7 June 2017 — Investigating Imperialism
And after all the bad things I’ve said about Corbyn (here, here and here) you would think asking the question was redundant, but is it? Should I vote for Corbyn/Labour Party or perhaps abstain? What is at stake here, aside from Corbyn’s political future (and perhaps the future of the Labour Party itself)? He is after all, almost at retirement age and thrust into a position that he never asked for in the first place. Had he been ten or twenty years younger I seriously doubt whether he would have accepted the position.
Be that as it may, there are so many contradictions surrounding Corbyn’s bid for prime minister, not the least of which is the fact that a vote cast for Corbyn actually is for the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), not Corbyn. If I vote, I’ll be voting for my local Constituency Labour Party candidate, the vast majority of whom want Corbyn gone (but hopefully, not mine)! What this means for a potential Labour victory should Labour actually win, is anybody’s guess.
Anti-Corbyn MPs are also more likely to lose their seats, possessing on average smaller majorities than his supporters in the PLP. – ‘What Will Be Left‘ By Tom Crewe, London Review of Books, 18 May, 20017
So at least one Corbyn pundit thinks that Corbyn supporters hope they’ll not get reelected. But think about it: that’s over 90% of Labour MPs. If that does happen it would wipe out the Parliamentary Labour Party, so I don’t think this particular pundit thought this one through.
Ideally of course, when Corbyn took over the leadership of the party, his first act should have been to make sure that constituency Labour Parties should have been given the power to select candidates that represented their views rather than have them thrust upon them by the Blairite-controlled central command.
Which leads me to the next question; is the Labour Party worth saving given its history? The last time it remotely resembled a socialist party was in 1945 and once more, that only occurred, as with Corbyn, because of pressure from below and of course, the fact that capitalism was bankrupt in 1945! There was going to be no return to the 1930s and the ruling class knew this. Labour’s version of socialism was preferable to actual revolution even for the ruling class. And in any case, the Labour Party was a fully paid up member of the Empire.
It, the Labour Party, since its beginnings in 1910 as a pressure group turned political party, seeking Parliamentary seats, it has been an integral component of the ruling political class and supported the UK’s colonial and imperialist policies (socialism at home, imperialism abroad?) throughout the entire period. In fact, up until now. Can Corbyn turn this around?
I have to ask this: Is Corbyn more interested in saving the Labour Party (from itself?) than winning the election?
The kinds of contradictions in the situation are revealed by the Labour candidate I have in my constituency, who is decidedly weird and all things being equal (which they ain’t) I wouldn’t vote for (her) if she was the last candidate on Earth.
So you see the dilemma and why in voting Labour you are not voting for Corbyn. So it’s essentially an act of faith to vote Labour in the hope (some might say vain hope) that the PLP won’t stab Corbyn in the back once they gain power. Alternately, as most don’t even think that Corbyn can win, that in losing that would be the end of him. And clearly, some, like Chukka Umunna, who was Labour MP for Streatham, I think are quite prepared to throw the election in order to get rid of Corbyn.
But I did correctly sense the direction in which the election is moving, in that on May Day I put ten quid on Corbyn to win (it was then 8-1 against at Ladbrokes, currently Paddy Power are offering 14/1 against)) and the guy behind the counter agreed with me, he was most definitely voting for Corbyn! But did he realize that his vote was not actually for Corbyn but for the Parliamentary Labour Party? This is the dilemma we face. Should the Labour Party win will it trigger a civil or perhaps a very uncivil war within the Parliamentary Labour Party just as it assumes power?
But let’s be optimistic and assume that Corbyn/Labour Party win and apparently, what was an unassailable double-digit majority for Theresa May a couple of weeks ago, has been whittled down to a couple of points difference, and this in spite of the vicious campaign the corporate/state media have mounted against Corbyn, and continue to do so, either ignoring him completely or even censoring his comments:
It was noteworthy that Corbyn’s considered response to the most recent terrorist attack in London was selectively reported, arguably censored, by BBC News. Corbyn said:
‘We need to have some difficult conversations, starting with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that have funded and fuelled extremist ideology.
‘It is no good Theresa May suppressing a report into the foreign funding of terrorist groups. We have to get serious about cutting off the funding to these terror networks, including Isis here and in the Middle East.’
Sky News broadcast Corbyn’s comments, but they do not appear to have been covered by BBC News. – Media Lens, ‘The BBC Has Betrayed Its Own Rules Of Impartiality’: Yemen, Saudi Arabia And The General Election, 3 June 2017
And I think Corbyn’s campaign has been incredibly successful in reaching the unreachable, at least unreachable by ‘traditional’ political parties and their machinery. A process, that again, the mainstream state/corporate media has almost entirely ignored, to their cost, as now they’re faced with the dilemma of explaining where his popularity came from if he’s such a doddering old-fashioned loser? But I forgot, they don’t bother.
