Jeremy Corbyn Corbyn must remain radical. Photo: Garry Knight

Corbyn must stay true to his radical roots and focus the anger against the status quo to win

This is an election that Theresa May didn’t want to call. She has decided to take a gamble on the polls because her narrow majority has led to a series of u-turns, including over tax credits and grammar schools. Tory division over Brexit options and threats of another Scottish referendum have weakened her authority further.

All the signs are that she wants to strengthen her hand so she can push through a Brexit based on more austerity, rock bottom wages, accelerated privitisation and an ever stronger relationship with the US under its most reactionary and xenophobic president in history. 

It is this agenda that needs to be ruthlessly exposed in the coming weeks of campaigning. There is a growing constituency enraged by the cuts to school budgets, the NHS emergency, the slashing of social care and May’s shameless support for Trump’s serial aggressions.

Brexit has divided the left. Now, everyone who wants an end to Tory rule must come together, by campaigning for a diametrically opposite vision to them.

Labour needs to be promoting a radical alternative to May’s nightmare future. There are big majorities for reversing privitisation, pumping resources into the NHS and tackling inequality. Ballots for industrial action in hospitals and schools show the depth of this anger. 

We need more of the kind of policies that team Corbyn has announced recently on free school meals, social care, raising the minimum wage and forcing businesses to publicise tax returns. Polls show all of these have huge popular backing. Now they need to combined in a programme that breaks once and for all with the free market policies that have been wrecking lives for decades. 

Only an end to politics as normal can break through the cynicism so many feel about Westminster politics and appeal to people who have abandoned Labour or just stopped voting.

That means being open about redistribution too. Corbyn should follow French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon in calling for tax hikes for the rich whose wealth has been spiralling for years.

It means as well that Corbyn and the left must face down the right wing in Labour who have been sabotaging his leadership since the day he was first elected in 2015. They have been working flat out with sections of the media to discredit Corbyn and try and ridicule him. Such public division and argument is damaging at any time; it is disastrous in an election campaign. The right must be disciplined. Across the world, support for the politics of the centre has been collapsing. Calls for moderation and realism only show how out of touch Labour’s right is with the wider population.

As well as a set of radical policies there needs to be an imaginative, outward looking campaign that involves the hundred of thousands who have joined Labour in huge public rallies, mass canvassing, and a strong public presence in every community.

And the movements need to stay mobilised. Nurses, teachers and campaigners need to turn the NHS emergency and the schools chaos into a double crisis for the government. The anti-war movement must continue to expose and denounce May’s support for Donald Trump’s frightening war drive.

There are a number of outcomes other than outright victory that can damage the British ruling class, including a minority Labour government with support from the SNP and the Greens, and a reduced majority for the Tories.

We face a huge challenge, but audacious radical left campaigns have surged recently in country after country. The idea in circulation in some parts of the left that Britain is uniquely right-wing ignores support for progressive policies, ignores the roots of the crisis in Scotland and the basis on which Corbyn got elected as leader in the first place.

The discontent is there. The question is, can Labour with its most left wing leader make it count? It is a question we can only answer in practice by creating a mass radical campaign that cannot be ignored. 

Tagged under: