Going Mainstream 103


For a decade, this blog has argued that democracy in the UK is dysfunctional because an entrenched party system offers no real choice. The major parties offer political programmes which are virtually indistinguishable. As I put it in lectures, if the range of possible political programmes were placed on a linear scale from 1 to 100, the Labour and Conservative parties offer you the choice between 81 and 84.

This exclusion of political possibility is reinforced by a corporate media structure, led by the BBC, in which ideas outside the narrow band of establishment consensus are ridiculed and denigrated. Therefore even political ideas which have the consistent support of the majority of the population, such as nationalisation of railways and other natural monopolies including utilities, simply cannot get an airing. Of all the broadcast coverage of the Iraq War, less than 3% gave time to anti-war voices, despite a majority opinion against the war.

This phenomenon explains why a large majority of both Conservative and Labour MPs are members of the Friends of Israel when public opinion consistently sympathises more with Palestine. It also explains the quite extraordinary media onslaught against Scottish independence.

I pointed out that Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance in the TV leadership debates was the first major airing of an anti-Trident argument on broadcast media in England for a decade. Actually hearing anti-austerity arguments led to a huge surge in support for the SNP in England as well as Scotland.

Now Jeremy Corbyn, having obtained a platform where on occasion he has been able to have his views broadcast direct without media mediation, is experiencing a massive surge of support. Ed Miliband’s lasting achievement is that he managed to put the ordinary people who marched against the Iraq War in charge of the Labour Party, not the careerist Blairite committee manipulators. The result is stunning.

The sheer panic gripping the London elite now is hilarious to behold. Those on the favoured side of Britain’s enormous wealth gap are terrified by the idea that there may be a genuine electoral challenge to neo-liberalism, embodied in one of the main party structures. This is especially terrifying to those who became wealthy by hijacking the representation of the working class to the neo-liberal cause. The fundamental anti-democracy of the Blairites is plainly exposed, and the panic-driven hysterical hate-fest campaign against Corbyn by the Guardian would be unbelievable, if we hadn’t just seen exactly the same campaign by the same paper against the rejection of neo-liberalism in Scotland.

I think I am entitled to say I told you so. Many people appear shocked to have discovered the Guardian is so anti-left wing. I have been explaining this in detail for years. It is good to feel vindicated, and even better that the people I have repeatedly shared platforms with, like Jeremy and Mhairi, are suddenly able to have the genuinely popular case they make listened to. Do I feel a little left behind, personally? Probably, but I would claim to have contributed a little to the mood, and particularly my article on the manufactured myth that the left is unelectable has been extremely widely shared – by hundreds of thousands – in the social media storm that is propelling the Corbyn campaign.

There has been very little comment on the impact a Corbyn victory would have on the SNP. Indeed, despite being unbendingly unionist, the Scottish media have been unable to avoid representing by omission the fact that the Labour leadership contest is taking place almost entirely in another country with another political culture. But there is no doubt that a Corbyn-led Labour Party would be more attractive in Scotland than the Tory lite version, although the paucity of Labour’s Scottish leadership would be a constant factor. Much would depend on the wider question of how the careerists who make up most Labour MPs and MSPs would react to a Corbyn victory.

At Westminster, I can see no reason at all why Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and their like cannot simply cross the floor and become Tories. Cameron is astute enough to find junior ministerial positions for them and the Tory ranks would be elated enough to swallow it. But most of the careerists will look at their new constituency members and suddenly discover left wing principles. It will be less bloody than people expect.

In Scotland, a Corbyn victory will bring some swing back to Labour from the SNP, but most of the old Labour demographic have now set their hearts on independence. Should Corbyn actually look set to win a UK general election in 2020, that would very possibly dent the enthusiasm for independence at the margins. It would in no sense reduce my own desire for independence, but even I would feel it less urgent. A Corbyn led UK would not cause the same feeling of moral revulsion. All of which is a good argument for having the next referendum early.

Should Corbyn not win the Labour leadership, the effect will be opposite. The SNP will be boosted by the death of the last hope that the Labour Party might actually mean something again, rather than be a vehicle for soulless careerists spouting management-manual jargon. If Corbyn loses, the Labour Party in Scotland really might as well wind up. The cause of independence will be furthered.

So what do I want to happen? I want Jeremy to win, of course, deeply and sincerely. I am an internationalist and not a Machiavellian. I want the chance of a just society and an ethical foreign policy for England and Wales. Like me, Jeremy wants to see Ireland eventually united. I have never discussed Scottish independence with him, but I am quite sure his opposition is not of the Britnat imperialist variety.

You can be sure that the security services are heavily targeted on the Corbyn campaign. Allow me one last “I told you so”. I came in for much ridicule when I stated, from certain knowledge, that MI5 were targeted on Scottish Nationalists (I had actually been shown the tasking). This comes into the category of obvious truths which the media and political consensus seeks to deny. The ridicule even came from some within the SNP – which, like any other organisation deemed a threat to the UK, is itself penetrated by the security services. Well, now that truth has become mainstream too. I do not anticipate any apologies.


