One of the world’s great left wing political movements, the Labour Party, is in convulsions over its leadership contest which was triggered when the previous incumbent oversaw a disastrous Parliamentary campaign having fought it on a left of centre platform.
The leadership contest looks as if it will be won by a man much further to the left than his predecessor. The politics of Jeremy Corbyn MP means he lauds the government of Venezuela, is a huge fan of Fidel Castro, has held a minute’s silence for members of the IRA who have been killed, has shared platforms with Islamist extremists, calls Hamas and Hezbollah ‘friends‘ in a collegiate sense, and argues that Russian behavior has been provoked by an aggressive, expansionist NATO. In this, some sections of the UK population agree with him.
Those qualified to vote for the leader are about to elect him because enough believe either that the election was lost because the party is not left wing enough, or, that it is better to have a genuine Socialist party than to be in power.
Social and mainstream media outlets have enjoyed themselves all summer pouring vitriol or Messianic belief on to the head of Mr. Corbyn. Many twitter users descended into 140 characters of abusive sniping for or against.
For most of his career few people took any notice of Mr. Corbyn outside of a particular left wing bubble, but now that he is front page news and may become leader of the opposition in one of the world’s top ten powers, his positions and utterances have been combed through for talking points.
The latest is an article he wrote for the communist Morning Star newspaper a few weeks after Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it last year.
It’s worth picking out some points as they are an insight into his world view.
Mr. Corbyn writes that “The EU and Nato [sic] have now become the tools of US policy in Europe.” Indeed they have, and they always were, just as they are tools of each individual member state. That is why each state joined but Mr Corbyn has spent 35 years despising US policy and so concentrates on only one country.
He continued “The expansion of Nato into Poland and the Czech Republic has particularly increased tensions with Russia. Agreements Gorbachov reached before the final demise of the Soviet Union and subsequent pledges that Ukraine’s independence would not see it brought into Nato or any other military alliance appear to have been forgotten by Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen in his increasingly bellicose statements.”
There are a number of problems with this paragraph. He clearly believes that Poland and the Czech Republic should not have been allowed to exercise their right to apply to join NATO. This presumably applies to the Baltic States all of which could not align themselves westward quickly enough once they broke free from their colonial masters. The ‘agreements’ Gorbachov reached have never been seen, NATO denies there was an agreement, the Russians say there was. The last problem in the paragraph is that if Mr Rasmussen has ever made a bellicose statement in his life, most people missed it.
Mr. Corbyn then writes that a joint NATO/Ukraine exercise “can only make an already dangerous situation even worse.” There is a logic in this argument, but equally the opposite case can be made. Without NATO signalling resolve, Moscow would believe it was being appeased and therefore be encouraged to undertake further militaristic illegal acts.
He goes on to argue that at the end of the Cold War a neoconservative plot ensured that despite the end of the Warsaw Pact, NATO’s role would not be reduced and that efforts had to be made to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements. The neocons did indeed believe that, but the article fails to take into account that it has been the stated policy of every American administration since WW2 to prevent the emergence of a European only security arrangement. It also ignores that every military planner in the world always looks a fair way past the immediate future.
Mr. Corbyn then comes to the weakest point in his argument. In a reference to the separatist war in eastern Ukraine he writes “the right of people to seek a federal structure or independence should not be denied.” Many people might agree with that, but if it applies to Eastern Ukraine, why does it not apply to the Falklands Islands which he believes should be ruled by Argentina despite 99% of the islanders voting to remain under British jurisdiction?
He ends by arguing for the necessity to “express our opposition to the strange notion that expanding a nuclear alliance east makes us safer.” Again, the argument can be made and/or nuance can be found. However, the fact that Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Rumania, Slovakia and others all feel differently to Mr. Corbyn makes no difference to a man whose world view is coloured by fifty shades of black and white.