Monday, 25 December 2017

Year End Review 2017 - Part 4

Prediction 4 was,

“This will be a decisive year for Corbyn and his supporters.”

Once again, more than comfortably confirmed. Last year, I argued that the special conditions of the Copeland By-Election, which Corbyn's opponents had seen as a harbinger of future election results, and a means with which to beat Corbyn, were not a good guide. There were a number of elements to this prediction. On the one hand, I argued that what was important was how Corbyn, and those around him responded to the triggering of Article 50. I argued that there had been considerable vacillation by many around Corbyn, over the question of immigration etc., and that it was necessary for Labour to adopt a clear message. Some pundits have argued that it has been the lack of a clear message by Labour over Brexit that has benefited them, as they were able to present themselves to Leave supporting Labour voters as committed to carrying out the referendum result, but still able to pick up the votes of Remainers, on the basis of being the only credible opposition to a Tory hard Brexit.

This last contention is certainly true, but I have never accepted the first, and I think the analysis done by John Curtice proves the correctness of my thesis. I think Labour could have potentially polled more votes with a clear anti-Brexit position, and if it is to win back support in Scotland, such a clear position is vital. Moreover, it should always be the case that Labour stands on a principled basis, as that is the best long-term means of securing support, rather than simply opportunistically chasing short-term electoral success. On other aspects of Labour's programme, put forward by Corbyn, that has been proven conclusively.

Despite all of the hostility to a clear progressive social democratic position, from Blair and his dwindling band of supporters in the PLP, in Council Chambers, and in the House of Lords, Corbyn's programme, when argued for clearly and confidently, found widespread support amongst the electorate. It was again a confirmation of the other argument I put forward last year.

“Labour should mobilise its half million members, and its resources, to physically support every strike, every community action against austerity etc. If Corbyn and his supporters do that, Labour's standing in the polls will rise, as voters see a credible answer being provided.” 

Labour under Corbyn did that in a way that the Right of the party have never been able to do. It confirms my own experience of winning a City Council seat back in 1983, by standing on a principled left-wing platform, and going out to argue for it decisively and confidently, even in the face of opposition from the right-wing of the party, and at a time when the vacillation of the Labour Party leadership nationally had allowed Thatcher to claw back support, and which saw Labour get trounced in the General Election of that year.

But, there is still a lot that needs to be done, and had Labour pursued the course I had suggested,

“Its time for Corbyn and his supporters to turn the ideas about building a social movement into action. We should see regular large rallies and demonstrations, joining with other European workers and organisations for the defence and advancement of workers' rights and interests, across Europe. We should join with these other forces to demand action by the EU to end austerity and introduce stimulative investment, particularly in the peripheral economies, to cut unemployment and spur growth, whilst demanding no more bail-outs for the banks.”

We would now be in a much stronger position to turn back the course of Brexit, to be able to present a progressive social-democratic alternative to it, and to the conservative policies of austerity that the Tories, and their co-thinkers across Europe still seek to impose on the working-class.

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