By Owei Lakemfa
OLD Britain is in need of a rebirth. A born-again Britain has the potentials to help steer the world away from endless conflicts and strife. I say Britain because the world’s most powerful nation, the United States presents us with a choice of either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump. While it makes common sense for Americans to vote Clinton who at this week’s first Presidential Debate showed she is intellectually endowed in contrast to noisy Trump, she is not committed to a new world.
Imagine a new world with no desperate refugees fleeing senseless conflicts; one with no threat of nuclear war, less exploitation and where a large measure of peace and social justice reign. Britain with its strong economy, military might, permanent seat in the United Nations and international clout, can be a force for change if it be so aligned.
The young Tony Blair with the backing of people like Gordon Brown had some ideas similar to this. That was before he fell into bad company allowing a less intellectually endowed President George Walker Bush push him into the criminal war in Iraq. Now, Blair’s place in history is mainly defined by the evil he helped to perpetrate in Iraq, and to a lesser extent, in Afghanistan.
The transformation Britain can lead, will not come from the ruling Tories; they are too busy building on the empire of a soulless system. The unlikely leader is 67-year old Jeremy Bernard Corbyn who one week ago was forced into the second elections in one year as part of the strategies to oust him as leader of the Labour Party. Pro-establishment forces are in a hurry to get him out before he awakens a national movement for a brave new country and world. Corbyn who entered Parliament in 1983 representing Islington North, is an old man with a young heart. Like 75-year old American Senator, Bernie Sanders moved American youths in the 2016 Presidential primaries, Corbyn has the potentials to move British youths. What makes Corbyn a mortal threat to the establishment is not his age, but the age of his ideas.
Not just the Tories, but also the bulk of Labour MPs do not want Corbyn; in fact, they will vote Conservative rather than the spectre of Corbyn ever leading Britain. Although Corbyn with his politics of social conscience is presented by the British establishment as unelectable, but they need to await the verdict of the electorate in the event of general elections. If his ideas are worn out and unsellable to the populace, why are they afraid? The fine analysts of British politics have still been unable to explain why he sweeps the polls at Labour Party elections. When in September 2015, he made the bid to succeed Ed Milliband as Labour Party leader, the established politicians took him for a joke until the results showed that he had 59.5 percent of the votes, with that, most of the Labour MPs started a war of attrition. Rather than mount a strong opposition to the Conservative government of David Cameron, they spent valuable time hatching plots to bring down their leader. Twenty one of the 27 members of the Shadow cabinet either resigned or refused to work with him. When they thought he was sufficiently weakened, 170 Labour MPs passed a vote of no confidence in him with only 40 supporting. Rather than resign in the face of such an overwhelming onslaught, Corbyn decided to fight. When he was challenged by MP Owen Smith for the party leadership, he was returned with wider margins winning 61.8 percent of the vote. The rebellious MPs found out that their best dogs could not out-sprint the old labour horse.
Part of the danger Corbynism presents to the British establishment is taking politics out of the hands of party bureaucrats into those of the people. He also sees humanity as one entity which should have a common goal as encapsulated in his message to humanity:
“Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world and a force that recognises that we cannot go on like this with grotesque levels of global inequality, with grotesque threats to our environment all around without rich and powerful governments stepping up to the plate to make sure our world becomes safer and better and that those people do not end up in poverty in refugee camps, wasting their lives away when they could be contributing to the good of all of us on this planet.”
It is these ideas and his programmes that makes him stand out. His commitment to fundamental human rights for all human beings; campaigns against all forms of discrimination especially gender and race; programme of social housing, protection of pension funds and the need to build a welfare state that delivers to the general citizenry. Corbyn’s pro-workers campaign locally and globally, his support of oppressed peoples like the Palestinians and principled stand that the Saharawi people – whose lands are illegally occupied by Morocco – have a right to self-determination, are not issues that endear him to the old order.
Perhaps, what is most alarming is his anti-war campaigns which has seen him chair the Stop the War Coalition. He has famously said “ getting rid of dangerous and wasteful nuclear weapons and ending the wars that have blighted the globe in recent years are a must”. For a country which cuddles nuclear weapons and is a leading member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, his words might sound heretical.
Another worry is that he is making politics look easy and commonsensical, growing the Labour Party membership and spreading his unconventional ideas.
Corbyn may never become Prime Minister; he may not even contest the general elections or survive the next interparty coup planned for September 2017. However, he presents to the British people, an alternative to lamentation, and to humanity, the possibility that Western democracy can deliver a new world.