory columnist who recently revealed that Johnson is regarded as a joke in international diplomatic circles – wrote in the Times: “In her speech in Florence on Friday, the prime minister is supposed to be unveiling her route map but even now, Whitehall sources say, the text is being rewritten and recalibrated as a weak and incompetent leader tries to balance the competing forces around her.

“Although she is said to be finally consulting colleagues, if it feels like anarchy it’s because there is no agreement…

“Crucially, and potentially catastrophically for the prime minister, the government’s position on Brexit has still not been agreed by senior ministers. In fact, there has been no substantive cabinet discussion on our future relationship with the EU, nor any agreement around the top table about the trade-offs that should be made between access to the single market and immigration controls.

“That is not only astonishing but outrageous.”

“Outrageous” – that’s the verdict of a serious political columnist working for Rupert Murdoch’s Times. Note too her description of May: “a weak and incompetent leader”.

May’s “government” is collapsing even as I write.

You know a government is in trouble when the prime minister and the foreign secretary are staying in the same hotel in New York but aren’t speaking to each other.

And that collapse cannot come too soon for, be in no doubt, the right-wingers of her party want to do as much damage to this country as they can while they still have the chance.

Now they see their window of opportunity shrinking, alarmed Tories who arrogantly saw it as their right to govern in perpetuity are ripping themselves apart.

Actually, I cut Hague’s quote short above. His paragraph on Corbyn being prime minister ended with the words “completely ruining this country”.

But more and more people are now realising that our country is already being ruined, and it isn’t by Corbyn.

It is being ruined by the feebleness of a government led by “weak and incompetent” May that is being pushed around by any rebellious Tory who thinks he can advance his own self-interest.

The sooner we get them all out and bring in a Labour government that represents the interests of the British people, the better.

The back-stabbers emerge again…

The back-stabbers emerge again…

It didn’t take long, did it? The Corbyn-haters were stunned into silence for a short while by the general election, but now they are back and starting to make some noise again.

Some have admitted they were wrong when they predicted that Jeremy Corbyn would be wiped out by Theresa May.

Businessman and former Labour donor Michael Foster stood against Corbyn in Islington North, telling the Sunday Times beforehand: “There are a lot of things a political party looks for in a leader. Jeremy Corbyn possesses none of them. Because of him, Labour faces annihilation at the polls.”

After polling just 208 votes – to Corbyn’s 40,086 – the man who once described the leader’s supporters as stormtroopers had the good grace to say: “I tip my hat to him and I told him personally that he had succeeded where others would have failed and that the Labour success was his and his alone.”

Furness MP John Woodcock, one of Corbyn’s fiercest critics, predicted a “historic and catastrophic defeat” but admitted afterwards that he “got it totally wrong” and apologised for “two years of pitched battles and bad blood”.

Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw, who was openly contemptuous of the leadership during the campaign, said after doubling his own majority: “I take my hat off to the campaign (Corbyn) has run and for getting this result which is better than anyone could have expected.

“If I think what my mood was seven weeks ago, this feels like a completely unreal dream.”

Not everyone has been so gracious. Tony Blair has admitted he was wrong – but he has neither apologised nor offered his backing to Corbyn.

At least he is now being honest. Before the election Blair and his supporters hid their dislike for Corbyn behind claims that they were simply fearful for the future of the Labour Party. Now they have lost that fig-leaf, they are having to come clean.

What they really hate is what Corbyn stands for – and they can’t stand the idea of a Labour government led by him.

Less than two months after the election – a shock result for many, but not for those who could see what was happening with our own eyes – there are already attempts to rewrite history.

A quick scan of below-the-line comments on Corbyn stories brings up claims that he should have won easily given the lousy Tory campaign, that the circumstances of the election were massively favourable to Labour, and that a more centrist leader would be prime minister by now.

 

All tosh. 

Let’s recap on the facts, as some people seem to have very short memories.

