|Jeremy Corbyn addressing striking education workers.|
Will Jeremy Corbyn become the next leader of the British Labour Party and what does it mean for the British left?
A SPECTRE IS HAUNTING THE establishment of the British Labour Party. No, it is not the spectre of revolution but the spectre of mild mannered Jeremy Corbyn being voted Labour leader in about five weeks time.
Such is the consternation is that Liz Kendall has called for a voting pact with Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, her fellow Blairite rivals for the Labour leadership, in a desperate attempt to derail Corbyn's seemingly unstoppable march to victory.
Indeed their master, Tony the war criminal, has attacked Corbyn declaring that;
"The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched, over the cliff’s edge to the jagged rocks below. This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk on the basis it causes 'disunity'. It is a moment for a rugby tackle if that were possible.”
But Tony Blair finds himself fairly and squarely on the losing team. A new poll released this week has revealed that 52 percent of eligible voters support Corbyn, with Andy Burnham trailing well behind on 21 percent.
As well, large numbers of people are joining his campaign and people are flocking to his rallies and campaign events. Many are signing up to Labour as registered supporters or as affiliated supporters through their unions.
Corbyn is generating the kind of enthusiasm for Labour not seen for years. It makes people like Liz Kendall look like party poopers spitting sour grapes because she can't get her own way.
What's driving Corbyn's campaign is the recognition that a timid Ed Miliband grasped defeat from the mouth of election victory offering little more than a pale imitation of the Tories political and economic agenda, what he nonsensically referred to as 'progressive capitalism'. Corbyn's campaign is also ratching up the pressure on a trade union bureaucracy that, year after year, has failed to lead any kind of meaningful fightback against the policies of neoliberalism and of austerity.
Left Unity, which is attempting to build a left wing alternative to Labour, is supportive of Corbyn's campaign because it realises that a Corbyn-led Labour Party has the potential to break the neoliberal straitjacket that has constrained British politics for decades - as it has in New Zealand. It opens up the conditions to build a genuine left wing alternative.
But there is the ever-present danger that the British left will be diverted down the road to nowhere, namely 'the parliamentary road to socialism'. History has proved that the so-called reformist road does not lead to socialism but merely to an attempt to moderate the worst excesses of capitalism.
Ed Miliband's father, Ralph, made this very point time and time again but largely went unheard. In his book Parliamentary Socialism he writes:
The Labour Party … is a party of modest social reform in a capitalist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted. The system badly needs such a party, since it plays a major role in the management of discontent and helps to keep it within safe bounds..... The absence of a viable socialist alternative is no reason for resigned acceptance or for the perpetuation of hopes which have no basis in political reality. On the contrary, what it requires is to begin preparing the ground for the coming into being of such an alternative: and one of the indispensable elements of that process is the dissipation of paralysing illusions about the true purpose and role of the Labour Party.
Bearing this in mind a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn in would still be a major achievement because, ultimately, it could only lead to a rise in the political confidence and militancy of ordinary people. A Corbyn victory would give the working class something to shout about. But it would only be the beginning of building a significant left force in Britain.
While we watch these events unfolding 12,000 miles away, the political situation could not be more different here. Andrew Little has decided that the only way to react to a disastrous election defeat is to move Labour further to the right. This is not surprising coming from someone who once described the mild keynesian-inspired policies of the Alliance as 'extreme'.
Unfortunately the New Zealand left has nothing to offer but continued support for Labour. The same people who were seen running away from Labour's election wreckage are exactly the same people who will call for another Labour vote in 2017. And I don't imagine many people will find that something worth shouting about.