Monday, September 14, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn the new communist Leader of the Opposition

Ed Miliband's greatest failure as former leader of the UK Labour Party was not losing the 2015 election worse than Gordon Brown did in 2010, but in leaving it a new process for electing leader that has helped ensure that one of the least appropriate MPs in the House of Commons, now leads the Opposition.

To make it clear, Jeremy Corbyn has, for decades, been a bit of a joke.  One of the handful of MPs on the Trotskyite extremes of the Labour Party, who has never held any office in the Labour Party shadow cabinets, nor in government.  Not only was he never a parliamentary undersecretary under a Labour Government, but he was never a shadow spokesman either.  His views are not only well to the left of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, but also Neil Kinnock and arguably also Michael Foot - whose 1983 election manifesto was famously the "longest suicide note in history".

As Conservatives guffaw at him becoming leader of a party, that only months ago it feared losing to, it's worth remembering some of his positions, but also the context within which "Corbyn-mania" has appeared.

Corbyn believes there is nothing worth doing that shouldn't be managed by the government.  He believes that education should be under the control of a National Education Service, wants all public schools under central control and would strip private schools of their charity status (and would prefer if they all closed down too).  He wants to abolish tertiary tuition fees and to guarantee all graduates a job.

He wants the multiple private railway companies and the gas and electricity companies to all be nationalised, without compensation to the owners.  He opposes "austerity" and is open to printing money to pay for large government infrastructure projects, mostly around more state housing and public transport.  He wants higher taxes, higher welfare payments and a massive programme of building council houses, and to introduce rent caps on the private rental sector.

He wants to reopen coal mines, ban fracking and wants a new "Green economy" funded by taxpayers. Yes, he believes in the environment and coal mining.

Suffice to say that a man who thinks Venezuela is a shining example, is an economics moron, but it is much worse than this.

Corbyn's approach to foreign affairs can be summed up by three points:

-  The Western world is the source of all of the world's ills;
- When other countries have dictatorships or wars, it is probably the fault of the Western world somehow;
-  Israel is the source of evil in the Middle East, or it is the USA.  Take your pick.

He says "the survival of Cuba since 1979 is an inspiration to the poorest in the region", forgetting of course that this is done on the backs of an authoritarian one-party state that imprisons and tortures opponents.  What else can be said of a man who called the murderous Sandinistas heroic?

What of his welcoming members of the IRA to the House of Commons weeks after the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton, killing five people in 1984 (attempting to kill PM Thatcher)?  What of his colleague John McDonnell saying it was time to honour IRA bombers, because it was they who gave up the war and created peace?

He believes the UK should abolish its independent nuclear deterrent because it would "set an example" to countries like north Korea to disarm.  Is he stupid, or does he simply think that totalitarian socialist states have some good in them that can be appeased?

He talked of his friends at Hamas and Hezbollah, justifying it saying he calls "everyone" he meets friends and it is important, when seeking peace, to talk to all sides (the same excuse he gave for meeting the IRA).  He has yet to meet anyone from the Israeli Government of course (nor Ulster unionists, let alone paramilitaries).  Then again, he also donated to Deir Yassin Remembered, a campaign run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen.  Corbyn vehemently rejects anti-semitism, and I believe he is genuine.  However, he associates and gives succour to anti-semites and those who want Israel "wiped off the map".  It's difficult to see how he reconciles this.

He would like the UK to withdraw from NATO because he opposes its "eastern expansion", ignoring that a key reason for that expansion are former satellites of the USSR keen to be protected from their former imperial master.   However,  he doesn't see Russia as being so bad.  Indeed, he thinks NATO has provoked it, by talking to Georgia about membership (of course it didn't happen, and part of Georgian territory is now Russian occupied), and Ukraine (ditto). 

He rails vehemently against Western imperialism, which means any military action by the West or Western states, but he never protests such intervention from Russia or Iran or China.   He opposed the UK defending the Falklands from a military dictatorship, indicating that in any conflict, he will tend to take the view that the "other side" probably has a point, and the UK (and the West) should relent.   

Of course, none of this is new, he's been a Marxist rebel for over 30 years, but he has backing, from a solid core of old-fashioned communists, who miss the USSR (think George Galloway, Ken Livingstone), and a new generation of airhead Marxists, brought up on the class, race, gender consciousness of identity politics in schools and universities, and using the internet to spread their hate filled ignorance.

Don't forget at the height of the Cold War, this sort of politics did gather nearly 28% of the vote.  For those joking that Corbyn and his views are "unelectable" consider what is in his favour that was not the case in 1983:

- Thatcher had barely won back the Falkland in a big show of patriotic success, which Labour had opposed.  There will be no winning war likely in the next few years;

- The Liberal Party was in a position to ally itself with a breakaway party from Labour (the SDP) and had been on the resurgence.  By contrast, the Liberal Democrats were almost wiped out at the 2015 general election and are moribund, and unlikely to present a credible alternative;

- The anti-NATO/anti-nuclear campaign in 1983 was in the context of taking on the USSR, which no longer exists as an example of "what socialists really want".  A whole generation of airheads have no idea about what life under the jackboot of Marxism-Leninism really is like;

- Far left voters partly drifted to the Greens and SNP in the last election, if Labour pulls back many of those voters, they will come close to the Conservatives in share of the vote - but with First Past the Post that might be plenty to win a majority;

- The demographics of the UK have changed, with more immigrants and ethnic minority voters who tend to support Labour, although that relationship is not as tight as Labour would hope, it is one reason Labour did relatively well in London at the General Election.

So don't rule him out completely, but then I fully expect the Conservative Party to not take advantage of this move to the far left, but rather engage in a sopping wet contest for the middle muddle ground of mediocrity.  It already has with its commitment to raising the minimum price of labour to the so-called "living wage" level (with some retailers already warning about how inflationary that will be, which will make the "living wage" even higher and so on).  It continues to engage in totemic wasteful projects like HS2, and a massively subsidised nuclear power station, whilst worshipping the NHS religion and playing corporatism and central planner with multiple sectors.  Too many in the Conservatives would rather win a massive majority for the sake of power than actually reverse socialism and state privilege wherever it may be.

With David Cameron standing down before the next election, is it too much to ask for a Conservative leader who actually is opposed to not only the policies, but the principles and rhetoric of the new Labour leader?

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