Thursday, 11 May 2017

Corbyn and McDonnell take us on the ride of our lives since 1945

We have yet to read the small print, but any socialist worth the name must, like me, have puffed out his or her chest and said 'yes' if they saw the front page of today's Daily Mirror.

Even Polly Toynbee in The Guardian today described the leaked draft of the Labour Party manifesto as 'a cornucopia of delights' adding 'The leaked Labour manifesto is a treasure trove of things that should be done, undoing those things that should never have been done and promising much that could make this country infinitely better for almost everyone.'

I still think this general election is madness, but watching Corbyn and McDonnell on BBC TV News today they seemed to have gained in confidence and, in the process, have become more animated - which has to be a good thing.

Toynbee, the old social democrat that she is, is no fan of the pair, so hear her enthusing really suggests that they have done something right at last.

The BBC was going on about the cost of such a program and how will it be paid for? This is the same BBC which joined the rest of the media, with the exception of the Morning Star, in supporting the multi-billion pound bail-out of banks, not questioning the decision of Brown and Darling to print money and introduce a decade of ongoing austerity.

It is worth remembering that most utility companies were created by Conservative and Liberal politicians before the Labour Party existed. Back in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century local businesses wanted water, sanitation, gas, electricity, mail, communications and transport services, which were owned and managed in all their interests and, by default, the interest of the community as a whole. We all know energy and rail privatisation was, and remains, stupid.

What little I have heard in the last few hours is up-ifting. People never expected this from Labour and if any other two Labour politicians were fronting this manifesto, most voters would be cynical, but this pair could just ensure Labour performs much better on 8th June. Labour will need to tailor its campaign and be open about what it is doing. What it needs to be promising in the East Midlands is different to the North West, Scotland and Wale etc.

Andy Burnham made this point after his election as Metro Mayor of Greater Manchester when he said "I have long felt that it is nigh on impossible to renew politics from the Westminster level,” he said. “The party has been too London-centric in my view for too long, and I don't see that correcting itself any time soon. You see it from Scotland. Having one line to take for the whole of the UK will never work, and therefore the rebuilding has got to be done in a different way." (The Guardian, 7 May 2017).

We will have to wait now and see how right-wing Labour MPs react. They may stay quiet until after the election, but they have, individually and as a group, a long history of betraying the Labour Party.

In the meantime, let us enjoy and take full advantage of this rare opportunity to elect a Labour government which offers a chance to capture the essence of Attlee and the 1945 Labour government.

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