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Britain At Sunset

The future of Britain does not depend on how long the Queen reigns or the football career of Rooney, it will be guided by the ideas of Corbyn and far the British people are prepared to run with those ideas.


Britain has within a week, set three new records. Wayne Rooney by scoring his fiftieth international goal for England in the Euro 2016 qualification match against Switzerland, set the record as the country’s highest goal scorer. Queen Elizabeth II after scoring sixty three years and seven months on the throne, became its longest serving monarch, erasing the record of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.

But the major record was set by Jeremy Corbyn, who as an outsider in mainstream political leadership, and opposed by party heavy weights, scored a landslide victory – 59.9 percent of the over 500,000 votes, to win the leadership of the British Labour Party. Ironically, the record-setting Queen Elizabeth was an accidental Queen; she would not have ascended the throne had her father’s elder brother, Edward, not fallen in love with the American, Wallis Simpson and deciding to abdicate rather than live without her. King Edward VIII was crowned in January 1936. He was bent on marrying Simpson, but there were obstacles. She was not British, had no blue blood, was lower class, and was no virgin. In fact she was twice divorced, had a string of relationships with Italian, German, and British lovers, and had sexual preferences.

The opposition to the marriage, championed by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, hinged its campaign on the King as the nominal head of the English Church, and the Church forbidding divorcees from remarrying.

The King suggested a morganatic marriage in which neither Simpson nor her issue would have a claim to the throne and its riches. This went to parliament and was defeated. He decided to appeal directly to the British people, but Baldwin told him that would be unconstitutional. Rather than abandon his love and remain the British Monarch, King Edward on December 10, 1936, after only 326 days on the throne, signed the Instrument of Abdication. He told the British people that he could no longer remain their king without the woman he so deeply loved. He wrote a poem for Simpson saying it was better to live with her, rather than own “A crown, A sceptre and a throne.”

The lovers moved to France where they married in June 1937, and where Edward died in 1972 at 77, and his wife followed fourteen years later.

With the abdication, the “spare tyre” Prince Albert was crowned King George VI. His death on February 6, 1952 led to the crowning of his elder daughter, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary as Queen Elizabeth II.

But the sun had long set on the monarchy whose duties are mainly ceremonial – opening parliament, holding weekly consultations with the Prime Minister, marking the Queen’s birthday, celebrating the birth of new princes and princesses and doing philanthropy. The monarchy has largely kept itself alive by shutting its mouth on politics, riding through scandals like Squidgygate, Camillagate, and Fergie, and of course managing its stupendous wealth. Queen Elizabeth II took the throne in the morning of her youth, ruled a declining world power through to the sunset of her life, and in the twilight, sets a record that the British can caress.

The earthquake in Britain is actually the rise of Corbynism. Corbyn, who has been the Member of Parliament representing Islington North for the past thirty two years, is a nightmare to the British establishment. As the possibility of Corbyn winning the Labour leadership loomed, former party leader and ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair, led the ‘stop Corbyn by all means’ charge. An alarmed Blair, whom Corbyn charges with executing an illegal war in Iraq, told voters that Corbyn is a man of the past who lived in Alice’s Wonderland and that voting for him would mean the party losing the next elections. He went as far as recommending that Corbyn supporters should get “heart transplant.” Now it is Blair that would need that heart transplant, as Corbynism is the grave digger of Blairism.

Corbyn a former trade unionist who worked in the National Union of Public Employees and the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, is despite his years in politics, a new broom that threatens to sweep the Thatcher and Blair years into the dustbin of history. He campaigned on a platform of renationalising the railways and public utilities, ensuring no corporate tax evasion and using the increased funds to wipe out austerity. The politician who has maintained a regular column in the Morning Star for over thirty years, wants to ensure public spending for infrastructure, restore public sector cuts and welfare programmes, introduce a living wage, abolish University tuition fees, restore student grants, reopen shut coal mines and get Britain out of all wars whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria. He intends to carry out Unilateral Policy on Nuclear Disarmament and scrap Britain’s Trident Nuclear Weapons Programme. He says the 11,00 jobs supported by the programme, can be replaced by socially productive jobs in renewable energy.

Corbyn wants an Homeland for Palestinians, and although he wants Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, he believes that people have a right to self-determination, hence his support for a united Ireland. He says the debacle in Ukraine is self- inflicted and the expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact countries was a mistake. “NATO expansion and Russian expansion – one leads to the other, and one reflects on the other.”

He wants Britain to take in migrants from war torn countries adding, “Real leadership starts from seeing humans, understanding the problems they face and working internationally to meet those challenges. Pulling up the drawbridge and condemning the outside world isn’t leadership, it is cowardice and shameful.”

All three – Queen Elizabeth II, Rooney and Corbyn – still have records to set. The Queen still has more days, months or probably years on the throne; Rooney is likely to score more goals, and Corbyn, likely to stage more upset in British, and perhaps, European Union politics.

The future of Britain does not depend on how long the Queen reigns or the football career of Rooney, it will be guided by the ideas of Corbyn and far the British people are prepared to run with those ideas.


– Owei Lakemfa

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