Jeremy Corbyn – a mainstream [Scandinavian] social democrat

Jonas Fossli Gjersø writes on OpenDemocracy: “From his style to his policies Mr Corbyn would, in Norway, be an unremarkably mainstream, run-of-the-mill social-democrat. His policy-platform places him squarely in the Norwegian Labour Party from which the last leader is such a widely respected establishment figure that upon resignation he became the current Secretary-General of NATO.

“Yet, here in the United Kingdom a politician who makes similar policy-proposals, indeed those that form the very bedrock of the Nordic-model, is brandished as an extremist of the hard-left and a danger to society.

“So who is right? Is the Norwegian Labour movement some dangerous extremist group that unknowingly has occupied the furthest leftist fringe of the political spectrum? If so, a casual glance at the UN’s Human Development Index would suggest that Norway certainly has not suffered as a result of successive Labour-dominated governments. Or is it, perhaps, that the British media’s portrayal of Corbyn, and by extent his policies are somewhat exaggerated and verging on the realm of character assassination rather than objective analysis and journalism?

“Mr Corbyn’s policy-platform, particularly in regard to his domestic policies are largely identical with the Norwegian Labour Party manifesto. Railway nationalisation, partial or full state ownership of key companies or sectors, universal healthcare provisions, state-funded house-building, no tuition fee education, education grants and loans to name but a few, enjoy near universal support among the Norwegian electorate, in fact, they are so mainstream that not even the most right-wing of Norwegian political parties would challenge them.

“Whereas in Norway there is a high-degree of media ownership fragmentation, they are sometimes owned by not-for-profit foundations and all receive state subsidies based on circulation, which in turn ensures a modicum of objectivity and plurality of opinion. Their British counterparts are often highly partisan and espouse a largely right-wing editorial agenda. In contrast, British media ownership is highly concentrated: 70% of national newspapers are owned by just three companies and a third are owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News UK.

“Since 51% of leading British journalists are among the privately educated 7% it is not surprising that they have internalised an ideology that serves their own privileged class interest, consciously or not, rather than that of the wider population. This raises the question of whether British politicians should solely be reacting to the agenda of the conservative-oriented press, or that they themselves should set out visions for how society should be organised to better serve the interests of the electorate.”

[Read full column on OpenDemocracy…]