In a debate on yesterday evening’s Channel 4 News (August 11) between Toby Young and Owen Jones, the former was aghast at the prospect of a Jeremy Corbyn victory in the forthcoming Labour Party leadership election campaign.
For the metropolitan elite, who Young speaks on behalf of, any notion that Corbyn could actually be victorious is invariably met with incredulity, derision or mockery.
Corbyn’s runaway lead in the polls, and the fact that he continues to pack out halls to capacity in rally after rally, is simply mystifying to people like Young. In a typically patronising fashion, the right-wing journalist was aghast at how Labour Party members could possibly support Corbyn.
Such support “beggars belief”, he said. He continued: “How many elections does Labour have to lose when it puts up a left-wing leader in order for the message to sink home”? Here, he is perpetuating the myth discussed here and here that left-wing leaders are unelectable.
He then made a reference to former Labour leader Michael Foot’s lack of apparent popularity in an attempt to bolster his argument. But again, he was dealing in myth rather than reality. A commentator on Craig Murray’s blog by the name of Bevin put Young straight on the matter:
“What happened to Foot’s campaign in 1983 was that a large part of Labour’s leadership seceded calling the Labour platform extremist and Marxist. This had the effect, amongst other things, of confusing much of Labour’s traditional support.
Occurring at the same time as a massive media campaign celebrating the SDP and its purported radicalism – ‘breaking the mould of British politics’ – it divided the Labour vote and handed the election to the unpopular Tories.
Then there was the Falklands effect. The notion that Foot was defeated in a straight contest with Thatcher and that his mild socialist policies were rejected in favour of her hard right programme is nonsense.
His position was sabotaged by a well financed and carefully co-ordinated campaign to split the Labour party, by a right wing faction that has, since the 1940s, relied upon US governmental patronage on condition that it use every weapon to thwart those in Labour opposed to the Cold War and in favour of nuclear disarmament and peace.
Those who actually recall the history of the period will confirm that both within the Labour party and in the broader population, nuclear disarmament, getting out of NATO and declaring British independence from the US were very popular policies.
The membership of the Labour party was overwhelmingly in favour of the left. The proto Blairites and the Grosvenor Square groupies invariably relied on block votes from the authoritarian Union leaders at the party’s annual conference. The membership of the Constituency parties always supported the left. And so did most Trade Unionists and Labour voters.
When predicting the result of the next general election it would be best to understand that, for the great majority of the electorate, the coming five years are likely to see the NHS going the way of free education, a housing crisis which will see large numbers of working families, once again, living in crowded slums, an enormous increase in unemployment and a radical decline in living standards. A return to Victorian conditions.
Any politician who can offer an alternative is likely to do better than those declaring that nothing can be done, which is what the Blairites say. That any such politician will be crucified in the media, slandered and misrepresented goes without saying.”