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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/16/17

Corbyn Teaches to Embrace Change We Need

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From LA Progressive

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn
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The shocking election result in the United Kingdom -- the Conservatives losing their majority and the creation of a hung Parliament; and Jeremy Corbyn being more successful than any recent Labor candidate -- cutting a 20-point Theresa May lead down to a near tie -- gives hope to many that the global shift to the right, fueled by the failures of governments to meet the basic needs of their population and growing economic insecurity, may be ending.

Corbyn is a lifelong activist whose message and actions have been consistent. He presented a platform directed at ending austerity and the wealth divide and was openly anti-war. There are a lot of lessons for the Labor Party in the UK from this election but there are also lessons for people in the United States. We review what happened and consider the possibilities for creating transformative change in the United States.

The Corbyn Campaign Results

The Corbyn campaign showed that a political leader urging a radical progressive transformative agenda can succeed. Many in his own party, the neo-liberal pro-war Blairites, claimed Corbyn could not win, tried to remove him from leadership, and sabotaged and refused to assist his campaign.

Corbyn showed he could win the leadership of the UK in the future, maybe sooner than later. While Theresa May is in the process of forming a minority government with a small radical conservative party from Northern Ireland, there has already been a backlash, mass petitions and protests against it and UK history has shown in similar circumstances that the second-place finisher, may, in the end form the government. Corbyn is taking bold and radical actions. He is preparing to present a Queen's speech in which he will say that he and his party are "ready to serve" and will continue to push his program through Parliament. He is calling on other parties to defeat the government in Parliament.

Corbyn did better than any recent Labor leader. Jonathan Cook, a British political commentator, writes in "The Facts Proving Corbyn's Election Triumph" that Corbyn received 41 percent of the vote against May's 44 percent. This was a big improvement in Labour's share of seats, the largest increase since 1945. Cook points out that Corbyn won more votes than "Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown and Neil Kinnock, who were among those that, sometimes noisily, opposed his leadership of the party." Even Tony Blair does not look all that good compared to Corbyn, Cook recounts:

"Here are the figures for Blair's three wins. He got a 36 percent share of the vote in 2005 -- much less than Corbyn. He received a 41 percent of the vote -- about the same as Corbyn -- in 2001. And Blair's landslide victory in 1997 was secured on 43 percent of the vote, just two percentage points ahead of Corbyn last night.

"In short, Corbyn has proved himself the most popular Labour leader with the electorate in more than 40 years, apart from Blair's landslide victory in 1997."

Bhaskar Sunkara, the founding editor of Jacobin, writes that Corbyn was not only campaigning against the Tories and Theresa May, but battling his own party -- yet he still "won":

"This is the first election Labour has won seats in since 1997, and the party got its largest share of the vote since 2005 -- all while closing a 24-point deficit. Since Corbyn assumed leadership in late 2015, he has survived attack after attack from his own party, culminating in a failed coup attempt against him. As Labour leader he was unable to rely on his parliamentary colleagues or his party staff. The small team around him was bombarded with hostile internal leaks and misinformation, and an unprecedented media smear campaign.

"Every elite interest in the United Kingdom tried to knock down Jeremy Corbyn, but still he stands."

The Blairites were taught a lesson by Corbyn. Many of his harshest critics are now changing their tune and embracing Corbyn. Hopefully they will join in creating a party in Corbyn's image -- a party for the many, not the few. Corbyn has rebuilt the mass base of Labor. The party is now the largest in Europe with half a million members. It is time for the "leaders" of Labor to follow the lead of the people and of Jeremy Corbyn.

What can we learn regarding US politics?

Sunkara argues Corbyn demonstrated that a winning campaign strategy is "to offer hopes and dreams to people, not just fear and diminished expectations." In current US terms that means it is insufficient just to oppose Trump, a positive vision for the future that shows what a candidate and party stand for is needed, e.g. it is not just enough to defend the failing Affordable Care Act and oppose the Republican's American Health Care Act, you must stand for something positive: National Improved Medicare for All. This is one example of many.

Sunkara provides more detail:

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Kevin Zeese Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Kevin Zeese is co-chair of Come Home America, www.ComeHomeAmerica.US which seeks to end U.S. militarism and empire. He is also co-director of Its Our Economy, www.ItsOurEconomy.US which seeks to democratize the economy and give people greater (more...)
 
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