From Jeremy Corbyn failing to sing the national anthem to the Prime Minister fucking a dead pig, it has been a fortnight to forget in British politics. In this episode I offer my reflections on the current state of affairs, in particular analysing the media campaign against Corbyn, the new leader of the Labour Party, and asking what’s really behind it. Is this about creating a false rebel? Is this the establishment fighting back against a leader who refuses to occupy the centre ground? Or is it more complex than that? I round off this time by explaining what I’m up to in the coming months, and what you can expect from this show and the others I produce.
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I’ve been reflecting on political developments here in this country, in the UK, and I felt it would be good to offer you my reflections on all this. As I move further away from the alt media and its Nazified craziness I am engaging a bit more with mainstream politics. As I’ve said before, I do vote, I’ve always voted, though it makes no difference because I live in a safe Tory constituency. I do sometimes consider going on a rampage and killing enough local Tory voters to influence the election result but I calculated the length of time it would take and it seemed like too much effort for too little reward given that this is only one constituency in a country of 600 or more.
So there has to be another way. And recently we’ve seen the election of a new leader of the Labour party. Ed Miliband’s inability to eat a bacon sandwich was enough to see the end of his career as a minor political celebrity. So the Labour party, who are meant to be the main opposition party in this country, had to choose someone new.
We were offered the choice of four candidates, Liz Kendall, who really should be in UKIP, Yvette Cooper, the wife of Bilderberger Ed Balls, who actually lost his seat at the general election in May, Andy Burnham, who no one seems to know much about except that he’s quite likeable, and Jeremy Corbyn, the winner of X-Factor: The Labour Party special.
Corbyn is not only considerably older and less famous than the other three candidates, he’s also considerably more left-wing. He is an unabashed socialist, he is anti-austerity, he’s quite happy to negotiate with terrorists rather than always pushing the button that says ‘bomb the bastards’. Partly because of this, and partly because he looks like Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars, there was a massive surge of support for him. Tens of thousands of people joined the Labour party just so they could vote for him, social media went crazy with Corbyn-mania, he eventually won with 60% of the vote, more than the other three candidates combined. And a higher proportion than Blair when he got the leadership in 1994. And more votes overall, by some distance, than David Cameron got when he got the Tory leadership in 2005.
Despite this, the mainstream media, with the exception of the Independent, firmly opposed Corbyn, with even the supposedly Left wing Guardian, who are just centrist hyper liberals in reality, they said Corbyn was too Left wing, that his ideas just aren’t appropriate for our new post Cold War neoliberal reality. Given that I consider myself quite some way to the Left of Corbyn I found this quite funny. The Guardian doesn’t seem to realise that about 10 million people in this country are anarchists. They are so out of touch.
The media campaign against Corbyn while he was running for the leadership was very similar to what happened with the Scottish independence referendum. Indeed, everyone pretty much lined up the same way as they did back then, a year ago. All kinds of threats were made about what might happen if the people voted the wrong way.
With Corbyn the mantra was that he’s unelectable. On the night of his election the BBC included this word in their evening news coverage maybe 12 times. They even found some ordinary guy to interview in his back garden saying ‘I don’t think he’s electable’. The astounding doublethink of saying that a man who just got elected is unelectable – Orwell would be pissing himself laughing at this. It’s so clownish.
Since then we’ve had the scandal where Corbyn didn’t sing the national anthem at some war remembrance event, which was used to distract the public from the fact that the government have just voted for massive new welfare cuts. Then there was the scandal where Corbyn didn’t turn up to the opening of the Rugby World Cup because he was busy doing his job meeting with his constituents. How awful.
There are several ways to view this rather obvious media campaign.
1) That the establishment are setting him up as a dissident figure, making it seem like they hate him to give him appeal to anti-establishment types. This is presumably what the alt media will say whenever they get bored of talking about how the migrant crisis is a plot either to get rid of white people or so that ISIS can invade Europe. I don’t buy this interpretation, because this only started when it was obvious that there was a surge of support for Corbyn.Also, the Labour party themselves tried some dirty tricks to prevent people from voting for Corbyn, so the establishment clearly did not want him
2) The establishment actually see Corbyn as a threat and are attacking him. There is a bit of this going on, maybe, but I don’t see it as the fundamental reason. Corbyn is one man, as this point he’s just the leader of a party that’s been irrelevant for the last five years and hasn’t got a clue where it is going. That’s isn’t a threat to the establishment, not yet.
