I am unreservedly delighted at Jeremy Corbyn’s election. He made a quite excellent speech, specifically rejecting an attack on Syria, marketization in the NHS and the new anti-union legislation. Hopefully the scale of his victory will give pause to the Blairites who will realise they are not as all-important as they thought.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the vast majority of the Labour establishment, as represented by the people in that hall, are hostile to Corbyn. The question now is whether Corbyn can overhaul party mechanisms in such a way as to bring the opinions of the membership to bear on policy and override that right wing “elite” who have been in charge of the party.
The first few weeks are key. Most Blairites are above all careerists. If they think Corbyn can carry through his personal dominance into control of policy and party mechanisms, then many of the Blairites will look at their constituency members and suddenly discover they had left-wing principles after all. If the Blairites think that a resistance and undermining campaign against Corbyn will succeed (and there will certainly be one), they will go for that. In short, most “Blairites” are out for themselves and will join what they perceive will be the winning side Corbyn’s winning margin, and the fact he won overwhelmingly among full members, gives him a very strong base.
I have shared anti-war and pro-Palestinian platforms with Jeremy, and have the greatest respect for him. I also expect that he will have the strength to stand against both the smothering blandishments and the attacks of the neo-con establishment. The “Corbyn’s election is a disaster” narrative is being pushed by the BBC relentlessly in every question and comment – for example they just asked Ed Miliband “In retrospect was it a mistake for you to resign the day after the election?”, the clear sub-text being that Corbyn’s election was undesirable.
Ever since I realised that Blair’s New Labour was entirely subservient to the neo-con agenda I have regarded Labour as the enemy, as a fake opposition so close to the Tories as to make no difference. I viewed its leadership as utterly unscrupulous careerists fully signed up to a vicious pro-wealthy agenda at home and completely subservient to US/Israeli foreign policy abroad. This new careerism tied in very nicely with a pre-existing rotten borough corruption in Scotland and Northern England. I utterly detested the Labour Party.
So it is difficult for me to find the Labour Party led by a man whom I know, nuch respect, and with whom I disagree on almost nothing except Scottish independence. I also continue to believe that once consolidated, Jeremy will make it clear he has no hostility to Scottish independence and will support a second referendum whenever the Scottish government wants it.
But the problem is that the Labour Party hierarchy, and particularly their parliamentary party, is still full of people who are neo-cons, Red Tories, appallingly corrupt, careerists and in several cases war criminals. To know what attitude to adopt to the Labour Party must depend on how the battle for control of the party pans out. The scale of Corbyn’s victory, and the total rejection of the direct interference of Tony Blair, give Corbyn a great start. Those Blairite bastions – the Guardian and the BBC – are spluttering incoherently.
Jeremy Corbyn has just won the battle for party leadership. But the battle for control of the Labour Party just started.