This past spring’s British general election was pretty depressing stuff. After the Liberal Democrats sold out their principles to go into coalition with the Conservatives, aiding and abetting the Tories in their quest to exploit the bank bailout’s depletion of the Treasury in order to sell off the state, few of us believed there was anything left for Britain to vote for but a Labour Party that, under Ed Miliband, moved away from Blairism and offered the promise of a better, fairer society for the working class mass majority.
But the fact is, opinion polls were wrong – ‘shy’ Tories, so ashamed of their own failures to resist the smash-and-grab, everyone-for-themselves, rampant individualism of the Tories realising Thatcherite fantasies, had gone and done their dirty deed in the voting booth on election day. The aftermath was conveyed across social media as a revelation of ‘selfish Britain’ – a population so suckered in by the lie that there was no money left, that they grabbed what they could for themselves, even at the expense of the sick, the poor, the disabled, or anyone else.
Of course, as the infamous Question Time episode showed, some of those same people also realised that they themselves were not even safe – the Tories continued their assault on the population at large on behalf of the elite 1%, determined to kill off the concept of collectivism so wounded by Margaret Thatcher, dismantling the state in as many of its forms as possible to sell off to their rich friends, and that meant looking at tax credits, housing benefit, you name it, whether you were self-employed, hard-working, or not. Even the Big Lottery Fund itself was salivated over by Gideon Osborne as a way to raid funds to cover services he’d wiped out from state provision. The Tories did, however, back down from several of these. And they did it because of a Labour Party suddenly dedicated to standing up for people. How did this happen?
After the election result, before the dust had settled or the smoke had cleared, I was already determined to offer hope of a brighter future, but my look towards the horizon was clearly stifled by my glasses prescription being out of date, because I anticipated – and accepted – the prospect of Labour’s knee-jerk reaction to Ed Miliband’s defeat to take the party a little to the right, with someone more media-friendly than down-to-earth, lovable Ed, who – despite very cleverly attempting to reconcile the narratives of the psychotic tabloid media hysteria over welfare recipients and immigrants, with his commitment to social democracy (a tightrope act if there ever was one) – was of course constantly bombarded by filthy rich media interests concerned they’d have to be millionaires instead of billionaires.
I wrote about Chuka Umunna, expecting him to be the sort of suave, smooth-talking politico Labour needed to actually get into power and do some good. Tristram Hunt, again to the right of the party, at least appeared public relations-friendly and therefore capable of winning the election for Labour. There were others too, like tabloid-friendly ‘war hero’ Dan Jarvis, and human rights lawyer Keir Starmer (named after Keir Hardie!) How short-sighted was I? All of these bottled it, preferring to wait for a more opportune moment even if it was after another Labour defeat, and even undermined the party’s socialist values in several interviews. Bastards!
So the Labour leadership pool was reduced to Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham – predictable if unelectable candidates following their time as key figures behind Ed Miliband – and Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn.
I’d honestly never even heard of either of them. My heart sank. While Yvette Cooper was doomed to the sexism of politics as “Wife of Ed Balls” and Andy Burnham was a Thunderbird-like wooden stand-in for Ed Miliband, this mousy, Blairite Kendall lass was too right-wing, while old man Jeremy was too left-wing, surely?
Apparently not. After the MPs gave him a proverbial pity lay, Corbyn got enough nominations to get on the ballot – and the left-wing party members (myself included) elected him as leader by a landslide, receiving one of the biggest mandates of any Labour leader ever, a gift for party members who still bothered to read the statement on their membership cards.
Given all candidates were unelectable, I’d already resigned myself to believing that – whatever the result – Labour were doomed to fail again in 2020, but I’d always rather lose with my integrity intact than compromise and add insult to injury by losing anyway. Nonetheless, I knew what the corporate mainstream media – owned and operated by the elite and their own interests – were about to do: terrified by the prospect of a left-wing Labour narrative or, worse yet, victory, they set out to attack.
“Red” Ed Miliband threatened the nation’s greedy landlords sucking overpriced rents paid for through housing benefit subsidies, he took on the energy monopolies, and he even dared to challenge Rupert Murdoch, the tax-avoiding immigrant war-monger in full control of The Sun, The Times, and all of Sky. Naturally, they threw as much shit at him as possible, and although not much stuck, they successfully convinced the British public he wasn’t “statesmanlike” enough, at a time when people were saying they were sick of seeing the same posh arseholes in suits within the world of party politics.
