“Fantasy land”, “delusional”, “insane”, exclaimed Britain’s billionaire-owned press, united in opposition to Labour’s leaked draft election manifesto, its most radical in decades. “Corbyn and his Marxist mob wish to deliver their 1970s glory days”, stated the Sun, “dogma has triumphed over common sense”, pronounced the Financial Times while the Telegraph, most succinctly expressing the policy of the capitalist class, warned that Labour under Corbyn “cannot be allowed anywhere near the levers of power”.
It is Britain’s wealthy elite who are living in “fantasy land”. The top 1% have seen their wealth multiply since the bailout of the banks and their “common sense” is to see this continue at the expense of working class people under the Tories. Corbyn’s policies, by contrast, are a triumph of common sense for workers sick of the effects of cuts, privatisation and precarious, low-wage employment.
A snap ComRes survey conducted after the leak showed voters support public ownership of the rail network (52%), energy market (49%) and Royal Mail (50%), with only a quarter of voters opposed (22, 24 and 25% respectively). Likewise, the banning of zero-hours contracts was backed emphatically by 71%, compared to just 16% against. Income tax hikes for those on salaries of more than £80,000 was supported by 65% of voters, with only 24% opposed, and over half (54%) said they supported the policy of building 100,000 more council houses each year.
Taken together, there can be little doubt the raising of the minimum wage to £10, the abolition of tuition fees and the many other measures outlined in the manifesto would contribute to a significant rise in the living standards of the majority of working class and middle class people.
It’s little wonder a key tactic of the Tory election campaign is to avoid, as far as possible, any discussion and debate on policy issues. Instead, they hope to win an increased majority by projecting the image that only the Tories can negotiate a Brexit deal in ‘Britain’s interests’, that is, the interests of the wealthy. They hope to sit back and allow their pro-big business allies inside the Labour Party, the Blairites, to do the dirty work for them in their ongoing campaign of sabotage against Corbyn, painting the Labour Party as hopelessly divided and its leadership incompetent.
Given this situation and the heavy media bias they face, it is imperative that Corbyn and McDonnell follow the example of the recent campaigns of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France and call mass rallies in every major city. It is important trade unions now get fully behind the campaign and leaders such as Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey – re-elected despite the best efforts of the Blairites – vocally and energetically campaign for Corbyn. Labour has the potential win this election if it can get its message effectively to the mass of ordinary people and mobilise working class support around their programme for change.
By Owen McCracken