Revolution In The UK? Jeremy Corbyn and the Matter of Britain

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AND SO IT BEGINS. According to that house-journal of the British Conservative Party, The Telegraph: “John Mills, Labour’s biggest private donor, said he would stop giving money to the party in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s election and instead fund the MPs plotting to oust him.”

The response of the British Establishment could hardly be clearer. Be it Mr Mills and his millions, or the Blairite heavy-hitters who have resigned their front-bench positions rather than serve under a socialist leader, the men and women who have worked so long and so hard to deny British voters a genuine choice between alternative futures, are peeling away from Corbyn in anticipation of all-out war.

Looking back through British history, it is difficult not to seize upon the moment when King Charles I, accompanied by his family, and joined by his closest political allies, deserted London for the Royalist stronghold of Oxford. It was there that he raised the Royal Standard against England’s Parliament – thereby setting in motion the English Revolution, and a civil war that would kill more Britons – per head of population – that World War I.

Over the top? Maybe. But only “maybe”. Because, whether they realise it or not, the quarter-of-a-million Britons who voted for Jeremy Corbyn were also voting for revolution in the UK.

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Revolution? Really? Yes, “really”. What else would you call a political project committed to toppling the economic and social status quo? A project determined to roll back 30 years of neoliberalism? A project which openly proclaims its objective of bringing into being a mass, nationwide movement for radical social democracy – and equipping it with state power?

Some people get it. Here, for example, is the response of Rob Williams from the National Shop Stewards [union delegates] Network: “‎The victory yesterday by Jeremy Corbyn has changed everything. The vote we saw yesterday was a political revolution. We must build a mass movement against austerity and the anti-union laws. The message must be simple – Cameron: we are going to take you down. Your anti-union bill and your cuts, you’re going down because we are mobilising against you.”

And then there’s this, from Mark Serwotka from the powerful Public and Commercial Services Union: “If we are going to see any of those policies realised, we will not get that just through what Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party do in Parliament. If Jeremy Corbyn wants to win on those policies, he absolutely needs a mass vibrant movement in the country… He needs the six-and-a-half million trade union members to ensure that we have that vibrant campaign through strikes, demonstrations, local campaigns, occupations and everything else ….. We have the ability to stop austerity in its tracks, to topple this government and to ensure we get a fairer society.”

It is statements such as these that prompted the British Prime Minister’s, David Cameron’s, terse response to the Corbyn landslide. “The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security.”

Just pause for a moment and absorb the meaning of those words. Think about all the other individuals and groups which, over the decades, have been described as “a threat to national security”. Recall, if you can, the sorts of measures the British “secret state” (most particularly, MI5) felt entitled to take against these many and various “threats”.

Were they not long out-of-print, I would recommend two books – Smear! Wilson and the Secret State, by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay, and The Wilson Plot: How the Spycatchers and Their American Allies Tried to Overthrow the British Government, by David Leigh – as useful guides to the likely fate of any Labour leader who steps beyond the boundaries of what the British Establishment deems to be politically acceptable. Alternatively, you could watch the excellent 2006 BBC docudrama The Plot Against Harold Wilson – which covers much the same ground.

 

 

The events described in the books and the docudrama all took place the 1970s. Jeremy Corbyn was a young man in his 20s when the decade began. As a middle-class boy steeped in the history and traditions of the Left (his parents had met each other in the Spanish Civil War!) Corbyn soon gave up the life of a half-hearted Polytech student to become a trade union organiser. Living in the capital city through the drama of the 1973 Miners Strike; the fall of Edward Heath’s Tory Government; the sudden resignation of Harold Wilson; the IRA’s bombing campaign on the British mainland; the tragic 1978-79 “Winter of Discontent”; and the ominous rise of Margaret Thatcher; he could hardly fail to absorb the political lessons of that most querulous and perilous of decades.

Perhaps it was the fact that he did not go to university that saved Corbyn from the trahison de clercs  that saw the CPGB stalwarts behind Marxism Today end up singing the praises Tony Blair’s “new times”. Then again, it might simply have been the grounding effect of his day-to-day trade union work. Whatever it was that steered him clear of “New Labour’s” siren song, Corbyn remained true to the mass-based, radically democratic and very public politics of the era in which he came of political age.

