Britain: The socialist spirit is here to stay

June 10, 2017
'The New Labour project is dead.'

Below is an abridged editorial  The Morning Star.

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

Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to stand up to a tidal wave of 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.

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

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.

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

Backing public ownership, ending tuition fees, supporting trade union rights, building council houses and rejecting private-sector penetration of the health system had all been spurned by New Labour as being unaffordable or unacceptable to the right-wing media.

Corbyn’s team showed that they were all affordable and welcomed by former, current and potential Labour voters — ergardlessof what the fistful of tax-dodging Tory newspaper barons thought.

Who inside Labour now argues openly against these policies?

Corbyn’s 2016 leadership challenger, Owen Smith, stressed his acceptance of this agenda while projecting himself preposterously as enjoying leadership qualities. This 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.

Political change was vividly apparent in the party manifesto, But inner-party organisational 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 minimise the extent of change.

Corbyn remains central to the process of modernising 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. But he also stressed 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 its approach remains essential to modernise Britain and create a more just society.

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

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Trade unionists respond to election results

Frances O'Grady - TUC General Secretary

This election was about bread and butter issues — what needs to change for ordinary working people. The next government must deliver a new deal for working people. They should implement popular policies from the campaign — like banning zero-hours contracts, pushing up the minimum wage and delivering a long overdue pay rise for nurses, midwives and all public servants.

Dave Ward - CWU General Secretary

The election result heralds a change in the balance of forces in UK politics and there is no going back for Labour. Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership team deserve enormous credit for their resilience and for putting together a superb manifesto and campaign that brought Labour back home to working class people.

Matt Wrack - FBU General Secretary

Millions of voters supported policies that just two years ago were condemned as fringe ideas — renationalising the railways, scrapping student debt, building new homes. Jeremy Corbyn has shifted the political debate decisively in favour of working-class people by working towards what is fair and just. It seems that the Tory Party’s austerity agenda may have had its day

Mick Cash - RMT General Secretary

This election has sent out the clearest possible message that the British people have rejected the Tory programme of cuts, austerity, privatisation and division. Despite Theresa May and her allies throwing the full weight of the Establishment machine at Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party the electorate have seen through that barrage of negativity and have voted in their droves for Labour’s socialist manifesto. 

Jonathan Pie's satirical take.

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