Today, global politics is in turmoil with several dangerous heads of major states actively trying to increase the likelihood of conflict. As Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Rodrigo Duerte and Kim Jong Un ramp up rhetoric against other countries, their own citizens, and even allies, there is a palpable sense of uncertainty amongst those who seek a peaceful future.
Rightwing nationalism is still surging around the world, and the alliance of pragmatic liberal countries remains the only force stopping it taking apart the international order that has kept the peace for 70 years. Germany, France and Canada have heavyweight political leaders standing up to the insidious forces of xenophobia and nationalism, but the world needs more leaders dedicated to building a global community of nations with a shared interest in peace, environmentalism and economic cooperation. Britain is at a defining moment in its history, and it now has a chance to become a major force for good if it chooses to go in a radically different direction on Thursday and vote for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.
After pulling out of Europe, allaying itself with the Trump administration, and catering to far right elements driving xenophobia and nationalism back into the mainstream, the Conservative party has turned Britain into a tepid enabler of everything wrong with the current state of the world. As George Monbiot writes in the Guardian, Theresa May is the embodiment of a technocratic corporatist who has no desire to stand up for anything outside of the interests of her party or the wealthy. He writes:
She [May] won’t stand up to anyone who wields power. She will say nothing against Donald Trump, even when he peddles blatant falsehoods in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in this nation, exploiting our grief to support his disgusting prejudices; even when he pulls out of the global agreement on climate change.
She is even more sycophantic towards this revolting man than Tony Blair was to George W Bush. She won’t confront Saudi Arabia over terrorism or Yemen or anything else. Far from it: both as home secretary and as prime minister she appears to have suppressed a report into the foreign funding of jihadi groups in the UK that is said to focus on the role of the Saudi kingdom. When there is a conflict between our security and selling weapons to a despotic regime, brutality wins.
She won’t stand up to the polluters lavishly funding the Conservative party, whose role explains both her weakness on climate change and her miserable failure to address our air pollution crisis. She won’t stand up to the fanatics in her party who call for the hardest of possible Brexits. She won’t stand up on television to debate these policies because she knows that the more we see, the less we like.
Outside of Europe, Britain will be more isolated than ever, with only its relationship with the deeply unreliable Trump administration defining its status as a global power. Britain is facing a bleak future of irrelevance. The Conservative government led by May has presided over 7 years of brutal austerity measures that culminated in its tragic exit from Europe. Discontent with widening inequality, increased poverty and a total fracturing of the political system, British voters decided they wanted out of Europe largely based on the myth that immigrants were to blame for all their woes. Despite getting out of Europe, no one feels particularly positive about its future, especially given the reality of Brexit has now set in. A Britain outside of Europe is poorer, less influential, and at the mercy of bigger political forces, and the British public is now beginning to understand this. Britain under the Tories means a more fractured, antagonistic relationship with Europe, while a Britain under a Labour government will be far more likely to cooperate with the world’s most progressive political union. A Britain under Tory rule is basically a US lapdog waiting for her orders from Donald Trump, while a Britain under Corbyn will stand up for herself, and more importantly what is right.
The Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership has, until recently, been tearing itself to pieces. When May shrewdly called a snap election barely a year into her leadership, the left almost completely gave up in despair. There was little faith outside of the true believers that the hard-left Jeremy Corbyn could win a national election, particularly after he failed miserably to unify the party after winning the leadership and could not seem to capitalize on the Conservatives’ calamitous handling of the Brexit negotiations. May was set to destroy Corbyn who was seen as too weak, too left, and far too peace loving to be taken seriously by the mainstream, and almost everyone wrote him off as a joke — particularly the UK media that seemed to delight in ridiculing him at every given opportunity.
After the election was called though, a completely different Corbyn appeared, and a ground movement consisting of millions of young people that had largely been hidden from the mainstream media emerged ready to take on the Tories and create a different future from themselves.
Corbyn cleverly leaked his manifesto at the beginning of the election, offering amongst other things free university tuition, more holidays, huge tax increases on the rich and a radically different foreign policy that acknowledged Britain’s historic role in creating much of the violence we see today, particularly in the Middle East. While critics expected the public to laugh at it, a funny thing happened — Corbyn was suddenly seen as a man offering the country a brighter, more just future, and they actually seemed to like it. Corbyn’s popularity has been surging ever since, and coupled with Theresa May’s astonishingly disastrous showing in an election she was assumed to win without a whiff of trouble, the unthinkable genuinely might happen. Corbyn has been touring the country generating huge crowds with speeches on making Britain a fairer, more equitable place to live in, and a truly breathtaking number of young people have now registered to vote.
Jeremy Corby is not perfect by any means — he does not exude charisma, is not a powerful speaker, and he has been spectacularly bad as an opposition leader. But he is a deeply principled man, a very good campaigner, and most of all a breath of fresh air. For the first time in generations, a normal human being is within breathing distance of Number 10, offering the country a truly different future, and it is an opportunity Britain cannot afford to lose. On the eve of the election, the odds are still heavily against Corbyn, but that doesn’t mean the extraordinary can’t happen. As Donald Trump turned conventional wisdom on its head in November of last year, there is a small but hopeful chance that Jeremy Corbyn can do the same if enough people get out and vote — albeit with very different implications for the rest of the world.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.