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Arguments against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party

We are in a period when the Labour Party is, again, pretending that it can protect people in Britain from the ravages of a crisis-ridden capitalist system. The best arguments against the Labour Party will arise when strikes, occupations and street protests take place and then the Labour Party denounces them. But until then, here are some arguments from history:

1. In 1914, The Labour Party actively supported the First World War, encouraging millions to fight in a bloodbath that led directly to the horrors of Stalinism, fascism and then another World War.

2. In 1929, the Labour Government introduced labour camps for the unemployed.

1929 UK Labour camp 2
1929 UK Labour camp

3. In 1945, the Labour Government did introduce the welfare state. But many capitalists also advocated a welfare state at this time. This was not because they were influenced by the Labour Party but because they required a healthy workforce – and because they feared a workers’ revolution. As the influential Tory, Quintin Hogg, said, ‘If you do not give the people social reform they will give you social revolution.’

4. The leader of the 1945 Labour Government, Clement Attlee, authorised the dropping of atomic bombs on both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Labour government then manufactured the first British atom bombs and set up NATO. (F.Williams, ‘Twilight of Empire’ p71-4.)

5. In the 1974 election, the Labour Party not only said that it would endeavour to ‘eliminate poverty’, it also promised to bring about an ‘irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people.’ However, as the economic crisis deepened and as capitalists stopped investing or lending their capital, the Labour Government soon capitulated. It then began imposing unprecedented cuts in both real wages and welfare while overseeing a return to mass unemployment. In 1981, the French Socialist Party made even more radical promises, only to end up imposing similar austerity once it was in power. In fact, these 1970s and 1980s ‘socialist’ governments that were the original pioneers of the ‘neoliberal’ austerity that continues until today across Europe.

6. Some claim that because Jeremy Corbyn voted against Blair in Parliament on numerous occasions, this shows he will be different from previous Labour leaders. But, in the 1970s, Neil Kinnock voted against his party leadership 84 times, yet he still pushed Labour to the right when he became leader. Indeed, even the Tory stalwart, Ken Clarke, says that Corbyn is no more left wing than Kinnock’s predecessor, Michael Foot.

7. Others claim that a Corbyn-led Labour Party will energise people and create ‘space’ for activists to organise. But the reality is more likely to be comparable to what happened in London in the 1980s when people kept looking to Ken Livingstone’s GLC rather than taking action themselves. This resulted in serious demoralisation when Livingstone backed down from confronting Thatcher over tube fares and local rates. Then, later, when Livingstone became Mayor, he did everything the City of London wanted, including opposing tube strikes and repressing street protests. Significantly, Corbyn has now employed the same spin-doctor as Livingstone.

8. It has even been claimed that the Labour Party could become the new Syriza. This is a more likely outcome but hardly a good one. Like Labour, Syriza persuaded people not to take action themselves but to look to politicians to protect them from capitalist austerity. These politicians then betrayed virtually all of their promises. As the former Syriza leftist, Stathis Kouvelakis, now admits: ‘The whole negotiation process [with the EU] by itself triggered passivity and anxiety among the people and the most combative sectors of society, leading them to exhaustion.’ Unfortunately, similar passivity and exhaustion is the most likely outcome from any revival of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn with Syriza's leader Alexis Tsipras
Corbyn with Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras

9. Perhaps, by some miracle, a Corbyn-led government will be able to coordinate international state investment to revive the world economy and so restore full employment and welfare provision – maybe even relaunching such provision as a ‘Basic Income’. But this would just create a level of job security that would encourage people to demand more money and less work so pushing capitalism back into a repeat of the economic crises of the 1970s. And if, as in the 1970s, people had got into the habit of looking to Labour governments to protect them, they would be in no position to defend themselves from another round of austerity and demoralisation, as in the 1980s.

The only way to prevent history repeating itself is for people to organise an anti-capitalist movement outside the control of any political party and then to replace the whole money system with a genuinely human society. No matter how ‘principled’ Jeremy Corbyn is, he and his Labour Party can only hold back the development of such a revolutionary movement.

by Anti War

See the version of this article at for links to a fascinating video on the 1929 labour camps and for more arguments against the Labour Party.

6 thoughts on “Arguments against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party

  1. It is also worth recalling that Corbyn’s leftism derives from a rather conservative Stalinist worldview which meant that, back in 1991, he still saw the Soviet Union as an important part of the leadership of the international left, at one point saying that he was ‘concerned at the break-up of the Soviet Union and the leadership it gave.’ (‘Morning Star’, 24/9/91)

    See the full speech here:

  2. As I dont realistically see an anarchist state (as much as Id like to) anytime in the near future and I would rather see Corbyn and Sanders as leaders than Cameron and Trump.
    Yes keep in mind all those things above but dont stop those who would do some amount of good for ordinary people and who may pave the way to a better society for all.
    Or would you rather see all of us reduced to impoverishment so a bloody revolution can occur which we would ultimately loose given the military industrial complexes resources.
    you seem to fall into the UK left bickering amongst itself trap, wholeheartedly.

    1. Don’t see an anarchist ‘state’ (whatever that is) coming bout any time soon either. That doesn’t mean that the best wy to affect change for ordinary people is voting for the labour party. In fact in the past few years wins have come from grassroots movements organising autonomously and in networks. Ie. E15 mums and the radical housing network.

      It’s a tendency of the UK left to end up falling in love uncritically with the next big thing without being realistic about the situation. Corbyn is still one person in a bureaucratic party.

  3. Just let them fight amongst themselves for positions of power. What matters to us is that the capitalist media have been forced to report a positive change within the Labour Party. Positive in the sense that socialism is being mentioned and a movement rather than a party. The Labour Party was created by us through our workplace unions to give us a voice within their capitalist institutions such as parliament, house of lords…

    Now we have an opportunity to challenge the capitalists, and statists, from both outside their institutions and straight through them too.

    All good and all positive comrades

  4. I agree with you Adam on not having faith in the Labour party – after all, it has a history we can learn from. But the problem is that when you talk about ‘the past few years wins’ they are very localised and small-scale, good as they are. Anarchism has always talked about changing society fundamentally – the problem is, people are going to think that voting for a party that will form a government is a more effective way of doing that than getting involved in the equivalent of old Liberal ‘pavement politics’. I disagree, but then I’m an unrepentant anarcho-syndicalist.

  5. Anti-war writes: ‘But this would just create a level of job security that would encourage people to demand more money and less work so pushing capitalism back into a repeat of the economic crises of the 1970s.’

    And we wonder why people become Marxists? This really is pathetic stuff, Anti-war. Have you really no idea of the cause of the crisis of the 1970s?

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