103 thoughts on “Going Mainstream

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  • fedup

    Agreed, you have been vindicated, Corbyn has been targeted and the whole affair stinks to high heavens.

  • Canexpat

    According to the BBC man on Radio 4 this morning “…(Sewel) has some pretty astute views on the Labour leadership contest. He describes Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘typical romantic idiot’.

    Lovely to see BBC impartiality at work again.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I can see no reason at all why Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and their like cannot simply cross the floor and become Tories…

    Chuka Umunna has crossed the Atlantic and become a neocon….

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/22/chuka-umunna-calls-for-english-parliament-federal-uk

    The Progressive Policy Institute is right up the Blairite street, and is pretty well AEI-for-Democrats, AIPAC input and all…

    http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Progressive_Policy_Institute

    PPI has long been considered a cornerstone of liberal hawk policy advocacy. Los Angeles Times columnist Jacob Heilbrunn wrote in 2006, “Don’t look now, but neoconservatism is making a comeback—and not among the Republicans who have made it famous, but in the Democratic Party.”

  • craig Post author

    Johnny,

    Worries a lot of us. But we have yet to see the impact of the new membership work through in the SNP; give it a little time. After independence we won’t be a single party state and I suspect a lot of people currently in the SNP will leave to other parties, probably including me.

  • AAMVN

    SNP is always going to be an umbrella for a lot of different views. Following independence there will be a Scottish Conservative party, a Scottish Labour party [hopefully different from each other to a meaningful degree]. Liberal parties. Probably a few religious types will band together and form small parties.

    I envisage a Scottish electoral system based on PR – so small parties will have a voice. Even an ultra nationalist equivalent to the UKIP nonsense.

    I don’t think any country starting from a blank sheet would not use some form of PR to elect its parliament. It is not perfect but the stifling of minority views is never good for democracy. Better to have them out in the open where they can be challenged and defeated than hidden away in back rooms moaning about how people would support them if they could get a platform.

  • Mary

    Jeremy Corbyn is a long standing supporter of the cause for justice for the Palestinian people. Obviously seen as worthy of attack by the FoI brigade.

  • Ruth

    I think you need to go one step further and accept the very strong possibilty that the Scottish referendum vote was rigged. In an election once all the postal votes are dealt with and security checks are gone through, the actual votes I’ve been told are put in plastic bags. How easy it would have been for MI5 just to have gone into the six centres in Scotland and swapped the bags.

    A telltale sign that this actually happened is the ommission of exit polls carried out by BBC, ITV or Sky. Exit polls are a very strong indicator of the true situation on the ground and would have shown disparity with the referendum results.

    I believe the same thing happened in the general election this year where the vote in the marginals was compromised.

    People’s aspirations will be unachievable until the voting mechanism is watertight.

  • fred

    “I believe the same thing happened in the general election this year where the vote in the marginals was compromised.”

    So you think when the SNP won all those seats they cheated.

  • fred

    “You can be sure that the security services are heavily targeted on the Corbyn campaign. Allow me one last “I told you so”. I came in for much ridicule when I stated, from certain knowledge, that MI5 were targeted on Scottish Nationalists ”

    Isn’t it their job to keep an eye on enemies of the state? Isn’t that what we pay them for?

  • fedup

    Isn’t it their job to keep an eye on enemies of the state? Isn’t that what we pay them for?

    So the state perceives it’s citizens as it’s enemies! Interesting!

  • fred

    “So the state perceives it’s citizens as it’s enemies! Interesting!”

    Not all of them, just some of the more fanatical.

  • MJ

    “the Labour leadership contest is taking place almost entirely in another country with another political culture”

    It’s taking place in this country, Britain as a whole. Scottish Labour Party members, affiliates and registered supporters have exactly the same right to vote as those from England and Wales.

    “All of which is a good argument for having the next referendum early”

    It was last September. It was so early you must have missed it.

  • BrianFujisan

    Well said indeed.

    ” rather than be a vehicle for soulless careerists spouting management-manual jargon. ”

    The Guardian, bbC, and all the Corporate media, are the reason that. on the leadership Debate – Miliband was able to get away with telling the U.K audience, that he would continue the middle east War crimes,

  • MJ

    “Not all of them, just some of the more fanatical”

    Well they’re not very good at it. Neocon fanatics are in power. Corbyn represents the fightback against corporate fanaticism.

  • Tris

    “Isn’t it their job to keep an eye on enemies of the state? Isn’t that what we pay them for?”

    Oh, I thought they were mainly employed to ensure that the sexual proclivities of those and such as those were not investigated by the police…

    [mods: caught in spam filter at 10:34]

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Not all of them, just some of the more fanatical.
    Yup, all those wild-eyed Nazis working exclusively within the democratic system to achieve their evil aims, Fred. Let’s hear it for a hereditary Tory President-for Life, and have no more of this subversive democratic accountability nonsense.

