The only way to purge Labour’s morbid symptoms: vote for Jeremy Corbyn | openDemocracy

Jeremy Corbyn in Coventry, August 2015 [Image: Flickr/Ciaran Norris].

Jeremy Corbyn in Coventry, August 2015 [Image: Flickr/Ciaran Norris].

Here’s a good question: Is it possible to stop the political changes embodied by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, or are they part of a social movement that became inevitable with the failure of the New Labour version of neoliberalism?

Read the following and then let’s have your views.

We don’t know what would have happened to the economy if Darling hadn’t stood the banks, but we do know what happened to politics because he did. Shadow chancellor George Osborne pegged the global financial crisis on Labour’s traditional profligacy –‘sooner or later,’ he said in November 2008, ‘Labour chancellors always run out of money’ – and Labour were turfed out, leaving the way clear for the ‘long term economic plan’, a programme that ruthlessly and unswervingly blamed this structural crisis of capitalism on public spending.

The cumulative effect has been one of blood-bringing violence, made all the more vicious for being built on a lie: Labour had broken the system with its naughty greed. And now Father was to bring the house back into order. No more biscuits or they’ll come to take away the telly. Never mind the epochal salaries and parachutes for banking executives. Never mind the eye-watering cash reserves of private companies sat untaxed in the middle of the ocean. No. Poor people broke the system; poor people should pay to fix it.

George Osborne was able to frame the Labour Party as a spendthrift housewife in need of a bit of firm paternalism precisely because Labour endorsed the image of the nation as a household, whose aim should be balancing the budget, quietly accepting its weekly allowance from the private sector to be cashed once all the red tape-dusting has been done. And in the run-up to the 2015 election we  – Labour that is – did nothing to challenge that image. We quietly endorsed cuts – as well as quietly blaming immigration – and then stood back slack-jawed as the people made their feelings clear: if you’re telling me the choice is the devil’s cuts or yours, I’ll stick with what I know, thanks.

When Jeremy Corbyn squeaked onto the ballot paper in June 2015, it was thanks to nominations from MPs who felt there should be a ‘broader debate’. It was a measure of how the party really felt about democracy, about what a political party is for: MPs knew that what Corbyn represented had long been repressed, and they felt it was only right to let him out for a little turn about the pleasure gardens. But things had changed around them: Corbyn’s plain, untrained manner and his simple message of anti-austerity were playing rather well.

To people like me – born under Thatcher, politically activated by austerity – to hear someone say out loud that essential non-fungible goods like train travel and energy provision should be run by the state, with an accountable minister rather than layers of corporate governance, that is genuinely, actually, honestly, exciting.

‘Corbynism’ is a project of radical empowerment across all strata of society – and as such I think it could easily be taken outside the traditional left-right divides, looking to the new. Yes, renationalising key services brings them onto the public budget sheet, but it also brings them within the public purview, under the remit of a sackable public servant. Public power. Public pride. You could go so far as to call it patriotic.

Source: The only way to purge Labour’s morbid symptoms: vote for Jeremy Corbyn | openDemocracy


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11 thoughts on “The only way to purge Labour’s morbid symptoms: vote for Jeremy Corbyn | openDemocracy

  1. jeffrey davies

    New Labour version of neoliberalism?well blair brought all the tory policy’s with him didnt he sell us out for those riches he was promised beggers belief hel get away scot free he should be made a begger then looked up

  2. mysticmusician

    I agree with a lot of what has been written here. Brexit stirred up a lot of repressed anger that had been boiling under the surface due to austerity and neo-liberalism. People could see the unfairness and also because of the internet how other countries had dealt with the banking crisis, e.g. Iceland.

    Jeremy Corbyn is speaking for all those who’ve seen that Labour was basically sold out by Blair and his cronies. But his policies go beyond just being left-wing – they introduce a transparency which is breathtaking as well as the idea of political and democratic justice which should be at the heart of any real democracy. I feel that this is a social movement in the making. People are seeing the lies of austerity and Tory government and that an alternative is possible. And that gives hope, empowerment and a new sense of freedom which is for all of us ‘and leaves nobody behind’!

  3. Christine Cullen

    So I was born under Attlee as PM in ’47. Even He even had to fend off a forebear of Peter Mandelson (Herbert Morrison) who tried to snatch the premiership! This was the time of the birth of the NHS, nationalising industries/services and the new welfare state, much to the horror of the Tories. Sick of the deprivations of the 30s, the population turned on Churchill and voted for social justice. And now, sick of the deprivations caused by the Thatcherites and their paler New Labour compatriots, how far are Labour Party members prepared to go this time? How much do we believe that a more equal society is beneficial for everyone, even the 1%?

