Category: Jeremy Corbyn
Britain Has a Real Choice on June 8 – and the Anti-Democratic Democrats Hate It
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May's launches her election manifesto in Halifax, May 18, 2017.

Britain Has a Real Choice on June 8 – and the Anti-Democratic Democrats Hate It

© REUTERS/ Phil Noble

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Neil Clark

For the first time in a quarter of a century, the British electorate has an opportunity to make a clean break with the banker-friendly neoliberal policies which have dominated politics since the era of Margaret Thatcher and which have led to a major redistribution of wealth away from the majority to the super-rich.

Well, we can’t say we haven’t got a choice.

Labour’s manifesto, while still being nowhere as left-wing as the ones the pipe-puffing Harold Wilson won two elections on in 1974, nevertheless returns the party emphatically to the territory it occupied before the grinning faux-progressive Tony Blair came along in the mid-90s and turned Labour into a more socially liberal version of the Tories. There’s pledges to renationalize Britain’s railways — easily the most expensive in Europe — set up a publicly owned energy supplier and take water in England back into public ownership.

The rich will pay more tax, zero hours contracts will be outlawed and tuition fees will be scrapped. If it’s an exaggeration to call the manifesto socialist, then its certainly social democratic and offers hope of a better future for millions of ordinary Britons who have seen their living standards fall dramatically in recent years. By contrast the Tories have lurched still further to the hard right and their elite-friendly agenda could not be clearer.

There’s money a plenty to bomb Syria-and continue with the neocon policies of endless war — but not enough to provide pensioners with winter fuel payments or all infants with free school lunches. The desire of the elderly to pass on their property to their children will be hit by what has been labeled a new “Dementia Tax” to pay for social care. Pensioners will also be hit by replacing the “triple lock” on their state pensions with only a “double lock.” Meanwhile, corporation tax will fall to 17% by 2020 — the lowest rate of any developed economy.

On the railways, water and energy, the Tories only promise a continuation of the current privatized system which enriches a few and leaves the vast majority paying over the odds. The Tories are billing their manifesto as one for “mainstream Britain,” but the regressive policies in it would have old “One Nation” Tories from the 60s and 70s like Sir Ian Gilmour turning in their graves.

Labour — if it hadn’t been for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as party leader in 2015, would be offering only a slightly milder variation of the policies the Tories are putting forward now. That’s how our politics has worked since the 1990s. By narrowing the parameters of what was/wasn’t “politically acceptable” neoliberalism destroyed choice and by doing so destroyed democracy.

Evidence of this can be seen the huge increase in the numbers not bothering to vote at election time. 78.8% turned out in February 1974 — when a wide range of policies was on the menu- but in 2001, just 59.4% went along to the polling booth. Who can blame the absentees when the “choice” was between a neoliberal pro-war Labour party led by Tony Blair and a neoliberal pro-war Tory party led by William Hague?

Now though there’s policies on offer that we haven’t seen on election “menus” for many years. The howls of anguish from elite media pundits that the Labour party has abandoned the ludicrously misnamed “center ground” — and is actually campaigning on a program that puts the interests of ordinary people first — have been highly revealing. Commentators who believe in bombing Middle East countries to “spread democracy” are having a collective nervous breakdown now that democracy is breaking out at home. One pro-Iraq war commentator described Labour’s abandonment of Blairism as “bad news for democracy.”

Yes, that’s right- Jeremy Corbyn and his team offering genuinely popular policies which voters are calling for, such as renationalization of the railways — is “bad news for democracy.” You really couldn’t make it up, could you? For the anti-democratic democrats who dominate the UK commentariat “democracy” means that our leading parties have to offer more or less the same program.

They’ve all got to genuflect to the City of London, support privatization, cuts in corporation tax and the policies of “liberal interventionism,: aka Endless War, in the Middle East. In this Orwellian political landscape, to “provide a proper opposition” to the Tories, Labour has to offer what is fundamentally a Tory program. The parties must of course appear to have disagreements — but only about things that won’t affect the interests of the 1%.

