Anti-semitism: it is time to listen, reflect and learn

The issue of anti-semitism on the left has to be taken seriously. I do not believe that the Labour Party or even the left of the Labour Party is any worse than the rest of society or any other political party. But I do believe that members of the Labour Party have a special responsibility because we value and regard egalitarianism, equality and justice above all else. We have to be held to higher standards. We have to hold ourselves to higher standards.

There are lazy anti-semitic tropes, conspiracy theories, Israeli lobbies etc. We must do better. We can criticise the Isreali government, but we have to be more rigorous and more critical in the choice of language. We must become better educated in the history and culture of anti-semitism – an insidious destructive and evil form of racism.

We must be aware of the different Jewish perspectives on Zionism, nationalism and complexities of religious and political beliefs. There are orthodox Jews who consider anti-Zionism to be anti-semitism there are progressive Jews who make a distinction (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b083n15d). My point is we must not be lured into bigotry through intellectual laziness and idle appeals to conspiracy theory. It is worth reading the first part of The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt on the history of anti-semitism. Also, see this brilliant video from Eleanor Penny of Novarmedia.

For those with left views, we must remain focussed on our central project, the class struggle against capital, and for human rights and egalitarianism. We must not get drawn into a culture war by throwing around lazy tropes.

The allegations made against the left in the Labour Party are hard, the feel personal since we value morality and our morality is being questioned. It is easy – and I have seen comrades do this in the last twenty-four hours – to lash out and get drawn into mudslinging and in the worst examples, resort to anti-semitic tropes and conspiracy construct. Please don’t – pull back, reflect, read and consider the long history of anti-semitism. When our morality and moral purpose is publicly interrogated we only humiliate ourselves when we do not take the time to think or to educate ourselves. We do not humiliate ourselves when we concede that our past behaviours may have been misguided or wrong. That is the essence of education.

The last twenty-four hours have been a hard experience, but it also presents us with an opportunity to learn and adapt. If we refuse to do that, if we refuse to learn, then we adopt the bigotry of the far right.

Do I think we should ignore those that have used this situation for political gain? No, I don’t. When I see the likes of Norman Tebbit and Ian Paisley Junior standing shoulder to shoulder with Labour MPs, it makes me sick to the core. But like Mehdir Hasan, I can walk and chew at the same time, I can oppose anti-semitism, I can do what I can to make the Labour Party a safe place for Jews, but I can also call out the smears and political opportunism. The opportunism that in itself undermines and devalues the struggle against bigotry, anti-semitism and anti-racism.

It is important to see Jeremy Corbyn’s response not as a concession, as giving into bullies, but as a self-aware, reflective and intelligent response to the situation. It is an outstanding example for party members.

Out of this, we on the left will be stronger, more educated, more inclusive and even better equipped for a democratic socialist government.

On the EU, the Single Market and the Labour Party

The result of the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum on 23rd June 2016 resulted in 51.89 per cent of the electorate voting to leave. I voted remain.

The terms of the referendum stated clearly that the government would act on whatever the outcome of the referendum was.

There continue to be arguments about whether the referendum was merely advisory and that it should not be binding, or whether the Leave campaign lied and misled voters and leave won under false pretences or whether there was a sufficient majority or participation to make it clear.

My view is the result is what it is and that under the terms of the referendum, the result must be respected.  I don’t mean that people should not continue with arguments for staying in the EU, but, in my view, the outcome, prima facie, should be respected.

During the referendum campaign I was equivocal about the EU, I see its benefits but I see its drawbacks too. On balance – and because it would be a Conservative-led departure – I voted remain.

I fully acknowledge that leaving the EU is a huge undertaking, there are many risks and the scale and complexity of the task is beyond comprehension. The constitutional lawyer, Professor Michael Doughan, sets out some of the numerous interrelated constitutional matters that must be resolved. The uncertainty of the process, the lack of planning and the lack of an overall plan, could in themselves lead to a conclusion that we should simply remain in the EU. I have sympathy with that, but I don’t agree.  My two main reasons are as follows.

