So Jeremy Corbyn has been elected as Labour leader. Immediately after the last general election I felt an urge to join Labour Party. I didn’t do it at the time but I sensed that some sort of moment of melting, of dissolution, had arrived and that there was something new to be built. I followed the emergence of the various candidates for the leadership including the slow and difficult recruitment of Jerry Corbyn. Once it became clear that there was some sort of swell of support for him I signed up and joined the Labour Party as a full member and duly voted for him in the leadership election.
I have found the reaction of the Labour elites to his election surprisingly disappointing. Perhaps it’s very naive of me but I’m genuinely shocked to see their lack of willingness, at least in public, to engage with what is clearly a ground swell of opinion amongst Labour supporters. Their failure to support their own supporters reflects very poorly on precisely the sort of attitudes to which Corbyn’s rise is a reaction.
The notion that somehow, because he is sixty-six years old and has been around for a long time, that his election is somehow a throwback to the past is profoundly faulty. Indeed it is his very longevity which denies this. He’s seen through the removal of old Labour and the emergence of new Labour. If anybody knows about compromise and understands the pragmatism with which political decisions resound it is a him. My immediate impression of Jeremy Corbyn was that he is somebody who will, in the end, not exactly compromise but perhaps more except the will of the people. In other words policy will be built on the support that is available for that policy. He will not block out particular opinions but will not block out radical opinions which has been the position of new Labour.
Seeing what has been happening around the new shadow chancellor it is encouraging to see that there is the opportunity to build a new set of frameworks for economic policy. The convergence of the Thatcherite conservatives with new Labour led to the complete decline of any sort of socialist politics. Such was the embargo on policy discussion that the very idea it might be possible to have some different approach to economic policy has been completely discredited. What the new election of Corbyn is offering, at the very least, is the opportunity to develop a set of thought out economic alternatives to austerity. The new Labour leadership is supported by a host of powerful intellectuals who, I suspect, will help build a scaffold around which a different sort of set of political imperatives can be structured.