The Establishment must not only control the government but the “opposition” too. That’s all changed with Jeremy Corbyn. As I wrote here two years ago, at the time of the Labour leadership election:

“The attacks on Corbyn have been many, but in essence what these establishment commentators are saying is this: it’s outrageous that a man who doesn’t support neoconservatism or neoliberalism and who is implacably opposed to imperialism and endless war is standing for the leadership of one of Britain’s major parties.”

What the hysterical reaction to Labour’s manifesto demonstrates is that people having a real choice at election time is the last thing the fake democrats who pose as “progressives” want.

Their ideal scenario would be for the Tories to be “opposed” by a Labour party led by the ultra-Blairite David Miliband — meaning that whatever the election result nothing would change.

Corbyn’s program is far from revolutionary, but it does offer the majority of Britons the prospect of a new and much fairer economic settlement than the one which has imposed since the late 1970s. And the anti-democratic democrats in our midst are absolutely terrified that the people finally have an opposition which opposes.

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The Anti-Corbyn Smear Campaign – the UK Tory Establishment Fear Him
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, launches the party's election manifesto at Bradford University, May 16, 2017.

The Anti-Corbyn Smear Campaign – the UK Tory Establishment Fear Him

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John Wight
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Jeremy Corbyn has the Tory establishment in Britain worried as the UK general election approaches on June 8. It is why they are throwing everything at him, every last morsel of mud they can dig up, knowing full well that his manifesto for government, recently leaked to the media, is the most transformational of any Labour leader in a generation.

When Napoleon Bonaparte opined that four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets, he could have been talking about the UK in 2017. Indeed it would be hard to find a more feral and aggressive media anywhere in the world than in Britain.

Right-wing Tory-supporting tabloid newspapers such as the Daily Mail and the Sun have long enjoyed disproportionate influence in the country’s politics, to the point where it has long been a received wisdom that for any leader to be elected prime minister they need to enjoy both newspapers’ backing. This is why the likes of Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Sun in the UK and with a large stake in Sky TV, proves that the fatuous boast of a free press and free media in Britain is rooted in myth rather than truth.The truth is that the press in Britain, as it is throughout the West, is bought and paid for by a small group of very rich and very powerful media barons, whose role in supporting and denouncing political parties and leaders via their mass media outlets is antithetical to democracy.

Yet despite this, with just a few weeks to run before voters across the UK head to the polls, Corbyn’s message and program of transformation change is gaining more and more traction. The long time anti-war campaigner and socialist is offering the British people, particularly its working class, the kind of change that promises an end to decades in which, under successive governments, they have seen their incomes, working conditions, rights, and the ability to support a decent standard of living eroded. And this is before we come to the spike in poverty and social exclusion that is the human casualty of one of the most extreme and aggressive austerity programs of any country in Europe, originally rolled out in 2010 in response to the worst economic recession since the 1930s, one caused not by working people or the poor but by the rich in the context of a deregulated banking and financial industry.

According to the social charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, key poverty indicators the UK are now at record levels. With incomes down and with low wage casual employment without rights or security in work now increasingly the norm, and with a housing crisis ensuring that rents in towns and cities such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh have spiked in recent years, allied to severe cuts to public spending, we are talking a society in 2017 that for more and more in Britain has taken on the character of a cruel dystopia.

This is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in. His manifesto, if elected, would see a reversal of a year on year decline in real wages, would tackle the issue of job insecurity, and would introduce an investment-led economic policy to replace swingeing cuts that have wrought so much damage, not only to the lives of millions of working people and families but also to the nation’s economy, whose recovery from the 2007/08 recession has, according to the unions, been the slowest since records began. It proves that austerity is less to do with economics and more to do with ideology, which simply put is based on the doctrine of punishing the poor for the “crime” of being poor, while rewarding the rich for the “virtue” of being rich.

Let us consider the thoughts of US noble prize winning economist Paul Krugman: “Scare talk about debt and deficits is often used as a cover for a very different agenda, namely an attempt to reduce the overall size of government and especially spending on social insurance,” he writes of austerity.