So for Jeremy Corbyn – a man who endorsed an undiluted, less sugarcoated version of Ed’s “responsible capitalism” known as, you guessed it, socialism – the mass media had to mobilise and prepare their propaganda troops with all the ammunition they could gather. Socialism, where the state reflects our collective responsibility to look after each other through taxation, investment, job creation, and even a real living wage, absolutely sickens the elites who want to continue their transfer of public powers into private interests, with next to no state provision – everything owned by profit-making companies, and people left to slowly die if they happen to be poor. They want seven cars, not five; they want three houses, not one. And they’ll stop at nothing to make sure things stay as they are.
After the transfer of £1.5 trillion of public funds into the hands of private banks, they had the media seize the story that there was no money left (a lie), and that your libraries and hospitals had to be closed down and sold off, so if you want something – anything at all – you had to pay for it. Poor? Tough, just die. That’s their message.
So yes, Jeremy Corbyn sent shockwaves through the corridors of power.
The right-wing career politicians who slapped a red rosette on and grabbed themselves a nice safe seat in a Labour stronghold were suddenly genuinely concerned. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Lowly peasant scum like us weren’t supposed to choose our party leader, they were. They only got him on the ballot to offer an illusion of democracy, with a token lefty candidate.
Even the British army elites were so shaken by the prospect of a true democratic socialist in Downing Street – the first since Harold Wilson or possibly Clement Attlee – that they openly entertained the idea of a military coup to topple a democratically-elected socialist Prime Minister.
But the greatest army was that of the media stormtroopers – soldiers who can be counted on in times like these, like Andrew Marr, who’d happily nod in agreement while interviewing a Tory, but repeatedly try to get Jeremy Corbyn to admit he wanted to re-nationalise not only the railways but – gasp! – utilities too! Commie! (He failed, by the way, Jeremy never said anything of the sort, so the conversation switched to Karl Marx, as it does). But Corbyn’s such a diplomat, he just remained civil and stuck to the policies…which is what scared them even more, because if the public catch wind of his policies, then they’re truly in trouble. It’s absolutely crucial that the dialogue remains on, for example, his choice of tie, maybe his commie buddy in college, or whatever they can think of after rummaging through rubbish bins like scavengers and bottom-feeders; hacks for the Oxbridge elites.
Even Labour and left-wing types get drawn into defending him from all-out attack on trivialities and superficialities, sometimes even going so far as criticising him themselves – which is fine if it’s a “straight talking, honest politics” discussion on policy, but it isn’t. And that’s what the media are banking on (pun intended).
The media attempt to shift focus away from policy and on to subjects like, say, sex with Diane Abbott, ooh! Better yet, they can slam customs and traditions on him, like checking whether he sings the anthem or bows forward enough; rituals rather than actual integrity of action like honouring the fallen – which he does. All the while, avoiding another war to fan the flames of terror.
While discussing Syrian air strikes as part of the latest exhausting episode of British military overseas adventures, Laura Kuenssberg made sure to keep the Labour leader away from policy and attempt to shift hypothetical scenarios, repeatedly shouting at him to state whether he’d reject military action under any circumstances without him knowing what circumstances might be presented. If she could have got him to cite a scenario where, say, a foreign army was invading the British Isles, and he’d have our brave troops kick ’em off, then – yes! – she’s got him to admit that, far from being a peacenik, he’s for military action too, just like David Cameron, and the producer yelling in her earpiece can give her a pat on the back later on in the studio, and everything’s returned to its natural order of the powerful ruling over the vulnerable. Status quo. Despair. Terror. Accepting your lot in life (hey, it could be worse).
Of course, Corbyn’s such a diplomat who likes to sit down and discuss things, he’s welcomed his fellow Labour MPs having a free vote on bombing Syria, despite his opposition to Cameron’s proposals. Corbyn has been repeatedly referred to in the press as “left-wing Labour leader” while Cameron is never, ever called “right-wing Tory leader” (maybe because that sounds worse…and if so, why is that, I wonder?) In the final bad joke, the right-wing media, since they couldn’t fully portray him as a pacifist hippie as they’d hoped, even tried to blame military intervention on Corbyn himself for allowing such discussion, rather than on Cameron, who’d been sabre-rattling for weeks wanting bombs in the first place!
So, if this genuinely good guy actually gets to the general election, consider it a blow against the vested interests that control the information channels. And if he actually wins, it will be the end of them. Just remember that the next time you find yourself defending his style of suit to your mate in the pub over a pint. Policy is everything.