The first is that ignoring the referendum result would result in a crisis of democracy, perhaps even a constitutional crisis. People having made their decision and voted accordingly would rightly feel cheated if the result were overturned. Moreover, it would add to a growing sense of mistrust in politics and politicians. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2017:

Among the least well-off 25 per cent of the population, trust in government has fallen to just 20 per cent, one of the lowest figures ever recorded in the history of the Trust Barometer. This might not be surprising, but the sickly condition of trust seems to have infected even the wealthiest tiers of British society: last year 54 per cent of the wealthiest said they trusted government; this year that figure has plummeted to 38 per cent1Edelman Trust Barometer 2017, Crisis of Trust in post-Brexit Britain, p. 2

It is imperative that we uphold democracy. Although a worthwhile purpose in itself, it is of particular importance when it is the far right who would capitalise: the nationalists and xenophobes who trade on people’s emotions under conditions of democratic deficit and lack of opportunity.

Liberals may say that the trade off is not worth it. Sterling is falling, private debt is rising, growth is slowing and EU workers, as a consequence of uncertainty, are leaving the UK. All this, they might say, is reason enough to stop Brexit.

I disagree. While I agree with some of the above concerns; some, such as falling sterling are not as serious as is suggested. But central to our economic woes is austerity. This has the overriding influence on our economy. That is not to say our relationship with the EU and our trading arrangements is not a factor, but primarily we have to look at domestic fiscal policy as well as our own industrial strategy to see the principle drivers of our economic problems. And this is my second main reason for upholding the referendum result, political economy.

It is the UK’s commitment to liberal economics, over the past 40 years, that has put us in our current economic spot. It is based on the belief that a freemarket, with minimum regulation, generates wealth and this rising tide will float all boats. It hasn’t. Thomas Piketty’s  analysis demonstrates the growth in inequality over the last few decades in the UK, Europe and in the USA. And although some centrist governments have made greater commitments to public spending, liberal economics has been prioritised. This means a minimal role for the state, the reductions and minimisation of public deficits and controls on nationalised industry and services. Furthermore the liberalisations of finance to permit the growth in private-sector debt.

These conditions, often referred to as neoliberalism, have been the defining features of political, economic and social conditions in the US and Europe. The EU, as a supranational organisation, is of this, it has grown under these conditions, its constitution is based on the principles of liberal economics and the freemarket. The Maastricht Treaty and the Single Market are there to engender free trade, the harmonisation of regulation and law across boundaries.

Generally, the principles of the EU are intended to serve humanity and protect and represent the people of Europe fairly and with respect to human rights. But there is a fundamental clash. A clash between the liberalisation of markets, as a priority, and the needs of those who have limited representation and minimal power. We see capital within the European Single Market privileged over and above the rights of workers.

We can look at the EU as a monument to multinational liberalism, a great achievement. But, at the same time, we cannot ignore its limitations in terms of political economy. The power it has been granted means that the centre of gravity within its operations favours freemarkets and capital, over labour and workers.

The Tory vision of Brexit means one of two things, or even a combination of the two. 1) Sovereignty, returning law making and decision making back to the EU, so that the UK elite have unfettered right to exploit the working class of the UK. 2) A reduction in corporation taxes to attract business to exploit UK labour and compete with the EU.

The Labour approach is nuanced. It respects the importance of trade with the EU and the complex supply chains that exist within and without of UK territoires. Trade with the Single Market is of major importance to the UK economy. At the same time, it is important that a UK Labour government has the freedom to have a democratically agreed industrial strategy. This might require nationalisation or state aid. This has the potential to clash with the principles of the EU. It is necessary that the UK remains open-minded in its negotiation with the EU over its membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union.

It is important to be reminded that although Labour did not win the General Election in 2017, its showing was significant in both national and international politics. What the Labour Party has demonstrated is that it is in a position to win a general election with a manifesto that represents a break from neoliberalism. It has a commitment to Keynesian economincs, using public spending to create full employment and manage demand and distribute prosperity more widely and fairly.

This represents a challenge to the EU consensus. I imagine not an unwelcome one in many parts, since there must be recognition of the limitations of the EU’s economic liberalism and the problems and inequalities that has created across Europe.

