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Jeremy Corbyn was only included on the Labour party’s 2015 leadership election ballot to liven up the contest a little, but his insistence on championing the needs of workers and the marginalised at a time of deepening austerity, widening inequality and war sent a message of hope to the disenfranchised. A burst of socialist enthusiasm attracted a mass influx of members into his declining party and swept him to a thumping victory on a wave of ‘Corbynmania’.
Initially struck dumb at this unexpected turn of events, the Labour party grandees, along with the wider British political establishment, formulated a plan to contain and limit the influence of Corbyn and his supporters, and to neutralise his obvious and growing mass appeal.
Launching an assault on every front, they hounded him on question after question, creating one fake controversy after another. And it gradually became clear to all that no amount of pacifying, compromising or apologising was going to be enough for those whose interests were threatened by the prospect of a Corbyn-led government, no matter how reasonable and respectable its aims.
Those who flocked to his banner took Corbyn’s evaluation of the Labour party at face value. They believed that Labour was socialist, that it would champion the interests of the working class against the wealthy; that it could and would take on the British political establishment; and that a better life could be won by simple electoral means.
This pamphlet contains a selection of articles charting the rise and fall of the Corbyn project as it happened. What should British workers conclude from the four-year experiment in ‘reclaiming the Labour party for socialism’? Why and how did it fail?
And what should we do now if we want to succeed in winning a decent and dignified life for all, free from poverty, inequality and war?