The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Here, There And Everywhere

Today’s blog is a bit of a Sherlock Holmes adventure. As well as an opportunity to get something off my chest (or out of my system). You see, during the EU referendum campaign, Jeremy Corbyn was conspicuous by his absence. Lots of people noticed, some of them didn’t mind, some of them thought it might even be helpful. But since then, his supporters and even his own semi-official Corbynfacts page have claimed that ‘he gave 122 speeches during the course of the campaign’.

This is patently not true. And it’s bugged me. It bugs me because I am pedantic, and it bugs me because this sort of blatant disregard for truth typifies Corbyn’s leadership and his re-election campaign. He and his press people assume – probably with good reason – that his supporters aren’t particularly interested in facts, and will happily trot* out whatever they are told without question. That they are, in word, credulous.

I am not writing this blog to change their minds. They are not particularly interested in facts. They are hermetically sealed within their own truth-bubble of confirmation bias. Nothing – not even Corbyn losing a general election by a vast margin – could burst that bubble. There are always excuses, it is always somebody else’s fault.

By the way, one of Corbyn’s supporting groups have an infographic about how many miles Corbyn travelled during the campaign. It may very well be correct, I don’t know. But surely the point is how many appearances he made at events open to the public, and how well-attended they were, not how much time he spent on a bus or a train between them. I mean, you can chalk up a lot of miles just by having a very badly-planned itinerary!

I am simply writing this blog out of my own bloody-minded pedantry. To get it out of my system. And so that anyone who doesn’t blindly support Corbyn can have a giggle at the blatant nonsense his followers have swallowed hook, line and sinker.

Okay. So The Mirror have finally picked up on this story, and realised that the ‘122’ claim is approximately based on a study by Loughborough University on media coverage during the election. That is a study of news coverage, not the number of events – so, for instance, if the same public appearance or, more likely, counterproductive blunder during an interview, was reported on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, that would count as four appearances.

Following this, our glorious leader’s press office have reluctantly given rather-light-on-the-specifics details of his work during the campaign. I quote in full.

“His activity included:

10 EU rallies, with speeches and meetings in London, Bristol, Stroud, Newquay, Perranporth, Cardiff, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Runcorn, Manchester, Truro, Sheffield, Widnes, Doncaster, Rotherham, Hastings, Brighton, Dundee, Aberdeen and Birmingham.
These included a meeting with student nurses in Birmingham, a factory in Runcorn, a clean beaches event in Truro and campaigning with activists in Scotland.
Launched the Labour In bus and the Ad Van.
A debate on Sky News with Faisal Islam, also talked about the EU on the Agenda and the Last Leg. Appeared on the Andrew Marr show twice and on Peston on Sunday.
Written two op-eds, one in the Observer and another in The Mirror.
Reached more than 10 million people on social media.
Six statements to the House of Commons and 10 PMQs on the EU.
He has been consistent on this issue from day one of his leadership, issuing a statement in September that “Labour will be campaigning in the referendum for the UK to stay in the European Union”.”

Well, there you go. I’ll go through it. This is where the fun begins. The game’s a foot!

10 EU rallies
It’s not clear which of the following events were rallies so I’ll investigate them all in turn. I will do this via the ingenious mechanism of searching for them on google using ‘Corbyn’ and the town name in the date period of the referendum campaign (i.e. 10 May 2016 – 22 June 2016). That way, even if they were picked up by a local news outlet, or even just reported by somebody on their blog, I will find them. Sadly Labour haven’t bothered to keep a comprehensive list of these events, many do not seem to have been publicised on the Labour website or anywhere else.

What I am interested in are three things. How many people attended each of these events, whether it was directly related to the EU referendum campaign, and whether it was open to the public. Sadly I don’t think I can find out the third of these, so I’ll just have to fixate obsessively on the first two.

I link to my sources because I care about facts.

(Note: For venue capacities I’ve just looked up the various venues' own websites and counted the largest room available. You can google them yourself! The dates are those on the reports, the actual events may have been the day before)

London – I can find two events:

We’re off to a good start here. This was in a hall with a capacity of 450 and a quick check on Getty Images shows that it was full and was definitely an EU Referendum event.

22 June – Granary Square
The final campaigning event of the referendum, where Jeremy was joined by Sadiq Khan, Kezia Dugdale and Carwyn Jones. There were about 200 supporters there. Not much of a turn out!

