“Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly right to relate this week’s Manchester terrorist atrocity to British foreign policy in the Middle East.”
A Moseley reader draws attention to the thoughts of Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today. A summary:
Jenkins asserted that Jeremy Corbyn is perfectly right to relate this week’s Manchester terrorist atrocity to British foreign policy in the Middle East.
He reminded all that Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron clearly stated that they were spending soldiers’ lives toppling regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya at enormous expense in order to “to prevent terrorism in the streets of Britain”.
In the Andrew Neil programme this evening Corbyn added that Boris Johnson, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee – and MI5 had also expressed these views ‘on record’!
Their aim was to suppress militant Islam but Jenkins points out that when their intervention clearly led to an increase in Islamist terrorism, we are entitled to agree with Corbyn that it has “simply failed”.
We committed armed aggression against sovereign peoples who had not attacked us
Regimes were indeed toppled. Tens of thousands died, many of them civilians every bit as innocent as Manchester’s victims. Terrorism has not stopped.
Militant Islamists are indeed seeking to subvert the west’s sense of security and its liberal values. But the west used the language of “shock and awe” in bombing Baghdad in 2003, giving the current era of Islamist terrorism a cause, a reason, an excuse, however perverted.
Jenkins ends: “Islamist terrorism is related to foreign policy. However hateful it may seem to us, it is a means to a political end. Sometimes it is as well to call a spade a spade”.
There is an improvement in Labour’s polling (scroll down for graph) that the FT analysed earlier in the week. This trend shows the party winning back some of their voters from 2015 who previously said they were undecided or who had flirted with switching to the UK Independence party or the Liberal Democrats.
Paul Rogers, professor in the department of peace studies at Bradford University, sees in Yorkshire a spontaneous popular response to the Labour leader which hints at an undercurrent in Britain’s election and asks: “Could it yet break through?”
Extracts, emphases, a few links and pictures added:
In his Open Democracy article, Rogers agrees that the consensus is that Theresa May is heading for a huge victory but adds “There is a niggling sense that something may be developing under the surface that could break through even in the short time left” – though not a single national newspaper outside the Morning Star fully supports the Labour leader”. Rogers continues:
“On Monday morning he spoke at a rapidly arranged meeting at Hebden Bridge, just up the road from Happy Valley territory. Hebden Bridge is a rather laid-back and very independently-minded town but even so the support was surprising, with queues round the block and Corbyn having to repeat his speech to the packed hall to an even larger crowd outside.
“Then, in Leeds (above) in the afternoon (Ed: ITV account) several thousand people turned up, again at short notice. He was given an extraordinary welcome, with streets hastily closed and people climbing trees and onto rooftops to get a view. OK, this is a university city and the student fee issue is popular, but Corbyn attracts people on a smaller scale but no less enthusiastic just about wherever he goes. On Tuesday afternoon it was in Beaumont Park near Huddersfield for yet another crowded meeting again publicised at very short notice”.
“Unlike many political meetings of this nature, Corbyn events have been put together quickly – often at very short notice – and the great majority are open to everyone who wants to come.
“What I found personally more interesting, though, was the launch of the Labour manifesto at Bradford University earlier the same day. I was there the whole time, both before and afterwards, and was able to compare how it was covered on the main TV channels with what I saw. Again, you expect enthusiasm from a largely student audience, but Bradford does not have a notably radical student body even though it has one of the most multicultural, multi-confessional and low-income student populations of any UK university.
“The media reported on a very enthusiastic reception given to Corbyn and his team but implied that they were selected Labour supporters as would be the case with the Conservative launch.
“What was not picked up was that no more than 150 of the thousand or so who crowded the Atrium came from the Labour Party – all the rest were students and staff who had only been notified about the event the previous afternoon. more than 150 of the thousand or so who crammed into the Atrium came from the Labour Party – all the rest were students.
“What surprised me was the overall level of support, right through to pledges on pensions and social care. Observing it all from one of the balconies overlooking the Atrium I got a sense of genuine warmth towards Corbyn and what he stands for.
“”To repeat, the great majority of those present were not handpicked party members, but they demonstrated once again the support Jeremy Corbyn receives just about wherever he goes. Does this mean that something’s happening?
I am really not sure and for now veer between optimism and pessimism. All I would say is that there is an undercurrent which is not reflected in the broadcast media coverage and most certainly not in the national press. Neither is it yet reflected in the polling, even if Labour’s share is starting to creep up. At the very least, though, it is reasonable to conclude that things are fluid and could still change a lot. We are in uncertain times, but with Theresa May having called an election on the back of a working majority, anything less than a fifty-seat majority will look a poor result for her”.
Despite most of the MSM relying on feeble references to an Islington mafia, set straight by Carole Cadwalladr, as Rogers ended his article – and last September’s column – “Jeremy Corbyn may be with us for a quite a long time yet”.
Corbyn well-wishers will have noted his increasingly effective performance on Prime Minister’s Questions and the enthusiastic crowds continuing to attend meetings held in different parts of the country.
