To whip up support for the latest imperialist adventure in Syria, we have seen no shortage of deceptions by the ruling class. Meanwhile, all manner of lies have been spun by the press against Corbyn and his supporters, as part of the on-going civil war being waged by the Blairites in the Labour Party.
“All warfare is based on deception” (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)
To whip up support for the latest imperialist adventure, we have seen no shortage of deceptions, from David Cameron’s claim of the 70,000 Syrian anti-ISIS fighters, to Hilary Benn’s comparison between the bombing of Syria and the International Brigades in the Spanish Revolution.
Having been deceived over the war in Iraq, the government only had the support of a minority of the British population for a further adventure in Syria. Why is this? Having been lied to already, people are weary of further wars. The chaos that has followed in the wake of the relatively recent bombing campaign in Libya is further testament to the reality of this “humanitarian” intervention by imperialism; meanwhile, the bloodbath of Iraq has not been forgotten either. People will not be so easily deceived again.
Nobody seriously contests that the dropping of bombs from 30,000 feet will kill civilians, and devastate cities. It is very much contested, however, even by layers of the ruling class, that dropping bombs will do anything to protect Britain from terrorism, or even do anything at all in the “fight against ISIS”. So is it any wonder that emotions have been running high in the anti-war camp, when faced with a set of gung-ho MPs intent on further bombing?
Bullying or democracy?
Not only this, but all manner of lies, misreporting, and half-truths have been spun by the press against Corbyn and his supporters, as part of the on-going civil war being waged by the Blairites in the Labour Party. Most notable of these are the claims that anti-war campaigners and Corbyn supporters have been “bullying” so-called “moderate” MPs who voted for the bombing.
Of course we do not support the genuine bulling of MPs, where this may have genuinely occurred. But what do many of the claims of “bullying” amount to? Nothing more than that constituents lobbied their MPs ahead of the vote, and put pressure on them to oppose the bombing of Syria – a position that is official Labour Party policy, supported by the overwhelming majority of party members.
Terrified by the growing popularity for Corbyn and his anti-war stance (as demonstrated by the shift in polling figures and the strong Labour victory in Oldham), the Establishment has closed ranks to sling mud at Corbyn and his supporters. The hysteria over such “bullying”, “harassment”, and “intimidation” has grown to a deafening chorus, in order to distract from the real issues of austerity and war that the Tories are pushing on behalf of the ruling class.
Most eager to join in with this demonisation of Corbyn supporters are the Tory press and the right-wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party, with the whole media recently leaping at the chance to report about the “intimidation” that Stella Creasy – one of the 66 Labour MPs who voted for bombing – had received from anti-war protestors. Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party (and another of the 66), went so far as to call for the expulsion of any Labour members found to have participated in the lobbying in Walthamstow, Creasy’s constituency.
The accusation? That Corbyn supporters and anti-war campaigners had demonstrated outside Creasy’s home, and harassed members of staff in the local constituency’s Labour offices. The reality? A demonstration had taken place – not at Creasy’s home, but only outside of the Walthamstow Labour office…which was empty!
In the end, it was left to Creasy herself to clarify the situation, and Watson was forced to apologise for misrepresenting the facts. Needless to say, such backtracking and apologising receives few column inches in the press compared to the pages that are dedicated to slandering Corbyn and his supporters.
In reality, therefore, it is the media and the Blairites themselves – acting on behalf of the Establishment in order to undermine Corbyn – who are the biggest bullies and intimidators, as the Guardian reported:
“Steven Saxby, a local vicar and member of the Labour party who took part in the Walthamstow demonstration, accused Watson of his own form of intimidation. In a statementon Facebook, Saxby said: “I am shocked by Tom Watson’s statement. At the same time as I condemn intimidation of MPs, I reiterate that the vigil was not intimidation, and condemn those who seek to portray democratic, peaceful actions as such. This is also a form of intimidation. For my part, I shall not be intimidated into not speaking on issues about which I am passionate and alongside others within and beyond the Labour party.”
Jobs for life
It seems, according to a layer of politicians, that once elected, these ladies and gentlemen simply become a “Member of Parliament”, and nothing more. Once inside the Westminster bubble, they think they have a free hand to do as they please; or, in reality, to do as the bosses and bankers please. Never mind representing the views of their constituents, who they think should simply keep quiet and leave them to it.
Such careerist creatures might tolerate constituents writing a politely worded letter from time to time, but not too many – they wouldn’t want to be “inundated”! But if such letters are to remind MPs that the reality of dropping bombs is that children are killed, this – we are told – amounts to “bullying”! And if constituents organise a demonstration in front of Parliament, or a march that passes the Labour Party headquarters, or an MP’s constituency office – well, that’s no longer democracy, but an “intimidation”!
To cry “bullying” and “intimidation” in these cases is to turn reality on its head. Who are the real bullies and intimidators? Is it ordinary people, who by going on demonstrations and writing emails are trying to put pressure on their MPs not to support a bombing campaign that will kill thousands of innocent Syrian civilians? Or is it the Establishment, acting in the interests of British imperialism, and facilitated by MPs across the board, who from up high are seeking to drop tonnes of explosives on civilian areas, as part of a war that is only being waged to puff up their status on the world stage?
What has really riled these right-wing Labour “representatives” is that many of their constituents have dared to raise the idea of de-selection. God forbid that if they vote against the will of their constituents, and that of the party they claim to represent, they should face calls to be replaced by representatives who will actually put their views into practice! What keeps these Blairites awake at night is not the destruction and death that will be unleashed on civilians in Raqqa, but that their own careers might be on the line.
