The Cult of Corbyn: Meaner Politics, a More Ugly Society

The Cult of Corbyn: Meaner Politics, a More Ugly Society

Upon realising the consequences of pioneering the atom bomb Oppenheimer bemoaned “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” This state of inconsolable regret is how I feel as somebody who first-preferenced Jeremy Corbyn a year ago. Having lost two general elections, the party of equality and social justice – my party, the Labour Party had to do something new. Sick of spin, weary about war and hungry for honesty and authenticity, with a lot of reservation, I cast my ballot for Corbyn. What was the worst that could happen? Perhaps if we leaned left we could even win back Scotland. We were promised a “new politics,” “a kinder politics,” a “straight talking, honest politics.” We were duped.

On the floor of a Virgin train the bearded intellectual spoke: “Today this train is completely ram-packed. The staff on the train are absolutely brilliant, working really hard to help everybody. The reality is there’s not enough trains, we need more of them and they’re also incredibly expensive. Isn’t that a case for public ownership?” My goodness the man came across as both a saint and a man of the people. Was this Gandhi’s reincarnation?

The truth is the entire scene was faked. No conspiracy contortionist can explain away the CCTV pictures showing all the empty seats. This shatters the claim that he is some type of political puritan, unspun and immune from exaggeration or fabrication. In reality, Corbyn has a very uneasy relationship with the truth.

A political pinnochio, he lied about being ahead in the polls before the “coup” and about attending over 120 pro-EU events. In reality he did no more than ten. The man stutted and stumbled his way through one of the most important debates of this country’s history. Given how Corbyn (not unlike Clegg) owed his mandate mainly to young people, why was he so half-hearted in defending the European Union which so many of us wanted to remain a part of?

Ultimately Corbyn has never been a supporter of the EU. From the backbenches he has opposed every single treaty. His closest comrades such as brother Piers and long-time friend Tariq Ali even said he was a closet brexiter. Lacking the pragmatism to properly pretend and lacking the principle to say what he really believed, the man escaped an entire week of referendum warfare to go on holiday! When the result came so did his true colours in his call for the invocation of Article 50.

Us lefties are always sniding about politicians ‘selling their souls.’ Wining and dining with business executives and placing their individual aspiration above the interests of the nation, this supposedly explains the inability of politicians to be open and honest with the public. Surely now we had a politician free from this constraint, we would get somebody able to speak plainly? Wrong again. Corbyn refused to say he’d defend a NATO ally under attack from Russia and has refused to condemn IRA terrorism. Is there something our dear leader is not telling us?

The bottom line is that Comrade Corbyn is intellectually chained to a political tradition that is completely alien to the British public and even most of his supporters – revolutionary socialism. When this contagion is found among children it is cute and among teenagers it is usually a phase. However, to know that it is being played out in the mind of the leader of the opposition in one of the most powerful countries in the world is actually dangerous.

Believing in radical change is not necessarily a bad thing if your proposals are progressive and constructive. Corbyn’s revolutionary tendencies are subversive and destructive. Evidence of where his real allegiances lie can be seen in who he appointed as his director of strategy and communications – Seumas Milne. A Maoist at school and something of a Stalinist throughout his university days, he is now 58 but his views have changed little. Indeed the first paper the Labour Party press releases anything to is the Morning Star – a rebranded version of the Daily Worker. During the Cold War this was Moscow’s mouthpiece in the West, applauding the show trials and covering up the purges.

But since the Soviet Union has collapsed, the PRC has embraced the market and the “working class” has been something of a disappointment, who can fulfull the Marxist prophecy of the overthrow of capitalism? In the 80s and 90s this revolutionary violence came from the IRA. It is hard to believe that Corbyn’s position is that far away from the views espoused by his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell:  “Because of the bravery of the IRA and people like Bobby Sands we now have a peace process.” Given the terrorist group killed well over a thousand innocent men, women and children, the Corbyn clan cannot hide behind the mask of some principled pacifism. Why then was Corbyn unable to give a straight-talking, honest answer to the question of shoot-to-kill in the event of a Paris-style massacre?

Corbyn’s dodging and dithering surrounding the issue of Al Qaeda/ISIS type terrorism can only be understood upon analysing the views expressed by his inner circle. Mr Milne described the Lee Rigby affair as “the predicted consequence of an avalanche of violence unleashed by the US, Britain and others.” 

