Corbyn Wins

corbyn wins

Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership election. He won by a landslide – a 59.5% knockout in the first round. Andy Burnham got 19%. Yvette Cooper got 17%. And she seems like a decent human being. She’s definitely not deserved the personal abuse she’s received throughout the contest, much of it from our side. But Liz Kendall got 4.5%. I’ll leave it at that.

I was entirely unprepared for the Corbyn phenomenon. I’ve known about and been a fan of Corbyn for ten years, give or take, and he’s someone who I hold in the highest esteem – he’s unerringly principled, utterly committed to the causes he believes in, and has dedicated his life to helping the poorest and most vulnerable, which to my mind is the best thing you can say about anyone.

And despite all that, if you’d have asked me what I thought the chances were of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader back in May, just after Ed Miliband stood down, I would’ve said ‘less than 1%’. If you’d have asked me what I thought the chances were of Jeremy Corbyn or anyone vaguely left-wing even getting on the ballot paper, I probably would’ve said the same. In the run-up to the general election, I wrote a blog post specifically designed just to remind people the parliamentary Labour Left still existed – praising Corbyn, McDonnell, Skinner and co but generally lamenting its current weakness and poor prospects for the future. Continue reading “Corbyn Wins”

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Corbyn In

corbyn benn
Tony Benn and his ‘favourite’ MP

Jeremy Corbyn managed to get on the Labour leadership ballot. He probably won’t win. But he might do. It’d be an amusing irony if a one member one vote election process designed to prove Labour isn’t unduly influenced by the unions ended up delivering the most left-wing leader in party history.

With the three mainstream candidates pitching themselves to the editorial board of the Daily Express rather than people actually in the Labour Party, Corbyn is proving startlingly popular with the grassroots – far more so than even unrepentant Bennites who write rubbish internet blogs and have supported him for years would’ve expected.

Corbyn vs the Burnham-Cooper-Kendall axis doesn’t just represent a clash of wildly different political perspectives, but starkly opposing ideas of what Labour fundamentally is. Is Labour just the regional-accented wing of the neoliberal establishment? Or is a democratic membership organisation, aspiring to be a social movement? Continue reading “Corbyn In”

Corbyn For Leader

Jeremy Corbyn After the cataclysmic shitstorm that was GE2015, The Bemolution was very content to take an extended/permanent sabbatical from talking about mainstream parliamentary politics. In fact, we spent June 3rd having a long lie down in a darkened room, although that was as much to do with a nuclear-grade migraine as the seemingly insurmountable shitness of the Murdoch-mediated, corporate-pandering, learned-nothing-from-the-crash neoliberal consensus.

Then veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing in Labour’s leadership election. And it was fantastic, because so far the contest has been disgustingly, disgustingly bad.

Even after Blair, Labour still contains everyone from Simon Danczuk MP to people left of Lenin. But the leadership contest doesn’t reflect that at all. Instead, Labour members and supporters have been offered a dismal selection of centre-right drones built out of spare bits of Peter Mandelson. It’s looked more like a dull fringe meeting by Progress, the Lord Sainsbury-funded ultra-Blairite pressure group, than anything approaching a democratic election.

Liz Kendall, Mary Creagh, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham have heroically trundled out to say how much they’d secretly disliked Ed Miliband’s politics all along (a man even they now portray as an enterprise-hating communist), and that Labour lost because it was too left-wing. Various analyses of how Britain voted, from Labour MP Jon Trickett’s to exit pollster John Curtice’s, show that’s just plain wrong. But Labour’s rising stars won’t let mere fact get in the way of parroting corporate media narratives in an attempt to get a leg-up from The Sun. Continue reading “Corbyn For Leader”

Defensive Voting: Not Everyone In Labour Is Shit

mcdonnell corbyn

Slightly irked by suggestions that admittedly excellent Caroline Lucas is the only anti-austerity MP in the Commons, we spotlight the hardy dissidents on what remains of the parliamentary Labour Left.

Here is a tellingly short but heartfelt list of the Labour MPs we’d happily vote for. Since the 1990s, the Labour Left has all-but evaporated as a visible, vocal political force, particularly in Parliament. That’s been fairly catastrophic, because in the ‘70s and ‘80s it was a vibrant, boisterous presence in British politics, pointing the way towards an radically more equal, democratic and infinitely nicer kind of society. People like Tony Benn stood for just the type of pragmatic radical socialism that we desperately need back (albeit with a much greater focus on the environment).

But now, its impact is negligible, reflecting the decline of the mainstream radical left more generally. The Labour leftists that are still kicking about are far from perfect – often just as ferociously tribal as the Labour right, despite the emergence of parties far more in line with what they believe in than their own. But even though they’ve been politically marginalised, and just as ignored by their own leadership as by the press, a small hard-core of Labour MPs continue to thanklessly hammer away at austerity, rampant inequality and the all-round horror of neoliberalism. So here they are. Continue reading “Defensive Voting: Not Everyone In Labour Is Shit”

Bem Bulletin #2: Glittery Festive Special – Austerity, Porn and Gordon Brown

Occupy Christmas
Occupy Christmas

This month: we finally finished a trilogy of bits about our travels in the Czech Republic, Communism as-was and capitalism as-is that we started in 2012; we got angry at how society lionises business and fawns over the richest, as typified by the BBC’s The Apprentice, and how it neglects, belittles and abuses NHS personnel; and we contrasted the way in which modern parents dote almost obsessively on their offspring, while doing, thinking, or, apparently, caring very little about the climate catastrophe that might rob them of a future.

… And, music-wise: funky Nigerian afrobeat from Fela Kuti, and banal ‘50s country and western.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, it’s Christmas time, and the Bemolution is communicating with you from its fairylit inner sanctum, swimming in tinsel and shovelling grotesque quantities of chocolate log down itself.

We don’t celebrate birthdays (exceptions made for young children or the impressively old), or like ceremony in general, but we officially do quite like Christmas. Not enough to suspend our miserablist current affairs-prodding, of course. But it at least encourages people to squeeze a trickle of festive goodwill to the rest of the species from their neoliberalised granite-hearts, and stop trying to compete each other into the dust long enough to eat their own bodyweight in turkey and Brussels sprouts.

Anyway – to business.


In this month’s Bem Bulletin

1. George Osborne’s Autumn Statement

1 and a bit. … And Sociopaths in power

2. Porn Censorship and the Tyranny of the Vanilla

3. The Life and Times of Gordon Brown

4. Jim Murphy, Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour

5. Obligatory Christmas Commercialisation Whinge Continue reading “Bem Bulletin #2: Glittery Festive Special – Austerity, Porn and Gordon Brown”