Jeremy Corbyn's conference speech yesterday underlined exactly why he has been subjected to a ferocious smear campaign. We have heard an endless catalogue of critiques: That Corbyn lacks leadership; that he is not electable; that Labour has become a protest party infiltrated by the far left. Yet the real reason behind these attacks is that Corbyn is a clear and present danger to powerful, vested interests.
For the first time in a generation, a Labour leader is truly challenging the cosy political consensus extending through the Thatcher-Blair-Cameron axis. The policies taking shape represent a clean break from several decades of deregulated free market economics.
Corbyn has positioned Labour as an anti-austerity party. He emphasised that the financial sector caused the 2008 crisis not public spending. This is important as Miliband and Balls mystifyingly failed to make this argument. One can only surmise that they were eager not to offend the City of London.
Corbyn promised to reverse privatisation of public services. This would mean renationalisation of the railways. It would mean restoring a public NHS reversing its privatisation and conversion into a private health insurance system.
It would mean an end to the outsourcing of council services. It would mean returning public services into public hands. And none of this is radical. Polling shows the majority of the public, including Conservative voters, is in favour.
It is no surprise that Richard Branson and Virgin seemingly used Traingate in an attempt to discredit Corbyn. Virgin would stand to lose billions in contracts if such policies went ahead. As would many other corporate interests - the likes of Serco, G4S, Capita and Unitedhealth to name a few.
Corbyn promised Labour will build enough social housing and regulate the housing market. Again, property developers, investors and construction firms would stand to lose from the restoration of housing as a social good rather than a financial instrument.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
Corbyn vowed that bankers and financial speculators cannot be allowed to wreak havoc again. Regulation of the financial sector will have the City running scared - the party may well be truly over for them. Deregulated finance has resulted in industrial scale corruption profiting a tiny elite at the expense of ordinary people. This was evident not only during the crash but in the raft of scandals since, including LIBOR and PPI.
Corbyn added that the wealthy must pay their fair share of taxes. Labour would take effective steps to end tax avoidance and evasion. This would need to start with winding down the offshore empire much of which comes under the influence of the UK and the City of London.
Corbyn highlighted the grotesque inequalities driven by neoliberalism. The result has seen millions of ordinary people abandoned by a system that does not work for them. Here, Corbyn again broke with the consensus pointing out that immigration is not to blame. Scapegoating of migrants is convenient for elites keen to distract from the damage that they are causing. Corbyn emphasised that it is exploitative corporations, which are to blame for low wages not migrants. Over-stretched public services are down to Conservative cuts not immigration. However, after years of xenophobic anti-migrant rhetoric, winning this argument will require plenty of hard work.
On the economy, Corbyn promised investment with £500bn of public spending and a national investment bank. He also promised investment in research and development, education and skilling up of the workforce.
Yet none of this is especially controversial. Much of it is increasingly accepted as common sense amongst economists.
It is Corbyn's reset on foreign policy, which is truly intolerable for the establishment.
Corbyn spoke of a peaceful and just foreign policy. There would be no more imperial wars destroying the lives of millions; generating terrorism and migration crises. Arms sales to countries committing war crimes would be banned starting with Saudi Arabia. This will have set alarm bells ringing amongst the nexus of intelligence agencies, defence contractors and corporates. Corbyn is directly challenging the Atlanticist relationship paramount to the US-UK establishment and its global hegemony, particularly in the Middle East.
It is no surprise that the Conservatives and their mainstream media cheerleaders have therefore attacked Corbyn. The most damaging attacks, though, have come from his parliamentary party. The process of disentangling from the New Labour machine captured by corporate interests may still generate more damage.
As Corbyn and McDonnell have both made abundantly clear, socialism is no longer a dirty word. Corbyn's Labour - the largest party in Western Europe - is powering forward with a vision of forward-looking 21st century socialism.
Youssef El-Gingihy is author of How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps published by Zero books.Reuse content