Jez we did … but …
If you’re an old leftie warhorse like me, then you couldn’t help punching the air this morning when Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour Leadership election hands down on the first round with an amazing 59.9% of the vote. As someone whose request to be a £3 supporter was rejected by Labour’s McCarthyite city machine, it felt good that, even without my insignificant cross on a ballot paper, such a victory had been achieved. Yet the fact that I was ‘purged’ along with an estimated 3,000 other applicants no longer bothers me. Being purged by Blairites is a badge of honour. And to you, smarmy warmonger, beneficiary of the ever distant ‘night and fog’ Chilcot Inquiry, no - we didn’t need that heart transplant after all.
This morning’s BBC TV coverage was an exciting bit of unusual daytime TV. But as the euphoria fades, one has to be realistic and realise that Corbyn faces a party and media Armageddon over the next 4½ years. Since Blair the Labour Party has become a comfortable place for careerists who have no idea of what it’s like to be a ‘worker’ in the old fashioned sense of the word. With the odd exception, very few of them have ever got their hands dirty. Of course, neither has Corbyn, but at least he understands the plight of those who have. These sartorially well-presented, overtly youthful metropolitans and mainly middle class academics have successfully defied the old adage that ‘politics is show business for ugly people.’ It undoubtedly still is for gargoyles like Theresa May, Eric Pickles and Iain Duncan Smith and other front bench Tory behemoths, who continue to substantiate William Makepeace Thackeray’s observation that “An evil person is like a dirty window; they never let the light shine through.”
The reason 21st century Tories like the subjugated state of ‘New’ Labour is that Blair’s acolytes are so much like them. They see people like Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt as their slightly rebellious teenage children with too much pocket money; but don’t worry, like Prescott, Peter Hain, Jack Straw and Blunkett, eventually, successfully lobotomised, they’ll ‘grow up’, take the ermine and doze away at £300 per day plus on the House of Frauds red benches.
And now Labour faces a crossroads. The man facing the accelerating traffic from all sides, Comrade Corbyn, is the biggest coconut in the shy, the easiest target on the rifle range. If we judge by the expressions on the faces of Umunna and Hunt at today’s announcement, the first battles Jez faces will emanate from the wings of his own Labour stage. No doubt the knives have been sparking on the grindstone for the past month. If the Blairites can bring him down, then their prediction that his presence at the helm would keep them out of power for at least a decade will have been proven. “We failed because we said we would.” That will make them comfortable. They’ll cry crocodile tears at the opposition’s impotence, but still collect their salaries and expenses, picking up the odd few extra grand for those second and third consultancy jobs Parliament loves so much. With Corbyn returned to the back benches, and Dennis Skinner retired at home in Bolsover, Tom Watson locked in cupboard, they can carry on living the Blairite dream.
But good grief, Comrade Corbyn. How will you overcome the following?
- The global corporate stranglehold on the world, Britain’s poodle relationship with the Pentagon, the NSA, and the looming threat of TTIP?
- How will you face the challenge of 95% of a media who despise everything you stand for, and who will now open up a continuous artillery barrage of lies, ‘revelations’ and dirt digging on you and whoever you place in your shadow cabinet?
- How will you fare in the lion’s den which is the City of London, the banks, among the wolves of Wall Street and everything they stand for? They own UK plc. Will they surrender it back to us easily? How big a battalion of supporters across the land will you need to put fairness and equality back on the rails?
- Comrade, do you really think the greedy, cash-grabbing buccaneering privateers who jealously guard their stolen possessions such as the railways, gas, water, electricity and the Royal Mail will suddenly capitulate to Socialist common sense?
The questions roll on, and you are not a young man. How will you halt and reverse the headlong Tory drive to wreck our NHS and replace it with a Virgin/Serco/G4S pay-up-front health ‘business’? Can you stop the destruction of the world’s greatest broadcaster, the BBC?
Yet despite the challenges, for the moment let’s steal a Thatcher phrase and ‘rejoice, rejoice’. All that can be hoped is that the momentum for change demonstrated in the past three months will continue to surge ahead. Yet even with half a million members, the Labour Party is a lone, limping hamster in the shadow of the marauding capitalist hyenas. So if it all fails, and evil continues to triumph as it has over the past decade, let us at least look back upon today, when a brief shaft of common sense sunlight pierced the clouds. It’s been a great day; it remains to be seen if any greater ones lie ahead. If there are, I hope I’m still around to see them.