A Corbyn government will need support from openly selected MPs and a mass members’ movement to bring about beneficial change
An editorial by Ben Chacko opens with a reference to civil servants apparently briefing the press against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – a further sign of the strain a truly radical opposition is putting on our political system.
Chacko (right) predicts that this will intensify if he enters office:
“Labour’s radical programme will face parliamentary sabotage, which is why open selection of Labour MPs to improve the character of the parliamentary party is essential.
“It will face legal challenges from corporations with bottomless wallets, institutional interference from the judiciary and the EU if we haven’t left the latter, economic warfare, meddling by foreign powers such as the United States, perhaps even the military putsch mooted in 2015”.
John McDonnell has often said that when Labour goes into office we will all go into office – and Chacko stresses:
“We need to build a mass movement of trade unions, campaign groups such as the People’s Assembly and community organisations fighting for change in every workplace, every town hall and every high street to make those words a reality”.
Only by building up united and determined pressure ‘from below’ will the political-corporate grip on power be broken.
Read the Chacko editorial here.
Professor Paul Rogers’ reference to the Corbyn’s Chatham House speech in May, in his recent article: ‘Corbyn’s Labour: now look outwards’ prompted a search for a transcript, found on The Spectator’s website.
In his Chatham House speech, Jeremy Corbyn set out how a Labour Government he leads will keep Britain safe, reshape relationships with partners around the world, work to strengthen the United Nations and respond to the global challenges we face in the 21st century. Edited extracts follow, links and emphasis added.
In his final televised 1950s address to the American people as President, Eisenhower gave a stark warning of what he described as “the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex.” “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry”, he said, “can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
You are either for or against what is presented as “strong defence”, regardless of the actual record of what that has meant in practice.
Too much of our debate about defence and security is one dimensional. Alert citizens or political leaders who advocate other routes to security are dismissed or treated as unreliable.
My generation grew up under the shadow of the cold war. On television, through the 1960s and into the seventies, the news was dominated by Vietnam. I was haunted by images of civilians fleeing chemical weapons used by the United States. At the end of the cold war, when the Berlin Wall came down we were told it was the end of history. Global leaders promised a more peaceful, stable world. It didn’t work out like that. Today the world is more unstable than even at the height of the cold war. The approach to international security we have been using since the 1990s has simply not worked.
Regime change wars in Afghanistan Iraq, Libya, and Syria – and Western interventions in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen – have failed in their own terms, and made the world a more dangerous place.
This is the fourth General Election in a row to be held while Britain is at war and our armed forces are in action in the Middle East and beyond. The fact is that the ‘war on terror’ which has driven these interventions has failed. They have not increased our security at home – just the opposite. And they have caused destabilisation and devastation abroad.
Last September, the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee concluded that the Libyan intervention led to political and economic collapse, humanitarian and migrant crises and fuelled the rise of Isis in Africa and across the Middle East. Is that really the way to deliver security to the British people? Who seriously believes that’s what real strength looks like?
We need to step back and have some fresh thinking. The world faces huge problems. As well as the legacy of regime change wars, there is a dangerous cocktail of ethnic conflicts, of food insecurity, water scarcity, the emerging effects of climate change. Add to that mix a grotesque and growing level of inequality in which just eight billionaires own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion poorest people and you end up with a refugee crisis of epic proportions affecting every continent in the world, with more displaced people in the world than since the Second World War. These problems are getting worse and fuelling threats and instability. The global situation is becoming more dangerous.
A Labour Government will want a strong and friendly relationship with the United States. But we will not be afraid to speak our mind. The US is the strongest military power on the planet by a very long way. It has a special responsibility to use its power with care and to support international efforts to resolve conflicts collectively and peacefully.
No more hand holding with Donald Trump.
The new US President seems determined to add to the dangers by recklessly escalating the confrontation with North Korea, unilaterally launching missile strikes on Syria, opposing President Obama’s nuclear arms deal with Iran and backing a new nuclear arms race.
Waiting to see which way the wind blows in Washington isn’t strong leadership. And pandering to an erratic Trump administration will not deliver stability. When Theresa May addressed a Republican Party conference in Philadelphia in January she spoke in alarmist terms about the rise of China and India and of the danger of the West being eclipsed. She said America and Britain had to ‘stand strong’ together and use their military might to protect their interests. This is the sort of language that led to calamity in Iraq and Libya and all the other disastrous wars that stole the post-Cold War promise of a new world order.
I do not see India and China in those terms. Nor do I think the vast majority of Americans or British people want the boots of their young men and women on the ground in Syria fighting a war that would escalate the suffering and slaughter even further. Britain deserves better than simply outsourcing our country’s security and prosperity to the whims of the Trump White House.
A Labour Government will conduct a robust and independent foreign policy – made in Britain
A Labour Government would seek to work for peace and security with all the other permanent members of the United Nations security council – the US, China, Russia and France. And with other countries with a major role to play such as India, South Africa, Brazil and Germany.
