Socialist MP beats off bid to paint him as tool of the ultra-left
EVEN though he died more than 15 years before the Labour Party was founded, Karl Marx took centre stage yesterday in the debate over its future.
Leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn was asked repeatedly whether he was a Marxist in an interview for the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
He was quizzed amid claims that a tiny ultra-left sect was using his campaign as a vehicle to infiltrate Labour as part of a “revolutionary strategy.”
Mr Corbyn distanced himself from such groups but refused the invitation to criticise the communist philosopher.
“Marx analysed what was happening in a quite brilliant way and the philosophy around Marx is absolutely fascinating,” he said.
Asked whether he regarded himself as a Marxist, Mr Corbyn confessed he had “not read as much of Marx as I should have done.”
He then turned the tables on Mr Marr, saying: “We all owe something to him. Probably, inside, even you do. Do you think you do?”
The veteran broadcaster said he would “go along” with a description of Marx as a “great Victorian novelist and observer.”
Mr Corbyn concluded: “He was essentially a fascinating figure who observed a great deal and from whom we could learn a great deal.
“I’m not talking about the Labour Party being a revolutionary party. It certainly isn’t revolutionary.”
In one of his most assured media performances of the campaign, the Islington North MP did, though, offer an alternative vision of the party’s future.
He said: “What we are doing here is putting forward a view that the Labour Party has to offer a credible alternative that is true to the roots of the Labour Party.
“The roots of the Labour Party are essentially democratic, essentially socialist, essentially community.
“What we were offering for the past five to 10 years has been essentially austerity-lite, essentially cuts.”
The left-wing candidate, who leads in the latest poll, refused to make predictions about the outcome.
But he said: “I do know that this campaign has been fascinating — mobilised, excited and enthused a lot of young people.
“The entryism I see is lots of people who were hitherto not very excited about politics coming in for the first time and saying we can have a discussion.”