That programmes like free education are fairly common in Europe does not make much of an impact on how they are perceived hereby Rachel Connolly / December 11, 2019 / Leave a comment
Recently while canvassing for Labour in Chingford, I met a middle-aged man who told me he could never vote for Labour because Jeremy Corbyn is a “communist” who plans to confiscate all the money of everyone earning over £50,000 and “throw it in a big pile.” He said Labour would probably take away all the houses and “nice cars” too, and that every footballer would leave the UK, as well as “every other skilled person.” I asked him where all these people would go, since many countries in Europe have similar, if not higher, level of taxation and state spending to what Labour is proposing. He suggested either America or Dubai.
These may sound like the words of an extremist, but he was a well-spoken man living in a large house in London. There were two “nice cars” in his drive. He said he worked in finance. He came across, in other words, as a fairly normal, well-educated middle-class man. While speaking to him, I realised how normalised this language of communist extremism has become during this election campaign.
Spectres of Stalin
In his election announcement column for his old employer, The Telegraph, Boris Johnson declared that Labour Party members “point their fingers at certain individuals with a relish and a vindictiveness not seen since Stalin persecuted the kulaks.” The kulaks were a group of land-owning peasants deemed to be class enemies of the poorer peasants. It’s hard to understate the level of hyperbole used here: through arrests, exiles and work camps, Stalin was at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of almost 5 million kulaks.
Johnson went on to claim that Labour “would end up putting up taxes on everyone: on pensions, on businesses, on inheritance, on homes, on gardens.” Later, when the Labour Party announced its proposals for free full-fibre broadband, the BBC asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to respond to claims that the policy amounted to“broadband communism.” A search through media database LexisNexis shows that since the election was called on October 29, some variation of the words “communist,” “Marxist,” “socialist,” “Lenin,”’…