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Our rulers’ crisis is no spectator sport

This article is over 5 years, 6 months old
Issue 2512
Theresa May, who became Tory leader this week
Theresa May, who became Tory leader this week (Pic: Chatham House/Flickr)

Britain’s rulers breathed a sigh of relief when Theresa May became prime minister without the need for a vote. But don’t believe everything is now calm.

The aftershocks of the European Union (EU) Leave vote are still being felt. Cameron is evicted from Downing Street. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove will be remembered as failed assassins. And Andrea Leadsom had to be stopped because she had a chance of winning and causing even more tumult.

It’s an outrage that a tiny cabal of MPs from the millionaires’ party can choose the prime minister. There should be a general election.

May now has to negotiate with the EU over Brexit, although she says she won’t begin the formal process until next year.

It will not go smoothly. And her cabinet selections will leave bitter and resentful enemies.

Yet given the chance to skewer the Tories, Labour MPs are obsessed with removing Jeremy Corbyn. Much more is at stake than a change of leadership.

Last week Neil Kinnock (who led the party to defeat in the 1987 and 1992 elections) said, “In 1918, in the shadow of the Russian Revolution, they [Labour] made a deliberate, conscious, ideological choice that they would not pursue the revolutionary road. They would pursue the parliamentary road to socialism.”

Kinnock added that because of this the MPs had to approve of the leader. Therefore Corbyn must go.


The special role of Labour MPs has been established for a century. The battle between Corbyn, backed by hundreds of thousands of members, and the MPs questions that arrangement.

Nobody today expects Labour to lead a revolution. But shouldn’t it back struggle, oppose war, put forward an alternative to austerity and argue against racism?

This is Corbyn’s vision, and the outcome of the fight affects everyone fighting the Tories.

The MPs who want Corbyn out crave a pro-business, pro-Nato, pro-capitalist party. Many want to overturn the EU referendum result. The Chilcot report saw their hero Tony Blair stripped of his last shreds of reputation. They want revenge against the left.

Everyone should get behind Corbyn, and the unions should cut off all funds to the MPs who moved against him.

Corbyn will survive only if the movement outside parliament grows stronger.

This is a time of turmoil. It’s no good being simply a spectator of events at the top of politics.

Those who have struck and marched against austerity, sent solidarity to refugees, fought racism, or taken to the streets for Corbyn have shown the way.

The thousands of people who raged at police brutality in the last week gave us all a lesson. It’s time for action to shape the outcome of Britain’s political crisis.

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