Jeremy Corbyn, elected by a landslide to lead Britain’s Labour Party, has for his entire 32 years in politics held fast to the socialist ideals of old Labour. His humane platform spoke to a country weary of the neoliberal policies of Britain’s “New Labour Party,” the party of corporatists Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. In a reaction to those policies, the party elected Corbyn, the most left-wing leader in its history. Corbyn was a 200-1 outsider when the three-month contest began, but he won with 60% of the vote, trouncing his three rivals.
The New Labour Party is similar to our Democratic Party in that it rejected its socialist, trade union roots in favor of serving corporate and bank interests. Under both parties, citizens have experienced destroyed social protections, gutted industries, financial deregulation, the off-shoring of good jobs, the destruction of trade unions, speculative bubbles, the encouragement of consumption on credit, the privatization of public assets, the impoverishment of workers and the middle class, and escalating income and wealth inequality.
The BBC reported on Corbyn’s victory in the UK, which represents a stunning rebuke of Labour’s corporate/bank driven policies:
The left-winger, who has spent his entire 32-year career in the Commons on the backbenches, promised to fight for a more tolerant and inclusive Britain—and to tackle “grotesque levels of inequality in our society”.
He said the leadership campaign “showed our party and our movement, passionate, democratic, diverse, united and absolutely determined in our quest for a decent and better society that is possible for all”.
“They are fed up with the inequality, the injustice, the unnecessary poverty. All those issues have brought people in, in a spirit of hope and optimism.”
Corbyn’s courage, integrity and consistency over the years won him the confidence of an electorate suffering from austerity measures enacted to preserve the wealth of the elite. The British get the connection between corporate owned political parties and economic inequality. Americans are beginning to get the message.
In his foreign policy, Corbyn has fearlessly confronted militarism in all forms. He has called out Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinians, and questions the post cold war role of NATO, which has expanded its powers to better serve corporate and banking interests.
Corbyn’s bold foreign policy
- Conduct negotiations with Hamas and Hezbollah
- Try Israel’s leaders for war crimes against the Palestinians
- Support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel.
- Stop arms sales to Israel
- Scrap Britain’s Prevention of Terrorism Act (similar to the U.S. Patriot Act)
- Have a serious debate about the powers of NATO, its need for democratic accountability, and its questionable global expansion
- Enact unilateral nuclear disarmament and eliminate UK’s nuclear weapons system.
- Oppose British military intervention in Syria
- Demand Saudi Arabia stop funding and supporting the Islamic State.
- Hold talks with the leaders of warring factions in Iraq and Afghanistan to end the conflicts.
There is no solution to the killing and abuse of human rights that involves yet more Western military action. Ultimately there has to be a political solution in the region which bombing by NATO forces cannot bring about.
The drama of the killings and advances by Isis in the past few weeks is yet another result of the Bush-Blair war on terror since 2001.
The victims of these wars are the refugees and those driven from their homes and the thousands of unknown civilians who have died and will continue to die in the region.
The “winners” are inevitably the arms manufacturers and those who gain from the natural resources of the region.
Corbyn’s domestic policy, more bold than Bernie’s
- Significantly increase taxes on the wealthy
- End unfair corporate tax breaks
- Cap wages for corporate executives to fight “grotesque levels of inequality”
- Enact widespread rent control to stop “social cleansing” caused by gentrification
- Enact “quantitative easing for people” by investing in housing, energy and other infrastructure projects
- Create a new national investment bank to encourage growth and reduce the deficit.
- Create a sanctuary in the Antarctic to prevent mining and oil drilling
- End fracking
- Build renewable energy based on solar and wind
- Support “global regulation” to prevent the export of carbon products
- Stop attempts to privatize the universal health care system (the National Health Service)
- Abolish the British monarchy
- Nationalize energy companies
- Re-nationalize the post office and the rail service
- Create a National Education Service to provide free universal education—day care through university—to be funded by corporate taxation
- Abolish charter schools
- End the tax-exempt status of even the elite private schools.
- Bring back robust government funding for the arts
- Reverse government cuts that gutted the BBC
- Halt the government’s closure of domestic violence centers for women
- Fight discrimination against women in the workplace
- Strengthen laws against sexual harassment and sexual assault
John Halle at Counterpunch summed up Corbyn’s victory:
The 1% percent will use any means necessary to maintain their boots on our necks and their hands in our pockets.
If there’s any lesson which living history should have taught us, it’s that.
But the Corbyn victory is now one of many indications that we can fight back and win.