Magazine article The Spectator

Leading Article: Corbyn's Latest Triumph

Magazine article The Spectator

Leading Article: Corbyn's Latest Triumph

Article excerpt

For Jeremy Corbyn and his allies, there has been no far-left takeover of the Labour party or its governing National Executive Committee. It's true that, this week, Corbyn supporters came to control the majority of the NEC, completing their command of the party apparatus. But they see this as getting rid of the last of the right-wingers and enabling -- for the first time -- the Labour party to dedicate itself to the interests of the working class. It's not the triumph of a fringe, they say, but the expulsion of a fringe. The Corbynite agenda of government expansion, mass nationalisation of railways, utilities and more, can now be pursued.

Those still laughing at all that have not been paying attention. Mr Corbyn was quite correct, in his party conference speech, to say that his proposals are mainstream. When pollsters ask, they find clear majority support for the renationalisation of water, electricity and gas. Even among Tory voters, a majority support rail nationalisation. What about the privatisation of other services? A good case against that is being made by the collapse of Carillion, which ran everything from school canteens to the security at military bases. Its insolvency will soon be used as prima facie evidence of private sector incompetence.

Sir Keith Joseph, born 100 years ago this week, famously drew a distinction between the 'centre ground' of Westminster -- the consensus among MPs -- and the 'middle ground' that a party ought to share with the public. His words are often quoted by Tories to remind themselves that concern about European Union membership and immigration was quite widespread even if sneered at in London. But it is Labour that has learned Joseph's lesson. Jeremy Corbyn's argument is that his ideas, dismissed as fringe in Westminster, were not populist but popular. The last general election proved his point.

It's hard for a political party to go from obscurity to power, as the Westminster voting system tends to protect incumbents. Momentum, a group that did not exist four years ago, has instead succeeded in taking over a party: the leadership and the membership. The NEC changes mean Momentum's reverse takeover of the Labour party is now complete, and Labour MPs are now its hostages. MPs who complain about hard-left takeover will be told that this is not 'entryism' but simple democracy -- which it is. Momentum found and inspired thousands to join the Labour party and call the shots. It deserves its victory.

In the general election, Corbyn increased his party's share of the vote more than any other leader of any other postwar party. …

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