Jeremy Corbyn and the left in Britain
Sir, – Paddy McEvoy’s diatribe on the British Labour Party’s historical and more recent turns to the left adopted a curious use of language (May 24th). Would the fact that Mr McEvoy describes himself as a “Labour supporter at the time [of the Benn years]” and presumably no longer, make him a Labour party “exitist”? Would supporting the party in the future when a more palatable leader came to power make him an “entryist”? Use of words such as “ilk” to describe your political opponents or “hijack” to describe the democratic elevation and election of legitimate members of a party are tedious in the extreme. Perhaps Mr McEvoy could instead use the limited space in The Irish Times letters page to outline the Corbyn policies which he finds most objectionable. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Paddy McEvoy’s revisionist gloss on Tony Benn’s career cannot go unanswered.
As an even cursory reading of Benn’s diaries shows, what moved him to the left was not some sinister “far left” agenda but his experience of government in the 1970s.
As a member of the Wilson and Callaghan cabinets, he saw the calamitous consequences that ensued when the wishes of ordinary party members were disregarded by the party leadership.
As soon as Labour went into opposition in 1979, he campaigned for greater internal democracy in the party. He lost, and the party began its slow drift to Blairism and the entryism of corporate interests. Benn certainly made some mistakes. Seeking to democratise his party was not one of them.
British political life is today haunted by two spectres: the spectre of Margaret Thatcher and the spectre of Tony Benn. Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party was a stunning indication that Benn’s ghost may well have the last laugh. – Yours, etc,
Dr DARAGH DOWNES,
Sir, – The only question for Labour is just how badly it will fare in the British general election, now that it has abandoned the centre for the discredited policies of yesteryear. It’s all redolent of the era of roller discos and elephant flares. – Yours, etc,