Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Scotland and the potential of a Corbyn-led progressive alliance

No predictions. One can only hope now for a Corbyn victory and the pleasure of May's removal. But either an outright win or a close outcome presents us with the exciting potential of a Corbyn-led progressive alliance.
 
Corbyn's manifesto is no radical socialist blueprint. But it's still a major statement of progressive intent, breaking decisively with Blairism and steering us away from the harshest excesses of neoliberal orthodoxy. A Corbyn victory would be the greatest rebuke to establishment politics since 1945.


As an alarmed elite and poisoned media make their last efforts to stop Corbyn and deny his mass appeal, his popularity and resilience demonstrates the multiple possibilities of a new united politics.

In seeing-off the most brutal media-led assault ever unleashed on a left-Labour leadership - including the BBC's relentless smears and protection of May - the surge for Corbyn represents a landmark achievement in itself.

Even if the final numbers take us into hung parliament territory, it opens the way for a practical progressive alignment, a whole new dynamic for leftist change, driven by Corbyn, the SNP, Plaid and the Greens.

This requires a decisive rejection of Labour in Scotland. Kezia Dugdale's Scottish Labour remains a lamentable impediment both to Corbyn and any such progressive development.

Perversely, in the very place that should have the most left-leaning, Corbyn-approving voice, Labour's garrison is still stuck in its old establishment ways, hunched down in its Union-defending bunker, unable either to advance Corbyn's major leftist agenda or engage the new independence politics.

Part of the failed coup forces, Dugdale and her associates are no friend of Corbyn. No amount of squirming overtures to her leader can disguise that dislocation. Even the undeserved Corbyn boost Scottish Labour is likely to receive doesn't rectify the fundamental problem of a party needing completely taken down and rebuilt as a serious leftist force.

Corbyn's rise has presented something of an existential political problem for many leftists in Scotland still desiring radical independence. Yet while wishing for a Corbyn victory in England and Wales, any temptation towards Scottish Labour only entrenches the very problems noted.

The SNP still has a considerable journey to make towards being a radical force for change. It can be seen as an encouraging work in progress, for many in the wider indy movement a means to an end. 

Yet, for all its flaws, left-leaning minds should still view a vote for the SNP here as both vital in building progressive alliances and holding the line for independence.  A significant bloc of SNP MPs not only helps maintain the independence mandate, it also provides an incentivising effect on Corbyn.

This is no more apparent than the key issue of Trident, opposed outright by the SNP, yet still maintained by deeper Labour forces against Corbyn's wishes. In this and vital other policy-forming areas, the leverage of SNP and Greens on Corbyn can only be of mutual, progressive advantage.

Also, while May still appears resolute in denying Holyrood's recently-secured mandate for a second independence referendum, any SNP dealings with Corbyn, whether he's in power or substantially well placed at Westminster, might prove more fertile. Again, that requires a substantive SNP representation. 

So many intriguing possibilities, so much to play for. Whatever the outcome, we can take great heart from Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and his inspiring part in opening-up these new progressive spaces.    

Monday, 5 June 2017

Corbyn soars high above weathervane Guardian

It's been a pleasure to watch Jeremy Corbyn surge on a wave of rational argument and populist appeal. Whatever happens now, Corbyn has won his party and seen off any further Blairite plots. It's been inspiring to track this astonishing comeback, against everything the establishment could muster, most notably the brutal media onslaught.

In particular, it's been heartening to observe the squirming awkwardness of Corbyn's left-liberal naysayers at the Guardian, following its damning editorials, loaded reportage and columnists of calumny - Jonathan Freedland, Andrew Rawnsley, Owen JonesGeorge Monbiot and others - all now desperately back-tracking. 

As Jonathan Cook writes:
Those journalists who should have been behind Corbyn from the start – who could have been among his few allies as he battled the corporate media for nearly two years as Labour leader – are now starting to eat humble pie. Polls suggest that Corbyn may be gradually turning the election around, to the point where the latest poll, published in the Times, indicates that Britain could be heading for a hung parliament. No one is surprised that the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Times have been relentless in their hatchet jobs on Corbyn. But it has been disconcerting for the left that the Guardian and BBC never gave him a chance either. He was in their gun-sights from day one. Owen Jones, a Labour stalwart and Guardian columnist, should have been Corbyn’s number one ally in the press. And yet he used the invaluable space in his columns not to challenge the media misrepresentations, but to reinforce them. He engaged in endless and morose navel-gazing, contemplating a Labour rout.
After so many visceral Guardian attacks on Corbyn, one might have expected, at least, some kind of humble contrition. Nothing. Despite writing Corbyn's 'obituary', there's been no mea culpa from Freedland or his smug coterie. Someone at the Guardian even thought it necessary to edit the headline in Freedland's 'supportive' article from "extraordinary fightback" to just "fightback". 

The seething resentment of Corbyn permeates such crawling 'approvals' as they scramble to be seen as 'on-side'.

(h/t Ludwig W)
From John Harris to John Crace, the rush of Guardian liberals now affecting praise for Corbyn is almost too embarrassing to read.

Another, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett - revealing much about subtle Guardian bullying of young reporters - has now declared: "I used to be a shy Corbynite, but I'm over that now."

Disappointingly, when congratulated, yet chided, by Jonathan Cook over her belated 'coming out' for Corbyn, Cosslett could only reduce to: "interesting this man waited for a woman to write something before launching a patronising tirade". Cook replied: "Oh dear! Better read my blog before commenting. Otherwise your special pleading looks very silly. (Try asking Freedland, Monbiot, Jones)." Media Lens, also citing Cook's many previous attacks on Freedland, Jones and Monbiot, asked: "Worst ever attempt to resort to 'sexist male' take?"

The real intention of Cook's comment, as emphasised in his updated piece, was not to target Cosslett, but to highlight the pernicious culture of intimidation at the Guardian, and show how the actual publishing of Cosslett's piece is yet another example of the paper in all-out damage limitation mode.

Now, days before the election, a Guardian editorial has come out with the most grudging, 'endorsement' of Corbyn. Still damned with faint praise, Corbyn is presented as some kind of 'surprisingly improved schoolboy' who, despite not coming up to the Guardian's lofty 'standards', could just, after all, have some 'redeeming grades' for use in seeing-off the Tories.

With Corbyn's poll numbers surging, here was the most cynical and sanctimonious attempt to 're-identify' with Labour's core, and 'walk-back' some of its recent hatchet-job editorial

Whatever the outcome on Thursday, we can be pretty sure the Guardian cabal will be using the same weathervane commentary to keep readers abreast of 'Corbyn's progress'. Pleasingly, many are now deserting its fair-weather pages, having seen through its shrill, pettifogging and hypocritical output.

Corbyn's electoral advancement against everything the Guardian's 'best' warned us about shows just what a crucial impediment the liberal establishment media is to real political progress. 

And its humiliation can give impetus to wider radical aspirations. For example, in conveying the case for a more radical independence politics, Robin McAlpine at Common Space sees great merit in Corbyn's assertive approach, and the need to resist the Guardian's doom-laden mantras: 
I've been following the Guardian's coverage of Corbyn with gritted teeth – the swaggering certainty of most Guardian analysts (many former cheerleaders for Blair) that Corbyn is self-evidently bottled, distilled failure was utterly endemic.
In halting the Blairites and taking his party to this vital point, Corbyn has not only demonstrated the deep potential for a renewed politics, but that it's possible to build such a project without the help and approval of an entirely hostile and system-serving media. That's a massive achievement and message of encouragement to all now seeking real progressive change.