Voices from Russia

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Britain’s Next Prime Minister Could Likely be Jeremy Corbyn


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



Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Bitter Struggle for the Soul of the Labour Party

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Fidel Castro once said:

Revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.

The bitter struggle for the leadership of the Labour Party, while not as grave a matter as life and death, does come close to proving the veracity of the Cuban leader’s words. The rancour and bitterness that’s engulfed Labour in the wake of Brexit reached a new level of intensity with the ruling of the Court of Appeal in London to uphold the party bureaucracy’s decision to prevent 130,000 people who joined the party since January from having a vote in the leadership election in September. It reverses an earlier ruling of the High Court in favour of an action brought by a group of party members against the attempt to block them from voting in the election. Understandably, the ruling met with anger from the Corbyn supporters and campaigners, who asserted that the appeal is “wrong” both on democratic and moral grounds. Corbyn’s detractors claim, not without foundation, that he fought a lacklustre campaign in favour of Britain’s continuing membership of the EU. The resulting vote to exit the EU… the Brexit… pushed the country into a period of profound economic and political uncertainty, with a spike in reported incidents of racism and hate crimes against migrants and minorities, evidence of its toxic consequences. The depth of bitterness within Labour, and the challenge mounted against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, reflects the anger felt by many over this state of affairs.

However, Corbyn’s leadership was under siege long before the EU referendum, whilst the disenfranchisement, alienation, and misplaced hostility towards migrant workers and minorities that drove Brexit existed long before he became leader of the party. No matter, despite the huge mandate he received to lead the party last year from its members, Jeremy Corbyn finds himself in a situation in the House of Commons of having his opponents arrayed in front of him in the shape of the Tories and has enemies sitting behind him in the shape of the majority of his own Labour MPs. From there they’ve watched and waited for an opportunity to topple a leader they’ve always viewed as an impostor… whose every utterance is an offence to the centrist beliefs they hold so dear. The strength of opposition to Corbyn’s leadership is also clear in media coverage that’s been so hostile you could’ve been forgiven for thinking he was a criminal mastermind rather than the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition. Ceaseless attacks on his competence, political record, and suitability as a potential prime minister have been the norm. Yet, rather than weakening his support, this anti-Corbyn campaign merely strengthened and solidified it. In truth, the mainstream media’s problem with Corbyn isn’t his competence or record, but the ideology that drives his politics, offering a clear alternative to a status quo of war, neoliberalism, and crippling inequality. It marks a radical departure from the Labour Party led by Tony Blair between 1994 and 2007, a departure amplified by the recent findings of the Chilcot report into the war on Iraq, which heavily criticised Blair’s role in the lead-up to the war.

To gain a deeper understanding of the difference in political vision and direction a Corbyn-led Labour Party has embraced compared to its Blair-led predecessor, we only have to reflect that in retirement, when asked to opine on her greatest political achievement, Margaret Thatcher answered Tony Blair and New Labour… i.e. the transformation of the Labour Party as the party that represents ordinary working people and their needs into a party representing the interests of the rich, the City of London, and big business. It was a shift to the right replicated across Western Europe during the 1990s, as social democratic parties moved to dislodge their conservative counterparts from the centre-right ground they’d traditionally called their own, succumbing to the “End of History” triumphalism that gained wide traction across the West in response to the demise of the USSR, whereby free market fundamentalism reigned.

Corbyn’s surprising and dizzying elevation to the leader’s office in 2015 came on the back of an eruption of previously dormant left-wing sentiment from below. The left within the Labour Party had been so defeated and demoralized over the preceding three decades and more, regarded as a relic of a discredited past, that the party’s hierarchy felt emboldened enough to help him receive the thirty nominations from Labour MPs required to get him onto the ballot for last year’s leadership election… triggered by previous incumbent Ed Miliband’s resignation in the wake of the general election defeat. They did so safe in the knowledge that Corbyn would receive a derisory vote. They were wrong and now they want their party back. Astonishingly, for some within the Labour Party, the surge in new members the party’s enjoyed isn’t a development to celebrate, but proof of a grand conspiracy to subvert it. The party’s general secretary Iain McNicol was key in pressing for the court injunction to block new members from voting in the leadership election, whilst Corbyn’s own deputy, Tom Watson, recently claimed that the party is at risk of being taken over by hard-left “Trotsky entryists”. It defies belief that there could be more than 100 Trotskyists in the whole of the UK, never mind the thousands implied in Watson’s assertion, which Corbyn himself describes as “nonsense”. With the result of the leadership election due at the party’s annual conference on 24 September, this struggle will grow increasingly bitter between now and then. What both sides have in common is an understanding of the consequences of either victory or defeat for not only the Labour Party, but for British politics and society as a whole.

17 August 2016

John Wight

Sputnik International


Monday, 1 July 2013

1 July 2013. You Can’t Make Up Shit Like This… British Parliament Spends £100,000 Upgrading Two WCs

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On Sunday, it came out that the British parliament shall spend up to £100,000 (5 million Roubles. 117,000 Euros. 152,000 USD) on refurbishing two WCs used by members of the House of Lords and their guests. A contract put out to tender by the House of Commons authorities says that the WCs, installed in 1937, haven’t been refurbished for 20 years, “and have reached the end of their serviceable life”. The document said, “The lavatories are in an unacceptable condition for the high profile area they’re in and they give a poor image of the Palace of Westminster“. A refurbishment is required urgently to bring the amenities to a standard that reflects a World Heritage site. The contract to upgrade the WCs… one cubicle and two urinals for men and one cubicle for women… is valued at between £90,000 and £100,000 (4.5-5 million Roubles. 106,000-117,000 Euros. 137,000-152,000 USD). The work would include putting in a disabled-accessible toilet and an additional cubicle for women, and installing oak panelling of a high standard, required of a listed building. However, Matthew Sinclair of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a lobbying group, said the sum was “eye-watering”, adding, “A family could afford to build themselves a home for this much cash”.

30 June 2013

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

They have 100,000 quid for Lord Plushbottom’s bidet, but nothing for social services. Go figure… it does tell you much about Conservatives (and Republicans), though, doesn’t it? Thousands for their precious bums… nothing for single mums. Tells ya where their priorities are… appropriate place, I’d say…


Here’s a funny Brit take on the schmidiot mofos who spend on their bums, not on mums…

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