The simile sick as a dog has been around for a very long time. Apparently it was first recorded in 1705. It is commonly applied to someone who is ill, especially from a stomach malady. On Friday morning it was a simile apt and appropriate for newsrooms and editorial offices across the UK. From the British Biased Corporation to Sky News and everything in between the sick as a dog virus was virulent.
Against all the odds and the strong predictions of every bookie and political pundit in Britain Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party held on to the Peterborough city seat in an extremely tough by-election contest. It was an incredible result in the circumstances that surrounded the election and the mouth pieces of the privileged British Establishment were as sick as dogs.
Some context is required because you certainly didn’t get any in the disappointed news reports and ‘expert’ analysis that bellowed from our screens on Friday morning and throughout the day. Labour had ‘scraped home’ we were told. Corbyn had ‘narrowly missed humiliation’. He had won but it wasn’t really a victory it was actually a setback because it was so close. The powers that determine the editorial line of the news rooms, on instruction from the billionaire owners each day, were furious. Their ‘Corbyn Is Finished’ narratives had already been well prepared. Defeat in Peterborough was to be the final nail in Corbyn’s political coffin. It wasn’t to be.
For 12 years from 2005 to 2017 Peterborough was actually a Tory seat. The sitting Tory MP had almost a 2,000 vote majority and a 5% point lead over Labour in the 2015 general election. The snap general election called by Malevolent Theresa May in 2017 was meant to retain that seat for the Tories but the remarkable, and much underplayed, performance by Corbyn led Labour in England saw that Tory seat fall to Fiona Onasanya by a small majority of 607.
It was as unexpected as was Corbyn’s 10% point increase in Labour’s vote across England on a manifesto universally accepted as the most left wing in Labour’s history.
Then all the circumstances began to coalesce to make the chances of Labour holding a Tory seat they only managed to prise from their grasp narrowly in 2017 appear impossible. When a sitting MP passes away by-elections are usually straightforward for the sitting party. A by-election held as a result of an MP’s defection to another party is difficult to deal with. But the circumstances of last Thursday’s by election were undoubtedly the most difficult imaginable.
Utilising the relatively new Recall of MPs Act 2015 a recall petition was launched in the parliamentary constituency of Peterborough and became the first to successfully remove a Member of Parliament. It was triggered after newly elected Onasanya failed to secure permission to appeal against being found guilty of perverting the course of justice and being sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Onasanya misled police with regard to a speeding offence in 2017, was convicted in December 2018 and in March 2019 lost an application for permission to appeal against her conviction and sentence.
Onasanya became an independent politician after the Labour Party was compelled to expel her following the conviction. The petition opened on 19 March and ran until 5 pm on 1 May 2019. The recall petition was successful: 19,261 signatures were obtained from the 69,673 electors eligible to sign the petition, or 27.64%, exceeding the 10% required to vacate the seat. Therefore the seat was vacated and the 2019 Peterborough by-election was called to fill the vacancy.
So the Labour Party were fighting a by-election in a seat where their MP was a convicted criminal and had been expelled from the party and 19,261 constituents had already signed a petition to have that MP removed from office. Those facts in and of themselves constituted an uphill battle. However throw in the concerted and consistent campaign by the British mainstream media to undermine Corbyn, a campaign ratcheted up several notches after he defied the odds to secure such a credible increase in the share of the vote in 2017. The ridiculous and expensively manufactured anti-Semitism campaign against a man without a racist bone in his body has dominated political reporting for the best part of two years now.
Then there is the constant piques of disloyalty from his Blairite contingent of MPs who seek to undermine Corbyn more often and consistently than they seek to undermine the Tories. Obscure MPs without credible achievements to their name are given media platforms and coverage way beyond their talents to constantly carp about and undermine Corbyn.
Chuka Umunna used to be the cheer-leader against Corbyn before he and six other Labour MPs defected to the newly formed Change UK Party in an attempt to inflict as much damage on Corbyn as possible in February this year. They were joined by four Tories but have since split and changed back into the non-entities they always were without the artificial media coverage.
Although seven Blairite enemies of Corbyn left Labour in February there are still plenty who have stayed behind collecting their huge salaries while continuing to conduct a guerrilla war against socialist policies and Corbyn, despite his status as the twice over democratically elected leader.
Individuals like Jess Phillips MP, Margaret Hodge MP and deputy leader Tom Watson MP should be ashamed of the role they are playing as constant millionaire media conductor rods to attack Corbyn from within. If either of the principles of loyalty or socialism were to confront these sorry individuals they would fail to recognise them as they are so consumed with their own self-importance and the mission to undermine Corbyn they fail to see they are merely useful idiots being used by the British Establishment.
Then the European elections which were not meant to take place were hastily fought as Parliament delayed Brexit and both Labour and the Tories suffered humiliating results as a sign of discontent with their inabilities to deliver the Brexit commitment both parties were elected on in 2017.
The Tory results were the worst in their history and much worse than Labour’s but the media concentrated more on how undermined they left Corbyn. The Brexit Party was presented as a ‘new’ party when in fact it was a re-hashed UKIP but without the overt goose-steppers.
Their victory two weeks prior to the Peterborough by-election was presented as an ideal platform for them to secure their first Member of Parliament. The writing was on the wall. Labour and Corbyn were about to suffer a crushing defeat.
Unfortunately for the British Elite the people of Peterborough are not as cheap to buy off as the Blairite MPs in Parliament. With a smaller turnout of 48% (down from 65% at the general election in 2017) Labour won the seat. They held the seat with an increased majority. Sure it was only a majority of 683 instead of 607 and their share of the vote dropped significantly but the fact is they won. Against the backdrop of the most unfavourable set of circumstances possible Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party defied all the odds and held onto a seat they had only taken from the Tories two years ago. It was a truly remarkable result and achievement for the committed Labour rank and file who fought on an anti-austerity platform and important local issues. It was indeed a triumph for Hope over Hate.
Mr Media loving Fraudage was so courageous that he slipped out a side door as soon as it was realised that the big breakthrough that they had trailed and was expected was nothing more than yet another damp squib. Embarrassed to face the cameras Fraudage disappeared into the wee early hours with his bigoted tail between his legs. The Brexit Party result in Peterborough was actually a gigantic failure. None of the lazy media has bothered to point out that their 7,243 votes last Thursday was actually less than the 7,485 votes won by UKIP in 2015. Despite all the hype and media exposure Fraudage’s UKIP Mark 2 got less votes than his original UKIP in 2015.
What Peterborough illustrates clearly is Jeremy Corbyn is a contender for Prime Minister at the next UK General Election. His party will never recover the ground lost in Scotland because the left of centre majority there have switched their allegiance to the SNP based on the shibboleth of independence combined with anti-austerity policies but in England and Wales Corbyn’s socialist policies are popular and will grow in popularity the further Britain sinks into the swamp of low pay, job insecurity and public service cuts.
The mainstream media were as sick as dogs all day Friday because they recognise their privileges and unaccountable power are now in serious danger from the threat of a Corbyn led Labour Party. Watch the already ridiculous and manufactured attacks on him grow in size and depth as the billionaire tax dodging owners of the media and newspapers foam at the mouth at the prospect of a socialist Prime Minister compelling them to actually pay their taxes.
This article was written by our Political Adviser, Tommy Sheridan and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or policy of Solidarity as a whole