Additional:

I am indebted to Jos Bell (see comments) and Simon Redhumbersider of twitter for bringing to my attention another London event at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre.


14 May – Queen Elizabeth II Centre – Fleming room?  
Going from Jeremy’s twitter video it seems to have taken place in the Fleming room (capacity 500) but, as Jos has pointed out, the video also reveals a large number of empty seats; the event “was just over half full and began an hr and half late”. Let’s be generous and say 300 people were there?  

I am indebted a second time to Simon Redhumbersider of twitter for details of a second event that had eluded me.  

14 June – Congress House  
A TUC rally – ‘Our NHS; Safer in’. As far as I can glean from this photo and this photo it was attended by about 100 TUC delegates and members of the media.  

Later the same day Jeremy also participated in a private photo-call with the members of the shadow cabinet and trade union leaders. Does this count as a campaigning appearance? Up to you. 
 
Bristol:
Another Remain event, in a hall with capacity 250.

Stroud:
19 May – Ecotricity
Oh dear. This wasn’t a Remain event. This was to launch Workplace 2020, whatever the hell that is.

Newquay:
4 June – The Atlantic Hotel
We’re back on track. This was a Remain event. In a hall with capacity 300. Very posh place! How the other half live, eh?

Perranporth:
4 June – The seaside
Oh dear. This was a brief walkabout. As far as I can gather from the photographic evidence, Jeremy met a young lady who had her photo taken with him. Whether they discussed the EU Referendum, it is hard to ascertain from the media coverage. Not sure it counts as a rally though.


Cardiff
3 June – City Hall
Hooray, another proper Remain event, in a venue capacity 500. And it’s even described as a ‘rally’! You see, it’s not all walks along the seafront!

Blackpool
14 May - Imperial Hotel
Jeremy spoke to 200 members of the Fire Brigade's Union. This was not a Remain event, the referendum seems not to have been even mentioned.

Bournemouth
Jeremy attended the GMB annual conference. To – oh dear – launch Workplace 2020, seemingly for a second time! He did, however, to be fair, mention in passing that he supported Remain during his speech, so good for him. You see, it’s not all bad

Liverpool
"Dozens of students and young Labour members crammed into the back room of the Casa on Hope Street". Only dozens? What's wrong with you, scousers? Don't you want to hear Jeremy speak? Why do you all hate him so much?

Runcorn
?
Can’t find anything. The best google can offer is Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Widnes (see later).

Manchester
A definite Remain event. Venue capacity – a mere 100. Another event was planned but cancelled.

Truro
4 June- ?
This seems to have been part of the trip to Newquay and Perranporth. I can find several reports of Jeremy saying “I’m doing an event in Truro” but history – or at least google searches – do not relate whether it went ahead, and if it did what it was or where it was (and if a public appearance fails to get reported, not even in local newspapers or the blogs of Labour party supporters, does it really count anyway?). Sadly it seems not even one young lady had their photo taken with him! So much for the famous warm welcome of Truro!

Note: I realise there is supposed to have been a ‘clean beaches event’. However, even using that phrase to search google provides no answers!

Additional:

A check on twitter reveals that Jeremy ate at a seafood restaurant. He must be one of those vegetarians who thinks that fish don't count! But what he did during the day, if indeed he did anything, remains a mystery! There seems to have been an event planned but I can find no evidence that it actually took place.

Sheffield
Another Remain event, hooray. The attendance is hard to gauge, as no venue is specified, but we do know that it consisted of “an audience of apprentices from the AMRC Training Centre” of which I imagine there were several. Sadly none of them have so far blogged about this no doubt uplifting and inspirational experience.

I can find no evidence of any other events in Sheffield - see entry for Rotherham.

Widnes
He visited a factory that makes wind turbines. Not a rally or a public event, it was a photo-opportunity!


Doncaster
27 May – Town Centre
Rather excitingly, not only was this a Remain event, but there is video footage proving that it definitely took place! Stick that up your jumper, Owen Smith! Tragically there is also photographic evidence that even with both Jeremy Corbyn and Ed ‘scintillating’ Miliband heading the bill, it failed to elicit much interest from the good people of Doncaster and was mainly attended by journalists following the campaign.

They also visited Raventhorpe Solar Farm for a photo-opportunity, providing this wonderful image. 


Rotherham
"Mr Corbyn took part in a tough question-and-answer session with the student audience."

