The rise and continuing slide of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) is a good example of what happens when the vote-hungry-courting of a certain demographic backfires, something that his far-left US counterparts — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right) and her “Squad” — might do well to take on board. (Photos by Getty Images)
In the often staid world of politics, the allure of the outsider appeals to a desire for change. Sometimes all it takes to impress the public in today’s political climate is to look and sound the part.
The rise and continuing slide of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, however, is a good example of what happens when the vote-hungry-courting of a certain demographic backfires, something that his far-left US counterparts — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley & Rashida Tlaib — the newly minted “Squad” — might do well to take on board.
Propelled to into the limelight by the same anti-economic-freedom wave, Ocasio-Cortez & Co, despite the age gap, share more in common with Jeremy Corbyn than the other white-haired Socialist, Bernie Sanders, ever did.
As a long-time outspoken ambassador for a variety of unsavoury organisations, whose interests clearly sit at odds with those of the UK, Corbyn has succeeded in alienating himself — and his party — from both traditional Labour voters and mainstream politics. For all of his frenzied endeavours to sound relevant, his efforts seem to have backfired. Instead of focusing his attention on Britain’s infrastructure or the needs of the working class — the very people Labour traditionally represented — Corbyn’s adoption of the populist-progressive memes of the day, and his allying himself to too many “controversial” causes, has resulted in his becoming sidelined. As a result, Boris Johnson, is almost certain to remain prime minister for the foreseeable future.
For Corbyn’s supporters, Brexit was the tantrum-inducing, polarising issue. For the Squad, it is an equally tunnel-visioned Trump-Hatred that unites them with their flock. Their refusal to accept the democratically elected winner of the 2016 election, mirrors perfectly Corbyn’s base rejecting the result of the Brexit referendum. The irony of Corbyn having spent his entire career wanting out of the common market, was not lost on the droves of traditional Labour voters: they jumped ship to side with Nigel Farage.
Corbyn’s seemingly unoffical role as ambassador for the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, have all contributed to his downfall. Fickle adoration, as Bernie Sanders could probably have warned him, tends to dissolve rapidly; and just like Bernie before him, Corbyn welcomed his role as the old white guy it is okay to like. Having backed himself into a corner, however, through his over enthusiastic embracing of the economically ruinous Marxist pretensions of his naive eco-warrior supporters, it looks as if the same fate could await Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley. By championing causes that are open to serious probing, or making remarks — such as Omar’s 9/11 jibe, her defensive stance on female genital mutilation (FGM), or Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to disavow organisations such as Antifa — although they might appease hardcore followers, will they also, as with Corbyn, backfire?
What neither side of this transatlantic tag-team seems to realise is that by putting into words their apparent hatred of the West and its allies, they are exposing themselves as antagonists of the very freedoms that enable them to speak or have economic opportunity without fear of reprisal — freedoms they would never have in Somalia, the Palestinian territories, or many of the tyrannies entrenched on the planet. What voters can see is that those are the very freedoms that these politicians might try to take away from them, too, if their policies were adopted.
The Squad would do well to recognise that since the surprise promotion of their new comrade Corbyn to leader of the opposition in 2016, he has single-handedly frittered away the good will on which he rode in. By refusing to rein in his support for a variety of dubious ideas and bedfellows, Corbyn has seen his popularity dwindle to almost nothing, and turn the Labour Party into a brand that even formerly like-minded outlets now call toxic.
Andrew Ash is based in the United Kingdom.