U.K. Labour enjoyed its biggest surge in electoral support since 1945. It did so by rejecting the Blairite dogma of a 'broad church' Labour and campaigning as an unashamedly working class and left wing party.
WHILE CONSERVATIVE FOGHORNS like Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking - after predicting Jeremy Corbyn and U.K. Labour would be annihilated - are now desperately trying to save face by blowing smoke about how Jeremy Corbyn didn't actually win the British election, the fact remains Corbyn and his party pulled off an extraordinary and stunning political upset. But we can't expect someone as clever as Mike Hosking to understand this.
U.K. Labour enjoyed its biggest surge in electoral support since 1945 and gathered in some 40 percent of the vote. It did this after coming from over 20 points behind the Tories. What made the result even more remarkable is that Corbyn not only had to combat the Tories but also an unrelenting hostile corporate media and a campaign to undermine him by Blairite MP's within his own party. Now some of these very same MP's have let it be known the would like a position in Corbyn's shadow cabinet. There is little chance of that happening.
While Theresa May is trying to maintain, at least, an outward appearance that its 'business as usual", it very much isn't. The British political map has been redrawn and Labour has rediscovered its radical heart. The Corbyn revolution joins other revolutions around the world - Podemos in Spain, Left Bloc in Portugal and Bernie Sanders in the United States - that have faced down, rather than embraced the forces of neoliberalism, and won. Jeremy Corbyn's success spells the end of Blairism. It may whimper, like the Nottingham and Blairite MP Chris Leslie who said Corbyn should have won the election, but it has been consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.
Blairite MPs like Chris Leslie are already beginning to feel the heat. On the Nottingham Post website one reader wrote: "Chris Leslie is a useless muppet who got parachuted into Nottingham East during the Tory Blair years from somewhere down south. He is a pink Tory representing a solid working class constituency and he is a disgrace."
The secret of Jeremy Corbyn's success was actually not much of a secret. He ran a proudly class-based campaign. Ironically Corbyn appropriated a slogan first used by Tony Blair's New Labour, 'For the Many, Not the Few', and gave it a genuinely radical and working class edge. Labour, among other things, promised an end to austerity, promised to tax the rich and the corporations, to pay for affordable council housing, to nationalise public utilities and provide genuinely free education and to create a welfare system that helped people rather than punished them. In doing so the poor and the young, folk abandoned by neoliberalism, voted for Corbyn and Labour in droves.
In the end over 13 million people voted for Labour and they did so because Jeremy Corbyn is a socialist (hell, he sings 'The Red Flag' at Labour Party conferences) and because its manifesto is one of progressive reforms that speak to the interests of ordinary people, not the rich and powerful.
As Richard Seymour, author of Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics, has commented, Corbyn's vision was "a broad, synthetic vision of how Britain could change, that answered to the crisis of the country, and to the aspirations, increasingly collective and increasingly radicalised, of especially younger, working class Britons - and they turned out for him."
As I've said before, its likely that New Zealand Labour and its cabal of supporters will try to hijack the style of Corbyn's success but empty it of any meaningful substance.
The Daily Blog's Martyn Bradbury, for example, has laughably claimed that the conservative Jacinda Arden - who has never rocked the boat in her entire parliamentary life - will attract the disaffected youth vote. He thinks young people are so stupid they will vote for Ardern merely because she's young - although she's actually 36 years old. Apparently he thinks the young are so shallow they will just ignore the fact that she is promoting and defending the same old dreary neoliberal policies that they have come to loathe. With incredible analytical skills like this, little wonder that Bradbury predicted Labour would win the last election. Martyn Bradbury is right up there with Mike Hosking.
The brutal reality is that while Jeremy Corbyn articulated a new vision for Britain that rejects neoliberalism, NZ Labour leader Andrew Little has signed an austerity agreement with the Green Party. The message to the corporate sector is clear - it will be business as usual under any Labour-led government. And I don't hear Jacinda Ardern protesting about that...