WISHING our readers a merry Christmas and a peaceful new year became for many years a tradition infused more with hope than expectation.
Front-bench policy convergence on imperialist wars, privatisation, squeezing public services, freezing working-class living standards and sucking up to big business and the City of London meant that prosperity and security were the preserve of the rich and powerful.
The financial elite still has a stranglehold on the economy just as the Bullingdon boys have been able to dispense with the Liberal Democrats’ grovelling connivance to enjoy a parliamentary majority.
Yet the collective gloom suffered as the May 7 general election results were announced has been tempered by joy sparked by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory.
Corbyn is no latter-day messiah. We understand that history is made by popular mobilisations rather than the deeds of “great men.”
But people are stirred from their apathy — and their backsides — when they experience faith and confidence that things need not be as they are and can be changed.
Corbyn’s mass rallies, with participation by hordes of political virgins alongside gnarled veterans of myriad defeats and disappointments, contrasted sharply with the modest gatherings of his business-as-normal rivals.
This was politics but not as we know it, Jim.
It was about clear, unambiguous policies that working people wanted to see not vague generalisations filtered through the prism of what the media and parliamentary Establishment finds acceptable.
Those flocking to hear Corbyn speak were told by the commentariat that the rallies were entertaining but that the bearded leftie couldn’t win the party leadership because he was unelectable.
Once he’d romped home with majority backing from every section of the Labour Party, the message to his supporters was that his way-out policies meant that the party was over and that voter hostility would transform the Oldham West & Royton by-election into a referendum on Corbyn in which the “northern working class” could well plump for Ukip.
So much for wishful thinking. Labour’s Jim McMahon won at a canter and Nigel Farage is the leader gazing uneasily at the knacker’s yard.
None of the “referendum” soothsayers drew the conclusion that the Labour leader had been put to the test and triumphed.
Their interest was not in logical argument but in pursuing a drip-drip campaign of belittlement to drive him from office to be replaced by a “credible” candidate from the New Labour parliamentary worthies barely distinguishable from the Tory leadership.
Just as Ed Miliband was at his best as Labour leader when he bucked consensus by challenging the Murdoch media and opposing David Cameron’s plan to bomb Syrian army positions, so his successor has won victories in opposition.
But for Corbyn’s insistence on Labour proclaiming itself an “anti-austerity” party, the Tories would not have backtracked on their plans to axe tax credits and slash police numbers.
He could have emulated Miliband’s “no bombing” success but for a co-ordinated campaign by unprincipled New Labourites to ambush him, portraying their insistence on joining the Syrian bombfest as guided by deeply felt pangs of conscience.
The Labour parliamentary minority’s squalid decision to further spill Syrian people’s blood exemplifes the scale of future struggles against Tory policies promoted by the government and a rump within Labour’s own numbers.
Nevertheless, Corbyn and his House of Commons supporters are backed by a mass movement, including the Morning Star, outside the Westminster cocoon of privilege.
When our paper wishes our readers a merry Christmas this year and a peaceful and progressive 2016, they know that battle has been joined to achieve these goals and that there is room in the fighting ranks for everyone who shares them.