The Left, both within the Labour party and in the social movements, new media and activism more generally, have conquered the battlefield of ideas. The respected annual British Social Attitudes survey published earlier this week had a few surprising revelations for those of us who consume the popular media outlets. Firstly, Austerity as an idea embraced even reluctantly by the people, is dead. Redistribution of wealth and Government Spending on health, education and are the new Black. 83% of people want more spending on our woefully cash-starved NHS, likewise with 71% on our schools that were bad when I was in secondary education and have just declined moreso, and 57% on police, who like them or not, when terrorists are rampaging round your city, are a very welcome face.
The manifestation of seven years of a Conservative regime is that more people agree than disagree that government should redistribute income from the better off to those who are less well-off. This marks a progression from pre-2008 when the opposite was true. Thatcher advisor and David Cameron Ideologue, Oliver Letwin, stated “a large number of people will have to pay a little more tax…’ This is not a minor matter, one of the architects of the British economic calamity of Austerity has come out and in principle embraced the Left position of marginally taxation to fund quality and crucial public services. That’s not a joke.
Feels like decades of turmoil have passed, but let’s just remember that it was May when articles like this in the ‘lefty’ Guardian were commonplace, ‘Will Corbyn remain Labour leader come what may? First, he must match Milliband’s vote share’. These times, Corbyn actually matched Blair’s Landslide victory of ’97 on a 40% vote share. The narrative being shoved by a aggressive small ‘c’ and large ‘c’ media was Labour was on a one-way street to oblivion, if not a historic loss. That Corbyn and by extension, any radical, progressive, transformative vision for this country was unpatriotic, incompetent and unelectable. That was nonsense. And so is the propaganda that some war criminal, hyper-capitalist, racist form of politics would actually appeal to anyone. That was categorical nonsense. The 8th proved that. We didn’t win, of course, but we acquired power without government, the capacity to liberate women denied access to abortions in Northern Ireland to have them free on the English NHS, to force an inquiry into the atrocity of Grenfell and the resignation of Kensington and Chelsea Council Leader Nicholas Paget-Brown and to challenge and shape Theresa May’s agenda for society, the economy and Brexit knowing full well that if another snap election was called to rectify her threadbare coalition with the DUP, then no amount of millionaire Tory donors or Lynton Crosbyism will save her from a Labour victory.
There’s a wave of progressive sentiment in this nation that the Labour Party and activists, radicals and liberals of all stripes must utilise to reform our broken status quo. I doubt 100% that any move to the centre and conciliatory leadership within Labour will maintain, much less, expand the votes gotten in June. Victory in these times has no easy precedent. I firmly believe, a Labour Party and progressive movement with a pinpoint focus on an economy for the ‘many, not the few’ is a start but an over-arching vision of constitutional and social reform will light a spark of optimism in this country. Does anyone really think our political class and institutions are fit for purpose. I know least of all Corbyn does, but in the interests of election victory he remains quiet. That’s a mistake, the next Labour manifesto needs to put an elected house of lords, proportional representation, Trident, votes at 16, the monarchy and an English parliament on the agenda, otherwise the left will have immeasurably failed in leaving a legacy of advancement. Love them or loathe them, the most iconic Prime Minister’s Britain has had made their mark in history; the NHS, Thatcherism, Decriminalising Homosexuality and Abortion, Victory in the Second World War, Devolution.
If Corbyn is to stand at the next election and win Power and Government, his own legacy must be Revolution.