“The Blair era truly ended on June 8th.”
“Corbyn’s triumph was the final nail in New Labour’s coffin.”
These are the words, not of any socialist or Momentum member, but of some of Jeremy Corbyn’s harshest critics - in these cases, the Economist magazine (10th June 2017) and the Daily Mail (9th June 2017) respectively - following the massive swing towards Labour in the 8th June election.
Blairite grandees, right-wing Labour MPs, and a hostile mainstream media have spent the past two years lambasting Corbyn for his supposed lack of leadership qualities and electability. The shock election results, however, with Labour seeing its biggest vote share gain since the days of Clement Attlee in 1945, have reduced this previously deafening cacophony to a dumbfounded silence.
Blairites on the back foot
Since day one, the Labour leader’s opponents worked to ensure that their predictions of a heavy defeat under Corbyn became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rogue MPs, led by their mafiosa boss Tom Watson, have sought to undermine and sabotage the (twice) democratically elected leader at every stage. In order to achieve their aim, these gangsters were even willing to plunge the party into crisis with their failed “chicken coup” last summer. Indeed, prior to this, Labour was actually closing in on the Tories in the polls.
The shenanigans did not stop even after Theresa May’s announcement of the snap election, with careerist Labour MPs, such as John Woodcock and others, coming out openly against Jeremy Corbyn and calling on their constituents to vote for them, but not for Corbyn to be PM.
Assuming a heavy defeat, possibly a Tory landslide, the Blairites continued to sharpen their knives throughout the recent election campaign, waiting in the shadows and preparing for another leadership contest, or even a split away to form a new “centre” party. In these intrigues and machinations, the Labour right wing have had the full backing of the capitalist Establishment, who are keen to have a reliable “Second XI” for big business.
But Corbyn has defied the expectations of all his critics, leaving them silenced and impotent - their Machiavellian plans turned to dust. As the Economist, a reliable mouthpiece of the serious strategists of capital, was reluctantly forced to concede, “The Labour Party now belongs to Jeremy Corbyn.”
Corbyn’s opponents in the Labour Party have now had to admit their errors and eat a healthy slice of humble pie. Most satisfying of all to watch was none other than key New Labour architect, the “Prince of Darkness” himself, Lord Mandelson.
Only months ago, Mandelson was proudly announcing that he was “working every day to bring down Jeremy Corbyn”. Now, in a post-election interview, the leading spokesperson for Blairism has acknowledged that he “was wrong” about Corbyn. “I am very surprised,” Mandelson confessed to a BBC interviewer, “an earthquake has happened in British politics and I did not foresee it.”
Whilst our venerable peer was unable to admit that he may also have been wrong in wasting his efforts attempting to depose of the Labour leader in the past two years, he did accept that, on the back of Labour’s latest election gains, “Jeremy Corbyn remains leader of the Labour Party for as long as he wants.” (This, however, has not stopped Lord Mandelson, a former EU trade commissioner, from calling on “moderate” (read: Blairite) Labour MPs to unite with Theresa May in fighting for a soft Brexit in the interests of the City of London.)
Rubbing salt into the Blairites’ wounds, Ken Livingstone, the veteran Labour left and former Mayor of London, asserted that “New Labour is dead and buried”. "There'll be a few embittered old Blairites who'll never come to terms with it,” Livingstone stated on BBC radio, “but the vast majority will realise, this is a real Labour party back again.”
Whilst a few deluded Labour right-wingers - such as Chris Leslie, a former shadow chancellor - have tried in vain to maintain the fantasy that a different leader could have won the election, even Corbyn’s most consistent internal adversaries have had to concede defeat and offer their praise for the Labour leader’s inspiring campaign.
“I was clearly wrong in feeling that Jeremy was unable to do this well”, confessed Owen Smith, last year’s challenger in the Labour leadership election, “and I think he’s proved me wrong and lots of people wrong and I take my hat off to him.” Elsewhere, Chuka Umunna, a prominent Blairite acolyte and Corbyn hater, professed that, “Jeremy Corbyn remains leader of the Labour Party, quite rightly so, after this campaign."
Liberal media bubble
Such backtracking is not exclusive to the Blairite right, however. The most categorical climbdown in the aftermath of the June 9th results was in fact by the renowned Guardian journalist and self-proclaimed leading light of the left, Owen Jones. Only months ago, our esteemed author was wallowing in despair and calling on Corbyn to step aside. Now, tail-ending a mass movement that he did not foresee or have any faith in, Jones humbly admits that, “I wasn’t a bit wrong, or slightly wrong, or mostly wrong, but totally wrong.”
Having painted himself in the past as the “pragmatist”, in contrast to the “utopian” far-left who admonished him for his backstabbing, Jones now concedes that, “having one foot in the Labour movement and one in the mainstream media undoubtedly left me more susceptible to their groupthink.” “Never again”, our former darling of the Left promises. We can only hope that such apologies and assurances are sincere and remembered when the going gets tough again in the future.
Complete the Corbyn revolution!
We strike this word of warning for a reason. Right now, on the back of Labour’s enormous election successes, it is clear that all the momentum (no pun intended) is behind Corbyn and the Left. A mass grassroots movement of workers and youth has been galvanised on the basis of a clear and bold anti-austerity, anti-war, explicitly left-wing programme. According to some reports, tens of thousands of new members have signed up to the Labour Party over the course of the election and since. Meanwhile, post-election opinions polls suggest that if another vote was taken now - with the Tories in crisis and Corbyn's popularity surging - Labour would be set for their own massive win, taking 45% of the vote to the Tories' 39%.
The Labour right wing are undoubtedly demoralised and disorientated. Like the Tories and the big business press, they have thrown everything at Corbyn and failed. But whilst they are routed for now, they will never accept defeat. One only has to look back at the endless torrent of bile and vitriol they have thrown in the direction of the Corbyn movement over the past two years to see what such ladies and gentlemen really think, and what interests they really stand for.
Whilst prominent Labour right-wingers such as Yvette Cooper and Chuka Umunna have stated that they would now be willing to serve under Corbyn in his shadow cabinet, the reality is that the Blairite establishment will never really reconcile themselves to Corbyn’s leadership or programme, or to control of the party by the Left.
Corbyn has attempted to appear magnanimous, affirming that he will “reach out” to the rest of the Party, including former opponents. Whether such words are genuine or merely tokenistic remains to be seen. But it is clear that Corbyn and the other leading figures on the Left must now utilise the authority they have gained and the energy they have generated in the past two months to irreversibly transform the Labour Party once and for all, turning it into a mass political movement capable of kicking out the Tories and ending austerity.
The hundreds of thousands of new Labour members and radicalised workers and youth must be organised in this task post-haste. Momentum should be calling for all Corbyn supporters and activists - old and new - to get stuck in at every level of the Party, reclaiming it from the bottom-up. With a pivotal party conference coming up in September, there is no time to waste.
Branch and CLP officers; conference delegates; councillors and MPs: all of these - not to mention the Party’s democratic structures and official apparatus - must be replaced, renovated, and rejuvenated, made to represent the socialist desires and demands that the Corbyn movement stands for.
Only in this way can we continue along the fighting path that we are on: putting Corbyn in 10 Downing Street; putting Labour in government; and putting radical socialist policies in place for future generations.