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Editorial Washington's threat to subvert British democracy

US SECRETARY of State Mike Pompeo’s threat to interfere to prevent Jeremy Corbyn being elected British Prime Minister is an appalling affront to our country’s independence.

That is not to say that it is surprising. The United States has an extensive history of interference in other countries’ elections. It waded in to stop communist election victories in Italy in 1948 and in Russia in 1996.

Its record of acting to destabilise and overthrow elected governments stretched from its joint venture with Britain to remove Mohammad Mosaddegh from power in Iran in 1953, through orchestrating the bloody Augusto Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973, to its role in trying to replace Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro today.

Britain is a key, if junior, ally of US imperialism. It is among the most obsequious members of its Nato military alliance — signing up to the Iraq war when others such as France and Germany declined to, for example, or echoing today’s threats of war against Iran, which again most European states have distanced themselves from.

We provide the US with overseas territories on which to station military bases, such as Diego Garcia, and are ourselves a base for US troops and intelligence hubs such as Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. Washington will not relish the prospect of Britain electing a government committed to peace and socialism.

The recording leaked to the Washington Post has Pompeo responding to a questioner who asks if he would be willing to “work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK.”

The idea that a Jeremy Corbyn government would pose any threat to Jews in Britain is absurd. It rests on a mendacious smear campaign waged against one of Parliament’s most consistently anti-racist MPs by cynical opponents. That a US administration with links to white supremacists and the far right could be considered an international protector of Jewish people is equally ridiculous. 

But the premise for the intervention is merely an excuse and it is telling that Pompeo doesn’t mention it in his reply. “It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back … it’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

The US threat is far from the first suggestion that a Corbyn administration so terrifies the Establishment that it is ready to play dirty. Hardly had Corbyn been elected party leader than an anonymous general briefed The Times that the army may mutiny if he got to power. We have seen the unprecedented spectacle of a former MI6 chief wading in to say the head of the opposition is unsuited for government.

This shows us what a real difference a Corbyn administration could make. It petrifies vested interests used to having politics all their own way because Labour are actually in a position to shake things up and make the radical changes our broken society needs.

But those vested interests retain huge power, dominating our media and every institution of state and continuing to wield great influence even in Corbyn’s own party.

The lack of government outcry over a blatant threat of foreign interference echoes David Cameron’s obvious indifference to 2015’s hints of a military coup, or May’s to footage of serving soldiers using Corbyn’s face for target practice. And it can be used to raise awareness of the nature of the struggle the left faces.

The movement we need to build to make Labour’s transformative potential a reality will need to overcome these challenges. It requires a politics far broader and deeper than the parliamentary game our politicians are used to. Building that movement in every community should be a priority for the whole of the left.

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