Theresa May Emerges Out of Chaos 2

The British Labour Party leader makes Bernie Sanders look conservative.

Part One of this series described the social and media hysteria that surrounded Britain' exit from the European Union. In the British parliament, the hysteria intensified, encouraged by the Labour leader and his supporters.

Labour’s implosion

The House of Commons in Britain, wherein Theresa May is now the most important figure, has undergone seismic shifts since the general election of 2015.  Britain’s Labour Party has been in a state of disarray for some time. But since Ed Miliband failed to win the election of 2015 and was replaced by Jeremy Corbyn, the party has been careering towards a disaster of its own making.

"Red Ed" Miliband had changed the rules on party leadership selection, “democratizing” the election process by giving individual members a say in the vote. For a mere £3 a head, many people flocked to become members, and with the support of a coterie of far-left activists from Momentum, Corbyn went from being a back-bencher to become leader of the party.

Momentum is a pressure group founded by Jon Lansman. It has branches across the country and campaigns for Corbyn. Lansman approves of Labour MPs being forced to reapply for selection at general elections. A registered company called “Momentum Campaign Limited” was renamed “Jeremy for Labour Limited” on July 18th. The Momentum website had previously denied any relationship to this company, which is controlled by Jon Lansman and handles Momentum’s donations.  

How far-left is Jeremy Corbyn?  He has praised Hamas and has vowed to continue to hold talks with the terrorist group, as well as Iranian-funded terror group Hezbollah.  He has referred to both groups as “friends.”  Closer to home, in 1987, Corbyn had stood in silence at a tribute to dead IRA terrorists.

After numerous Labour representatives, including MPs, local government officials and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone made comments construed by many as anti-Semitic, Corbyn commissioned rights activist Shami Chakrabarti to compile a report on anti-Semitism of the party. At the launch of the report, Corbyn appeared to compare Israel to ISIS. Indeed, Corbyn’s friend, activist Marc Wadsworth, accused Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth of being in a “right-wing media conspiracy.” Chakrabarti has refused to deny that Corbyn offered her a peerage for compiling the report; meanwhile, Jewish MP Luciana Berger has been an ongoing target of anti-Semitic Tweets.

The Brexit referendum, while causing rifts and divisions in media and society, also brought matters to a head in both the Conservative and Labour Party. David Cameron announced on the day of the referendum result that he would be resigning, opening up the field for a leadership election. 

Corbyn had previously been seen as a Eurosceptic and though he officially supported “Remain” he was notoriously quiet in the weeks before the referendum.  Three days after the referendum, it was revealed that Corbyn sacked his Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, amid rumors of a coup. Benn had phoned Corbyn telling the Labour Party leader he had lost confidence in him. There followed a mass exodus of members of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, while Corbyn announced he would not resign.  

Two weeks later, Angela Eagle offered herself as the first potential challenger for Labour party leadership.  A brick was thrown through Eagle’s constituency office window, leading Labour MP Ben Bradshaw to urge Corbyn to “call off his Momentum thugs.” Police advised Eagle to close her constituency surgery over fears for her safety. After a man was arrested for death threats against Eagle, she conceded the challenge to a Welsh MP, Owen Smith.

On July 21st, Smith accused Corbyn of “awful treatment “of Labour women and even said of death threats within the party: “Jeremy (Corbyn) should have stamped on this a lot harder. He’s let it run. Some people think he has even encouraged it.”

On the same day (July 21st) Corbyn appeared to officially endorse “Momentum” policy, announcing that all Labour MPs could face compulsory reselection before they could stand again as Labour Party members. Corbyn expects MPs to display a loyalty that he himself never gave to Labour.

Corbyn the man

Jeremy Corbyn was born in Chippenham, Wiltshire, in 1949 to former peace campaigners who had met while opposing the rise of Spanish fascism in the 1930s. His father was an engineer, his mother a teacher. He was the youngest of four sons: David (b. 1942) John, (b. 1944) and Piers, (b. 1947) who runs a weather forecasting business.

Corbyn left school at 18, did voluntary work, briefly worked as a journalist and then became a trades union official. Aged 21 he started a course in Trades Union Studies but dropped out before completing a degree. After that he worked within trade unions and local government bodies as an affiliate of the Labour party.

Corbyn's first marriage to Jane L. Chapman lasted from 1975 until 1979, when she divorced him. Chapman claimed Corbyn never took her out for an evening in five years. He preferred to eat cold baked beans or to photocopy party documents than to be romantic, she said. At that time he had a cat called "Harold Wilson," named after the Labour politician who served two terms of office as prime minister. 

