I am an SNP member and I support Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour party. Why?
The obvious answer of a Corbyn opponent would be that I hope for the destruction of the Labour Party and a Corbyn leadership is grist to that mill.
But that is not my reason. My reasons are many and follow what I wish for:
- Medium term I want a left-oriented, social democratic independent Scotland in the North European model.
- Before independence I want a left-oriented coalition government in Westminster, including both the SNP in Scotland and Labour from rUK
- After independence a vibrant, renewed Labour party in rUK pursuing the interests of ordinary people, and a clear left-wing social democratic party doing the same in Scotland.
My reasons for wanting ‘Corbyn’:
- It isn’t about Corbyn as a person, as it wasn’t about the person of Bernie Sanders in the US, it is about a movement for political representation of ordinary peoples needs, against the elites and corporate interests. Let’s call it Resurgent Labour or RL.
- The anti-Corbyn faction – let’s call it Old New Labour or ONL – is past its sell by date. It isn’t credible. More than anything it isn’t electable. In fact, it is very unelectable. To become electable again it needs to be radically reformed: to become Resurgent Labour.
- For the foreseeable future Labour will only get into power in the UK in coalition with the SNP. But to do even that it needs to be credible in England. It wasn’t in the last two elections. It never will be under ONL.
All over Europe and even the world there is a movement of consciousness that has little if any trust in the established political parties. This is especially true of the old ‘socialist’ parties: the SPD in Germany, the PS in France, PSOE in Spain, PASOK in Greece, … And Labour in the UK. They are regarded as being directed by the elite, with upper echelons composed of people (often rich or wannabe rich people) with corporate and lobbying connections. (Banks, directorships, consultancies, employment, speaking fees, Atlanticist think tanks, … In ONL think Ed Balls, Jim Murphy, Alistair Darling, Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Dougie Alexander… and Owen Smith?). These people have been hammered in elections, or left the stage, except of course Owen Smith.
A little straw in the wind: I posted a Facebook cartoon today – it is a picture of a Monopoly board and the text: “You can tell Monopoly is an old game because there is a luxury tax and rich people can go to jail”. It quickly gathered ‘likes’ from people who broadly are the educated middle class, often modestly well off, and not raging revolutionaries. ONL is regarded as the ‘deeply relaxed about wealth’ party, its leaders scared to call themselves ‘socialist’, who presided over this state of affairs in the UK, while posing as ‘centre left’. We have all seen how Tony Blair became magically rich on leaving office, and listened to Jack Straw explaining his fee system to a journalist who he thought represented a Chinese company seeking influence and contacts.
‘Suddenly’ new parties or movements have come into being all across Europe and the US: not necessarily left, sometimes populist or anarchist: Syriza, Podemos, Five Star, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and, yes, also the SNP which massively gained in membership and support when it could credibly fill the role of representing the ordinary person. (The SNP can also be accused of being a bit too close to corporate interests, but has strongly adopted the position of defending the interests of ordinary people and will have to defend that to maintain its popularity. In that sense it is perhaps more like the CSU in Bavaria: close to the people, close to business.) When these parties looked credible and were well-organised as in Scotland and Greece, they swiftly moved into power or sometimes coalition. They are electable, very electable.
What all these movements have in common is distancing themselves from elites and corporate interests. They attract massive support from the previously disenchanted, especially among young people.
ONL got wiped out in its heartlands of Scotland, and it isn’t coming back any time soon as a political force. If a credible mass left-wing party exists in Scotland it is currently the SNP. If a new left wing force is to exist in a future Scotland it won’t be ONL. It could be a radically reformed Labour party, but certainly not a Kezia Dugdale ONL.
ONL Labour hands in Scotland might not like it but the ‘electable’ ONL has made Labour completely unelectable in Scotland. Once there was a credible alternative in the SNP (Labour sceptics might say ‘half-credible’ or even ‘incredible’) people jumped ship. Even in the deepest Labour heartlands where for decades a red rosette on a tailor’s dummy guaranteed election. This didn’t happen under Jeremy Corbyn’s reign, it happened under ONL’s reign.
A SNP-Green-Resurgent Labour alliance
The SNP espouses much the same policies as Corbyn: anti-austerity, for a massive public investment programme, public housing, good and free education for all, protection of the weakest, no Trident, …. an electoral coalition of RL with the SNP is possible. With the ONL it is impossible. The SNP offered co-operation on real left-wing policies to ONL in the last Westminster election, and was rebuffed. A party which sees its only election strategy as being assuaging the fears of a few thousand soft centre voters in English swing constituencies isn’t going to campaign on that platform. (See, inter alia, Paul Mason, on a left-wing alliance).
The only reason the ONL has not yet been wiped out in England is because there is no external alternative. (The internal alternative – Corbyn – is attracting massive support) In fact even an alternative utterly lacking credibility – UKIP – apparently looks attractive to many ordinary people in comparison to ONL.
And why am I not in favour of a resurgent Labour (RL) party in Scotland? Well a small incident last week shows why: as Iain Macwhirter wrote in the Herald:
Labour frontbench MP Clive Lewis last week <suggested> a progressive alliance between Labour, the Greens and the SNP – a proposal that must have left the Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, incandescent.
Pretty clearly, if Labour does a coalition negotiation with the SNP every point will be fought for on both sides: Scotland’s interests vs. rUK’s; regional aid vs. metropolitan infrastructure; renewables vs. nuclear; fish vs. corn; etc. A negotiation with Scottish Labour on the other hand would look more like “Sorry Kez, but we decided….” even if she had delivered 40 MPs.
And what about Corbyn as a person? His opponents complain that he isn’t a natural leader, is not ‘charismatic’, isn’t a good speaker, has no ministerial experience etc… He certainly doesn’t seem to have the drive to power that characterises most top politicians.
Corbyn’s attraction is that he is an honest person who obviously really cares about other people. The ‘charismatic’ statesmen seem to be psychologically naturally attracted to power. Maybe part of the shift in human consciousness is getting over our need to be ‘led’ by such people? Maybe we are all sick of being lied to by selfish people? Maybe we are intelligent enough to realise that the presentation is not as important as the content, that honesty and kindness are better than a neatly ironed shirt?