Given the complexity and scale of the issues within nations and across them. It has to be welcomed that the UK Labour Party is looking to try to negotiate productively and fairly with its neighbours. It has opted to be open minded, but is committed to fundamental principles of social justice, equality, fairness and functioning democracy.

It is disappointing that fifty or so Labour MPs, including my own, supported Chuka Umunna’s amendment to commit to the EU Single Market last week. While we must not rule out such a membership, we have to commit to a more nuanced position. And, while still encouraging debate, I suggest that Labour MPs prioritise party unity. They need to be ready to govern and ready to have some grown-up discussions and debates with the country and with our EU neighbours.

References

Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the twenty-first century (A. Goldhammer, Trans.). The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

 

 

This changes everything

I was feeling numb at five minutes to ten last Thursday. I had been campaigning intensely for the Labour party – both professionally and in a personal capacity – for months. It came up on Twitter, the mainstream media were saying that exit polls predicted a hung parliament. And while the Conservative party were predicted to be the largest party, the result for me marked a major change in British politics. It was going to be an exciting night.

So it turned out. As the results came in through the night it was clear that Labour had increased its share of the vote from April polls of about 25 per cent to 40 per cent in the General Election. This was unprecedented.

What is so significant, is the election result demonstrates strong support for a radically different economic and social policy. Radically different from the consensus that had existed between the major parties since the 1970s.

Keynes is back baby. The manufactured consent around a liberal/ neoliberal political economy which focuses on controlling public-sector spending and facilitating wealth creation has been shaken to its core. Particularly because it was the cause of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and it prompted the austerity approach adopted by the Coalition government and Tory governments from 2010 to 2017. Neoliberalism and austerity has undermined public services and exacerbated inequality.

When I say Keynes is back, I mean that we stop the purblind view of the importance of wealth creators, but begin to look again at the role of government spending in creating demand. Wealth creators cannot attract wealth unless ordinary people have sufficient money to purchase things in the economy.

Government can increase that wealth through redistribution (e.g. progressive taxation), increased investment in the economy (e.g. through infrastructure, health and education) and more robust regulation of the financial sector (addressing exploitation of private debt). Since the UK government has a sovereign currency it can use its capacity to spend, tax and regulate to rebalance the economy.

Keynes is back, but it’s been upgraded by contemporary economists. I have written about it in the following posts:

http://stevenwatson.co.uk/2017/01/mmt-school-spending/

http://stevenwatson.co.uk/2017/02/spendandtax/

The consequence for teachers, educators and academics is that we have to start thinking differently. We have to think about what education might look like in a post-neoliberal world. Some of my thoughts are in the following post:

http://stevenwatson.co.uk/2017/05/laboureducationge2017/

Since the Labour Party’s positive manifesto has been welcomed by the country, we must now go further and think about how we transform our education system. Transform from a marketised, privatised and commodified system into a democratic system that serves communities and the nation in an inclusive way. Paying attention to social justice, peace, environment, community cohesion and individual and collective intellectual development. A system that must effectively serve people more and serve less those that run and control it.

Exciting times, I look forward to the debate.

 

The Labour Party’s radical vision for education: the opportunity of a lifetime

Judging by the polls, as UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap General Election on the 18 April, you would be forgiven for thinking that the result is a foregone conclusion. And, for that matter, with a resounding Tory victory. But this election is anything but a foregone conclusion. It is set to be closer than commentators predict. People must now make a serious choice, a serious decision — rather than simply express a preference.

And already, after a week of campaigning, the polls have narrowed. Even though the Tories continue to retain a commanding lead over Labour Party, it is evident that the Labour Party have gathered some momentum. Compared with the Tories, the Labour Party have campaigned very effectively in this first week.

The following is the standing ovation Jeremy Corbyn received from the headteachers at the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) conference in Telford 30 April 2017. While I expected him to be given a polite reception, I was surprised by this. There is clearly something in the air.

 

And so, there is everything to play for.

An end to austerity, neoliberalism and privatisation in education

There probably never has been a more important election for education. The choice between the two main political parties has never be starker. The Tories will continue with academisation, free schools, privatisation, marketisation, a return to selective schools and a school choice agenda. While the Labour Party plans to restore Local Education Authorities and create a National Education Service. The Labour Party plans to bring education back into the public sector.

