Corbyn slams the elite offensive that snatched change away from Britain, in a powerful new interview

Jeremy Corbyn
Ed Sykes

In a new interview with Middle East Eye (MEE), Jeremy Corbyn has made some powerful observations about the multi-faceted elite campaign which stopped him becoming prime minister.

He spoke, for example, about media propaganda, state opposition to his ethical foreign policy stances, struggles with the Labour Party machine, and Brexit.

Media propaganda

Britain’s corporate press spent years trying to stop Corbyn winning power because of the big political shift he represented. And however much media hacks do their jobs now that he’s no longer Labour leader, this is a period progressives must never forget.

In the MEE interview, Corbyn highlighted the media’s obsession with personally attacking him however it could. It tried to undermine him via distant ancestors, his wife’s family, and even by following him at a park close to his home. As he stressed:

it was this sort of obsessive stuff, which was kind of at one level laughable, but all designed to be undermining.

He only decided against taking legal action because he knew it would ‘destroy him financially’.

The state’s opposition to peace

Corbyn also addressed civil service leaks claiming he was not physically up to being prime minister. He stressed that the supposed investigation into this matter had not yet identified those responsible.

Regarding briefings from inside the security service and military establishment, meanwhile, Corbyn insisted:

the briefings were designed to undermine and designed to disagree with my world view. My world view is [that] the fundamental problems facing this planet are the environmental crisis… the levels of inequality across the planet, and that the way in which Britain went into wars in Afghanistan and particularly Iraq had very serious long-term consequences.

Corbyn’s warnings about the dire consequences of the invasion of Iraq in particular were notoriously proven right.

He also stressed that:

we then got into the idea that somehow or other bombing Libya would bring about a peace and security. What it’s done is unleashed proxy wars [between Turkey and other Middle Eastern states]

And he added, regarding the refugee and conflict situation in the region:

my view was the bombing of Libya would actually make the situation worse. Where was I wrong?

Antisemitism

Corbyn has fought against antisemitism for decades. But one of the major smear campaigns against him tried to convince voters that he and his movement were somehow antisemitic.

As Corbyn said in relation to the “very small” number of cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party:

I was the one that introduced a system to ensure they were properly dealt with. What I inherited was a system that was not effective, that wasn’t clear, that wasn’t definitive.

He explained these efforts under his leadership, and also addressed the Labour Leaks revelations which showed his opponents allegedly delaying attempts to deal with the “logjam building up in the party on individual cases”. For him, it was important to have a ‘very close investigation’ into this process.

He also spoke about the upcoming Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism allegations, stressing:

Remember the equalities commission is now an arm of government

He added:

it’s quite significant that the Conservative government has… underfunded the [Equality] and Human Rights Commission… and for some reason, which I don’t fully understand… decided to take it away from its independent status and make it part of [the] government machine

Labour elites

Corbyn has previously suggested that he may have trusted too many people unworthy of trust. And as the Labour Leaks scandal revealed, this was particularly true ahead of Corbyn’s massive surge in the 2017 general election. Corbyn told MEE:

I always knew that there was a culture in the Labour party that was not a healthy one, of an almost self-perpetuating bureaucracy.

When he became leader in 2015, he met party elites and reportedly said:

I’m not here to start a war with you, I’m not here to get rid of you all. What I want to do is develop the party in this kind of direction [“into a community-organising base of the party”]. And we had the utmost resistance to bring in community organising, which is where [former general secretary] Ian McNicol and I finally parted company.

In 2017, Corbyn wanted to go out and mobilise people, not lead a ‘defensive’ election campaign. Because, he stressed:

It was clear to me that the leaked manifesto… had actually a much better reaction than we expected. And the support for that manifesto was huge. The party bureaucracy was so leaden-footed, it couldn’t appreciate what was actually happening on the ground.

He reportedly told party elites:

look, think of what’s going on out there. There are a lot of people getting involved in politics for the first time, there’s more people involved in our campaign than [have] ever been involved before. There are people just forming their own campaigns to support Labour candidates.

The Brexit dilemma

In the 2019 election, Brexit became a key issue again. Corbyn told MEE that he was essentially between a rock and a hard place, because most Labour members were pro-Remain but “a substantial minority” of Labour voters were pro-Brexit. And the second referendum attempt to bridge that gap didn’t work.

In certain working-class areas that hadn’t improved much since industrial decline, Corbyn said:

the sense of disillusionment in those areas with [the] modern economy is huge. And they’ve also had a steady diet for five years of unbelievable attacks on the Labour Party, on me personally. And it had an effect… If you’re told day after day in your daily newspaper that the leader of the Labour Party is an evil person, something gets through.

