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21st Century Socialism Man may have a future

Terry smiling

Terry smiling headA promise to deliver 21st Century Socialism? Did Jeremy Corbyn, the man supposedly stuck in the 1980s, really say that?

The re-elected Labour leader is clearly fast-forwarding his ambitions, though this suspiciously PR-led makeover should not be taken as a transfusion of new ideas to replace the old.

Opponents have always suspected that if fracturing the party was not his ultimate legacy then he would ultimately come unstuck over left-wing policies firmly placed in the past.

Instead his agenda is now pitched at Future Labour, winning over middle-income earners, the self-employed and those concerned about the impact of migration. These are the potential waverers and they represent a large proportion of the electorate.

Mr Corbyn’s 21st Century socialism will mean giving these groups a greater voice alongside his grassroots supporters, those he believes have been left behind and remain largely under-valued.

These are important points of recognition for the Labour leader if he stands any chance of winning power. Labour’s traditional vote switched to UKIP, even to the Tories. In Scotland it drifted to the SNP.  Winning them back is crucial. Securing middle class voters will be decisive.

Mr Corbyn is a principled man, but Labour simply cannot allow itself to become obsessed with outdate ideology as it did under the equally principled Michael Foot. This penny may have finally dropped for the current leader.

His plans are tinged with Labour’s past, having made his position clear on re-nationalisation of key industries, on state education and now through his offer of a £10 an hour minimum wage, all built on the promise of a Britain for all.

To that extent Mr Corbyn is accused of seeking to fight old class battles and represent a new stage in envy-politics.

He would argue that he is seeking to put right what has gone terribly wrong, and that he wants to heal divisions in society through a new deal with the wealth producers as well as by introducing an inclusiveness that will enable Britain to benefit from the sum of its talents.

His 21st century socialism is therefore an attempt to update, rather than re-introduce old ideas and to supplement them with modern campaigns to bring about equality and fairness.

Those who witnessed his speech to the faithful in Liverpool said that he at last began to look and sound like a leader. Sceptics in his party may need further convincing that he can secure electoral success. He may, however, have given them the first signs of hope that all is not lost.


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