3) It is Corbyn’s platform, his hippy communist ideals, rather than the man himself, that is a threat. This is, again, slightly true but I don’t think this is the main reason. After all, these ideas – being anti-war, investing in public services, being less belligerent and more content with a smaller status on the world stage – these ideas have been around for a long time. Corbyn did not invent any of this. So the establishment counter to these ideas is nothing new either, indeed that’s what a lot of this militarised pop culture is about, and why I’m trying to find out as much as I can about what they are doing.
4) What I think this media campaign against Corbyn is about is a response to the surge in public support for him and his platform. What has bothered the establishment is that they put up three candidates who were all occupying the centre ground, but the public elected the outsider, the left winger, the one who actually had a distinctly different view of politics. They even joined the Labour party just to vote for this guy. And this was largely driven by social media – the mainstream media did not grant Corbyn much positive coverage even in the early days when he was considered a 500-1 shot. So I think this is a mainstream media response to a phenomenon driven by digital media, just as much as it is an establishment response to a mainstream political figure occupying a position away from the centre ground.
This whole situation was very astutely satirised in a recent article on the blog of Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. He pretended that the article was written by Laura Kuenssberg, the new political editor of the BBC. It is titled Guest Post by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, and reads,
“Project Corbyn, that astonishing tidal wave movement of a tiny minority of hard left activists and other entryists which swept Labour into the ocean of unrealistic economic policy and unelectable beliefs, has run aground within 48 hours on the issue of alphabetical discrimination.Many senior Labour sources have, within the last hour, told me that Corbyn had proved he was out of touch and a complete throwback to the 1930’s by his appointment of a shadow cabinet consisting of “old people from the start of the alphabet.”
Most people believe it has been a terrific mistake to appoint a shadow cabinet dominated overwhelmingly by people whose names begin with just the first few letters of the alphabet. Is Corbyn totally unaware of the identity politics of the modern media, many are asking. One very senior former Labour Cabinet Minister told me “Look at the key figures here. Abbott, Benn, Burnham, Corbyn. That is four of the most important posts and it doesn’t take you past the first three letters of the alphabet. This is disgusting and Labour MPs simply may not put up with it. Eagle does not take us much further and her first name is Angela. Why was there no space for Umunna?”
This kind of whispering from his own benches has the ability to undermine the completely unelectable Corbyn. A great many anonymous people have told me they were hopeful that Watson would provide balance, but these hopes were dashed by the appointment of Abbott. Significantly I tried to query John MacDonnell on this but the aged terrorist supporter kept talking about income inequality and seeking completely to avoid the genuine issues which are worrying so many formerly very important Labour MPs, and so many in the media, today. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior former Labour Prime Minister told me “I predicted the Labour Party would fall off a cliff and they ignored me. Corbyn will be out by Christmas.” It does seem that the unelectable Corbyn, who refused to answer questions on alphabet balance, has no answers to these key questions.”
Much as he’s joking, there is the possibility that Corbyn will be ousted, if not by Christmas then at least before the general election. It is clear that some in the Labour party actually do think he’s unelectable, despite being elected 8 times in his constituency and being elected leader of their party. I can only assume at least some of them are under the influence of MI5, who no doubt have assets in all the major political parties, but some of them are also just spineless yuppies who’ll say whatever the newspapers tell them to say. Outside of the government, the media has more power than the politicians.
So, the likelihood is that Corbyn will be ousted or subject to some kind of disruption before the 2020 election. 4 1/2 years is a long time in politics. But if he does make it, it will make the election very interesting. And the media can’t keep this up because it’ll become stale and ineffective after a while. Nothing lasts that long in news media – the very culture is designed to have that effect on people of poor memory and always moving onto the next thing. On the other hand, there was that recent story in the Sunday Times, where an unnamed currently serving general in the British military basically threatened a coup if Corbyn got into power. The MOD moved quite quickly to publicly criticise this, as they had to, but I do wonder how far they would go. I guess that depends on how far a Corbyn government would go – ultimately there are still a reasonably high number of centrists in the Labour Party and Corbyn has yet to prove he can win them over without seriously departing from his left wing platform. So I don’t know whether he can do that, survive another four years, and find someone young and aggressive and anti-Tory to lead the media charge against the government, someone like the SNP leader who regardless of her politics is very good at kicking the crap out of the Tories and the austerity agenda. I don’t know if a Corbyn led Labour party can do all that, as with anything else, time will tell.
One thing that does bother me that I do want to attach to this discussion of Corbyn is the nature of what he’s been criticised for. The two things that caused a big tabloid scandal, and a pretty big broadsheet scandal, were failing to sing the national anthem at a war remembrance event and failing to attend the opening game of the Rugby world cup, which is of course being held here in this country.
