Voices from Russia

Monday, 29 May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn Outshines Theresa May in the British General Election

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British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s impressive speech on foreign policy and the West’s failed “War on Terror” illustrated an unreported truth about the current British general election… Corbyn is cutting a far more impressive figure during the election than Prime Minister Theresa May is. Before discussing this, I wish to make one important qualification about Corbyn’s speech. Corbyn bravely made the connection between the Manchester terror attack and the West’s foreign policy… enthusiastically supported by the British political class… of waging régime change wars across the Middle East. However, it’s essential to understand that these wars have exacerbated the problem of Jihadi terrorism because they don’t target it, but rather the Arab governments such as those in Iraq, Syria, and Libya that fight it.

Afghanistan is no different. The war in Afghanistan isn’t against al-Qaeda… the Jihadi terrorist group which the USA said carried out the 9/11 terrorist attacks… but against the Taliban, an entirely different group, which though Salafi in ideology, never sought to wage a terrorist Jihad against the West before 2001, or has done so since. Suffice to say, the USA identified none of the 9/11 hijackers as an Afghan. I’d add that prior to the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, some Taliban leaders and the Muslim clergy in Afghanistan pressed Mullah Mohammed Omar… the Taliban’s erstwhile leader… to expel Osama bin Laden and his followers from Afghanistan; in fact, there was a proposal to hand him over in return for international recognition of the Taliban’s government and on condition that his trial would be in an Islamic court.

I always believed that, with care and patience, a diplomatic solution that might’ve resulted in Osama bin Laden’s arrest and trial was possible, whilst the Taliban’s two international supporters… Pakistan and Saudi Arabia… lobbied hard for such an outcome. Needless to say, had that ever happened, the history of the following decades would’ve been completely different. In the event, the US attack on Afghanistan in 2001, whether intentional or not, meant that this never happened, leading to the disastrous “War on Terror” Corbyn spoke about today. Putting all this aside, Corbyn’s speech showed him ready to challenge Britain’s failed foreign policy orthodoxy, in ways that no other mainstream British politician seems able to do. Of course, he’s done it for years, ever since the so-called “War on Terror” began.

However, foreign policy is only one area where Corbyn cut a more impressive figure during the election than May did. Not only did Corbyn campaign and interact with the media and the public in a genuine way… in contrast to May’s controlled and ritualistic meetings and her stilted language of clichés… but he’s also produced a manifesto that, although left-wing, is coherent and close to voters’ concerns. By contrast, May’s manifesto looks cobbled together, mating contradictory messages of One Nation Toryism with Thatcherite Free Market policies. Unsurprisingly, May has already made an embarrassing U-turn, dropping a manifesto commitment that would’ve introduced costs for the elderly, something that (to my knowledge) never happened in a British general election before.

All this partly reflects a truth about Corbyn… he’s a far more serious and experienced politician than the British political class and news media care to admit. However, it also reflects an important truth about May. Quite simply, she isn’t the strong and decisive leader her supporters in the Conservative Party and the media repeatedly say. On the contrary, what the election campaign did is expose once more her indecision and insecurity, and her lack of ideas. By way of example, May never provided a truly convincing explanation of why she called the election in the first place, despite previously repeatedly ruling the option out. The best she came up with is that she needs a strong mandate from the British people to negotiate a good Brexit deal. That might have been convincing if May had a Brexit negotiating policy to put to the British people for them to support. However… as I’ve repeatedly pointed out… in reality, she has none. The result is that she’s unable to keep the election focused on the issue, allowing Corbyn to move the debate onto ground closer to his own.

The reality, of course, is that May called the election not because she wanted a mandate to negotiate a good Brexit deal, but because she thought she’d win it. That’s a perfectly good and valid reason for a British Prime Minister to call an election. A genuinely strong Prime Minister… Thatcher, for instance… wouldn’t have hesitated to say it and would’ve laughed off criticism of it, saying she had a right to change her mind. May would’ve saved herself a great deal of trouble and would’ve looked a lot more convincing had she said it. However, as long been obvious, she’s temperamentally incapable of saying it.

As it is, I still expect Theresa May to win. Although the latest opinion poll shows her once-stratospheric lead collapsing to 5 percent with two weeks of the election campaign still to go (Conservative 43 percent, Labour 38 percent). I suspect that some British voters presently drawn to Corbyn will switch back to May as polling day approaches rather than face the actual prospect of a Corbyn government, for which I don’t think Britain is ready. There’s simply no precedent in Britain for an electoral upset on the scale that a Corbyn victory would require, and I can’t believe in the end it’ll happen. My guess is that as polling day approaches, the Conservative lead will start to widen again. However, if I were wrong, then, whilst the credit for such a truly astonishing turnaround would have to go to Corbyn, the major cause would be the failure of May to explain convincingly to the British people what point there is in her being Prime Minister.

26 May 2017

Alexander Mercouris

The Duran

http://theduran.com/corbyn-outsines-theresa-may-general-election/

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