Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn's Moment

Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour Leadership election with 59% of the votes. After the darkness of May, suddenly it is the season of hope again in Britain.

Many people are calling it the biggest upset in British political life in many years, and they are right. No one was expecting a 66-year old, steadfastly socialist outsider to win the leadership of a party, which has all but lost its ideological roots and connection with people they represent, under the years of careerist New Labour. It has become, over the last twenty years, a party of sartorial ambitions, smooth accents and middle class obsessions, a party which is sustained by the promise of cheaper mortgages than the hope of social equality. At every turn, under the excuse of being Centrist, the Labour Party became a pale shadow of the Thatcherite conservatives, offering no alternative in the election of 2015, where a coalition legacy of the middle-of-the-road policies won the day for the Conservatives who took the credits and the votes.

But the electorate was sending a message, not just in Scotland where SNP won by a landslide, but also in England, where UKIP and Greens both became significant political forces at the expense of the three mainstream parties. This message was - Centrism does not work! Indeed, there is no centrism in low tax regimes who mercilessly cut public services and claim the fixed game of allocation of resources a level playing field. The politics as usual, with politicians like career managers, who move like reeds in the wind, always trying to please public opinion and always trying to spin their deeps, is passe. 

The political pundits and the media in general did not get this in the run-up to Corbyn win, and this is why it looks so unusual. They did not get that the voters have now discovered the power of conviction, of a stance, good or bad. They are fed up with politicians who never seem to be wrong, who always change policies just in time or come up with justifications for their huge failures, just by looking smart. Their message now - if you do not want to be wrong, ever, you are not the leader I want. I would rather want a leader who would stick their head out, say things that need to be said, try to push for changes even if they are unpopular, and stay the course. Corbyn fitted this job description - his 40 years of unblemished, steadfast political career is a great model for the new generation of politicians - and now we know, he captured the imagination.

In the pathetic aftermath of the Corbyn victory, the New Labour hopefuls say whether he can win the general election is questionable. That lies in the future - 5 years hence - and a lot will change. At a time when we see a march of refugees right through the heart of Europe, we know that the politics will change in the next five years. And, we know that in their earlier avatar, Labour could not win. It is now Corbyn's  moment, therefore, as he has to battle with the institutional trappings of politics to keep his ideas alive. But, then, he did it for four decades, by eschewing opportunism. He is possibly the best man there is to offer a new politics, and a new hope for Britain.

 

 




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