Standing ovation at head teachers’ conference
“Enjoying life in the political trenches” (O’Grady)
A reader whose name I carelessly forgot to record, draws attention to an article by Sean O’Grady in the Independent. Amongst different poll results we read O’Grady’s reference to an earlier article recording Jeremy Corbyn’s party as rising by four points in the last week to 30% support (Opinium below).
A YouGov poll (below) between 27 and 28 April found that Labour was up two points to 31%; last week a YouGov poll gave the Tories a 23-point lead, showing that the Conservatives dropped by 10 points in the polls in the first week of the election campaign.
O’Grady believes that Mrs May is underestimating Jeremy Corbyn and “digging up old stuff” doesn’t matter much to the voters of 2017: “They already know he’s an old leftie. All it does is show he sticks to his guns and, in the case of talking to the IRA, he got there a decade before John Major and the Conservatives did. Man of Principle and all that”.
He says that the more exposure Corbyn and Farron have on TV, the more the voters will see that they are not the idiots the press tells them they are and adds that the Labour vote may well be more resilient in the North and London than May and her advisers thought: “London is firmly pro-EU and vast swaths of the North are still not convinced the Conservatives are for them. Across the country, poorer pensioners – still certain to vote – will not like what the Tories are telling them, or hinting, about the triple lock on the state pension . . . They need a responsive NHS too”.
May’s repetition of the “strong and stable leadership” phrase is also attracting derision, he notes – “a pretty silly soundbite” – and moves on to the subject of tactical voting:
“There are small signs of it now, especially among EU Remainers, and in the Green Party which is even standing down in some areas for Lib Dems or Labour. Ukippers are doing the same for the Tories, though some of their protest vote may just stay home next time. The net effect of all this is highly unpredictable, but tactical voting by Labour and Lib Dem supporters was one of things that punished the Tories so badly in 1997”. O’Grady thinks that “under first past the post it could leave the Conservatives at a net disadvantage. It will see Sir Vince Cable back in the Commons at any rate, and push the Tories’ hoped-for landslide back . . . The country doesn’t want one-party rule that doesn’t reflect or heal its divisions. May’s rhetoric goes against that grain and is alienating potential support”. O’Grady ends:
“(T)he Conservatives’ simplistic messages do not match the greater sophistication of the voters and the new media landscape. May and her shadowy PR advisers are just not as good at politics or as modern as Thatcher and Saatchi were back then. Maggie ran a Blitzkrieg campaign, her fast-moving tactics and policy arguments leaving her underprepared enemies foundering: Theresa is trying to do the same through an interminably dull trench war of attrition, lobbing the same old slogans across no mans land into the electoral mud, missing targets and doing little damage after the first bombardment. Her enemies have been given all the time they need to match her organisation and regroup, and they enjoy life in the political trenches”.
Nigel Nelson’s understated reaction to the polls: “If a week is a long time in politics then six weeks until the General Election is an eternity. And there is plenty of time to be surprised by the outcome”.
‘Aside from a couple taken from other parties, do the Conservatives have any policies?’ asks Steve Beauchampé? (Edited extracts, for full text click here)
Has the Prime Minister turned into a parrot? I only ask because despite leading the country that gave to the world the rich and eloquent language of Shakespeare, Dickens, Betjeman and Ted Hughes, Theresa May’s vocabulary seems to consist of two phrases totalling just seven words (and we all know by now what they are so I won’t repeat them). To be fair though that’s two more than your average parrot, who struggles to get beyond “Who’s A Pretty Boy Then?”
Despite refusing to participate in television debates because she would be busy travelling around the country talking to ordinary voters, May has remained in a hermetically sealed bubble, helicoptered in to stand before placard-brandishing Conservative Party members, robotically mouth those seven words, many times over, add a few other vacuous remarks, before flying back to Westminster, job done, no questions asked…literally!
Credit to Labour for taking this election business seriously and treating the voters like adults (ditto each of the larger of the ‘smaller’ parties). Labour’s policy issues continue to be raised and debated, interviews continue to be given. Their manifesto should be quite a hefty document
Labour could perhaps do with a memorable slogan of their own, though its campaign has been surprisingly good so far . . . and the continual, relentless use of the same slogan and soundbite can quickly undermine its effectiveness, with signs over the weekend that Theresa May’s favourite phrases might just be becoming more mocked than listened to.
Perhaps the party should ask Boris for help, showing that a public school education trumps the state system, at least in terms of a varied and colourful vocabulary . . . As is his wont, Corbyn did not respond (when they go low, you go high JC) and credit to him for that.
Rumour has it that the Conservative manifesto is to be issued as a single tweet.
Still, if you don’t offer any policies then I suppose you can’t subsequently be accused of breaking any policy pledges. And given the enormity and complexity of extracting Britain from the EU, this most scrutiny-averse of Prime Ministers probably won’t have much time to introduce large tracts of legislation, especially if her opponents’ claim that she’ll be revoking swathes of current employment, environmental and consumer law prove correct.
