Thursday, 16 November 2017

Why are the UK Establishment so Terrified of a Corbyn Government?

Attitudes may be breaking a little in the UK establishment, with British employers groups starting to warm to the relative certainty of Labour’s stance on remaining in the European Single Market and Customs Union after Brexit, compared to the chaotic approach of the Tory government. 

Business leaders also like the idea of Labour making huge investments in infrastructure, at a time of record low interest rates. This is probably more of a reflection on the hapless Tories though, than any ringing endorsement of Corbyn’s Labour, but it is happening all the same.

Even Tories are breaking ranks. Tory member and journalist Matthew d'Ancona, writing about the Tory Party's predicament in The Guardian, says:

‘I can think of far worse things than a left-wing Labour victory that such oligarchic arrogance might eventually spawn…..In truth, their worst enemy is not Corbyn, but the stultified inertia of their own government, and its leaden inability to see how unbelievably awful it is.’

But there is a substantial proportion of the UK establishment that is very worried about what a Labour government would mean, in terms of taxing corporations and wealthy individuals fairly. Led by the ring-wing media, the Telegraph, Mail, Express and Sun, they are trying to create hysteria amongst the public, about what a Corbyn government would be like. With some success it would seem, as I wrote last month on this blog, posing the question, ‘Why are the Incompetent Tories at around 40% in the Opinion Polls?

At the 2015 general election, the then Labour leader, Ed Miliband (dubbed Red Ed, of course) on a much more modest soft left platform was called a Marxist, and all kinds of calamity forecast by the same media, if he won. At this year’s general election, the same accusations and more were thrown at Corbyn, but with much less success though. The barrage has continued ever since.

Re-nationalisation of public services would fell one of the magic money tree scams that fill capital’s coffers and a modest (0.5%) Robin Hood tax on financial transactions are further concerns to the elites.

But concern is not just on the financial front. The media has tried to paint a picture of Labour as anti-Sematic, with little evidence to support it, but the casual observer wouldn’t notice that. This is conflated with Corbyn’s years-long support for the cause of Palestinian self-determination, and wider foreign policy concerns, such as his distain for the arms trade with Saudi Arabia.

Corbyn’s lack of support for NATO and his personal distaste, at least, for Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent, are also cited as demonstrating his unsuitability for prime minister.

Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6, writing in The Telegraph said, “the leader of the Labour Party is an old-fashioned international socialist who has forged links with those quite ready to use terror when they haven’t got their way: the IRA, Hizbollah, Hamas. As a result he is completely unfit to govern and Britain would be less safe with him in No 10.”

Dearlove appears to be oblivious to fact that the UK’s foreign policy in the middle east of recent years is the cause of most of our foreign affairs woes, including international terrorism. The situation in Northern Ireland was resolved through dialogue, although it is now in peril if a hard Brexit takes place. Relations with Russia are also at their worst since the end of the cold war. Hardly anything to be proud of and certainly no justification for a status quo approach.

So, establishment opposition falls into broadly two areas, class war against any significant redistribution of wealth downwards in the UK and fear of foreign policy changes that have existed for decades and are a part of the geo-political order, backed by the US and its allies around the world.

By historical standards, what Corbyn’s Labour is proposing is not anywhere near Marxism or even some of the more radical polices of Labour governments past. It is a measure of how far to the right politically the centre ground has shifted, that what is quite tame social democratic positions are painted in such extreme colours.

The truth of the matter is, what Corbyn represents is a small push back against the class war winners of the last nearly forty years, nothing more. And certainly nothing for the vast majority of people to worry about, who will benefit from such policies. Nothing could be worse than the shambles the Tories are making of the country.

Nothing at all.


  1. Couldn't get past the title.
    Corybn & Labour ARE The Establishment.
    What's the matter with you.

  2. The UK establishment is not terrified - it is DIVIDED, as it is on many issues. Corbyn and Labour are NOT the establishment, they may well compromise and as with previous Labour Govts become inducted into supporting the establishment against the interests of the majority. But we are in uncharted territory and cannot say whether the past pattern will be repeated - precisely because Corbyn and the LP rank and file are to the left of the PLP. However the very fact that an alternative to neo-liberalism is being posed is a step forward and allows Greens and others to talk about what a future fair society should look like. This can be a win-win for the Greens - if Labour under Corbyn get elected and the centre of political gravity shifts leftwards great, if it doesn't we are likely to benefit directly. Two things a. we do not know wheb a GE will be held and recent times should tell us there is no guarantee at all that the result can be predicted; and if Labour do win they have big decisions including fracking, airport expansion, nuclear energy (apart from all the other social issues) where either they carry out GP policy or else we are able to show we are the principled ones. Chris Glenn