Like so many matters in British politics, it all goes back to Thatcher. Or rather, it goes back to the neoliberal revolution that she spearheaded under the influence of academic ideologues such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek via her trusted ally Keith Joseph who, as much as anyone in the world, was a leading proponent for replacing Keynes with Friedman, welfare-ism with monetarism. More precisely, it goes back to the problem that neither the Labour Party nor the Left in general had any viable response to these epochal changes other than, as Raymond Williams once put it, to say Thatcher and spit. And, perhaps it should go without saying, the changes were indeed epochal and continue to rumble on in today’s politics. Neoliberalism is still the status quo.
From the Second World War onwards, previous to Thatcher’s revolution there was only the post-war Labour government that represented change of equivalent significance. The Atlee government saw the beginnings of welfare-ism, a programme of nationalization, public provision of essential services and transport, the NHS. The list is well known and is the diametric opposite to neoliberalism, as Keith Joseph and Thatcher well knew. For them all those hallmarks of post-war Labourism had become the enemy.
Where post-war Labourism had emphasized collectivity and the role of the state as a provider for all, the neoliberalism that finally triumphed in the 1980s (it has a longer history) emerged from discussions around the minimum state and the importance of markets in managing and defining the economy. Electorally it had one killer pitch to popular discourse in general: its big idea – over and above specifics such as the free market and attacking the unions – was an appeal to the concept of freedom. Or rather, it was a particular take on freedom based around an intense work ethic, individual self-determination, enterprise and, where at all possible, de-regulation.
It was hard to argue with. Western Europe and America have lived in an epoch, at least since the Enlightenment, whereby individual liberty has been a watchword throughout society. Few of us assume that it is a good thing not to be as free as we can possibly be, to live under a rigid social hierarchy, for example, or to have slaves or even servants, although these latter do still survive. This freedom for all is a complex animal, not as obvious as it may seem, but still it is the ideological bedrock from which there is no departure. Suppose for one moment that someone came up with an idea for the assured survival of the planet, caring for the environment in ways that made a real difference but that these depended on an authoritarian administration telling us all what to do and what not to do. Would it get far? I doubt it…
Neoliberalism’s pitch of freedom as a basic human entitlement, therefore, was a simple idea that attracted no serious opposition. After all, isn’t freedom what we all want? Don’t we all suffer from the intrusion of forces that constrain us? David Harvey’s definition of neoliberalism, gives some broad outlines of what it is.
“Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skill within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices.’ (Harvey, David: A Brief History of Neoliberalism, OUP, 2005, p. 21)
Mrs. Thatcher said: “There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty”. It was a message that conflated good housekeeping with liberty, the one leading to the other, and was not hard to understand. Thrift, business acumen, hard work and being free to build one’s own empire made the entrepreneur in neoliberalism into a kind of culture hero. It is still the case. Culture heroes of our age include the likes of Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Bill Gates or Simon Cowell – famous primarily for being successful in business and being rich, but their wealth is self-made rather than hereditary. And, implausible though it is if we so much as pause to think about it, the promise that anyone can “make it” is at the heart of the appeal of neoliberalism. It’s a kind of offshore European version of the American Dream. Work, put in the hours, follow your dream (as they say on X Factor) – and why shouldn’t it be you up there? Or, more modestly perhaps, there is no reason why you shouldn’t do pretty well in life; neoliberalism is a belief that all barriers and constraints to your progress should be removed. That includes too big and unwieldy a state, trade unions, control systems – including those that govern markets, and all forms of regulation such as those associated with, say, broadcasting.
Neoliberalism, however, is something of a chameleon. It says one thing and frequently does the other. Although ostensibly against bureaucracy it’s governments and government departments always aim to fix things in favour of the freedoms they believe in via enormous amounts of legislation and, indeed, bureaucracy. Harvey again:
“We have to pay careful attention, therefore, to the tension between the theory of neoliberalism and the actual pragmatics of neoliberalism.” (Harvey, op. cit. p. 19)
The appeal of neoliberalism is not hard to understand – or rather its rhetoric is easy to take in (and be taken in by…) Remove the constraints on individual enterprise (deregulation), regard the welfare state as the nanny state which discourages initiative (liberation from overprotective interference), and encourage individualism and competition by reifying individual self determination. The Welfare State was perhaps good for its time, so the argument might go. It looked after people when they needed it, but now those old-fashioned days are over. Given that Thatcher de-industrialised significant swathes of Britain, the working class became almost a taboo concept. Its cast-off remnants, of course, were portrayed in popular movies such as Brassed Off or The Full Monty. On the other hand, allowing “the people” to buy shares in de-nationalised industries, or buy their council houses, was vaunted as enlightened because these were first steps on the property-owing and entrepreneurial ladders. If you regarded yourself as cool you did not identify yourself as working class. Being weighed down by your roots, your job, your traditional social and family structures began to be considered desperately old-fashioned and inflexible. The catch phrase of the Thatcher and post-Thatcher period was “Go for it”.
