It is difficult to imagine a more disastrous outcome for Britain than a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government. He is the worst leader of a major British political party in living memory. Not only are his economic policies utterly reckless, he has turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism in his own party, and his past sympathy for terrorist organisations is a risk for Britain’s allies.
If the unthinkable happens, a Labour victory, Australia should immediately suspend intelligence sharing and defence co-operation with Britain. Along with the US, Canada and New Zealand, we are all part of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network. This has been discussed at the highest levels of the Australian government.
For decades, Corbyn has been a friend to terrorist organisations, corrupt regimes and tin-pot dictatorships. He doesn’t discriminate whether it is the IRA, Hamas, Hezbollah or Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
PM to push trade deal with India
Former British military commanders, who led forces abroad, issued a statement last week expressing grave concern if Corbyn should become prime minister.
British Labour has drifted so far from its centre-left roots that Australian Labor should sever fraternal ties. Australian Labor and British Labour have had formal and informal linkages for more than a century. But it is no longer a mainstream political party. It is not the party of Tony Blair or Gordon Brown; nor is it the party of Jim Callaghan, Harold Wilson or Clement Attlee.
Labour has sweeping plans to expand the size of government with a program of nationalisation, regulation and redistribution. Last month, Corbyn unveiled the most expensive election policy manifesto in British history and pledged to raise taxes and boost spending across the board. Middle and high-income earners, investors and businesses will be slugged with a slew of new taxes.
The manifesto amounts to £83bn ($159bn) in increased spending to 2023-24. The promise of free university degrees, free childcare, free dentistry, free medical prescriptions and free broadband — just for starters — is resonating with young voters. They like the idea of having somebody else pay for it all. Meanwhile, Labour’s position on Brexit, the main election issue, could not be more confused.
The Labour Party is even more to the left of its radical 1983 manifesto, described by MP Gerald Kaufman as “the longest suicide note in history”, advocated by leader Michael Foot. But Foot was no Corbyn. In 1981, Labour split and the defectors formed the Social Democratic Party. Foot waged a constant battle from forces within, such as Corbyn, from the ultra-left.
“In the 1980s the ultra-left tried, but failed, to take over the Labour Party,” Blair told me in an interview three years ago. “We had a leadership that was OK, I don’t think ever capable of winning an election, but it was basically from the traditional Labour Party. The difference today is Labour has a leadership that is ultra-left, and the Labour Party, in its 100 years of history, has never had that.”
What makes Corbyn such a sickening prospect as prime minister is his anti-Semitism. There should be zero tolerance for any degree of hatred, prejudice or discrimination. But Corbyn has refused to apologise for his past remarks or those made by others, or has done so apparently reluctantly. It led to an extraordinary intervention by the UK’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, saying Corbyn was not fit for office. Corbyn’s tolerance for anti-Semitism has led to mass defections from the Labour Party.
Yet there are Australian Labor figures who are quite the fans of Corbyn. ALP national secretary Paul Erickson leads the pack. Writing in a Labor Left faction journal a few years ago he argued Corbyn’s policies were “within the mainstream of post-war social democracy” and he urged his party to pay close attention because they could be “just as effective here”. Even Anthony Albanese is very friendly with Corbyn. The federal Opposition Leader has met Corbyn several times and posted multiple photos of them side-by-side to social media platforms. He should have had better judgment than to associate himself with Corbyn. Most political leaders avoid Corbyn like the plague. ALP officials often meet with British Labour figures. Erickson and ALP national president Wayne Swan attended Labour’s conference in Brighton a few months ago. Through the International Progressive Campaign Forum, centre-left party officials meet to swap ideas on policy, political and campaign strategies, research, organising and digital and data techniques. British Labour should no longer be invited to these meetings.
While the polls show Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is on track to win a majority of seats, the election result could be a shock. Without compulsory voting, the division of the party system plus a campaign urging tactical voting to deny the Conservatives a majority of seats (including by former Conservative prime minister John Major), the outcome defies confident prediction.
In June 2017 I argued that Johnson was “the standout choice” to succeed Theresa May. Since he became prime minister in July this year, he has lifted the Conservative Party vote in the polls by 50 per cent. While I believe Brexit will be calamitous for the UK and accept that Johnson is a polarising figure who many voters do not trust, his political skills have always been underestimated.
The UK election, the third in four years, is a defining moment in history. Brexit will be an issue for decades regardless of whether Johnson wins parliamentary approval for his deal and exiting the EU on January 31. The country remains bitterly divided. The Conservative and Labour parties have changed forever. But an upset Labour victory would plunge Britain further into the abyss.