He also visited the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on the 16th June, which, in turns out, is not actually in Sheffield but in Rotherham. So it turns out Jeremy never actually visited Sheffield at all!
 
Hastings
Ah, now this is what I like to see. A news report of an actual “rally” with “scores of supporters”. Our glorious leader even tweeted about it. The venue has a capacity of 600. Can you see 600 people in that photo? Oh, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say it was full, there were 600 people there even if you can't see them all, alright?

Additional: 

I am reliably informed it was well-attended - see comments below for an account from Richard who was there.

Brighton
Another union conference appearance, as well as another seaside walkabout!  Sadly the union conference doesn’t seem to have touched on the Remain campaign to any great degree. Or maybe it did and it wasn’t reported by the mainstream-media, that is also a possible factor that can’t be ruled out.

Dundee
13 June – City centre
Jeremy’s visit was previewed and reported on by the Dundee Courier but on neither occasion do they report where he went, or who he spoke to. What a shit newspaper. However, the fact that his appearance wasn’t reported by anyone else speaks volumes about the standard of journalism in Dundee in general. Stick to the Beano, guys.

Additional: 

A check on twitter reveals that there was a small photocall in the city centre. It wasn't reported by the local press. My friend Dan happened to be passing and saw the vast crowds.


Aberdeen
More video evidence, of Jeremy making a surprise visit to a fete. Sadly it wasn’t pre-publicised so doesn’t seem to have had much of a turnout. However, can I just say that the Evening Express is head and shoulders in its reporting above the so-called Dundee Courier.

Jeremy also spoke to a small number of students, as detailed on his twitter account


Birmingham
Another discussion with a small number of students, this time nursing students, with the conversation seemingly focusing on student bursaries. However, if the Remain campaign wasn’t discussed in any great detail, Jeremy was at least wearing an ‘IN’ sticker, and it was all worthwhile because he then went on to do this photo-opportunity with Tom Watson:


However, how many people did he actually speak to in Birmingham? Can’t have been more than a couple of dozen.

Additional:

I a
m indebted once again to Simon Redhumbersider for providing details of a rally that wasn’t reported even by Birmingham’s local newspapers or local news websites.

9 June – The Venue, Edgbaston

The event was publicised here. Sadly it seems that Guardian firebrand Owen Jones and Neena Gill were unable to attend and were replaced at the last minute by Jack Dromey. Jeremy Corbyn’s twitter photo shows that it took place in the Chamberlain Room, maximum capacity 300.

Have I missed anything out? Have I got anything wrong? Maybe you know of some other events? Maybe you can help fill in some of the blanks? If so, I'd be delighted to hear from you and to add the relevant information.

Well, that’s the grand tour. What about the rest of it? It’s getting late, I’ll be quick.

These included a meeting with student nurses in Birmingham, a factory in Runcorn, a clean beaches event in Truro and campaigning with activists in Scotland.

At least one of these failed to make even the pages of a local paper...

Launched the Labour In bus and the Ad Van.

Good-oh.

A debate on Sky News with Faisal Islam, also talked about the EU on the Agenda and the Last Leg.

I don’t get Sky. Weird, isn’t it? There’s me, refusing to giving money to Rupert Murdoch on a point of principle, and there’s Jeremy, on Sky. I’m glad to hear he was also on two other TV shows I don’t watch. I daresay one or two Labour MPs are kind of wishing he hadn’t made that appearance on The Last Leg, yes, I capitalise the T, deal with it. Note: I have since been informed that I do get Sky News as part of my Freeview package. I was not aware of this.

Appeared on the Andrew Marr show twice and on Peston on Sunday.

Good-oh, that’s your job.

Written two op-eds, one in the Observer and another in The Mirror.

Reaching out to your comfort zone there (that sounded less rude in my head). I can’t be bothered to go and find these, I daresay they would move me to tears with their erudition and insight.

Reached more than 10 million people on social media.

That’s nothing, Ricky Martin has 14 million followers on twitter and he hasn’t even had a hit for like ages.

Six statements to the House of Commons and 10 PMQs on the EU.

That is literally your job.

He has been consistent on this issue from day one of his leadership, issuing a statement in September that “Labour will be campaigning in the referendum for the UK to stay in the European Union”.”

Chinny reckon. That’s all I can say to that. Chinny reckon.


