What the Labour Movement Can Learn From Owen Jones’ Ongoing Mistakes

With the final votes all tallied up, now is the time for the working-class to celebrate – we deserve that — and then we should quickly move on to escalate our immediate demands for a Corbyn-led Labour government to come to power.

On the other hand for those political commentators who previously lost faith in both Corbyn and the working-class, now is also the time for welcome apologies. In his latest column for The Guardian (June 9) Owen Jones at last admits, “I owe Corbyn, John McDonnell, Seumas Milne, his policy chief Andrew Fisher, and others, an unreserved, and heartfelt apology.” He goes on to point out his many errors:

“…I came to believe that, yes, indeed Labour was heading for a terrible defeat that would crush all the things I believed in. That’s what all the polling, byelections and the local elections seemed to say. I thought people had made their minds up about Corbyn, however unfairly, and their opinion just wouldn’t shift. I wasn’t a bit wrong, or slightly wrong, or mostly wrong, but totally wrong.”

After acknowledging that he fell prey to the negative “groupthink” of liberal elites in both the labour movement and in the mainstream media, Jones suggests that “so the rest of the mainstream commentariat, including in this newspaper, must confess they were wrong, too.”

“They were wrong to suggest Corbyn couldn’t mobilise young people and previous non-voters. They were wrong to suggest he couldn’t make inroads in Scotland. They were wrong to suggest a radical left programme was an automatic recipe for electoral catastrophe.”

Of course such apologies will not be forthcoming anytime soon, and even if they do occur, we should be wary of any political commentators or Labour MPs who now quickly exchange their relentless attacks upon Corbyn’s socialist politics with words of support. What is most important now is action not just words!

JOnes election

Either way, as Jones now makes clear, it is critical that we “don’t let media commentators – hostile to Labour’s vision – pretend that the May calamity is all down to self-inflicted Tory wounds.”

“No: this was about millions inspired by a radical manifesto that promised to transform Britain, to attack injustices, and challenge the vested interests holding the country back. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.”

“Labour is now permanently transformed,” Jones also erroneously states. “Its policy programme is unchallengeable. It is now the party’s consensus. It cannot and will not be taken away.” Jones is only correct to say that Corbyn’s socialist manifesto was immensely popular with millions of voters; but it remains the case that hostile MPs like Liz Kendall, who still dominate the Parliamentary Labour Party, have not given up their Blairite ghost.

Throngs of careerist Blairite backstabbers still present a real and present danger to the future of socialist politics in the Labour Party. This is why it is so important that democratic processes are restored and strengthened within the Party — processes that will allow local Labour members to select MPs who better reflect the principled socialist politics promoted by Jeremy Corbyn.

In the meantime, it is absolutely vital that all Corbyn supporters get actively involved in fightback against the Tories. As the latest editorial in The Socialist newspaper puts it:

“Jeremy Corbyn’s success now needs to be urgently built on. The trade union movement should call an immediate national ‘Tories Out’ demonstration against austerity – calling for the scrapping of the Tory attacks on the NHS and schools, and for the abolition of tuition fees.

“Such a demonstration could be millions strong and the springboard for a 24 hour general strike. This in turn could force May to call a new general election.

At the same time Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left should make a clear call for Labour councils to stop implementing Tory cuts.

“In a short campaign very impressive numbers were convinced to vote for Corbyn despite their initial scepticism about whether he would implement his programme.

“This scepticism is a result of the betrayals of New Labour in office, and the experience of Labour councils at local level that have presided over 40% cuts in services since 2010.

“To consolidate the enthusiasm that was generated for Corbyn in the election it is necessary to now make clear that he opposes any more council cuts, and that this Tory government is too weak to force Labour councils to implement them.

“This is particularly important in urban areas, where the surge to Corbyn was strongest, and where every council in England has elections next year…”

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3 comments

  1. I whole heartedly agree with and support your views. It really is fantastic how great Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign was and how good the results were for Labour. However, there is still the fact that Labour currently fall short of a majority in the House of Commons by over 50 MPs and there are not sufficient MPs in other parties with which to form an alliance to fill that shortfall. IMO it will take yet another general election to get Labour in power and running the country. Voters are going to be sick of elections and suffering voter fatigue. I think Labour need to continue campaigning because the next election will not be long in coming due to May’s arrangement with the DUP. Today the first of the DUP’s demands to restrict abortion has been made known. This is just the beginning. The DUP is extremely anti LGBT rights, abortion, creationists who would deny the teaching of evolution in schools, the list of horrors is very long. The peace in Ireland is also at risk with May’s government subject to the DUP’s demands in return for votes to prop up her minority government. May’s government will not survive long and it’s collapse will generate another election. The battle for a majority of MPs for Labour is going to very hard as the voters left to be won over are die hard Tories who’ve always voted Tory or not at all. The fight to win the next election must begin now.

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