Judging by the vitriol being heaped on Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn it is a sure sign that Britain’s political establishment is deeply rattled by his runaway popularity. The ruling elite are thus moving into «destroy mode».
The veteran Labour Party MP threw his hat late into the ring to contest the leadership race, but polls among rank and file Labour supporters have him as a clear winner.
Ballots have gone out to Labour members and the outcome of the party election will be known in four weeks’ time. Already the British media campaign to discredit Corbyn is well underway. The slander and vilification being fired at the 66-year-old politician is going to get even more vicious over the next month. And if he wins, as the polls suggest, we can expect a full-on media war to destroy him over the next five years towards Britain’s 2020 general election.
What this reveals, starkly, is just how undemocratic Britain is. Any politician who steps outside the establishment is liable for destruction by the ruling forces.
The thing is that the more the British media attempt to besmirch Corbyn, the more his popularity grows, especially among younger voters, who have lately signed up in droves to join the Labour Party in order to vote for him.
Across Britain, including Scotland, Corbyn is packing town hall meetings with his straight-talking and openly socialist policies. The electrifying public mood engendered by Corbyn supporters has even coined a new phrase – «Corbyn-mania».
The North London MP, who has held his parliamentary seat since 1983, has a proven record of opposing neoliberal capitalist economics, public austerity and the warmongering foreign policies of both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party leadership under the sway of Blairism.
Corbyn is campaigning on ending austerity with massive public investment in healthcare and education, taking major industries into public ownership, and disarming Britain’s Trident nuclear weapon program. On foreign policy, he is against NATO membership and Britain’s involvement in overseas wars under US tutelage. Corbyn is pro-Palestinian and wants friendly relations with Russia.
All in all, Corbyn is articulating policies that are tantamount to signing his own political death warrant, as far as the British establishment is concerned. But as far as ordinary Britons go, Corbyn is being seen as a politician who at last reflects their own views of social justice, democratic governance and anti-war policies.
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, reckons that Britain’s state security apparatus will «target» Corbyn to derail his leadership bid. Murray says that the media campaign being mounted against Corbyn is a replay of the frenzy that the British establishment unleashed against the Scottish pro-independence vote in last year’s referendum. Another example of Britain’s undemocratic condition.
«Democracy in the United Kingdom is dysfunctional because an entrenched party system offers no choice», says the former ambassador.
Corbyn is now offering a real choice to people. And the British establishment is apoplectic. «The sheer panic gripping the London elite now is hilarious to behold», says Murray, who has given his backing to the Labour backbencher.
Michael Meacher, a former Labour minister, has also weighed in to support Corbyn’s leadership race. «It is the biggest non-revolutionary upturning of the social order in modern British politics,» he said.
«The Blairite coup of the mid-1990s hijacked the party to the Tory ideology of leave it all to the markets and let the state get out of the way,» added Meacher. «After 20 years of swashbuckling capitalism, the people of Britain have said enough, and Labour is finally regaining its real principles and values».
Other party figures lending their support include Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, who was himself denigrated in the past by the British media as «Red Ken» owing to his socialist policies.
Corbyn’s politics hark back to «Old Labour» under the guidance of the late Michael Foot and Tony Benn. That was before the party came under the sway of «reformist» Tony Blair and his successors who have dominated Labour ever since. The other current leadership contenders, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, are all from the «Blairite» school of politics that bows to the capitalist market and US-led military atlanticism.
It is a measure of how much the Blairite New Labour Party is held in contempt by voters that Corbyn’s rivals are lagging in the polls. Traditional Labour supporters contend that the pale imitation of Tory policies under New Labour was a factor in why the party lost the recent British general election in May. They also claim that this was a factor in why Scottish voters rejected Labour in favour of the anti-austerity Scottish National Party.
The Labour Party establishment is seen as part of the Westminster ruling clique, comprised of the rightwing Tory Party of David Cameron and the mainstream news media.
The avowedly pro-Labour newspapers, The Guardian and The Mirror, have joined the fray of bashing Corbyn. Of the two news outlets, the supposedly erudite Guardian has shown the lowest tactics of ad hominem attacks.
It has run an endless stream of articles and opinion pieces by Blairite politicians aimed at character assassination of Corbyn. Former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have appealed to party members to reject him. In a near-hysterical article, Blair said that Corbyn would lead to the «annihilation»of the party, while Brown was quoted making the base and outlandish argument:
«And I have to say, if our global alliances are going to be alliances with Hezbollah and Hamas and Hugo Chavez's Venezuela and Vladimir Putin's Russia, there is no chance of building a worldwide alliance that could deal with poverty and inequality and climate change and financial instability».
In their attacks on Corbyn, the two nominally leftwing newspapers have circled the wagons with the preponderantly rightwing British press.
The Daily Mail tells its readers that Corbyn «has been linked to conspiracy theorists and Holocaust deniers» and maintains connections with «extremists» like Hamas, the Irish Republican Army and Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid, The Sun, has labelled him a «firebrand pensioner», a «Marxist throwback» and a «refugee from a 1970s industrial strike picket line».
But despite all the opprobrium and slur, Jeremy Corbyn has retained a steady, unfazed dignity.
He says: «We’re the one putting forward ideas, so I don’t do personal, I don’t do reaction, I don’t do abuse… I think we should try and enhance the democratic life of this country, not reduce it to that level».
Corbyn has the moral high ground and no amount of smearing has yet dissuaded voters from supporting him. Quite the opposite in fact. He says: «Can we please – and I say this to everyone – just talk about the issues that people are facing: the poverty levels, the inequality levels, the health problems, the way in which austerity is impacting on the lives of the most vulnerable in society? That is what’s most important».
On the orthodoxy of neoliberal austerity supported by both the Conservative Party and the Blairite Labour establishment, Corbyn says: «Austerity is used as a cover to reconfigure society and increase inequality and injustice. Labour needs to offer a coherent economic alternative».
Far from being rejected as a reckless «leftie», Corbyn is galvanising public support because his views are seen as eminently reasonable and democratic by an increasing number of ordinary citizens.
The flurry of invective that he is being pilloried with is a revealing display of how autocratic and undemocratic Britain truly is.
Corbyn is winning over the people with «old» policies that never really went out of fashion, but which were for decades smothered by Britain’s establishment. In today’s world of capitalist bankruptcy, Corbyn’s advocacy of democratic socialism is rekindling fervent public support and lighting a fire under Britain’s ruling class. It is not Corbyn who is discredited. It is the ruling orthodoxy, and that is why they have a morbid fear of the democratic forces he is fanning.
But in the next four weeks we will see the depths of reaction and dirt that the British establishment will steep to in order to make sure that the people are prevented from exercising a real democratic choice. The people may yet win. However, a momentous battle is shaping up.