The bald man in the BBC Question Time audience demanded answers from the Labour shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, but he wasn’t remotely interested in what she had to say, because he’d already diligently rote learned his political opinions from the right-wing media.
When he said “I’d like to hear an example of a country where Corbyn and McDonnell’s ideas have worked” you might have imagined that he was interested in listening to the answer, but when Thornberry replied “most of central Europe” and when pressed to name specific countries she said “Germany” and “Sweden” he sneered derisively as if she was the delusional one.
Thornberry’s response elicited cackling and sneering from the Tory tribailists in the BBC audience, but that just goes to show how these people have been led like sheep into believing that Jeremy Corbyn is some kind of terrifying left-wing extremist, rather than a centre-left democratic socialist who is proposing economic policies that are perfectly normal across Europe and the rest of the developed world.
Of course there is no country on Earth where a government has come to power and enacted absolutely everything in the Labour Party manifesto, but significant elements of Labour’s economic policies are absolutely commonplace across the developed world.
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s most prominent headline policies is the abolition of tuition fees (which should more accurately be described as Aspiration Taxes) and making university education free. University education is free (or very low cost) across most of Europe, including Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and let’s not forget Scotland either. If Germany and Scotland can afford to offer free university education, why can’t England?
Jeremy Corbyn wants to reverse the extreme Tory cuts to Corporation Tax that have been going on since 2010. He plans to increase the rate for major corporations to 26%, while setting a lower rate of 21% for small corporations. 26% would still be the lowest rate in the G7 advanced economies, which means Corbyn’s tax policies are so far from being extreme-left that they’re actually more pro-corporate than the USA, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada!
One of Corbyn and McDonnell’s most interesting ideas is the establishment of a National Investment Bank in order to fund future infrastructure projects. Other countries that have National Investment Banks/Sovereign Wealth Funds include Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and the Chinese economic powerhouse actually have several.
The Labour Party Manifesto pledged to renationalise the National Grid. Some might see this as radical leftist extremism, but they’d have to be utterly clueless to have been bamboozled into such a position by the right-wing dominated media, because the United States actually has a network of not-for-profit publicly accountable electricity distribution grids. Perhaps if you’re so rabidly right-wing that you think Texas is an extreme-left state awash with commies and Marxists you might believe that Corbyn’s energy policies are extreme-left, or perhaps you’ve got some semblance of a grip on reality?
Corbyn and McDonnell also want to renationalise the railways. There are several countries in the developed world with national rail companies including France, Norway, Singapore, Hong Kong and Italy. The really interesting thing is that under the Tories’ shambolic privatisation agenda these foreign state rail companies are actually running 74% of the franchises on the UK rail network, and the only country that is banned from bidding to run UK rail franchises is the UK itself. Perhaps a more pertinent question when it comes to national rail networks would be to ask for an example of another country that has made such a godawful mess of their rail network?
Another Labour Manifesto pledge was to bring the Royal Mail back under public ownership. Other countries with national mail systems include Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and Finland.
Then there’s the policy of reversing the Tory strategy of carving up the NHS and distributing the pieces to profiteering corporations (including corporations run by major Tory party donors). You don’t have to look very far for an example of a successful not-for-profit public health system. The NHS itself was doing brilliantly before the Tories set about vandalising it. The NHS was ranked as the most efficient health service in the world, and had the highest approval ratings ever, then the Tories imposed huge austerity cuts and imposed a massive top down reorganisation called the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. Since then waiting times have skyrocketed, huge numbers of A&E units, maternity wards and walk in centres have been axed (often against furious local opposition), NHS staff are overworked, underpaid and demoralised and huge numbers of people are dying as a consequence.
The truth is that we don’t have to look abroad for evidence that Labour’s policies work, we just have to look at the devastating ideological vandalism the Tories are inflicting on the NHS, and recognise that Labour have pledged to stop the vandalism and set about reversing the damage.
The problem of course is that vast numbers of people are so shockingly gullible that they simply believe what the mainstream media tell them about Jeremy Corbyn being some kind of terrifying leftist bogeyman with bonkers extreme-left policies. They’re unwilling to even consider the fact that most of Corbyn’s headline economic policies are commonplace across the developed world, and in fact it’s radically right-wing Tory policies like handing control of state schools to private sector pseudo-charities, privatising police services, and vandalising the health system that are desperately unpopular, and pretty damned rare in successful developed economies.
So the big question has to be how do we reach out to people who are so damned gullible that they uncritically rote learn the mainstream media propaganda about Jeremy Corbyn being an extreme-left bogeyman, and sneer derisively when anyone points out the fact that Corbyn’s policies are absolutely commonplace across the developed world while the Tories are the ideological extremists?
How do we reach out to people who prefer to believe in mainstream media lies than in observable reality?