Corbyn's Defeat — What Are the Lessons for Aotearoa?
British socialist Jeremy Corbyn energised an entire generation of young people in his country when he led a campaign against inequality, privatisation and war that captured first the Labour leadership in 2015, after hundreds of thousands of people joined the previously uninspiring, centrist party to vote for him, then 12.8 million votes in the 2017 election, a result which left him tantalisingly close to becoming the first radical left-wing Prime Minister in the history of the United Kingdom. Corbyn and the mass movement behind him sparked interest far beyond just Britain, and many on the left here in Aotearoa were given hope and optimism by his shock insurgency, even as he terrified the billionaire class both at home and abroad.
But last Thursday saw Corbyn and his movement suffer a crushing defeat, which has cruelly snatched away much of that hope and optimism as suddenly and unexpectedly as it had erupted onto the scene in the first place, just four years previously. The international left is reeling from this devastating disappointment, nowhere more so than in the UK, where the counterattack has already begun in full force, with the establishment aiming to drive Corbyn and the movement he led out of politics for a generation — or even longer, if they can get away with it. The knives are out.
What happened between 2017's dizzying high and 2019's crushing low to cause this disaster? What lessons can we draw here in Aotearoa? And how can the left respond in a way which will not allow widespread shock and anguish in the movement to lead to long-term demoralisation, and the return to the defeatist dead-end of Blairism which could accompany it?
Socialist Aotearoa is holding a meeting this Thursday to discuss the causes and consequences of this election defeat, where we will be analysing the lessons in detail, beyond our initial emotional responses. Come along to Unite Union at 7pm to join this crucial conversation.