Corbyn fiddles while Europe, and the world, reach for the matches

by Rob Marchant

It is somewhat inevitable, in the current, febrile political climate, that Tony Blair’s few interventions elicit disproportionate responses in Britain. Even when those interventions conclude little that most Western commentators outside Britain, or a European historian of average talent, would disagree with.

In part, this is because in Britain the effective, yet unspoken, May-Corbyn alliance on Brexit has meant effective mainstream unity on that subject.

That is, the only senior politicians who speak out against it are either (a) the leaders of minor parties (Greens/Lib Dems/SNP), or (b) retired heavyweights not bound by the party whip. So it is easy for him to outweigh the rest of the pack.

Love him or hate him, of all those, Blair is unquestionably the heaviest, in terms of prime ministerial experience at least. Against fellow living ex-PMs Major, Brown and Cameron, he wins on years (10 vs. 7, 3, 6); general election victories (3 vs 1, 0 and 2); and was never defeated in either a GE or a national referendum either, unlike the others.

And his latest intervention is not just correct: even if you disagree with him on Brexit (which, according to the latest YouGov poll, now puts you with less than half the population), it’s difficult to disagree with what he says about populism and the similarities to the 1930s.

2018 is a genuinely scary time to live. Not just through the narrow prism of Brexit, through which it seems all political questions are currently viewed here, although that is arguably a major disaster in itself and not just for Britain.

No, it is in the wider sense of Europe and particularly the EU, currently busy rowing back from democracy (viz. Hungary, Poland) and allowing its politics to be swayed and manipulated by Russian bots, hackers and propaganda merchants. Not to mention the Western Alliance, objectively looking weaker than at any point in postwar history.

Anyone who understands geopolitics – or indeed, history – must understand how perilous this is and how close the 1930s parallels are. There is a fractious, nationalist, anti-immigrant atmosphere amongst European states, especially the newer democracies of the East, enthusiastically egged on by Russia.

All the while, Western Europeans have become fat and complacent on the idea that conflict is impossible in their countries, after 70 years of peace. Despite the numerous flashpoints close by – Ukraine, ISIS, Middle East, not to mention the Cold War and the bloody Balkan wars of the 90s – we are safe in our little cocoon.

If NATO were to fail, for example – and that only takes the withdrawal of a US already in isolationist mode – the world suddenly loses the lynchpin of its stability. And if that alliance has sewn all our fortunes together since 1945, Trump is already picking at the stitching.

All the while, where is our esteemed leader, Jeremy Corbyn?

Ah yes. He’s busy with important matters, things Jezfest. A celebration of his – somewhat niche, at best – cult of personality. In a field.

This was not Corbynism’s Sheffield rally, nor even its Ed Stone. It was worse than that.

Every time you think that Corbynism cannot get any more embarrassing, inward-looking and cult-like, it surprises you. Labour Live was even not as successful as the Sheffield rally, a disastrous event which presaged Labour’s third successive election defeat, albeit a narrow one.

It was not as successful because Sheffield, at least, attracted over 10,000 supporters to Jezfest’s 4,000. Moreover, the concert was financially disastrous, wasting £1m which, as former staffer Jo Green pointed out, could have been used to fund 20 key seat organisers.

Sheffield also had a political point: to rally the troops to campaign for an impending general election. And neither was it a personality cult, talking only to those already inside the group.

Finally, it did not even compare favourably with the Ed Stone, a dismal attempt at election gimmickry which will forever go down as a similar comedy epitaph to a former party leader. But it too had a point, in principle. And at least its price tag was limited to that of two tonnes of limestone.

So that was where the Labour leader was, wasting his poor members subs in a pointless vanity project. Neither could he find the time, the following weekend, to march with the demonstrators in London against a hard Brexit, of course. Because he is in favour of a hard Brexit, and always has been.

And back to our theme: as anti-EU as he is also, and perhaps more importantly in the long run, demonstrably pro-Russia, anti-NATO, pro-Assad, anti-America.

That is, when the world ultimately divides into two camps, as Blair warns it is already doing – the populists and everyone else – Corbyn will not be neutral. He will be on the side of those who do not like Britain and the West. The Orbáns of Hungary. The Dudas of Poland. Putin.

In fact, he will be simply where he has always been. Corbyn is the Bard’s “ever fixéd mark”. Fixed in the 1970s. While the wider political currents are swirling countries in an ever more unpredictable path.

It should be obvious to the neutral observer that this concern is by no means restricted to Tony Blair, by the way. The chancelleries of Europe are full of deeply troubled leaders and advisers. As are the saner parts of Capitol Hill.

People who know what they are talking about are worried about the state of the world. Brexit or no Brexit in the end, they should be.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left


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15 Responses to “Corbyn fiddles while Europe, and the world, reach for the matches”

  1. Anon says:

    Corbyn – a cult? And Blair not so – eh, Robbie?

    The recent “populism” is built on a perceived genocide of one’s own people; something seen now by many as a genuine possibility.