Reverse the failed ‘bomb first, talk later’ approach to security
I am often asked if as prime minister I would order the use of nuclear weapons. It’s an extraordinary question when you think about it – would you order the indiscriminate killing of millions of people? Would you risk such extensive contamination of the planet that no life could exist across large parts of the world? If circumstances arose where that was a real option, it would represent complete and cataclysmic failure. It would mean world leaders had already triggered a spiral of catastrophe for humankind.
The best defence for Britain is a government actively engaged in seeking peaceful solutions to the world’s problems
Labour is committed actively to pursue disarmament under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and we are committed to no first use of nuclear weapons. But to protect the safety and security of our people and our country, my first duty, I know I will have to work with other countries to solve problems, defuse tensions and build collective security.
I am not a pacifist. I accept that military action, under international law and as a genuine last resort, is in some circumstances necessary. But that is very far from the kind of unilateral wars and interventions that have almost become routine in recent times. I will not take lectures on security or humanitarian action from a Conservative Party that stood by in the 1980s – refusing even to impose sanctions – while children on the streets of Soweto were being shot dead in the streets, or which has backed every move to put our armed forces in harm’s way regardless of the impact on our people’s security.
And as the security threats and challenges we face are not bound by geographic borders it is vital that, as Britain leaves the EU, we maintain a close relationship with our European partners alongside our commitment to NATO and spending at least 2% on defence. Deep cuts have seen the Army reduced to its smallest size since the Napoleonic wars. From stagnant pay and worsening conditions, to poor housing, the morale of our service personnel and veterans is at rock bottom.
Working with our allies to ensure peace and security in Europe, we will work to halt the drift to confrontation with Russia and the escalation of military deployments across the continent.
There is no need whatever to weaken our opposition to Russia’s human rights abuses at home or abroad to understand the necessity of winding down tensions on the Russia-Nato border and supporting dialogue to reduce the risk of international conflict. We will back a new conference on security and cooperation in Europe and seek to defuse the crisis in Ukraine through implementation of the Minsk agreements.
The next Labour Government will invest in the UK’s diplomatic networks and consular services. We will seek to rebuild some of the key capabilities and services that have been lost as a result of Conservative cuts in recent years.
A Labour Government will refocus Britain’s influence towards cooperation, peaceful settlements and social justice, while Theresa May seeks to build a coalition of risk and insecurity with Donald Trump. To lead this work, Labour has created a Minister for Peace (Fabian Hamilton, MP for Leeds North East) who will work across the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. We will reclaim Britain’s leading role in tackling climate change, working hard to preserve the Paris Agreement and deliver on international commitments to reduce carbon emissions.
The life chances, security and prosperity of our citizens are dependent on a stable international environment. We will strengthen our commitment to the UN. But we are well aware of its shortcomings, particularly in the light of repeated abuses of the veto power in the UN Security Council. So we will work with allies and partners from around the world to build support for UN reform in order to make its institutions more effective and responsive. And as a permanent member of the Security Council we will provide a lead by respecting the authority of International Law.
There is a clear choice at the next election
Do we continue with the failed policy of continual and devastating military interventions, that have intensified conflicts and increased the terrorist threat, or be willing to step back, learn the lessons of the past and find new ways to solve and prevent conflicts. As Dwight Eisenhower said on another occasion: If people “can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man’s intelligence would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.”
A Labour Government will give leadership in a new and constructive way and that is the leadership we are ready to provide both at home and abroad. In the words of Martin Luther King “The chain reaction of evil – hate – begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark days of annihilation”. I believe we can find those solutions. We can walk the hard yards to a better way to live together on this planet.
Naushaben (second left) was amazed, not only by ‘the vast array of music on offer’ (the Foo Fighters, Rag’n’Bone Man and Katy Perry to name a few), but just how much politics was ‘happening – from the sand sculpture of Theresa May attempting to break through a field of wheat to David Beckham opening social housing in Pilton. Support and backing for Jeremy Corbyn was particularly evident – displayed in a manner usually reserved for A-list celebrities.
She continues: “With the crowd taking every opportunity to break out into a rendition of ‘Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn’ and thousands of festival-goers packing out the Pyramid Stage to watch the Labour leader address them, if there were any doubts after the general election of young people’s support for Jeremy, Glastonbury quickly dispelled them.
“And a year after the vote to leave the EU, a result that I have heard had left a sombre cloud over 2016’s festival, the mood had lifted. Brexit had woken up a generation, and this time the sun was shining and as Jeremy Corbyn took to the stage, there was a sense of hope in the air”.