First of all, Labour lost the election. We’ll get that one out of the way, as this is something Corbyn-haters keep repeating as if the rest of us were deluded enough to believe otherwise. But…

Labour began the election campaign 24 points behind the Tories in some polls. In late April, the Telegraph reported that May’s popularity score of 61% was the highest recorded by Ipsos Mori since it started asking the question in 1979. A separate YouGov poll on the same day put Corbyn’s net favourability rating at minus 42 – his all-time low.

These were the “favourable circumstances”: May held an apparently unassailable lead – the reason she called the election in the first place.

Yes, the Tories fought a poor campaign, but it was a low-key campaign that they clearly believed would be enough to get them comfortably over the line with the increased majority they expected.

During the campaign, May falsely claimed that if she lost six seats, Corbyn would be prime minister. She did lose six seats and he isn’t.

But look at it this way: if she had lost six MORE seats, her deal with the DUP wouldn’t have been enough to give her a working majority.

Just six more seats and Labour would have been in a position to force a new election at a time of their choosing.

As a football fan, I know the popular reaction to “if only” arguments: “If only my auntie had a dick, she’d be my uncle.”

But that could so easily have happened. The Tories held six of their seats with majorities of less than 315, and five SNP and Plaid Cymru seats were just as tight.

So what of the actual numbers? Despite the predictions of a wipe-out, Labour gained 30 seats. But look at the statistics behind that headline figure.

Labour got 40% of the vote. That compares to 30.4% under Ed Miliband in 2015 (just two years earlier), 29% under Gordon Brown in 2010 – and, most impressively, 35.2% in 2005, when Tony Blair easily won his third election.

 

Then look at the actual votes.

Corbyn’s Labour Party won 12,877,869 votes. Which by any standard is a LOT more than Miliband’s 9,347,304, Brown’s 8,606,527, Blair’s 9,552,436 in 2005 – or even his 10,724,953 in 2001 that gave Labour an enormous majority of 166.

Put simply, Corbyn easily outpolled two of Blair’s huge wins, despite the former prime minister’s insistence that his was the only way.

Does anyone seriously believe that Owen Smith would have done better than Corbyn? Never in a million years.

That is why Corbyn is now the undisputed leader of the party after two years of attempts by his own parliamentary colleagues to force him out.

And that is also why it is important now to resist any attempts to rewrite history. The main reasons for Labour’s increased vote are clear to see: the leadership of Corbyn and a popular left-leaning manifesto.

Labour are now favourites to win the next election, which is an extraordinary turnaround from three months ago when many, such as Neil Kinnock, thought they would never again see another Labour government. But it is not won yet.

None of us knows when that next election might be, but what we do know is that now is the time for unity. Now is the time to stop bickering and get behind the leader. Now is the time to counter the terrified Tories’ pathetic efforts to smear Corbyn.

This is the time to ignore those who reject the message of recent history – and fight for that better future that we all know is not only possible but now within reach.

Time to put Charlie Gard first

Time to put Charlie Gard first

The case of Charlie Gard – to state the obvious – is tragic and complicated, medically, legally and ethically. There is no possible happy ending to this story – but there does have to be an ending.

Of course, no one would want to be in Charlie’s parents’ situation and it is too easy for those of us who have never been there to pass judgment on them and their care for their son.

But while the particular circumstances of this (and every) case might be unique, sadly parents are caught in this dilemma every day and in every country of the world.

Watching the BBC news, I was alarmed to see his parents presenting a petition to sway medical and legal opinion…not because it is wrong for people to offer support, but because we all know, if we are honest, that the bulk of those signatures will be a purely emotional response, probably in total ignorance of the facts (useful guide to those here). Just because so many well-meaning people would like things to turn out well doesn’t mean that they will.

