Editorial in The Socialist
For decades the Palace of Westminster has been almost completely devoid of serious disagreements. All three of the major establishment parties – the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems – have agreed on the central questions such as the supremacy of the ‘free market’, support for privatisation and public service cuts, the necessity of austerity and the need to undermine workers’ rights to make Britain more ‘competitive’.
But now the world has been turned upside down. The Blairites – who have considered Labour as their possession for decades – are now the 4.5%: the woeful result for the most right-wing Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the most prominent MPs in the Socialist Campaign Group, are the leader of the opposition and the shadow chancellor. The pro-austerity consensus has been smashed with Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party with an overwhelming 59.5% of the vote. The hopes have been raised of millions who want to see a society for the 99% not the 1%. This is a tremendous step forward.
The Socialist Party has long argued that the potential exists in Britain for a mass anti-austerity, workers’ party. We have pointed to the five million mainly working class people who have stopped voting Labour since 1997. Profoundly disillusioned with the establishment parties many have stopped voting altogether, some have voted Green, for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, or even for Ukip in order to protest against the establishment. The austerity-lite of New Labour held no attraction to them.
We have argued that – if it could find an outlet – the up until now voiceless anger at austerity could very quickly become a powerful force. In Scotland it found an outlet in the independence referendum and then in the SNP landslide at the general election. In England and Wales it has now found an unexpected channel in Jeremy Corbyn‘s campaign for Labour leader. No-one, least of all Jeremy Corbyn – who initially stood because it was ‘his turn’ – expected this outcome.
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