This general election could mark the end of an education policy consensus that has existed since the 1970s. Since then, education policy has been moving toward marketisation and privatisation. Schools have increasingly come to compete with one another; with an emphasis on centralised accountability (which is frequently punitive); high-stakes assessment and progress measurement; surveillance and performativity; managerialism and hierarchical management structures; intensification of teachers work; and the undermining of teachers’ pay and conditions.

Some argue that these reforms have improved the educational outcomes of many children. They also argue that closer the scrutiny of schools ensures that students make progress and achieve in final examinations. And that this, they claim, has improved the quality of teaching and learning.

These are exaggerated claims, educational reforms have led to more heat than light. There has been lots of noise and increasing demands placed on schools and teachers, yet with very little real insight into the implications of policy. Furthermore, claims made by successive governments are too often based on a selective reading of data. They ignore the complexity of education and identify simple—and frequently overly reductive—measurements to try and determine the impact of policy.

While I don’t personally have a particular passion for international comparisons, the following data visualisation for reading performance in the OECD PISA tests shows negligible change in students’ reading performance in England. There is a similar picture for mathematics and science.

That is not to say that the general level of teachers’ knowledge and skill has not improved over the last 40 years. Education research, theory and practice has developed in that time, comprehensive schools have matured and developed. But this is in spite of policy rather than because of it. I would go as far as to say that marketisation has hindered the progress that teachers, themselves, have tried to make through this time.

A new economics for a post-Keynesian age

It is important to recognise that the Labour Party’s education policy, like its other public sector policies, is based on a different kind of economic approach. All governments in the UK since the latter half of the 1970s have adopted a similar economic approach. An approach that prioritises and privileges the freemarket. The privatisation and marketisation of education is a consequence of this economic thinking. The electorate are encouraged to accept freemarket policy in education because it will supposedly give them more choice. Furthermore, choice and competition will motivate schools and teachers to deliver higher standards. However, there is little evidence to support this conclusion.

Privatisation and marketisation in state education is justified with claims of increased efficiency, higher standards and the advantages of parental choice. These disguise the economic thinking and political choices that drives policy in this direction. The real reason is a response to the problems faced by capitalism more generally. Capitalism is a system of political economy which involves using resources, money and labour to return profits. For 200 years it has been the dominant political economy in the UK.

In the 1960s, capitalism was undergoing one of its periodic crises. Capitalists were finding it increasingly difficult to sustain profit levels. Over the next decade governments used economic policy to make it possible for capitalists to preserve their profits. A key part of which involves reducing the role of the state and the control of state spending. Subsequently, all governments have been preoccupied with reducing public sector deficits. In other words, reducing the amount of public spending and reducing the size of the state. Additionally, and increasingly, governments have privatised and outsourced public services. The argument has been, of course, for efficiency and choice. When in fact the aim has been to preserve profits in the private sector.

A smaller state provides opportunities for private-sector providers to move into providing public-sector services. We have observed this trajectory in the UK, in health, education and even with prisons. While some private providers claim to be not-for-profit organisations, for all intents and purposes, they are capitalist organisations. And necessarily they must accumulate capital. This may not be through generating surpluses or profits, as we might imagine. But it is also achieved through the expansion of their organisation.

In 1988, with the introduction of the Education Reform Act, the process of the privatisation of education was enacted in legislation. City Technology Colleges under Conservative governments in the late 1980s and 1990s were the initiates of privatisation. The New Labour government refined this idea and introduced their Academies programme. The process was further accelerated under the Coalition government where Multi-Academy Trusts were established as private limited companies and billions of pounds of a publicly owned assets were transferred to the private sector. The history of this has been one of cross-party consensus in the privatisation of education by stealth.

This is what is referred to as neoliberalism. It goes under many names: liberal economics, deficit reduction, living within our means and austerity. All these mean the same thing, the preservation of the profitability of capitalism. While I do not intend to go into it in detail here, the reduction in public sector spending leads to increasing levels of private sector debt. In addition, the power of individuals to organise at work and protect pay and conditions is undermined by limiting the powers of Trades Unions. Neoliberalism leads to growing inequalities in society, the rich get richer the poor get poorer and in turn this leads to social unrest . It gives an opportunity for the far right to promote simple divisive answers, attractive to those that have not benefited from neoliberalism.

