As soon as Jeremy Corbyn had won – by a dizzying margin – the Leadership of the Labour Party, the Conservative Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, came straight to the cameras to pronounce that the Labour party had just elected a leader ‘who is a threat to national security, domestic security and the security of your own home’.
Now that’s talking.
The term that arose from the anti-communist fearmongering whipped up in America by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s – a culture that ruined the careers and lives of thinkers and idealists, is defined as ‘the political practice of publicising accusations of disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence’.
The Fallon opening move was straight from the America of this mid 20th century era. Anyone with an independent intellect had to laugh out loud.
Mr Corbyn – and the Labour party – should have seen and been proud in that moment that the new Labour Leader is seen as a serious threat, not to ‘national security, domestic security and the security of your own home’ – but to the Conservative government; to big business that is not interested in honourably paying its way; and to the arms industry for which a Conservative Defence Secretary can be expected to have a natural affinity.
Who were we talking about here anyway?
Mr Corbyn is the brand new Leader of a demoralised rabble of a party – out of power, in opposition, devoid of talent, devoid of a sense of identity, devoid of principle and devoid of the ability to connect with the people who gave it birth.
He has no power; and until he emerged as someone who touched a popular hunger for honesty, ideas, philosophy and a listening intelligence, his party had no hope of recovery, although they were – are – clearly blind-sided to that truth.
What serious threat could ever have come from Corbyn? He was an invisible unknown, with no following until the people got to know him when he was patronisingly nominated as the sacrificial anode in the Labour Leadership election.
Corbyn is a thinker, an egalitarian, a humanitarian, an iconoclast, a pacifist. He is a man content to walk alone because he knows who he is and what he thinks. He is not constantly keeping his ear to the ground to pick up a hint on what position of the moment he ought to adopt.
What is wrong with any of that? What does it threaten? Have we become a culture afraid of thought? It looks like it.
Mr Corbyn does not court the press pack and has rightly been appalled by their ugly and invasive behaviour. Who has seen the statute that confers upon the press the right to interrupt a person’s progress in the street; to occupy their garden, cameras trained on their home; to ring their front door bells repeatedly; to shove cameras literally in their faces; to yell questions at them; to chase them; to harrass their family…
No one with any self respect would tolerate any of this for one second. It is to Mr Corbyn’s credit that he has no truck with it.
Journalists are saying to the other journalists who are interviewing them – an incestuous little cabal – that Corbyn will have to learn that as a Leader he needs to engage with the press?
Why on earth should he?
We need a Leader who does not need to inform the press what he is going to say before he has said it. We need journalists who can work out for themselves what someone is saying, without needing an army of spin doctors to spell it out for them.
Corbyn has appointed John McDonnell as Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer – and OMG, the very fabric of our society is on red alert at imminent risk of destruction. McDonnell once said, in rhetorical style, that if he could have his time again, he would have assassinated Thatcher. Who wouldn’t?
But even Labour politicians – as if any of them were worth listening to [and who has been listening to them in years], are now sucking their teeth about Corbyn’s judgment in appointing McDonnell to this post.
At the service for ‘The Few’ in the Battle of Britain on the 15th September, the camera recorded Corbyn standing straight, still, thoughtful – and quiet, while the congregation sang the National Anthem. The journos have distorted this to the extent that he is being said to have ‘refused’ to sing it.
Did anyone notice in his raucous rendering of the Red Flag that he cannot sing a note in tune? Did anyone wonder if he did not wish to inflict his tonal variations on an occasion he very obviously respected? Who knows? And who, with any sense, cares? There was absolutely nothing disrespectful in Corbyn’s demeanour at this moment, nor any evidence whatsoever that any disrespect was intended.
A fully hysterical Carole Malone on Sky’s late press review last night was literally shrieking that ‘He has managed to insult the most loved woman in the county. He has managed to insult the armed forces. He was sticking it to ordinary people.’
She was backed up by an almost equally hysterical Stig Abell of The Sun who proclaimed that the first three days of Corbyn’s tenure have been an absolute disaster. Why? Because they were different?
Abell also averred that Corbyn wants to ‘overthrow’ the monarchy. Is the new Labour Leader to be seen striding for the Thames with Her Maj over his shoulder in a fireman’s lift and splashdown in his eye?
This is the same Stig Abell who caused a huge nationwide furore only weeks ago in publishing a private home movie of the famously amateur-performative royal family larking about in private in their garden, mocking the Nazi salute but claimed by Abell’s Sun to be showing their true sympathies and to be training the young Princess Elizabeth to deliver this salute.
Back in the 1960s when Harold Wilson defeated Alec Douglas Home and ushered in a Labour government, a group of horrified retired army officers who clearly saw Wilson as ‘a threat to national security, domestic security and to the security of your home’ – planned a military coup against the new administration. There is evidence to indicate that they had got Prince Louis Mountbatten to agree to act as interim Head of State and that the plotters approached the then Queen Mother to seek her approval for the initiative. [She is said to have told them not to be silly.]
What is happening today is no less ‘aerated’. You have to blink hard to believe that what is being said is actually being said.
Beyond irony is that a strong popular vote for a man who is manifestly not one of the political clones who have all but sucked the life out of British political life has produced a universal chatterati condemnation of Corbyn – for being different. Go figure.
Has no one worked out why Corbyn lit a fire where Burnham, Cooper and Kendall made many healthy labour members wish for the statutory right to die?
Has no one stopped to think how on earth Labour can do any better than Corbyn when the best of those they considered their finest could not rouse more than 19% interest amongst their own voters in the leadership election? And Corbyn had no responsibility for the loss of the 2015 General Election they were never going to win, nor for the rout in Scotland which he will have to recover for the party – and which only he may have a chance of doing.