I hope you have enjoyed this informative and well-researched look at Jeremy’s pro-Remain tour activities. As you have just read, if you go through all the events and add together the maximum possible attendance of each one (assuming that there were no journalists or party workers bumping up the numbers!) then it seems that during the entire Referendum campaign Jeremy spoke to audiences totalling about 2500 people (and, oh boy, I am being generous with those figures!).

Note: Additional information of two more London events and one more Birmingham event brings the total up to about 3000.

You may wish to compare and contrast that with the number of people he’s spoken to as part of his campaign to be re-elected as leader.

* Pun intended.

10 comments:

  1. interesting tracking here Jonny Overall I was deeply unhappy with the Remain campaign and the lack of direction from the leader's office - in Jeremy's defence there was one other gig in London, at the QE2 Conf Centre at 4pm on 14th May which was just over half full and began an hr and half late. Jeremy rambled

    - something which didn't really improve until the final week, by which time it was far, far, too late.

    PS. I think you also missed mention of his fur coat/tux 7.5% appearance on the Last Leg.

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  2. Thanks for this. Well done for doing your research. Hopefully busts a few myths, but you won't change the Corbynites I'm afraid. They have 'supped' from the 'chalice of empty dreams' and are beyond saving.

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  3. Thanks for doing the research!

    Good to bust a few myths but it's unlikely to convince Corbyn's followers have 'supped from the chalice of empty promises' and now live in a parallel universe.

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  4. Excellent, accurate reporting of the facts.
    Corbyn was in MK yesterday. Arrived an hour and a half late and spoke to about 400-500 people in Station Square. Diane Abbott also spoke (rambled) and later reported 1500 people attending. There weren't that many - I was there.

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  5. Would any appearance of Corbyn moved the media from the Dave and Boris show. With many voters coming out after years of not voting to leave I am not sure it mattered at all.

    After 20 years of anti-EU Daily Mail style headlines the remain campaign had a lot of work.

    The official remain campaign was relentless in the economic argument. A free market, city friendly, corporatist EU.

    The left came round to being pro-EU as a social citizens Europe of rights and as a bulwark against free market Darwinism.

    The left argument wasnt interesting to the remain campaign. Unless remain took the "people's Europe" seriously there was not a lot for a left of centre parry to play for. It would be OK for New Labour as fully paid up free market pro privatisation people tho.

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  6. Beach Clean was possibly an SAS event, see here http://www.sas.org.uk/news/beach-cleans/big-spring-beach-clean-are-you-ready/ - I can't find the dates from that period because the Events page is only showing events to come.

    Great article. I'll be referring people to it!

    Cheers

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  7. Might you give us the number of appearances, since that is what you started on and I don't think it is reasonable to ask each individual who reads your blog to do the addition?

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  8. Ah - Hastings. I was at the event. It was promoted via the local labour party and you needed to register your interest and bring your membership card and be ticked off a list. Hastings is an odd constituency - the Labour party and left leaning community are at odds with our MP, the deeply unpopular Amber Rudd - but we're tied to the new boundary with Rye - which is as blue as it gets. The event was packed, no surprise there - it was promoted very well and Facebook is full of Corbyn supporters. There was an address by our popular Mayor and quite thrilling speech from a young woman who is VP of the NUS, she was very good indeed. Corbin himself seemed tired and distracted, having already been at one 'big' event in Brighton that day - so I can forgive him that. He spoke from notes which he edited and added to during the other speeches. He was quite flat but had a captive audience. His request to vote 'in' was quite lukewarm and he was more concerned with the politics of politeness and not being rude to each other. The event lasted roughly an hour and a half and there were multiple standing ovations. Alas. Hastings voted 'out' - with some force. It was wholy underwhelming.

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  9. Thanks for the research much appreciated Now if anyone has any info on what Dianne Abbott my local MP did ... can't remember a thing during the canvass She did the Granary event with Corbyn

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  10. The Runcorn and Widnes World does report that Jeremy took part in a launch urging young people to register to vote in Liverpool and he did counter accusations he wasn't very keen by saying he was. http://www.runcornandwidnesworld.co.uk/news/national/14490175.Jeremy_Corbyn_urges_young_people_to_vote_in_EU_referendum/
    Very ungratefully, the Liverpool Echo repaid the latter effort by implying he might have voted to leave the EU. http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/jeremy-corbyn-vote-leave-eu-11530785

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