ďA Democratic Explosion
Unprecedented in British History"
By George Galloway and Seumas Milne
Seumas Milne of the Guardian wrote of the Corbyn phenomenon: ďA
democratic explosion unprecedented in British history. That's all!Ē
Milne joins Sputnik to discuss the unpredictability of politics and
the runaway campaign, which shows little sign of flagging.
George Galloway & Seamus Milne discuss the MSM smear campaign
Posted August 24, 2015
Contest: Behind the Times? No, Jeremy Corbyn May be Ahead of the
On big issues, including climate change and poverty, the Labour
hopeful could put Cameron on the back foot
By Paul Rogers
August 22, 2015 "Information
When the surge in support for Jeremy Corbyn first became evident
a month ago, the immediate reaction in Conservative circles was
a mixture of disbelief and exhilaration. It prevailed for a
couple of weeks, but has now been replaced by a certain caution.
This has little to do with any concern over his political stance
and much more to do with the sheer size of the crowds he
continues to attract. He is tapping into something not seen
south of the border for at least a decade.
There is now a worry among some thoughtful
Conservatives that a clear Corbyn win on the first ballot
will mean that the Government will be facing a significant
level of opposition backed by a substantial sector of public
opinion, rather than a Labour Party not desperately
different from the Government on many issues. The
neo-liberal path of progress may even be at risk.
This change in attitude is reflected in the
renewed vigour with which sections of the press are
highlighting Corbynís support for radical causes, the most
significant of these being international rather than
national. This may be surprising, considering his strong
opposition to domestic austerity, but the fact is that
Conservative analysts are only too well aware that, as the
experience in Scotland showed, concentrating on the
inevitability of austerity policies is already beginning to
Better, therefore, to look at his support
for potentially unpopular movements overseas, starting with
Hamas and Hezbollah but taking in his stance on Trident,
Nato, and defence in general.
This is certainly the current pattern,
although it is not done in the expectation that it will
affect his electoral chances within the Labour Party, since
it is now assumed that he will win comfortably. Instead, it
is part of a process that will develop and intensify in the
coming months, but it does raise the question of whether
Corbyn is as vulnerable as so many pundits suggest.
For a start, Corbyn actually has a record
of being ahead of most political thinking on a number of
issues, including the Iraq war and the use of torture. On
the ďtalking to Sinn FeinĒ issue, it may seem controversial,
but at the time he was saying what the government of the day
was already doing behind the scenes. Similarly, Hamas may be
considered a terrorist group but the criticism of Israelís
recent Gaza war goes well beyond the traditional left.
On wider issues, Trident, Nato and
conflicts in the Middle East all come to mind, starting with
the assumption that opposing Trident renewal is a vote
loser. In reality that may have been the case a few years
ago, but a new generation has emerged and it is far from
clear that it is any longer a key issue. The idea that
international standing depends on being able to kill five
million people in 45 minutes has much less traction than it
did, and the huge cost of a Trident replacement, at a time
of supposed austerity, is another factor that will be easy
for Corbyn to highlight.
Nato is an issue where public opinion may
not be strong either way, but where withdrawal would
actually be less popular than ditching Trident. But Corbyn
has made it clear that such an issue would be a matter for
discussion and debate, rather than early imposition of
policy across the party. It is more likely that retaining
membership will prevail, but with a demand for a fundamental
rethinking of Natoís functions, especially after the
disastrous decade-long involvement in Afghanistan.
On the Middle East, one would expect that
the links with Hamas and Hezbollah would be worthy of
governmental emphasis, but the mood in the country is
actually uncertain and unpredictable. There is now a
widespread view, which is developing into a consensus, that
the Iraq war was wrong in almost every sense and this
combines with a deep suspicion of further involvements of UK
forces in Iraq beyond the current air war.
Over all this, though, is the much bigger
issue of whether Corbyn is behind or ahead of the times, and
this may well decide his future as leader of the Labour
In foreign policy terms, it relates to two global
issues, climate change and marginalisation.
On the first, David Cameronís government is now
paying little more than lip service to green issues, and the UK has
slipped way behind many other Western governments on renewables and
related matters. However, Decemberís climate change summit in Paris
and the current surge in global warming both mean that a vigorous
party focusing on this issue may attract far more attention, and get
more support, than expected.
In the longer term, though, it is the growing
worldwide wealth-poverty divide that is more significant. Even 10
years ago, to talk of serious problems with the neo-liberal economic
transformation of the previous 25 years was regarded as far-fetched.
The 2007-08 financial crunch dented that view somewhat, but recovery
seemed assured and it was back to business as usual by 2012.
Now, though, there is an international mood
developing that mirrors Corbynís national critique of austerity. It
may have been knocked back by European determination to force Greece
to accept continued austerity, but even that has left an ugly taste
which is reflected in increased support for anti-austerity parties
in other countries.
That support might readily extend to a revitalised
Labour Party, especially if the current worries about a world-wide
economic downturn are realised. Chinese economic growth has slowed,
Russia and Brazil are in recession, there is stagnation across much
of Europe, and even the future of the unbalanced growth across much
of the global south is now uncertain.
Corbyn, in short, may actually be ahead of the
times, not behind them. Moreover, this could quickly come to a head
if Cameronís government insists on increased austerity through the
coming winter. If the leader of the main opposition no longer buys
into the model, and is backed by substantial public support, it may
even be Cameron rather than Corbyn who ends up on the defensive.
Professor Paul Rogers is an adviser to the
Oxford Research Group. His forthcoming book, Irregular War, will be
published by IB Tauris next year.
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