can corbyn withstand the charge of the right brigade?
Jeremy is making the headlines. Not Clarkson with his brutish masculinity and off-hand humour, nor is it Kyle, preaching in his church of self-righteousness and working class inadequacy, but Jeremy Corbyn – clad in beige and sporting a scruffy beard. In recent days he has provoked a frenzy of coverage around his bid for leadership. As polls surge, his own party have clamoured to discredit both Corbyn and all the disaffected loonies in the general public that support him.
Calls have been made to halt the contest; claims abound that the registration process has been infiltrated by bored Tories acting like children in a classroom when the teacher leaves, and that people joining recently do not deserve an equal vote to MPs or more long-standing supporters. It seems that all people are equal, but some are more equal than others…
What a travesty the Labour Party has become. Someone who has captured people’s imaginations like nothing seen since the arrival of Tony Blair; a figure capable of mobilising and engaging tens of thousands of new supporters to what, only a few months ago, seemed a party in terminal decline – Corbyn should be welcomed like the prodigal son.
But let’s face the facts. The reaction from grandees within the Party to Corbyn’s rise doesn’t stem from a fear for the Labour Party’s health, or that their vision is one for a substantially better Britain. It’s a fear of upsetting the Order, the balance of power, and that in the process of doing so Labour might come to actually stand for something.
A few years ago I would have unquestionably swallowed a recent Telegraph articlethat decried Corbyn as the grim reaper of the Labour Party. But with reflection one must ask, why would a staunchly right wing newspaper, owned by the tax-avoiding ‘Barclay Brothers’, fear such an event? he right-wing press, like various Labour figures, claim to fear Labour returning to an old-style, leftist party. In reality, they fear a grassroots movement whose very existence challenges the liberal-market, small-state, big-business mentality, which has become the norm in today’s constructed window of political acceptability.
In the past, Labour has been reduced to scrabbling over small patches of centre ground, easily flanked on both the left and the right. This was exhibited by Osborne stealing a march in this year’s Budget via his £9 living wage pledge. All this occurs whilst the right-wing and Murdoch press construct the fallacy of mild reformers such as ‘Red’ Ed, being akin to Stalin reincarnate.
The differences between the other leadership contenders are minimal. Living in constant fear of the media, and cowed by the dominant Conservatives, they largely come across as Tory-lites, rather than viable alternatives for the millions of dissatisfied voters in this country. Corbyn is frequently portrayed as a throwback to the Labour dark days of coal shortages, a man out of touch with modern realities. However, if we take a minute to consider some of Corbyn’s key points, then it becomes clear that Jeremy is only radical in the sense that he appears to be an MP with a vision, without the normal self-serving agendas that dominate today’s politics.
His plans to establish a national investment bank to drive growth sounds far more reasonable than privately owned banks helping to create a financial crisis, before becoming partly nationalised on life support from the British taxpayer, only to be sold on for a nauseating loss for everyone but Osborne’s school chums. A national bank would, at the very least, be accountable and not entirely self-serving. Again, for anyone with a modicum of common sense, scrapping Trident is a no-brainer. The idea that weapon proliferation prevents violence seems to stem from the logical mind of a six year old – one only needs to look at American society for proof of that. A safer world is achieved through mutual trust and respect, not how many times over each country could blow up the world.
Other plans include scrapping zero hour contracts, and extending the living wage to cover the current second-class citizens: 18 to 25 year olds. Any young person who has looked in vain for stable employment, which also provides basic workers’ rights such as paid leave and a pension, will see the sense in these proposals. Older workers also have cause for celebration, as this would mean that younger workers will no longer seem overwhelmingly more attractive as they can be paid a pittance for low-skilled jobs. It goes without saying that Corbyn will attempt to increase worker’s rights. Given that pay in real terms hasn’t fallen so low since the Victorian times, and that the UK has the second worst record on worker employment rights of the OECD economies after the US, this seems well overdue.
From my perspective, all these proposals seem sensible and very moderate. Corbyn’s sudden rise appears to have caught many by surprise, but the forces of the Establishment are mustering, and Corbyn will have to endure a tsunami of propaganda if he succeeds in becoming Labour leader. Figures inside the Labour Party fear the threat he poses to the cosy relationships enjoyed by the political, media, corporate and social elite, might make him unelectable. But I ask again, is it not better to strive for greatness, providing a voice for millions of the voiceless, than wallow in self-pity and mediocrity – an un-substantive contender in a race that has gone without a moral compass for too long?