Contributed by Jim Hayes
Coming from a very low point, only weeks ago, it appears that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party are surging in the lead up to the British election. Now the pundits are admitting that a Labour victory is possible.
Regardless of whether one feels what they have to offer is far reaching enough or not, there remain some very important lessons that the party’s campaign have been brought to the surface.
Despite an unprecedented media smear campaign, targeting of Corbyn’s personality and highlighting the big red threat to the United Kingdom and outright lies, growing numbers are starting to see through this fog and this is benefiting Corbyn and the Labour Party.
There may still be a Conservative victory, but it is now far from certain.
At least a good part of the explanation lies in the campaign strategy. Jeremy Corbyn has been leading a campaign that refuses to be drawn into the gutter politics of name calling and smearing. The British public have experienced this over many years as the norm of parliamentary politics. Although the method has been used with some effect, the British public still don’t like it and there are clear signs that this time round seeing it as having gone too far.
The Corbyn campaign has focused on policies. A manifesto has just been released that contains many matters that are important to most the population. Matters like health, education and overcoming poverty, just to name a few. There is also a pledge that big business and the very rich will be made to pay a fair share of tax. As the message seeps out, it is starting to gather support.
Perhaps most important, Corbyn and his team have hit the stumps. They are going around the country speaking at public rallies and meetings. Sometimes people turn up in their thousands and hundreds in the smaller places. Effort is put into talking to people and even actually also asking them their opinions. By this means, a channel of communication has been opened that does not rely on reporting by the big media. Social media has been used extensively.
Campaigning by relying on face to face contact has not been seen in British politics for a very long time.
In contrast, Theresa May keeps herself aloof. The Conservative campaign is stage managed. Small gatherings of carefully selected people and brief encounters with the media, answering only a few questions that have previously been vetted. The campaign has been described by some as wooden. Part of the reason is that the Conservatives are working hard to hide the stench of corruption threatening to engulf them.
Their advantage is that the big media is their propaganda arm, they are deliberately fanning fear through misinformation, which inevitably has an effect. As the saying goes, throw enough mud and some of it will stick. The big advantage is that they have positioned themselves as the new champions of Brexit.
Behind all this, is the wealth and privilege of the old establishment. Corbyn and Labour have not threatened to take this away. But they are saying it should br trimmed. It is the very idea that their position should be questioned that they find so frightening. From their point of view, if you let out the genie where will it stop? It only takes what is really little more than a militant form of social democracy, to get them on the warpath.
Challenging this establishment is no easy task. It is entrenched in the economy, institutions and culture of the society and closely tied to the handful of billionaire media owners. The cards are stacked against winning an election. Even if this is achieved, there is a certainty that this elite will continue to undermine, attack and destroy at every opportunity. Do Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have the answers? Time will tell.
Hopefully May will end in a dozen days