by Natasha Scott
They say Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable. The same was said about Bernie Sanders.
Sanders launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination with minimum name recognition. In the early weeks, he was polling at just two per cent against Hillary Clinton. By April this year he was neck and neck with her and talk about Bernie being unelectable became silenced as Sanders was ahead of her by about 10% in the polls when compared directly to Trump. As time went by the party machinery proved to be quite successful in disenfranchising the Sanders voters in ways not too dissimilar from what the NEC has used to disenfranchise Corbyn supporters. The corporate (establishment) media largely failed to cover it and when they did it was mostly skewed to work in Clinton’s favour. However, they did often talk about his campaign in regard to misogyny, they tried anti-Semitism but with Sanders being Jewish it was very difficult despite the fact that he highlighted the plight of Palestinians. Where Tens of thousands would turn up to Sanders rallies a small percentage of those numbers would turn up to listen to Clinton, which were often sandwiched between the times she wasn’t courting the big donors at high priced fancy dinners.
Clinton and most of the Democratic senators don’t understand what is happening in working people’s lives the same as the PLP doesn’t here. Power is their Mantra and it has been the only thing that has mattered to them. Making a difference to people’s lives is a by-product to winning power which is partly why Clinton and so many other politicians are not trusted by the people. Clinton was always the party’s choice to run for president before any nominations were even declared, the emails have shown us all that. The arrogance of the people working the machinery is unbound at times because they genuinely believe they know what is best and that people should just fall in line. If Clinton was so electable why is Trump of all people so worryingly close to leading and even winning this election. Establishment politicians have failed people badly in this last decade and they are looking for change to improve their lives or in Trumps case to punish those they have been told by the corporate media have made things so bad, the migrants and jobless, sound familiar?
In the summer of 2015, at the start of the first Labour leadership election, the Conservatives were ahead of Labour by just 9% (UK Political Info). By March of this year, the parties were neck and neck. But months of orchestrated attacks began to take their toll, and when the anti-Semitism accusations started to surface, Labour slipped back five percentage points. Ground was regained in May to within 2%, but Brexit on June 23rd, was followed almost immediately by a no confidence vote in the Labour leader and mass resignations from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
According to Labour Party Grandees , PLP rebels and leadership challenger, Owen Smith, Corbyn is the reason Labour has sunk in recent polls. But that is remarkably disingenuous of them. History shows that when political parties are divided they slump in the polls. But it was not Jeremy Corbyn who let Labour down, it was the PLP. It was they who let the membership down and it was they who let the country down by continue to chase after their own self-interest instead of trying to understand how to represent the people who they need and want to elect them.
Corbyn has declared he wants to bring people together. But he does not use soundbites such as “ We are in it together” while at the same time raising Politicians salaries and cutting welfare benefits for the disabled. Cameron’s government did that.
Electability is not about presentation. It is not about Armani suits either. It is not about the ability to deliver speeches written by others promising headline grabbing policies without any intention of trying to deliver them. Jeremy Corbyn never went on any Mandelson inspired PR seminar or grooming course which so many ‘selected’ imposed prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) for Labour did under ‘New Labour’. When he speaks of renationalising the railways he talks about it in meaningful terms that makes sense. He understands the issues in rail because he talks to those on the front line who work in it. He does not promise to renationalise our railways tomorrow or being ‘radical’. Such phrases are nothing but foolish rhetoric and a dishonest sales pitch. People are tired of mere rhetoric designed to feed ridiculous meaningless headlines, in order to grab attention for a moment in a packed news schedule. It is no coincidence that politicians are currently below estate agents on the list of trustworthy professionals and have been there for decades.
Owen Smith and most of the other politicians are nothing more than political salesmen. For this type of politician, polls do matter. However, once they have your vote and they are in power, the voters do not matter so much anymore. For these politicians they know they have to manage voter expectations. They do this by diverting your attention away from the policy that they have failed to deliver, (usually because it would cost too much money or they have not thought it through) that you voted them into power for. They duly announce another meaningless policy with a headline grabbing soundbite which they also they have no intention of delivering.
Now Corbyn and Sanders have arrived, people are waking up to a new politics and new possibilities and real genuine alternative outside of the confines of the political discourse of the last decade or so. What they promise is involvement in policy making. Corbyn and Sanders want party’s that are bottom up not top down so they can heal the broken society’s we live in today. Neither believe in meaningless consultations but genuine creative, collective responsibility to help create policies that are achievable, sensible, fair and inclusive, so that no one loses out.
