Populism Needs To Be Challenged

I’ve voted Labour all my life, ever since I was inspired by Neil Kinnock calling out Militant in his conference speech of 1985. For thirty years, and through successive leaders, it’s values of social justice, internationalism, racial tolerance and LGBT equality seemed to fit perfectly with my own political beliefs.

Leaders of political parties, if they hold onto the reigns of power long enough, will eventually mould those parties into their own image. Thatcher did it with the Tory Party, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did it with New Labour.

This present government’s chaotic handling of Brexit is a mirror image of Theresa May’s failure of leadership and her attempts to appease the ideologically deranged members of the ERG.

Jeremy Corbyn has now taken complete control of the Labour party and shaped it into his own image. It is now, regardless of the wishes of the vast majority of Labour members and voters, pro-Brexit and institutionally racist.

It’s not easy to describe the Labour party in such terms. When you consider however, that the Macpherson report, following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, defined institutional racism as "The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic origin” how can you not attribute this definition to Corbyn’s Labour Party.

“Anti-Semitism is the Socialism of Fools” this saying is attributed to Ferdinand August Bebel, the 19th century German Social Democrat. He said it’s the socialism of fools because, unlike any other racist, the Anti-Semite thinks he is aiming upwards, taking on a powerful Jewish conspiracy he is convinced exists. It’s a very pernicious and seductive racism because It is often portrayed as egalitarianism.

We are threatened, at the moment by a rise in populism where simple lies are trumping (pardon the pun) complex truths. The world is changing and the pace of change, brought on by technology and globalisation is increasing and unrelenting. But Globalisation isn’t a policy, and it isn’t a conspiracy, it’s an inevitability.

The challenge for politics in the 21st century is to find a way to help as many people as possible reap the benefits of globalisation at the same time as mitigating the costs, both economically and environmentally.

But Populism is a retreat from this challenge. It’s a fear of change itself, and the clearest indication of left-wing populism, is Anti-Semitism...the Socialism of Fools.

Brexit is the domain of ideologues and charlatans. It may have originated in the failure of successive Conservative leaders to deal with the xenophobic ideologues of their party, but it

is also the orthodoxy of many on the far left, Jeremy Corbyn among them. The right wing brexiteers believe that a free market utopia will rise from the ashes of destruction, left wing brexiteers believe that a socialist utopia will rise, but they both agree that the destruction is a price worth paying.

That’s why Corbyn doesn’t want to stop Brexit, he wants to capitalise on it. Even when Theresa May’s withdrawal deal was voted down by parliament a second time, he didn’t abide by agreed Labour party policy and back a 2nd referendum, he just repeated the same old lie, that Labour could guarantee that we could leave and yet still enjoy the same benefits, that there is such a thing as a “Jobs First Brexit.”

Incoherent, manipulative Populism has taken us to the edge of the abyss. These are the most perilous times this country has faced since WWII, and we need leaders who have the courage to be honest to people, rather than tell them lies to further their own ideological purposes.

We need politicians who can express new narratives that will give us the courage and inspiration necessary to deal with the modern world, rather than drag us back to outdated philosophies that are no longer fit for purpose.

We desperately need a new party in this country, that is not held back by dogmatism, extremism and antiquated ideas. That’s why I am proud to support the Independent group and the brave MPs who founded it.

Eddie Marsan is a television and film actor

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