What would a Corbyn government mean to the Establishment?
We must congratulate Jeremy Corbyn on his sensational victory to gain the leadership of the Labour Party. He gained much credit for his lack of ‘spin’ and his direct, clear statement of his policies and principles, a major counter move against Blairite speech and indeed that of Mr Cameron who calls himself ‘the heir to Blair’.
Mr Blair attended the ‘Eton of Scotland’, Fettes School, and Mr Cameron Eton itself, Mr Corbyn a state grammar school. Ironically grammar schools, now loathed by Labour and most Conservatives, provided a host of very able Labour politicians. Mr Corbyn also genuinely dislikes flummery and luxury, not owning a car and finding his leisure time fulfilled with his allotment and jam-making. It is not surprising that this proved attractive as an image: it was the man himself, unspun, with his neo-Marxist ideology on full view, undisguised.
Gordon Brown, former PM, broadcast a fine portrait of the founder of the Labour Party, Kier Hardy, on Radio 4 earlier in the week, presenting a man of suffering and principle, determined to raise the industrially oppressing working class to dignity and fair treatment. As a boy he had not seen the sun for weeks, working from 6am to 6pm underground in the mines, and never really recovered from that experience of inhuman treatment. Mr Corbyn harks back to that model of Labour, a fight for justice and a fierce critic of privilege and establishment.
There is no doubt that Mr Corbyn is already facing down establishment expectations, refusing to go onto the BBC Andrew Marr show for an interview. What will be his view of religion in the UK as a Labour PM if he wins the next election? He is suspected of hostility to the state of Israel and preferring Muslim hard-liners at the expense of Jews in the UK, although denies any anti-Semitism. He has associated with Hamas speakers, but claims only to help broker talks. He was very much a defender of the IRA as fighting a colonialist UK, a charge he often uses against UK history since his time in Jamaica.
What of the churches? He is a secularist, with a favourable view of Islam, and almost certainly would move against the Established Church as resting on ancient privilege and personal favouritism, a view held by Kier Hardy. It would be very likely that Mr Corbyn personally would wish to abolish the monarchy and with it the whole apparatus of Anglican establishment, at its top end of bishops in the Lords, if not the parish system. The Church of England now, therefore, needs to ponder the arrival in power of a principled hostile Marxist PM who cuts down monarchy and church.
Other churches are better placed in this regard, Rome gave up most of its establishment links and has not regretted doing so. Christ is the Lord of the Church, and the Church of England should be able to adapt with the times, as it has in the past.