When Napoleon Bonaparte opined that four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets, he could have been talking about the UK in 2017. Indeed it would be hard to find a more feral and aggressive media anywhere in the world than in Britain.
The truth is that the press in Britain, as it is throughout the West, is bought and paid for by a small group of very rich and very powerful media barons, whose role in supporting and denouncing political parties and leaders via their mass media outlets is antithetical to democracy.
Yet despite this, with just a few weeks to run before voters across the UK head to the polls, Corbyn's message and program of transformation change is gaining more and more traction. The long time anti-war campaigner and socialist is offering the British people, particularly its working class, the kind of change that promises an end to decades in which, under successive governments, they have seen their incomes, working conditions, rights, and the ability to support a decent standard of living eroded. And this is before we come to the spike in poverty and social exclusion that is the human casualty of one of the most extreme and aggressive austerity programs of any country in Europe, originally rolled out in 2010 in response to the worst economic recession since the 1930s, one caused not by working people or the poor but by the rich in the context of a deregulated banking and financial industry.
According to the social charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, key poverty indicators the UK are now at record levels. With incomes down and with low wage casual employment without rights or security in work now increasingly the norm, and with a housing crisis ensuring that rents in towns and cities such as London, Manchester and Edinburgh have spiked in recent years, allied to severe cuts to public spending, we are talking a society in 2017 that for more and more in Britain has taken on the character of a cruel dystopia.
This is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in. His manifesto, if elected, would see a reversal of a year on year decline in real wages, would tackle the issue of job insecurity, and would introduce an investment-led economic policy to replace swingeing cuts that have wrought so much damage, not only to the lives of millions of working people and families but also to the nation's economy, whose recovery from the 2007/08 recession has, according to the unions, been the slowest since records began. It proves that austerity is less to do with economics and more to do with ideology, which simply put is based on the doctrine of punishing the poor for the "crime" of being poor, while rewarding the rich for the "virtue" of being rich.
Let us consider the thoughts of US noble prize winning economist Paul Krugman: "Scare talk about debt and deficits is often used as a cover for a very different agenda, namely an attempt to reduce the overall size of government and especially spending on social insurance," he writes of austerity.
"This has been transparently obvious in the United States, where many supposed deficit-reduction plans just happen to include sharp cuts in tax rates on corporations and the wealthy even as they take away healthcare and nutritional aid for the poor. But it's also a fairly obvious motivation in the UK, if not so crudely expressed. The 'primary purpose' of austerity, the Telegraph admitted in 2013, 'is to shrink the size of government spending.' "
And this is where we get to the heart of the matter. Under the rubric of austerity, the Tory establishment in the UK has waged a de facto war against the poor and most vulnerable in society. It is a war that has been accompanied by a highly successful propaganda campaign in the previously mentioned Tory newspapers and other media outlets, propagating the myth that the economic recession was not the product of private greed but of out of control government spending on welfare and public services. The result is in 2017 a level of inequality between rich and poor that is redolent of that which existed in the late 19th century.
Corbyn is determined to reverse this dismal trend, to place a priority on the needs and interests of the many and not the few. He is committed to taxing the rich while bolstering the incomes of the poor, not merely on the grounds of morality but also in the interests of a stagnant economy that has been suffering from a lack of aggregate demand. In an economy predicated on consumption, the idea that you can diminish the purchasing power of millions of people and expect strong economic growth is ludicrous. Yet this is the premise of austerity.
So now, given Corbyn's manifesto and how it is firing the imagination of more and more people across the UK, he is being labeled as a terrorist sympathizer by the right-wing media over his willingness to meet members of the IRA back in the 1980s, when the conflict in Northern Ireland was at its height.
This is despite the fact that in the same decade the British government, headed by Margaret Thatcher, had engaged in secret talks with the IRA. And this is despite the fact that still today British government ministers and members of the country's royal family bend over backwards to maintain the country's shameful relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite the country's appalling human rights record.
It is also why that at the same time as Corbyn has pledged that if elected the country's leader he will establish a ministry of peace, we have the current defense secretary, Michael Fallon, boasting that under Theresa May's leadership the UK would be willing to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike.
With recent opinion polls revealing that the gap between Corbyn and Theresa May is narrowing, despite the mud that has and continues to be hurled at him, it may well be the case that the anti-Corbyn smear campaign been so aggressive it has become self-defeating, redounding against his detractors' cause instead of advancing it.
If true it should come as no surprise. The stench of hypocrisy can only be concealed for so long.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.