This new, aggressive system, in some ways, was seductive. Give people more control over their own lives, wrest power away from unions, establish a culture of aspiration and you supposedly have a growth in liberty – and indeed “libertarian”, a word only previously heard in anarchist circles, began to be used to describe the free, unconstrained, self-improving and ambitious ideal citizen of neoliberal Utopia – and, make no mistake, it is a Utopian system.
The year before Thatcher’s election victory of 1979, Marxism Today had published Eric Hobsbawm’s article The Forward March of Labour Halted? – in which, after a historical survey of a hundred years of the working class as a political and social force, it was shown that the overall picture was one of decline. Union membership, for example, was stagnant and well behind many other European countries. More alarmingly, Hobsbawm produced figures to show that the Labour Party’s overall vote had largely been in gradual decline since the demise of the post-war Labour government even though there had been Labour governments during that time. His purpose was to point this out rather than suggest reasons and remedies, yet it was clear to whoever thought about it that this decline reflected the changing demographic of the Labour vote. The traditional working class with its class-based political consciousness was on its way to becoming a thing of the past. Remember that Hobsbawm’s article was published before Thatcher took office, not after. For this reason is was indeed very prescient. The success of neoliberalism, therefore, was not merely due to the Iron Lady’s assiduous pursuit of an ideological position. There was also social grounding in which its seeds were planted.
At a packed Tribune meeting at a Labour Party conference just after Thatcher’s election I saw Neil Kinnock, who was not yet Labour leader, give a speech based on Hobsbawm’s article. He was passionate about learning and heeding its lessons. Alas, he did not get much of a reception from the assembled left of the party. Other platform speakers that night including Tony Benn and Denis Skinner derided Kinnock for bothering with academic hogwash. If we wanted to know what was going on in the country we should go and ask coal miners rather than a London University scholar. I remember being appalled by this knee-jerk anti-intellectualism which pandered to one of the very worst strains in English culture.
We can gloss over what happened next. Thatcher’s period of government, followed by John Major, represented a low point for the Labour Party with its internal squabbles and a breakaway faction, the Social Democratic Party, which (current Labour politicians take heed) really did amount, in the end, to a MacBethian tale
told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Alas, though, it was not only the SDP that amounted to a political irrelevance. The Left as a whole, and I include its entirety from the Right of the Labour party across the spectrum leftwards, had no response to neoliberalism other than a reassertion of the Left’s historical values: defending the working class (which, as we have seen, was changing profoundly), unionism, solidarity, and, in some cases, militancy and zeal. (Say Thatcher and spit…) Not that there was (or is) anything wrong with these positions, but it was becoming clearer that the context for them, both culturally and politically, was changing.
For all the opprobrium heaped upon Tony Blair, it was this situation, this turn of history that he tried to address. He took a sledgehammer to crack what was admittedly a pretty large nut. His determined effort to purge the idea of socialism from the party outraged many, not only those on the Left, as when he abolished Clause 4 and symbolically and actually knocked the stuffing out of Labour’s raison d’etre. The size and scale of his election victory in 1997, however, served to convince some that he should be given some slack. The disappointment of many with Blairism, which turned out to have significant overlaps with Thatcherism, was partly motivated by the belief that he could have figureheaded a much more radically Left government than he actually did. It should be acknowledged, however, that the massive vote for Blair’s Labour was not a call to full-blooded socialism. Some would argue that it was his removal of this possibility that made him so electable. What is undoubtedly true, however, is that his ideological position turned out to be not just a little centrist, but overwhelmingly to the right of the party. Not only was there a New Labour; it also had a New Right.