Agreeing with Billy Bragg that the momentum Jeremy has started is exceptional, she adds that in order for it to continue on its trajectory we have make sure that people are not just ‘buying into’ an individual but also into the values and principles:
“Corbyn’s ability to articulate these in a meaningful and sincere manner is undoubtedly a part of his appeal, but we need to ensure that those who support us (many for the first time) also understand that these are the values at the very core of the Labour Party and it is our ability to deliver as a unified movement that will bring about real change”. (Below, Corbyn calling for unity at the Glastonbury festival)
Putting the Glastonbury phenomenon into perspective Naushaben reminds readers that this festival is known for its socialist roots and the founder, Michael Eavis, is a long-time Labour supporter, having stood as a parliamentary candidate in 1997. Festival-goers tend to be progressive and liberal in their views, with swathes of young people forming the crowds – the very people whom Jeremy has brought into the fold and the very people that helped to deliver exceptional wins in places such as Canterbury and Kensington.
She continues: “We would be naïve to not also consider our decline of support in some traditional working-class heartlands. Seats such as Mansfield recently lost to the Tories, which in the 1980s was the site of many clashes between the police and miners or areas of the South-East, like Medway and Gravesham, which were Labour held from 1997-2010 but once again, have returned Tory MPS with solid majorities. Wins in such areas will be crucial to gain the additional seats — more than sixty — to form a working- majority government . . . there should be an honest appraisal of our supporter base and how we bring back into the fold our traditional voter base while continuing to appeal to the next generation. And just like our election manifesto, the challenge is to ensure that our appeal remains for the many and not the few”.
Naushaben ends: “The task itself is not an impossible one. The world of politics is in a state of flux and the Tories are failing to offer any sense of real leadership, heading a government that is about as far from ‘strong and stable’ as you can get, underpinned by a loose deal with the DUP that could prove to be deeply damaging. It is clear they have no real vision for the country other than the relentless pursuit of power. There is a genuine opportunity for Labour to take the reins and one that we are close to grasping”.
Labour has narrowed the Conservatives’ poll lead according to the final Opinium-Observer poll of 2016. As no media reports seen deigned to give a link to the poll by Opinium, a member of the British Polling Council, an extensive search finally found this:
Rather sour accounts in the Guardian (only positive was ‘a modest improvement’) and Labour list have been set aside in favour of comments by John Deehan and Amadan Dearg.
John Deehan writes:
‘Interesting times we live, despite 99 percent of the MSM pathologically against Jeremy Corbyn, despite the drip, drip, drip of poison against him from some of his critics within the PLP and despite some of the trolls on this site, labour is moving forward in the polls.
Furthermore, it will continue to increase its numbers in the polls, because the realisation amongst a large proportion of the electorate they have been sold a pup by the hard right in the Tory party, some of the New Labourites eg Gisela Stewart, UKIP et al.
The belief that they we can walk away from the largest economic market in the world is disingenuous to say the least, and still maintain the same status quo as before with the EU is bordering on naivety.
The belief that the UK with a GDP deficit of £78,000,000,000 and reliant as Mark Carney, head of the Bank of England said” we are reliant on the goodwill of foreigners” to keep our economy afloat and there will be no serious consequences for the economy is hollow, as hollow as the belief that the market knows best, the mantra of the Tories, New Labour and the Liberals. As Clinton remarked ” it is the economy stupid”!’
Amadan Dearg writes:
‘Is it too much to ask that those who claimed that the polls demonstrated Labour had “no chance” of winning a general election would now concede that it’s a wee bit more likely? It would seem that it is. Anyway, things are moving in the right direction and we haven’t even got our act together yet’.
As all eyes were on the first day of the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, the FT focussed elsewhere. Following Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 25th, when he spoke at length about the Brexit process, Duncan Robinson reports in the FT, apparently with some regret, that Jeremy Corbyn is likely to receive a warm welcome in Brussels.
Socialist leaders meet in Brussels
He notes that during the Brexit campaign Corbyn was perceived as giving his support for the EU a “seven, or seven and a half” – but that this score would be acceptable to his political peers in Europe, who have been highly critical of the organisation.
Mr Corbyn’s criticisms of the EU are described as being ‘pretty mainstream’, questioning bans on state aid and the proximity of Brussels and big business.
“Astute observers of EU politics draw similarities between Mr Corbyn’s comments on the future of the bloc (“I want to see a social Europe, a cohesive Europe, a coherent Europe, not a free market Europe”) and those of centre-right European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker (“Europe is not social enough, we have to state it clearly”)”.
He ends sourly:
“Finally, there is no one else. The left in Europe is not a smorgasbord of charismatic politicians. Mr Corbyn might not offer much, but he managed to turn Labour – on some measures – into the largest party by membership in western Europe, even if his overall polling numbers are dire”.
Is Mr Robinson unable or unwilling to appreciate Corbyn’s honesty, consistency and increasingly constructive thinking, which is enthusing hundreds of thousands of British people – and many abroad?
Read a more balanced and informative account in the sometimes surprising Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3453111/Jeremy-Corbyn-dismisses-David-Cameron-s-EU-deal-largely-irrelevant-PM-s-Brussels-talks-wire.html