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Corbin and the Labour, the prospect of change

Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign, and its outcome, is without doubt the most positive development that has taken place in British politics for more than twenty-five years – since Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party. Corbyn’s campaign has demonstrated that a politics based on the rejection of neoliberalism and the development of an alternative […]

Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign, and its outcome, is without doubt the most positive development that has taken place in British politics for more than twenty-five years – since Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party. The reason for this is that it is the first substantial challenge to neoliberalism that has emerged from Labour in all those years. Corbyn’s campaign has now demonstrated that a politics based on the rejection of neoliberalism – the contemporary version of ‘full capitalism’ – and the development of an alternative to it – is capable of success.

The publication of Labour’s recent Election Manifesto, was an astonishing moment of hope. Here are its some of its proposals:

To reject the doctrines of austerity and deficit-reduction which have crippled the British economy since 2008

To tax the top 1 per cent of income earners to provide funds for restoring public services in health, education and other services

To increase corporation tax

To restore some workers’ rights

To establish a National Care Service

To abolish university tuition fees, thus renewing the idea that the education of the young should be an entitlement, and a gift between generations, and not a form of individual investment in the self

To restore the Educational Maintenance Allowance, restoring opportunities for young people without family means to continue their education beyond 16

To renationalise the railways, and by degrees other utilities, instead of enabling private (or foreign state-owned) corporations to turn public subsidies into private profits

To set up a state investment bank, to begin the long-neglected programme to improve infrastructure and to develop a productive economy.

This programme represented an unmistakable shift in the entire agenda of public policy in Britain. It was of course attacked as a ‘far left’ programme, alleged to be an indicator of the deep polarisation and division in British society. However, the reality is that it proposed no more than a return to what would once have been seen as a moderate version of social democracy. That is, to the idea that government has a necessary role in a modern economy, and to a degree of restored progressiveness in fiscal and social policy, in a context in which inequalities of income and wealth, and the disintegration of key public services, are now reaching destructive and unsustainable levels.

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