The socialist spirit is here to stay
The red flag of socialism was flying high once more during the British election. | Wikimedia

As covered by People’s World, Britain’s election last week was a failed gamble for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May. The unapologetic left-wing leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, delivered a powerful blow to her policies of austerity and cost May the Conservative Party’s parliamentary majority. Though she appears to be clinging on to power with the support of the radical right-wing Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), most are predicting May’s arrangement will be short-lived. Corbyn is poised for victory when voters again head to the polls. The article below is an editorial from the June 8 election day edition of Morning Star, the daily socialist newspaper in Britain. We present it to our readers as a guest op-ed – a commentary on the international rebound of socialist politics.

This year’s general election has been historic in marking both the rebirth of Labour as a radical voice for working people and farewell to a cross-party parliamentary neoliberal consensus.

Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to stand up to an unremitting tidal wave of dog’s abuse from the entirety of the electronic and written media – with the sole consistent exception of the Morning Star – belies his detractors’ attempts to portray him as weak.

Corbyn has refused throughout to respond in kind.

Although his enemies, including inhabitants of the benches behind him, ridiculed and misrepresented him, he met their bile with good humor and politeness.

But above all, the Labour leader explained why a decisive break with the New Labour pro-big business approach was vitally necessary.

While standing for the Labour leadership in 2015 and again when forced to defend his position just a year later, Corbyn maintained that there was no good reason to back austerity, overseas wars and slavish devotion to big business.

The upshot was an upsurge of hundreds of thousands of new members for Labour, most of them young but not all.

Others were former Labour members and supporters sufficiently enthused to rejoin, putting aside the frustrating years after the 1997 general election victory when New Labour squandered membership and millions of votes and opened the door to the Tories and their Glib Demagogue hangers-on in 2010.

Corbyn and the minority of Labour MPs backing him revived ideas long derided as old hat by the New Labour elite.

Backing public ownership, abolition of tuition fees, supporting trade union rights, building council houses and rejecting private-sector penetration of our NHS [National Health Service] had all been put forward inside Labour but were spurned by New Labour as being unaffordable or unacceptable to the Tory media.

The new leadership showed that they were all affordable and welcomed by former, current and potential Labour voters, irrespective of what the fistful of tax-dodging Tory newspaper barons thought.

Who inside Labour now argues openly against these policies?

The fact that Corbyn’s 2016 leadership challenger stressed his acceptance of this agenda while projecting himself preposterously as enjoying leadership qualities the likes of which the incumbent could only dream of spoke volumes for the political change working its way through Labour. It signifies that, whatever the inner thoughts of Corbyn’s most virulent back-bench critics, the New Labour project is dead, over and unlamented.

While political change was vividly apparent in the party manifesto, inner-party organizational reform has run up against barriers of bureaucracy, where members of the old guard have fought a rearguard action.

Blocking thousands of membership applicants, expelling many on pretexts that would never be applied to disruptive Blairites and excluding leadership supporters from candidate selections have all been deployed to minimize the extent of change.

Corbyn remains central to the process of modernizing the party apparatus to match the political advances already made.

Tony Blair forecast before Corbyn was elected leader that a left-led Labour Party could never win a general election, stressing that, even were it possible, he wouldn’t want to see it. His view, shared by other parliamentary members of Labour’s City boardroom faction, illustrates both how far Corbyn-led Labour has come and how much further there is to go.

The rich and powerful will do everything they can to scotch Labour’s manifesto policies, but that approach remains essential to modernize Britain and create a more just society.

Consensus around a capitalist cuts agenda must give way to acceptance of progressive change.


CONTRIBUTOR

Morning Star
Morning Star

The Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.

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