Blair’s reign should not be blackened entirely, the Iraq war notwithstanding. But the perception was (and is) that his attempt to establish a “new” Labour included a ruthless attack on “old” Labour values. Most importantly, it was generally perceived to be directed by new levels of spin. New Labour’s period of ascendency was also the period when Labour lost its heart. Worst of all, there was still no real response to Thatcherism. In a BBC interview in 2013 Blair looked back and described Thatcher as “a towering political figure” who had always been “immensely kind to him”. He commented: “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them”. So while the Left was still saying Thatcher and spitting, Blair’s New Labour was simply incorporating neoliberalism but giving it a more sleek, more marketable spin. It was intensely disappointing for anyone who had hoped for something a little more progressive. The institution of student fees was only the beginning.
The vote went down. From being a presentational skills hero Blair’s popularity slumped, partly due, it must be said, to Iraq. Gordon Brown, intelligent but awkward, lost the election and Labour was most definitely back in the doldrums. Ed Miliband was sincere enough, but his habit of finger-wagging the unions before they’d even done anything did nothing to restore the old Left’s faith in the party. And still, and crucially, there was no real response to neoliberalism, now the default position for just about everything in society from big corporations to arts funding.
David Cameron’s coalition government, despite what the Liberal Democrats’ may say about their presence holding the reins of the Tory racehorse, was more right wing than Thatcher. Neoliberalism was by then thirty years old in an active sense in the UK. Its core beliefs had now had time to become entrenched and unconscious received wisdom, as if questioning them was questioning the universal order. Self-evidently not everyone accepted this, but you did if you were a Tory, and you did if you were in government, and for that matter you did if you were in a government department such as education or health, running a business or a media enterprise The trebling of university fees is a case in point. For those “on the ground”, university lecturers and other staff, if you opposed the fees hike there was nothing you could do about it. Under the present Tories it’s getting worse.
Interestingly, although there was still no real response to neoliberalism one of the routes taken by a depressing number of voters was, in effect, to move to the Right. The fact is that neoliberalism actually doesn’t work, certainly not as an economic system – which, after all, is where it begins. Even middle-of-the-road economists are now saying this. Neoliberalism does not decrease deprivation, poverty and misery in society, neither at home nor elsewhere. The fact that it promises far more than it can ever deliver in terms of personal achievement, that it is generally administered by people who are already wealthy, that it has not challenged the entrenched class system in the UK, that it stands to reason that not everyone can be at the top, and despite the insistence of popular culture’s daily messages to the contrary, we can’t all be rich, famous, have the figure of a fashion model, be glamorous, go on telly, be a pop singer, eat posh food, go on expensive holidays or whatever – all this makes the culture of neoliberalism an incubator of alienation and dissatisfaction. Despite its promises we’re still not living in a Utopian paradise where monetarist values lead the way to a “natural” society in which a mythic invisible hand makes sure that everything works out in the end as it should. It is a religion rather than a political system and (I sigh deeply to acknowledge it) among the few people who realize this is a relative minority of violent zealots from other religions who seek, literally, to blow it up.
In the absence of a genuine response to neoliberalism, however (and violence is about the stupidest), there has been a rise in frustration, a rise in the numbers of people disillusioned with what it does (such as austerity), a rump of opinion that reaches for scapegoats and finds them provided by a xenophobic and populist right wing. Nigel Farage is actually a pure product of neoliberalism. His speeches and interviews hardly ever mention the fundamentalist economics he favours as a right wing man of finance, but harping on about immigration provides a perfect dumping ground for frustrations and angry emotions that actually belong elsewhere. There are leftist views about why leaving the EU was a good thing, but the overwhelming presence in the Leave campaign was covert and overt racism. Pointing out, and convincing people who support UKIP or voted Leave for right-wing reasons, that there is another analysis of the present day social landscape is the major task of the Left in the coming years. It won’t be easy. As in the 1970s, it’s so much easier to blame the wogs.
