Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

“Lenin inspired” Corbyn under Fire. A Defence of Labour’s Radical Democratic Socialism.

with 8 comments

Image result for labour party rally december 2019

Democratic socialist alternative.

“History” Max Beerbohm should have said, “does not repeat itself. Columnists repeat one another’s stories.” One topic each pundit has grappled with, and recycled each other, is the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.  In the last few days Labour’s critical policy towards NATO has been added to the chain of stories about the Leader’s ‘Leninism’, extremist socialism, and anti-semitism, to prove his unfitness to hold High Office.The New Statesman has published this hand-wringing non-endorsement: The New Statesman‘s Miserable Editorial

As public opinion hardens, and the Labour vote with it, a spirit of malice amongst these elevated circles has developed. Better Johnson than Corbyn, a threat to national security, a crank full of the wrong kind of enthusiasm, an associate (as one less publicly famous commentator puts it) of “anti-Semitic mongrels”, and dimwit. Some ask for ‘real’ Labour, true to workingmen’s clubs of the period shown in the film Funny Cow (2017), and chip butties. Give us Family, Community and Flag. The rickety campaign of the Liberal Democrats is foundering. Perhaps there is a chance for the wider centre with a revamp of the 1980s ‘little Caesars’ of the Social Democratic Party, capable of offering a “compromise political solution” to the Brexit crisis, reached by negotiation from above. Some pine for the return of the Third Way. Give us a leader with the moral stature of Tony Blair, and the human warmth of Gordon Brown. Alas, Chuka Umunna has not risen to the occasion. (2)

The fly in the ointment is that Labour is a membership, one member-one-vote, party. Corbyn has been elected, twice, by the overwhelming majority of card-carriers and backed by the trade unions. Few of them seem attracted to the above alternatives.  The enthusiastic campaign that led to this victory is described in detail, in The Candidate by Alex Nuns, (2018). A talented team has drawn up a radical democratic socialist manifesto. The results of contributions and debates in the Labour policy documents that led to the Manifesto, from social policy to social ownership, the result of agreement on the basics, are available for all to see.

Labour and Lenin.

Has Lenin “inspired” Corbyn’s world view,? Has Labour been overrun “dead-eyed communist fanatics“?  by Those looking for a Short Course chapter on the Liquidation of the Bukharian-Trotskyist Gang of Spies, Wreckers and Traitors in Corbyn adviser, Andrew Murray’s The Fall and Rise of the British Left (2019), will not find an entry by the former leading member of the Communist Party of Britain. They will however discover in Murray’s book the hope that there is a consensus on the “new economic and social policies” and an admission that this agreement does not exist on foreign policy. There are equally many divergent opinions on what the pro-Leave campaigner calls ‘Brexit Derangement syndrome”. (3)

Labour has an attractive programme. It is an outward looking party. It has to grapple with a changed national and international landscape. The world is no longer called to tune by Market Worlders. “Capitalist realism”, as Mark Fisher suggested, meant “subordinating oneself to a reality that is infinitely plastic, capable of reconfiguring itself at any moment.” (4) But the “mental paralysis” that followed the Credit and Banking Crisis of 2008 did not lead to social democracy or dystopian authoritarianism. A deeper grounded national populism has emerged, with some echoes of the 1980s authoritarian free-market liberalism of Margaret Thatcher. Politically anti-liberal populists like Donald Trump pursue national neoliberal economic, using economic power to put their country first. Xenophobia, the motor behind the Brexit vote, poisons politics.


Some politically active people in Britain are attracted to a democratic socialist alternative. They have gone beyond hostility to “capitalist realism” to campaign for a governing left party that can reshape the country. They do not trust the hard-right Brexit project, or the good will of the American President to rescue a Britain adrift in the world. A wider constituency not only wishes to stick with Labour but to see the social reforms the Party offers on social security, on housing and the world of work, come about.

Nobody begrudges journalists the pleasure of running down their political enemies. Only those who have spent their time working hard as activists, or in local and national elected bodies, to further their party’s cause, will be annoyed at the yelps of glee that follow every shred of evidence that Labour has a conspiratorial fringe with sometimes unpleasant anti-Semitic overtones. Only a life-long factionalist would recognise the spite of student anti-left hackery at work……



  1. “History does not repeat itself. The Historians repeat one another.” Page 155. The Prince of Minor Writers. The Selected essays of Max Beerbohm. 2015.
  2. The ‘Little Casers of Social Democracy’. In The Hard Road to Renewal. Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left, Stuart Hal Verso. 1988.
  3. Page 203. The Fall of Rise of the British Left. Andrew Murray Verso, 2019.
  4. Page 54. Capitalist Realism, Mark Fisher. 2009. Zero Books.


Written by Andrew Coates

December 5, 2019 at 12:55 pm

8 Responses

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  1. It’s a once in a generation election.
    Our chance to end Tory austerity.
    Vote Jeremy in and he’ll spend £200 billion on…on…on renewing Trident?
    Blimey, wouldn’t that money be better spent on the NHS, housing, welfare, education…

    Steven Johnston

    December 6, 2019 at 1:39 pm

  2. Xenophobia, the motor behind the Brexit vote, poisons politics.

    Have you seen how the EU treats migrants? Locks them up behind barbed wire. Sends gunboats out to turn them away. Now that’s poisoned politics.

    Steven Johnston

    December 6, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    • Andrew Coates

      December 6, 2019 at 6:21 pm

  3. What has that got to do with this article?

    I am as confused about that as I am this article.

    You tell us Corbyn is a radical and now we are told he is not, he’s mainstream.

    Steven Johnston

    December 6, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    • Not much but a lot to do with the alternative to Labour.

      But this has, Corbyn is trustworthy:

      Andrew Coates

      December 7, 2019 at 12:46 pm

  4. Steven Johnston

    December 7, 2019 at 1:43 pm

  5. Poor little Owen Jones.


    December 21, 2019 at 7:20 pm

  6. BTW I am working class and I voted Tory.
    We are sick of you Marxists.



    December 21, 2019 at 7:23 pm

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