Keir Starmer announces he won’t let Jeremy Corbyn stand again as a Labour candidate. He claims to be rebuilding the Labour Party. For many he’s trying to destroy it. NORMAN THOMAS says it’s time to break the media blockade on one of the most incredible stories in British politics — the truth about the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn.
You won’t see it on Channel 4 News, or hear about it on Radio Four or read about it in the newspaper— not even the Guardian; in fact, especially not the Guardian. It’s the great untold story of our political times: how the establishment destroyed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the vicious witch-hunt which followed.
But while it’s not to be found in the mainstream media, you might soon see it in your local community cinema or maybe, even, a meeting room down the road.
“Oh Jeremy Corbyn — The Big Lie” is a new, feature-length documentary film now doing the rounds of the country.
Produced by long-term radical film-maker Platform Films and narrated by the inimitable Alexei Sayle, the film includes interviews with people who were at the middle of the storm around Jeremy Corbyn, including film-maker Ken Loach, Corbyn’s former political adviser Andrew Murray, ex-vice chair of Momentum Jackie Walker and ex-Labour MP Chris Williamson.
I wrote the script for the film, researched and generally helped produce it — but one of the hardest things was finding a place to give it its first screening.
In the end we had to go to another country to do the job. Jackie Walker launched the film on Saturday 14th of January, 2023, at the International Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin. The launch was attended by over 4,000 people in person and over 20,000 more online. And on the next day the film received its world premiere at Berlin’s historic Babylon Cinema in front of a sell-out audience.
The film had a tremendous reception. The European left were shocked and appalled by the story of political treachery and deceit it had to tell. The huge interest, especially among younger people, demonstrated a hunger on the left to learn lessons for battles to come.
So we went down a storm in Berlin, but finding a venue in London to give the film its first UK screening was much harder. Cinemas which had shown edgy political lefty films previously jibbed at showing this one — without even seeing it. For them, it seems, the Corbyn topic was simply too toxic.
In the end the famous radical meeting venue the Conway Hall agreed to give the film its UK premiere. If anywhere was a “bullet-proof” venue, the Conway Hall, dedicated to the principle of free speech and long beloved as a meeting space by lefties, was top of the pile, We rejoiced, put the screening on Eventbrite and bookings rolled in.
But then our plans got a jolt. News came through that the hall had cancelled an anti-Ukraine war meeting after receiving, the Hall said, “an onslaught of increasingly intimidating emails and social media posts”.
Would our film screening get the same treatment? We held our breath. We almost fell apart when a few days before the screening we saw that the screening had been taken off the Hall’s website. But that, it seemed was just a temporary technical blip. The Conway Hall didn’t cancel our event and, despite being picketed by a small pack of noisy Zionist protesters, the screening went ahead.
On the night, film was greeted enthusiastically by a sell-out, 400-strong crowd. There was lots of applause, a strong feeling of outrage about what had happened to the Corbyn project and a determination to do something about it.
The question is: what?
It’s not an easy question to answer and that’s why a screening like this can only be the beginning — and just a small part of the beginning — of what we need to do if we want to right this huge political wrong and find a new way forward for the left.
Our problem is linked to the problem of what will happen next to “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”. The film won’t, of course, be shown on Channel Four or the BBC or Netflix or any mainstream outlet. Just like the Al Jazeera “The Labour Files” TV series, it will be totally ignored by the mainstream media. This is because, like “Labour Files”, it is itself both an implicit and explicit attack on the mainstream media.
In the film we see the way the newspapers — including the apparently left-leaning Guardian — and the broadcast media gave huge amounts of coverage to the smearing of Corbyn, then gave almost no coverage at all to the extraordinary events which came after Corbyn was deposed by Keir Starmer. This was the witch-hunting of unprecedented numbers of ordinary Labour members and the wholesale rigging of internal elections to stop suspected Corbyn supporters getting into any position of significance.
In my living memory I’ve never seen such outrageous wholesale media distortion of political developments in this country.
That’s why to get the film the exposure it needs, we have to create a different kind of network, a channel to bypass the usual channels. It needs YOU.
We need to revive the kind of fantastic grassroots activism that helped Corbyn first win the Labour leadership and then outdo all expectations in the 2017 election. The activism that helped Labour achieve the biggest swing the party had ever achieved since 1945, on the highest turnout in 20 years. The activism that helped Corbyn get almost 13 million votes — more than Tony Blair got in 2001 or 2005.
