Commentary about Venezuela has changed in the last two months. Previously the awful decline of that oil-rich but desperately poor country was used by the politically-aware to bash Jeremy Corbyn, Left-wing commentator Owen Jones and their ilk. Regular readers of The Conservative Woman will have seen my own article on the topic in May 2016. Nothing I wrote last year is out of date. However, the recent civil disorder following the Venezuelan government’s abolition of the country’s elected assembly made the situation front-page news. Which is why the open support for what is now an illegal regime by the leadership of the Labour Party is attracting increasing attention. Corbyn has responded with his traditional dull equivocal drone.
On Tuesday there was a Westminster Hall debate on this appalling human disaster. Conservative and also Labour MPs pulled no punches in condemning the abuses of what some described as a communist regime, and also the Labour leadership by association. The debate was accompanied by a briefing document from the House of Commons Library. This is a department not known for being partisan, but the objective text cannot help but be condemnatory given the extent of the human disaster unfolding.
While there is substantial loss of life in Venezuela due to deprivation and disorder, the crisis there is also killing people here in the UK. Extra pure cocaine has been responsible for the deaths of at least 17 young people in the Lancashire area alone in the last nine months. Colombia is still the world’s major producer of cocaine, but in 2012 the New York Times determined that Venezuela was one of the world’s busiest transit hubs for the movement of it. In the year before Hugo Chavez took power in 1998, Venezuela’s security forces made 11,581 drug-related arrests. The current annual total is one-tenth of this figure. Oil is not the only substance supporting the socialists.
The Centre for Policy Studies has released a report entitled Venezuela: No Room For Apologists which provides the statistical background of Venezuela’s steady decline under socialism. It states that President Chavez’s apologists – including Jeremy Corbyn – argue that the reforms were a success, as poverty fell from 1998 to 2013. But that was cosmetic. It occurred as there was a 600 per cent increase in oil export revenue, which arose from oil price increases, not gains in output or productivity. It also points out that as early as 2006 economic policies were causing food shortages. However, Ken Livingstone blames the economic failure of the regime simply on its inability to purge its opponents properly.
But why should the plight of this dying country be of such importance in the UK? It is because Venezuela’s economic policies are also the policies of the Labour leadership. It is likely that a future Corbynist Labour government would impose them on an unsuspecting British populace. Corbyn and his fellow travellers look on the rise of what can now only be described as communism in Venezuela as the model for their plans in this country. They do not care about the human suffering it will cause, because their only objective is power.
The reason why Venezuela is applauded is because a communist state was established without the usually necessary destabilising events of war or revolution. This was a ‘revolution from above’, where an elite who did not seize power, but who were instead elected, managed to impose a communist dictatorship on an unwitting population. That may be the explanation behind the phrase ‘another way is possible’ used by Corbyn. Communism came from an electoral process instead of a revolution. Corbyn is also quoted as describing the regime in Venezuela as offering an ‘alternative agenda from which we could learn’. The only lesson is how an elected government can subvert lawful checks on its power to outstay its welcome indefinitely.
The Venezuelan elites do not care about the national suffering, any more than the Labour councillors in Rotherham cared about the girls raped on their watch for over a decade. All that mattered to either set of politicians was to gain power and stay in power.
To quote O’Brien from Nineteen Eighty-Four: ‘Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.’
This is what drives the Corbynists. Conservatives must do more to stop Corbynists educated in the Venezuelan model of governance or face oblivion. It is to be hoped that the party conference will mark the beginning of this effort.