I’m sure there isn’t a person on this Earth who wouldn’t like to be able to wave a magic wand and make Charlie better. And I’m sure too that Connie Yates and Chris Gard believe they have their son’s best interests at heart. But there is no magic wand and he is never going to get better. That is not my opinion – the doctor who says he wants to treat him in the US says so too. Even he – a doctor who has never dealt with a case like Charlie’s – admits the brain damage is irreversible. It seems the best that can be offered is therapy. Certainly not a cure.

Charlie’s mother says she is convinced that if he had this US “experimental” treatment (which Great Ormond Street could have given him, but decided wouldn’t help), he could live a normal life. One hesitates to use the word “deluded” in such tragic circumstances (and if I do, it in no way implies criticism), but this brings to mind those not-so-rare cases of bereaved parents who defiantly insist their baby is still alive while holding the cold body of their child in their arms.

Charlie’s parents seem incapable of seeing the truth.

What has struck me when hearing Ms Yates speak is that she sounds very mentally fragile. Understandably, perhaps, given what she is going through. But, speaking as a therapist, it is clear that she and her partner are going to need a lot of help once the initial media storm has died down.

They are certainly not helped by the interventions of politicians, religious leaders and doctors who want to use this case for their own purposes.

Seeing a publicity-seeking US evangelical pastor praying openly in the street further lays bare the nature of the battle that is now being fought – a battle that goes WAY beyond the wellbeing of one very damaged baby.

To those who bring their “pro-life” religious agenda to this intensely personal case, I would remind them: Charlie is being kept alive by human scientific and medical intervention. If they really believe Charlie is “a gift from god”, as I have seen him described, perhaps they would be happy to see how long he survives if handed over to the care of god instead of the doctors? I’m sure all compassionate Christians would want to end Charlie’s ordeal, not prolong it.

The parents want to take Charlie to America, but it has been pointed out that there is a major difference in philosophy between UK and US healthcare: the former puts the interest of the patient first, while the latter will continue with medical interventions until there is no funding left to do so (put more crudely: keep going as long as there is money to be made). This might be unfair, I don’t know. But one does have to wonder if this American doctor would be quite so interested without the £1.3 million that has been raised by crowdfunding.

Ironically, Great Ormond Street doctors have been called “Nazis” by many on social media for wanting to “kill” Charlie by denying him his right to be used as a medical experiment. These are the doctors who have spent so much time keeping him alive – yet we remember Nazi doctors not for the care they gave to children but for the futile experiments they carried out on them.

A friend reminded me today of the case of Charlotte Wyatt, who was born very premature in 2003 and whose parents fought a similar court battle to keep her alive.

My friend said: “The parents won the legal battle but soon separated and gave their daughter up for adoption because they couldn’t cope with having a child who would never be able to do anything for herself. She has the mind of a 12-week-old baby and needs constant 24-hour care, which costs tens of thousands of pounds every year.

“You see, it was never about poor Charlotte, it was about two angry parents who didn’t want to be advised or told what to do. I believe Charlotte is still alive, being looked after by foster parents, care workers and medical professionals.”

I would hesitate to apply the word “selfish” to two distressed parents who are desperately doing all they can in what they see as their son’s best interests.

But it really is time to put Charlie first.

Even if he did survive, he wouldn’t be “baby Charlie” for much longer. Even if his parents really were prepared to devote themselves 24 hours a day to his care, that wouldn’t be enough. And even if it was enough, they won’t be around to do it forever.

I shall leave the last word to a friend and former colleague, Lisa Salmon, who once had to make that difficult decision herself: “When our first baby was on a life support machine and the doctors told us he wouldn’t be able to breathe unaided and was brain-damaged, we didn’t question their judgment and the machine was switched off and he died in our arms.

“Much as we would have loved him to stay with us, we knew there was no prospect of a good life for him.

“I think Charlie’s parents are putting their own desperate need not to let him go above what’s best for him. I think we did what was best for our son, and they should face the horrible reality of the situation and do what’s best for Charlie, which is to just let him drift away peacefully.”

Tory attacks just make Corbyn stronger

Tory attacks just make Corbyn stronger

The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn used to be vicious. Now they are just laughable.

