by BAR contributor Ann Garrison
U.S. leftists in search of a leader and political model could do worse than Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour Party leader who is pulling the party back to its social democratic roots. “Corbyn has spoken out not only for a more egalitarian, communitarian Britain, but also for a world governed by international law, not by the U.S. with all its weapons and NATO allies.”
Ending the “Austerity” that Affords Endless War and Little Else
by BAR contributor Ann Garrison
“Corbynmania has spread far beyond the UK.”
Supporters of the British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn marched through London streets on Saturday, July 1st, from the BBC headquarters to the Parliament Building at Westminster. The London- based Independent reports that tens of thousands joined the “Not One More Day” march against the Conservative Tory government and its austerity policies. They carried signs that read “Tories Out,” “No to Islamophobia, No to War,” “Cut War, Not Welfare,” and “Austerity is the New Terror.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the crowd upon their arrival outside Parliament.
“What this election campaign, this anti-austerity movement, this current mood in British politics has done is unleashed the ideas and the imagination, unleashed that day-to-day conversation on every street corner, every café, and every pub of how differently this country could be run. The Tories are in retreat. Austerity is in retreat. The economic arguments of austerity are in retreat. It’s those of social justice, of unity, of people coming together to oppose racism and all those that would divide us that are the ones that are moving forward.”
Some marchers held signs that said “Austerity Kills, Justice for Grenfell” and a large contingent marched behind a banner reading “Justice for Grenfell,” meaning justice for the victims of the horrific Grenfell Tower public housing fire that killed mostly Black and Brown people, including refugees from the war ravaged Middle East. The fire occurred because of cost cutting on the cosmetic cladding, which was not fire retardant, applied to the outside of the building. The government has asked residents of other public housing towers with the same cladding to move out until the danger can be mitigated. Jeremy Corbyn spoke to the Grenfell tragedy at the rally:
“The economic arguments of austerity are in retreat.”
“And so, in the public inquiry that’s now going to be called, I’ve written to the Prime Minister yesterday to say we want it quick and urgent in the case of Grenfell Tower, and we want a longer, much longer, more detailed inquiry into housing conditions and stock all over the country. So surely if ever there was a wake up call for what happens in modern Britain, it’s gotta be that disaster at Grenfell Tower and the loss of life that went with it.”
Some believe that Conservative Party leader Theresa May’s minority government could fall before the end of the year, despite her deal with the Democratic Unionist Party whose main issue is keeping Northern Ireland within the UK and thereby preventing the reunification of Ireland. Whether a new election is held this year or later, Jeremy Corbyn promised to throw himself into the next campaign.
“So we’ve identified 73 constituencies in England, Wales, and Scotland that we can win, and you know what? I’m going to go to every single one of them. We’re gonna take the campaign to the Tories because we are utterly determined that the message will get out there, the message of hope.”
Is this the end of “austerity” in which spending for war and weapons knows no bounds, and spending for everything decent can’t be cut fast enough? Jeremy Corbyn is not even Britain’s Prime Minister yet, but Corbynmania has spread far beyond the UK. Even Congolese look to the antiwar, socialist, vegan, bicycle riding Labour Party leader and his wildly enthusiastic supporters to lead the way forward. Corbyn has spoken out not only for a more egalitarian, communitarian Britain, but also for a world governed by international law, not by the U.S. with all its weapons and NATO allies.
“Even Congolese look to the antiwar, socialist, vegan, bicycle riding Labour Party leader to lead the way forward.”
During her last year in power, Margaret Thatcher and her Tories managed to do something that even our Republicans haven’t done yet. They privatized the water. Reclaiming it as a public resource is now a principle of the British Labour Party Manifesto and one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most passionate campaigns.
In one of the great moments of the Reagan Administration, Interior Secretary James Hodell suggested that people turn to more private means of protection—hats, sunglasses and protective sun creams—to combat the added risk of skin cancer as man-made chemicals reduce the Earth's protective ozone layer. Now we have a president who just viciously declared an “end to the war on coal” and celebrated the opening of a coal mine in the rust belt State of Pennsylvania, even though it created only 70 new jobs, fewer than the 92 averaged at an American supermarket. And four hundred people applied.
We didn’t get to this point because of Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, or any other Greens who dared to run for president. We didn’t get here simply because the Republican Party became more and more extreme. We got here because Clinton Democrats followed Reagan Republicans to the right, forcing them even further right, to the extremes now required to distinguish them from Democrats. By 2008, we had elected our first Black President, who rightly traced his own political lineage to Ronald Reagan himself, the U.S. president he most admired.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in Oakland California. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at [email protected].