Such is the essence of bourgeois democracy, which Marx described as being the opportunity to vote once every five years or so for “a member of the ruling class to misrepresent and repress the people in parliament”!
What also of the remarks of David Cameron, who labelled Corbyn and Labour MPs planning to vote against the bombing as “terrorist sympathisers”; who when pressed for an apology 12 times in Parliament, refused to do so. Has this bullying behaviour attracted the outrage of the capitalist media? Hardly.
Instead, we had the Telegraph publish an article containing the claim from “a shadow cabinet member” [!], that “Jeremy Corbyn has made his MPs targets for home-grown jihadists” – not just any of his MPs, but specifically those who wanted to vote for war. The basis for this outrageous claim? That Jeremy Corbyn stated that as a result of allowing his MPs a free vote – something the Blairites had put enormous pressure on him to do – right-wing Labour MPs would have “no hiding place behind a whipping arrangement or not”.
So according to this anonymous shadow cabinet member, who finds an obliging outlet in the Tory press, any increased danger of attacks is not the responsibility of the MPs themselves who voted for the war, but on Jeremy Corbyn, for allowing a free vote. This truly astonishing piece of logic is akin to the doublespeak of George Orwell’s 1984, where for Big Brother, “peace” means war, “love” means hate, and “freedom” means slavery.
Such deceptions form a key element in the toolkit of the ruling class. In a society based on the exploitation of the majority by a tiny minority, all sorts of distortions and outright lies are used by the minority to justify their rule. The trick for them is to do so and not get caught out. In this respect, they are not always successful.
Take, for example, the Facebook post by Tory MP Lucy Allen, who added the words “unless you die” to an email from one of her constituents, insinuating that she had received a death threat. Allen was caught out when the constituent in question re-published his original email on her Facebook page. Although she deleted the post, she replied “My Facebook is my Facebook and I can write on it what I want. What I did was selective editing and I am allowed to do this” (our emphasis). So distortions are ok, so long as they are “selective editing”! Who knows what other information is “selectively edited” by the Tories and their friends in the media?
Such is the upside down world of capitalism, where billionaires who create no value whatsoever, but live off the labour of others are “wealth creators”; where those who are forced into poverty through structural unemployment are labelled “scroungers”; where “greed is good”; where “there is no such thing as society”; where lying is “selective editing”; where lobbying your MP is “bullying”; and where calling for democratic representation is “intimidation”.
The real bullies, aka. Tory “over-exuberance”
The hypocrisy of such claims of bullying is staggering, coming from the Tory Party. Here we have a party embroiled in a bullying scandal so extreme, that one of their youth activists killed himself, allegedly as a result of bullying by Mark Clarke, director of the party’s youth wing “Road Trip 2015” campaign, and others.
Elliott Johnson, 21, took his life on a railway track, having complained to the party a month before his death of systematic bullying by Mark Clarke and others. According to Tory MP Ben Howlett, at least six people had complained to the party about Mr Clarke’s conduct over a five-year period. Allegations also include blackmail and sexual harassment, and according to an anonymous former female activist speaking to Newsnight, Mr Clarke told her “if you try to take us on, we will ruin you”.
The Tory Party deny having received any written complaints about the behaviour of Mr Clarke, who himself also completely denies any wrongdoing. However, a note sent by a Tory activist to the Party HQ, and seen by the Guardian, stated that “I received I don’t even know how many complaints about Mark Clarke and CCHQ’s endorsement of him”, and that Elliot Johnson’s complaint was “the tip of the iceberg”.
The Tories initially appointed Edward Legard, a senior judge and chair of the Tory’s disciplinary committee, to investigate matters. However, under pressure from Elliot Johnson’s father, Mr Legard has since been removed from the case, as it was pointed out that he was a contemporary of David Cameron at Eton, and himself has stood as a Tory candidate for MP, and has served as a Tory councillor.
Commenting on the scandal, a senior Tory stated to the Financial Times:
“The Tory youth wing tends towards over-exuberance and needs to carefully controlled. They have always tended towards excess and from time to time they have to be reined back. In this case that clearly hasn’t happened.”
So here we have it straight from the horse’s mouth: young Tories tend towards “excess” (read: bullying), and “from time to time” have to be reined back. It appears such “excesses” however are not limited to the youth wing of the party, but are an organic feature of the party of the rich.
Defend Corbyn! Fight for Socialism!
In our view, this party of “over-exuberance” needs far more than simply to be “carefully controlled”. It needs removing from power; replaced by a party capable of defending the working class, and opposing imperialist wars. This means forging a party that is able to take not just political power, but economic power from the capitalists, and begin the transition to socialism.
The first step in this process, therefore, is to defend Corbyn against the Blairite Fifth Column within the Labour Party that is doing the work of the Tories, seeking to destabilise the Labour leader and remove him at every opportunity. Those right-wing Labour MPs who are taking part in this campaign against Corbyn, and who are supporting the Tories on the questions of war and austerity, must be told to shut up or get out.
The 66 Labour MPs who voted for the bombing of Syria, against the overwhelming view of the party membership, should be subject to the democratic control of their constituency parties and told in no uncertain terms: either you represent the anti-austerity, anti-war programme that Corbyn was overwhelming elected on, or you will be replaced by genuine socialists who will.
Defend Corbyn! Fight for Socialism!