“This has been transparently obvious in the United States, where many supposed deficit-reduction plans just happen to include sharp cuts in tax rates on corporations and the wealthy even as they take away healthcare and nutritional aid for the poor. But it’s also a fairly obvious motivation in the UK, if not so crudely expressed. The ‘primary purpose’ of austerity, the Telegraph admitted in 2013, ‘is to shrink the size of government spending.’ “

And this is where we get to the heart of the matter. Under the rubric of austerity, the Tory establishment in the UK has waged a de facto war against the poor and most vulnerable in society. It is a war that has been accompanied by a highly successful propaganda campaign in the previously mentioned Tory newspapers and other media outlets, propagating the myth that the economic recession was not the product of private greed but of out of control government spending on welfare and public services. The result is in 2017 a level of inequality between rich and poor that is redolent of that which existed in the late 19th century.

Corbyn is determined to reverse this dismal trend, to place a priority on the needs and interests of the many and not the few. He is committed to taxing the rich while bolstering the incomes of the poor, not merely on the grounds of morality but also in the interests of a stagnant economy that has been suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. In an economy predicated on consumption, the idea that you can diminish the purchasing power of millions of people and expect strong economic growth is ludicrous. Yet this is the premise of austerity.

So now, given Corbyn’s manifesto and how it is firing the imagination of more and more people across the UK, he is being labeled as a terrorist sympathizer by the right-wing media over his willingness to meet members of the IRA back in the 1980s, when the conflict in Northern Ireland was at its height.

This is despite the fact that in the same decade the British government, headed by Margaret Thatcher, had engaged in secret talks with the IRA. And this is despite the fact that still today British government ministers and members of the country’s royal family bend over backwards to maintain the country’s shameful relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite the country’s appalling human rights record.

It is also why that at the same time as Corbyn has pledged that if elected the country’s leader he will establish a ministry of peace, we have the current defense secretary, Michael Fallon, boasting that under Theresa May’s leadership the UK would be willing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

With recent opinion polls revealing that the gap between Corbyn and Theresa May is narrowing, despite the mud that has and continues to be hurled at him, it may well be the case that the anti-Corbyn smear campaign has been so aggressive it has become self-defeating, redounding against his detractors’ cause instead of advancing it.

If true it should come as no surprise. The stench of hypocrisy can only be concealed for so long.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Do Mention the Wars, Jeremy – It’s Your Trump Card
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks at an election campaign rally in Leicester, Britain, May 6, 2017.

Do Mention the Wars, Jeremy – It’s Your Trump Card

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Neil Clark

Don’t mention the war! That classic line from the Fawlty Towers episode “The Germans” has had us laughing out loud for the past four decades. But not mentioning the war – or to be more accurate “wars” – is the very last thing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should be doing right now.

The May 4 local election results, while not the disaster for Labour depicted in much of the media, nevertheless demonstrated to Corbyn the uphill task he faces in order to become Prime Minister on June 9.

If a Labour victory is not “Mission Impossible,” it’s certainly “Mission Bally Difficult,” as the fictional hero Captain James Bigglesworth — a man known for getting out of some pretty tight scrapes — might say. Here’s one way Corbyn can “do a Biggles” and turn the tables on his detractors.

Just about the strongest card he has in his hand is one he hasn’t yet played. Namely the card marked “Foreign Policy.” Put succinctly, “Jezza” has been in the right on foreign policy issues while his opponents, including the “strong and stable” Tory leader Theresa May, have been spectacularly wrong.

The loudest and most vexatious Corbyn-bashers, in politics and the media have, rather revealingly, got one thing in common. They all supported the Iraq War. That’s right, the illegal conflict sold to the public on an outrageous lie, which led to the deaths of one million Iraqis, directly caused the rise of Daesh and provoked a massive refugee crisis — and which destabilized not just the Middle East but the entire world.

Now you’d think if you supported such a disastrous venture you’d forever hold your tongue and retire gracefully from public life. But the “Saddam’s got WMDs and they’re ready to be launched in 45 minutes!” brigade know no shame. They’re out there in full public view, attacking Corbyn as if the events of 2003 didn’t happen.

