Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1018/28273

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 November 2018

Non-fiction: The Candidate - Jeremy Corbyn's improbable path to power

Engaging book about Corbyn's rise doesn't provide answers on how to change Labour

Paul Callanan, London Socialist Party

'The Candidate - Jeremy Corbyn's improbable path to power' is among the first full works on the Corbyn phenomenon written from a wholly sympathetic standpoint.

Alex Nunns charts the rise of the Labour leader from the aftermath of the party's crushing 2015 general election defeat and subsequent leadership race right up to the 2017 general election.

Nunns had access to those around the Labour leadership and the interviews reveal the thoughts and emotions - mainly surprise at their own success - of those in Corbyn's team. This makes for an engaging and sometimes interesting read.

But for those looking to understand the social forces behind Corbyn's meteoric rise and how that might be built into a movement that can challenge capitalism, this work is of limited use.

As with many commentaries of Corbyn and the Labour Party the main weakness in Nunns's analysis is what it fails to say rather than what it does.

In talking about the social forces that drove Corbyn, almost against his own will, into the leadership, Nunns quite rightly points to the mass anger and burgeoning movements against austerity within communities, as well as to the trade union movement.

Expression

Though he doesn't go as far as talk in terms of working-class political representation, it is true that - in Corbyn's anti-austerity rhetoric and programme - the anti-austerity movement did find a political expression.

Nunns then claims: "The defining characteristic of the Corbyn phenomenon was that it was participative... The campaign encouraged this shared sense of endeavour by incorporating an element of crowdsourcing into its policy development and emphasising the restoration of internal party democracy as an objective". And: "Paradoxically, the grassroots vibe came right from the top".

But unfortunately the experience of those who have subsequently joined Labour and Momentum to fight for a Corbyn government will have been very different to the picture Nunns paints.

Momentum has adopted a completely top-down structure. Its main strategy is to mobilise working-class and young people to go out canvassing for elections or attend rallies during election and leadership fights.

But within Momentum they are given no real opportunity to debate the way forward, make democratic decisions or organise the crucial struggle against the right wing that remains dominant both in the parliamentary Labour Party and many local Labour Parties.

Indeed, there has been no attempt to mobilise this potential in the fight for a democratic, working-class and socialist party.

The major shortcoming of Nunns's analysis is his failure to join the dots. He gropes at some of the correct conclusions but never quite gets there.

Speaking of the 2017 general election he writes: "Despite being leader, Corbyn had never been in control of the party. His efforts to chart a new course had been met with continuous internal obstruction".

He goes on to point out that: "Labour effectively ran two campaigns in parallel", one around the anti-austerity leadership of Corbyn and John McDonnell, which cost the Tories their majority, and one around the Blairite MPs who attempted to stymie and water down the radical aspects of that programme.

Nunns here doesn't draw the obvious conclusion - that the Labour Party is two parties in one: a nucleus of a new anti-austerity workers' party around Corbyn and McDonnell and a Blairite one that holds a majority in parliament, local councils and party machinery. The right will stop at nothing to ensure that is safe for capitalism.

It is the failure of the leadership around Corbyn to build a genuinely "participative" movement within Labour, and to mobilise this force against the Blairites who continue to work to undermine and obstruct him.

If he were to win an election, they would undoubtedly continue this campaign potentially even seeking to prevent him from becoming prime minister and certainly attempting to block him from implementing a radical programme in favour of the working class.

Since Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015, the hundreds of thousands of people who have joined also have, in the main, not become actively involved in the party.

There has been no real attempt to engage people by leading the fight that is needed for mandatory reselection of MPs and for the opening up of the Labour Party to all anti-austerity forces on a federal, democratic basis.

That fight against the forces of capitalism inside and outside of Labour for a socialist programme will be key to all those want to see Corbyn in Number Ten and his policies implemented.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 14 November 2018:


What we think

A mass, trade union-led, socialist anti-racist campaign can defeat the far right


Socialism 2018

Socialism 2018: Huge confidence in the working class to change society


International socialist news and analysis

US midterms: Republicans weakened - but workers' fightback needed to end Trumpism


Socialist Party news and analysis

Major private care operator puts thousands of vulnerable people at risk

Grenfell - no more cover-ups!

Tories out now to save our NHS


Socialist history

1918: revolution ends World War One - and shakes the capitalist world


Workplace news and analysis

TGI Fridays strike wins control of tips

British Gas workers need rank-and-file leadership

PCS union members: why we're backing Chris

Victory for democracy at CWU 'redesign' conference

National Education Union: vote for action on funding


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Haringey's 'Corbyn council' must refuse to make cuts!

NHS Tayside facing massive job cuts

Mansfield: keep our park open!

Newham by-election: We need anti-austerity councillors

Leeds meeting backs striking rail guards

Welsh Socialist Students campaign and meet in Swansea


Opinion

Engaging book about Corbyn's rise doesn't provide answers on how to change Labour

Theatre: The Last Seam - a lasting tribute to Mary Jackson

The Socialist inbox


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 November 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleCorbyn supporter wins Welsh Labour leadership

triangleTory chaos reaches fever pitch

triangleFight for a general election to kick out the Tories

triangleHaringey 'Corbyn council': end the secrecy and confusion - lead a fight against the cuts

triangleFor a socialist alternative to the EU - mobilise to kick out the Tories!

Labour:

triangleJohn Maclean - revolutionary fighter of the working class

triangleFight Cardiff Council's school cuts

triangleBlairite Birmingham steps up union-busting and two workforces plan strikes

triangleSouthampton: Join the pledge to resist cuts

Labour Party:

triangleIslwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget

triangleGovernment limps on... Corbyn and unions must call urgent, mass action

triangleUnions and campaigners challenge Southampton cuts inside Labour and out

Momentum:

triangleHaringey's 'Corbyn council' must refuse to make cuts!

triangleCorbynism three years on

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

12/12/18

The Socialist

The Socialist quiz of 2018

12/12/18

Obituary

Obituary - Beth Roper (1990-2018) - comrade, friend and fighter

28/11/18

Trump

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?

28/11/18

Theatre

Wonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

28/11/18

Poverty

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

21/11/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

21/11/18

Blairites

Nothing to offer from the Blairites

14/11/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

14/11/18

Theatre

Theatre: The Last Seam - a lasting tribute to Mary Jackson

14/11/18

Jeremy Corbyn

Engaging book about Corbyn's rise doesn't provide answers on how to change Labour

7/11/18

Film

Nae Pasaran: a film about working-class solidarity

7/11/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

31/10/18

Lucas Aerospace

'Lucas Plan' film tells story of workers who set out alternative to job losses

31/10/18

Letters

The Socialist inbox

24/10/18

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999