Following his landslide win in the Sept. 12 election for Labour Party Leader in UK’s Parliament, Jeremy Corbyn is not resting on his laurels or hesitating to initiate another step on the road toward basic change in Britain.
Speaking at a LabourList event Sept. 17, Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary Jon Trickett said he had been asked by Corbyn to organize a series of citizens’ assemblies across the country, building on the success of his leadership campaign, to develop a new constitutional and political framework for Britain by reaching out beyond Parliament and the Labour Party.
“It’s going to be done in a different way,” Trickett said. “It’s not going to be a few people in a room—pale, male and stale, with professor before their name and CBE [Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire] after their name.”
“We want the ordinary people of our country to engage,” he continued. “And we want to build a movement of citizen’s assemblies, reaching across all the parties and none, into every community. To see what they think, if they agree with our analysis that politics isn’t working and how it might be changed. … ”
Modifying Marshall McLuhan’s famous phrase, Trickett concluded: “the movement is the message.”
The Party for Socialism and Liberation welcomed Corbyn’s win. Its statement assessing the victory began: “Sept. 12, 2015, recorded a significant development in British and world politics that reflected growing mass opposition to capitalist austerity, environmental destruction and imperialist war. At a special conference, Jeremy Corbyn, a leader of the Labour Party’s left wing, long-time Labour MP, former union leader, and anti-war activist was announced to have been elected Leader in a landslide victory, with nearly 60 percent of first-preference votes.”
The PSL statement further pointed out: “Along with the dramatic rise of new mass movements against austerity throughout Europe, as well as progressive movements in the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere, it has become clear that the long period of reaction that began in the late 1970s and greatly accelerated under Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States is drawing to a close. A new period of resistance to monopoly capitalism/imperialism is opening up, potentially leading to a revival of not only the trade unions but the revolutionary workers’ movement throughout the world.”
What road for the citizens’ assemblies?
If the citizens’ assemblies called for by Corbyn were to become true vehicles of mass struggle, unifying the rising movements against austerity and war and for immigrant rights in Britain, substantial progress could be achieved toward revolutionary change in the heart of what remains of the once mighty British empire—whose successor, the U.S. empire, while still dominant, is also in decline.
Substantial success along these lines can have major ramifications for politics in the United States, other imperialist countries, and throughout the world.
A danger, however, is for the citizens’ assemblies to become vehicles for diverting the existing mass movements off the streets onto a narrow electoral road focused on achieving a Labour victory in the next elections for Parliament, ignoring the rights of immigrants who are not or net yet British citizens, or simply turn into exercises of mostly talk, sectarian squabbling and little to no action.
Movement activists and partisans of revolutionary change will need to work energetically toward ensuring a positive outcome for Corbyn’s promising initiative.
For an in-depth Liberation Radio podcast interview with PSL vice presidential candidate for 2016 Eugene Puryear on the Jeremy Corbyn election as Labour Party Leader, go here.