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Instituto Público

Um ponto de encontro de ideias.

Instituto Público

Um ponto de encontro de ideias.

Corbyn: This revolution will not only be tweeted - it will actually change something

 

The election of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership brought with it a torrent of adverse reactions, coming from everyone between the centre-left and UKIP. While an old man with a rather non-incendiary style was selling out  filling theatre halls and other venues across the UK (Scotland included, mind you), have-been opinion makers drew scenarios that would make Nostradamus blush: from a vision of London engulfed in riots and civil war to proposals for heart transplants, everything was said about Corbyn. The excellent political analysis magazine GQ also found necessary to join in the discussion on how bad Corbyn is for Britain.

 

Now, I'm not the biggest supporter of Corbyn and I did think twice before supporting him. He comes from an area which is usually not where I see myself within the Left. That being said, not only can I clearly see why he dragged so many people, old and new, disillusioned with the status quo, I can side with that too. Say what you want about who Corbyn supporters are and I might even partly agree. But international affairs aside, I agree with his proposals.

 

More: Corbyn might prove the single greatest thing that happened to the Left in recent years. I know this will be hard to digest for many, but it does look like that. Here's why: Not only Corbyn believes in what he says, he also acts like it. And if this isn't what matters the most to me, it must be for many of those supporters who cheered Syriza's win as the greatest breakthrough for revolution in decades and then found themselves drowning in Varoufakis-related bafoonery. He's not a status quo politician, but he's been around for long enough for everyone to know his actions are coherent with his words. And he's a moraliser, even if that scares so many. I won't go as far as to say he'll be an European Mujica (did I just say that?), but he will definitely put the moral dimension back in the debate.

 

"Oh, but Corbyn isn't electable". So what? Does anyone really believe either Burnham, Cooper or Kendall stood a chance against Boris Johnson in 2020? (Besides, Labour can only take one leader like Ed Miliband per decade. The quota was already reached, thank you.) This has been voiced by many, and I can only agree: Corbyn will instead open new debates and force discussions on issues forgotten so far. The first PMQs were a crystal clear example of that. And by the way, how unelectable is Jeremy Corbyn, really? When his candidacy for Labour leader was put forward, everyone found it nothing short of laughable. Maybe by 2020 austerity and pig-ish scandals will make the Conservatives retaining power a much less likely scenario than what it looks now. 

 

Lastly, he most definitely is not the most Europeanist leader the British Left has seen. But European Social Democratic parties badly need a leader that pushes European Socialists back where they belong. The PES is currently a disgrace. 

 

It's true that few other times has Labour had such a left-wing leader. But it is just as true there were few other times in which such a left-wing leader was as needed. 

The left spent too much of its tim e recently playing lip service to ideals it had given up on. That is why had no response from the Left, who was so pavlovian apologetic it couldn't move. For all his flaws, Corbyn will shake the waters and give to the Social Democratic Left the energy it needs to claim its origins again.

 

P. S. - on a last note (and this is secondary but noteworthy): it is interesting to discuss why the currently-electrifying leaders of this leftist resurgence (Bernie Sanders in the US and Corbyn in the UK) are veteran politicians who were for many years second-rank figures within their own political parties. This Vox article provides a few answer hints. Whatever it is, it certainly surpasses political communication agencies and market-based approaches to political election campaigns.

 

 

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