Corbynmania reflects the seething hostility of whole swathes of British workers and youth to the ‘Age of Austerity’ launched by Theresa May’s predecessor David Cameron in 2010. Largely ignored by the corporate media, the effects contextualise such anger: according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the combined effect of Cameron’s benefit cuts and tax breaks for the super-rich has been a 38% income drop for the poorest tenth of Britons. The link between public cuts and the rise in food bank demand has been documented by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Trussels Trust. This is amidst an already unequal society in Britain, where 25% of all children are living in poverty and 33% of GDP is concentrated in just 1000 individuals.
Athough it’s always been an establishment party, Labour’s pretence to the contrary was electorally sustainable in the post-war era, having presided over the great post-45 reforms (NHS, welfare state etc) that a bulk of the Tories also backed. It was a Tory MP no less, Quentin Hogg, who implored the House of Commons in 1943: “If you don’t give the people social reform, they will bring you revolution” (paraphrase). Such pretensions as the party of the working class, however, were historically dispensed with after ‘New Labour’.
With the 2015 general election defeat after five years of 1930s-style Tory cuts, veteran backbencher Jeremy Corbyn was roused to intervene with a ‘left’ platform to revive working class support for Labour and prevent its collapse.
Corbyn has an honourable record supporting causes of international justice, from Apartheid South Africa to Israeli-occupied Palestine, and was the only MP to vote against the then latest round of Tory austerity cuts. But an honest appraisal of the veteran backbencher would have to acknowledge that his ultimate allegience is to the Labour Party, not the international proletariat.
His entire tenure as Labour leader has been to compromise with the Blairites (that is, virtually every Labour MP except himself) on every issue for which people voted for him. The former Stop The War Coalition chairman allowed a free vote on bombing Syria and renewing Trident and, most crucially for those investing anti-austerity hopes in a future Corbyn government, he secretly instructed Labour councils to adhere to Theresa May’s budget cuts. He has opposed a system of MP reselection, the only mechanism that would have at least a chance of replacing Labour’s Blairite MPs with working class ones.
Duplicitious by definition, the UK Socialist Party advises the trade unions to build “momentum” for Corbyn so as to “transform Labour into a working class, socialist party”. The unions have been backing and funding Labour from time immemorial and dominate the Socialist Party’s core leadership, revealing the material basis for this duplicity. The Socialist Party leadership are themselves largely on the trade union committees, i.e. Labour and the trade unions form the basis of their social privilege. They are part of, as Robert Clough says in “Labour: A Party Fit For Imperialism”, a labour aristocracy that benefits from British capitalism, and who wish to ultimately preserve it amidst its current crisis by channeling working class opposition into the dead-end of electoral politics and petty-bourgeois reformism.
As former economic consultant Tony Norfield, author of “The City”, said last year*: “Basically, as has been shown more or less indefinitely over the past century or so, every time you put a regulation down, the system finds a way around it. Capitalism is international; it gets around barriers…it’s capitalism that’s the problem, and you should address that, not think that there can be some moderated version of it that could work better. I think there’s no evidence to suggest that’s the case”.
Corbyn’s agenda is to keep anti-capitalist agitation in Britain under control by channelling it through Labour, lest it mobilise against the entire political establishment as a whole. In this trend, he is joined by Greece’s Syriza (look how that turned out!) and Bernie Sanders, who equally argued that the Democratic Party could be transformed into a party of “workers and youth”. Workers beware: these bourgeois figures are wolves in sheeps’ clothing.
*See https://youtu.be/W-FnJ96F2d8 for the full interview; check out Norfield’s great analysis at economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk