Voices from Russia

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Britain’s Next Prime Minister Could Likely be Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn has much of the Brexit coalition on his side and more. Brexit, which in many ways put British politics on the international map for the first time since the 1960s, wasn’t supposed to happen. The Establishment in all the major parties, the business sector, academia, the mainstream media, and the arts and science community (which still hold some influence in Britain) were all opposed to it. Likewise, on the night of the vote, the polling data was so set against Brexit that a sober Nigel Farage all but conceded defeat. Several hours and several drinks later, he emerged to give a victory speech. The people who voted for Brexit voted for a number of reasons and even more crucially in a key number of geographical places.

Many people voted for Brexit because they seethed with anger over those who opposed it. The élite were unpopular and the élite didn’t want Brexit, this meant that ordinary people in middle and northern England, as well as most of Wales, voted for Brexit. Other issues ranging from European border policy to trade and nostalgia for empire played far less of a factor than many pundits thought. Brexit was a visceral vote, not a calculated vote. The EU is a élitist institution and Britain’s local élite loved it. For most people, that was enough to make them support it.

While the dishonest and discredited élites ran the pro-EU campaign, Nigel Farage spearheaded Brexit from the right, while its most prominent leftist advocate was George Galloway. Both Farage and Galloway are figures one either loves or hates, but few people can legitimately question their sincerity. After all, neither embraced causes guaranteed to get them invited to Buckingham Palace. Many thought that if two straightforward men on different sides of the political divide both embraced Brexit, it can’t be all that bad for honest ordinary people, and furthermore, contrary to what the neoliberal mainstream media said, Farage’s supporters aren’t all racist obscurantists and Galloways’ supporters aren’t “only Muslims”. Such remarks slander both men and their supporters who are ordinary, decent, and normal people of all backgrounds, who for various reasons are tired of a broken status-quo.

Jeremy Corbyn may well be on the verge of achieving something similar to Brexit, only more. Corbyn, like Brexit, is anti-establishment, and like Brexit, the entire establishment is against him… with this notable exception… small, medium, and even some big businesses. Jeremy Corbyn will certainly appeal to working class Brexit voters in England’s north and midlands as well as Wales (AKA Brexit country) who long for a Labour leader that puts bread-and-butter issues first. Corbyn is all about jobs, funding essential services, and putting hospitals before banks, schools before hedge funds, wages for real people over tax loopholes for foreign companies. This is music to the ears of a Labour base, who are alienated from Labour after years of neoliberal policies first instigated by the war criminal Tony Blair.

However, what about business, will they vote for a socialist Labour leader? Many interestingly will. Generally, most businesses of all sizes benefited from some aspects of EU membership, most crucially from the Single Market which non-EU countries Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are a happy part of. Corbyn said he’s committed to getting Britain a deal that involves retaining the benefits of the Single Market and this made many in the business community silently sympathetic to a Labour leader who took a stand on the Single Market, whereas Conservative leader Theresa May has a policy which amounts to little more than “Frankly, I don’t give a damn”. Therefore, this means Corbyn has the working-class and wider Midlands, Northern England and Welsh Brexit vote, the anti-establishment Brexit vote, and, ironically, also the business-minded pro-Single Market Vote.

Then, there’s Scotland. Scotland voted in favour of retaining EU membership. What’s more, when Scotland held a referendum on independence from the UK in 2014, one of the biggest selling points on the “Remain Part of the UK” side was that membership of the UK guaranteed membership in the EU. My, how times have changed! Because of this, Scottish Nationalist leader Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament want a new independence referendum. May responded to this call with disdain and contempt. Her refusal to engage in a dialogue with Scotland smacks of a colonial attitude when Scotland is a democratic part of the UK. It’s unreal that someone like May can think this way in the year 2017.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn said that he’d listen to Scotland, engage positively with the Scottish people, and, in any case, respect their exercise of democratic self-determination if that’s what they ultimately seek. This means that if the vote in England is a dead-heat, the Scottish Nationalists, who’d almost certainly win every major seat in Scotland, would have the ability to form a coalition with Corbyn and make him Prime Minister. Under this scenario, one sees that Corbyn retained much of the Brexit coalition, with the added bonus of almost all of Scotland’s backing if he eventually needs it, and more members of the business community than many think. Even those in the business community who might not like Corbyn’s tax policies realise that leaving the Single Market is a far bigger problem and one that could take much longer to reverse.

In the wealthy parts of Southern England, the Conservatives might be in for another unexpected shock. Most people in England’s wealthiest areas voted to remain in the EU and many are privately shocked that the once pro-EU Conservative party is taking such an undiplomatic and frankly unknowing approach to Brexit. Many such affluent voters might end up voting for the unambiguously pro-EU Liberal Democratic Party, who in most other policy areas are little different from mainstream moderate Conservatives. The polls that got Brexit and Trump wrong are still saying that the Conservatives will win, but only by a small margin. The reality could be very different. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour might capture most of middle and northern England, all of Wales, and find allies in Scotland. May’s Conservatives might end up losing some seats in their own affluent backyard, amongst those who still cherish the EU as much as they did when they voted against Brexit alongside former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

We could be looking at the most unlikely political revolution in British history… since last year, anyway. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of a would-be Corbyn victory is that he quietly managed to build an unlikely coalition without sacrificing his principles. Perhaps, this is the real lesson of the campaign.

30 May 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/britains-next-prime-minister-likely-socialist-jeremy-corbyn/

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