His critics once thought they could prevent him becoming popular with a constant barrage of half-truths and outright lies.

Now they know they have failed – but they have no other tactic.

Corbyn appeared on the main stage at Glastonbury on Saturday and spoke to a massive and warmly receptive crowd. Many said he was the man of the festival, with his name chanted all over the site and his face appearing on more T-shirts than any band.

This was a red-rag provocation to all those who once claimed that Corbyn’s problem was that he could never be popular.

How could all their insults, their derision, their half-baked newspaper attacks have failed? This wasn’t supposed to happen.

Immediately we saw people who have never even been to Glastonbury complaining that it was supposed to be a music festival, not a political one – ignoring nearly 50 years of radical left activity there.

Many complained that Corbyn’s appearance on the main stage was a breach of political impartiality, as though Michael Eavis’s privately-run festival was in some way subject to election-period broadcasting rules.

Some even went so far as to point out that Theresa May hadn’t been invited, which led to one of the best jokes of the festival when it was pointed out that she could appear on stage and have her name chanted too – as long as she changed her name to Boo.

Desperately looking for some other way to take the shine off Corbyn’s triumphant appearance, the Tory trolls, closely followed by the party’s attack-dog media, hit on the idea of suggesting he should have been somewhere else.

Yes! Why wasn’t he in Liverpool where apparently something called Armed Forces Day was being celebrated?

You know…Armed Forces Day?

No, I didn’t either, but I Googled it and apparently this centuries-old British tradition has been going since 2009.

The Daily Express headlined its story: “CORBYN’S SHAME: Labour leader blasted for shunning war heroes for Glastonbury love-in.”

Needless to say, the only people doing any “blasting” were a couple of Tory MPs (who were no doubt contacted specially to be offered a chance to “blast” Corbyn).

The Sun’s online headline was: “Jeremy Corbyn turns his back on British Troops as he snubs Armed Forces Day events to ramble on stage at Glastonbury.”

This on top of three critical paragraphs that led into an otherwise curiously sympathetic story about Corbyn’s day at Glastonbury. It was almost as if someone at the Sun had taken a straight report from someone who was actually there and looked for a way to twist it into an anti-Corbyn story.

Which, of course, is no doubt what happened. After 40 years in the media, I don’t have to guess how things work – I KNOW how they work.

Corbyn had tweeted his support for our armed forces that morning but that wasn’t good enough for the Express and Sun, of course.

Both those newspapers made the point that May had been in Liverpool for the armed forces event, but failed to mention one important fact: she was booed and heckled during her appearance there.

You’d think the Tory media might have learnt by now. Their attacks on Corbyn have failed and produce ever-diminishing returns.

In fact, it is pretty clear now that they are counter-productive. As one Twitter user put it: “When I read Tory-owned newspapers, Corbyn sounded like a terrible man. When I heard Corbyn himself, I knew newspapers lied.

Trouble is, those newspapers know no other way.

They believed that if they dropped piles of manure on Corbyn, people would believe he stank…and it worked for a time.

But then many people realised they were being lied to – and they didn’t like it.

So what next for the Tory press?

Will they keep on hammering away at the same old themes in the hope that someone is listening? What is the alternative?

Their owners, and the wealthy whose interests they represent, are terrified of a Corbyn-led government. There is no way Murdoch could switch his support to Corbyn, as he once did to Tony Blair.

So they carry on with their now-laughable but increasingly unheeded attacks – and I say keep them coming!

The more they attack Corbyn, the stronger and more popular he becomes.

The latest opinion polls display a total turnaround in the last three months. May is now as unpopular as Corbyn allegedly was then, and Labour hold a five-point lead over the Tories.

The Tory press might be desperate – but their desperation is working against them and serves only to make a Corbyn Labour government more likely. Quite possibly, a certainty.

You couldn’t make it up, as one Tory newspaper commentator used to say.