  • fred

    “Fanatical = passionate about truthfulness…”

    So anyone fanatical about truthfulness should read the Edinburgh Agreement.

    The governments are agreed that the referendum should:

    have a clear legal base
    be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament
    be conducted so as to command the confidence of parliaments, governments and people
    deliver a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect.

    Signed by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

    Or isn’t that the type of truth you wanted to hear?

  • Beth

    I think its telling that Jeremy has a lot of young supporters probably because the young see the mainstream media for what it is. Reading between the lines the people panicking that he might win think it would be a disaster because he is too honest and principled. Basically they are still in New Labour mode where they think image is everything. I think they are saving Chuka Umanna for just before the next general election. He will be Labour’s ‘ Yes We Can ‘ moment and that will be their final downfall.
    I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and that Jeremy wins and helps to save the Labour Party.

  • fred

    “Yup, all those wild-eyed Nazis working exclusively within the democratic system to achieve their evil aims, Fred. Let’s hear it for a hereditary Tory President-for Life, and have no more of this subversive democratic accountability nonsense.”

    Imagine another reality, a reality where the Nationalists had won the referendum and the British government had refused to honour the agreement, had declared they would hold another referendum and keep on holding referendums till the people got it right.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11764240/Stand-up-to-the-SNP.html

  • Mair

    Hia Craig

    Its Mair here, you stayed with me in Caernarfon, Gwynedd when you came to talk.
    Thank you for your article
    I hope you are well

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Imagine another reality, a reality where the Nationalists had won the referendum and the British government had refused to honour the agreement, had declared they would hold another referendum and keep on holding referendums till the people got it right.

    Sure. Not a nice picture at all. Whose fault would that be? You govern with the consent of the governed….or you don’t.

    At least the reality is now clear: SNP promises mean nothing; they will agitate for independence by almost any means. But though it might be easy to snap and give in to them, as parents sometimes do to badly behaved child, the grown-up solution is to ensure that the rights of voters are properly balanced in Wales, Scotland – and England.

    Well, yes. That’s exactly what the SNP want in Scotland, and Plaid would like in Wales. And if you said ‘results of voting’ instead of ‘rights of voters’, much of Northern England would probably concur with the idea. It’s just a question of degree, isn’t it?

    The next game we will all be playing is called ‘Federalism Lite’, in which policy is determined centrally by strongly vested interests as always, but sweeties are thrown at the regional governments. I wonder which sprog will become Prince of Scotland.

  • fred

    “I’m hoping that doesn’t happen and that Jeremy wins and helps to save the Labour Party.”

    I hope so too and I don’t much like the media in London demonising him to try and affect the result.

    On the other hand I don’t much like other political parties calling for their members to pay £3 to get a vote in the leadership contest. It should be for Labour Party members to choose their leader. I don’t think it would be a good thing if the leader of the Labour party was chosen by SNP members who then leave him trying to lead a party the majority of which didn’t want him.

  • craig Post author

    Hi Mair,

    Lovely to hear from you. That was a very enthusiastic and inquisitive meeting in Caernarfon. I am very well, thank you, in fact in much better shape than I was then.

  • UK Effondrement

    Fake leftist Fred: “Imagine another reality, a reality where the Nationalists had won the referendum and the British government had refused to honour the agreement, had declared they would hold another referendum and keep on holding referendums till the people got it right.”

    When circumstances change, some change their minds. What do you do, Sir?

  • OldMark

    At Westminster, I can see no reason at all why Liz Kendall, Chuka Umunna and their like cannot simply cross the floor and become Tories.

    Craig – these people are certainly big business friendly Tories with an inclusive, ‘compassionate’ veneer, but I think crossing the floor at this juncture would cause too many problems for them. At the height of Blair’s success Shaun Woodward crossed in the other direction- but only when he was certain of swapping his safe Tory seat for a safe Labour one. Given that the next election will be contested under new, and fewer, constituencies,(600 as opposed to 650) the Tories are unlikely to have many safe seats to spare as inducements to these uber Blairites.

    In the event of a Corbyn victory (odds still slightly against in my opinion) these malcontents will likely just stay put and snipe at the new leader from the backbenches- and will be given copious opportunities to do so by the MSM.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    My guess is that if current SNP voters decide to support Corbyn, it will be because they are recently-disaffected Labour people who, had they remained with Labour, would have voted for Corbyn anyway. Cheer up, Fred, they might come back if Labour started to look like representing the people again, and not hedge funds.

  • MBC

    I’m not sure that Corbyn will win, as it looks now like his lead in the constituency parties is slipping. He’s ahead, but only just.

    However the support for him has been revelatory, and demonstrably challenges Blair’s diktat that ‘you can’t win from the left’. I agree with Craig on that wholeheartedly.

    So the issue for me is, if he doesn’t win, what should he do with that groundswell of popular support?

    He is in a prime position to form a breakaway real Labour party of the left challenging austerity and neoliberalism.

    would he do it? What would his many supporters want him to do?

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