Looking back at the original 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, meanwhile, Corbyn has few regrets. As he highlighted:

I did more visits, more miles, more meetings, more rallies, than the rest of the shadow cabinet put together.

But he stressed that, for the media:

the only show in town was the blue-on-blue war, so the stories day in day out were between [David] Cameron and Boris Johnson, basically, who were obviously on opposite sides

Learn and move forwards

One massive lesson from Corbyn’s time as Labour leader is that powerful political and economic interests will not move aside without a fight. And when the largely billionaire and multi-millionaire-owned media establishment is a big part of that elite alliance, information is a key battleground. With this in mind, support for independent media will be essential if progressives are ever to bring about real change.

Featured image via YouTube – Middle East Eye

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  • Show Comments
    1. What a man !! His principles, his compassion and his battle to improve things for all, have never changed. The MSM are little more than stenographers with the only skills necessary to become “ a correspondent” is to be able to cut and paste from Tory briefings to front pages.

      I am afraid that due to the traitors in the Labour head office we are now condemned to year after year of attacks on the poor, the sick and the disabled, whilst the elites enjoy their wealth made at our expense. They don’t even pretend that “we are all in it together” anymore just look at the covid 19 lockdown rules that didn’t apply to construction workers, cleaners or gardeners ! And think why that could be possible? It’s easy really, the big contractors in construction are also big Tory supporters that give a lot of cash to that party, and we can’t have rich households living in dirty conditions with lawns that need mowing.

      I must admit though that they did something for the working man living in inner city tower blocks, they allowed golf to be played, mainly by men with tiny white balls !

      Cummings deputy Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is after all a man of the people and just an ordinary bloke just like me !!!!!!!! Be afraid my friends its going to be a rough ride.

    2. He should have avoided the December election, and pressed for the second EU referendum and killed Brexit off, before Brexit killed him off. It has become clear from the behavior of The Johnson, Lord Snooty and Dominic’s Cumming (what a wanker) have absolute contempt for people’s lives, democracy and the rule of law.

    3. There are many lessons to be learnt, chief among them is that silence or attempted appeasement is not the best way when you are the victim of lies. Even worse is to show pain and weakness; our opponents never do. In other words, don’t bleed when you are swimming with sharks.

    4. We had a chance a great chance but lost it because of people’s like starmmer whose only goal was to get rid of Corbyn and now we pay a heavy price has of this treachery by labour MPs and those who couldn’t vote for labour has of his changing stance on leaving

    5. “A self-perpetuating bureaucracy.” Quite right. This is what Orwell spotted in 1948. Bureaucracies are inherently conservative. They hate grey areas. They love black and white. And they need control. Any bureaucracy is a monster which feeds on control. Bureaucracy and democracy are mutually exclusive because democracy is messy. Bureaucrats are neat. What is inconvenient goes down the memory hole and people who exhibit the slightest deviation from the norm are subversives. JC made a mistake: from the start he should have asserted that democracy trumps bureaucracy; that as elected leader he would prevail; that the bureaucracy would serve him and the rest of the elected leadership and if it didn’t he would intervene. The bureaucrats lost us the 2017 election. They are despicable. But all big organisations need administration. Unions have powerful bureaucracies. In some unions, appointed officials have much more power than the membership. Some of them earn beyond £100,000 pa, well beyond the majority. They become a self-serving, bureaucratic elite. Inevitably fundamentally conservative. How to defeat this? Federalism. Flatten the bureaucratic hierarchies. Keep power local and at the grassroots. Federate the local grassroots bodies into a national body BUT give the local, grassroots bodies real autonomy. If local Labour parties had had the freedom to make their own decisions, if no dictats from the bureaucracy could have been handed down, Corbyn would have prevailed. The grassroots were with him, the bureaucratic elite against him. In its current form, nothing radical can come from Labour. It is in the hands of timid politicians and “self-serving bureaucrats”. It will not change anything which threatens the position of its own elite. And Starmer has made Israel/Palestine Labour’s key policy by making alleged anti-Semitism his greatest focus. His offer is this: I will spend more on the NHS, re-nationalise the utilities, abolish tuition fees etc. You can have this bag of goodies but here’s the caveat: the Palestinians will be the black South Africans of the 21st century and if you protest, if you criticise the State of Israel, Zionism or my policy, I will call you an anti-Semite and kick you out of the Party. You would have to be a slave to vote for that.

    6. it is now absolutely clear who runs the politics in this country and it ain’t the locals.
      Using ‘anti semitism’ to attack anyone dire a only be down to the
      jews of zionist tel aviv. Sadly this seems to have been a rabid growing influence long before corbyn.
      And now we all reap the consequences of the lack of public awareness and engagement in allowing foreigners to dictate
      our political life. My observation of various photos of Starmmer is someone haunted by something – a compliant puppet for israel along with lots of others no doubt.