On Brexit, Labour finds itself appealing fully to no-one, caught in a perfect political snooker somewhere between the attempts of the Lib Dems, SNP and Blair/Mandelson to reverse or otherwise negate the referendum result, and the Tory/UKIP rush to enact a complete break from the EU, its structures, laws and institutions.
Given that Labour’s core voters were split between Leave and Remain, its position may in essence be reasonable – respect the EU referendum result but fight to achieve the best outcome for the future, prioritising the economy, environment, employment rights and consumer protection legislation over immigration.
And finally, lest you missed it, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon appeared briefly early last week to warn yet again that Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to national security, with his opposition to spending up to £41bn on renewing Trident at a time of ongoing austerity and swingeing cuts to vital public services.
Fallon added that both he and Theresa May would be prepared to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike (I don’t think they meant against Jeremy Corbyn but I’m not entirely certain).
Odd sort of a country where those willing to vaporise countless numbers of civilians are defined as moderate, whilst someone who prefers the de-escalation of military tension through dialogue over unleashing weapons of planet-changing destruction is viewed as extreme.
First published in The BirminghamPress.com
Extracts from Tristan Anthony’s article
Five Jewish Labour Party members who gave evidence in support of Ken Livingstone at his hearing into allegations of anti-semitism say they are appalled at his continued suspension. In a statement shared on Facebook, Jenny Manson, Diana Neslen, Jonathan Rosenhead, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi and Walter Wolfgang, said: “We are appalled by the decision to continue the suspension of Ken Livingstone.
‘Upset had been caused by his (accurate) statement’
“This upset had been caused by his (accurate) statement that some Zionists and Hitler had wanted to get Jews out of Germany, and that prior to the War they reached a temporary agreement to help bring this about. The Zionist motivation was to increase the numbers of Jews going to Palestine.
“The decision to continue the suspension (of) Ken is mistaken. It is an attempt to protect Israel from criticism, while simultaneously weakening the position of Jeremy Corbyn, a principled supporter of Palestinian rights.
“It is the verdict, not Ken Livingstone, that has bought the Labour Party into disrepute.”
Even YouGov buries this unpopular finding today in its extensive array of small-print spreadsheet pages, instead preferring to focus on another section of the poll.
At present, only Peter Edwards of Labour List reports, reluctantly no doubt, that Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters (‘camp’) will be cheered by the results of a 1,100 person poll carried out by YouGov for Election Data.
A 52% majority say they will definitely or “probably” back him in any future vote.
Peter Edwards more happily directs readers to the 46% who say they will vote against the “veteran socialist” – youthful Edwards-speak for ‘has been’?
But he sourly admits that “the leader is clearly ahead on the candidate for whom activists would consider backing”.
Let’s end positively: the intelligent articulate independent minded Peter Oborne (with reference to the Syria vote) remarked on Corbyn in words which are here paraphrased and applied more generally:
Despite bitter hostility from many on his own side he stands his ground and courteously sets out his honest doubts . . . the only politician who deserves to emerge with an enhanced reputation – Jeremy Corbyn.
There is no denying that he emerges as a man of moral courage, integrity and principle. Mr Corbyn performs the role which every leader of the Opposition is expected to perform, according to British constitutional textbooks: he held the Government to account.
At last we have an Opposition leader who does his job by opposing the government and asking the right questions with increasing vigour. Throughout the debates, Jeremy Corbyn is calm, resolute and precise — especially creditable given that he was unsupported by some disloyal Labour MPs.
Not for the first time, the Murdoch Times made a ‘throwaway remark’ into a headline ‘soundbite’. It centred on a passing reflection by David Miliband, a former foreign secretary in the Blair government, made in an interview in the Times.
Widely reported to be a great friend of the Clintons
Peter Burgess asks a pertinent question: “Why on earth do you think that the likes of Murdoch preferred him and Blair rather than the likes of Benn or Major? Of course the establishment and in particular people like Murdoch want Miliband Snr as Labour leader, just as they wanted Blair rather than Foot or a Tory like Major. They knew how to control him”.
Miliband said that the Labour party is now weaker than in the 1980s and must face up to the “historic nature” of the challenge ahead.
Hem Laljee refers to this as “the fallout from the New Labour. Its founder is still loitering in our midst and giving advice. New Labour was the different garb of the Conservative The working class have been left rudderless which reflected in their votes for the Brexit”.
David Miliband’s main theme was his own well-rewarded work for the USA’s International Rescue Committee. Asked about his future leadership intentions, he added: “I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s hard to see, but what’s the point of saying never?”
Radlon comments: “Rather standing his ground to save the Labour Party . . . he scarpered off to a well-paid US job. How would Labour’s traditional voters, not to mention the Dave Spart wing of the party, view this rich kid parachuting into the leadership of the party from 3000 miles away?2
Mr Corbyn said: “I was elected to lead this party. We will continue our campaigning work on the NHS, on social care, on housing.”
Another comment was that the political-corporate-media establishment must secretly think that Corbyn has quite a good chance of electoral success, despite their rhetoric, because they are spending so much time and devoting such great efforts to discredit him and his supporters.