|People across the left join to oppose austerity in London in June|
In the media at least, the frontrunners are seen as Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, both very much graduates of New Labour, while the odious Liz Kendall seems to be positioning herself day by day more and more to the right. These three represent all that has gone wrong since Blair's ditching of Clause 4 and the subsequently quick march to the right. Committed to market economics, privatisation, austerity and spending cuts, the party has abandoned all the things that it once stood for - in place of equality comes choice (determined by access to cash); in place of public services comes "partnership" with the profiteers; and in place of fairness is at best an emphasis on "opportunity" rather than outcomes. You can't help but wonder why they don't just join the Tories and get on with it; except of course that would vacate the Labour Party to those on the left who still have some desire to stand for something, to work for something better, more egalitarian. People who even now sometimes dare to whisper the word "socialism".
|Labours Choice: Cooper, Corbyn, Kendall and Burnham|
On the other hand, the smart money remains on Cooper or Burnham and herein lies the seeds of yet more problems for Labour. For if either of them scrape through in a second or third round over Corbyn after he polls the largest minority vote in the first round, Labour's splits will come ever more into the open. This may finally lead to a fracturing and realignment of progressive politics in England, perhaps on a par with the huge shift in Scotland. If other parties on the left, and especially the Greens, stand open to co-operate and welcome new allies, it may finally be possible to build a genuine alternative to the politics of austerity, fear and profiteering. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, has already talked about cross-party co-operation and plenty was evident across the Left in the recent People's Assembly March Against Austerity. With the budget this week showing a Tory Government warring on the poorest yet again, the appeal of a genuinely socialist left alternative is growing.
|Corbyn campaigning with Greens Romayne Phoenix & Caroline Lucas MP|
It is unlikely to be a pretty or comforting process. It may take many years to complete the change fully, but voters are less and less impressed by the major parties and, just as Corbyn is wowing crowds for the leadership election, who knows what unexpected train of events might kick in very rapidly indeed if there was a substantial and real leftwing choice on offer? Syriza and Podemos may yet reach our shores.