All things being equal Jeremy Corbyn is a bad idea for Labour. But they’re not equal

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Andrew Rawnsley has had another rant about Jeremy Corbyn in the Observer this morning. He's said:

The idea that Labour should be in the business of appealing to and representing a broad coalition of voters will be especially hateful to those who think the former prime minister and anyone who sees anything to admire about 13 years in office are mouthpieces of the neoliberal finance capital conspiracy.

I have to sympathise with Andrew Rawnsley. All things being equal he is, of course, right. If the elderly voters who keep the Tories in power did not die and the electoral profile would stay the same forever; if the young who have had enough stayed under 18 for good; if the SNP had not swept through Scotland on a wave of populism that showed that once the bankruptcy of a particular world view becomes the accepted prevailing norm in society then electoral change happens; if neoliberalism was sweeping us away on a wave of trickled down growth and and if it could always be said that at least 35% of the electorate will never vote because they will never have a candidate speaking for them then Rawnsley would clearly  be right. If all those thing were true then Labour would clearly be taking leave of its senses to offer, let alone show signs of supporting, a candidate for leader who offers a break with its past.

The trouble for Rawnsley and all commentators like him is that, as we know, people are utterly fed up with politics as it is. It may be they're fed up with political commentary as it is too: on that I could not comment. We know they vote for parties, by and large, with large pegs on their noses, right across the political spectrum. And for all the talk of hope from politicians, voters do not believe them.

There is good reason for that. There is a neoliberal finance capital conspiracy. And as another political commentator, Paul Mason, has argued in his new book, PostCapitalism (which I am reading) that conspiracy has to exist because the reality is that neoliberalism and democracy cannot co-exist. You cannot ultimately have an economic order designed to continually and increasingly reward a few in society in a system where simultaneously the majority are supposedly afforded power: one of these things has to give in that case and neoliberalism is quite sure it must be democracy.

The people of Scotland were quite sure that would not be the case.

As were the people of Greece, who even had the temerity to reiterate the point in a referendum.

And I suspect that refusal to accept that democracy must give is what is driving the mass of volunteering for Jeremy Corbyn.

This may, and may not, be a turning point for those wanting to reclaim democracy in the UK. I cannot tell. Nor can anyone else. But it is a moment where England is beginning to see that there is a groundswell of political opposition to neoliberalism that needs the means to be expressed, and Jeremy Corbyn is providing the unlikely opportunity for the Labour Party membership (that is the people to whom the organisation belongs) to express it.

Of course there are some in Labour who find that uncomfortable. That's completely logical: they have done very well out of the existing world order and many around Westminster still harbour the ambition that they might still do so in future. But there is a problem for them and for Rawnsley. They appear to have not noticed that the model is broken. When these people - in and out of Labour because this is not a party political issues, but one for all those with concern for the well-being of the majority in this country -  should be focussing their anger on the wave of measures that are being introduced to dismantle the remnants of the post-war consensus with the aim of cementing corporate power in place behind laws that their proponents think will preserve neoliberal privilege in place despite democratic onslaught they are instead fighting to preserve the bubble that is letting this onslaught happen.

I will make a prediction in that case: I have no idea if Jeremy Corbyn will win or not but I do think that what is happening is the harbinger of change, and that the change in question should be welcomed by all who want to see democracy and a caring society survive. The mass democratic movements, such as that we are seeing develop behind Jeremy Corbyn, are the only hope we have for this process taking place peaceably, as I would very strongly wish that it does.

The odds on that process of change to replace neoliberalism happening have to be high if anything like the society we think we have known is to survive. But the fact that change is needed is why not all things are equal. The game now is not about making choices within the system; it is about changing the system. Rawnsley does not get that. He is far from alone. Thankfully there are some who can see the bigger, and more important, picture.

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