Other UK political leaders have suffered sustained political attacks before, but there's been absolutely nothing to compare to the absolute bombardment of vitriol and abuse aimed at Jeremy Corbyn.
The ever escalating anti-Corbyn campaign started during the Labour leadership election last year, but criticism from desperately unpopular pariahs like Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson sounded like ringing endorsements in the ears of millions of people. Corbyn won the Labour leadership with the biggest mandate of any party political leader in UK history (over 250,000 votes).
The campaign to criticise Corbyn and to destabilise his leadership escalated after his resounding victory. Opponents within his own party regularly conducted staged resignations, fed negative stories to the press and generally spent far more time criticising their own democratically elected party leader than they spent criticising the Tory government they were supposed to be holding to account.
The press had it in for him too. In November the S*n ran their ludicrous "Nod in my name" smears about Corbyn's lack of patriotism, and the supposedly liberal-left Guardian has run numerous anti-Corbyn pieces practically every day for a year.
After Brexit was announced things reached fever pitch. The entire Westminster establishment club (including 172 of his own MPs) turned on him, Labour party grandees tried to intimidate him into resignation, and the supposedly left-liberal mainstream press (Guardian, Mirror, Independent) savaged him too, but somehow, against such an unprecedented tide of criticism, and with so many knives in his back, Corbyn has stood tall and refused to let the Labour Party membership down by capitulating to such an anti-democratic coup.
There have been three core themes that run through this ever escalating barrage of anti-Corbyn criticism. All of them are myths that are based on ideological propaganda and not on fact.
The Blairites settled on this epithet early on in the 2015 leadership election and Corbyn critics have stuck with it ever since. It's been rote learned by millions of people, and it's such a commonly used criticism that he could use it like an ironic middle name if he wanted to.
One of the biggest problems with the "unelectable" tag is that Corbyn has actually proven quite good at winning elections despite the constant barrage of criticism and the backstabbing antics of many of his own MPs. It must be quite difficult to perform at your best when you're constantly having to pull daggers out of your back, but Corbyn has still, somehow, managed to do quite well.
- To become leader he won the biggest electoral mandate of any UK party leader in history. More people voted for him as Labour Party leader than there are members of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties combined! He won 60% of the vote in a four horse race!
- Since becoming Labour leader Corbyn has overseen four by-election victories out of four. All with increased majorities.
- In May 2016 Corbyn defied the polls predicting heavy labour losses in the local elections. He didn't win many new seats, but he managed to hold firm and keep the huge percentage of council seats won at the absolute high point of Ed Miliband's leadership. The Labour plotters were hoping for failure but their coup attempt in May fizzled out when it became clear that Corbyn had done far too well, even despite a meticulously timed smear campaign designed to inflict as much damage as possible on the party.
- May 2016 also saw Labour win the mayoral contests in London and Bristol.
The idea that nicking voters off the Tory party is the only way to achieve electoral success is utterly absurd. At the 2015 General election 24% of the electorate voted Tory and 34% of the electorate didn't even vote! There's a huge demographic of disenfranchised voters who could be won over to backing an anti-establishment candidate who is promising to put an end to the Westminster gravy train and give them more say over how their lives are run.
Then there are the two thirds of Liberal Democrat voters who evaporated overnight when Nick Clegg decided to enable a savage bunch of Tories back into power. How about some Charles Kennedy style policies aimed at winning them over the the Labour Party?
After Brexit there are also UKIP voters to consider. Now that they've achieved what they set out to, surely it's time for Labour to try to win back the UKIP working class vote by demonstrating that UKIP is a hard-right Thatcherite political party, and that Thatcherism is the reason so many working class communities are in the appalling state that they are.
The idea that the only way to win an election is by seeking to nick Tory party voters by aping Tory party policy is so narrow-minded it's astonishing, but then there are an awful lot of people who don't bother to inspect the underlying argument behind a claim for logical flaws, they just hear it on multiple occasions and then start repeating it.
The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is too left-wing is pretty weak too. If you believed the tabloid hype you'd think he was some kind of raving Stalinist lunatic who plans to nationalise the entire country including your own house and clothes, and turn the UK into a dire oppressive command and control economy like the Soviet Union at it's absolute worst.
A look at his actual policies (which the mainstream press almost never actually take the bother of explaining) reveal that he's a traditional social democrat who wants to have certain key services run by not-for-profit public institutions, such as the NHS, the railways, the police, the courts, the roads and our kids' schools, while trying to restructure the UK economy to make it more like the high-tech, high-skill, high-pay economies like Germany and Switzerland.
Yes Corbyn is so left-wing that he wants more public control over the banks so as to avoid a repeat of the 2007-08 financial sector insolvency crisis, but who thinks that's a dangerously left-wing idea?
