Blairite MPs take aim at socialism to attack Corbyn, but get completely schooled

Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie
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In this week’s game of ‘How to Attack Jeremy Corbyn’, some Labour MPs have spun the wheel and ended up on one of their favourite topics: Venezuela.

MPs on the right of the Labour Party have been using Venezuela’s spiralling economic crisis to attack socialism. But predictably, the main target seems to be Jeremy Corbyn.

The problem, however, is that the cracks in their arguments are starting to show. And it’s led to some spectacular self-owns on social media.

There’s no such thing as context

MP for Streatham and linchpin of the anti-Corbyn cabal Chuka Umunna got the ball rolling by hitting out at the Venezuelan economy:

Who Umunna is referring to when he says “the Venezuelan economic model has been lauded” is unclear. But judging by Corbyn’s record of support for socialist policies in Venezuela, it’s not hard to guess.

Twitter, however, was quick to put the MP in his place for completely ignoring the context of Venezuela’s crisis:

Mainstream media analysis often fails to emphasise the effect that cut-throat US sanctions (and general hostility), low oil prices and oil dependency, and international debt have had on Venezuela’s economy.

The fact that Umunna is one of several politicians expected to launch a new centrist party (something Umunna denies) perhaps confirms the opinion in the tweet above. And judging by the Twitter game of Chris Leslie, MP for Nottingham East, Umunna’s not the only one.

Flinging mud

Unsurprisingly, Leslie was fast to jump on the socialist-bashing bandwagon:

Again, who is this magical “some” championing Venezuelan economics? We can only wonder…

But it was Leslie’s complete refusal to look at the context that really riled Twitter:

Someone also pointed out that, if Leslie was trying to attack the economic policies of Corbyn’s Labour, he would do well to take a look at his own party’s manifesto:

Literally not communism

And it looks like Twitter hit the nail on the head. Because upon returning to the topic of the Venezuelan crisis, Leslie managed to show his ignorance with a cataclysmic self-own:

Venezuela is not a ‘communist’ country by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, some critics on the left claim it has more in common with state capitalism. And as the Nation wrote in 2016:

while Venezuela has moved away from free-market capitalism, its economy is hardly socialist. The private sector, not the state (and still less the social economy), controls the overwhelming majority of economic activity.

Using Leslie’s own words against him, Twitter users quickly debunked his false claim:

Facing facts

The current crisis in Venezuela can be chalked up to many different factors; but blaming hyperinflation rates on ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’ is either intellectually dishonest or just plain ignorant. What’s more, if we tried to link capitalism to today’s many (and more extreme) international humanitarian crises in the same way, we’d struggle not to conclude that it is far more dangerous than socialism. So it’s the height of cynicism for right-wing Labour MPs to use the pain of Venezuela’s people as a stick with which to beat their own party leader – no matter how opaque their insinuations might be.

Jeremy Corbyn’s past solidarity with Venezuela’s political process stems precisely from its attempts to make the economy work for the many, not the few. Former President Hugo Chávez, for example, halved poverty levels, eradicated illiteracy, and created a national system of free universal health care.

If anything, MPs like Umunna and Leslie should be spending time thinking about why socialist policies are becoming so popular in the 21st century. It might even help them avert complete disaster if they do end up launching their own party.

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– Also see previous Canary articles on Venezuela – and for more Global articles, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured images via Chris Andrew/WikimediaCommons and Chris Andrew/WikimediaCommons

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