Ron Radosh

The Dangers of the British Labor Party's Far-Left Turn

With the election of Jeremy Corbyn to be head of Britain’s Labor Party, one has to wonder if this once majority party has made a suicide pact. As its candidate for prime minister in the next national elections, Corbyn, most observers have concluded, is unelectable.  How left wing is Corbyn? He is so far removed from the mainstream that he makes his socialist American counterpart, Bernie Sanders, look like a moderate. Like the Democrat Party in the United States, British Labor has also taken a left turn.

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when the heavily nationalized British economy was in the doldrums, Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher instituted major free-market reforms that transformed the economy by cutting taxes, privatizing gas, water and electricity companies, and closing many nonproductive and obsolete steel plants and coal mines. As Wikipedia notes:

By 1982, the UK began to experience signs of economic recovery; inflation was down to 8.6% from a high of 18%, but unemployment was over 3 million for the first time since the 1930s. By 1983 overall economic growth was stronger and inflation and mortgage rates were at their lowest levels since 1970.

When Labor won again, it was under Tony Blair, who moved his party away from the far left and did not undo the successful changes Thatcher had made. Blair called his program and party “New Labor,” and he became prime minister for three terms. Although later his support of the Iraq War made him unpopular in Britain, Blair called his party “left of center,” and promised that he would govern from what he called “the radical center.” Blair did not end Thatcher’s anti-trade union legislation, and as Wikipedia puts it, he “introduced substantial market-based reforms in the education and health sectors; introduced student tuition fees; sought to reduce certain categories of welfare payments, and introduced anti-terrorism and identity card legislation.” He also had a tough foreign policy, and was a supporter of Israel.

The British Conservative Party has recently proved itself weak and inept; its prime ministers have hardly run Britain like Thatcher did. Recently, as Labor suffered a major loss putting David Cameron in as PM once again, Labor’s nominal leader, the badly defeated Ed Miliband, revealed that the electorate was in no mood for a man who seemed insincere, wishy-washy, and who did stand for anything much different than a Cameron administration that would be slightly to the left of the Conservatives.

That crisis in British Labor is what led to Corbyn’s victory. Another factor, however, is how Corbyn introduced a new policy that allowed scores of people who were not members to simply declare their support to Labor by paying the party the equivalent in American currency of $4.60. This resulted in thousands of far leftists who previously eschewed Labor as too moderate joining the ranks of voters and then voting in the election for who should lead the party.  This policy resulted in 120,000 non-members of the Labor Party casting a vote for Corbyn.

In the United States, Bernie Sanders calls for a vague “political revolution,” and favor redistribution of wealth, more power to organized labor, restrictions on business, and other favorite left/liberal policies. Everyone knows he is a democratic socialist, but unlike the socialist candidates of old like Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas, he does not campaign on behalf of creating a socialist United States. And, during the Gaza War, he erupted at a town hall meeting when some of his constituents wanted him to attack Israel and support Hamas. Sanders openly and strongly defended Israel as rightfully defending itself.

Corbyn, on the other hand, is far more radical. PJ Media’s Rick Moran spells out Corbyn’s policies in detail.  He actually wants to undo every economic reform Thatcher made, including once again nationalizing industries and the railroads. He wants free tuition for all students in college, and even supports making coal the source of energy and reopening the closed mines, giving the long unemployed miners jobs again.

But it is in foreign policy that Corbyn’s policies are most damaging to his own country and to the entire West. Corbyn, a believer in 9/11 conspiracy theories, is a serious opponent of Israel. He was a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, desired his “friends” in Hamas and Hezbollah to speak to Parliament, and wants Britain out of NATO.  He invited a Muslim hate preacher to speak before Parliament, and referred to him as an “honored citizen.” At another event he led in Parliament, he had the American anti-Israel writer Max Blumenthal appear and speak as well.

On Russia, he has essentially the same position as this country’s Nation magazine; he believes that the opposition to Putin’s aggression against Crimea and Ukraine was provoked by Western and American imperialism.

These policies and his elections have alarmed Britain’s Jewish community, already under assault from the vast anti-Israel movements and the residue of the the Stop the [Iraq] War Coalition, and university students who champion the BDS movement. Corbyn is seen by these activist groups as their hero.

The Times of Israel reports that he also favors boycotting any university that has faculty engaged in arms research, and says that he supports the “limitation of arms [supplies] to Israel.” Corbyn notes that the International Court is considering trying Israel for “war crimes,” and hence one has to be wary of supporting Israel. And he supports the Palestinian demand for “the right of return,” which, if implemented, would mean the immediate end of the Jewish state. The Arab refugees, he says, “deserve their rights too; they deserve their right to return home.”

Corbyn also has proven ties to an organization called the Socialist Campaign group, which, along with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the leftist branch of Amnesty International in Britain, “has ties to Holocaust deniers, terrorists and some outright anti-Semites.” The British Jewish Chronicle reported that even Corbyn’s own staff members say he is reluctant to confront anti-Semitism, since he knows that “hostility to ‘Zionist neo-cons’ plays well to his constituency.”  No wonder Corbyn did not take the paper’s offer to have him write his views about confronting anti-Semitism on the left and among his own supporters. Seven out of 10 British Jews express grave concern about Corbyn, and are worried, as The Jewish Chronicle puts it, that he “will adopt a hardline approach to Israel, possibly pushing for sanctions, boycotts of settlement goods, and even stronger efforts towards Palestinian statehood than those made by Mr. Miliband.”

So far, the only way Corbyn’s camp has dealt with the Jewish community’s fears is a leak from his headquarters that he is considering the appointment of a “minister for Jews.” Such a minister, of course, would have the role of explaining to the Jewish community how his strong anti-Israel policies are really good for the Jews.

Let us hope that the political pundits in Britain are correct when they say Labor will now become a fringe movement of extremists, and that his election campaign for prime minister will result in the largest rout the party has ever suffered. Even if that is true, it is a danger signal when a major political party in Britain takes such a far-left turn, and a substantial number of British subjects appear to support it.