This theory of ‘blow back’ which is also espoused by Stop the War, the group Corbyn helped found and has chaired is extremely dangerous. It means if Britain were to suffer such an attack, his response would be based on the underlying presumption that ‘we had it coming.’ This view is actually racist in nature implying that Muslim men of South Asian, Arab and African descent cannot control their own anger, have no independent agency and will inevitably blow themselves up.

Just as numerous Republican politicians who have crusaded against gay rights such as Larry Craig have been found to be secretly gay themselves, it is interesting how self-professed “anti-racists” have revealed themselves to often be the most racist of all. Not only has the virus of anti-semitism infected the party, if you’re an ethnic minority and in any way free-thinking and refuse to toe the party line, you are dismissed as an “Uncle Tom” or somehow not a “real” person of colour. The abuse and intimidation meted out by the Corbynistas has caused Labour constitutency meetings across the country to be temporarily suspended.

Far from answering Occupy and creating a party of the 99%, Corbyn’s leadership has given the green light to the 0.1%. Alongside the well-intentioned, the party has become infested with conspiracy fanatics, 9-11 truthers, trotskyists and anti-semites. Far from marching us towards the promised “kinder politics” and “more caring society,” the Corbyn cult masks the harbinges of a meaner politics and a more ugly society. We must boot Corbyn back to the back benches and his goons back to their basements and blogs. Only then can we win the trust of the public as the party of progress.

Copyright © 2016 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

 

VOTE YES TO EU: NO TO AN ISOLATED ISLAND

Ron Silver lamented: “The twentieth century has exhibited a barbarism and lack of respect for human life on a massive scale just about unknown before.” Over a period of seventy years, France and Germany went to war three times. Europe was the cauldron that brimmed two world wars resulting in the loss of tens of millions of lives. After the death and destruction on such an unimaginable scale, for almost half a century, Europe was divided into two nuclear camps during the Cold War. With the push of a button, life itself could have been brought to an end. I explain why the relative peace and prosperity enjoyed in Europe (and across the world) is to a large extent, the result of the European Union. In addition, 21st century opportunities such as transnational trade and 21st century challenges such as transnational terrorism can best be capitalised on and mitigated by remaining within the EU.

The European Dream

After WW2 Churchill described Europe as a “rubble heap” and “breeding ground of hatred.” Having had to live with the failures of Fascism, Europeans were turning from the far-right to the far-left. All across Europe Communist parties on Stalin´s payroll were among the leading parties in post-war elections. Had this movement succeeded, it was likely that more misery and mayhem would have befallen the continent. The foundations of the European project were laid by the United States who without firing a bullet or dropping a bomb, stood up for freedom. The Marshall Plan and establishment of the OEEC ensured that thriving European democracies were underpinned by prosperity and interconnection. With the intention of this evolving into a union, Churchill announced: “We must proclaim the mission and design of a united Europe, whose moral conception will win the respect and gratitude of mankind.”

 The European Reality

In spite of its short-comings the EU has lived up to this vision. Through co-operation and co-ordination, notions of freedom, democracy and the rule of law penetrated the Iron Curtain. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, much of Central and Eastern Europe has been successfully integrated into the EU. The Copenhagen Criteria of 1993 means that countries who wish to join must have a functioning democracy and adhere to human rights. This is a major contributing factor to our world boasting well over a hundred democracies. In October 2012 the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because for six decades it contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation. While Turkey is far from even smelling EU membership anytime soon, its ambition means human rights abuses and electoral malpractice will have to be phased out.

Europe & the World

While the EU’s handling of the Ukraine crisis can and should be heavily criticized, the EU should be lauded for its taming of the dragons of China and Iran. Just a generation ago, the writings of leading Chinese communists such as Lin Biao revealed that a third world war with the West was something they had a hunger for. Today the EU is China’s largest trading partner! In addition, the Iranian nuclear deal, the biggest geo-political deal of 2015, was initiated by the European Union.

If we want to continue to enjoy this peace, perhaps it would be wise to listen to the experts? In an open letter from thirteen of Britain’s most senior military commanders, they said it was in the UK’s national security interest to remain an EU member. Similarly, the current head of NATO has said “For NATO it is important to have a strong Europe and a strong Britain in a strong Europe.” Rob Waynewright, the current head of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency has said “Leaving the EU would make it harder to protect UK citizens from terror.” It should be noted how our allies – Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US all want us to stay. Chillingly, our prime enemies – Russia, Al Qaeda and ISIS have all indicated that they would view Brexit as a victory.

