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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  • MBC

    I think we live in very interesting times where the wheels are starting to come off various wagons. It’s hard to predict what will happen never mind the effects.

    A Corbyn defeat is as pregnant with possibilities as a Corbyn victory.

    What is incontrovertible is that there is a huge appetite in England for a genuine left wing party that isn’t being met by the Labour Party.

  • Daniel

    Craig’s excellent analysis is consistent with the work undertaken over the last decade and a half by Medialens who in turn have been influenced by the pioneering work of Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model that underpins it. Both them, and he, have been totally and utterly vindicated by the passage of time.

  • nevermind

    “There has been very little comment on the impact a Corbyn victory would have on the SNP”

    yes until now in this article. what it will do is put pressure on the SNP to pull level, or loose ex Labour members to new Corbynite candidates.

    It totally depends on what his newly revitalised labour party would do. If they are exchanging the old for new, young up and coming candidates who support a Trident scrap, who are saying Yes to Europe, have ideas on how to tax tax evaders and who agree with putting an end to austerity, then the SNP will have a problem.

    If the SNP gets all secret with their new membership, selects candidates who ‘conform’ with the top echelon and turn away from what the Yes agendas promised they will find that Labour regain ground at local and by elections,imho.

    If Corbyn, should he not win, is frozen out of a Labour cabinet, by whatever means, then my prediction might also come true, Jeremy would have no home anymore and look elsewhere to the Greens, dare I say, with his views he would also fit into the SNP’s policy scope, except that his seat is down south and he would get flak at the next GE for joining a ‘Scottish party’

    A step to the Greens on the other hand would be more apparent in the House, he would enable the Greens into a group and they would get more access to information and funds, he’ll have no problems fitting in and bring many more activists into the Green party.

    I don’t think he could live with the Liberals flag pointing wherever the wind comes from.

  • Mary

    I agree about Medialens Daniel and often quote the Editors’ alerts and some of the comments.

  • Daniel

    “I agree about Medialens Daniel and often quote the Editors’ alerts and some of the comments.”

    As an avid reader of your excellent contributions, I’m well aware of that Mary. I have followed the Medialens guys since the sites inception when I was a student. The stuff I used to write about in my student days back then have now become mainstream. I would add George Monbiot to that list too by the way.

  • Cyril Wheat

    I agree with most of this excellent analysis but feel that the election of Corbyn as leader or even PM which I support, will not impact to the detriment of the SNP. They are growing and developing and as you point out, their new members will have an impact. I consider it will be to the left and I sense that there is a vitality in them that is encouraging. I also sense that Labour has no idea for Scotland and I just cannot see them coming back in any strength especially if the SNP do well in the elections.

  • Juteman

    Wouldn’t it be fun if the SNP called a referendum on the same date as the posh boys Euro referendum? 🙂

  • nevermind

    No it would not be fun Jutemann, cramming elections into one day confuses those who are already confused at that point in time, many would not discern the SNP’s yes to Europe from the overall No campaign. A NO to Independence could easily be a No to Europe. Its up to the SNP and Greens to ensure this will not happen.

  • Republicofscotland

    Even if Corbyn wins (and that’s a big if) his politics will be fleeting, he’ll pursue a term of Socialist policies, dragging the right of Labour kicking and screaming to the left.

    The press will continue to demonise him, and he will be attacked heavily from within, his own party, after his departure Labour will just go back to business as usual, putting some sort of barrier in place to make sure no lwft leaning candidate can be selected again.

    No give me independence any day.

  • Republicofscotland

    I have to laugh at the notion Scotland’s a “one party state” people voted for the SNP mainly because the other three prominent parties act like one,and oppose the just about everything the SNP puts forward.

    So why do the other parties act in unison against the SNP, well they’re not really autonomous parties at all but, branches of their London head offices who tell the branch offices how to act.

    The majority of people in Scotland realise, that the major oppostion parties in Scotland, are effectively mouthpieces for their Westminster bosses, that don’t have the interests of their own people at heart nevermind Scotland’s people.

    One could point to England as a real one party state, unlike Scotland, whose opposition take their orders from Westminster, the Tories seem to be thriving in office, and with Labour now a pathetic shambles, and the LibDems down to single figures in the House of Commons, the Tories look set to march on.

  • ben

    There is little choice because the disengaged citizenry plops down in the middle of the road blocking traffic. I know some here don’t believe the people of a dem republic usually get the government they deserve, but what evidence of voter interest in government reform is there in the mainstream?

