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Jeremy Corbynís Surge Can be at the Heart of a Winning Coalition

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08/21/2015 05:06 AM
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Jeremy Corbynís Surge Can be at the Heart of a Winning Coalition
Jeremy Corbynís Surge Can be at the Heart of a Winning Coalition

A democratic eruption is transforming Labour. If it continues, it can change the electoral landscape too

By Seumas Milne

August 20, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "The Guardian" - What is taking place in the Labour party is a democratic explosion unprecedented in British political history. Last week more than 168,000 registered to vote in Labourís leadership election Ė on one day. About 400,000 people have applied to join Labour as members or supporters since May, tripling the size of the party to more than 600,000.

Overwhelmingly, itís the response to one candidate standing for the Labour leadership: the veteran backbench campaigner Jeremy Corbyn. When Tony Blair became Labour leader in 1994 he promised to recruit 1 million members, but never got much beyond 400,000. Corbyn has sailed past him in weeks.

Not only that, but the leftwinger is now runaway favourite to win the contest. In the most recent poll, Corbyn was scoring 53% on first preferences, 32 points ahead of his nearest challenger. And 32% of the public say they would be more likely to back Labour under Corbyn, seven points more than any other candidate.

After years of handwringing about declining participation in party politics, you might imagine the political class would be delighted at this grassroots surge. Not a bit of it. The political and media establishment has linked arms to resist it. This is one of Her Majestyís parties of government, after all. The idea of it falling into the care of someone outside the boundaries of political acceptability is unthinkable.

So one New Labour grandee after another Ė from Tony Blair to David Miliband Ė have taken time out from their lucrative post-ministerial careers to brand Corbyn as the road to electoral oblivion. Far from welcoming this vast influx, they want the party declared full up.

Allowing supporters to sign up US or French primary-style, a change welcomed last year by Blair as ďsomething I should have done myselfĒ, is now damned as a perilous gateway to political entryism. So there have been attempts to close down the contest, weed out undesirables, or even convince Corbynís three rivals to withdraw to halt the election.

But the more New Labourís college of cardinals brands the Corbyn surge a self-indulgent spasm, the more it exposes official politics as a closed system whose rules of what is credible and electable are set by the powers that be rather than by voters or party members.

The Corbyn phenomenon is a movement that nobody predicted or got up behind the scenes. With its echoes of the Scottish referendum campaign and European leftwing populist movements, itís a backlash against grotesquely narrowed political choices and a punitive austerity imposed to pay the costs of the 2008 crash.

Read more here:
[link to www.informationclearinghouse.info]