Brexiters argue that closing the door on Europe would somehow open the door to the world. As well as the US and the commonwealth allies, India, Japan and particularly China all want us to remain within the EU as they view it as easier to negotiate deals as one bloc. They also view the UK as their entry point to the rest of Europe. This illustrates how the EU ensures we have deals not just within the union but across countries the EU has made agreements with. Moreover, almost half our trade is with the EU which makes up 13% of our GDP. Indeed, many companies have made it clear that they are based in the UK and able to provide jobs because of the EU.

It should be noted that no country that does not offer free movement of people has full access to the single market. Norway which exports 80% of its goods to the EU still has to follow loads of regulations but has no say over how they are made. In the words of Norwegian politician Nikolai Astrup: “If you want to run Europe, you must be in Europe. If you want to be in Europe, feel free to join Norway.” Since our economy depends on the single market, we will still have to abide by the laws but without any say on how they are made. This will result in dun dun dun – a loss of sovereignty.

Sovereignty

Brexiters who supposedly see sovereignty as sacrosanct ignore how whole areas of policy have nothing to do with the EU – our army, education system and planning policy are not touched by Brussels. Furthermore, Britain is unique in that while we have a firm foot in, we have opted out of the Eurozone and Shenghan. If we were to leave, realise our mistake and then try to join again, we would not have the option of such opt-outs. Turning our back on the EU may make us more “sovereign” but in the words of Michael Heseltine “A man alone in the desert is sovereign, he’s also powerless.”

Immigration

Fanning the flames of fear and xenophobia, the likes of Farage have three priorities – immigration, immigration, immigration. While immigration has undoubtedly brought challenges, its contributions have been many and more. Immigrants from the EU put £20 billion more into the system through taxes than they take out in benefits. A high proportion of EU citizens who come to the UK set up businesses, employing over 1.5 million British nationals. Over 100,000 EU nationals are helping our NHS. Furthermore, let us not forget that the free movement is not a one-way street. Over two million Brits live in EU countries and it provides ample opportunities for us to attain the experience of a life-time to travel, study, work or retire in whichever of the 28 countries takes out fancy.

Crucially, immigration is not manufactured in Brussels. In spite of the free movement, net migration to the UK is higher from outside than inside the EU. Switzerland and Norway both have much higher rates of immigration than the UK in spite of not even being part of Europe! While leave posters which demonise the refugees and warn us of a ‘breaking point’ may evoke emotion, how would the influx of those fleeing violence and persecution stop if we were to leave the EU? How would leaving the EU stop dead children washing up on the shores?

Democracy

The EU does have a democratic deficit but the notion that policy is only set in the shadows of the Brussels bureaucracy is simply wrong. While the commission should be more accountable, commissioners do not make laws – they propose them. The people who make the laws are people like the council made up of our elected ministers. While the parliament should have more power, it is already being strengthened. In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty granted the parliament powers over the EU budget. Similarly, widespread opposition to TTIP across the continent has led to proposers of the treaty to back-peddle, illustrating how popular protest and engagement can break the infestation of crony capitalism. Of course more openness and more democracy should be welcomed but Britain has an unelected head of state, an unelected second chamber and a government which only 24% of registered voters voted for. Should London therefore secede from the UK?

Conclusion

Fundamentally, leaving the EU poses more questions than answers. The leave campaign cannot describe what type of deal we will have or what type of country we will be. The answer changes like a model changes clothes. Will we become like Norway? Switzerland? Canada? … Albania? The truth is that we have no idea about the impact leaving will have on prices, on growth, on investment or on job creation. When we have barely recovered from the 2008 global financial crisis, why risk more uncertainty? Why risk throwing away our access to the largest borderless marketplace in the world?  Why risk the paid annual leave and health and safety rights in the workplace which the EU guarantees?

In today’s world the Russian bear is rumbling, much of the Middle East is in flames and the American dream could very well become a nightmare with Donald Trump as president. Leaving would render us into the position of an isolated island. Brexit will be cheered by Marine Le Pen and could spark a second Scottish referendum. By voting to leave we abandon not just more certainty and security but a European ideal based on cultural and economic exchange and fundamental rights and freedoms. Though this ideal is not yet glorious in the making, it remains an ideal worth chasing.

Copyright © 2016 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.

