It is looking more and more like Jeremy Corbyn will be elected to head the UK Labour Party. I’ve written about it before in the the context of the screwed up UK media. But the truth is that the media are screwed up only because the Labour Party leadership is so screwed up. Let me explain.
Corbyn is an old fashioned leftist — you know, the kind who actually stands for leftist values. He has never had much power in the party. And the way the Labour Party elects leaders, he normally wouldn’t even be in the running. In order to be on the ballot, a candidate must be nominated by 35 MPs. Well, Corbyn did not get that. But at the last minute, a number of MPs changed their votes, because they wanted him in the election to have a wide variety of opinions.
These same MPs were not planning to support Corbyn in the election. And here is the key thing: they never dreamed that Corbyn would actually win. Now we are seeing lot of coverage claiming that the Labour Party membership has moved to the left. But this is poppycock. What really happened is exactly what’s happened in the Democratic Party: the voters have stayed where they were while the party establishment have gotten more and more conservative.
It’s interesting to compare this to the Republican Party. In that case, the base of the party has gotten more conservative while the party establishment has tried (futilely) to hold it’s already extremely conservative ground. I only mention this so that no one mistakes what’s going on with the two liberal parties with what continues to happen with the Republicans. It isn’t the same — at all.
I suspect that the Labour Party voters were happy enough with the establishment as long as it won elections. But if not, what is the point? “Not as bad as the Tories” really isn’t much of a rallying cry. And let’s be honest, that’s all that Labour has offer these ten years or so. But I don’t expect to the Labour Party establishment to accept this. As it is, they are now talking about how Corbyn’s support is the result of Tories sneaking into the party to destroy it. The establishment just doesn’t get it.
It’s even worse than this. Simon Wren-Lewis has reported that many of the top people in the Labour Party have refused to serve under Corbyn if he is elected. But that’s nonsense. “If, following a Corbyn win, the party united around him in exchange for Corbyn parking some of his less popular policy positions, Labour could once again become an effective opposition. If instead his leadership is accompanied by constant public division within the party, there is a danger that this will overshadow everything else.” But I suspect there will just be more infighting, because what the party has become is too divorced from what its voters actually believe in.
Of course, it is far worse in the United States. At least there, the parties aren’t crazy. Here, we have hugely popular ideas — like raising the minimum wage — that are only starting to get traction in one party and are completely off the table in the other. But the whole thing makes me wonder about democracy in the world. Does the will of the people matter anymore? Or will the political parties always gather around the desires of the power elite? I’m afraid it is the latter.