He had seen this politics at work on the streets, in the factories and down the pits, and he had realised how much it frightened the powers that be. He’d also witnessed the lengths to which those same powers would go to demobilise and demoralise the ordinary people who are the only reliable drivers of progressive economic and social change. If Jeremy Corbyn’s politics were forged in the 1970s, they have been well-tempered in the treacherous decades that followed.

Labour’s new leader, and his enemies, are both acutely aware of the power of the political genie the party’s leadership election has released. In just a few, tumultuous weeks Britain has found itself cast into a political version of Life on Mars. Questions that have not been put to those in power for 40 years are about to be asked again – and by a man who, unbelievably, was there the first time around and remembers them all. They are not easy questions – many of Corbyn’s younger followers have never heard them asked before – and the answers are likely to prove painful for many and, for a few, very costly. But only in the asking, and the answering, of these, the most fundamental of questions: about Justice, and Equality, and Liberty, and Love; can the Matter of Britain be moved forward.

 

And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England’s mountains green:

And was the holy Lamb of God

On England’s pleasant pastures seen!

 

And did the Countenance Divine

Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

And was Jerusalem builded here,

Among these dark Satanic Mills?

 

44 COMMENTS

  1. The first task, perhaps most the difficult and certainly the most immediately critical, will be to circumvent the MSM, almost all of whom will make it their mission to destroy Corbyn.

  2. If Corbyn wins the election in 2020 he will deserve a knighthood as what he will have achieved will be akin to Hillary climbing Everest.

    • Except that people like Corbyn are never given knighthoods. And if hes the man I think he is, he wouldn’t accept one anyhow.

  3. It’ll take a revolution to claw back for the British people all the wealth turned into filthy lucre stolen from them by the 1% and the corporations and the rotten financial City of London!

    • Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

      However, with a deeper knowledge of the French Revolution you would know that the despised nobility were replaced by the even more despised Robespierre and the Reign of Terror.

      Careful what you wish for!

  4. Thank you Chris for another insightful analysis based upon historical material that few of us know about. Your last paragraph I find moving. I just hope that Corbyn survives to show what may come…

  5. The sad thing is, the general dumb public believe the idea that we can have perpetual growth for ever and ever, like unicorns crapping cup cakes!
    We simply don’t have a ‘star dock’ with interstellar crafts arriving, their holds full of 2 car garages, warm bedrooms, flat screen TVs, law and order/full employment for all, maternity wards afllowing, GROWTH based savings scams FFS ???
    We are living on an over populated planet, with next to zero room for growth, and as most indicators show, humans have been in over shoot for maybe several hundred years.
    The last time the UK had a peaceful fare society was maybe back when the population was 5,000, and even then there would have been some bureaucrat or banker fucking someone over.
    The UK is an over populated, soon to be hell hole, we are so way passed the wet dream of a reasonable lifestyle for all.
    We are like the possum in the headlights. Our Wile E. Coyote moment was years ago, we are now plunging down the cliff face.
    Its scary seeing the ground coming up.
    You can’t divide Britten inc into 70 + million people.
    How is that old saying? It always gets darker before it goes pitch black. 😉
    8:30 pm 14/09

    • We simply don’t have a ‘star dock’ with interstellar crafts arriving, their holds full of 2 car garages, warm bedrooms, flat screen TVs, law and order/full employment for all, maternity wards afllowing…

      Appropriate comment.

      • I’m reminded of the quote “Witchcraft to the ignorant, … simple science to the learned”.

        Black death killed a third of the world’s population a few hundred years ago, but is easily cured today, so what seem to you to be insurmountable problems can be solved, don’t be so gloomy!

    • and the thing about growth at any % rate is it’s exponential.

      and the thing about exponential growth is that right before you reach full capacity you’re only halfway there.

      a nice low rate of only 2% has a doubling time of 35 years.

      we may be past our halfway point, and although our birth rates globally have fallen our cohorts are not yet filled up and our population will continue to grow as those already born age and those older smaller generations die.

      Al Bartlett gives a fantastic talk here about simple arithmetic and growth. I think every single politician and bureaucrat should watch and learn the lesson it contains.

    • The 1% knew you couldn’t devide Britain into 70million plus people,thats why they encouraged migrants en masse to enter Britain,
      they want to bring the people who pay tax down by making the dependence on them greater than its ever been.

