Seumas Milne on How Corbyn’s Labour Can Win

Seumas Milne, the widely respected socialist and journalist, is Jeremy Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications. This respect however does not extend to the mainstream media who have been waging a vicious smear campaign against him. As one commentator who is highly critical of these lies correctly points out: “Milne was silently tolerated by the UK media for many years, but now he is feared.”

Nearly five years ago now, Milne released an important and revealing book entitled The Revenge of History: The Battle for the 21st Century (2012). As popular US author Naomi Klein surmised:

“Reading Seumas Milne, one often has a feeling of physical relief: finally someone not only sees the truth but articulates it with thrilling erudition and moral clarity. Tracking a decade of ruinous lies from the right and unheeded warnings from the left, this is a book with an urgent message: it’s time to win more than arguments.”

Chapter 4 of Milne’s book “In Thrall to Corporate Power,” provides ample explanations – drawing upon his earlier articles — for why Corbyn has received two landslide electoral victories as socialist leader of the Labour Party. As Milne explained in this chapter, in an article first published in 1997:

“One of the striking political paradoxes of the past decade is that as Labour has moved to the right, the electorate has been heading in the opposite direction. Even allowing for the superficiality of polling methods and the sometimes contradictory nature of public opinion, the trend is undeniable. And so is the risk of an emerging crisis of political and social representation – with the kind of ugly consequences seen in other European countries – unless the new government moves to meet the expectation that have arisen despite Blair’s best endeavours.” (p.83)

Or take his analysis from a 2005 article where he noted:

“Voters opposed to the occupation of Iraq, the galloping privatisation of public services and the shameful inequality of Britain in 2005 – a majority of the British people, according to opinion polls – face a problem at next month’s general election. In most constituencies, they will have no one to vote for. That is because none of the three main parties will be offering a meaningful alternative on what are, by any reckoning, central issues in political and social life.” (p.86)

The following year, despite Blair’s continued attacks upon the working-class and their living standards, Milne points out how:

“Key parts of an alternative agenda to address public concerns ignored by the Blair administration are, in fact, already Labour policy. In the last couple of years, Labour’s previously docile conference has voted to halt privatisation and commercialisation of the NHS, keep the Post Office in the public sector, bring rail back into public ownership, restore the pensions-earnings link, and end the ban on Gate Gourmet-style workplace solidarity.

“Blair and his fellow ministers have, of course, rejected all this.” (p.94)

This is followed by a 2008 article which demonstrates the fundamentally corrupt and undemocratic nature of the European Union: “Against all protocol and best practice, the people of Ireland have been given a free vote today on whether to accept a further centralisation of power and entrenchment of corporate privilege in the  European Union.” As he continues:

“The fact is that Europe’s political and business elite avoids giving voters a direct say wherever possible – because it knows it is likely to be turned over by a public that regards EU institutions as remote and unaccountable, whatever it feels about European integration in principle. The long-established practice has therefore been that whenever a referendum becomes absolutely unavoidable and the voters get the answer wrong, they are made to go back and vote again until they get it right.

“The transparent subterfuge was, in the words of Green MEP Caroline Lucas, a “demonstration of breathtaking arrogance”. But it now risks coming apart at the hands of a hotchpotch coalition of trade unionists, nationalists, Catholics, farmers and the obligatory maverick businessman – opposed to everything from a loss of influence for small states, social dumping and privatisation, common corporate tax rates and the militarisation of Europe.” (p.97)

Which leads Milne to conclude:

“[S]ubordination to the US or an undemocratic neoliberal superstate is no choice at all. Instead, political alliances need to be constructed for a different kind of Europe. If Irish voters are intimidated into backing the treaty today, public alienation from the EU will continue to grow, along with rightwing nationalism. But if they manage to boot it out, they could help kickstart the essential process of change and give a voice to millions across the continent.”

Milne believes that “The upheavals of the first years of the twenty-first century opened up the possibility of a new kind of global order and of genuine social and economic change.” (p.xxii) With socialists now at the head of the Labour Party, bolstered by the overwhelming support of their members, a unique opportunity presents itself for fighting for genuine progressive change in Britain. The Tories are weak and divided, a snap general election has been called, and as the resurging support for France’s left wing presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon clearly demonstrates, electoral polls can be turned around very quickly if a fight lead is given by Corbyn. As the editorial in this week Socialist Party’s newspaper points out:

“It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.

“The policies that first thrust him into the leadership of the Labour Party would be a good beginning – an immediate introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage, free education for all, mass council house building and nationalisation of the rail and energy companies. These should be combined with policies such as an immediate end to all cuts in public services and a pledge to immediately renationalise Royal Mail. Jeremy should make clear that he would kick the privateers out of public services and education. He should pledge to introduce a real socialist NHS – a well-funded, comprehensive, high quality NHS, under democratic control, with care free at the point of use. These demands should be linked to the need for fundamental socialist change – for a society run in the interests of the majority instead of for the profits of a few.

“Such an election campaign should not be limited to speeches and election broadcasts. The campaign to defend the NHS should be linked to the mass movement which began with the national demonstration on 4 March. Jeremy Corbyn spoke at that demonstration. Now he, together with the trade union movement and health campaigners, should call a second demonstration, during the election campaign, mobilising millions onto the streets against the Tories and in defence of the NHS.”

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