The rise and rise of Jeremy Corbyn or, the failure of Labour to grasp the nettle and learn from the debacle of the ‘Miliband Years’. Corbyn came into the leadership contest at the very last minute because someone thought it would be clever to ‘broaden the argument’ in the search for a new leader.
Being “clever” is not a trait that sits well with Labour. It was tried several times by Blair and then by his successor, Gordon Brown. You may recall that Brown famously thought that it would be clever to sell off the nations gold reserve. But being an idiot and far from “clever” he sold the gold at a time when the market was at an all time low. Then, with another masterstroke straight from the Village Idiot handbook, he deregulated the banks. It is fair to say that the Tories, under Margaret Thatcher, started a program of deregulation after coming to power in 1979. Many services were sold into the Private Sector, e.g. British Telecom, local bus services, and, most notably, the railways.
However, Browns decision to free up the Bank of England from direct government control and remove the power of the Bank of England from controlling the financial activities of banks in the UK was, in my opinion, a deregulation too far. My point was made when certain banks had to be bailed out by the government as a result of over borrowing through over speculation in the markets.
It would seem that the vast majority of Labour Party members have forgotten this already and are actively pro privatisation. Why does that bother me? To be honest it doesn’t, but for someone who would rather drink hot lave straight from a spewing volcano than vote Labour, I find it strange that the leading Socialist Party in the UK is prepared to take a centre right stance. If you argue that they do so only to get into power and will then revert to type I bring you back to Mr Corbyn.
At the moment Corbyn is more certain to be the next leader of the Labour Party than Charles is to succeed the Queen. He is an old time socialist who has gone back to Labour’s roots. He has never denied this nor, has he tried to deflect questions concerning the direction that he wants to take Labour. Unsurprisingly the unions are right behind him. They see this as a way back into main stream politics afters decades in the wilderness.
Corbyn says that he is not averse to reviving Clause iv or supporting a modern derivative of it. So, what is Clause iv?
The original version was drafted by Sidney Webb in 1917. It read, ‘To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration control of each industry service.”
If proof were needed that Labour was a true Socialist Party then this section was that proof. At the time, many people in Britain saw nationalisation as the way forward. It also addressed the belief, put into words by William Beverage many years later, that want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness stood in the way of social progress.
His definitions were;
WANT: Too many people were in poverty and living below the poverty line
DISEASE: Many people suffered poor health because they could not afford medical care.
IGNORANCE: Too many children left school at 14 without any qualifications and went into low paid jobs.
SQUALOR: Many people lived in overcrowded slums and there was a shortage of good housing.
IDLENESS: Unemployment was high before WW11 and caused poverty.
Unfortunately for the other contenders in the battle for the Labour leadership, by disagreeing with Corbyn they are turning their backs on millions of Labour voters, who live in the real world and have first-hand experience of the very reason why Corbyn is not averse to Clause iv.
New Labour shot itself in the foot when it tried to be “clever” and make itself eternally elected. Their method of open borders, forced integration and ever closer ties to the EU at the expense of the British public back-fired spectacularly. It is the resulting discontent within the Labour Party which Corbyn has latched onto. He is probably the only one of the contenders who is not trying to be “clever”. Instead, he is just being a good socialist and it is this which is attracting support throughout the country.
The rest of us should be very worried about the rise of this man. Like Lenin in Czarist Russia he is seen as a nobody, a bit of a fool on a fools errand. Believe me he is not any of those things. Yes, his beliefs may be alien to the vast majority but to those who listen, his politic is very plausible indeed. The Tories see him as their ticket to winning the next General Election. In this they are being short-sighted, because of Osborne’s austerity measures and Cameron’s lack of leadership over the migrant crisis in Calais, I would guess that at this very moment Corbyn is more electable than either of them.
Would re-nationalisation be a bad thing? To many, no, is the simple answer. For too many years the rail service has failed the British public. The rail companies are perceived as profiteering monoliths that put profit before investment, profit before infra structure and profit before the public. So in many eyes it would be good if rail was brought back into Public Sector control.
Similarly the utility companies. What good is to have a regulatory body if the companies which it is designed to regulate, blatantly ignore it? Then there is the blatant profiteering, a legacy of New Labour reducing the utility companies to just 6. Once again, people can see the logic in returning our energy and water supplies back to Public Sector control.
By far the biggest and most natural energy resource this country has is coal and we have almost closed down this industry in its entirety because of directives laid out by the last Labour Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband. Obviously Mrs Thatcher and Arthur Scargill have to share some of the blame also. Their spat in the eighties was to be the death knell for the industry.
Corbyn has realised that by going back to Labour’s roots he is not only returning socialism to the fore, he is also proving why Labour made such a formidable opposition to the Tories. Clause iv is the cure all, the pill which will solve all of societies ills. This is the perception anyway and it is this perception which is playing into Corbyn’s hands. The fact that it is nought but a placebo is neither here nor there in the eyes of true socialist practitioners.
It has been proved time and time again that the only way out of financial difficulty is to employ Capitalism. As long as the proper regulations and restrictions are put in place and rigorously policed the economy grows and all will benefit. Some, I concede, better than others.
The Tories though are quite happy to claim the centre left ground conceded by Labour. Indeed, in my opinion that have morphed into New Labour. All they are really doing is readying the country for the inevitable integration into the EU. Something that politicians of all Parties, except UKIP are in denial about. People forget when told of the Shangri-La that is the EU that it is, in fact, the third largest socialist experiment next to China and Russia. Think about it, State control, no borders, no identity and governed by committee. Please don’t think for one minute that Corbyn is any less of a socialist that he would turn his back on the EU. He wouldn’t! He would embrace it and sign away the UK in a flash.
So back to Clause iv, good in principle, bad in practice. Socialism just does not work, look at the Soviet Union. Even China has had to embrace capitalism in order to compete in the modern world. Yes, Putin is rattling the old Russian hammer and sickle but I would submit that what is happening in Russia with regard to Putin’s popularity is akin to what is happening with Jeremy Corbyn. It is short-lived popularism and anyone who falls for Corbyn’s slick style of socialist rhetoric will be in for a big disappointment.