      New Zealanders enter into Britain through the alien queue at customs,while others come in unhindered.
      Corbyn if he survives the distance is a great revolution leader.

      Cameron says Corbyn is a threat to security,just like Obama said Iraq is a threat to USA security.
      The corporations of which Cameron is a puppet, don’t like threats to their dominance.
      Keep safe Jeremy Corbyn the world needs you.

  6. Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham in August 1642, not Oxford, although the latter city was to be his headquarters for much of the ensuing civil war. The flagstaff blew over, which was generally seen as a bad omen for the King.

    • Chris needs reminding that the English grew weary of their purse-lipped know-it-all, moralising Lord Protector after only a few years and reinstalled the Royalty.

      Since that time the British have been wary of revolution, preferring instead iterative evolution.

  7. If anyone thought the NZ Herald smear campaign against David Cunliffe (via the Donghua Liu Affair) was bad – that will be nothing compared to what Corbyn will face.

    The first thing – I hope he stops bicycling to Parliament. That is a luxury he cannot afford, with every Right-wing crackpot now looking out for him in their cars.

    So the first hurdle; surviving an assassination attempt by RWNJs.

    Then will come the orchestrated smears from the Murdoch media; the Establishment; and from within Labour.

    The ABC – Anyone But Corbyn conspiracies are already afoot. And not even bothering to be secretive about it.

    Should a miracle happen, and Corbyn win the next election, expect A Very British Coup to be in the pipeline.

    And yet…

    And yet…

    It’s not as depressing as I make out. Because despite the forces ranged against Corbyn, there are also good men and women – even within the Ruling Classes, I would hazard a guess – who might decide that now is the time to do the right thing.

    Who knows… we may even be surprised if a very, very prominent figure within The Establishment stands with Corbyn and shields him from the murky forces of the State.

    Perhaps I’ve watched too many BBC dramas or Hollywood movies, but so many people, deep down, want to do the fair, right, and decent thing.

    We may yet be pleasantly surprised.

    • Another factor, pertaining to the civil war story, is the fact that HM the queen could well expire anytime perhaps even prior to the next election. Thus placing Charles on the throne. Charles has a somewhat ‘brightly lit uplands’ view of a ‘greater’ Britain and may have a great deal of sympathy for Corbyns vision. Placed in the establishment his tacit support may either work in favour or against. Imagine a fanciful dream of the monachy in concert with a groundswell socialism able to tip the tables toward the people rather than the multinationals and corporates and their ilk.
      fascinating times…

      • Not going to happen Charles will never be King,hes too fair minded.
        William was an innocent young married guy but is being groomed by the powers that be, Illuminati etc to control the peasants and keep them in order. Look at photographs of him a year ago compared to current photos,his eyes have hardened, his marriage said to be in stress,Katherine is depressed , maybe post natal blues but more likely she realises what shes let herself in for being part of THE FIRM as the royal family is termed.

    • Having seen directly the hand of the British deep state and what crimes it is capable of there is very little that would surprise me.

      An establishment figure standing up for the proles is something that would surprise me, seeing as it would in all likelihood be an elaborate act of suicide. “Heart of Darkness” and all that…

    • If anyone thought the NZ Herald smear campaign against David Cunliffe (via the Donghua Liu Affair) was bad – that will be nothing compared to what Corbyn will face.

      Yep. The International Conglomeration of Tories and the ABCs have learned a bit since then and, through John Key, found out that outright lying works well and that you don’t even get called on it.

  8. “The Labour Party is now a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security.”

    Ominous….. yet in a way…the quavering voice of one who has maintained a grip over an exclusive and elitist hierarchy who thought they could never be toppled.

