Voting in Labour’s second leadership election in a year today closed, with a massive turnout nearly 50% higher than last year, despite persistent, repeated, concerted efforts to purge new members. On Saturday, the result will be announced at conference in Liverpool. All expect Jeremy Corbyn to crush the pointless Blairite challenger Owen Smith by an even bigger margin than the 59% Corbyn won last time. A Quixotic, opportunistic, post-Brexit temper tantrum from the tools of capital, summer 2016’s New Labour Blairite coup never had a chance.
The coup attempt has a shining silver lining – Labour is now the most battle tested it has ever been, with a brand new, younger membership so huge it is now the largest political party in the history of Western Europe. Corbyn’s Labour is today a muscled out Jaguar, Rolls Royce, pick your favorite British made car, with nitrous oxide turbo boosters.
Spitting in the face of this movement, rumors of New Labour dead enders splitting off continued all summer. The parliamentary Labour Party, the PLP (members in parliament) made pathetic noises about somehow detaching themselves from Corbyn’s Labour by forming their own faction from Parliament, suing to keep Labour’s assets, all manner of nonsense. That didn’t last.
Reasonably, members began wondering aloud how to remove these recalcitrant coup plotters in Parliament if they cannot accept a democratic decision of membership for a second time. In America, we call this a primary challenge. In Britain, this is called “deselection”, local members meeting to choose a different candidate to stand in their parliamentary constituency. Every MP in Labour knows that if the gargantuan size of this new membership mobilized to deselect them, they can kiss all those Westminster perks goodbye, and like the rest of us, start looking for a new job that pays them to talk all day in the neoliberal hellscape their policies created. Sort of concentrates the mind.
Labour is now the strongest fist worldwide punching up at the scourge of Third Way, Clinton DLC, Reagan Thatcher “There is no alternative” free market purist neoliberalism. Is Hillary Clinton listening? In America, Donald Trump has captured this sentiment with racism. No longer immunized against 1930’s style nationalism by the long dead New Deal (which Bill Clinton with his own pen himself dismantled most), America is falling victim to the predictable rise of hate that persistent economic decline at the hands of capitalism always produces. Blaming the problems on the brown people doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. It means average Americans are on the hunt for a scapegoat responsible for the end of the American Dream, and through Trump, they’ve been given the oldest scapegoat in human history.
It’s understandable that Hillary is so obviously reluctant to attack the failed neoliberal legacy her own husband created. However, tectonic plates worldwide are rolling over that legacy, right now, and in Liverpool next week, Labour will take its place standing atop that shift, ready to fight. Blairites will either cry uncle, finally (hint!), or put themselves in the crosshairs of this movement merely to be crushed a third time.
Hillary can either join Labour, capture that same movement stateside, or prattle on in irrelevance, watching powerlessly as Donald Trump, like every ugly dictator before him, scapegoats his way into the White House. She should seize this moment. This movement.