The following illustrates the trend in wealth inequality in the UK. Notice the upward trend after long period of decreasing inequality in the first part of the twentieth century.

Wealth inequality in the UK

 

The following shows the growth in wealth inequality (The Gini coefficient ranges from 0 for perfect equality to 1 where one person has the majority of income). Note how this rises in the mid 1970s to the 1990s where it has remained constant subsequently.

The following shows UK inequality compared with other nations based on the Gini coefficient.

This video illustrates the extent of inequality in the UK.

Teachers and schools must cope with the challenges of high-stakes inspection and accountability. Furthermore, they must respond to the social problems created by neoliberalism. The managerial and hierarchical system combined with accountability results in a bureaucratic system. The bureaucracy places further demand on teachers since it undermines their capacity and power to use their judgement in their job. While efficiently run schools are often characterised by systems, rules and procedures, these often become a dominating rather than supporting structure. This limits teacher agency within this environment.

We are in a period of economic change. The Global Financial Crisis of 2008, was the clearest of indicators of the failure of neoliberal economics. Mounting private debt and an unregulated financial sector in the USA led to a truly global financial collapse. Governments, in leading nations worldwide, have subsequently failed to heed the warnings and reform their economies. Instead they have continued with neoliberalism and austerity.

It really doesn’t have to be this way. Governments, like the UK government, can increase public spending with economic justification and keep education within the public sector. The preoccupation with deficit reduction is disingenuous. It is a matter of simple accounting, that as part of the normal operating condition of an economy, where the government has its own sovereign currency, the country will run a public-sector deficit. This ensures that the private sector, that is, people, households and businesses, can hold a surplus. In other words, they can save for a rainy day. The government with its power to create currency does not have to save in the same way, because it has the power to spend when needed.

John Maynard Keynes recognised that when the economy has excess capacity, it is a necessary for the government to inflate the economy through public spending. Currently we have excess demand for health, social care, education and training. By increasing spending, we can fulfil more of this demand, and improve the quality of our education system. This is a necessary and valuable investment in our education system.

Increasing public spending, making taxation progressive (fairer), regulating the financial sector and controlling the movement of capital will reduce the level of wealth and income inequality in the UK.

While the Labour Party has not published its General Election manifesto yet, this has been the essence of the economic policy put forward by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell since they assumed the leadership of the Labour Party in September 2015. It is for this reason, they have been vilified by mainstream media and establishment. This proposal for wealth redistribution is an attack on the 1 per cent, the same people who have controlling interest in the media and in establishment institutions. It is little wonder that Corbyn has been subject to ferocious attacks in the media.

Labour’s education manifesto: the National Education Service

There have been several policy announcements. The most important, and the most overarching policy proposal is the National Education Service. This is analogous to the National Health Service, a cradle-to-grave national service which provides education for all and free at the point of use. This provision is from early years right through to higher education. This provides a complete and complementary collaborative service for the provision of education.
It will not be a fragmented system of providers competing for resources or competing to educate pupils and students who require least investment. The National Education Service restores collaboration. It would put knowledge, skills and experience at the heart of its mission. This is because, under a different economic model, organisations would not be preoccupied with narrowly defined outcomes as they are in the current neoliberal system.

There would be less emphasis on bureaucracy, hierarchy and managerialism. The focus of organisational leadership would be on collectives, comprising stakeholders, practitioners and experts. All with diverse views and experience, but with a commitment to developing education through participation and democratic approaches. Leadership becomes important in a different way. No longer will it be presidential or in the style of a chief executive officer. It will be a role in which the leader must convene and ensure effective participation, deliberation and decision making.

The current neoliberal system tends toward bureaucratic processes, which undermine the power of practitioners to use their judgement. The reality teachers’ day-to-day practice involves moral judgement much more than it does logical or scientific reasoning. Practitioners, teachers and education workers need to be empowered to use their judgement. They also need opportunities to develop and test their judgement, they need sophisticated understanding of their professional learning and development. They also need to contribute to the overall philosophy, rationale and principle of the National Education Service.

