The U.K. Establishment Toppling the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn*
By Lesley Docksey
Far too many people were knocked sideways, waking up the morning after Britain’s general election last May, hearing that the Tories had ‘won’ the election? That the majority was small and that they had done it on the support of less than 25% of the electorate was no comfort. What hurt was that the country faced five years of unchecked Tory ideology, favouring the rich by hitting the rest.
It was like being kicked in the gut. At least we were not alone in our despair, our inability to watch any news on television, hear it on radio or read it in the papers. The promised dismantling of all that made Britain a relatively kind, fair place to live was too painful to face. The Tories’ glee was both disgusting and juvenile. It took days for our brains to get back into gear, for our anger to rise above the ashes so we could start to fight back.
Spirits rose from the moment Jeremy Corbyn entered the Labour leadership race. Thousands regained their hopes, rejoined the Labour Party or signed up as supporters. The more the remnants of the Blairite clique uttered dire warnings of the utter ruination and death of the Labour Party, the more people climbed on board.
But the day after Corbyn became leader the fight to get rid of him started. Labour MPs were promising to unseat him – I was going to say ‘left, right and centre’, but that was patently not so. Anyone, whether Labour MP, Party member or just the man in the street who supported Corbyn was labelled as ‘hard left’. We still are, even though we reject the label.
Day by day there has been a constant drip, drip of ‘stories’ against Corbyn, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and others on his team, fed by anonymous Labour MPs and seized by an avid media which, being almost totally right-wing, were as desperate to topple Corbyn as the Blairites.
That Corbyn has doubled the Party membership doesn’t matter. That the majority of Labour Party members support Corbyn doesn’t matter. Indeed, one MP tried to say the membership was irrelevant; it was the constituents who had voted for Labour MPs. Yet, whether members or constituents, a majority of the British actually support many of the policies Corbyn advocates also apparently doesn’t matter.
When Corbyn reached his first 100 days as leader, there was an orgy of regurgitated stories about all the things he did ‘wrong’ – like not singing the national anthem, even though photos showed that several others standing around also had their mouths shut. He ‘wasn’t going to bow to the Queen’, even though it turned out not to be mandatory.
And he didn’t bow enough when laying his wreath at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day ceremony – though the fact that all the other ‘important’ politicians rushed off to lunch while he stayed and spoke to war veterans should have stopped the press from making a fool of itself.
A few of the ‘100 days’ articles were honest enough to include some of his triumphs – a successful Labour Party Conference; Labour unexpectedly winning a bye-election with an increased majority; making David Cameron look small at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) by refusing to play the ‘Yah Boo’ game so beloved by our less than impressive politicians.
Sadly, Cameron has returned, to cheers from Tory MPs, to his horribly shouty, nasal voice and refusal to actually answer any questions – which is what he is there for. Instead, he sidesteps them by making fun of Corbyn with very stupid jokes. It is shaming to have a Prime Minister like this.
Considering the mainstream, centre-right, moderate (just kidding, folks!) Blairite Labour MPs were planning to oust him before he had even been elected, you would think the press might admit he’d done rather better than expected. But no. It was obvious that much of their coverage was based on the hope of persuading the public there wouldn’t be another 100 days.
The Tories really don’t have to do anything except hope that Labour will implode, leaving us with a one-party state. Those Labour MPs who don’t want a return to decent values, who don’t give a toss about their members and who don’t want to lose their cosy ‘importance’ are welcomed with open arms by the media. Stories and exclusives were and are the order of the day.
And then along came the shadow cabinet reshuffle, headlined weeks before the fact, based on rumours and unknown sources, speculated on, pored over and picked apart before it ever happened. The ‘intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich’ Peter Mandelson, writing in the Guardian, only demonstrated how very yesterday’s man he is. One would have thought Corbyn was going to appoint a whole new team.
The media coverage, the scrum of journalists listening at keyholes, reporting every ill-considered rumour without checking the facts, seemed to make it appear they were covering the total collapse of the Kingdom, the Queen dying and London being inundated by the very floods that were ruining northern England and Scotland. So what actually happened?
One or two shadow ministers got relocated. Two got sacked for ‘disloyalty’. So screamed the press, pointing out that the MPs in question had ‘always followed the party whip’. But was that where their disloyalty lay? Corbyn and McDonnell, being the decent people they are would never make this kind of thing public but one wonders, was the disloyalty charge based on all those disclosures to the media by ‘unnamed sources’?
And one shadow minister actually resigned on television – and the media went wild. But, according to the website Pride’s Purge, the editor of the BBC’s Daily Politics show Andrew Alexander wrote on his blog that this was not only arranged by the BBC to take place just before Prime Minister’s Questions, it was their idea.
“…we took a moment to watch the story ripple out across news outlets and social media. Within minutes we heard David Cameron refer to the resignation during his exchanges with Jeremy Corbyn.
During our regular debrief after coming off air at 1pm we agreed our job is always most enjoyable when a big story is breaking – but even more so when it’s breaking on the programme.”
This has now been removed from Alexander’s blog. The mainstream papers picked up the story but will the BBC suffer for its blatant manipulation of political events? I doubt it. Someone might resign or be moved sideways but the BBC, constitutionally required to be impartial, will, along with its fellows, go on being biased against anything to do with Corbyn.
But the enemy has now made itself very visible. We, the citizens of this country, are facing something which can only be called fascist in its intent to control our lives to our detriment. This is what we have to fight, and go on fighting, if we the people are to survive.
How Corbyn and his allies keep their cool under all this onslaught is only to be admired and supported for their very adult restraint. Because the enemy within the Labour Party is, so hinted John McDonnell at a public event in November, just a small number of MPs; MPs who have good access to mainstream media. Other MPs, sadly, are still sitting on the fence, waiting to see which way the wind blows.
They need to be reminded that the majority does lie with Corbyn and his team. They need to be reminded that their enemy is not Corbyn but Tory ideology. They need to be reminded that it is the Tories they have to fight, not their own party.
The storm of sheer nastiness from those who oppose the Labour leader is based on one thing – that what he, or rather his vision, offers is a huge threat to those who hold power. If, please God, it is ever realised it will mean that for the first time people, not power and money, might be running the country.
The Tories, the media and the Blairites are terrified. Let’s keep them that way. Frightened people make mistakes.