The Corbyn Effect

Democratic Socialism Is Returning to Britain’s Labour Party

Who amongst the contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party would have had the vision and the courage of Aneurin Bevan to establish the British National Health Service? The answer, surely, would be only Jeremy Corbyn.

In his ten point plan “standing to deliver” he proposes to return the railways and the energy sector to public ownership, an end to austerity, and the establishment of a national investment bank to direct funds to create tomorrow’s jobs.

This is a direct challenge to free-market unregulated capitalism with its mantra of “the market knows best” that led to the economic crash. The economic collapse was then followed by dogma- driven austerity programmes across Europe that have particularly hurt the poor and vulnerable.

Those who are the true believers in the divinity of the market want even less regulation; health and safety rules and laws at work – forget it; this is red tape devised by bleeding heart liberals and misguided leftists. Employment protection laws, fairness at work; oh no, this is stifling business and enterprise, and should be abandoned.

Meanwhile, ordinary citizens are conditioned by mainstream media to blame the disabled, immigrants, and the unemployed by the highlighting of individual cases of fraud amongst the vulnerable and the poor. The super rich swindling vast sums from the exchequer by tax evasion, tax avoidance, “creative accounting” etc., are not subjected to the same vitriol.

Margaret Thatcher laid the foundations for this attack on public services with the privatisation of water, gas, electricity, and the sale of council housing, thus opening up the market for private landlords to enrich themselves from taxpayers, and for vast profits to go to giant energy companies, once again pumping money up from the poor and middle classes to the super rich. She presided over the deregulation of the financial markets with the “Big Bang”, unleashing the destructive greed of the “moneymen” that is now blighting the lives of millions.

The Labour party under Blair reversed none of the privatisations, and on the contrary they introduced private providers into the NHS and education. Their Private Finance Initiative (PFI), used to build schools and hospitals by the private sector at deferred highly inflated prices, will have to be paid for by our children and grandchildren.

Their election campaign under Ed Miliband lacked coherence; it appeared to be a collection of policies that did not have a common arching principle to connect them. The leadership always appeared to be on the defensive, and unable to reply with a counter-narrative to that presented by the Tories.

Jeremy Corbyn is presenting a coherent counter-narrative to that presented by free-market capitalism espoused by the Conservative party and the “moneymen”. This is how he sums up his mission:

Our vision is of a more inclusive, honest and de-personalised form of politics. A country in which people are happier, fulfilled and secure in their housing and work… our vision of a government that works in the interests of its people, and supports everybody in achieving their collective aspirations through providing strong public services, access to the arts, and lifelong learning and a prosperous, more balanced economy.

This is a vision worth striving for, matched with policies designed to deliver it.  Who would Aneurin Bevan have supported as Leader of today’s Labour Party?  Answer: Jeremy Corbyn, no doubt.

Adnan Al-Daini (PhD, Birmingham University, UK) is a retired University Engineering lecturer. He is a British citizen born in Iraq. He writes regularly on issues of social justice and the Middle East. Read other articles by Adnan.