Socialist Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn looks set to win the party’s leadership in the coming weeks — sending shock waves through the British establishment.
He has generated huge enthusiasm among young people with his ultra-radical concepts like “maybe don't start pointless wars so poor people die for economic elites” and “let’s ensure we can all access health care and basic services”.
But surely Corbyn is cheating. The whole concept of “democracy” seems rigged in his favour due to his dangerous approach of advocating policies that are actually in the interests of the majority.
How are his Labour Party opponents meant to compete? They have to go out and pretend to care about ordinary people while pushing an agenda of destroying the social safety net and handing over more wealth to the mega rich at a slightly slower rate than the Tories.
Many have derided Corbyn’s policies as “populist”, because you cannot just go around pandering to the majority’s prejudices in favour of not closing hospital wards or flogging off what remains of public services to Richard Branson.
Many on the left in Australia are watching with interest and some jealousy. After all, our Labor Party is so hollowed out, there is more chance of a Corbyn-like figure falling into our parliament from the moon than emerging from the ALP.
You only have to look at the last ALP national conference — where the debate centered on exactly how severely to abuse the rights of traumatised people seeking asylum — to realise there’s a greater chance of Tony Abbott completing one coherent sentence than a principled Corbyn-like figure emerging from that lot.
Of course, the British Labour machine, which long ago gave up any commitment to the values or policies of the party founded by dedicated socialist and trade unionist Keir Hardie at the turn of last century, is far from happy. But the more it complains, the more support for Corbyn seems to grow.
The most ridiculous interventions have come from former Prime Minister Tony Blair — surely the most hated Labour PM ever. Blair not only led the “New Labour” betrayal of everything the party once stood for, but he also ignored public opinion and the largest demonstrations in British history to carry out the illegal invasion of Iraq.
This hasn’t stopped Blair writing two desperate op-eds against Corbyn, the second of begging Labour supporters not to back Corbyn under the headline: “Even if you hate me, please don’t take Labour over the cliff edge”.
Blair fails to grasp that it was precisely because so many people hate him — and everything he stands for — that Corbyn is so popular. After all, one of Corbyn’s most popular positions is a pledge that, if he becomes PM, Tony Blair will face trial for war crimes.
Surely the more desperate Blair gets in his appeals, the more people back Corbyn simply on the grounds that, even if Blair is never held to account for his crimes, a huge win for the veteran anti-war activist might at least give the bastard a fatal heart attack.
Does Blair really have no friends left who can pull him aside and say: “For god’s sake Tony, shut up! Every time you speak, Corbyn goes up in the polls. Do you actually want to be dragged to The Hague?”
Early in the leadership contest, the Labour establishment and corporate media attacked Corbyn as being “unelectable”. But this failed to sway many, given the Labour machine had just overseen a humiliating electoral loss that, among other things, involved being all but wiped out in Scotland.
There are now so few Labour MPs in Scotland, they’ve had to cancel their entry in the Scottish parliamentarians’ doubles tennis tournament.
The response of the party machine was that Labour’s mistake was being “too left wing”, which was odd given it was decimated by a Scottish National Party that rode the same anti-austerity sentiment that looks set to make Corbyn the next Labour leader.
It’s like waking up with a huge hangover and concluding the problem was you were just too sober the night before and a few more schooners would have sorted you out.
So as Corbyn’s support keeps growing, the right-wing line has shifted from a sneering “he can’t win” to a panicked “shit, maybe he can!”.
The right-wing attacks on Corbyn are often bizarre. For instance, he has been attacked for meeting with Sinn Fein leaders in the 1980s to discuss the need for peace, despite the fact the Irish Republican Army was still waging war.
But in the 1990s, Blair not only met Sinn Fein leaders, he helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement that officially ended the armed conflict. So presumably the problem is that Corbyn simply met them too soon in a social faux pas, a bit like being invited to a posh dinner party at 8pm, only to turn up at 4pm loaded with booze, shouting “alright, where’s the grub then?”
But there is actually an element of truth to those saying Corbyn “can’t win”. He can, but against great odds, because Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies, including nationalisations and redistributing wealth, run hard against the interests of ruling elites.
This means a Corbyn-led Labour Party would face sustained media attacks and the sort of economic blackmail and sabotage recently seen in Greece after SYRIZA was elected on an anti-austerity program. Corbyn’s policies may be popular, but the full weight of the establishment will work to reverse this.
Unless Corbyn, who can expect sabotage from his Labour “colleagues” and a party machine which has no desire to confront powerful interests, can find a way to organise and mobilise his rank-and-file supporters, he risks failure one way or another — either by being tamed or overthrown.
The calculated strangling of Greece to bring SYRIZA to its knees shows that, for the powerful interests that wield real power, “democracy” holds the same weight as the marriage vows of those men exposed by the Ashley Madison hack. They claim to believe in it, but behind closed doors, they screw whoever they can.