    The English….such a colourful people. So many things…

    Always a people to be seen to adhere to due process in an almost ‘stuffy’ adherence…it was for no small reason that the natural inclination for the English was to ‘ form a queue , form a committee and conform to expected social norms’… yet …they have also been a country that have never shrank back from rising to challenges a nation could ever have had to endure…

    From Queen Boudica fighting the Romans , King Alfred forcing the Danish Vikings to institute the Danelaw only in the agreed regions and not infringe any further …. from the turbulent overthrow of the Anglo Saxon and Jute kingdoms by William the Conqueror…

    The hundreds of years of monarchical rule, then challenged by the ‘parliament’ – resulting in a constitutional monarchy and the primacy of the parliament run by the people for the people..to the adversity they faced during Htler’s war…

    These are a people not to be trifled with…

    Their freedoms were hard won…and often against a social hierarchy that was so entrenched it almost seemed unthinkable that any change could occur…yet time and again…that is exactly what happened…

    And yet these neo liberals in their arrogance seem to think that a mere 40 years of being the new kids on the block is going to wipe away 2000 years of bloody , hard won freedoms from a people such as this ???

    This is why…I’ve always maintained that current the neo liberal tenure is but a fleeting blip on the map of world history…indeed a temporary resurrection of the oppressive hierarchy’s of old…

    It can never last … and should be seen for what it is :

    A temporary resurgence of the very same sort of social elitist hierarchical system that caused the oppression and deprivation of the common people and which resulted in its own overthrow – and in the case of the English – who are the seasoned veterans …it is almost fitting this social revolution should yet again… have its origins in that country.

    But the real battle is not necessarily with the Conservative party… but with the ‘City of London’ …whom the Conservative party mostly are the guardians and champions of.

    It is not New York , nor Tokyo , nor Brussels….but the ‘City of London’….that great hub of world finance that Corbyn will be set against….the very heart and bastion of neo liberal hegemony. This is not merely a battle between political party’s …but a battle that will , if Corbyn and the Labour party prevail …have far ranging world wide effects.

    This explains the tenor of terror in Cameron’s speech on Corbyn…as head guardian of the ‘City of London’ …it is not the fear or concern for the common people that he is expressing …but the fear that this 40 year reign of neo liberal hegemony could very well be threatened…

    Cameron also knows full well the wide ranging ramifications this will have in other country’s if this gets out of hand…it is not just England …but the ‘snowball ‘ effect this could potentially have in western democracy’s…

    It was only a matter of time that a movement such as this opposing the new breed of social elitism – that of neo liberalism – would have arisen…

    The fact that it has , yet again , …. originated in the land of England is not only hardly surprising but historically,…. totally fitting. And judging by what has gone on before in that country and learning from its history …it will not be the common people that will be the losers.

    • @countryboy,agree with you as usual ,but with exceptions.The Queen is head guardian of City of London ,but I get your point.
      England is a part of UK not the Country. Britain is the name of the country and the Welsh (Celts )were the original Britain’s,they fought every invader.
      The Irish also Celts fought the English,the Scots were fighters as well these people are part of Britain as are the English.
      These people mostly will be behind Corbyn , if anything happens to Corbyn there really will be a revolution.

  9. Corbyns most dangerous enemies are not the Conservatives, or the allegedly right wing media, its the conservative cuckoos within the labour party, the most revealing line above is:

    “John Mills, Labour’s biggest private donor, said he would stop giving money to the party in the wake of Mr Corbyn’s election and instead fund the MPs plotting to oust him.”

    Already a swarm of the Blairites have moved to the backbenches and will be shoring up they’re constituencies in preparation for the counter revolution.

    There is no way he can survive such rage, envy, organization and funding. The ABC (anyone but Corbyn) grouping will be the real killers – as they were here with our own Corbyn.

    Im guessing once the Conservatives get they’re trade union reform bill, which makes it almost impossible to strike and eliminates all labour party funding, they will do everything possible to keep Corbyn as leader, allowing his slow immolation from debilitating internal attacks, while the party descends into chaos and bankruptcy.

    If you think this is bollocks look at what happened with our own Cunliffe and the backstabbers within the Labour party here The UK has the same vile, envious and self serving backstabbers. Corbyn will fall, and all the knives will be in his back.

    • No! that’s far too depressing. I think you underestimate the British public’s awareness of what’s been going on in politics since The probably blackmailed Ted Heath. (and even since Harold Wilson!)

      The naked hate for Tony “Miranda” Bliar is palpable. And now the completely corrupt, completely malleable and completely disgusting Cameron. All Promoted and kept in power by their puppet masters the new world order, Who’s name we dare not mention!

