Chris Williamson MP: Jeremy Corbyn is the saviour of the Labour party
Responding to Ian Austin's article for Central Lobby, Chris Williamson MP insists Jeremy Corbyn has reconnected the Labour party with ordinary people..
Ian Austin’s critique of today’s Labour party betrays the fact that he is trapped in a New Labour time warp.
The truth is that it isn’t just the Labour party that has moved on, the entire country has too. Ian’s characterisation of what Labour is now proposing as “hard left” is absurd. A cursory examination of public opinion on key issues illustrates that Labour’s programme is incredibly moderate and mainstream.
Polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of the public want to see the utilities, railways and the Royal Mail brought back into public ownership. Similarly, support for Labour’s plans to stop penalising young people for going to university by scrapping tuition fees and reintroducing maintenance grants is enormous.
Labour’s proposals to address the housing crisis through a renaissance in council housing is also welcomed by a huge bulk of the electorate. And backing for a fairer tax system enjoys massive public support, as does the suggested wage cap ratio ensuring that no company undertaking public contracts can pay anyone more than 20 times the rate of their lowest paid employees. In fact, the appetite for all the plans that were originally mapped out in Labour’s 2017 manifesto has continued to grow.
This common sense socialism will give Labour a huge advantage at the next election because people are sick to death of the existing status quo that is failing millions. So no matter how loudly Ian squeals about the direction that Jeremy Corbyn is taking the party, members and supporters are not listening to him.
Ian is right to say that Jeremy’s supporters will dismiss his latest outburst as “bitter smears” because that is precisely what they are. People are tired of the straw men arguments that Ian and other signed up members of ‘Continuity New Labour’ are continually trotting out.
Ian might not like it, but the fact is the neoliberal economic agenda, that so bedazzled the New Labour administration, is a busted flush. Times have changed and Ian should too. Even Tony Blair said: “Ideals survive through change. They die through inertia in the face of challenge.” Yet Ian’s modus operandi ever since Jeremy was elected as leader represents the very personification of political inertia.
Harold Wilson, who won more general elections than Tony Blair, said: “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” One only has to look at the fate of social democratic parties elsewhere in Europe to see where the failure to acknowledge and reflect the dissatisfaction with the current economic system will lead.
Contrary to Ian’s protestations, Jeremy Corbyn has been the saviour of the Labour Party. And common sense socialism will be the salvation from the neoliberal orthodoxy that has held sway in Britain for 40 years; an orthodoxy that has resulted in grotesque inequality and caused endemic precarity.
As Tony Blair said in 1983: “Socialism corresponds most closely to an existence that is both rational and moral” – I agree.
Chris Williamson is the MP for Derby North