Penny Ormerod gives us her take on the never-ending media assault on Corbyn’s character.
Hell hath no fury like an Establishment scorned. Jeremy Corbyn was elected to lead the Labour Party last Saturday, having inspired thousands of new members to join his party – the clear choice of full members as well as registered and affiliated supporters. The fury rising to hysteria of Tories and New Labour alike (LibDems, perhaps chastened by their own recent mauling at the polls, largely recognised no-one was in the least interested in anything they had to say on the matter) was increasingly evident as the leadership election got closer and voters (even those not weeded out as too Leftie) stubbornly refused to be enthused by the motley crew of neoliberals on offer as alternative leaders of Her Madge’s Loyal (forget that loyal at your peril!) Opposition.
It was hard to know whether to be amused or irritated as New Labour Chief Honchos, past and present, lined up to issue dire warnings about the apocalypse that would ensue should this mild-mannered, decent, anti-war, anti-austerity 66-year-old man be voted to the top job: political earthquakes, economic collapse, a threat to national and international security.
And then it happened: it seems Jez “he’s totally unelectable” could and did, winning nearly 60% of first-round votes. Was it possible now that his ideas might just begin to be taken a bit more seriously? At any rate by Labour MPs, who surely can’t have overlooked completely their party’s drubbing by former loyal Labour Scottish voters fed up with 18 years of Tory-lite?
“Our brave British media swiftly brought us back to focus on the real news – Corbyn’s refusal to sing the national anthem”
In my dreams! A roar of enraged astonishment at the sheer impertinence of his victory has filled the airwaves, newspapers, television screens and ether, with the BBC rubbishing Corbyn and his daft supporters as enthusiastically as the Murdoch press. Our shameless government held an Arms Fair in London last week. They’ve just signed a lucrative deal with the Saudi Royals – more bombs to slaughter children and factory workers in Sudan, swelling the tide of distraught refugees fleeing either to be quietly drowned or confronted by the razor wire, tasers and tear gas of Fortress Europe. But our brave British media swiftly brought us back to focus on the real news – Corbyn’s refusal to sing the national anthem, and whether his jacket matched his tie.
Trouble is, they can’t quite make up their minds whether to sneer, snigger and deride or to go for the jugular of the unpatriotic, hard Left zealot now leading Labour. Is Corbyn, and those who espouse his progressive political outlook, gullible and stupid or dangerous and evil? The Today prog bows to no-one in its daily derision: Humphrys’ sniggering contempt is vigorously endorsed by his chorus of “experts” – politics guru Norman Smith relishes every opportunity to put the boot in, with regular sniping from business pundit Simon Jack on what is laughingly dismissed as “Corbynomics”. Cosy interviews with reliably anti-Corbynite Charles Clarke and Frank “Whatever possessed you – signing that ballot paper!” Field set the tone from Monday onwards.
“He’s a disaster, he wants to take us back the 1980s!” Seriously? We’re being ruled by overgrown Bullingdon Club bullies, hell bent on privatising everything that moves – but apparently it’s Jeremy, droning on about outdated irrelevancies like climate change, TTIP, zero-hours contracts, fracking, who’s stuck in a time-warp!
But… is it just wishful thinking or has the tone changed – just a tad – since PMQs on Wed? Maddeningly for the Corbyn-haters, Jeremy failed to fall flat on his face. He didn’t sing the Internationale or even verse 1 of the Red Flag. He didn’t mention Marx once.
Instead he raised real concerns from real people, and something rather peculiar happened. In the quietness of the new opposition leader’s integrity, Flashman Dave’s patronising platitudes fell a bit flat. The Tories, under strict orders not to gloat or jeer, gave up and went to sleep. The Blairites looked hard at their feet, then glanced a little wistfully at the front benches they had so recently vacated after nobly ruling themselves out from shadow office posts they hadn’t been offered. And – hang on: some of the younger and more open-minded MPs started to cheer him on.
“He claims he wants a more inclusive and democratic kind of politics. That’s the kind of language the NHA has been aching to hear from a Labour leader since its inception.”
For the past 30 years, Thatcher’s vision of unfettered capitalism and neoliberal (renamed Austerity after the Bankers’ crash of 2007/8) economics has been the only show in town. It’s worked pretty well for a tiny elite, but it’s been little short of catastrophic for the majority, not to mention the environment. Yet never has it been more clear that the senior politicians of all three established parties are united in outraged condemnation and disbelief that there can be any serious alternative to the Omnipotent God of the Free & Unregulated Market (and His representatives on earth, the champagne-swilling, coke-snorting, fraudulent banksters).
I listened a few hours ago to Jack Straw indignantly defending his entitlement to earn £5,000 a day (but welfare caps and benefit sanctions are just fine & dandy, eh Jack!). The Establishment were right to fear Jeremy Corbyn – his election is the first real threat to the cosy consensus that has seen the relentless slashing of public services and ever more grotesque inequality. He claims he wants a more inclusive and democratic kind of politics. That’s the kind of language we’ve been aching to hear from a Labour leader since its inception.
Our post-Lansley NHS is close to collapse, its staff exhausted and demoralised. All three parties have betrayed it, relentlessly underfunding, fragmenting and commercialising it. Jeremy Corbyn needs now to reach out beyond his own party and listen to some home truths about how it has been systematically let down and – even more importantly – how to get it back on its feet again, as the electorate have repeatedly and insistently said they want it to be. With the policies of New Labour Top Command almost indistinguishable from that of Cameron, Hunt & Co (leaving aside, as so many voters did too late, their LibDem collaborators), the expertise of the NHS campaigners is right here to be tapped. If Jeremy genuinely wants to formulate health policies that will restore a healthy, solvent NHS focusing on patients rather than profits, we are ready and willing to advise and educate on everything from lifting the stranglehold of PFIs to the huge savings to be made from abolishing the market.
Come on, Jeremy, call Clive and book an appointment with the doctors (nurses, paramedics and patients) today. You really do need to talk about the NHS with a party that knows how it works. Your own party members want proper health policies, and the country deserves to be offered them in 2020.
And you know, this Real Opposition lark might actually catch on!