  • DtP

    Cheers Craig. I think it’s absolutely obvious to anyone that Jezza needs to win the election to maintain some kind of realism that Labour exists an entity. As we can see when ever Blair rolls into town, he’s actively despised in Labour circles whereas us Tories just kind of shrug and think ‘tosser’ but then go about our business.

    Labour got used by their leadership and even Miliband was coronated through union power as the least ugly baby – exactly the same as Cameron to the Tories.

    If reading the Guardian CiF is anything to go by, it feels like Jeremy has such momentum that he’s almost unstoppable. When I used to work for the Tories, some of my more manic colleagues wanted viscerally to destroy Labour whereas I was always more circumspect – they’ve been a bloody good opposition party filled with people whom I respectfully disagree with but fine, upstanding citizens nonetheless and what would come in its wake frightens me – a 100 years of battle shouldn’t be dismissed because they accidently elected a fake Tory insurgent.

    I think Labour will get creamed unless Jeremy smoothes his message a bit but he’s got time – he’ll listen to the voters throughout the country and respond to that message accordingly. It would be unwise to dismiss how serious Tories get when elections come along and if Labour is disunited, which seems to be their sport best practiced at the most idiotic at times, well – I look forward to it.

    I hardly agree with virtually anything principled socialists ever say but I dam well respect the way that they do it.

    The attack lines for Kendall, Burnham & Cooper have already been written but Corbyn’s an X Factor dude.

    Good luck socialists and long live the Labour party. Now, if only we could get a proper Tory leading the Conservative Party too rather than a few rich blokes who’ve got the erudition of farts in a lift!

  • Scott

    Opposed by neo-liberals in parliament and an assortment of free-market lobby groups and corporate interests, as well as an unsympathetic mainstream media, you could argue that Corbyn’s potential as future PM to effect real change in a single parliamentary sitting would be minimal.. and his probability of re-election would be nil. The scrutiny he would be under would be enormous, and you could imagine after one term in office Labour would be ejected, Corbyn shuffling away into the shadows of the backbenches, with the Tories returning to power. On this basis, you could argue that a left-leaning Labour party is a political dead-end.

    I’m more optimistic that the public is capable of recognising and appreciating choice, and that a move to the left would reinvigorate the Labour party. While this is the preferred choice for me and many contributors here, the question remains, would anything of substance actually change (or be *permitted* to change) if Corbyn became a future PM under a left-leaning Labour party.

    If the answer is “no”, then there perhaps lies the seductive message of nu-Labour Realpolitik.

  • Andy

    Many people appear shocked to have discovered the Guardian is so anti-left wing.

    I became aware in the run up to the Iraq war.

    And well said Craig, couldn’t agree with you more.

    The Guardian is well and truly neoliberal, pro-NATO. Their reporting on Ukraine is so one sided it’s a joke. I’ve had comments removed that were mildly critical of Freedland’s opinion pieces on Israel. Yes, the G is very much pro-Zionist.

    The cheering for NATO’s war on Libya was unbelievable. There is even an article
    about a suicide bomber. Of course he was blowing up Libyan soldiers, not US soldier so was that was OK. It was only after NATO had finished bombing the country that the Guardian reported that Qatar had ”boots on the ground”.
    The few times I commented on the live blog I was accused of being a Gaddafi supporter because I asked who the rebels were. (There were reports of AL-Qaeda black flags flying over rebel capture towns,in the alternative media, that according the Guardian was pro-Gaddafi propaganda.) Brian Whitaker made the occasional comment again accusing anyone who questioned NATO’s press releases of being a Gaddafi supporter.

    And Syria? the same. It was known the rebels were AL-Qaeda associated back in 2012 but again the Guardian pretended they were liberal freedom fighters. Yemen is hardly reported, no calls for ”humanitarian intervention” there.

  • tbd

    The fundamental anti-democracy of the Blairites is plainly exposed

    You’re must be talking about the Blairite decision to promote mass immigration in order to rub the noses of the right in multiculturalism. Except of course you and your sock puppets are all for it and calling racist the 70% of the British population opposed to it.

  • Andy

    @tbd ”promote mass immigration in order to rub the noses of the right in multiculturalism.”

    It’s a business decision supported by the likes of the CBI.