    So – a choice: Soros, Blair, Juncker, Merkel et al, and the Native American route. or a resistance – or ‘populism’ as you term it – and a chance for our people to preserve something.

    I won’t be donning a swastika and going out onto the streets; I shall stick to the old-fashioned British way of doing things, and go inside and close the door.

    But I can see what is going on here, and there is no way that I will be cheering on Rob and his New World Order cabal in their quest to destroy our own people.

    Brexit? Trump? Orbán? Salvini? – at last, I have some hope in my heart.

  2. John P Reid says:

    Corbyn in the 70’s- guess what sometimes views thought out of touch but,those who thought those views weren’t out of touch didn’t twig it,
    Take Hayek ,in the 50’s when the post war concensus wasn’t going any where, and 30 years later,those views were popular,because ,the post wa consensus wasn’t as popular as people thought it was
    So Corbyns love for a dying , working class blue collar workers not being part of a EU capitalist club, may have been onits wày out in the late 70s,but it wasn’t as un popular as people thought, an example would be labours defeat in 1992 saw pledge ditching, raising pensions by 1997′ well with a different leader and a touching up of the tax pans labour could have won in 1992 so junking socialism in 1994 was a mistake (not that the one more push, idea would have wn it for labour in 1997′ but I think Bryan Gould would have won as well

    The Ed store was the epitome of student politics where Ed miliband thought he could win by default, with Ukip splitting the Tory vote,Where Cobyn thinks all the so called minority groups that he feels Labour are the only ones that can represent them, trouble with that is ,with Austerity proved the public were prepared for pay freezes for low inflation ,then those so Called minority groups, don’t consider themselves a minority first, a tax payer second

    Don’t get the NATO reference to leaving the EU,

    Labour through about a third of its money it raises every year down the drain and seem. Things money is spent on,focus groups etc, are pointless,it’s not just unions and donations, yes Jez fest wasn’t a sucsess,but remember the Sheffield rally or the Black caucus grope having their own meeting sit lead to adhoc Militant meetings passing motions that the party said was against the rules

    Weren’t leaving the EU and the working class wholabour has abandoned want it,and it’s a start to getting them back

  3. Des Black says:

    The EU is as mortally wounded as the western Roman empire was by the early fifth century. It is incapable of reform & has become totally disengaged from the interests & concerns of its own peoples.
    I don’t doubt that there will be an entity called the EU by the middle of the next decade, however, it will be a rump EU made up of Germany, France & the Benelux states. The primary driver(although its one of many) is immigration – particularly of the Muslim variety. The eastern Europeans have looked at the dystopian hell holes we in the west have created for ourselves & they are saying “no thanks”.

  4. Anne says:

    I agree with a lot in this article. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the similarities
    between events of today – the growth of nationalism, Trump’s trade wars and the growth of the far right accross Europe as well as Trump’s threat to withdraw from
    Nato, and the 1930s.
    I agree also with Danny Dyer – David Cameron has an a lot to answer for – his legacy
    is he has divided the country, wasted billions on Brexit and what for? – what an historic
    waste of money.

  5. Mr Akira Origami says:

    “If NATO were to fail, for example – and that only takes the withdrawal of a US already in isolationist mode – the world suddenly loses the lynchpin of its stability. And if that alliance has sewn all our fortunes together since 1945, Trump is already picking at the stitching.”

    Germany is destabalising Europe. It can’t be bothered to pay for it’s commitment to NATO and would rather spend the money on non-Europeans.

    Merkel now admits she had lost control of the refugee crisis in Germany……

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-refugees-spend-20-billion-euros-2016-angela-merkel-crisis-budgets-middle-east-north-africa-a7623466.html

    NATO was designed to counteract external threats. Western Europe (not central or Eastern Europe ) now will increasingly spend much more of it’s NATO budget on the internal threat that it has created.

    The 1930’s!……Multikulti Mutti Merkel is a German populist leader who is determined to start another European war.

    We still have a few planes in the RAF….but don’t worry you can be sure that the US and Russia will help us out again if needed.

  6. Stephen Hildon says:

    So did Rob support PRI or PAN/PRD in the Mexican election? He obviously didn’t support AMLO!

  7. @Anon: Perhaps Labour Uncut is not your thing. Might I recommend Stormfront?

  8. @Anon: “Genocide of one’s own people?” Perhaps Labour Uncut is not your thing. Might I recommend Stormfront?

  9. Anon says:

    I will add something else to my little rant above.

    The European Union has always seemed to gain power when nations experience problems: the ‘beneficial crisis’.

    If we look at EU countries today, we can see that millions of young people are unemployed and without training and hope; and yet the EU sees it as necessary to import millions of people from outside its borders – Why?

    Is this an indication of a well-managed economy; is it a model of social development and nurturing; is it a model of governments doing what is best for its own people?

    Or is it that the European Union is deliberately creating these hardships in order to impose the state powers that it already has hidden away in its locker?

    The EU is killing and raping its own children to increase its state authority: can somebody give me a reason to not believe this statement?