Whatever Corbyn’s faults, and he has many, he has clearly touched a nerve within the population. Indeed, he is virtually the only ‘mainstream’ politician to reach out to those millions of effectively disenfranchised voters, and an increasing number of the so-called middle class are drawn to him, perhaps for entirely different but connected, reasons. Things like climate change, food, ethical production and perhaps chiefly, his honesty and integrity.
Clearly, if it were just a straight choice between Corbyn and May there would be no contest. Corbyn’s programme, at least as laid out in the election manifesto, is infinitely preferable to the Tory Party’s samo-samo, tired old rightwing xenophobia and poor-bashing but assuming that Labour win, is the Manifesto’s ‘for a better, fairer Britain’ doable in the present climate? (This needs another essay.)
Corbyn will have to take on his own political class, the ruling political elite and the corporate/state media.
Corbyn’s outreach to grassroots (constituency) Labour Party members appears to have been quite effective in mobilising those most adversely affected by the draconian Austerity measures, (done largely by lefties of various colours and persuasions, who no doubt, in that ‘grand old English tradition’, have their own motives for working with the Labour Party).
I read somewhere that if 2 million young people eligible to vote (out of 7 million under 25 in total), actually voted and voted Labour, the election would be a pushover, at least for the Labour Party, but again, not necessarily for Corbyn.
By the way, for those of you who are not familiar with the workings of Labour Party ‘democracy’, there are in fact two Labour Parties, the first, the Parliamentary Labour Party is composed solely of Labour Party MPs.
A constituency Labour Party (CLP) is an organisation of members of the British Labour Party who live in a particular UK parliamentary constituency in England and Wales. In Scotland, CLP boundaries align with constituencies of the Scottish Parliament. The Labour Party in Northern Ireland has, since February 2009, been organised as a province-wide constituency Labour Party which is yet to contest elections. – Wikipedia
Moreover, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party in reality, no longer makes Labour Party policy, this is now carried out by the National Policy Forum which was created by Tony Blair to effectively bypass the National Executive Committee which he considered too left-wing would you believe.
The NPF is made up of 186 members representing government, European and devolved assemblies, local government, affiliated trade unions, socialist societies and others, and individual members of the Labour Party, who elect representatives through an all member ballot.
The body is responsible for overseeing policy development. It meets two or three weekends a year to discuss in detail documents produced by the policy commissions, of which there are six, jointly set up by the NPF, the Party’s National Executive Committee and the Government. It submits three types of documents to Labour Party Conference: pre-decision consultative, final policy documents and an annual report on the work of the policy commissions. – Wikipedia
Thus Corbyn is depending almost solely on his grassroots support and mobilisation, pretty much for the entire campaign. And this is borne out by the degree to which the political pundits have gotten things so wrong about Corbyn’s popularity which can be seen from this YouGov poll (though polls these days are in disrepute):
Replacing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader would not improve Labour’s chances in the general election, according to a new poll which shows Labour’s support surging in the final weeks of the campaign.
The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found that the Conservative lead has halved in the past week, with Labour rising to 35% and the Conservatives dropping to 44%.
When voters were asked how they would vote if Yvette Cooper were Labour leader, Labour’s support actually dropped to 33% with the Conservative support climbing to 45%.
When asked how they would vote if Chuka Umunna was leader instead, Labour’s support also dropped to 33% with Conservative support growing to 46% — a 13 point lead. – Business Insider, May 21, 2017 [my empty. WB]
Yet in spite of this, the Establishment of the Labour Party is still quite prepared to throw the election:
‘More embarrassment for Corbyn! Candidates airbrush Labour Leader Off Election Leaflets’ – The Daily Express, May 9, 2017
Look, I could go into the history of the Labour Party and show quite clearly its imperialist roots (and branches), indeed just how reactionary it is.
Don’t you want to get shot of this backward-looking, imperialist gangsters called the Conservative and Unionist Party?
Yes, it clearly is, not only because it’s a special election, but in fact, just like the vote on Brexit, it gives us all the chance to give the ruling elite the finger once again.
And even assuming that Corbyn’ s tenure be a fragile one given the circumstances, do we really have a choice at this critical juncture. The chance to dump these hateful imperialists and their humbug?
Yes, Corbyn runs counter to the prevailing ideology of unrestrained and rapacious capitalism, spearheaded by the imperialist states. Everywhere, working people are under attack and being made to pay the price for capitalism’s failures and contradictions and for the most part in retreat. But we do have Corbyn. The real battle then, right now, is about compromise, assuming of course that Corbyn wins. If so, will it be our ‘Sunset Clause‘ moment or our ‘Syriza‘ one?