"Jeremy Corbyn's victory means Labour's living dead have been vanquished—and English politics has come to life again". Tariq Ali, writing for the Independent, expresses much of the energy surrounding Jeremy Corbyn's storming entrance to become the next leader of the Labour Party.
In 1960, Ralph Miliband, writing for the very first issue of New Left Review, is far more sober about the Labour Party's past, present and future and the battle for socialism. To mark Corbyn's landslide election victory and the promised repositioning of the Labour Party, the Verso blog is publishing 'The Sickness of Labourism' from behind the New Left Review paywall.
“It is a very difficult country to move, Mr. Hynband, a very difficult country indeed, and one in which there is more disappointment to be looked for than success.” Disraeli, 1881.
The last General Election has had at least one beneficial result: it has shocked many more people into a recognition of the fact that the Labour Party is a sick party. And it has also helped many more people within it to realise that the sickness is not a surface ailment, a temporary indisposition, but a deep organic disorder, of which repeated electoral defeats are not the cause but the symptom. What this means is that the sickness would have been as serious if Labour had won the last election. Victory at the polls, given Labour’s recent history, policies and leadership, would only have delayed the crisis, for a while, and given the Labour Party an altogether deceptive appearance of health. This is why a proper diagnosis must take electoral defeat into account, but only as one element of Labour’s condition.
The ironies of history never fail to surprise. Measured by any criteria, Jeremy Corbyn is the most left-wing leader in the history of the Labour Party. He understands that those who do evil abroad are unlikely to do much good at home. He is the staunchest anti-imperialist Member of Parliament. A contrast with his political forebears proves this assertion.