The Guardian censors a cartoon on Jeremy Corbyn


The Guardian censors a cartoon on Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn apologising

At least that is what its author, the cartoonist Steve Bell, claims. The cartoon in question, dated 25 November and entitled whipslah, appears on the cartoonist's page next to this text:

"Spiked because it made someone at the Guardian "feel uncomfortable". This is the first time that a cartoon has been spiked by the paper because it didn't toe a particular editorial line. A sad day".

According to Bell to Asa Winstanley of The Electronic Intifada, this strip of the series "If..." was rejected without further argument: "The only reason they gave me was that they would be 'uncomfortable' with its publication. Bell assures that the newspaper used to give him an explanation when he refused to publish a cartoon, something that has happened very rarely. Since this time it has not been the case, "it could be interpreted as censorship" and he adds that in The Guardian it seems that they want to "suppress something simply because they do not agree with my point of view".

The Electronic Intifada also claims that they contacted The Guardian on Thursday to ask them about this issue, but have yet to receive a response.

The sequence criticises the Labour campaign to purge its former left-wing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for showing solidarity with the people of Palestine. The censored strip is the third in a series published this week that portrays current Labour leader Keir Starmer as a dominatrix threatening to whip Corbyn.

The whip

Jeremy Corbyn appears in a dungeon lying face down before a torturer with a hood and red trousers who tells him

"If you really want the whip(*) you're going to have to apologise properly".

Corbyn replies: "Yes! Yes! Why?". "For everything," replies the torturer. To which Corbyn says: "I apologize for everything".

In the final scene, the character with the whip asks him to apologize for "being an old leftist and not a right-wing Zionist".

Corbyn also apologises for this, adding that he does so "from the bottom of my heart".

Still, the hooded man replies: "It's not enough".

(*) In UK parliamentary jargon, the disciplinary leaders of the parliamentary parties are called "whips" and the imposition of a party line is called "flogging". The cartoon satirizes with the possible fact that even if the real-life Corbyn apologizes, it seems more than likely that Labour will find any other pretext to get rid of him.

Bell and The Guardian, a relationship that gets complicated

In July 2020 it was read that The Guardian could do fire cartoonist Steve Bell in 2021, although no one confirmed this entirely.

The Guardian has had more than one opportunity to kill Steve Bell with "motives". The cartoonist openly criticised the newspaper in July 2019 for its "mysterious editorial line" on anti-Semitism after rejecting a cartoon.

He could also have fired him in July 2018 after rejecting one of his cartoons criticising the assassination of Palestinian volunteer nurse Razan al-Najar by an Israeli army sniper. According to leaked emails, the cartoon was censored by The Guardian, which reportedly refused to talk to Steve Bell while giving in to the usual accusations of "anti-Semitism".

These misunderstandings have made the author's relationship with the medium more difficult. Many believe that The Guardian will not renew Steve Bell's contract next spring

They also reproach the newspaper for its hypocrisy in rejecting with excessive zeal any criticism of Israel while proudly displaying its leftist credentials.

Here are some of those comments, like this one:

"Word has come forth that Steve Bell's annual contract will not be renewed next Spring by the Guardian. For those who wondered how such an incompatible marriage could have been sustained for so long, the answer may be found in the fact that many print edition readers bought the paper for Bell's daily contribution.

Now that newsstand sales have collapsed to a fraction of the former print run- thanks in large part to a steady rightward drift in editorial policy- any argument for retaining the man's services has pretty much evaporated. He's a thorn in their side and an unwelcome reminder of what a real critical portrayal of the powerful looks like. We must hope that his imminent departure from the Guardian will herald a new birth of uncompromising and unrestricted work from this mad genius, either in a personal forum online or at whatever publication dares to welcome him."

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