Labour: The Way Ahead

(c) @chunkymark
  • A hard-core of Labour coup plotters intend to destroy Labour as an effective opposition between now and 2020.
  • Corbyn to become prime minister means Labour will have to win as an insurrection or not at all (For the sake of clarity, this is a metaphor not an actual call for armed insurrection).
  • Labour has suddenly become a mass party. It can become, as Corbyn says, a social movement. But this would be something new in Labour politics and therefore difficult to achieve and hold together.
  • The route to power also involves Labour itself becoming a more formal alliance and, in turn, being prepared to make political alliances across party lines.

Understanding the coup

Day after day, the tactics of the coup plotters have evolved. It began with veteran Blairites, quickly spilled over into a disorientated group of soft-left young MPs and was organised in the background by the Blairite apparatus. The sole aim was to remove Corbyn: lest we forget, Angela Eagle launched her doomed campaign with not a single policy.

Neoliberalism is in crisis

The reason a left Labour victory is possible is because neoliberalism is a busted system. It does not work; it threatens global stagnation; consent for it is eroded; its is generating acute geopolitical fragmentation and — at home-the fragmentation of two-party politics.

Brexit creates a new situation

On top of this, Brexit will be a disaster. Theresa May’s reincarnation as a zombie Thatcher at her inaugural PMQs cannot hide the basic problem: by voting for Brexit without a plan, the UK has put itself at the mercy of its negotiating partners among the EU27.

  • to resist racism, nationalism and xenophobia;
  • to retain the UK’s membership of the European Economic Area;
  • and to protect workers’, consumers and environmental rights.

Labour approaches critical mass

Above all, victory is possible under Corbyn because Labour can become a social movement. Corbyn himself called for this at his leadership launch rally. The problem is that the Labour tradition has very little experience of social movements — especially the networked, anti-hierarchical forms of organisation associated with them since the late 1990s.

A new political strategy

An entire generation of centre left politicians has grown up around the certainty that Labour can only win in “the centre”. You take your working class base for granted and reach out to the middle class wavering voter, especially in southern England, hoping the Sun and the Mail will go easy on you; you promise nothing particularly left wing and “cost” any minor reforms against the budget plans of the previous governments.

Renewing the Parliamentary Labour Party

It’s clear that the MPs intent on sabotaging the party, to ensure Corbyn becomes unelectable, are not only — nor even mainly — the Blairites. The Blairite wing of the PLP has gone quiet, in order to prevent their backstairs influence on Smith becoming obvious. Some are in discussions with Vince Cable about the formation of a united centrist party.

From social movement to Labour-led government

Nobody in the pro-Corbyn movement should underestimate the challenge of winning the next election. But it is worth considering what’s at stake if the Blairites are right.

Telling the right story

Matt Bolton cites Nuneaton and Croydon as the places a a social movement would be useless because, unlike an traditional electoral party, it is incapable of “tailoring arguments” to specific places.



Ideas, strategies, arguments and reports on resistance to the global far right

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Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Former economics editor at BBC Newsnight/Channel 4 News. Author of How To Stop Fascism.