Corbyn isn't too left-wing for the British electorate, in fact he's just about right. 84% of people want the NHS run as a not-for-profit public service, 68% want the UK energy infrastructure renationalised, 67% think the Royal Mail should never have been sold off in the first place and 66% would support his policy of renationalising the railways.
Corbyn isn't too left-wing for the public, he's too left-wing for the sociopathic hard-right press barons like Rupert Murdoch (S*n, Times, Sky), Jonathan Harmsworth (Daily Mail, Metro) and the Barclay brothers (Telegraph, Spectator) who all see it as their job to control the spectrum of public debate.
As mentioned before, it's clearly difficult to perform to your best when you're repeatedly having to pull daggers out of your own back, but Jeremy Corbyn has actually done quite well, despite the constant attacks on him from inside and outside of his own party.
Since his sudden rise from backbench anonymity, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to literally double the membership of the Labour Party. An awful lot of the new recruits are young, educated and highly-skilled. Another key demographic in this membership surge is left-wing people returning after years of exile after the party was stolen by a bunch of Thatcherites,
Only a true Blairite could consider a doubling of the party membership to be some kind of disaster and a sign of the leaders' incompetence!
Another thing to note is that in less than a year as leader of the opposition Corbyn has managed to force more Tory backtracking and U-turns (the Tax Credit cuts, the disability benefit cuts, that sickening deal to run prisons in Saudi Arabia, the force privatisation of every school in England, police budget cuts ...) than his predecessor Ed Miliband managed in five inept years.
If anyone is looking for displays of Labour Party incompetence, how about some of these?
- Consider Ed Miliband's decision to whip his MPs into allowing the Tories to rush through a load of retroactive workfare legislation in a single day to allow cover up Iain Duncan Smith's unlawful use of unemployed people as a source of free labour for his corporate mates. Labour could have dragged that fiasco out for months, and probably even forced iain Duncan Smith out of his job, but they completely let them off the hook. Three years later the mess is still going on with the legislation that Ed Miliband whipped his MPs into abstaining on being found unlawful in the courts. Unlawful legislation to cover up unlawful legislation and Ed Miliband let it slide!
- How about Ed Miliband's Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls devising a bizarrely unattractive and uninspiring electoral strategy of presenting Labour as austerity-lite which clearly ruined Labour's chances at the 2015 General Election (in which he lost his own seat).
- How about the sheer bloody-minded incompetence of Jim Murphy and the Scottish Labour Party trying to push an austerity-lite agenda in Scotland (when they'd already pissed off the Scottish electorate by cosying up to the Tories during the independence referendum campaign) which resulted in them losing 40 of labour's 41 Scottish seats in the biggest massacre in British electoral history?
- How about the caretaker Labour leader Harriet Harman whipping Labour MPs into supporting even more savage Tory austerity, even after she'd seen what happened in Scotland?
Even their claim that Jeremy Corbyn did badly in the EU referendum is sketchy as hell. 63% of Labour voters backed Remain, which is just 1% less than SNP supporters who had a massive incentive to vote Remain and hope that England voting Leave would give them grounds for triggering a second independence referendum.
The main criticism of Corbyn's approach seems to be that Jeremy Corbyn actually presented a balanced rational argument instead of engaging in the Doomsday fearmongering rhetoric of the Tory remain camp, and he didn't tell a load of blatant lies, or promote naive wishful thinking, or make fascistic appeals to anti-intellectualism like the appalling Vote Leave mob.
Jeremy Corbyn was one of the only ones who spoke to the public as if we're adults. He didn't speak in simplistic black and white terms, because things are never black and white. Agree with him or not about the EU, he was one of the only ones who spoke to the public as if we're adults, rather than simple-minded idiots who can be swayed one way or another with fearmongering threats or by a load of spectacularly unrealistic spending pledges.
What people are saying when they criticise Jeremy Corbyn for "not campaigning passionately enough" is that in modern British politics, honesty and rational considerations are rubbish debating tactics. That Jeremy Corbyn was politically naive to try to speak to the electorate like we're adults, and that he should have assumed that we're all a bunch of intellectually lazy halfwits and pushed some crude absolutist propaganda at us.
The glaring problem with this argument is that Corbyn delivered 63% of Labour voters for Remain (despite the Tory funded Labour Leave campaign constantly undermining his work), while Cameron's crude threats, fearmongering and bizarre non-sequiters about the likes of Putin and ISIS ended up delivering 58% of Tory voters for Leave!
People who argue that Corbyn should have been more dramatic and passionate like David Cameron in order to win more votes are clearly arguing that black is white.
The three most oft-repeated criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn are all extremely tenuous when actually subjected to critical analysis, but the right-wing Labour MPs and propaganda merchants are relying on the idea that the general public are a pack of idiots who will midlessly rote learn and regurgitate whatever counter-factual gibberish the mainstream press drip feeds them.
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