The hypocrisy is no less breathtaking for being predictable. A billionaire press that cheers on the collateral slaughter of countless innocents in the middle east now excoriates the new shadow chancellor for having suggested we drop our robotically conditioned condemnation of armed republicanism in Ireland. For having suggested we seek to understand its view (and experiences) of the British State. For having opined that a low level unwinnable war in the six counties had indeed brought said state to the Good Friday Agreement. (On that last, does anyone for a minute suppose that, had Big Jim, Mrs T, Squarepants John or Teflon T found a way to crush republican resistance, they wouldn’t have grabbed it with both hands? Seriously? What are you smoking: can I have some?)
The same billionaire press damns McDonnell’s boss for not singing a ‘national anthem’ which is nothing of the kind. Rather, it is an embarrassing eulogy to an icon of inequality and covert power. (Nothing personal, you understand: the lady strikes me as disciplined, hard working and, in her blinkered way, well meaning. Trouble is, personal has zero relevance here.)
Our rulers are rattled, but an apologetic McDonnell and Corbyn have been put on the back foot by attacks a twelve year old would have seen coming. What does any ruling class want? Everything. What does it fear? A popular movement which for the first time since the thirties threatens to open up in a big way the idea that the interests of humanity, and those of profit, aren’t quite the cosy fit it would, with lashings of help from the Labour Right, have us believe.
Speaking of the Labour Right, before Saturday was out we had people we’d never heard of – or had, but for all the wrong reasons – resigning from jobs they hadn’t been offered. In muttered threats from sore losers we heard talk of loyalty not to the millions disenfranchised and impoverished to pay for the bankers’ crash, but to party apparatchiks. Corby voted against Labour, on such as Iraq and tuition fees, five hundred times. So, they reason, they are now free to give tit for tat. The needs and hopes of those millions don’t enter this narrow and spiteful reckoning. Even with the prissy cover of “voting with my conscience”, such reasoning doesn’t cut it; not while they pay lip service to representative democracy.
Then there’s the self allegedly liberal press. For every Guardian piece by Seamus Milne, George Monbiot, Zoe Williams or Gary Younge we had five of pompous flannel from Martin Kettle and Patrick Wintour, three of zero-content drum bashing from Poly Toynbee and, for good measure, two of sneering condescension from Suzanne (Burchill-minus-the eloquence) Moore. As many have said, the Graun showed its true colours these past few weeks.
So what is to be done? Mobilise! Isolated in Westminster, this Labour line up hasn’t a prayer. It will be crushed without our support and pressure. It needs you. It needs me. Where? On marches, in union meetings, on TTIP demos … in fighting the sale of your local library. The Corbyn victory must be followed rapidly by practical proof that, far from being (at best) a well meaning but out of touch eccentric, this man has touched the pulse and awakened the hopes of so many. The stakes are high. Should Corbyn lose traction, and be reduced to a marginalised lame-duck leader, it will be worse for us all than if he’d never won the leadership. Far worse, and for decades to come.