Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Scotland and the potential of a Corbyn-led progressive alliance

No predictions. One can only hope now for a Corbyn victory and the pleasure of May's removal. But either an outright win or a close outcome presents us with the exciting potential of a Corbyn-led progressive alliance.
Corbyn's manifesto is no radical socialist blueprint. But it's still a major statement of progressive intent, breaking decisively with Blairism and steering us away from the harshest excesses of neoliberal orthodoxy. A Corbyn victory would be the greatest rebuke to establishment politics since 1945.

As an alarmed elite and poisoned media make their last efforts to stop Corbyn and deny his mass appeal, his popularity and resilience demonstrates the multiple possibilities of a new united politics.

In seeing-off the most brutal media-led assault ever unleashed on a left-Labour leadership - including the BBC's relentless smears and protection of May - the surge for Corbyn represents a landmark achievement in itself.

Even if the final numbers take us into hung parliament territory, it opens the way for a practical progressive alignment, a whole new dynamic for leftist change, driven by Corbyn, the SNP, Plaid and the Greens.

This requires a decisive rejection of Labour in Scotland. Kezia Dugdale's Scottish Labour remains a lamentable impediment both to Corbyn and any such progressive development.

Perversely, in the very place that should have the most left-leaning, Corbyn-approving voice, Labour's garrison is still stuck in its old establishment ways, hunched down in its Union-defending bunker, unable either to advance Corbyn's major leftist agenda or engage the new independence politics.

Part of the failed coup forces, Dugdale and her associates are no friend of Corbyn. No amount of squirming overtures to her leader can disguise that dislocation. Even the undeserved Corbyn boost Scottish Labour is likely to receive doesn't rectify the fundamental problem of a party needing completely taken down and rebuilt as a serious leftist force.

Corbyn's rise has presented something of an existential political problem for many leftists in Scotland still desiring radical independence. Yet while wishing for a Corbyn victory in England and Wales, any temptation towards Scottish Labour only entrenches the very problems noted.

The SNP still has a considerable journey to make towards being a radical force for change. It can be seen as an encouraging work in progress, for many in the wider indy movement a means to an end. 

Yet, for all its flaws, left-leaning minds should still view a vote for the SNP here as both vital in building progressive alliances and holding the line for independence.  A significant bloc of SNP MPs not only helps maintain the independence mandate, it also provides an incentivising effect on Corbyn.

This is no more apparent than the key issue of Trident, opposed outright by the SNP, yet still maintained by deeper Labour forces against Corbyn's wishes. In this and vital other policy-forming areas, the leverage of SNP and Greens on Corbyn can only be of mutual, progressive advantage.

Also, while May still appears resolute in denying Holyrood's recently-secured mandate for a second independence referendum, any SNP dealings with Corbyn, whether he's in power or substantially well placed at Westminster, might prove more fertile. Again, that requires a substantive SNP representation. 

So many intriguing possibilities, so much to play for. Whatever the outcome, we can take great heart from Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and his inspiring part in opening-up these new progressive spaces.    

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