Battle of political ideologies
When the dominant British media speaks about Jeremy Corbyn, the ultra-Left Labour Party leader, they sound pessimistic. When the dominant US media talks about Bernie Sanders, a socialist Senator from Vermont and prospective Democratic Party nominee for November’s General Elections, they sound equally downbeat.
In other words, the so-called Left Liberal media of the predominantly Anglo-Saxon world have turned enough to the right to keep the flag of neo-liberalism flying even as its leaders eat crow.
Sample these: the officially right of centre, Daily Telegraph, came up with a headline “How bad are the 2016 local council election results for Jeremy Corbyn?” This after the Labour retained about 60 percent of its local council victories of the previous poll, wresting some from the David Cameron-run Conservative Party.
“Corbyn hails local election results but faces ‘long journey back’ in Scotland,” ran the headline from The Guardian, which was considered respectable Left till at least a few months ago when it was being edited by the formidable Alan Rusbridger. The newsmen of the venerable newspaper well knew that Scottish Nationalist Party, which was just born about a year ago, resided left of the UK Labour Party the led by David Miliband.
The Times of Rupert Murdoch -- much chastened after the whipping he got in the News of the World scandal – predictably carried the voice of a doomsayer. It speculated how the Labour’s performance in the local council polls the next day would reflect on the possibilities of the party in the 2020 general elections. The insinuation was obvious. Corbyn’s feet will be held to fire, come what may, in these local polls as a test of his leadership.
The Financial Times of the same stable highlighted how the Labour Party has lost six points in its vote share in England, and nine percent in Scotland. Its headline was telling, “UK local elections keep pressure on Corbyn.”
The infamous tabloid, The Sun, considered the provider of news to the British white, working class’ came up with the headline, “Elections 2016: Corbyn refuses to quit despite disastrous results with Labour pushed into third in Scotland.” In their book Corbyn was already guilty even before he committed the crime.
The solitary exception was The Independent. This is the “rebel” news publication that challenged Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch early on and became the first newspaper in the world to be run by its own staff. But with the Internet and so-called “social media” – considering that the latter is only an echo chamber of the unvarnished – proliferating as a free option to share “viewns” (views of the amateur dressed as news) – Independent had to wind up its newsprint-based version and migrate instead to the Internet.
They supported Corbyn unabashedly and headlined, “Elections 2016: Jeremy Corbyn boosted by Labour wins in key southern England councils.” That remained the silver lining for Corbyn who had run an insurgent campaign to win the Labour leadership after the disastrous performance of indistinguishable Miliband at the helm.
Corbyn had done the impossible. He had run a massively subversive campaign by touching hundred and thousands of disenchanted youth and the genuine working class. These are those who had long ago lost their ability to fight the Establishment, they hold in such disdain.
This is akin to Bernie Sanders’ campaign across the Atlantic Ocean. Sanders has been equally intransigent in taking on the American Democratic Party Establishment that had become the Tweedledee to the Tweedledum of the Republican Party.
Much to the chagrin of the pork-barrel politicians of the Democratic Party who had put all their strength behind their favourite, Hillary Clinton, Sanders has secured key victories in the primary and remains a viable candidate.
Such was the urgency of those in the US media, academia and the indeed the polity as a whole, to show Clinton is their real representative, that by the time Sanders won Vermont in the presidential primary, his own Senate state, news channels like the CNN had begun to add the number of “superdelegates” (those insiders of the Party who do not need to be elected by the hoi polloi of the primary elections) to Clinton’s elected delegates tally just so it can seem inflated enough to sow doubts about the winnability of Sanders.
There is the classic case of the Chicago Tribune, which carried a commentary headlined “Parties – Not Voters Choose Their Nominee.” This is the country that had almost appropriated the copyright for “democracy” in the days of George W Bush when his neo-cons had set about changing regimes in various nations.
Washington Post, which is also the newspaper that broke the Watergate burglary story – and became the ultimate measure of investigative journalism worldwide – sounded almost prophetic when it headlined, “No matter how you measure it, Bernie Sanders isn’t winning the Democratic primary.”Clearly the politics that is turning Left on both sides of the Atlantic needs to be forcibly brought back to the proverbial “centre”where the political hangers-on (read lobbyists) gain from. Let’s see who wins this battle of ideas and ideology this time around: the 99 percent or the one per cent. Lafayette Square and Zuccotti Park awaits the tracks that history will make soon enough.
(The author is an independent journalist. Views expressed
are strictly personal.)