The ability of British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to deny Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May a parliamentary majority in the general election provides proof that the anti-capitalist left is on a comeback. Corbyn was successful in targeting several Conservative- and Scottish National Party-held seats, picking up 30 seats for Labor.
Before the election, corporate-run opinion polls and media predicted that the Tories would dominate over Labor and ensure that the Labor’s humiliating defeat would spell the political end of Corbyn. Instead, it was May and her Conservatives who were humiliated by losing 13 seats in the House of Commons and being forced to negotiate with a right-of-center Northern Ireland regional party, the Democratic Unionists, to form a shaky minority government.
During the election campaign Corbyn was demonized as a far-leftist not able to govern. Many British younger voters rejected the characterization of Corbyn. Instead, Corbyn’s “back to basics” Laborites, who are committed to the socialist and workers’ rights principles upon which the party was founded, were buoyed by the election. What was rejected by the voters were the austerity moves taken by May and her Tories, austerity that started under the phony Labor governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Blair and Brown had long discarded the workers’ planks of Labor in favor of a set of pro-big business and globalization policies that placed the interests of multinational corporations ahead of those of Britain’s working class.
The Blairites within Labor hoped for a resounding electoral defeat for Corbyn, thus allowing them to reclaim control of Labor for the globalist pro-European Union interests who had originally turned the party away from its socialist roots under the prime ministerships of Blair and Brown. The Blairites were sorely disappointed by Corbyn’s ability to rally workers and students and cost May her majority in Westminster. Corbyn, like 2016 U.S. Democratic Party presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, the Independent Socialist senator from Vermont, was able to mobilize supporters through a combination of grass roots campaigning and the clever use of social media. Sanders traveled to Britain and endorsed Corbyn on a three-day speaking tour throughout the nation. This gesture served as an indication that the “special relationship” between America and Britain, while all-but-destroyed by Donald Trump, remains strong within leftist political circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Corbyn, no traditional Atlanticist, has questioned Britain’s nuclear deterrent and involvement in the NATO alliance. Sanders likewise questions America’s bloated military budget.
Blair, like May, abhors social media and the Internet because of the power it takes from the hands of the oligarchy that rules the United Kingdom. In 2007, just before stepping down as prime minister, Blair lashed out at the Internet in what he called his “farewell lecture on public life.” Blair, who never really left public life, said the Internet was “pernicious, less balanced, more intent on the latest conspiracy theory multiplied by five.” Blair, like his successors Brown, David Cameron, and Theresa May, wanted to revise regulatory regimes already in place for newspapers and television to take into account the Internet. Blair’s problem with the Internet was that several stories appeared indicating that the sudden heart attack death of Labor Party leader John Smith in 1994 was “too convenient” in allowing Blair and Brown to assume control over the party and neuter the socialist tendencies of Smith and his supporters. Corbyn has now reclaimed control of Labor from the very ilk who capitalized on Smith’s untimely death.
Corbyn and Sanders send chills down the spines of the uber-capitalists. Corbyn vowed to renationalize British railways, taking them away from the corporate vultures who have placed profits over safety and reliable service. Sanders wants a single-payer universal health care system for the United States. Corbyn wants to stop the steady pace of National Health System privatization initiated under Blair, Brown, Cameron, and May. Corbyn and Sanders both want free tuition university education. Corbyn and Sanders have made socialism “cool again,” particularly among young voters who have seen the devastation brought about by declining job prospects wrought by the austerity-guided corporatists who commandeered the British Labor U.S. Democratic Parties. The millennial generation looks poised to reject rule by the one percent of billionaires, instead favoring governments that represent 100 percent of the people.
Corbyn also played it smart on the issue of Brexit. Instead of vigorously campaigning for the UK to remain within the European Union, Corbyn was ambivalent on the issue. By not tying himself to the “Remain” camp, Corbyn fared well among workers who have tired seeing their jobs handed to EU migrant workers streaming into Britain from Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland. Corbyn has essentially sent a message to the left that a socialist does not have to be suicidal when it comes to the sovereignty of Britain and the protection of its working class. Corbyn’s stance is a far cry from the globalist rhetoric espoused by Blair, Brown, and the “globalist brothers”: Ed Miliband and his brother David Miliband.
Sanders also rejects globalist “free trade” deals that have cost American workers heavily in terms of employment, job quality, and wages. Sanders and Corbyn have exposed “liberals” and “socialists” who embrace free trade agreements tied to globalization as the fakes, phonies, and frauds they truly are.
As the case with Corbyn and his opposition Blairite party hacks, Sanders has faced unrelenting criticism from the Democratic Party pro-business interests. Once taking their direction from the pro-corporate Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the Bill and Hillary Clinton wing of the party accused Sanders of being too far left, not a real Democrat, and anti-business. In fact, the DLC’s agenda so poisoned the Democratic Party, making it unpopular among the rank-and-file, the group changed its name to the “Third Way,” dropping any pretense of being “Democratic” at all. Most post-election polls now agree that had Sanders been the 2016 Democratic candidate, he would have soundly defeated Donald Trump, winning the “rust belt” states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio that Hillary Clinton lost.
French leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has cautioned France not to trust President Emmanuel Macron and his new centrist Republic on the Move party and its pro-corporate platform of curbing labor rights. Some French voters agreed with Melenchon by giving him more of the leftist vote—11 percent—in the first-round parliamentary election that saw a mere 49 percent turnout of voters.
The Socialist Party, which has long dominated the left in France, received a paltry 7 percent of the vote. Melenchon warned Macron that with such a low turnout, the president had no mandate to implement his anti-labor and other austerity measures. Macron’s party was projected to win some 400 votes in the 577-seat National Assembly in the second-round election on June 18. By beating the Socialists, Melenchon is now the titular leader of the French left and is well-positioned to emerge stronger if Macron, a former Rothschild banker, places France under the austerity jackboot of the international bankers. The Socialist Party, by dancing with the bankers for so long, has forfeited its right to represent the left.
Corbyn’s success in Britain has had ripple effects around the world. In Australia, the Labor Party’s left has seized on the British election to urge the party leadership to return to socialist values. Australian Labor Party and opposition leader Bill Shorten, who is very much in the mold of Blair and Brown, faced calls from leftist Labor MPs to follow Corbyn’s lead and move to the left.
Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders have reminded the world that there is nothing wrong with being a leftist or a socialist. The corporate political parties have succeeded, through a concerted propaganda campaign, to demonize the left. During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly called Sanders a “communist.” The media echoed that false characterization while ignoring the fact that Trump’s policies represented garden-variety fascism. Corbyn and Sanders have reinvigorated socialism and the world will be a better place for it.
This article originally appeared in Strategic Culture Foundation on-line journal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).