So we come to the present state of affairs. There actually is a critique of neoliberalism. It has arisen in the 21st century and is still emerging. It doesn’t so much come from the old left as from the young, although how young is a moot point and it would be wrong to peg the whole thing on youth. A mature and respected political philosopher, Michael J. Sandel, has articulated some of this critique in works like What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets of 2012, a favourite of Ed Miliband’s incidentally. The title says it all. Markets cannot be allowed to determine everything. Surely there must be a moral limit to the domination of everything by monetary value. In America, according to Sandel, you can pay to lobby a politician. Not only that, there are now people “earning” money simply standing in the lobbyers queue so you don’t lose your place. The injection of a moral dimension into left(ish) politics and social critique is a genuine response to the irresponsibility of neoliberalism at its most crude. It was the basis of the Occupy movement where some of the younger supporters of Bernie Sanders, or perhaps Jeremy Corbyn for that matter, cut their political teeth. It represents an insistence on a moral dimension to politics. The morality of neoliberalism has always been overwhelmingly a matter of apologetics. The idea that wealth would trickle down, for example, was not only untrue; it constituted a naked and ethic-less justification for making loads of money without conscience.
The moral, or ethical, dimension is vital. It’s concern for fairness, justice and compassion should run through politics, especially left politics, like a spine. But simply insisting that people are nicer to one another, more compassionate, more egalitarian, is not a political platform. After all, any politician, right, left or centre, could claim it as indispensible to their viewpoint. A principle, and ethics, remains so much hot air unless it is channeled into actual lived experience, into things that matter. This is where we can begin to understand the phenomenon of Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn looks like (and patently is) a sincere man with a conscience. The baying hounds of much of the Parliamentary Labour Party after his blood really are, mostly at least, transparently awful. Their tactics stink. The way the NEC has restricted votes, and thereby rigging the results, is a scandal that one can hardly believe is legal. I would not buy a second hand car off Owen Smith. I wouldn’t buy anything off Angela Eagle.
Interestingly, however, Corbyn’s support is a fascinating meeting of old Labour socialist values, which felt they had been left behind by Blair’s neoliberalism disguised as New Labour, suits and spin and all, with the conscience and current issue politics of the radical young and alternative left, which includes the Greens and others – the environment, climate change, migration and refugees, an increasingly unequal society, feminism in its newer forms, inclusiveness, and so on. It is now common to encounter people who were Labour but who have spent some time in the Greens and have come back to Labour because of Jeremy Corbyn. The meeting of these conscious seasoned socialists with the idealism of an ethical youth and Green presence is creating exactly what has been lacking all these years as a response to the ever tainted verities of neoliberalism.
This meeting of two dynamic strains, socialist and (for the want of better words) green and young, could prove to be just the alchemy that makes gold. Both elements would have to “give” a bit. There is sometimes a slight rigidity in the old socialist model, expressed by the tendency to believe that you found the truth years ago and you’re sticking to it. The unctuousness of old lefties who have seen and know it all can be a little sticky to negotiate. There is likewise sometimes (by no means always) an organizational flabbiness in the green/youth element which is partly a natural anarchism that often inhabits new radical progressive movements, but is also a response to the spin and hypocrisy of mainstream politics. But these two elements, with goodwill, flexibility, determination and optimism, could actually be each other’s counterbalances, and finally come up with a new brew that the Labour and Left of Thatcher’s time were unable to produce.
There is, of course, a lot at stake. The groundswell of grass roots approval of Jeremy Corbyn encapsulates the new possibilities. Corbyn is a seasoned party socialist, so he appeals to all those who are likewise. He also comes over as transparently honest and decent (a friend who saw him speak said to me “Is he for real or did I just dream him?”), but he is not limited by merely being an old socialist. He includes climate change and the environment in his speeches, as well as lifestyle rights, and displays a feel for where the basic inequalities are, where and how they originate and what might be done about them. He has a political past as a rebel, and the causes he has protested against range from apartheid to raising student fees, he has always been against all wars and Trident, against selling off the nation’s forests, for promoting enlightened policies on climate change – and so on. His protesting and voting record is a good one. Thus a Labour leader who seems trustworthy, doesn’t smarm himself up for the cameras like a CEO on a recruitment campaign, doesn’t rely on spin, causes a stir merely by being himself and playing by the rules that others apparently want to tear up when it suits them, embraces environmental and lifestyle issues, even has a policy for the arts (although this could be sharpened up) – all this provides a good framework for an alliance of progressive ideas, for attracting people who, until now, have been on the outside of mainstream politics due to distrust and frustration rather than sheer apathy. This is – finally – where the long awaited response to neoliberalism is incubating.
There are complications. It is always easier to sell a simplistic idea than an intelligently complex one. When Corbyn said his commitment to leaving the EU was around 70-30 he was telling the truth. The EU issue was not a simple case of one truth. It should have been a nuanced debate, not a gladiatorial contest of almost depraved nastiness. Corbyn has been castigated for his inability to over-simplify. Thatcher was the virtuoso of simple, single truths: “You can’t spend what you can’t afford…”. Duh!
