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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Corbyn Can't Go

I find it difficult to believe that Owen Jones is as naive as all that. 

His calls for Jeremy Corbyn to step down in order to be replaced by a younger, more dynamic, more media-savvy representative of the left, on essentially the same programme and with the same policies, might make a certain amount of sense in the abstract. 

Labour are trailing badly in the polls and the loss of Copeland bodes ill for Labour in any coming election. The media are misrepresenting Corbyn to an extent that is horrifying and profoundly anti-democratic, but he does appear, and politics is often about appearance, to find it very difficult to circumvent that and at times seems to play right into their hands. 

But: if not Corbyn, as Michael Rosen keeps patiently asking on Twitter, then who? At the present time and under current circumstances, who would be able to take on the role? 

This is not a question, though, of which candidate. I could put forward names who might fill the role and do so very well. 

The point is, and this is where Owen Jones’ seeming naivety comes in, under the current circumstances, they would never get on the ballot. 

This is why for Corbyn to go would be a massive betrayal of his mandate. Not necessarily because of him personally. There may be members of the Labour Party who voted very specifically for him as an individually, but there seems very little doubt that his mandate is based primarily on the fact that represents the Labour left. He represents the prospects for socialism, whatever you might think that means, in the UK at least. To me, that means the prospects for the empowerment of working class people; it means the democratisation of society; it means freedom from being ground down by need and the liberation of the creative potential, in whatever sphere, of millions; it means increased prospects for simple happiness for millions of people. It means things never even approached by the last, right-wing, Labour government because they were ideologically unwilling and even incapable of even considering them. They were unwilling to do so because these aspirations require challenging the establishment. The last Labour government were more interested in being the establishment, as are the current hard right of the Party.  

If Corbyn steps down, under the current situation, all that will be betrayed, lost, cast aside, abandoned for a generation or more - because a left candidate will not get on the ballot. Possibly ever. 

The right of the Party remain in control of many of the levers of power and they remain implacably opposed to the left, thoroughly wedded to capitalism and the establishment and determined to resist any fundamental social change. 

This would seem to include the deputy leader of the Party, the General Secretary of the Party, many members of the NEC and, vitally, the majority of the PLP. 

It is the latter who, under the current rules and with their current political make up, will never allow any MP from the left onto the ballot for leader again. 

This was the whole point of the coup. They put enormous personal and political pressure on Corbyn to step down because then they would not have to allow anybody else from the left onto the ballot and they could return to business as usual. 

This has nothing to do with personal competence and everything to do with long-term political goals and their desire to maintain the status quo. 

This can be seen again in the recent attacks, some of them clearly class-based and anti-working class, on Rebecca Long-Bailey, whose performance on the Andrew Marr show was, in itself, very strong and assured - something that the right of the party simply cannot allow themselves to admit. Strong potential candidates from the the left must produce a particular thrill of horror for them. 

Before Corbyn can step down, there must be changes to the procedure for choosing the candidates for leader so that the hard right cannot simply block those candidates who would be preferred by the wider membership of the Party. 

Anybody allied to the Labour Party with a genuine desire for radical change rather than  just tinkering with palliatives for the worst depredations of capitalism has to recognise that this is the case and act accordingly; otherwise, whatever their motives, they are effectively working to prop up the establishment - both in Labour and beyond. 

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