The British Establishment and its flunkies are really not handling this experiment in democracy very well when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.
When Corbyn is not being undermined from within his own shadow cabinet, he is being treated as the enemy within by anonymous generals threatening “mutiny” if he becomes prime minister. In any other democracy this would be treated as a major scandal, with every newspaper in the land clamouring for said generals’ heads and the catalyst for an investigation to find the culprits and sack them on the spot. Not so here. Here most of our ‘free press’ support such sentiments where the new Labour leader is concerned, lining up to attack, demonise, and smear both him and his staff at every turn.
Not content with generals anonymously voicing disdain for the leader of the opposition, the head of British Armed Forces, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show to do so openly, opining that Corbyn’s anti Trident sentiments are a source of concern should they ever be “translated into power.” On the very same show, Labour shadow defence secretary, Maria Eagle, rather than take the army chief to task for breaching his obligation to uphold political neutrality, told Andrew Marr that she understood “the point that he is he [Houghton] is making.”
These attacks were even more significant in that they came on Remembrance Sunday, when the country’s right wing establishment and media you just knew had the knives out waiting to strike, having already characterised Corbyn as unpatriotic and soft on Britain’s ‘enemies’, whoever they might be. When the inevitable criticism came it was over the fact that in their estimation he neglected to bow low enough in front of the Cenotaph, thus revealing disrespect for the servicemen and women who have fallen in the nation’s wars and conflicts.
The hypocrisy reeks when you consider that most of those attacking him you just know couldn’t give a gnat’s chuff about the troops – either the ones who have died or those who’ve returned and are now forced to rely on charity to survive. They couldn’t care less about the fact that on the very day the country’s so-called elite were lined up in their finery, red poppies affixed to their breasts, hundreds of ex-servicemen were sitting on pavements in high streets in towns and cities across the country begging for spare change. The most risible aspect to the criticism levelled at Jeremy Corbyn over his alleged lack of decorum on Remembrance Sunday, however, is the fact that after the ceremony, when the TV cameras and reporters had left, he alone of the political leaders and dignitaries present skipped the VIP lunch to go over and applaud the veterans as they left.
Moving on, the furore over Corbyn adviser Andrew Fisher, who’s just been suspended by Labour’s NEC for tweets and statements made prior to previous elections voicing public support for non Labour candidates, is indicative of the way the new Labour leader’s authority is being openly undermined within the party. Fisher, it should be recalled, is a Labour Party member of over twenty years standing and a trade union official of wide repute. In criticisng the party’s former incarnation as a Blairite caricature of everything Labour was originally founded to represent, his views back then were entirely in keeping with the views of many natural Labour voters and supporters. As Ken Livingstone said: “The MPs who have taken this up and the people driving this aren’t really terribly concerned with this one individual, they are trying to undermine the leader who has just been elected and that’s completely unacceptable.”
Even more unacceptable was the recent assault unleashed against Corbyn’s new press and strategy chief, Seumas Milne, which crossed the line from harsh criticism into full blown incitement. As I wrote here at the time, overnight, someone who prior to his appointment had spent years working at the very apex of his trade in mainstream journalism was labelled as “insane”, “an apologist for terrorism”, “terrorists”, and “murderous dictators”, and a “Stalinist”. The people peddling such nonsense, some with the temerity to describe themselves as progressives, are redolent of the poison that lurks beneath the mask of free speech whenever the received truths of Western hegemony are held up to scrutiny and questioned, as Milne has done throughout his career.
Jeremy Corbyn is not the impostor they would have the country believe. On the contrary, he was elected on a clear mandate by the largest vote ever received by any party political leader ever, including Tony Blair back in 1994, constituting an emphatic endorsement of his views on the economy, Trident nuclear weapons, foreign policy, and the role of government. Furthermore, Labour experienced an unprecedented upsure in new members as a direct result of his election – people enlivened and inspired by his vision for the country and society. You would think it woud be something to celebrate and that Corbyn would be enjoying unprecedented loyalty and support within the PLP. Instead he finds himself a leader with a unique mandate being uniquely undermined.
Exposing Jeremy Corbyn as unfit to be the leader of the Labour Party and potential prime minister has been the clear objective of the withering establishment and media smear campaign we have witnessed up to now. However it has only succeeded in exposing a willingness to abandon democracy when it comes close to producing something approximating to justice for the many, rather than a status quo of privilege for the few. This is the abiding truth of Britain in 2015 and changing it will require one almighty struggle.
History awaits the outcome.