Teresa May, the prime minister, called the election hoping to smash Corbyn and increase her own majority. Instead Corbyn’s Labour slashed that majority and put May’s government in tottering turmoil.
The result of the 2017 election was a demonstration of the amazing strength of the movement that supported Corbyn. It was also the reason the British establishment then pulled out all the stops to destroy him.
The establishment may or may not have destroyed Jeremy Corbyn — but they certainly haven’t, as our film shows, destroyed the movement that supported him.
For “Oh Jeremy Corbyn – The Big Lie” to succeed we need that movement to take it on, to show it everywhere there is a video projector, a screen and an audience: in your local community cinema if they’ll play ball, in any meeting space you can get your hands on if they won’t (projectors don’t cost too much to hire these days!).
Of course, screenings of one film, however important, however many, aren’t going to make a huge difference on their own, but they could be a great way of getting the grass-roots ball rolling — of helping us connect and communicate.
We need to build a real alternative media, uniting and informing all of us who once backed the Corbyn project. We need this media to help us to resist both the right and the fake left. We need this media to spread the truth about what happened when Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader. And we need it to help expose the public pronouncements of Keir Starmer and his cronies for the fraudulent lies they are and to help us build the better society and safer planet we so desperately need.
You may or may not need this film — but this film almost certainly needs you.
If you want to find out where you can see a screening of the film, or even organise your own local screening, email Norman Thomas on firstname.lastname@example.org.
“OH JEREMY CORBYN – THE BIG LIE” screenings:
BROADSTAIRS Palace Cinema March 31st 7pm. £5 on the door, no prebooking.
Friday 3 March
For more information contact: email@example.com
Thursday 9 March, 7pm
Nortons, 43-45 Meriden St, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5LS
Screening will be followed by a Q&A.
Tickets: £3 (waged) £2 (unwaged). All proceeds to go to strike funds.
Contact 07721 427690 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WALES (MERTHYR TYDFIL)
Tuesday, 14 March, 7pm
Merthyr Tydfil Labour Club, 1 Court Street, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 8DU
Presented by Merthyr Tydfil Trades Union Council
Tuesday 21 March, 7.30pm
United Reformed Church, 1 Russell St, Tavistock PL29 8BD
Admission by donation
Contact: 07983 560214
Wednesday 22 March, 7.30pm
Micklegate Social, 148-150 Micklegate YORK YO1 6JX
The event is free: there’ll be a collection after the screening.
Thursday 23 March, 7pm
Tracks E7, Arch 437, Cranmer Road, Forest Gate, London E7 OJN
Presented by Newham Socialist Labour. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director. Chris Reeves.
Tickets £5, £10 solidarity contribution.
Friday 24 March 7 Pm
EYST ( Ethnic Youth Support Team ) Unit A,B &C, 11 St Helen’s Road,Swansea, SA14AB
Please book in advance by contacting Jose by email on email@example.com or tel 07804849206.
Free entry but optional £10 or £5 donation.
Monday 27 March, 6.30pm
Rushall Labour Club, Lichfield Road, Walsall WS41HB
More info text or call 07446007326
Friday 31 March, 7.30pm
Ruskin House Film Screen, Ruskin House 23 Coombe Road Croydon CR0 1BD
Tickets £5.80 from
Friday 31 March, 7pm
Palace Cinema, Harbour St, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 1ET
£5 (cash on door only – no bookings)
ST HELENS, MERSEYSIDE
Sunday 2 April, 1pm
Lucem House, 78 Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1GQ
Tickets £5 (Doors open 12:30)
Tickets & info: TBLsthelens@gmx.co.uk
DEVON (NEWTON ABBOT)
Friday 7 April, 7.30pm
Newton Abbot Recreational Trust, Marsh Road, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 2AR
Free admission. (Collection for striking workers & the film-makers)
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07954 054459
Sunday 16 April, 5.30
The Loft Cinema, 18a West Street, Hereford HR4 0BX
Admission £7 (£5 concs)
Contact: email@example.com or 07976764969.
Norman Thomas was chair of South Thanet Labour Party until December 2020, when he was suspended. His “crime” was to allow the constituency party to debate and pass a motion calling for the restoration of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. In the same month he became one of the founder members of Labour In Exile Network (LIEN). LIEN later merged with Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) to form the Socialist Labour Network (SLN). For more information go to: https://www.labour-in-exile.org/
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