With Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, we have the possibility of winning millions to radical change, writes Chris Nineham
Owen Jones and other Corbyn critics are missing one thing which seems so striking to me. Jeremy Corbyn and his team have managed to pull off what everyone on the European Left has been aiming at for years - to bring together campaigning social movements, disaffected young people, traditional social democrats, most of the far left, a decent chunk of the liberal middle classes, lots of minorities, and massive sections of the organised working class, around a radical programme. This is simple fact. I was at the Durham Miner's Gala on Saturday, where tens of thousands of working class activists and their families mainly from the North gave him an ecstatic welcome, and I was in the Forum in Kentish Town on Tuesday, whereassorted North Londoners cheered him to the rafters. I watched the standing ovation at the Unite conference, I have seen Corbyn signs at Black Lives Matter protests.
Two things about this. Obviously its not just about Jeremy, the basis for this alliance has been created by the horrible reality of British politics and economics over last three decades which has pummelled so much of what so many hold dear. But if you know anything about politics, you know alliances don't just fall together. And Jeremy is uniquely - uniquely - placed to pull this off for a whole number of reasons, including his unmatched record of grassroots campaigning, his constituency record, his long tested radical principles, his 'outsider' status in Labour Party terms, his lack of careerism, his political alliances and now his proven strength under fire. Any attempt to weaken him now quite simply weakens the whole movement.
The other thing is this. Obviously this is not the same as saying he or his policies have majority appeal overnight. The big question is, will Labour try and get a majority by simply reflecting mass opinion as it is, warts and all, or is it going to try and shape opinion, convince people of the possibility of radical change, campaign against racism, sexism, argue for a massive shift in resources from rich to poor, challenge free market dogma etc. If the answer is the first, well the excitement will drain away very fast. Luckily, it seems to me Jeremy Corbyn tends towards the second path. In this scenario, having this incredible activist base that brings together hundreds of thousands of people from so many different backgrounds, including the core of the organised working class, is an absolutely massive advantage. With that kind of activist base, with a clear radical message and plenty of optimism, we have the possibility of winning millions to radical change. We mustn't throw it away.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
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