But are we surprised the polls read badly for Labour right now? Polls are really little more than a gauge of how well the corporate media is doing in formulating public opinion rather than reporting it. Media bias against Corbyn has been vicious, relentless and deceitful. It is now, at last, being analysed, publicised and found wanting. (There is of course mass denial among editors and their journalists about this). But it has been proven by LSE and Birkbeck studies that endemic bias runs throughout their political commentaries. Many journalists obtained their jobs because their overt political views fit with the views of the establishment. Many of them can boast a professional lineage scattered with stints on Murdoch or Rothschild owned publications or at the apex of Murdoch’s broadcast empire. If you want a job and want to get on, collusion with power elites becomes part of the journalists’ DNA.
Corbyn is a type of politician who is entirely unknown to them. They think they know him because they know the others and because they have enough good food on the table, a house, well paid jobs national media hacks tend not to see what is going on in vast swathes of the country. Poverty and deprivation becomes another country. For London journalists, their world is an echo of the world portrayed in the film ‘Notting Hill’ – a safe’ world of the like-minded, brought about by social cleansing through housing redevelopment. They are secure in the fortress of London that protects them from realities elsewhere.
Then what exactly does television news actually cover in-depth these days? The collapse of Top Gear’s ratings or the loss of Great British Bake Off to ITV? Meanwhile, who is looking at the lives of the workers who make the world go around? Who reports the truth around the pressures of trying to afford to survive in today’s society and it causing the current mental health crisis? It has been many years since newspapers or television employed industrial correspondents to cover trade unions issues and employment. There never has been a poverty correspondent or homelessness correspondent. But all have business correspondents to report on how well the Fat Cats are doing, who put all their profits in offshore tax havens after pillaging the land and paying minimum wages or less on zero hour contracts.
The media itself is now part of the corporate market. The fourth estate, once the watchdog of democracy has been taken over by big business and corrupted by a failing neo-liberalist ideology trying to cling on to power.
This is what makes Corbyn such a threat (just as it did with Sanders). He’s not just talking for many of the people who have been disenfranchised and then forgotten about under a money obsessed neo liberalist ideology but he’s trying to talk to everyone else who isn’t part of the top 1%. In 1950 almost 84% of the country turned out to vote and in 2001 it was less than 60%. The 90’s saw a huge downturn in people voting mainly because selling off all the infrastructure and the credit boom saw a very affluent time in western democracies and political differences were based upon equality and civil liberties. The most fundamental form of inequality any society can have is income inequality and right now we are getting closer to the levels where historically revolutions have taken place. Sanders called for a political revolution and maybe Corbyn should echo those words himself.
2003 saw the beginning of the neo liberalist economic strategy failing and it started to affect working people’s lives and since then there has been a slow upward trend in voter participation up to the last election in 2015 where just over 66% of the country turned out to vote. The problem is up to now there has been little choice in relation to the economic policies of either the conservative or Labour party. Even though both sides of the Brexit campaign ran negative campaigns based primarily on fear there was still a 72% voter turnout. When people sense hope in a political campaign then voter turnout increases and despite what most of the media might have people believe, Corbyn, just as Sanders did, is basing his campaign on hope and building a better future for everyone.
He isn’t just trying to win your vote, this isn’t a popularity contest for him, because as he has done in the past and as he is doing now he is trying to make a difference and trying to make a society that benefits everyone and not just the privileged few. Authenticity shows us he is genuine in what he does say unlike so many others.
What makes Jeremy Corbyn so electable is that he isn’t offering soundbites but real change to improve lives. What makes him a danger to the top one percenters, who have so much control over the media and political parties, is because they will be made to contribute towards society and we may then see the end of corporate welfare.
Should the the party establishment regain control of the Labour party, through their attempts to overthrow Corbyn, they will go back to representing self-interest instead of the people. A Labour government led by the political establishment and elites would be a real danger to us all should they ever find themselves back in power. Why? Because we have seen what kind of candidate the Republican party has ended up with in seeking the popular vote and most worryingly how well he is fairing against the establishment candidate. We should all dread the type of candidate the Conservative party would offer should they find themselves trying to win the popular vote and regain power, that really would be a threat to national security.
Electability should never be about the perception of popularity as all it does is serve to mask the political intent of a candidate. For journalists and politicians, in particular, to talk of it in this context is not just misleading but a failure to do their jobs either representing people or in holding political power to account. Electability should only ever be about what politicians can do to make the world we live in a better place because that is what people will want to vote for.
Natasha Scott is a political and social analyst, LGBT columnist, Transgender Rights campaigner, Entertainment Director of Hastings Pride and a Transgender woman.
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