While the “sensible” Mrs. May voted “consistently for the Iraq war,” the much-maligned Corbyn “consistently” voted against it. Not only that, he was one of the organizers of the anti-war march in London attended by a record 2 million people (myself included).

It wasn’t just the criminal invasion of Iraq that the Labour leader opposed. He also voted against the imposition of no-fly zones in Libya — which gave the UK and other “humanitarian” NATO powers the pretext they needed to bomb the country with the highest living standards in Africa back to the Stone Age and transform it into a haven for radical Islamists.

The “intervention,” the consequences of which have been so utterly calamitous, was fiercely criticized in a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee report in 2016, but there was no comeback for those who had voted in favor of military action. One of those was a certain Mrs. Theresa May.

“One can’t help but be struck by the rush to military involvement by politicians of all countries and all persuasions,” Corbyn noted in a Guardian column on March 21, 2011.

“I can’t remember anyone calling for a no-fly zone in Gaza in winter 2008-09 when phosphorous bombs were used against a largely unarmed and defenceless civilian population,” he wryly observed.

Going back even further, the very wise Mr. Corbyn also opposed the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Think that was a great success? Well, only this week a Wall Street Journal article noted that the Taliban now controls 40% of the country.

In 1999, Corbyn again was one of only a handful of MPs brave enough to oppose the illegal NATO bombardment of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. He has — predictably — been attacked by the NeoCon Thought Police for signing an Early Day Motion (EDM) on Kosovo, welcoming a John Pilger New Statesman column (in which I was extensively quoted), and which reminded readers of the “devastating human cost of the so-termed ‘humanitarian invasion of Kosovo.’ ”

The EDM also congratulated Pilger on “his expose of the fraudulent justifications for intervening in a ‘genocide’ that never really existed in Kosovo.” But unlike at Srebrenica, where a genocide did take place, there was no genocide in Kosovo — and Corbyn was right to sign the motion.

Instead of staying silent while cheerleaders for the Iraq War attempt to claim the moral high ground over him, Corbyn needs to go on the front foot and press home his advantage on foreign policy issues. He must remind voters of the disastrous consequences of the illegal regime change wars in the Middle East and elsewhere that so-called “sensible” politicians like Theresa May supported — and which he opposed.

Would there have been Daesh/al-Qaeda terror attacks across Europe — including in Britain — if Iraq had been left alone in 2003? Would British holidaymakers have been slaughtered on the beach in Tunisia in 2015, if neighboring Libya had not become a haven for Daesh/al-Qaeda radicals? The UK’s neocon/”liberal interventionist” foreign policy, as well as costing taxpayers a fortune, has put ordinary British citizens at much greater risk than before and Corbyn should make this point very forcefully the next time he is challenged by Establishment gatekeepers as being a threat to “national security.”

This is not just a debate about the past, but the future too.

If the Conservatives do win on June 8 — and with a large majority — then there is a much greater chance of Britain taking military action sometime this summer against the secular Christian-protecting government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has already let the cat out of the bag, admitting “it would be very difficult for us to say no” if the US wanted UK support.

While early May, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon — perhaps mindful of Johnson’s slip, repeatedly refused to say if Theresa May would try and win parliamentary support for attacks on Assad.

This should give everyone who doesn’t live on Planet Neocon and have financial links to the military-industrial complex grave cause for concern. Not only would action against Assad be a great boost to Daesh, and other Salafi-jihadist groups operating in Syria, it would also increase the dangers of a major military confrontation with Russia. Does the British public want to risk getting involved in World War Three in order to satisfy elite desires to topple a leader who poses absolutely zero threat to us?

Corbyn and his team need to warn us of what could lie ahead. The neo-cons haven’t gone way — they are still there, in the corridors of power, planning fresh military aggression.

Foreign policy could be the issue that makes the difference between Corbyn falling short on June 8 — and him pulling off a historic against-the-odds win against the Establishment.

Do mention the wars, and who supported them, Jeremy, old chap. It really is your best chance of success.

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