Saturday, 10 June 2017

Reflections on Corbyn as the Man to Over Come Divisions

'Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has revealed that the received wisdom of the past 15 years was wrong, and that talking in plain-spoken, moral, essentially socialist terms about the fundamental condition of the country need not entail political disaster'.

The irony of Corbyn's campaign is that it started to go more Labour's way precisely because the initial assumption was that Corbyn could not win and as the Labour Party remained divided on the main issue for which the election was called-to determine whether May should be given a clear mandate to pursue Brexit.

Corbyn initially fought a campaign almost 'as if' Brexit or 'winning alone' was not the overriding imperative over offering a genuine political, social and economic alternative to neoliberal austerity. In so doing, while acting as though above 'mere politics', in the personal sense, he has emerged as an actual challenge to May.

The real paradox is that ultimately Corbyn has been given more free rein precisely because this was not meant to be an election Labour could win. Changes in the leadership election rules meant the membership resulted in Corbyn to be foisted forth on a reluctant PLP by Momentum and the Corbynites as an 'Anti-Blair' candidate.

One more irony is that May really isn't there to offer an alternative for the simple reason that whatever Brexit is going to mean is the alternative she is offering. This had just reduced her to repeating the same either/or slogans and soundbites about 'strong and stable government' in a way that grates and is very boring.

May is on weaker ground because she cannot promise much as the future is as yet unknown whereas Corbyn can move in to fill the space vacated by May being the plodding functionary by being the politico-religious visionary. The Tories seem 'Blairite' and to exist in an 'on message' echo chamber suspended above ordinary life.

The choreographed smearing of Corbyn as 'excusing terrorism' after the Manchester Attacks was clearly not factual for those who had heard or read Corbyn's Friday speech on the links between foreign policy and the ability of terrorist networks to spread and nestle in the territory under failed states in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Corbyn was in line with the popular mood on this issue as well as the experts who have studied terrorism. Whether this shows the public or the politicians could or ought to be ready for an 'adult debate' on terrorism, as Harris would imply, is more dubious. None of the politicians even referred to jihadi Islamist ideology.

Corbyn certainly was no braver than the Tories in mentioning the obvious jihadi ideology that drove the suicide bombing of the Manchester Attack. He failed to connect it explicitly, no less than the Tories, to the intolerant strand of Wahhabi and Salafi Islam promoted by specific States such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Even so, the Conservatives are relying on a national security state model of governance under Theresa May backed up by a rabid and crudely nationalistic media rated as 40th free in the world. Corbyn is highly unlikely to win but his emergence as a real challenger does demonstrate that there is opposition to 'Blairite' politics.

The Tories decision to focus on Corbyn's supposed IRA 'support' is simply regarded as over the top. At worst, Corbyn comes close to rationalising jihadi terrorism as straightforward 'blowback' to an 'imperialist' foreign policy towards Muslims at home and abroad but has never claimed it as being 'justified'.

It would have been better at a political campaign tactic for May to focus on discrediting Corbyn's social and economic credentials by referring constantly to his and Tony Benn's laudatory praise for Hugo Chavez's 21st Century Socialism in Venezuela, a social model that has collapsed almost entirely in 2016-17 and created chaos.

The Tory strategists have probably not decided to focus on Venezuela, most likely as they probably assume the average British voter couldn't even locate the Latin American state on a map. Even so, it would be the more obvious line of attack for them to take when arguing for May's 'stability' compared to Corbyn's 'chaos' and poor judgement

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