With 4 contestants in the running, to achieve 60% of the leadership vote in the first round is an outright landslide. Jeremy Corbyn has secured a higher percentage than Blair got in 1994. Even more significant, Corbyn’s electorate at 554,272 was more than double Blair’s, and no less than 76% of them actually voted, a higher percentage turnout than Blair got. And another pointer to the overwhelming inspiration that Corbynmania achieved – no less than 160,000 volunteers were recruited to the Corbyn campaign – far, far bigger than in any similar campaign in the past. This is a seminal day in British politics, marking the coming together of the two great conditions needed for transformational change – radical new ideas and a burgeoning social movement on the scale required to push through major change.
Why did it happen? The defining moment for today’s denouement was the catastrophic crash of 2008-9, from which 7 years on there is still no sustainable recovery in sight. It represented the unambiguous bust of the free-wheeling unfettered capitalist business model which had prevailed in the Western economies over the last 3 decades since Thatcher and Reagan. The essence of this dominant ideology was: leave it all to the markets and let government get out of the way. It was supposed to be self-regulating and efficient; it was neither. Worst of all, when it did crash, the Tories imposed all of the pain in remedying it on to the squeezed middle and the battered poorest while letting the bankers, the real perpetrators, off scot-free. The roiling resentment of the public at this monumental injustice has finally burst out, and Jeremy Corbyn was the right man to articulate this at this moment.
The central demand is for an end to austerity. Quite apart from the immiseration it has caused, it is the wrong policy for reducing the budget deficit and is being pursued for the wrong reasons (to shrink the State, as Osborne himself has told us). The right way to cut the deficit is by expanding the economy, creating sustainable well-paid jobs and real sustainable growth, not by contracting the economy, and that steady expansion towards full employment is what Corbyn has made clear he stands for. Alongside this major revival of British manufacturing industry, which is the only means to pay our way in the world and preserve our living standards, there needs to be tighter regulation of the banks to prevent another crash, a halt to privatisation of our public services, and an end to suppression of the trade unions. All of those are very powerful reasons why an unprecedented number of people voted for Jeremy Corbyn – ane they were absolutely right!