    7. A caller to James O’Brien’s LBC Radio programme (3 June 2020) admitted he’d been a lifelong Tory voter who was ashamed now of the terrible mess the Tory government had made of the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK. And, that the caller would now vote for Labour’s socialists. O’Brien immediately jumped in with “Keir Starmer isn’t socialist” which took me aback in that realisation the MSM are essentially of this opinion about Keir Starmer. If the new Labour leadership indeed proceeds on a course of socialist pretence then, indeed, Corbyn’s legacy is already well and truly buried in the eyes of the elites and MSM.

    8. The National reading age of this country is that of nine year old. It is generally assumed by academics that Humanity’s discovery of writing contributed to our cultural evolution, which suggests an implicit connection between the use of written language (readin’ an a writin’) and improved skills of analysis alongside improvements in appropriate decision making for the future. Would you give nine year olds the vote? I have a memory that the reading age in the 1960s and early 70s was twelve. Since then, of course, the UK state in the guise of ‘Thatcherite Tories’, revamped our education system to the one we have now with the result that whatever intellectual abilities previous generations used to make their political choices the current generation – dominated as it is with old fantasists who believe they are the wartime generation – are, to borrow a phrase, ‘shooting blanks’. The lumpen-proletariat is a vast class of deluded humanity, many of whom class themselves middle- or higher-. As Mr Lennon said;
      “Keep you doped with religion, and sex, and TV
      And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
      But you’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see”

      In a democracy you cannot blame the c*nts for acting true to their nature, and as we know its the Tory’s who put the ‘n’ into cuts.

    9. The one thing that is clear is that the Labour Party is infested with self-serving Blairite bastards who would sell their own mothers for the right price, often no more than a “mess of pottage”, or an offer of a plum position (like David “Dr Death” Owen and the governor-generalship of Hong Kong) or even a free pass to the Tory Party’s exclusive private paedophile brothel (like Roy “Silver Birch” Lynk!) or even for £80,000 (like that evil old bitch who was described quite accurately, and with admirable restraint, as “a very bigoted woman” by Gordon Brown)

    10. So glad Corbyn tried by trusting people. It shows this elite transcends political loyalities as well. Also it transcends any respect for where the voters want to go.
      The elite reminds one of the past where all the rulers were relatives. Such as the Tzar of Russia was closely related to King George before WW1. Relatives went to war with each other, abandoned one another as well having no family loyality but personal ambition for power, the desire for personal riches, and social status.
      They cannot be trusted with the sophisticated concept of democracy in the slightest, to find our way into this novel future we have created for ourselves. Democracy is the closet social structure reflecting the diversity of the natural world we have.
      No brains. Clever animals though.
      This has been proven now in England by the violent assault on Corbyn’s ideas without any publically motivated discussion involving any of the sane issues Corbyn has brought to light.
      The only issues up for discussion have been the issues the elites most care about.
      This elite concept is without a brain to tackle our age for anything real which is unlike their social world view. With coronavirus they fail spectacularly. Its real.
      Its that simple.

    11. I supported Corbyn for leadership but mainly to get McDonnell as Chancellor – I knew neither of them personally and just went on McDonnell’s policy and strategy.

      I think McDonnell was gathering cross-sectional support for reforming economy (and society) including from City of London because everyone knew ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘small state’ ideology was ruining productive economy and creating massive inequality and injustice. Tories had nothing to beat this. Labour was growing in popularity and looked like it would win landslide next GE. I think Cameron called the EU referendum for many reasons (to appease Tory Europhobes, to fend off Farage’s rising popularity) and one reason was to lure Labour into a trap by splitting the Eurosceptic leadership away from its Europhile membership. It was an obvious ploy, and Corbyn walked straight into it and thus derailed the Left Renaissance before it properly started. Yet he refuses to apologise for that.

      Cameron thought ‘Better Together’ campaign to stop Scottish independence and keep UK cobbled together was a success and he could win a referendum on EU membership too. But Cameron misjudged public feeling. Like many English voters denied a say in the 2014 referendum, I wanted Scotland to be independent because it would have broken the union and forced long-overdue constitutional reform onto a newly solitary England (assuming Wales follow Scotland, and Ireland reunited). Only fundamental reform of democracy could allow English Leftwing voters a real say in national politics.

      When Scots voted to reject independence they infuriated many disenfranchised English voters, especially in the north. That was a grassroots upwelling passion for radical change damned up by unrepresentative politics. Ripe to be led by Labour. But Labour never saw the chance. The FarRight did – Farage exploited it because Labour totally ignored it.