    History makes an interesting context but in the 21st century we need 21st century answers. It’s not just a leader we have to vote for but someone with the vision to get together a team that will work with him to achieve the banishment of such an unequal society, where only a few get the real opportunities, the very few get the riches and the many pay for it with their labour and their health.

    As well as vision it will take political stamina, determination and a loyal following ready to put their backs into the job.
    If we don’t get Corbyn in again, we will have lost a huge opportunity IMO.

  4. roybeiley

    I was a war baby so my view is much longer than yours.In the 1950’s and early 60’s I was brought up under succesive Tory Govts led by Churchill, Eden and Macmillan. My dad was a staunch Trade Union member (Allied Furniture Workers Union). But in those days the Tory Party was more patrician and did not seek to “punish” working class familes as they now do. Any downturn in the Economy back then gave rise to “short time working” which caused temporary hardships which eventually improved. Little use was made of credit loans anyway. “You have never had it so good” was Macmillan’s famous statement! Not everyone agreed with that at the time though.
    My own political awakening came in 1964 when Harold Wilson won the Election on the electriying phrase ‘we will use the widespread white hot technology ‘ that is available to us to provide a better future. Although Wilson was not what he appeared to be in public he did lead a Labour administration which recognised Trades Union membership as positive. His later cabinets included some brilliant ministers like Tony Crosland and even Tony Benn.
    Until Jeremy Corbyn began to talk about a different kind of society, I have never felt so engaged in political debate since Thatcher came along and the Tory Party became the Nasty Party; the enemy of the working class.
    So yes , I do believe we are on the cusp of an opportunity to steer politics in a different way ; more engaging and and inclusive which will not return us to a nationalisation programme along those of 1948 but one which protects our basic infrastructure from ownership by private sector companies who will always put profit before public service.

  5. NMac

    I believe that the political changes embodied by Corbyn are genuinely popular among a great swathe of the population which is heartily sick of the falsehoods, the corruption and downright dishonesty that is enforced and unnecessary “austerity”. However, unless Corbyn is elected leader of the Labour Party we will never see those changes. Even then the Establishment and the mainly right-wing media will do its dishonest best to bring him down and destroy him. There are those who make parallels with Michael Foot’s leadership, but I believe the circumstances and the mood within the country are very different today. I will make no secret of the fact that I have voted for Corbyn and did so as soon as I received my on-line ballot paper.

  6. mohandeer

    I still wonder what would have happened had Darling and Brown not bailed out the banks. They did so, what have we gained except fuelling even more greed and hypocrisy and helping to make Britain a “low waged” economy with the poorest paying the most. The only good to come out of it was to make the majority of Britain’s working class very angry with the banksters, the corporates, the unfair tax system with it’s one way door and the politicians with their revolving door. I’m not so sure now, given the desperate straits of so many since Osborne took the reins, that we would not now be looking at riots and a revolt of the peasants if not for Corbyn giving that anger some direction and framing a sensible response. The right wing Labour Party, if it had won, should be grateful for the narrow escape. They won’t, however, have another opportunity to escape the wrath of the people they deserted if Corbyn is undermined by them when he is returned as leader for a second time.

  7. casalealex

    “You could go so far as to call it patriotic.”

    The word ‘patriotic’ – meaning ‘proud of one’s country’, is ambivalent.

    If someone is very proud of their country, and thinks it is better than other countries, it could be said their views are ‘nationalistic’ – often indicating
    disapproval of someone’s views, ie “…an attempt to arouse nationalistic passions against the foreigner.”

    Many terrorists consider themselves to be patriots fighting for freedom.

      1. casalealex

        I do not like the word ‘patriotic’, as it is often used in a rabble rousing context, instead of a ‘proud of my country’ sort of way.

        Especially when, in recent years, there is not much to be proud of with what this government is doing to the people of this country.

        Policies that are killing off our own people, and many others in other countries.

  8. casalealex

    “Is it possible to stop the political changes embodied by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, or are they part of a social movement that became inevitable with the failure of the New Labour version of neoliberalism?”

    With the will of the people, it is, hopefully, possible that Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed political changes, as leader of the Labour Party, cannot be stopped.

    It is up to us to stand up and reject, once and for all, ’New Labour’s’. and of course the Tories’ neoliberalism.

    We are the people – it is in our hands!

Comments are closed.