Yvette Cooper today summed up the fear and panic that has gripped the Labour Party’s establishment. Yesterday around 165,000 people signed up to either join the party or become registered supporters, taking the total electorate in the leadership election to around 610,000. That is just under 1% of the country, roughly the population of metropolitan Glasgow. However, the predominant response from the Labour mainstream has been disquiet, shock and disbelief at the mounting support for Jeremy Corbyn which is fuelling the growth of genuine, mass Labour Party politics. There is little sign of celebration at the enthusiasm coming from young people who, we are told, have been “a-political” for so long. Cooper railed to warn of the threats to social democracy that exist across Europe, and that the same inclinations that drove support for ‘insurgent’ forces such as UKIP and the SNP might now be finding a home in Labour:
“But when times are tough, and the old answers, and the old parties don’t seem to be working, people cast around for something else.
Something different. Something subversive. Something to kick out at the system, to express anger, frustration and the demand for change.”
From the 2010-11 protests to the ‘Yes’ campaign, to the rise of electoral support for the Greens, there is plenty of evidence that our generation precisely craves “something different, something subversive”. In Corbyn those of us who marched and protested over the last 5 years, and many more who didn’t, finally have a voice which is shaking up what is possible in mainstream politics. This is not before time. To us the idea of a Labour Party which supports and includes social movements and seeks to empower workers and communities is far from old fashioned.
We don’t live in a time where grey policy prescriptions and technocratic niceties, the sensibilities of the ‘sensible left’, can deliver or inspire. The patronising bombasts of New Statesman and Guardian columnists have been grist to Corbyn’s mill. Those of us with no guarantee of economic security and experiences of the draconian benefit system and zero hour contracts don’t need lectures on moderation and making the market work. We’ve been labelled extremists for supporting workers’ rights, building houses, nationalising the railways and worst of all suggesting that economic policy should be designed with full and decent employment in mind. This only confirms the death of any kind of reasonable ‘centre ground’, for good or ill.
In this age of social media and antipolitics, we are the new modernisers. The Corbyn wave has shown the mood for an outward facing socialist Labour politics. Scottish Labour Young Socialists will be a platform for those who wish to continue what the Corbyn campaign has started. Partisans of subversive politics cannot let this historic opportunity pass.
We’d like to invite fellow partisans of subversive politics to our afterparty for the Corbyn rally in Glasgow tomorrow. We’ll be meeting in Committee Room No9 at 10pm for drinks, food and discussion.
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