      It doesn’t matter if Corbyn ever gets to be PM. He is the catalyst for change needed to overthrow this nightmare that’s overtaken our once free western world. Whose Governments now only seem happy while creating hell on earth for easy targets in the middle east.

      I always thought the revolution would start in France.

      Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

    • The new government can pick new members.
      If the old one are paid by the 1% and the backer who thinks his money will buy favours, are all dispensible .Corbyn dosnt need them,they were part of the problem not the solution.
      The unions will support Corbyn, the labour membership will increase and so will contributions.

  10. Sooner or later, the totally fraudulent nature of extremist market fundamentalism (aka ‘neoliberalism’), will be recognised by the majority. Has that time arrived? Maybe. One thing is certain…. all of the repressive and reactionary apparatuses of the hegemonic power-addicted and greedy elite will be working at full speed to derail this revolution, as they always do.

    “Vive la Revolution!!!”

  11. 1000% spot on Chris & Frank,

    Jeremy Corbyn is to precious to democracy for us to loose him now, that he needs proper protection alright.

    He also needs protection from the black ops brigade as Harold Wilson did with those two BBC reporters who kept up the pressure on MI5.

    Only when he gets to take over 10 Downing street will we see some return to sanity honesty and giving everyone a voice and a share in the 1% pie.

  12. Take back the machinery of the party. Having senior shadow ministers resigning is great. Now take over their local party selection committees and get them off the ticket. Imagine hitting the eject button and jettisoning all those lifer NZ Labour MPs with Neo Lib inclinations.

    (And while we are at, join the United Party, so you and two mates can form a dominant faction ridding us of Dunne.)

  13. Chris,

    What the h**l are you referring to when saying questions have not been put to those in power?

    If you want to assess varying answers, put them in your essay, and then describe the argument, so its not just a sound bite

  14. Should Corbyn become PM and roll back the damaging Tory/LibDem policies of the last 20 years or so, Britain will again be somewhere worth living. I for one will renew my British passport and farewell NuZild where I was born

  15. He will be shafted by Murdoch’s media and his own party before the next and a ‘lightweight’ Tony Blair mannequin will take over.

  16. “… Corbyn soon gave up the life of a half-hearted Polytech student to become a trade union organiser.” Sooooo he’s never actually done a day’s work in his life that wasn’t paid for by forcibly levying someone else, either through dues or taxes?

    • Oh look, another anonymous ACT apparatchik engaged in character assassination.

      …forcibly levying someone else, either through dues or taxes?

      Tell me, KS, did you pay to post your odious coment on TDB?

      No?

      You mean to say that Martyn has paid the server fees so you could post your rubbish, free of charge?!

      Gosh. Kinda makes you out to be a hypocrite, doesn’t it?

      Anyway. Nice to know that Corbyn – someone you probably can’t even vote for – is frightening the bejeezus out of you. And being frightened witless, it makes you post irrational nonsense.

    • Sooooo he’s never actually done a day’s work in his life that wasn’t paid for by forcibly levying someone else, either through dues or taxes?
      You mean like policemen and firemen, among others?

  17. The tsunami of outrage over the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the UK Labour Party says more about Corbyn’s effectiveness than the derisory cries and wails of the moneyed gauleiters.

    If he were truly loopy, ineffectual and (my favourite one) “unelectable”, surely they would simply ignore him? He’s irrelevant.

    Why don’t they just ignore him?

    As I pointed out in the blog on Hosking’s reaction to Corbyn, the neo-liberal bashi-bazouks are reacting with such hostility and outright hatred because they truly know just how flimsy their house of cards really is. They understand the power of the worker proletariat. They know that they lack the workers’ power, to prevent the coming change.

    Oh the times are certainly changing and they are very frightened indeed.

    They should be.

    The bigger that tsunami of outrage, the happier I am; the stronger that scorn and hatred, the more certain I am of that change.

    It’s really rather reassuring… 🙂

  18. Spot on @ JS Bark – just been following Corbyn’s progress online – and some of the comments on articles….well…the mud slinging certainly has begun, which as you say, has to be a good thing!

  19. Gee, will the message finally start to get out there, as after 30 years or more of neo liberal rubbish the people who can remember a more decent, fairer society are getting pretty long in the tooth.
    And from what I hear, it looks like it could be possible, with a will, to have a revolution over a cup of tea

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