Roger Cole: Why Jeremy Corbyn will be the UK’s next prime minister
Labour leader will displace Theresa May because he leads a movement, not just a party
British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. “A Corbyn-led Labour is now far closer to the values of Connolly than the current Irish Labour Party.” Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters
The last time British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn Ireland visited Ireland was 2009, to attend an international peace conference in Shannon organised by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (Pana). The Irish Times agreed to publish an article by the alliance, but due to production constraints it left out the closing paragraph, which stated: “Pana has, over the last 20 years, developed strong links with British CND, Scottish CND and CND Cymru. They represent all that is best among the British, Scottish and Welsh people. It is their values and their vision that gives hope for the possibility of a great future for the UK shorn of its imperial culture either in what remains of the British empire or the emerging European empire.”
Corbyn has, for his entire political life, been a supporter of CND and its values. He was re-elected Labour leader not because he is a decent, honest and humble man (which he is) but because he leads a movement, not just a political party.
It is a movement that wants, among other things, a real national health service (the greatest achievement of the historic 1945 Labour government), rather than the continuation of Britain’s imperial tradition of a commitment to perpetual war and the renewal of the Trident nuclear programme as advocated by the current ruling parties of Tories and New Labour. If Corbyn becomes prime minister it will be because of a deep and fundamental change in the values of the British people.
Neoliberal corporate media
So can that happen? The prime minster, Theresa May, has made it clear she is prepared to kill millions of people with the Trident missile system. She will no doubt have the total support of the war-loving neoliberal corporate media. Current polls show that in an election she would win relatively easily. So what would Corbyn have to do to defeat the Tories?
First, he has to become the undisputed leader of Labour and his second victory will go a long way to achieving that. The Blairites will split, some will retire, some will accept the result, some will join the Tories or the Liberal Democrats and some might even form a new party. Whatever happens, Corbyn’s party, already 600,000 strong (the Tories have 150,000 members) will continue to grow, creating a major door-knocking organisation that will, along with social media, undermine the power of the war-loving neoliberal corporate media.
While the internal attacks on Corbyn will not end, the marginalisation of the Blairites will accelerate and consolidate the unification of Labour under Corbyn in its fight against the Tories.
Corbyn’s decision to accept the democratic decision of the British people to reject membership of the emerging European empire and its emerging European army has been crystal clear. It is a decision that will go a long way to regaining the support of those voters who shifted to Ukip.
In Scotland, the SNP will more than likely continue to dominate, but would be far less antagonistic to a Corbyn-led Labour. If they work together in the first-past-the-post system, they could put the final nail in the coffin of Tory Scotland and maximise the number of MPs for both parties. After all, with a Corbyn-led government, the SNP understand that it is their best chance of a second independence referendum.
Concentration of wealth
While there is no doubt that decades of Thatcher/Blair senseless warmongering and neoliberalism remains popular, especially among those that benefited from it imperial values, the sustained attacks on the social system, the massive and growing concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of billionaires is losing its appeal among a growing number of ordinary people. They would prefer a more equitable taxation system, a better-funded NHS and an end to perpetual war. And why not?
These are the values of people throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, Labour membership has increased from 300 to 3,000. It would be ironic if it now had more members than the Labour Party in the Republic. A Corbyn-led Labour is now far closer to the values of Connolly than the current Irish Labour Party. Perhaps under leader Brendan Howlin, the latter might consider returning to its roots. Let us hope so.
So, will Corbyn become the next British prime minister? It is now a realistic option. The Tories and their grammar-school prime minister (who supported the Iraq war) have been around long enough. The British people may decide that even if they do not support everything Corbyn stands for, they will agree to a change – in practice more of a Harold Wilson than a Clement Atlee transformation.
Anyway, I put a bet on that the Brexit side would triumph in the recent referendum. My only regret now is that I did not put more money on it. Come the British election I will not make that mistake again: my money is on Corbyn.
Roger Cole is chair of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance