I very much like and admire the far left author and columnist Owen Jones. In particular, his books “Chavs” and “The Establishment” are devastating indictments of the attitudes and class-based nature of our country. I am also well aware that his politics are steeped in the Trotskyist poison of the Militant tendency who these days operate through “front” organisations like the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN). Once an entryist always an entryist! But he said something very interesting last night. BBC’s “Panorama” programme explained the so-called phenomenon of “Corbynmania” and how this far left journeyman is poised to become the new Labour leader. Jones predictably called it a “hatchet job”.
My own criticism was that there was nothing particularly new about it. I know all about Jeremy Corbyn’s “friends” in Jew-hating Hezbollah and Hamas, I well remember his support for the IRA when they were still attacking innocent people and killing British soldiers. What I didn’t know was that in 2003 Corbyn attended, as chair of the “Stop The War” organisation, a conference in Egypt which concluded that it supported “resistance against the occupation forces with all legitimate means, including military struggle”. “Stop the War” subsequently posted the conference communique on its website. I opposed the invasion of Iraq to the extent that I left the Labour party in disgust, but I did not then call on the friends of Saddam to kill British soldiers. What else can military struggle mean?
This isn’t a hatchet job: it’s telling the truth about what Corbyn is and what he stands for. But Jones goes on to point out that this is nothing up to what will happen once Corbyn is elected. On this, at least, Jones is right. The media has so far given Corbyn a very easy ride. If you read a newspaper, saw a news bulletin, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was the only candidate. His packed meetings are gleefully reported every day whilst the packed meetings of the other candidates go unreported (I know: I went to one of Burnham’s meetings which was electrifying and almost totally unreported). And there is a reason for this, as Jones must really know: the media wants him to win.
None of the red tops have gone after Corbyn as they did Ed Miliband, Neil Kinnock or Gordon Brown, not yet anyway. The Tory party has aimed gentle fire in his direction, but not so much that his campaign has been derailed. In fact, in these heady days, the mild criticism of Corbyn by the media and that of various Labour politicians has probably helped him. Everything will change this week.
We might not like it, but such is the nature of politics in this country. If you thought the Daily Mail’s attack on Ed Miliband’s late father (“the man who hated Britain”, so much that he fought for it in the Second World War) was bad, you can bet your bottom dollar that the researchers have been doing their bit on Corbyn’s past in advance of his impending triumph. It’s the nature of the beast, a virulent, ugly, very right wing press with a genuine far left bogeyman in its sights. There will be some attention on his private life, which will be totally wrong, but his politics will be systematically taken apart and there will be plenty more about his friends in low places. Corbyn isn’t stupid, he will know what’s coming, but for a man who has spent his entire political life talking to people who agree with him, he now faces a future that will be the exact opposite.
Some of the reasons the gutter press will go after him for are some of the reasons I could not possibly support him. His “friends” in islamic fascist groups, his support for terrorists nearer to home, his policy of disarming in the face of the most serious threat to world peace in a generation, his rebelliousness and disloyalty and his overall unsuitability to be leader of one of the biggest political parties in Europe.
Labour’s meltdown begins this Saturday and it won’t be pretty. There will be no more interventions by those who oppose and fear a Corbyn leadership, he will be on his own, albeit with the likes of Owen Jones and, god help him, Len McCluskey for company.
Whenever you put the far left under real scrutiny, it becomes a witch hunt. When they are exposed for what they are and what they really stand for, they pretend they are the victims. Anyone who was around in the Benn/Militant years in the Labour party will know what that was like, anyone who was around in the old CPSA union back in the 1980s, when the far left were on the march, will recognise what is happening all over again. All the purges I saw came from the far left.
The reality of this weekend is that Corbyn will now be subject to the same level of scrutiny that every other Labour politician has been subjected to, apart from Blair who, wrongly in my view, sucked up to the newspaper owners who he felt were essential to the New Labour project.
Panorama wasn’t a hatchet job: it was a rehash of things that most of us who are politically aware knew all along about Corbyn. Personally, it merely confirmed why I have always opposed the far left in the labour movement. If the BBC can be accused of a lack of balance, I’ll agree with that because, in line with the rest of the media, they have barely reported on anything in the Labour leadership contest unless it has involved Corbyn. To the BBC, the other candidates might as well never have stood. Anyway, most people have already voted and it will not make the slightest difference to the result.
I will not enjoy the destruction of Corbyn from this Saturday onwards because it will be a big step towards the party losing in 2020 and that benefits no one anywhere on the left. But the old adage of be careful what you wish for applies with the election of Corbyn. If you just like the idea of a Labour government, it might seem a good idea to vote for this amiable pensioner. If you need a Labour government, it’s a massive kick in the teeth and just about everywhere else.