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Ancient and modern

Roman plebs would have known how to tackle Corbyn’s cabal

20 July 2019

9:00 AM

20 July 2019

9:00 AM

Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to take serious action against Labour’s anti-Semitic members is no surprise: Marxists know who their friends are. The Roman plebs showed how to deal with such cabals.

In 509 bc, Rome’s last tyrant king was thrown out, and the very nobles who had advised him at once took over the new republic as senators and annually appointed leaders (‘magistrates’ such as praetors, consuls, etc). And the plebs? Desperate for change, they found none: poverty, debt and landlessness persisted. So they took action —rioting and withdrawing their labour, especially on the battlefield.


An early breakthrough was made in 494 bc, when the senate had to accept a plebeian assembly with a right to pass laws on the plebs, run by a ‘tribune of the plebs’. His person was sacrosanct, he could intervene against a magistrate’s ruling and veto any senatorial laws. In 450 bc the first law-code was published (the Twelve Tables), removing arbitrary legal decision-making. In 343 bc one of the two consuls had to be a plebeian; eventually both could be. In 326 bc debt-slavery was ended. In 304 bc Gnaeus Flavius, son of an ex-slave, used his authority as an official to publish ‘details of civil law kept in secret religious archives’ and ‘dates when legal cases could be brought’, all closely guarded by the senators but of vital importance for any pleb wishing to go to law. In 300 bc major priesthoods were opened to them. In 287 bc plebeian laws became binding on the whole people and the battle was over: the balance between senatorial authority and the freedom of the people was won.

And the Labour party? Corbyn replaced it with a vicious cabal committed to a ‘kinder’ Marxist order. Its refusal to deal with anti-Semitism is a taste of what is to come unless the many — MPs in particular — step up now to challenge and resist the few who run this nest of Marxist vipers. A Labour tribune with the right to veto the cabal’s business and a Flavius who will begin opening its filing cabinets would make a start. If the Romans could do it…


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