Socialism and neoliberalism share this possibility: they can both be reduced to an over-simplified essence – collectivism or monetarism, easy to put in slogans. The new politics, the one that could grow from the socialist and the green/young, is necessarily polyvalent. It resists being reduced to a cliché like “market forces” or “peoples’ ownership”. There’s even a chance that it may be able to embrace both. The new political paradigm is doctrinally non-doctrinal. It admits that lines and boundaries between ideas can be (and will be) regularly crossed. At its heart will be an interconnected “human” and “natural” world in which it is recognized that this very dualism is, in itself, a provisional idea. This sounds like a Green manifesto, and maybe it is, but the emerging idea is different in two respects. First, it is not simply a way of respecting nature, the environment, the Earth. It is also a way of showing the network of connections between people, between peoples, their actions and thus their responsibilities to each other as well as to the environment. An old Buddhist formula is useful here: life can be seen as self, others and the environment, all causally inter-related. Second, presented or conceived of symbiotically with a remaining and viable concept of socialism it becomes an active principle of working for egalitarianism and justice. It becomes an assembly of ideas rather than an ideology, a doctrine. And that is what the new politics needs to be: an engaged assembly of ideas, of compassionate ideas, or ideas that point to a post-capitalist order.
There are, and will be, many ramifications of this, but as far as the Labour Party is concerned there are certain implications. The new, emerging politics has no time for empty presentation, for image over substance, even for power at any price. If the only way you can gain power is by presenting yourself in utterly compromised ways, by fabrications and cynically flimsy promises, then maybe it isn’t worth it. This is not to say that the new paradigm doesn’t care about or disdains political power, but it is to say that there are limits as to what it will do to attain it. Corbyn appeals to this highly ethical strain and is thus accused of being “unelectable” – which is not strictly true and certainly unprovable. Given the current volatile state of politics it is doubtful whether any such prediction should be given the status of certainty. The game is actually open. There is a world to be won. It is not predetermined other than if the negatives are repeated often enough to be self-fulfilling prophecy. The best way for the Corbyn experiment to fail is for the Labour party’s establishment to keep on saying that it will. Alas, there appears to be little chance of them understanding that fact.
Why has the tentative suggestion of new political formations and new alliances, based around Corbyn, so angered the parliamentary Labour establishment? One answer is that since Blair it has become accustomed to neoliberalism, spin, smart and plausible politicians (now of both sexes), and a status quo, in and out of parliament, as the default position. There are vested interests, and I do not only mean financial ones. The notion of real change can be a threat to any status quo – not only loss of seats but also of existing political credibility should such ideas succeed.
Then there is the argument I have now heard a few times that within the political mainstream establishment there is a self-correcting tendency that emerges whenever the Left is in ascendency. That sounds plausible. Is it really the case that the party of Keir Hardie, the working class movements of the Depression era, the NHS and nationalization is now heaving with people who don’t really like socialism after all? Do they instead buy into the suits, spin and rules of combat so deeply established during the Blair years? It certainly seems like it, but I’m not sure that this general theory should be given top priority.
It does, however, get us near the truth behind the anti-Corbyn movement in the PLP. Over that long history since Thatcher, over that political wilderness in which there was no viable challenge of neoliberal orthodoxy, it seemed to be the case that that the only way to play the game with a chance of winning was to go for spin and image above all. The failure of the super-intelligent but visually shambling Michael Foot as opposed to the electoral success of the smart, well spun Blair is frequently cited. Corbyn’s another Foot, another scruff-pot, surely. Waves of left wing ascendency split the party – as in the 1980s. It will end in tears. Jeremy is not electable. Of course, if you keep saying something often enough there’s a good chance that it will become a self-fufilling prophecy. The frequent repetition of “not electable” roughly translates to “don’t want him to be”. There has been so much negativity flying around for the past year that the “not electable” theory can now never be proved to be solely down to Corbyn’s lack of a tie or his non-singing of the national anthem. Even if he wins it will surely be true that one factor which could drive people to vote for him is the degree to which he has been ganged up on. So the matter of what happens to him now electorally, and why, has been rendered unanalyzable primarily by the forces arraigned against him.
