The British political and media elite have been agreed on one thing this summer: the need to character-assassinate Jeremy Corbyn, the only half-decent politician (make that, human being) running for the Labour leadership.
If Corbyn wins, it would be the first time in living memory that the UK has had a Labour leader who is actually of the left. It is a prospect terrifying our supposedly liberal media, including the BBC and most of the Guardian’s senior staff, from Polly Toynbee to Jonathan Freedland.
Because all indications are that Corbyn will win in a fair fight, the caretaker Labour leadership is trying to stitch up the election to ensure he loses. Corbyn’s entry into the race has led to a tripling of Labour’s membership, as those who had grown disillusioned with Labour politics or joined the Greens consider returning to the Labour fold. You would think the Labour party would be cock-a-hoop. Think again.
The problem is that, if Labour admits Corbyn is actually harnessing massive support from the real left, it would also have to concede that long ago it departed from its roots, becoming just another wing of the neoliberal elite. And more significantly, it would also have to be prepared to contemplate changing course, opening itself up to the possibility that someone with social democratic convictions might again lead the party.
Neither is about to happen, so Labour is finding the flimsiest of excuses to purge itself of any voters it can identify as likely to back Corbyn in the leadership vote. Farcically, among those is Mark Serwotka, the leader of one of the UK’s biggest trade unions, after he said he would consider affiliating his PCS civil servants union with Labour if Corbyn wins.
Below is a great article from Kerry-anne Mendoza, another of those purged. She’s not a Tory mischief-maker or a Militant entryist. She’s an old-fashioned Labour supporter. Her mistake was to tweet her local Labour MP before the last election to say she would be voting Green after becoming fed up with the neoliberal takeover of Labour. That was the pretext to bar her from the coming leadership vote.
As she points out, she’s exactly the kind of voter the Labour party needs if it ever wants to form a government again. Instead she’s been cast out.
Notice also how the self-righteous New Labour elites characterise her – a long-standing Labour supporter who became disillusioned with the party – as an “infiltrator”. They were so sure of themselves they even included her in a list of people they had barred from the vote that they then issued to the media. The list ended up being published uncritically by the Guardian.
If despite all this, Corbyn does win, there can be no doubt it will be far from the end of the story. The Labour party establishment will make the job of leading the party impossible, and Corbyn will face an even more intense campaign to discredit him from all parts of the media.
If there is any consolation to be drawn from these events, it is this: the pervasive myth that Britain still enjoys pluralism in its politics and media may finally be unmasked.