The capitalist press, many on the Right in the Labour Party and many other people are saying the Party will become unelectable if Corbyn becomes leader. I think they are making a big mistake. The SNP just swept the board north of the border on a leftwing agenda, Greece has just elected a leftwing government. Other countries in Europe are on the verge of a big leftwing swing. People in the former Soviet bloc are realizing they threw out the baby with the bathwater now they have lost the full employment and security which Socialism brought them for decades.
At the last General Election people in England had to choose between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Both main parties were for austerity, replacing Trident, maintaining the capitalist system more or less as it is. Who’s to say if they had a real alternative people would not have voted for it? Yes, they could have voted Green, and over a million people did. What did they get – one MP elected. Our unfair electoral system means voting for any of the minor parties in most constituencies is a wasted vote, so in practical terms most voters had to choose between Labour and Tory, and only those in marginal seats had any chance of influencing what the next government would be. In fact the majority of the electorate were effectively disenfranchised, since whoever they voted for would make no difference whatsoever as to which Party would form the next government.
There are two ways of changing this situation. One is to reform the electoral system so it truly reflects how people voted, but the other first step is to break the cozy set-up where nothing ever changes. Corbyn could do this if he becomes Labour leader. Don’t make the mistake of comparing him to Labour’s last leftwing leader, Michael Foot. Though a brilliant speaker in his heyday, by the time he became leader Michael was past his sell-by date and appeared doddery and confused, like his Spitting Image puppet. Also the SDP stabbed Labour in the back by splitting the left-of-center vote when the Gang of Four left Labour to form the short-lived Party, which soon disappeared almost without trace in the Liberals (now officially the Liberal Democrats).
Many more people would have voted Green if they thought they had any chance of forming a government, and many more will vote Labour if they think it provides a real alternative to the Tory policies of the past few years. Or indeed the past few decades, as the Blairite Labour Party has continued with the legacy left to them by Thatcherism.
Now it is ripe for a change, and that is why people are flocking to the Labour Party and registering as supporters to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, who stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the leadership candidates. Just as Tony Blair changed the Party in his image, so Corbyn could do the same according to his leftwing agenda.
I’m not saying this will happen, that Corbyn will win, that Labour will swing Left and be voted in at the next General Election, but don’t be too sure if Corbyn does win it will mean certain defeat for Labour. At the very least it will mean a leader of the Opposition who can really attack Tory policies on public spending cuts, Trident replacement, etc. and this in turn will win Labour more support in the ballot boxes at future elections.
The image of a doddery old man shuffling to the Cenotaph in a duffel coat has stuck in people’s minds as the image of Foot’s Labour Party. Corbyn is much more dynamic and could give Cameron a run for his money. He carries the torch for Tony Benn in keeping the true soul of Labour alive, and in this day and age of Tory attacks on the poor it would indeed be foolish to write a Corbyn-led Labour Party off as ‘unelectable’.
I have registered as a Labour supporter in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership election. I’m sure many Tory supporters have done the same as they think this will insure them a further five years of Tory government, but their plan may well backfire. At least I did vote Labour in the last General Election as my constituency was a Tory marginal, though I swopped votes with a safe Labour seat where someone voted Green for me. If Corbyn wins, I’ll rejoin the Labour Party I left long ago, but if he loses, I’ll think about joining the Green Party. Whatever happens we need an alternative to the Tory/New Labour policies of the past few decades.