Results are still coming in, but it looks like an astonishing result for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and perhaps the biggest win for the Anglo left since the rise of Margaret Thatcher in 1979. This is another incredible turn of political events, begun last year with the unexpected vote for Brexit, Trump’s victory, the rise of Marine Le Pen, and now the success of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left. Some thoughts:
- The political uncertainty is linked completely to the decay of the old order, constructed by the Anglo-American alliance in the ruins of the Second World War and reconstructed by Thatcher and Reagan in the early 1980s. Rapid swings in politics – not really seen in the West since the late 60s/early 70s when the system first began to decline – are becoming almost normal in this era.
- At its heart is the terminal decline of the US regime of capital accumulation, which has created clear misery for the majority of the working class in the United States and the Western world. The economic reality is reflected in the resurgence of the Left – still mainly the social-democratic left – and the far Right.
- This was completely unthinkable even five years ago! Even a year ago! The rapid rise of Corbyn in the UK – let on the Labour leader ballot paper because he seemed no threat to the establishment and who was able to mobilize hundreds of thousands of supporters during and after an attempt by his own party members to overthrow him in a coup – has to be seen as an important bellweather for the Anglo Left. By this I mean it will have an impact across the English-speaking world at the very least, and very likely more. It means even in a first-past-the-post system, the Left now has a chance to articulate its message and win seats against liberal and conservative opposition.
- Corbyn and Labour ran on an anti-austerity, anti-interventionist program. It was not perfect by any means, but was farther to the Left than any large party has run in the English-speaking world in decades. Corbyn speaking frankly about British imperialist policy and blowback to it after the attacks in Manchester, and London, is a watershed moment.
- The electorate doesn’t seem to have wanted Brexit refought, but they took seriously what Brexit might look like under a Tory administration.
- UKIP voters seem to have deserted the Tories in droves and voted for Labour – which shows how the supposedly right-wing, xenophobic working class vote might be turned to the Left with the correct program.
- The biggest losers on the night besides the Tories are the Blairites (hopefully good riddance to JK Rowling’s obnoxious political Tweets) and the Lib Dems. Cleggmania is over! Both represented the triangulation only possible during a neoliberal era where the demands of capital and a good portion of the middle and upper-segment of the working class was willing to vote for those policies. No longer – and to the rubbish bin of history they go.
- I think this will have a remarkable impact, at least psychologically, on the chances of the Left elsewhere. What will happen in the UK will have to wait until the morning, and perhaps another election in the fall. Congratulations indeed all around, comrades!