To support a National Education Service requires first-class research and development. Currently there are calls to make educational research a science. It isn’t a science. But it can draw on scientific principles. But central to the development of educational policy and practice is the relationship between theory and practice. This means that human judgement must intervene in logically derived conclusions. That is not to say that scientific research is not an important part of educational research. Although, it is a mistake to believe that by simply undertaking a randomised-control trial education research becomes scientific. Merely following scientific procedures does not mean that we have been scientific. The process of educational research has much in common with science in that we scrutinise our knowledge of the world, elaborate on existing theory and attempt to make predictions. The key difference with educational research is that it is in the field of complex human relationships, cultures and practice. It is necessary to recognise that a refutation or a new theory does not by itself change behaviour. Advanced educational research acknowledges the humanity of thinking and behaviour.

One of Jeremy Corbyn’s aspirations is to transfer more power to the people. The participatory nature of the National Education Service allows for greater democratic participation of practitioners and stakeholders. It would also see the restoration of the Local Education Authority. This would also restore education to the ownership of local communities, with local democratic accountability.

Jeremy Corbyn speech to the NAHT can be found at the following:

http://press.labour.org.uk/post/160149172594/jeremy-corbyn-speech-to-the-national-association

Further details about education policy have been announced. The Labour Party will reverse the £3 billion worth of cuts that the Tory government have planned for schools. They will also abolish tuition fees for undergraduates. They have announced £160 million worth of funding for arts education. There will be universal free school meals for primary children and the introduction of VAT on independent school fees. They will reintroduce Educational Maintenance Allowance for young people still in education. I also expect to hear further support for Further Education, adult learning and part time courses such as those with the Open University. Similarly, I expect proposals for the funding of higher degrees and research degrees at masters and PhD level. I would also expect to see the recent Higher Education and Research Bill, which legislates further marketisation and privatisation of higher education, to be repealed by a Labour government.

Jeremy Corbyn speech to the NAHT can be found at the following:

http://press.labour.org.uk/post/160149172594/jeremy-corbyn-speech-to-the-national-association

While the Labour Party’s proposals are still taking shape, an understanding of the underlying economic vision that is driving policy proposals, means it is possible to give a sense of what a future education system could be like. It would be an inclusive system for the many and not the few. It would promote social mobility, and help young people in becoming educated and informed participants in democracy.

Though there will be cynics who will say this is not possible, who will say that it cannot be done and who do not trust the inherent good nature of humanity. It is this cynicism and apathy that is the barrier to an ambitious future of something fairer and better.

For the first time in my life, we are closer than ever to something truly transformative. And it is through working together, and a belief in something better, that this vision can be realised. It is not dependent on a single leader to deliver it, like in the past, but it is dependent on a political leader to facilitate and empower the many to turn a collective vision into reality. As Corbyn recently described his own leadership style:

For many years, I couldn’t see much beyond how so many political leaders manipulated us while giving in again and again to vested interests. I didn’t want to be like that. And it wasn’t clear to me there could be another way. But I’ve learned there is. Whereas insecure leaders want to feel stronger by asking you to give them more power. I recognise strong leadership as equipping you with more power…Because there’s no doubt that these are anxious times. Individually, more of us face uncertainty at work. Nationally, we wonder how we will make the transition out of the EU in a way that protects jobs and living standards. And globally, we wonder how safe we are as extreme right wing movements and violent conflicts spread. I hope you can see now that there is more than one way to respond. We could seek a fragile calm. And hope someone in power knows what they’re doing and will guide us through. That means looking to whoever’s in charge and welcoming their reassurance. We don’t look further, we don’t ask questions. It’s the response the few have bet on the many settling for. I’m in this job because I believe there is a better way to respond. It’s about rejecting fake reassurances or simple slogans from government. It’s about sharing ideas and deciding upon real and lasting answers. We are not going to have free thinking shut down by a hostile media or an elite that scoffs at anyone who dares to step out line. No, each of us has a contribution to make. We have ideas for a better tomorrow and we are going to respond together. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the UK Labour Party, April 2017

Let us not miss this opportunity.

