The possibility that Jeremy Corbyn– who never misses an opportunity to express “solidarity” with repressive and undemocratic regimes of the Left– could actually end up as the leader of the UK Labour party ought to remind anyone with a sense of history how this would betray the party’s great anti-totalitarian heritage.
Can you imagine Corbyn saying, as Aneurin Bevan, then the leader of the Labour party Left, said in 1951: “The Communist party is the sworn inveterate enemy of the socialist and democratic parties”?
Or can you imagine him reacting to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev as Labour party leaders did during his visit to the UK in 1955 (from a book called The Fifties by Peter Lewis)?
Mr K, as the headlines called him, was pleasantly enough impressed by the hospitality of [Conservative Prime Minister Anthony] Eden’s dacha, Chequers, by tea with the Queen, and by learning from Winston Churchill how to eat oysters. He also watched Churchill nodding off in his seat in the Commons. It was a peaceful scene of bonhomie, but it was shattered by the Parliamentary Labour Party. [At a dinner they gave him] Hugh Gaitskell, the party leader, presented a list of Social Democrats imprisoned in Eastern Europe. Khrushchev asked truculently why he should care what happened to the enemies of the working class. George Brown shouted, “God forgive you”, Aneurin Bevan shook his finger at the guest with the warning “Don’t try to bully me!” and Khrushchev roared above the din: “I haven’t met people like you for thirty or forty years!” Unused to the rough and ready answering-back of British socialism, he remarked next day that if he lived in Britain he would be a Tory.
Of course not. Instead we see Corbyn appearing at “Cuba Solidarity” events and, with more than 80 other Labour MPs, signing onto a cringing and cringe-worthy Early Day Motion praising Cuba’s retiring murderous dictator Fidel Castro.
And before anyone starts declaring Jeremy Corbyn the British Bernie Sanders (or Sanders the American Jeremy Corbyn), consider this:
–Sanders, while clearly on the dovish side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has said and done plenty of things to enrage the anti-Israel Left. Corbyn, um, hasn’t.
–One can much more easily imagine Corbyn expressing “solidarity” with “socialist Vietnam” than saying, as Sanders did:
“The minimum wage in Vietnam is 56 cents an hour. Workers there cannot form independent unions. And if you protest government policy, you might end up in trouble. OK?”
–Sanders is far less likely to win the Democratic presidential nomination than Corbyn (unfortunately) is to win the Labour party leadership.