The Times is establishing itself as the leading advocate of direct action to stop Jeremy Corbyn leading the Labour Party, or leading it for long.
Its regular anti-Corbyn editorial diatribes have included a call for Labour MPs to overthrow Corbyn if he is elected, and now (18 August) a call to suspend the election on grounds of supposed irregularities.
“Democracy” plays a central role in all this. The Times argues that a victorious Corbyn should be overthrown because he stands outside “Labour's democratic traditions”; and now it has suddenly discovered that the party's new system of electing leaders is not democratic either. The paper is not just expressing its frustration; it is preparing the way to undermine Corbyn's legitimacy as Labour leader even – or particularly – if he is elected by a clear majority.
What the Times means by “democracy” is an easy life for Britain's capitalists. It is outraged by the suggestion that the British ruling class be challenged by the British working class in any noticeable way. It is outraged by the idea that workers should have a political voice. Anyone who doubts this should note its editorial horror that Unite members will make up over 18 percent of the Labour Party electorate – a fact liberally covered by sensationalist “stories” in the rest of the paper too. Not only are people going to vote the wrong way, but many of them are workers and members of trade unions!
Workers' Liberty has its disagreements with Jeremy Corbyn, including over his past unwillingness to criticise regressive forces in conflict with Western imperialism. But it is the Times' “democratic tradition”, not Corbyn's, that needs to be interrogated.
A hundred and fifty years ago the Times supported the Southern slave-owners in the American Civil War – and at the same time scorned the idea of British workers, who opposed slavery, getting the vote. Having lost that battle, it objects strongly to the idea that the working class should use its votes to challenge its natural superiors.
When Augusto Pinochet, close political friend of the Times' heroine, Margaret Thatcher, overthrew democracy in Chile, what was the paper's response? “... whether or not the armed forces were right to do what they have done, the circumstances were such that a reasonable military man could in good faith have thought it his constitutional duty to intervene”. Yes, you read that right.
In the early 80s, the Times denounced the idea of a Labour government precisely because it was horrified by the part-democratisation of the party's structure in 1980-81. It was only once Blair prostrated Labour democracy that it reconciled itself to having the Labour Party in office. Now it is once again appalled.
In this topsy-turvy bourgeois viewpoint, Thatcher, who supported Pinochet and apartheid South Africa, while dramatically curtailing human rights in Britain, is a great democrat. So are Labour right wingers who accept and defend the British state's abuses of democracy, and who have done more than anyone to turn politics into an elite game played in the media above the heads of working people. But Jeremy Corbyn, who whatever his real flaws, has spent forty years fighting the Tories and the right of his party to defend and expand democracy in Britain is – an enemy of democracy.
All this from a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch! Both the interests of democracy and the interests of the working class demand that we expose this cynical charade.