December 16, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn ~ agent of change

"We are not doing celebrity, personality, abusive politics - we are doing ideas. This is about hope."

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party is under attack. As usual. Not so much by people, but by established members of his party, and by the elites oh nation. Corbyn is often portrayed in the British press as inept and divisive, as a man who became party leader by accident and has no prospect whatsoever of ever becoming prime minister. Yet, there is he, bringing thousands of new, and younger, members into the party.

"Because I've never had any higher education of any sort, I've never held in awe those who have had it, or have a sense of superiority over those who don't."

It's an odd kind of situation, and the similarities with  Bernie Sanders are obvious: an older white guy attracting young people with a message that hearkens back to a different time altogether, to a time when workers' rights and civil society actual meant something. A time when creating a level playing field for people through education, health care and progressive taxation, was the accepted and expected norm.  In the UK Margaret Thatcher changed all that and the policies of  the war criminal Tony Blair and his gaggle did nothing to change it. Jeremy Corbyn is having none of that, thank you very much, and many seem to be in agreement.

"We're not going back anywhere, we're going forward, we're going forward in democracy, we're going forward in participation, we're going forward with ideas."

He calls himself a democratic socialist. He's vegetarian. He rides a bike, takes transit, and doesn't own a car. He's 67 years old and a bit dishevelled. Possibly because he rides the buses and bikes.

"We know the gap between rich and poor is widening. We know living standards are stagnating or falling and insecurity is growing. We know that many people feel left behind by the forces unleashed by globalisation - powerless in the face of deregulated corporate power."

The Blairites are particularly irritated by Corbyn's willingness to embrace the old ways in a new way, and in the process grab the attention of all kinds of citizens who know something is wrong with the way Britain has been doing things. He's shaking up British politics by offering an alternative to the elites.

"If we are only seen as protectors of the status quo how can we expect people to turn to us when they can see that status quo has failed? We must stand for real change, and a break with the failed elite politics and economics of the past."

It remains to be seen if Mr Corbyn will ever become Prime Minister in the UK, but his message, and the appeal of his back-to-leftist-basics, is resonating. On both sides of the Atlantic. Donald Trump, and his ilk around the world, need not be the only opportunity for real change in our society. Bernie Sanders was on to something. And so is Jeremy Corbyn.

Here in Canada, we need to catch up.

By Jim Murray. Copyright 2016.

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