The PLP, despite the relative youth of some MPs, has a longish memory. It certainly goes back nearly fifty years, although recollections that far back are passed on in received wisdom and oral tradition. It suggests that we don’t want another period similar to the rise of Militant with its infiltration of revolutionaries and Trotskyists, the public unpopularity of full-blooded socialism, multiple party splits, and a desperately image unconscious far left. It is argued that Corbyn and his left wing supporters should be regarded as history repeating itself and, whatever it takes, this leftward tide needs to be stemmed for the sake of the party and whatever future it might have. Frankly, the opposite is true. If Corbyn were ousted there can surely be no doubt that the majority of those who have joined Labour in the past year will disappear as quickly as they came. Labour could return to being a mainstream party of no particular charm or interest.
The accusation that Corbyn has not turned out to be a good leader is a bizarre and specious criticism to fling at one whose job was deliberately made almost impossible from Day One not only by the predictable behavior of the press and media but also from those who were supposed to be on the same side. Anyone subject to such barrages of criticism and daily acts of disloyalty, to stony silent shadow cabinet meetings, mass resignations and the twisting and gerrymandering of party rules might be excused for not being the reincarnation of Gandhi. Corbyn has done remarkably well in fact. He has not got down in the gutter, has produced no dirty tricks, no personal attacks, and seems calm, quiet, respectful and well spoken. I don’t know how he does it.
The dissenting members of the PLP, the “Get Corbyn lobby”, has totally misread the situation on three counts. First, today’s political landscape is not comparable to the 1980s. Union strength was massive back then. It simply isn’t now. Corbyn’s supporters are not motivated in the same way as Militant Tendency. For the most part they are not revolutionaries, but neither are they in favour of austerity policies. If anything, the underlying call is for a return to the kinder policies of Keynesianism or a mixed economy, something Joseph and Thatcher abhorred, for a more compassionate social democracy rather than the barricades. This orientation, which Corbyn shares, would have been unremarkable in the Harold Wilson years: affordable housing for all, social justice (they didn’t call it that back then), good services, fair prices, a concern for those at the bottom of the pile, jobs, the NHS and no nuclear weapons. For today’s blend live issues such as climate change, the environment and the plight of refugees are, reasonably it seems, added. What the movement currently figure-headed by Corbyn is calling for is hardly revolutionary. It is social democratic, fair and achievable. One wonders why anyone in the Labour Party should oppose it.
Second, there is not a moderate Labour electorate out there waiting to be canvassed to accept more reasonable ideas. In fact, Corbyn’s ideas are reasonable enough, as we have seen. The unprecedented swelling of Labour’s ranks in the last year has purely been down to the breath of fresh air and honest politics that Corbyn represents. It is this that has attracted new members, young members and lapsed members sick of the suit and spin politics of New Labour but not sensing a rediscovery of Labour’s roots.
But the third and main misreading of the situation is the anti-Corbyn lobby’s apparent inability to recognize the unusual, perhaps unique, nature of the present moment in left progressive politics. I have argued that the strands and elements characteristic of the rough and informal alliance of Corbyn supporters, it’s placing of morality at the heart of its politics, its combining of socialist ethics and ideas with highly current concerns broadly of a green nature, its refusal to play games of spin and empty presentation, all this and more is, finally, a viable response to the neoliberalism we have suffered since the 1980s, some of whose results have been the 2008 financial crisis, Tory austerity policies and alarmingly widening gaps between the better-off and the worse-off.
Shockingly, the clamour against Corbyn has now started to include some on the left of the party plus some sympathisers. The notion, expressed by Owen Jones and others, that attaining power is the be-all-and-end-all and that Corbyn simply doesn’t cut it, is short sighted and likely to lead back to where we came in with a bland, well spun, respectable middle-of-the-road party which ignores the lives of the real poor, those whose struggles to survive are palpable day in day out, those who traditionally have lacked a real voice or outlet for their frustrations, a situation exploited by the populist far right UKIP. According to the most Ayn Randian neoliberal orthodoxy such people are at the lower end of society due to a kind of just if inevitable law of the jungle. This is obvious rot, but the truth is that if Labour or some kind of progressive alliance were to listen to these voices and articulate their fears and frustrations there would be no trouble in getting votes.
The new response to neoliberalism is still emerging. What will happen to it is anyone’s guess, but it would be a crying shame if it were nipped in the bud as a widespread reaction to getting rid of Corbyn.