As the Labour coup continues, despite Monday’s huge 10,000-strong demonstration in support of Corbyn, our political editor offers some thoughts on what’s happened since the referendum vote to leave the European Union last Friday. Tyler can be found tweeting tripe (@TyTLR) on the tweet machine.
It’s been a tough week, folks. Brexit and the immediate shitting of the bed by the establishment took many by surprise, and we’re all sort of sitting here…smelling the waft left by a toxic official Leave campaign and yet more attacks against Corbyn. To prepare you for pub debates and workplace chatter, I’ve brought together some key points that ought to be considered as we try to navigate through this clusterfuck of shit.
1. Democracy is being undermined before your very eyes!
This week, 172 Labour MPs supported a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, the current Labour leader. This came after a string of resignations, which kicked off a coup that has been in the pipeline for months. It started after Hilary Benn (*former* Foreign Affairs Shadow) phoned Corbyn in the early hours of Sunday – it was polite notification of his coup against Corbyn, after which Benn seemed somewhat shocked that Corbyn’s response was to sack him.
Did you know that the next Prime Minister is going to be chosen by 0.2% of the UK population? Yes, that’s right. The Tories make up 0.2% of the population – something that doesn’t bother the UK media as it reports on a leadership race that is being presented as dignified and not as the calamity it really is, as traditional Tories try to stop the rise of Boris Johnson and his particular kind of firebrand right populism.
Corbyn won last September’s race by a 40-point margin, with no one even coming close to him. And this was after a concerted purge campaign of Corbyn supporters from the Labour supporter and member lists. His mandate is unprecedented in Labour’s history and he is the most radical leader in its history. After winning with a vote of around 250,000, it’s laughable that the media and a string of desperate MPs think the disapproval of less than 1% of Labour’s membership should lead to resignation.
In both the Tory and Labour parties, the effects of the political fallout from Brexit are being felt. It also seems like the right wing in Labour and the Conservatives are united in denying agency to the masses. We are being denied a general election both through this farcical leadership race after Cameron’s exit, and through the Labour Right’s disaster of the coup. Which comes just before Chilcot is released (surprise) and also at a time when Corbyn’s Labour is starting to beat the Tories in the polls.
2. This is about Corbyn being electable.
Despite being hemmed in and constantly targeted by sour Blairites and sympathetic journalists, Corbyn has taken Labour to a point where they are actually ahead of the Tories in the polls. Corbyn’s politics – politics of anti-austerity, anti-war, pro-migrants and anti-racism – can win. And for the Tory-lites who worshipped Kinnock and Blair’s transformation of Labour into ‘New Labour’ in the 90s, this is terrifying. It is one thing to let a left-winger take the leadership only for them to hang by their own noose in failure; it is another thing to see someone surpass the odds and popularise a new kind of politics that challenges the status quo of racism, poverty and social devastation.
It takes 51 Labour MPs to demand a leadership race through the legal structures of the Labour Party, less than a third of those who backed the vote of no confidence against Corbyn. So why have these political shysters planned extravagant coups, spent two days resigning one by one and held a non-consequential vote of no confidence?
It’s simple. This isn’t just about defeating one man – it’s about smashing the idea of the poor and disenfranchised having a chess piece on the board. The process the rebels have engaged in, with the backing of a sympathetic media, is very dirty, very damaging and it is designed to create a crisis within the Labour party, weakening it to the point where Blairism can regain control of the leadership, crush the resurgent Left and get back to the business-as-usual MO of coating Tory policies in a soft pink veneer.
3. The Media continues to shape the narrative.
This is not the doing of a ‘loner’. It’s the outgrowth of a whole political culture. pic.twitter.com/II2UcYEdwi
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) June 17, 2016
This week will be marked as one of the most eventful and important in 21st century British and European history – the vote to leave the European Union was unprecedented and has created new opportunities and turbo-charged old problems. It has revealed a UK deeply divided and very angry with the political establishment.
What happens next is up to the left, and Corbyn forms a crucial part of it. For someone who describes himself as a socialist, Corbyn enjoys huge levels of support amongst Labour and UKIP supporters, showing that his reach and influence has reached substantial levels. He has correctly analysed that much of the Leave vote has come from marginalisation and the devastation wrought by successive Tory and Labour governments since Thatcher.
The reign of the establishment, unfettered for 35 years, and the weakness of the Left after the collapse of Stalinism have led to a situation in Britain where right wing populism has been creeping in unchallenged into de-industrialised and economically-deprived areas of the UK, with the jingoistic fascism of groups like Britain First not far behind. There is no doubt that the Leave vote gave these forces a temporary shot in the arm, but it wasn’t without a helping hand.
The vast majority of the UK media has had a hand in popularising anti-migrant sentiment over the last three decades. Many people reading this article will be shocked that The Sun is now calling for people to tackle racism – this is the very same publication which popularised the slogan ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ and has printed countless Islamophobic headlines in the past!
When the idea that migrants are coming to drive down wages, reduce NHS resources and take housing is popularised across Britain’s dailies without a real counter-argument, this establishes stunted confines for thinking on these issues. There is a popular idea that only ‘sheeple’ are influenced by media reporting and its limitation on debate – this idea is bollocks.
It’s a poisonous idea because it assumes a certain gullibility must exist in people, but definitely poor people. It doesn’t acknowledge the ability of media discourse to manufacture consent by creating very small but lively windows of debate that really reinforce a point without an alternative. And the fact that the absence of a radical mass party of the working class, or even a radical alternative argument in media discourse, means people are left to come to a conclusion about these issues without a real debate. Lies or mistruths repeated again and again will become the established facts, maybe even policy.
It is the same dynamic that paints the people who resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet – people who abstained instead of voting against Welfare cuts, who voted for the bombing of Syria and who are now talking about limiting freedom of movement – as people who are hard done by and victims of their own good will and honesty. Corbyn is derided as anti-democratic, unelectable and out of touch in the same breath. Not convinced that the media is baying for Corbyn’s blood? They are demanding that he ignores 250,000 people in favour of 1% of Labour’s membership, meanwhile there is no problem with 0.2% of the UK population choosing the next prime minister.
Do you think Tyler missed a point? Or is he just slabberin’? Tweet to us @TLast_R or comment on Facebook.