Jeremy Corbyn: A Man Too Long After His Time?

old-labour-new-start

They all thought he was a goner, those arrogant, middle-class, Labour MPs who worship the ghost of Tony Blair, supported the Iraq War, and sold their souls to corporate, neoliberal, idealism. Angela Eagle was the first to challenge him, but she was forced aside in favour of Owen Smith because he was ‘more electable’, or so thought the snob-nosed parliamentarians who still dare to call themselves members of the British Labour Party.

They were wrong. Despite all their efforts to oust him, Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader of the Labour Party by a massive 61.8% of the rank-and-file members. The snob-noses were so sure they could oust him. Now they’ve retired to lick their pride and plan their next moves.

If there’s one glaringly obvious fact to be gleaned from this leadership election it’s how far politicians have removed themselves from the public they’re supposed to serve. It was the public who re-elected Corbyn, not some committee of parliamentarians over Armagnac brandies in the plush leather of the Commons Bar. Few so-called Labour MPs back Corbyn’s leadership, and the vast majority wanted him ditched with all possible speed.

It begs the question: why?

The Labour Party began life as exactly that – the party of those who laboured for a living, as opposed to those who by inheritance were ‘landed gentry’, or well-heeled business types. The Tory, or Conservative Party, would look after their interests. As Wikipedia rightly informs, after a landslide victory over the Tory Churchill government in 1945, the Labour Party under Prime Minister Clement Atlee introduced massive reforms:

The Bank of England was nationalised along with railroads (see Transport Act 1947), coal mining, public utilities and heavy industry. During this time British Railways was created. A comprehensive welfare state was created with the creation of a National Health Service, entitling all British citizens to healthcare, which, funded by taxation, was free at the point of delivery. Among the most important pieces of legislation was the National Insurance Act 1946, in which people in work paid a flat rate of national insurance. In return, they (and the wives of male contributors) were eligible for flat-rate pensions, sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, and funeral benefit. Various other pieces of legislation provided for child benefit and support for people with no other source of income. Legislation was also passed to provide free education at all levels.

Jeremy Corbyn still believes in these basic rights. His ‘New Labour’ critics, and the Conservative Party, are hellbent on demolishing what’s left of them and turning them over to corporate control. Tory and ‘New Labour’ governments have sold off the railways and all the utility companies. Coal-mining is virtually non-existent thanks to Thatcher, most heavy industry has been sold off to ‘private enterprise’ and moved abroad, unemployment and other benefits are continually eroded, and the National Health Service is under dire threat of privatization if the present Tory government eventually gets its way.

The snob-noses bemoan Labour’s lack of electability with Jeremy Corbyn as the leader. They may have a point, but it’s not Corbyn’s fault. The problem lies with those members of the British electorate who have quite good standards of living, a well-paid job, nice car, 50-inch TV – you know the sort of thing – there are a lot like that in Britain today. Sadly, there’s also a few million with next to nothing. Through no fault of their own they’re caught up in the poverty-trap of high-price rental housing, minimum wage jobs (if at all), heavy tax burdens, and credit sharks that raise their cost of living with grotesquely high interest rates, virtually unregulated by a succession of Conservative governments.

It’s the former quite-well-to-do lot that are the problem. Yes, they’d probably vote Labour in a general election if another suave, Cheshire-cat grinning, Tony Blair-type rose to prominence again. But it would only be as a change from the Tories for a while, because the policies of Blair’s “New Labour” were almost identical with the Tories: in a nutshell – neoliberalism.[1]

One very sad fact is that those who are doing quite nicely in Britain today have totally forgotten the reason why. If it hadn’t been for the Labour Party they’d still be toiling for tuppence an hour, working eighteen hours a day, dying by the age of thirty, and spending any spare time they have scrabbling through the waste bins of the wealthy searching for a morsel of stale bread to stave off starvation.

The other very sad fact is that if the Tories, or the ‘New Labour’ parliamentarians, have their way the ‘doing-quite-nicely’ brigade will eventually find themselves not doing quite so well because the politicians they voted into power believe in the neoliberal ideal of ‘trickle-down’ economics, and a ‘trickle’, by definition, means a ‘ very small flow’, a ‘dribble’, or a ‘drip’.

Anyone wishing to view the effects of ‘trickle-down economics’ has only to visit a city like Detroit in Michigan, U.S.A., to see the boarded up properties, derelict factories that once produced automobiles by the thousand, the violence that moves in when prosperity goes out the window. No free health service here, and precious little in the way of welfare. But the wealthy of Detroit are doing very nicely, thank you. Of course, they don’t actually live in Detroit anymore.

Already, with the threat of ‘Brexit’ on the horizon, there’s political chatter in the U.K. parliament of possible ‘welfare benefit cuts’, re-financing (read: cutting back) of the few remaining ‘government services’ (a somewhat inaccurate phrase given that they’re funded by taxation), a possible slowdown of the economy (who’s next for the dole-queue?)…etc..

Probably the only person in Britain today who could send the neoliberals packing is Jeremy Corbyn. He believes in ‘Old Labour’, government that serves the people rather than big business, and a fair deal for all. He’s a Socialist, and proud of it.

Unfortunately, the snob-noses are probably right: he’ll never be elected Prime Minister. The British suffer from serious memory loss. Despite TV dramas like Poldark, or Garrow’s Law, they’ve forgotten what life was like before the Labour Party.

The real Labour Party, that is – not the fake one created by the snob-noses of Parliament over their Armagnac brandies in the Commons Bar.

[1] “Neoliberalism – A Definition In Under 2,000 Words” Sparrow Chat, July 19th 2016

2 Replies to “Jeremy Corbyn: A Man Too Long After His Time?”

  1. Applause! For you – and for Mr Corbyn.

    Labour, proper Labour, has been in the doldrums since Harold Wilson’s reign. Nobody liked him very much either. There’s been a looking-down-the-nose attitude towards Labour candidates and voters for as long as I remember, then Blair came along and made the party into a horse of a very different colour.

    In the UK ( and now here in OK) I somehow found my self living, for most of my adult life, either in fully fledged Conservative areas, or on the border where one city area joined another along the left-right divide. I’ve never had the luxury of being surrounded by people who think as I do, so probably have grown to feel more resentful than most. I’m very, very happy now to read about Mr Corbyn’s success.

  2. Twilight – as an ardent socialist all my life it’s been a constant source of bewilderment to me why ordinary working folk frequently choose to vote for the party of the well-heeled. Whether it’s because they like to think themselves better-off than they are, or are simply taken in by conservative propaganda is debatable. Tony Blair turned the Labour Party into a quasi-Tory party just for those sort of voters. It worked, at least for him. Three general elections, but then like Thatcher, it all went to his head and he saw himself as President of Britain.
    In a recent interview, Blair said Corbyn was attempting to take Labour back to 1960s politics. Well, that was a time when working people were obtaining a much improved standard of living (even McMillan (1957-63) said, “You’ve never had it so good.”). (Wilson Gov’t: 1964-70).

    Jeremy Corbyn is attempting to return Labour to its original roots. The ‘Blairite’ MPs don’t like it. They all say Corbyn’s unelectable. Perhaps if Britain has to go through a period of forced austerity after Brexit they may have to eat their words.

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