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13 May, 2018

Letter from Britain: increasingly illiberal establishment and the challenge of Jeremy Corbyn

Britain prides itself on being a liberal state, tolerant of diverse points of view with a judicial system based on law and evidence, but its recent behavior has been anything but that.

by Alexander Mercouris

Part 6 - The Change in Britain

The reality is that today’s Britain has become a profoundly illiberal place.

Very much like the contemporary U.S., the media and political establishment in Britain is today relentlessly hostile to anyone who challenges the established orthodoxies of (1) unqualified support for finance capital (concentrated in Britain in the City of London); (2) support for “liberal interventionism” i.e., the U.S.’s regime change wars; and (3) pathological hostility to Russia.

Even an issue like Brexit is often framed around these orthodoxies, with establishment opponents of Brexit blaming Russia—absurdly—for the result of the Brexit referendum, and opposing Brexit because it supposedly serves the interests of Russia.

Someone like Corbyn, who disputes these orthodoxies with his long established criticisms of the City of London, his refusal to join the rush to judgment against Russia in the Skripal case, his staunch opposition to all the regime change wars, and to the recent Syrian strike, is guaranteed the intense loathing of the British establishment, which manifests itself against him literally every day in defense of its threatened interests.

This disturbing picture does however come with a glimmer of hope.

Thursday’s local elections in Britain once again emphasised an essential truth, which is that the British establishment’s hostility to Corbyn and what he stands for is clearly not universally shared by the British public.

Both the Conservative and Labour Parties significantly increased their votes as compared to 2014, the year when these elections were previously held. In the case of Labour that remains a remarkable fact given the almost universal media hostility to Corbyn.

The reality is that since 2015, when Corbyn was elected Labour’s leader against the strong opposition of the leadership of his own party, Labour has electorally consistently outperformed expectations, most spectacularly in the general election last year. The breakdown of the local council vote suggests that if a general election were held this year Labour would beat the Conservatives and would emerge as Britain’s largest party.

Needless to say this is not how the British media is reporting the local council election results. On the contrary, all the talk is of how the local election results were supposedly “disappointing” for Corbyn because he did not achieve the impossibly high targets the media had set for him.

In light of the establishment’s hostility to him, and how his successes routinely get called failures, that should surprise no-one.

In reality the local election results reinforce the view that electorally speaking the British establishment is living on borrowed time.

Hannibal – otherwise known as Jeremy Corbyn – may not yet be at the gates, but he is drawing closer.

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