IT might be a coincidence that a film channel showed Peter Sellers’ highly acclaimed 1979 movie Being There on Sunday night.
The film tells the story of a simple gardener who, through a chance meeting, becomes a well-connected Washington insider and political confidante.
New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s 32 years as an MP, without a ministerial portfolio, pretty much mimics the Sellers’ story.
A relative unknown, Corbyn has been surprisingly thrust into the hot seat in the latest move by European voters fed-up over growing inequality in society.
Hours after Corbyn’s landslide victory, the American press was comparing his sudden rise to power to that of Spain’s Podemos and Greece’s Syriza parties.
Even the UK media were dubbing him ‘the British Pablo Iglesias’.
“Increasingly socialists are joining us to defend democracy, to fight against austerity and inequality,” Iglesias wrote in an op-ed piece that appeared in The Guardian on Monday.
He continued: “We can only say: welcome, comrades. Let’s walk together.”
Even if Corbyn’s message may contain some similarities with Iglesias’s own preaching, the new Labour leader is bound to scare off a good portion of his own voters if he doesn’t keep a safe distance from Podemos.
As Spain gears up for general elections, support is waning for Iglesias and his disciples, despite many of them running key municipal governments
The dramatic events in Greece this summer over debt renegotiations, which led to a loss of confidence in Prime Minister Tsipras’ Syriza Party, took a lot of steam away from Podemos.
Iglesias faces even further damage if the Greeks decide to bring back the conservative New Democracy Party to power in Sunday’s elections, as expected.
Corbyn’s best bet will be to concoct his own home-brew of domestic policies by looking at the shortcomings and failures that have occurred in southern Europe.
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