Who are the real radicals?


By Rwendland (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There is undoubtedly a shockwave running through British (or should that be English?) politics. Jeremy Corbyn: long time Labour rebel, someone no-one in “conventional” politics took seriously, ridiculed in the media for decades, is now the leader of the Labour party. I cannot imagine he wanted the job. Such is that anger in the Labour movement that, having taken the party as far to the right as it has ever been, the Brown-Blair movement of New Labour has failed to win 2 elections against the Tories.

That anger has translated into action, helped in no small measures by moved to introduce more democracy into the Labour leadership elections. Gone are the days when Trade Union leaders would hold up their cards signalling that 3 million union members had “voted” for a particular person. And gone are the days when Labour MPs had an overwhelmingly powerful vote or veto. For me, not a Labour supporter, this looks like democracy in action. 423000 people voted for Corbyn; that’s not a huge number compared say to the 4M people who voted for UKIP in the general election. Then again, David Cameron won the Tory leadership vote with 134,000 so that doesnt tell us much about whether Corbyn will win an election for Labour.

The media (including bizarrely the Guardian) were scathing about Corbyn during the election campaign. The Tories are now seeking to capitalise on his election by demonising him. Because of his objection to nuclear weapons, they claim that the country is not safe in his hands. Because he challenges the “austerity narrative” the economy is under threat, and therefore every family’s finances. This is crude propaganda.

Corbyn is vilified as a radical for holding these views. But who are the real radicals? I suggest it is the Tories, especially now that they are unfettered by the LibDems who are the real radicals in the current political arena. The Tories are now hell bent on moving the UK to a small state, albeit an authoritarian one. They believe the market can solve pretty much everything – this is the belief at the heart of the neoliberalism philosophy. Free the shackles of regulation and the market will solve all your ills. The neoliberals believe the state is intrinsically a force for ill, not good, because inevitably the state will interefere in markets, and prevent them from working properly. Beyond neoliberalism lies right-libertarianism, where the state is intrinsically evil and must be abolished.  It’s no surprise that there are libertarians of the right, such as John Whittingdale, in the cabinet. I was writing about this 4 years ago on the Grasslands Trust website; but now those early signs of libertarianism seem very mild in comparison to what has happened or is coming.

When the Tories won the election I suggested a rather doom-laded list of things they would do – its here if you havent read it. I underestimated them. They also do not believe in fundamental freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to withdraw work. They continue to muzzle voices such as in the voluntary sector, they are proposing to attack the trade union movement (again) and restrict the right to protest. While civilian and therefore democratically accountable police forces are savagely cut, the intelligence services funding increases. And anyone who challenges the scam, the three card trick, that is the austerity narrative, is ridiculed, undermined and subject to character assassination.

At first it seemed that the Tories were relishing the prospect of  a Corbyn victory, but subtly this has changed. Now there is a note of fear in their voices and the voices that provide their echo chamber in the media and social media. Because while Labour may move to the Left, the Tories will not, can not, occupy the vacant centre ground. Their policies will not allow them to do so – since the election they have shifted, as one, significantly to the right. It’s a weird combination of free-market fundamentalism and the authoritarian right. The leader in waiting, the man in the shadows behind the throne, George Osborne, has no interest in the centre ground. His vision is to see the privatisation of every conceivable public organisation, the removal of every possible piece of regulation which prevents the market working, and will squash every dissenting voice he can.

I think this is why the Tory publicity/propaganda machine, led by Lynton Crosby, is swinging into action against Corbyn. New Labour bought in, at least in part, to the neoliberal agenda. Corbyn was one of the few voices of dissent. Corbyn will mercilessly attack the Tories for what they are doing to Britain (and their wider influence in the world.) Corbyn will out the Tories as the true radicals of our time. That’s why they are worried.


About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and not my employers. I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
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12 Responses to Who are the real radicals?

  1. chris says:

    so which mast are you pinning your colours to? as alan bennett has said sit still and you’ve moved to the left!

  2. robseago says:

    I think that at least we will see a genuine opposition at last, and I do hope that Corbyn and the Labour shadow cabinet will avoid the slogans and worn out cliches.

    Probably the Labour party will not form a government and I suspect that Mandelson and others are also plotting. The Daily Mail et al will also be discussing their strategy.

    But equally I am not confident that Liberals or Greens can come back in a hurry.

  3. Mud-Lark says:

    “They believe the market can solve pretty much everything – this is the belief at the heart of the neoliberalism philosophy. Free the shackles of regulation and the market will solve all your ills.”

    BUT only if it’s under pinned by public bail out funding, for whatever goes belly up (banks for example) and needs to be rescued? Markets are great when they are favourable, but when they fail then let them fail, why should the public purse prop up bad decisions made by private businesses? If politicians make bad decision then they too should be accountable in terms of underwriting the promoting of their pet projects? Fracking would be one such example, nuclear another – would they risk their own finance?

    Landownership subsidies need review, as do agri-industry & the deals around energy which do nothing at all for us in terms of the much heralded ‘sustainable energy’ aspiration.

    The Westminster set up needs serious reform, more seats in the Lords than Commons, utterly ridiculous and what justification? If they must persist in dolling peerages out, then be upfront & sell them to raise revenue, at least being open about it would provide credibility than the political party patronage system. Make them limited term so that there would be a regular income source (debate how many terms the mega rich or corporate associates would be allowed to purchase). That would take place after we’ve drastically cut the incredulous numbers in the second house as well as a reasonable number from the Commons.

    • Miles King says:

      thanks Mudlark. I’m not keen on selling influence in the Lords, whether up front or sub fusc. Better to have a properly elected second chamber, in my view.

      • Mud-Lark says:

        To some extent it was said tongue in cheek, but isn’t that what already happens just not in an open & transparent way?

        The first chamber is in theory elected on what is effectively a two party system?

        Democracy, really?

      • Miles King says:

        I had a feeling it was a bit tongue in cheek. Perhaps while the 2 party consensus is split asunder, there will be serious moves for electoral reform. Anyone know what Corbyn’s views are on PR?

      • Mud-Lark says:

        Look what happened last time, forgive me if I don’t hold my breath but the abysmal offer played right into both parties hands?

        Ever an agnostic & bring it on …. 🙂

        Sorry no knowledge of Corbyn & PR, would it be naive to think (based on his views of some elements of politics) that he might be minded towards more people being active in politics and exercising their ‘democratic’ rights?

  4. Gwil Wren says:

    Good stuff Miles
    Did you see the Private Eye piece on the medias take on Mr Corbyn?

    I get Private Eye so I saw this. I well remember (and was convinced by press coverage in the 70s and 80s of Red Ken and Tribune and all those other terrible left wing threats to our security. I have to say with the benefit of age (I dont claim wisdom!) I think JC (! OMG!) is a breath of fresh air. As a Conservative Local Councillor I dont necessarily agree with him but he is honest and seems to speak from the heart which is a bit of a change from politicians of all shades over the last (God know how many) years. It is also important for our democracy to have a strong and effective Opposition so good luck to him. I saw Giles Brandreth hawking some of his policies to the good people of Surrey the other day and they liked them ………right up until they were told whose they were……….

  5. gilesbradshaw says:

    This is complete nonsense – one of the major worries from ‘radical’ Tories is precisely that the Cameron govt will move to the centre to permanently exclude Labour from power.

    • Miles King says:

      thanks Giles. If Cameron was bothered about politics he might have cause to encourage such a move, but he’s already semi-retired and looking forward to handing over the reigns.

      With radical-rightists like Dominic Cummings leading the EU out vote, things are only going to get more difficult for Tory centrists as we approach the referendum.

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