Jeremy fucking Corbyn. Seriously? It’s like finding out your old geography teacher just got made leader of the Labour Party. The one you half remember, and then only because of that time he cried because some kid pissed in his slippers on the school camping trip.
If Jeremy Corbyn is the limit of our political imagination then we are well and truly fucked. He might well be a nice bloke, but he is Labour to his core and the Labour Party have long been enemies of the kind of mass working class self-organisation that is needed if there is to be any meaningful change in our lives. It is only a sign of how much ground we have lost that Corbyn is considered radical at all. And as for those around him, well there will be no pleasure in watching him be kicked to death by his own side but that is what they will attempt to do. Should he manage to stagger on for the next five years he will be so beaten down and stained by compromises that it will be a very different Corbyn who stands in the next general election.
That doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, not by a long way. Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has gone already and good fucking riddance. As have her Oxbridge chums Yvette Cooper and Tristram Hunt. But there are vermin waiting in the wings, including the rumoured return of Liam Byrne. Remember him? Probably not, but he’s a cunt.
It will be where Corbyn stands on social security that will show the kind of direction that Labour is really about to take. He has rightly condemned the Work Capability Assessment and claims to back groups like DPAC and Boycott Workfare who have taken action against welfare reforms. But he has also voted for Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee, although admittedly as part of a package of measures. Nice bloke then, shame about the workfare. If Corbyn means what he says then Labour’s policy must be for an unconditional social security system. No more workfare and no more sanctions. And doctors and their patients deciding who is fit for work, not bureacrats at the DWP and Maximus private health sharks.
Since 2010 there has been a resurgence in collective direct action and grassroots campaigning that has won real results. Whether property developers chased out of buying up housing esates and hiking rents or private companies like Atos handing back lucrative contracts in the face of widespread protests, politics has happened on the streets, estates, universities and workplaces. If that energy and anger is now sucked into the Labour Party political machine it will be a disaster. Corbyn himself could have a role to play in stopping that happening, but the temptation of the old left to control and dictate resistance will need to be hard fought.
An alternative is that Corbyn’s victory could ignite exactly the kind of struggle which is needed. That we see this not as the road to a Labour government but as a sign that there is genuine hunger in the UK for change. If half of the people who have attended Corbyn’s rallies had taken militant and disruptive action against workfare, the Bedroom Tax, or any of the raft of welfare reforms then they would have been stopped in their tracks and Iain Duncan Smith would be unemployed. That’s not a whinge by the way, just a reflecton on what could be achieved if this weekend’s events are used as a springboard to create a radical working class movement with real teeth. That cannot happen within the Labour Party, party politics is the road to defeat. But it can happen and then we won’t need a party at all, we can do politics for ourselves.
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