This post first appeared on Russia Insider
It’s not often that one finds oneself defending Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a voice of reason, but as Theresa May’s government strikes an increasingly jingoistic tone on Russia it’s worth listening to the veteran Marxist.
On 4th March 2018, former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a public bench in the British town of Salisbury. They were taken to hospital where tests revealed they’d been poisoned by a nerve agent. Immediately, as has become the norm in today’s climate of alternative facts and fake news, the press began a campaign of vitriol and militaristic sparring against the Russian nation, with accusations of aggression and espionage routinely espoused.
Soon after the event, politicians including the Prime Minister and her senior cabinet ministers began telling the public that it’s ‘highly likely’ that this action was sanctioned directly by the Kremlin. This accusation was further fueled by the revelation that the chemicals used were from a Russian-made Novichok agent, sparking another sustained media frenzy.
Then, at Prime Minister’s Questions on 14th March, Theresa May announced a series of measures designed to ‘punish’ the Russian state for its sinister act of aggression. This included the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats, as well as a strange aristocratic boycott of the football world cup in Russia later this year – whilst the national team is permitted to take part, no senior politicians or members of the Royal Family will attend.
These measures, which include the suspension of bilateral relations, were announced after a British ultimatum to the Russian government passed ‘without a credible explanation’. Theresa May said this ‘represented an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the UK’ that would be met with a ‘robust response’. Parliament then erupted in a unified display of jingoism from almost all quarters as the measures were announced, with fascistic cries of ‘support the PM’ ringing through the corridors.
But, there remains at least one dissenting voice; that of Jeremy Corbyn. The leader of the opposition used his platform, sensibly, to urge the Prime Minister to tread with caution on this matter. In particular, the Labour leader told the Prime Minister to ensure that the response was ‘decisive, proportionate and based on clear evidence’. MPs on all side of the house heckled and jeered as he spoke, attempting to drown out what was seemingly the sole voice of reason in a house of hyenas baying for blood. The press, in usual fashion, got hold of the official line from Westminster and rounded on Mr Corbyn in unison, calling him a traitor, an appeaser, an apologist and more. Numerous outlets quoted ‘unnamed sources’ from inside the Labour party purporting to speak for the masses, as they slandered and sullied Corbyn’s efforts. Even the ostensibly anti-establishment Guardian newspaper published multiple pieces critical of Corbyn’s response!
If we break it down, it appears that Mr Corbyn suggesting the government’s response be based on clear evidence is what so aroused MPs and their friends in the press. The mere suggestion that international incidents should be settled with logic and reason appears, as usual, beyond them. Thus, followers of British politics should immediately smell a rat when reviewing this story. After all, Theresa May herself has admitted, by omission, that the government has no concrete proof (or any evidence at all, for that matter) that the attack on Sergei Skripal was ordered or carried out by the Russian state. No independent international observers have tested the nerve agent, as would be demanded for a similar attack in, say, Syria, and the British government has refused Russia’s request for a sample of the agent. Yet still, the government maintains that the Russian state is entirely and exclusively responsible. It has based its heavy-handed response on speculation and conjecture, and risked an international incident founded on rumour and prejudice.
This entire fiasco is very reminiscent of Tony Blair’s imperialistic fervour some 15 years’ ago. As we now know, his government insisted that Saddam Hussein had “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that could obliterate the UK in 45 minutes and used this as a pretext for war. Back then, like now, the government had little to no evidence to support its assertion. All that’s changed is the bogeyman, who today is manifested in that man Putin, allegedly sat in the Kremlin plotting world domination and all manner of nefarious happenings. With this background information in mind, it beggars belief that parliament has been so quick to jump to conclusions in the instance.
Or does it?
In fact, this appears to be just the latest in a long string of occurrences attributed to the Russian state. Arguably, it began in Syria where the West has been using its terrorist proxies to wage war on their democratically elected President, Bashar al-Assad and his Russian military backers. Then, since the West lost the military war, it began an information war accusing Russia and its proxies of war crimes and ‘propping up dictatorial regimes’. And who could possibly forget the hysteria whipped up in America over alleged ‘Russian interference’ in the US elections!? Now, to keep up the contention that Russia and its President are Satan incarnate, they bring accusations of aggression and espionage.
And, like the other accusations against Russia, Jeremy Corbyn has exposed the government’s total lack of evidence to implicate the Kremlin. This was not out of some strange Russophilia on the part of the Labour leader, or the wish to take an anti-British stance, but out of a desire to avoid an escalation of tensions that only benefit the British elite. Should the War Party realise its desire for armed conflict with Russia, the losers will be the very people who Jeremy Corbyn seeks to represent; the British working class. Thus we should not be at all surprised that he’s seeking rationale and caution on an issue that has the potential to escalate in the short-medium term.
The fact that the press, egged on by the political elite, has whipped up a hostile frenzy against the Labour leader is very telling. They serve as the propaganda wing of a British state that continually gaslights the working class into repeatedly voting against their own interests. In this instance, they’re whipping up support for a conflict that only benefits the bourgeois political elite. This is why I say, as a right-wing nationalist, that Jeremy Corbyn is absolutely correct on this issue, and more Britons should take note of this de facto expose of the political-media class.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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