British politics has been moving at a staggering pace in the last few weeks. As if the resignation of David Cameron, swiftly followed by arguably the weirdest leadership election in Conservative Party history weren’t dramatic enough, a section of Labour Party MPs chose this extraordinary moment to attempt to topple Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. Led by members of the shadow cabinet, they instigated a planned coup attempt against him, beginning with a strategic series of resignations from people who by and large had never supported the leadership. Once it became clear that this was not going to force Corbyn to resign, Angela Eagle launched a formal leadership bid, quickly followed by Owen Smith, who eventually knocked Eagle out of the race. As we enter a fresh leadership election, it is worth considering the question: what is at stake here?
Corbyn: Against All Odds presents a new essay from Richard Seymour, in which he examines this bizarre, and thus-far unsuccessful, coup attempt, and attempts to outline Corbyn’s prospects in such unpredictable and turbulent times, alongside an extract from his new book Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics.
From the 27 January edition of Daniel Mermet’s Là-bas si j’y suis. Translated by David Broder. Based on French transcript.
Frédéric Lordon: Well, the upcoming elections… There is something weird. For me, the prospect of this election awakens very mixed feelings. Very contradictory feelings.
I should say that as the years have come and gone — and it is a while since I stopped voting — I have truly come to consider the Fifth Republic’s institutions’ electoral pantomime as something empty, a dead end.
And from a certain point of view, what happened with Nuit Debout was the expression of this same frame of mind. Playing the game within these institutions is either a game lost in advance, or an entirely senseless one. And the only political question…
The Levellers have recently taken on a sudden political topicality. First, Theresa May accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being a Leveller, and then UKIP's only MP Douglas Carswell attempted to claim the Levellers for the populist right. How can we situate the legacy and contemporary relevance of the Levellers?
In this piece John Rees, author of the recently published The Leveller Revolution, looks at the history of this 400 year old political insult.
The Leveller Revolution is currently 50% off as part of our end-of-year sale, with free shipping.
Jeremy Corbyn and Tony Benn (centre) with John Rees and Cllr Rania Khan at the unveiling of the plaque to Leveller Thomas Rainsborough in Wapping, 2013.