VOTE NO TO NUS: RECLAIMING PROGRESSIVE POLITICS

My Facebook feed has been clogged up with white student activists perpetually peddling the claim that my “liberation” depends on voting to remain within the NUS. As an ethnic minority and former BAME officer of Warwick Labour not only do I find this awfully colonial but it is simply untrue. Historically student activism has been at the forefront of the civil rights struggle, opposition to the Vietnam war and the anti-apartheid movement. However, today’s NUS spits on that legacy. In the preface to ‘Animal Farm’ George Orwell lamented about how large sections of the Left romanticised Stalin and the Soviet Union: “The endless executions in the purges of 1936-8 were applauded by life-long opponents of capital punishment.” I explain why the NUS represents the moral and intellectual decay of today’s Left and why we must vote to leave.

On Hitler’s birthday, the 20th of April 2016, there was a motion at a conference to no longer commemorate the holocaust. Was this a BNP or National Front rally? No – it was the fucking NUS. Proposer of the motion, Darta Kaleja of Chester University explained that “I am against the NUS ignoring and forgetting other mass genocides and prioritising others.” So the essence of her argument is that the holocaust – the killing of 6 million Jews alongside slavs, romanis,trade unionists, communists, homosexuals, Johavah’s Witnesses and the mentally and physically disabled was not diverse enough? Even though this motion was thankfully voted down, students need to reflect on how on earth their delegates became so disconnected from reality in the first place.

The sad truth is that anti-semitism has polluted much of today’s Left. At best it is ignored or dismissed as a Zionist conspiracy and at worst it is actively indulged. Following the expulsion of numerous Labour Party councillors and activists on this charge, you would have to be blind not to see this creeping into the NUS. In February the NUS NEC ended the practice of giving an automatic leadership place on its Anti-racism Anti-fascism (ARAF) campaign to a Jewish student. Just let that sink in for a moment. The anti-fascist movement was created to protect Jews in East London from Oswald Mosley’s Black Shirts. A motion condemning ISIS had to be fine-tuned and re-worded in order to not be perceived as “islamaphobic” but unequivocally condemning Israel comes as naturally as breathing. Today’s NUS has thrown Jewish students to the back of the bus.

The oppression-obsessed, perpetually offended professional victims are guilty of the ultimate sin – cultural appropriation. The National Union of Students Black Students Campaign which claims to represent students of “African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean dissent” identifies those who fall into any of these categories as ‘black.’ Charmaine Jacobs, president of East Kent College SU wrote a brilliant piece explaining why the term ‘politically black’ is extremely problematic. De-rooting blackness from any African or Carribean heritage and reducing it to a flexible political affiliation ignores the differences of radically diverse peoples, packaging together by virtue of their non-whiteness. The idea that all ethnic minorities are the same is actually colonial in nature, homogenising the ethnic identities of students. Indeed, this is the reason the anti-racist movement stopped using the word “coloured.” For non-black ethnic minorities to identify as black enables anti-black racism to thrive in non-black ethnic minority communities. The response would simply be “you can’t be racist towards yourself.”

Somebody cannot just identify with a particular historical oppression and therefore become a part of it. For me as somebody of Indian heritage or for a Chinese person or an Arab to suddenly identify as black is an insult to those who have suffered from anti-black racism. None of us can say we have seen the ‘n’ word graffitied onto our bananas or been compared to a monkey. Minorities identifying as “black” amounts to an invasion of the collective experience and identity of those who are actually black. While the Arab NUS president elect has appropriated black oppression so to coin the title “first black woman” to hold the position, she has stolen a title that does not belong to her.

NUS supporters will entice us with claims of cheaper pints of purple and convince us that there are benevolent reasons to stay. Of course there are those with good intentions who do want to use the NUS to fight for a better world but the institution is simply beyond repair and lacking the credibility to achieve such aims. It comes across as racist in its anti-racism and fascistic in its anti-fascism. The NUS has traditionally been a platform to launch one’s political career. Jack Straw, Trevor Phillips and David Aaronovitch are just some of the former presidents who’ve become leading lights in British society as thinkers and politicians. It is painful to think that some of those active in the NUS today will become future leaders. If we let them go down this rabbit hole of the oppression olympics anymore, they will transform this country into one giant ‘safe space.’ It would look something like North Korea, devoid of dissent, moribund and mopey. The far- left are increasingly sounding like the far-right. It is more imperative than ever that we disaffiliate so that we can reclaim what it means to fight for progressive politics.

Copyright © 2016 Tal Tyagi. All Rights Reserved.