Today’s embarrassing shambles by the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition at the dispatch box gave a clear demonstration that the Labour Party is broken beyond repair.
The predictable nature of PMQs was played out thus; Jeremy Corbyn correctly identifies the issues facing the UK public, in this case the broken tax system as exemplified by Google and the heinous Bedroom Tax. It all unravels because Corbyn is saddled with the appalling legacy of New Labour (which he won’t distance himself from) and in addition he won’t give an alternative narrative because he knows that his colleagues on the Labour benches would rebel and force him out.
For example Cameron correctly pointed out that Blair, Brown and Darling facilitated tax avoidance on an industrial scale due to their obsession with, “being intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. The pm finished by again correctly pointing out which Bank Boardrooms Corbyn could write to in order to contact this gang of three desperadoes. Instead of outlining how a Socialist approach would see the tax system ripped up and re constituted by placing the emphasis away from incomes and onto assets (£800 billion via a 20% land tax would see VAT abolished and no income tax on salaries under £50k as a starting point) Corbyn was left meekly taking the punches on behalf of New Labour.
The same scenario applied to the next topic, that of the hated Bedroom Tax. Cameron simply pointed out that he was equalising a policy brought in by New labour by extending the Tax to public housing. The Tories won this particular race to the bottom as it was Labour that imposed the tax first. In 2008 James Purnell decided to pilot the Bedroom Tax by first of all applying it in the private rented sector before planning to roll it out into public housing. Then when the Tories did fulfill the roll out in 2013, it took Labour SIXTH MONTHS before they came out against it. Corbyn had a sure fire tap in but fluffed it because of the New Labour baggage and lack of moral courage to outline an alternative.
Labour has two clear choices. The first is the easy option and, if they want it would see them into Number Ten in 2020. Under this scenario they return to a Leader who believes in the market as a force for good, and Parliament in it’s current state as the means to deliver capitalism with a Labour Government using profits to take the harsher edges off. This supply side economics as it is known was followed by Blair and then Brown who used the fruits of economic growth to invest in social justice projects such as SureStart and prison reform (shh!). It meant that New Labour did some positive things but the fatal flaw comes with the belief that markets act in the interests of the many in the bad times as well as the good. They don’t and never will. But if Labour does want to follow this path and win power they need to get rid of Corbyn and install either Liz Kendall or Yvette Cooper as soon as possible. That way they can see the Left off for good and the PLP will unite and swing behind the new Leader. The new Leader would have four years to exploit Cameron’s divisions over the EU and future bungling of the economy. The electorate that voted in Corbyn aren’t by and large Labour members so MPs and Councillors up and down the country would breathe a sigh of relief because any challenge to their hegemony and dubious selection procedures would be over. Labour would emerge united and strong and if they played the media well they would be back in the game fairly quickly.
The second option would be tough, involve hard headed decisions and crucially a lot of hard work outside Westminster for the Left in and around Labour. That option is to reject the status quo and recognise that this cesspool of petty corruption in the body politic can never deliver the real and lasting change that this country is calling out for. Corbyn rode a crest of popularity for change and for socialism which started as a ripple in the Labour Party but build into a veritable tidal wave outside the Labour Party. The £3 voters delivered a blow to the bourgeois social democratic backbone of Labour, the core of which has led the Party since it’s inception. The obvious conclusion is that those voters allied to Labour on the Left, but who would never join, are crying out for a new party to emerge from the wreckage. Corbyn and McDonnell have a mandate for socialism, and their previous rhetoric recognises that the system is broken beyond repair, including the Labour Party. Therefore they should be working with the Unions and progressive elements to form a new Party which can articulate and act upon the aspirations out forward in the Leadership election. They should start by taking the fight to the Tories on the front line of this Parliament; local government. Success here will galvanise people and give them confidence that the dream of a society where the workers take control away from the richest 1% and make the economy provide for everyone is possible and that this grotesque Parliamentary system which shackles us so much can be ended.
The “as you were” option for Labour will lead to disaster with the Party out of power for generations. McDonnell’s surrender over Local Government in September and the ludicrous suggestion that we spend billions on Trident and then not arm it are proof positive that Labour is utterly finished in it’s current guise. The situation is untenable for the next four weeks, let alone the next four years of this Parliament and each wasted month is a month where the Tories destroy our country even more and Cameron is allowed to insult migrants with impunity from the dispatch box.