  10. steve says:

    Anne: ” the growth of nationalism, Trump’s trade wars and the growth of the far right accross Europe ”

    Yet Labour’s Right do all they can to sabotage the development of a Left alternative.

    Blairite undermining aimed at driving away Labour’s vote may prevent Labour from winning a general election but the votes Labour loses won’t flock to a New Labour Mk2.

  11. Vern says:

    Statistics dont mean a thing Rob. Throughout the entire Brexit debate those % for and against have been wildly inaccurate. Yougov need to refresh their list of contacts that the tele-sales people call or stop making it up. One or the other.

    And it doesnt matter how many years Blair was PM for in reality, its history and no more relevant than Thatchers time. His opinion doesnty count for anything these days either. In fact he has even less credibility on the EU than Corbyn does – if that were possible.

    2018 is only scary if you lack vision or have lived a spoon fed existence. People want control again and they are not happy relinquishing it to faceless beurocrats who make decisions that seemingly benefit other nations ahead of our own. You can only be pushed so far until you come out fighting Rob and the English are up for it.

    That other countries are beginning to think the same as ourselves should come as no surprise to anyone really. Most of them have mass youth unemployment that wasnt there before they joined the EU. Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal have been treated shabbily and the hostility displayed to the UK for “leaving the club” should tell you that this is perhaps not a particularly well run club. Its simply not fit for purpose anymore but we cannot wait for a new model to be dreamt up by 27 nations so we are going to leave. Leave without a deal as Tafia rightly predicted 2 years ago.

    And im glad that you now see Corbyn for the great waste of space that he is. You are right, he hates the West, dislikes Britains position in the World, is anti aspiration and anti capitalist. In short he is just a bitter leftie that should have grown out of it by 1980! Sadly, too many of the party are now too embarassed to admit they have made a monumental error of judegement in thinking he was credible. He is destroying the party with every day he is allowed to continue. Who in their right mind decides to host a festival all about their 1970’s version of nationalisation……Momentum do! With Jez’s blessing of course.

    And Anne, sorry but this is nothing like the 1930’s – not even close. Its about finding the right balance and some of us believe we have conceeded too much and got very little in return. I agree that David Cameron will be regarded as a quitter but he is only guilty of following through on a promsise that Tony Blair made (and failed) on in giving the people a say. Another lie from Tony im afraid to say.
    And in terms of nationalism – this is where the hypocricy of the left leaning, Corbyn hugging remainers doesnt stack up.What happens when we nationalise water / electricity gas and rail – are you saying we dont want you foreigners investing in our infrastructure, coming over here with your fancy trains and motre efficient ways of improving our systems? Investing billions and providing 100’s of thousands of jobs? Or had you not thought past the point of strikes, power cuts, a thirld world rolling stock and an inferior infrastructure.

    I guess, that if you are a remainer you will never be persuaded otherwise, in 2 – 5 or 10 years time when you have seen no difference to your day to day life then the monumental waste of money will be the 40 years that we paid in to the EU coffers…..

    And for the record the new EU Migration bill that Merkel and co have agreed on is likely to invest billions into non EU contries to deal with “immigration.” So you get even less for your money……again!

  12. Mr Akira Origami says:

    To be fair to Corbyn he is not in power – unlike Nero. The fiddlers in power are May, Merkel and Macron.

    The Orbáns of Hungary. The Dudas of Poland. Putin do like the West, they just don’t like what it is becoming.

    May-Corbyn alliance on Brexit? – More like May (the Europhile) – EU alliance on Brexit!

  13. Anon - the presumed racist one says:

    @Rob

    And there in a nutshell is your – and Labour’s – problem.

    If you believe that telling our own people that they are not quite up to the job; that it’s not really worth training and developing our own people; that the relationship that existed between the white working class and the Labour Party is not that special now – then why expect to be voted for.

    I wouldn’t join an organisation like Stormfront – but I am what I am; an English white working class person that once believe in a Labour Party that protected and nurtured white working class people.

    You are correct – there is no place for me in today’s Labour Party.

  14. Toby Ebert says:

    “Corbyn will not be neutral. He will be on the side of those who do not like Britain and the West. The Orbáns of Hungary. The Dudas of Poland. Putin.”

    Rob: you don’t give any evidence for this, and it seems unlikely given Corbyn’s commitment to democracy, including within the Labour Party.

    It’s fine for you to be anti-Corbyn but to convince others you need to provide evidence…otherwise it’s just ranting.

  15. Anne says:

    Congrats to England for coming fourth in the World Cup – a fine performance. Also having watched the ladies Wimbledon final, and the Tour deFrance I am even more convinced our place in the world is with Europe. Listening to the business world also convinces me that the EU is our trading place. Once Trump has returned to the USA he will be back to his mantra of America First.
    In any case I don’t believe that Teresa May’s plan will get past the EU and we are heading for a no deal Brexit bringing chaos with it. This will be crunch time.
    I am not a natural Corbyn supporter, but what I do believe is that Labour does have the best plan for Brexit ‘A customs union.’ Kier Starmer is by far the most realistic politician on Brexit, and this, in the end, will win the day.

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