The British Labour Party will elect a new leader this weekend. But a victory for overwhelming favourite Jeremy Corbyn will have little impact on the New Zealand Labour Party.
DESPITE OPPOSITION FROM both inside and outside of the party, Jeremy Corbyn will be voted the new leader of the British Labour Party this weekend. Only the end of the world can stop him now. Propelled by a wave of popular support, the Corbyn campaign has left the heirs of Tony Blair floundering. It is they who now look out of date, desperately flogging the failed ideology and policies of neoliberalism. They seem perplexed as to why no one is listening to them. Why don't people just understand that austerity is good for them?
It is an indication of how far right western politics have swung that Corbyn's enemies have likened him to a Vladimir Lenin or Leon Trotsky (‘Labour could become Trotskyite tribute act’ says Jon Cruddas of the Daily Telegraph) . These days, just restating traditional social democratic ideals is likened to storming the citadels of capitalist power. In the case of the well known political thinker, Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Corbyn is just a 'stark raving loony' for even suggesting that neoliberalism has, well, FAILED.
Corbyn's consistent anti-austerity stance has made him popular with the working class communities that have borne the brunt of these policies. That he isn't popular with the wideboys in the City of London or with the Tory tabloid press hardly matters.
While Ed Miliband grasped defeat from the jaws of victory by pandering to 'the middle ground ', Corbyn has shown little regard for what writer Tariq Ali describes as 'the extremism of the centre', The wholesale adoption of neoliberalism by the mainstream political parties has simply resulted in a massive decline in voting participation and a pervading sense that ‘there is no alternative’ to free-market capitalism. It doesn't matter who you vote for because the bastards always win.
In one of his final campaign speeches Corbyn again stated that Labour lost the last election because it failed to present a clear alternative to the austerity agenda of the Conservative Party. If it had, a large number of the 15 million people who didn't bother to vote may of headed out to the polling booths. Ed Miliband had history in his hands and he let it go out of, yes, political cowardice and a ridiculous belief in something called 'progressive capitalism'.
Jeremy Corbyn is popular because he does advocate an alternative. Corbyn’s views are widely popular with people who back policies such as renationalisation, rent controls and taxing the rich more.
A victory for Jeremy Corbyn would open new opportunities for the British left, and only the deeply sectarian could not support this. But Corbyn's triumph is likely to have little impact here. The Labour Party, led by the deeply conservative Andrew Little, remains wedded to the neoliberal orthodoxy. Little, throughout his career, has displayed an antagonism toward left wing thought. His is the politics of managerialism and distrust of anyone or any movement that seeks real change. That he was propelled into the leadership by the trade union bureaucracy highlights all that is wrong with left wing politics in this country.
Nothing has been learnt from Labour's dismal election defeat. It hasn't so much risen from the ashes of defeat but moved the cinders around a bit.
Commentator Chris Trotter has written a number of columns on Jeremy Corbyn. Having slammed left wing opposition to the Labour Party here as 'ultraleftist' he has embraced Jeremy Corbyn over there. He's not the only one who has been inconsistent. His fellow ideological travellers on The Standard and The Daily Blog also hold similar contradictory views.
Trotter though is vague as to how a Corbyn Victory will influence the Labour Party here. The best he can come up with seems to be this:
'If Corbyn wins on September 12, many political commentators are convinced that the reaction of Left-wing voters, across the English-speaking world, will mirror the reaction of the French to their liberation by the Allies in 1944. Flags will be waved, and kisses freely exchanged, as the people welcome themselves back home.'
Its all rather melodramatic because the dull Andrew Little will still be in charge of a party that long ago abandoned social democracy for the extremism of the centre. I doubt there will be any 'flags waved, and kisses freely exchanged'. Andrew Little is more likely to be addressing another group of business suits somewhere. Liberation? More like 'business as usual'.