I’m very certain that the Parliamentary Labour Party could find themselves a shiny new Blairite face in a sharp business suit to lead the party and enhance the chances of Labour getting into No 10. But to what purpose? Labour, under Tony Blair, won three national elections and during that thirteen-year period of governance the inequality within the country continued to grow, the markets and financial system continued to be unregulated, the social housing stock continued to decline, the principle of university fees was entrenched into the education system, further parts of the nation’s infrastructure were privatised and our foreign policy continued in a pro-imperialist, neo-colonial direction. In other words, a continuation of everything Thatcher and her neo-liberal chums stood for.

In fact, Thatcher’s greatest legacy was Tony Blair. Corbyn stands for something completely different. He has won the largest party mandate of any Labour leader in history for the express purpose of developing a completely different set of policies and ideals. I ‘ve no idea if the British population will buy into these new policies but basic democratic arithmetic says he has earned the right to put his ideas to the electorate. He must be given the chance and even those that don’t immediately warm to his socialist platform must stand up for his right to put those ideas to the British people.

There are a number of clear lines of demarcation running through the Labour Party. And of course they are connected. Firstly, there is the principle of the free movement of people and the unqualified welcoming of refugees and asylum seekers. The Blairites, following the Thatcherite line, will flip-flop on this principle depending on the prevailing winds. British capitalism is always on the look-out for sources of cheap labour so the thought of unlimited easily exploitable labour from central and eastern Europe has the British capitalist class frothing at the mouth. But when the Tory tabloids whip up a storm of hatred towards the ‘swarms of migrants’ coming to Britain, the Blairites opportunistically change their tune. Corbyn on the contrary, has remained steadfast to the humanistic principle of Britain being a safe haven for those seeking refuge from poverty and war – poverty and war that the British has invariably had a significant hand in creating.

 

A second demarcation line perpetually running through the Labour Party is that of regulation. Should the capitalist markets be left to do their own thing or should a Labour government intervene for the purpose of encouraging social investment and preventing the hoarding of capital in off-shore tax havens. Under the Blair/Brown administrations, Labour adopted a ‘light touch’ regulatory approach which unsurprisingly led to a dramatic growth in inequality and a period of what can best be described as casino capitalism. Financial speculation was rife whilst investment in social infrastructure declined.  The end result of that criminal game of global speculation was the international collapse of the banking system - the consequences of which we are still experiencing to this day. Corbyn wants to reverse that equation whilst the Blairites show little sign that they have learnt any lessons at all.

 

A third line of demarcation not unrelated to the second is that of privatisation. The Blairites welcomed the privatisation of Britain’s social infrastructure bringing in the notorious Private Finance Initiative which turned out to be nothing but part privatisation of our schools, hospitals and transport networks through the back door. For the Blairites the free-market is always superior to state ownership. Now we know from experience that state ownership is not the panacea for all of society’s ills but at least when our social infrastructure is under government ownership we can have some control over the levels of investment and the direction of future planning. Under private control we have very little or no say over anything strategic because the private sector is only interested in one thing; the short term maximisation of profit. The community interest is simply not on their agenda. New Labour has not broken with their fixation with the market whilst Corbyn promises that a Labour government will start to reverse the process of Thatcherite privatisations by firstly renationalising the railways and rebuilding the nation’s social housing stock. It’s a clear line of demarcation and the British electorate should be given the chance to make their choice.   

Finally, there runs through the Labour Party a fundamental difference regarding foreign policy. The Blarite record, continued by his followers, is one of outright imperialist intervention - pure and simple. Western capitalist interests are desperate to keep control of the global supplies of oil in the Middle East and much of British foreign policy has just been an extension of that corporate diktat. The military-industrial complex both here and in the US has no morality whatsoever. It simply seeks its own never-ending aggrandisement at the expense of the world’s developing nations. War is profit and if there is a shortage of wars the US and its British lap dog are more than capable of starting some more.

Blair of course should be prosecuted as a war criminal as should former US President George W Bush. And those spineless Blairites that voted for new interventions in Libya and Syria are no better. Corbyn offers a whole new rational and humane perspective on foreign policy but rest assured he will be vilified on this relentlessly by all sections of the British establishment including the rump of Blairites still festering away in the PLP.

There are indeed countless more lines of demarcation running through the British Labour Party but they all merge into the one essential divide; those that wish to continue with the neo-liberal corporatisation of Britain and those that wish to return to a more socially orientated path. Corporate wealth and the unregulated market against the socialist alternative. It’s as blunt as that. Time for messy compromises has long past. This has nothing to do with personality and everything to do with policy. The Blairites want Corbyn’s head but the membership seem to want a return to a more socialist direction.

There will almost certainly be a new leadership contest and Corbyn has already declared he will stand again. For the Labour Party at this moment, Europe is really quite a secondary question. What is at stake is the very political soul of the Labour Party. The battle lines are clear enough.  And the stakes could not be higher. Either Britain is condemned to a series of governments where both Labour and Conservatives battle over who can best deliver the neo-liberal corporate agenda or the electorate shift in the direction of Podemos and other anti-austerity European left parties and demand something a little more rational, a little more equitable, a little more hopeful. The battle rages.

End JPK Copyright 29/6/16

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 29 June 2016 16:29 )