The real opposition

It is the first time in my life that the UK Labour Party has been a genuine opposition party and prepared to govern to bring about reforms to the economy and to society.

Against the backdrop of troubles across the world, it is cause for hope.

Since the 1960s, we have been living under increasing financial deregulation. Banks, financial institutions and large corporations have been given greater freedoms in how they behave and in the influence they have over governments. At the same time, ordinary people’s democratic rights have been eroded. The elite have been freed to accumulate extreme levels of wealth. And in so doing, they have expanded their power base and influence through government, through political parties, through institutions and through society. They can continually remind us that there is no other way: that a market economy is good. Their economists tell us that resources are distributed fairly through society only through the freemarket. They try and make us believe that the economy works like a business or a household; where, if the country spends too much, we go into debt. This debt, if not dealt with through austerity, will expand and be passed on to subsequent generations. So they say.

These are lies simply to justify the excesses of those with immense wealth and power.

Very few of the so-called 1 per cent are inherently bad or greedy people. It is but a natural response to defend your interests, your capital and wealth. We do it all the time. Except, when an individual or a group of individuals, say Rupert Murdoch or private financial institutions, set in motion actions to defend and protect their interests, with billions of pounds of resources, well-developed organisational infrastructure and media reach, it has a profound and powerful effect. Their message continually gets into our homes, our workplaces, it pervades and lingers in our thinking. Many of us know what is going on, but the pervasiveness of their message sows doubt and uncertainty, it undermines our power to resist.

And we concede, we submit to what Margaret Thatcher said, “there is no alternative. We submit to neoliberalism as an inevitability. Maybe we can gain a few concessions, but we accept the overall scheme of things.

Much as New Labour did under Blair and Brown.

But then we go to war in Iraq to perpetuate the industrial-military complex, to create an enemy and to further promote doubt and fear. Then the banks are exposed to have been too greedy, they have given out too much credit and it has limited value. Our subservient politicians submit to their city masters and create public money to save these institutions. At the same time they allow industry to fail and jobs to go, because that is, as they say, the nature of the freemarket.

Politicians then deepen austerity, not because it will improve the economy, but because it allows more state services to be transferred to big business. Public services that are not profitable are scrapped.

The Labour Party, having been in the grip of the interests of finance and big business since the 1970s, abandoned the ordinary people of the UK in order to play the politics that was dictated by banks, corporations and the obscenely wealthy. New Labour threw a few crumbs to the people in return for votes, but did not have the courage to do what was necessary. Blair betrayed the people of Britain for his own personal wealth and aggrandizement. Between 1997 and 2010, the Labour Party lost just shy of five million votes.

It is no surprise then, when a large proportion of the Labour Party membership vote a left-wing MP into the leadership position. Jeremy Corbyn has spent his entire political career opposing neoliberalism. He is elected to lead a real opposition. It leads to a shite storm of such fury that it makes you lose sleep at night and it rattles your nerves. You feel the full force of Murdoch, J P Morgan, Branson etc., the rest of the establishment’s contempt and their intent to destroy.

Oddly, commentators talk about there being no opposition. What they mean is they want a Labour leader who will play the old game. One who knows the rules. One who will play politics within the parameters set by the elite. They want a spectacle, a good gladiator who will fight in the empire’s Colosseum. Put on a good show. But, they  must not say what needs to be said. They must not challenge the democratic deficit, obscene inequality and the unfairness that has grown out of all proportion since our politicians handed society to the bankers.

But the commentators are stupid. Their uncritical subservience to economic liberalism has been the incubator for the far right. And if they persist they will have been complicit in re-creating totalitarianism. We are already seeing it happen.

This is why I give my full support to Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell and their small group of loyal MPs. It is this group that are prepared to take it on. It’s hackneyed, but they are prepared to speak truth to power. They have limitations. They have no infrastructure save a party machinery that is hostile to them. They are in a weak position. But they have demonstrated courage, conviction and determination in weathering the storm that has come from both within the party and from the establishment. Overall, they have remained steadfast in their opposition to the status quo.

If society is to have any hope in these difficult times, then we must support our real opposition. We must oppose the fake and false politics of the politicians and commentators who have become the lackeys of finance and big business.