The Corbyn Effect: A British Democratic Revolution in the Making

Following the EU referendum, a friend told me that he had voted to leave.  His reasons were nothing to do with immigration or the democratic deficit in EU institutions. No. He said he just wanted to deliver a slap in the face to the establishment who were lining up to tell him of the dire consequences that would befall the British people if they left the European Union. Isn’t that a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face, I said. Yes, he replied, but it felt good to puncture the smugness of the high and mighty who hold us with such disdain and contempt.

This story brings me to Jeremy Corbyn and his emphatic win in the second leadership of the Labour party contest within a year. The more he is attacked and denigrated by mainstream media and the luminaries of the Blairite years, the stronger he becomes. Those who constantly tell us the Labour Party has no chance of winning in a general election under his leadership are ignoring the disillusionment of the many with politics as usual.

Who would have thought Bernie Sanders, who defined himself as a democratic socialist, would come to within a whisker of winning the Democratic Party nomination in the US! The country where describing someone as a socialist is used as an insult. In fact, many commentators and pollsters believe that if Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton were running against Donald Trump, he would be doing much better than her.  She is being punished for being the establishment candidate, and we may end up with President Donald Trump.

Jeremy Corbyn has transformed the Labour Party and politics in Britain. He has made it acceptable to be anti-austerity and to demand investments, not cuts, to revive the economy. He has articulated an alternative to neoliberal economics, that has been the only game in town for so long. The Green Party has advocated such policies prior to the last general election, and I am delighted that, thanks to Jeremy Corbyn, they are now Labour’s as well.

Huge numbers, young and old, have flocked (membership over half a million) to join the Party inspired by a man who has throughout his political career fought for the underdog.  Yet, in the words of Andy Burnham, he has been treated appallingly by the parliamentary Labour Party.

Party members brimming with ideas and energy had to spend their time, ingenuity and inventiveness fighting attempts by those MPs to remove him by whatever means possible.  Imagine what could have been achieved if they had worked with party members to highlight the sheer incompetence of the Tory government.

This army of enthusiastic members, supported by the MPs, would be able to divert their talents and energy to exposing this government and promoting their alternative vision for Britain.  They need to be able to reach ordinary voters directly to penetrate the fog of distortion and untruths peddled by mainstream media.

The people who are inspired by Jeremy Corbyn are not aliens from another solar system. They are ordinary people who are living through the insecurities that are blighting their lives. Young people crippled by debt, spending up to seventy percent of their wages paying rent to unscrupulous landlords for inadequate shelter; older people most in need of our NHS seeing it being starved of funds and being privatised by stealth.

Establishment politicians have failed to deliver for the ordinary voter. The Labour party led by a Blairite of a bygone age will be punished by the electorate and will have no chance in a general election. A Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn will have the best chance of beating the Tories if only rebel Labour MPs could see that.

Adnan Al-Daini (PhD, Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Read other articles by Adnan.