THERESA MAY can seek to entangle Labour in her four-times rejected Brexit deal by sitting down with Jeremy Corbyn for talks. But the flurry of Tories cutting up their party cards in protest — some labelling their leader a “traitor” for meeting the leader of the opposition — are a sign of how sickened our politics has become on her watch.
The junior Wales minister, Nigel Adams, who resigned protesting that May was about to agree “a deal cooked up with a Marxist who has never once in his political life put British interests first” would probably indignantly deny any common cause with the serving soldiers filmed using the Labour leader’s photo for target practice.
Many Conservatives have very properly condemned the soldiers’ disgusting stunt. But his attitude, echoed by Tory ministers and Labour rightwingers ever since Corbyn had the audacity to win a leadership election four years ago, informs theirs.
As long ago as 2015 we had a serving general quoted in the press saying an armed forces “mutiny” might be required if Corbyn was elected to government. Generals aren’t ten a penny but the individual has never been identified; perhaps the confidence Labour has expressed in the Ministry of Defence’s investigation of this latest incident is misplaced.
Since then we have had any number of absurd smears, from the notion that he was a Czech spy to the idea that he was a “useful idiot” for the Russians — a slander perpetrated by the so-called Integrity Initiative, a “charity” that was partly funded by government.
The corporate and Establishment media have whipped up this frenzy, from devoting acres of newsprint and hours of airtime to attacks on Corbyn based on non-existent evidence to indulging in supposedly light-hearted visual propaganda such as BBC Newsnight mocking up Corbyn in what appeared to be a Russian hat in front of Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral last year (a choice of image that was “impartial and fair,” the Beeb reckoned afterwards).
As MediaLens says, the “entire mainstream media system has been waging a relentless, fanatical smear campaign demonising Corbyn.” Its language and imagery insinuate that he is not loyal to this country and is somehow illegitimate however many votes he might win.
That has already had consequences, with the Labour leader assaulted when visiting a mosque last month. We know that Darren Osborne, who murdered one and injured nine in a terrorist attack on Muslims in 2017, said he planned to kill Corbyn. Now there is evidence that such sentiments exist in the armed forces.
We know that Tory poison amplified by the media has resulted in rising hate crime against minority races and the disabled. We know that May, architect of the “hostile environment” that saw black British citizens deported from their home, shows no remorse over the brutalised Britain her party has shaped.
Now she seeks to use Labour to extricate her government from a Brexit stalemate she created. Corbyn is naturally willing to talk. But the furious hatred the Establishment has directed at him and his supporters for four years doesn’t come from nowhere. Our rulers recognise that Corbyn’s politics are fundamentally opposed to their interests: that Labour under his leadership could challenge their power and profits and deliver a fairer, more sustainable country.
Our movement must likewise recognise that basic conflict of interest between working people and the elite. A senior member of the shadow cabinet took on the misleading term “national interest” in the Morning Star last year, since it assumes “the interests of a hedge fund manager in Mayfair are the same as a single parent in Hackney, but they are not.”
A “historic compromise” lumping Labour with joint responsibility for a bad deal would be a step backwards. If May’s government is running out of road we need to force it from office and elect a government that represents the majority.
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