    Eastern Europeans were in London and on the farms working before ’97, they were just working illegally so invisible. And migrant workers don’t stay for long, they work a summer for example and go home. If they work on farms they live on the farms, if they are working 12-15 hours shifts in factories they haven’t got time for ”multiculturalism”.

  • RobG

    The ballot for the Labour Party leadership closes on 10th September and the result will be announced on 12th September, almost exactly one year after the Scottish referendum.

    I’m 51 years of age and can honestly say that I’ve never witnessed a political year anywhere near as momentous as this.

    It’s breathtaking stuff, it really is.

  • fred

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

    I stick to my word and abide by my agreements.

    Otherwise I’d be a liar and a cheat.

  • glenn

    “I stick to my word and abide by my agreements.

    Otherwise I’d be a liar and a cheat.

    That’s nice and simple(-istic). You’ve arranged to go to the pub with a mate. On your way out of the house, you notice your neighbour’s house is on fire, and he’s trapped upstairs. Do you stop to help? Hell no – you’ve got an agreement to be down the pub, and you’d be a liar and a cheat to do otherwise!

  • fred

    “That’s nice and simple(-istic). You’ve arranged to go to the pub with a mate. On your way out of the house, you notice your neighbour’s house is on fire, and he’s trapped upstairs. Do you stop to help? Hell no – you’ve got an agreement to be down the pub, and you’d be a liar and a cheat to do otherwise!”

    All that’s changed since the referendum is that the price of oil dropped to half what the SNP White Paper promised us was the lowest it could go.

  • Becky Cohen

    Politics is too white, male, middle class, heterosexual and vaguely Christian. Black and Asian people make up a significant part of our population now, but this is in no way represented by the faces you see in the Houses of Parliament. Nowadays it’s almost taken for granted that the leader of a mainstream political party has to be a married male with 2.4 children – Mr Default Normality, so to speak. The media – particularly at election time – seem to be constantly wanting to market some replica of a mini-USA where the candidate for PM is more or less a US presidential candidate c. 1956, complete with a ‘First Lady’ who becomes a clothes horse that they can obsessively scrutinise. (You see, as far as the mainstream tabloid media are concerned, us *ladies* are not interested in politics; only in what politicians’ wives are wearing). I noticed that none of the media hacks ever run centre-page pull out features on what Nicola Sturgeon’s husband happened to be wearing…whether he had cellulite etc. Small wonder that the rest of us feel disengaged with mainstream politics to the extent that many of us cannot even be bothered to turn out to vote. Yes, I know we should vote, but when the sanctimonious, finger-wagging bourgeois male commentators appear on our screens blaming non-voters for being the culprits if democracy ever goes arse-upways, perhaps they ought to consider just why this apparent game between shouty men in suits is putting off the rest of us into wanting to participate so much.

  • Richard

    Personally, I also want to see labour move to the left. Then the socially moderate wing of the Conservative party can also move left without needing to have “clear blue water” between them and labour. The result could be a government which is Tory in name, but much nearer the centre than it is now.

  • Summerhead

    Andy – what is wrong with being called a Gaddafi supporter? He was a great revolutionary despite what Craig might say; it is worth remembering that Craig used to part of the mainstream establishment and like most people believed the very effective propaganda waged against Gaddafi.

  • Summerhead

    I strongly recommend those on Twitter to check out the recent timeline of the right wing Labour MP John Mann https://twitter.com/JohnMannMP?lang=en-gb
    He clearly feels he has nothing to lose by spouting nonsense such as – People who chose not to vote Labour at the last general election should not be allowed to vote for the next Labour leader. That’s after his nasty smear of Jeremy Corbyn, linking him to child abuse in Islington. He didn’t take kindly to having the fact being pointed out of his being on the same committee for anti-semitism as Greville Janner at a time after Janner had been reported for child rape.
    His Manifesto is worth a look too – it made me think he’ll defect to the UKIP.

  • RobG

    27 Jul, 2015 – 6:11 pm

    I hope as your niece grows older she will appreciate the part her uncle played in trying to give her a better future.

    With regard to the Labour leadership race, and Craig’s remarks about MI5, I’m sure Corbyn will well remember a British tv drama broadcast in the early 1990s, called ‘A very British Coup’, in which a lefty steelworker from Sheffield gets elected as PM, and the Establishment try to overthrow him.

    Here’s some pertinent scenes from the latter part of this 90 minute long drama:

    A Very British Coup excerpt Pt.1/2

    A Very British Coup excerpt Pt. 2/2

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