Elitism V Socialism

by Daphne Liddle

TRISTRAM Hunt, the Blairite Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent, last week told an audience of students at Cambridge University Labour Club that they were the “top one per cent” and needed to show leadership within the party. “The way you serve the Corbyn leadership is to be as dissenting and creative as possible,” he told the students, according to the Cambridge University newspaper Varsity.

“You are the top one per cent. The Labour Party is in the shit. It is your job and your responsibility to take leadership going forward,” he added.

There could hardly be a political philosophy more diametrically opposed to the principles of socialism — or even the egalitarianism of the bourgeois democratic revolutions of 1789 and 1848.

And his remarks give away the extreme right-wing ethos behind the movement amongst the Blairites to oust Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. It harks back to the philosophy of Plato in ancient Athens. Athenian “democracy” has been seriously overrated as the birthplace of western democracy; it excluded all women, slaves and immigrants, leaving power in the hands of an hereditary aristocratic elite. The primitive tribal councils that preceded it were in reality more democratic, as reported in Frederick Engels’ The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell summed up the truth about the 172 Labour MPs failed coup against Corbyn in June: “This coup isn’t about Jeremy Corbyn. This coup isn’t about him, this is about you! This is the one per cent telling the 99 per cent to ‘get back in your place’.”

And as support for Corbyn grows stronger by the day, so these arrogant elitists get more desperate and more ridiculous in their attacks on him and his supporters.

Tom Watson, the man that Corbyn appointed as his deputy, has claimed that the thousands now queuing up to join the party are Trotskyists, twisting the arms of naïve new recruits to support Corbyn.

In an interview with the Observer, Corbyn said: “I just ask Tom to do the maths — 300,000 people have joined the Labour Party. “At no stage in anyone’s most vivid imagination are there 300,000 sectarian extremists at large in the country who have suddenly descended on the Labour Party. Sorry Tom, it is nonsense — I think he knows it’s nonsense.”

Corbyn also expressed concern about the party’s general secretary, Ian McNichol, who was a key figure in recent legal action that stopped 130,000 of the new members from voting in the leadership contest.

Corbyn said that McNichol would face questions over the events of the last few months. “People joined the Labour Party in order to take part in the party and were specifically told that they were able to vote in the leadership election and that was decided by the High Court that they could,” he said.

“The Appeal Court has said they can’t and I would imagine that those who brought the case will be considering whether or not to take it to the Supreme Court... I think that people should have the right to take part and that is surely what democracy is about.”

The truth is that many of those now joining to support Corbyn are former members who were hounded out of the party in the 1990s by Tony Blair’s New Labour bullies and they are reclaiming the party for the 99 per cent.

Many others are people who have hitherto steered clear of politics, disillusioned and demoralised by the lack of any voice in Parliament to speak up for the rights of working people as state welfare has been cut to ribbons, wages have been critically depressed and the country has been involved in a string of very expensive aggressive military interventions abroad. But there has been no word of opposition or protest from the Blairites.

MPs, including from the Labour benches, have been involved in inflating their expenses and dodging their taxes whilst abusing genuine benefit claimants as “scroungers”.

Working people can hardly be blamed for demoralisation and cynicism about the whole political arena.

But Jeremy Corbyn is now demonstrating that there is a very different way to do politics and it is very attractive to working class people, who generally still retain the working class ethos.

Corbyn himself is a reformist and will be unable to deliver a real change to socialism from within the current political state structure. But the masses he is attracting, energising and mobilising could become organised to carry through a real revolution, and that is what terrifies the elite one per cent.