      When Cameron ignored the English hunger for change and thought he could sail through an EU membership referendum he was totally deluded. But so was the Labour leadership – no one leading Labour recognised the hunger for constitutional change or if they did, they wanted it suppressed and to keep the Union and ‘Westminster Bubble’ in tact. Corbyn was as blind as everyone else. He spent his career in a system and was institutionalised into blindspots he shared with every other career politician.

      Because the Left had no real grasp of the national mood, they had no effective campaign during the EU referendum in 2016. The entire public discourse was dominated by a better prepared, better managed, better funded Rightwing campaign (not afraid to break the law, manipulate IT/data abuse, or accept the help of foreign oligarchs and nation states).

      A very dirty campaign turned the referendum into a choice between (1) Brexit – a FarRight nationalism, xenophobia, racism, total misrepresentation of EU as Stalinist(!?!) and the various deluded and contradictory aspirations of ‘Singapore 2.0’ and ‘Empire 2.0’ or (2) Remain – a Centralist ‘status quo’ with national austerity/small state/neoliberalism accepted because moderated by EU membership and a less oppressive EU-guaranteed legal framework to protect workers rights, consumers rights, human rights, environment. EU rights were for most British workers the only ‘trade union’ they had – rights won for British employees by stronger European trade unionism. Centre-Left supported Remain out of fear of the FarRight excesses of Leave (and they were right to be afraid).

      (3) Lexit was a top-down, ideology-driven irrelevance to most voters, especially the most oppressed and most hungry for radical change. It had nothing to say about ending the union, creating a new constitution, making democracy work for the ‘ordinary person’. Labour clings to the union only in order to use non-English votes to change English power balance. Instead of clinging to a fake democracy and hoping to be in power a couple of times a century, Labour should have bitten the bullet and made greater democracy the focus in contrast to Rightwing drivel about ‘taking back control’ and ‘sovereignty’.

      Instead Labour leadership and its lexit fell between stools. First, it sounded too much like (1) and gave rise to view of lexiteers as basically blue-collar racists no better than BNP. Second, by focusing all of its attacks on (2) demonising Centralists/Remainers, it confirmed to them that it was aligned with the FarRight, and alienate those who were already Labour or Green supporters but backing Remain only in order to keep the admittedly flawed but still vital protections afforded by EU membership, and to uphold the socialist principles of internationalism and fraternity free of xenophobia, racism etc. Lexit split the Left and cut itself off from the most radical, who wanted to go with them, and from the more cautious who could have been persuaded to go with them if there had been any recognition from lexit that EU socialism had protected British people from worst excesses of Tory austerity. But Lexit made no concessions, instead promoted a ‘vision’ that was pie-in-the-sky from some dated textbook and not any kind of answer to contemporary issues – most importantly the bleeding wounds of Britains most oppressed people.

      When Corbyn came out on 24/06/2016 to demand ‘article 50 without delay’ he put the final nail in his own coffin (and in the Leftwing resurgence that had gathered around him in 2015). He showed tin-eared ignorance of the true mood of the nation, of the Labour Party and of Labour voters.

      Not a sign in this interview that Corbyn recognises any of this.

      The hunger for radical change rising from the grassroots, from the victims of austerity, that was sparked in 2008, grew until 2014 frustrated it, then exploded in 2016 and again in 2019 could, and should, have been led by Labour. But the refusal to follow the lead from below, and instead to try to smother it and then impose an alien ideology on it from above was a classic failure by the dogmatic Left – how many popular movements that could have been revolutionary have been betrayed in that way? Now the Left is marginalised (through its own incompetence and arrogance) and we are living through a FarRight ‘revolution’ or rather a coup by the ‘Britannia Unchained’ cabal towards what? Extreme ‘chaos capitalism’ shored up by a quasi-fascist state?

      If the Left has not the humility and integrity to learn from its mistakes it will just repeat them. Who does that help?

      English radicals wanted an end to the UK (not the EU – not yet, maybe after we fixed British problems we could have the luxury of fixing Europe too). We wanted a new England, a modern, genuinely democratic society – not just votes for MPs once in a blue moon but hands-on democracy everywhere: work, community, education, culture,, whatever, empowerment everywhere, no more ‘socially, economically, politically excluded’. But the FarRight achieved a coup and are dismantling the Union and the state and destroying democracy to disempower everyone, everywhere who is not an oligarch or hanger-on. The FarRight won but mainly because the ‘Left establishment’ set themselves up to lose.

      Apologies for long comment but I am absolutely furious about the way Labour has failed its supporters time and again. Take some responsibility! Leftwing ‘leaders’ misread the reality, and when told they refused to listen – and still are!

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