Jeremy Corbyn may well go down in history as the best Prime Minister Britain never had. I sincerely hope not, but given his propensity for honesty and courage in the face of Establishment hostility, his chances of making No 10 are always going to be slim. All nations spin their own fantasy narrative and Britain is one of the experts in this field. Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t like to play that game. He never has.
On all the big political questions of the day, Corbyn has, over a life-time in political service, endeavoured to speak truth to power. He has done in respect to Britain’s continuing occupation of the six counties of Ireland. He has done so in respect to Britain’s shameful collusion with the old apartheid South Africa. He has done so with Britain’s past and current colonial wars; in Iraq, in Libya and in Afghanistan. He has consistently spoken out against Britain’s collusion with corporate tax evasion, Britain’s international network of tax havens and Britain’s complicity in money laundering. He has been a champion against the insanity of nuclear weapons and he has always been a vociferous opponent of Britain’s immoral arms trade. Everywhere and at all times, Corbyn has been a rare sane voice for diplomacy, negotiation and international law. When you read Corbyn’s calm and considered response to the latest British anti-Russian hysteria, one cannot help but muse on what a wonderful Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn would make.
And he could have said quite a lot more. He could have reminded his readers that not only is Britain busy cosying up to the latest ruling despot from Saudi Arabia, but successive British governments, including New Labour under Blair and Brown, are only too happy to sell lethal weaponry to the Saudi’s who then reign down hell and damnation on their impoverished neighbours in Yemen. British weapons are, as we speak, causing untold casualties and misery in that unhappy country. Ditto in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan.
Corbyn might also have reminded his readers that Britain is a long-practiced expert in meddling in the political and economic affairs of other nations particularly those of Russia. In 1918, Britain was in the forefront of foreign capitalist nations seeking to strangle the young Soviet revolution in its cradle. That foreign intervention may well have contributed greatly in shaping the more dictatorial features of the Soviet Union. In fact, it can be soundly argued that Britain’s inter-war imperialist meddling and its refusal to create an anti-fascist alliance with the Soviet Union, contributed greatly to Hitler’s future barbaric Nazi conquests. Britain’s insistence on punitive reparation payments by Germany’s fledgling social democracy certainly proved to be instrumental in the rise of German fascism.
That meddling, despite a brief respite during the second great imperialist war, immediately resumed at the war’s conclusion. Instead of embracing the anti-fascist sentiment that was flourishing in the Soviet Union at the end of the war, both at government and popular levels, the British establishment continued its rabidly anti-socialist dirty tricks, only this time as a junior partner to Uncle Sam’s imperialist machinations. Those dirty tricks so very nearly led the world to nuclear destruction and Britain’s mindless cold-war foreign policy must take its share of the blame.
Corbyn was probably wise not to drag up this sordid British history but he might have chosen to remind the British electorate that the promises made to the Russians after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, were broken almost immediately. Promises were made by the US that NATO would not encroach on the territory of the former Eastern Bloc countries. But today, NATO troops are stationed right up to the very borders of Russian territory. Is it any wonder the Russian government feels hemmed in and a little paranoid?
Of course, we should not allow this long history of British imperialist manoeuvrings to blind ourselves to the fact that Russia is currently being run by a cabal of reactionary gangsters and oligarchs grown obscenely rich by the outright theft of the collective wealth of the former Soviet Union. Corbyn I suspect is under no illusion as to the nature of the current incumbents of the Kremlin. But if we are honest with ourselves much of the planet is in the hands of gangsters, not least those in and around the US White House. Corbyn is one of the few western politicians who is courageous enough to paint a wider context for the current Russian shenanigans. That context does not excuse likely Russian state complicity in a whole host of international meddling. It merely says that Russia is currently playing the same game that Britain has been involved in for centuries. A plague on both their mafia ways.