Chapman had already separated from Corbyn when she was confronted by a black Labour Party activist called Diane Abbott. Abbott had studied history at Cambridge University but shared Corbyn's radical left-wing views. Chapman claimed that Abbott told her to "get out of town."

After Jane Chapman left him, Corbyn is said to have taken Abbott on a motorbike tour of East Germany, almost a decade before the Berlin Wall came down. He had a Czech CZ motorbike at the time, which he prized.

In 1979, Corbyn was living in a one room apartment, and it was here that a biographer claims that Corbyn invited five activist friends back, apparently, to "show off" Abbott who was still in the bed, covering herself with a duvet. Their affair lasted barely a year, but Corbyn and Abbott continued to publicly campaign on poliical issues through the 1980s.

Abbott has remained Corbyn' staunchest ally in recent party disputes, but she herself has been involved in race-baiting scandals. In 2010 she referred to the then leaders of the government as "two posh white boys." In 2012 she apologized for claiming that "White people love to divide and rule." In 2015 she used race again, saying "the leadership in local government in London have looked like him (a white candidate for the role of London Mayor) since the days of the London council…"

In 1987 Corbyn married Claudia Bracchitta who bore him a son, Benjamin, in the same year. Corbyn divorced her in 1999 after she wanted Benjamin to attend a grammar school (a school which required a selection process based upon intellectual aptitude). Corbyn himself had attended a grammar school and his mother had taught math at a grammar school, but his socialist principles made him averse to intellectual elitism in education.

Corbyn has been with his current wife, Laura Alvarez, since 2013. They married in Mexico, her home country. According to the Daily Mail, he now owns a white and black cat, but this creature has no name. Corbyn maintains: "I always call it 'El Gato', which is just Spanish for cat."

Corbyn became a member of parliament, representing Islington North, in 1983, and has continued to represent that constituency ever since. The Labour Party at that time was in a state of crisis.  Its previous leader, Michael Foot, was a pacifist and supporter of nuclear disarmament. After Margaret Thatcher's success against Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands, Foot was seen as weak and irrelevant by the electorate and lost the general election. Shortly after Corbyn became an MP, Foot was replaced by Neil Kinnock as party leader.

During Foot's tenure, there had been an increasing problems with members of "Militant," a Trotskyite group that had been trying to infiltrate the Labour Party since at least the mid 1970s.  In 1982,  the Labour party's National Executive Committee had proscribed Militant and in 1983 five party members with links to the Militant group's newspaper were expelled from the party.

Nevertheless, Militant controlled the local government of Liverpool, and by the mid-1980s there were at least 8,000 Labour party members who were also Militant activists. Another Trotskyite group called Socialist Action has also tried "entrist" takeover tactics inside the Labour party.  Whether Jeremy Corbyn was actively connected to either of these two groups is unknown, but his views have always placed himself on the far left of socialist views, whereas the Labour part has traditionally been only "center left."

Another Trotskyite group, founded by Tony Cliff, was the Socialist Worker's Party which was influential in college campuses. On July 10th 1981 this group had been instrumental in causing street protests and riots in 24 locations across Britain, leading to questions in parliament's Upper House.

Leading figures in the Socialist Worker's Party would co-found the Stop the War Coalition in 2001, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, to "combat unjust wars." In 2011 Corbyn became the chairman of this group. He resigned his leadership of STWC in 2015 but vowed to continue supporting the group. Stop the War is vehemently against Western foreign policy, and has published articles on its website under Corbyn's chairmanship which actively downplay the actions of Islamist terrorists.

Corbyn has long allied himself with elements in the Labour Party who are avowedly left wing, like Ken Livingstone. But for many observers, his activist pressure group "Momentum" is no different in its aims and actions to the former "Militant" group.

The "£3 a head" Labour members who flocked to the party in 2015 are of different backgrounds, but many have been influenced by the leftist trends that have flourished in campuses. Like Corbyn himself, like the STWC and SWP and also the leadership of Momentum, they try to make common cause with allegedly "oppressed" groups . They often ignore the intolerance of many of those they champion and end up making common cause with open anti-Semites and others who are less than tolerant.

Though most pollsters are convinced that Corbyn will survive the current challenge to his leadership of the Labour Party, few people can see the Labour Party surviving Corbyn's leadership.

While the opposition is in disarray and almost unelectable, Theresa May has had nothing to stop her from taking control of Britain's parliament.  In the next article in this series, we'll see how she's got on with that.

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