Springingtiger's Blog


To Do Justice…Corbyn and the prophet Micah

 

It is no secret that it is years since I was a practising Christian, but anyone who reads my blog will know that my conduct is still very much guided by the teachings of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel because after reading widely I still think it is as good a manual on how to behave towards other as has been written regardless of one’s personal faith or lack of it. It should not come as any surprise that if I were to sum up my guide to conduct I would take a single verse from the prophet Micah (6:8) ‘And what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.’ I think it’s a useful yardstick against which to measure one’s own or another’s conduct. Today it occurred to me that it might as well be used to measure politicians like Jeremy Corbyn or Anthony Charles Lynton Blair.

No one can deny that Jeremy Corbyn’s life has been dedicated to to promoting justice. Sometimes it has got him into trouble particularly when he has opposed a nation assuming to itself the right to oppress and exploit its neighbours. When that nation was Israel, Corbyn’s honest criticism of their conduct was interpreted by extremists to be an attack on Jews. However his lifelong opposition to racism makes that charge ridiculous and only the very stupid could honestly believe it, although the very dishonest might feign to. He has always stood firm behind working people having the right to protect their jobs and the terms and conditions under which they work and he has fought for those freedoms against any party, even his own that has tried to remove them. He may not have managed to stop the Conservatives and Blairites eroding workers rights, but he hasn’t stopped him from continuing to try and when a party has acted to support workers’ rights in particular, or human rights in general, he has supported them.

Some of the things Corbyn voted for were put on the statute books by Tony Blair’s government such as a minimum wage unfortunately it was so low it may actively have helped promote a low wage economy. Blair allowed pitifully restricted Devolution to Scotland and Wales. He introduced a Human Rights Act, not to mention extensions of the rights of gay and transgendered people however the emphasis of his government was on promoting the traditional view of family life. Perhaps his biggest success which is now threatened by Brexit, and Michael Gove’s stated antipathy, was to sign the Belfast Agreement. I think we should not forget that Blair did some things to further fairness and justice and to allow Iraq to be seen as the sum total of his Prime Ministership would be unfair. He has been criticised for not doing enough to promote justice and he did not reverse Britain’s funding cuts for the International Labour Organisation neither did he do anything to reverse the Conservative attacks on Trades Union rights and he further undermined their influence in the Labour Party. Did he love justice? I think so, but his conception of justice which he was prepared to compromise for expedience

It is on the second part of Micah’s injunction that really Blair falls down, a man without mercy. He plunged Britain into a war without the support of the people and under the pretence of combating terrorism allowed him to introduce restrictions on personal freedoms. Since the Iraq war his consultancy business has actively advised oppressive regimes on how to spin human rights abuses. While Blair was encouraging war as a means of regime change and putting in place the conditions that allowed Al Qaeda and Daesh to grow and flourish, Jeremy was, as he always has, opposing the use of war to further political ambitions. Whereas Blair and his supporters see war as a commercial enterprise that sells arms and boosts British influence, Corbyn opposes it for its effect on innocent civilians and the restrictions military action places on their right to a normal life.

Above all I think it can be fair to say that no one could accuse Tony Blair, or indeed most politicians (look at Neil Kinnock or Nigel Farage) of humility. Blair may claim to be a Christian, but that did not stop him utterly ignoring his Bible or the needs and wishes of ordinary people to play the game of International Statesman and war leader, leaving millions dead, sacrificed to his vanity. Corbyn, on the other hand is the single most unassuming and humble of politicians, but does he walk humbly with his God? I am led to believe that Corbyn is an agnostic in religious terms, but if he has a god it is plainly the people he serves. Whereas politicians like Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair are content to consider their personal opinions as more important than the wishes of ordinary people, whereas the Parliamentary Labour Party abrogate to themselves the right to determine Labour policy and actions without any consideration of the people who supported them as candidates and upon whom they will rely if they are to be elected again, Corbyn is firm in his stand that the Labour Party belongs to all of its members whether in constituencies, Trades Unions or Parliament. It is because of Jeremy Corbyn’s humility that he will not stand down as Labour Party Leader until those who appointed him to the role ask him to leave and it was not the wealthy elite at the top of the party who put him where he is, but the ordinary members.

Tony Benn said, ‘I was brought up on the Bible, that the story of the Bible was conflict between the kings who had power, and the prophets who preached righteousness. And I was taught to believe in the prophets, got me into a lot of trouble’. Jeremy Corbyn is on the side of the prophets.

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