Both of this smack of a petty nationalism, which is of course tribalism at heart. What if he doesn’t like rugby? Would it be more honest to turn up and cheer half-heartedly or to not turn up and let someone else have that seat, someone who actually wanted to be there? This notion that he somehow had an obligation to be at the rugby, to turn up to the tribal ritual, it appeals to people on a very primal level. All nationalism is primal. As primal as fucking a pig’s head in a secret society initiation ceremony, which is apparently what the current prime minister did at university. I would hope that people will be more repulsed by that than by someone not singing a song, but I won’t hold my breath.
Likewise, not singing the national anthem – which is sung at the beginning of all major national sporting events, England football team, rugby, hockey, whatever. It’s absurd, of course, expecting everyone to stand and sing a song in praise of the Queen and empire, while paying through the nose to a bunch of multi-millionaires for the right to sit in a seat and watch some entertainment for a few hours. But people do it. And our national anthem is particularly bad, it’s slow, has no verve to it. At least Deutchland uber alles is about the superiority of the country, and the french one is actually a revolutionary incantation. The British one asks God to save the Queen, i.e. to preserve her in heaven, and to enable to smite down our enemies and murder all the Celtic peoples and stuff like that. It’s not only disgusting, it’s so backward. It’s like that old victorian attitude of ‘gawd bless you gov’ner, you raise this country up, we’re lucky to have the likes of you’. Much as I hate the term ‘pleb’ the reality is that while millions of people still conform to this anachronistic bullshit then the term is actually quite fitting.
The weird thing is, it’s not like that many people in this country actually believe that the monarch’s authority derives from God. We don’t even believe in the post-monarchial enlightenment philosophy of a democratic republic like France or the United States. And yet we sing a song, and insist other people sing a song, asking something we don’t believe in to bless and save something else we only sort of believe in. And we get upset when someone doesn’t turn up to watch a sporting event to sing a song about something they don’t believe in… You get the idea.
Boris Johnson, probably the next Prime Minister of this country, was quoted – I don’t know if this is from twitter or whatever – but he was quoted as describing Corbyn’s absence from the rugby as a ‘national joke’. Appealing simultaneously to the British inferiority complex, the sense of being a rather pathetic people and country that permeates every aspect of British culture and life – referring both to that and the resentful childish answer to the feeling of inferiority – the nation. We may be a pathetic, backward country but we’re still a great nation. That’s the underlying philosophy of the right wing in this country, which is totally schizoid. Which is why you get people from the working classes signing up to be killed in wars which don’t benefit them or their people at all.
Of course, what the Tories mean by a great nation and being protectful of our proud traditions and so on is the aristocracy and the city of London. Everything else they are happy to sell off to international consortiums. They are even trying to cut the salaries for junior doctors, which are already lower than quite a lot of nurses and other staff in hospitals who may be doing important jobs and working hard, but they don’t have 7 years of student debt and a lot more responsibility if anything goes wrong. The Tories want to cut these peoples salaries, I think, to starve the NHS of staff and cause it to fail, thus as an excuse to sell it off and privatise it.
Because when you look at government expenditure, not that much goes on unemployment or foreign aid or even the EU. Most of it goes on pensions, the NHS, social care, more pensions, then the interest on the national debt, then the military, then way way down under that is things like unemployed people and foreign aid. So healthcare is big, big business in this country. Now, Labour under Blair did begin privatising elements of the NHS, and of course the whole thing is partly privatised anyway. Where do all the drugs come from? Massive drug companies. Where do all the uniforms and equipment and beds and needles and all that come from? Private businesses. And it’s pretty much always been like that.
But nonetheless, the Tories want to bring about a situation where they can give tax cuts to the rich because they are no longer spending that money on providing healthcare to the poor. That’s the bottom line for them. And they are willing to fuck up the NHS in order to do that. I don’t want to sound like a trade unionist but frankly people should be very pissed off about this, not getting distracted by a migrant crisis which, even if it hits the biggest numbers, will only mean an increase of 0.15% in Europe’s population. 0.15%. Less than one fifth of a percent. Versus having a 130 billion pound healthcare system given away to massive corporations so you have to now pay for your healthcare, but there’s no tax cut coming to you to actually pay it with. The threat to the NHS is not immigration, it’s the conservative party government.
So, while I have my doubts about Jeremy Corbyn I will say that he literally cannot be any worse than the present government. It might even represent an opportunity to reshape at least some of the dialogue and some of the direction this country is going in. It’ll never be a utopia, of course, but it could be quite a bit better than this, and confronting this royalist, aristocratic, militarist nationalist monoculture is just as important if not more important, to me, as voting. As I said at the top – the backlash against Corbyn isn’t really against Corbyn, it’s against the surge of support for a different agenda and culture to the one we’ve seen emerge in recent years. So we need to push back against that backlash.