We are very proud that John Russo, our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year, brings the renowned Working-Class Perspectives blog to the Kalmanovitz Initiative. The blog is edited by John and Georgetown University’s professor of English Sherry Linkon. It features several regular contributors as well as guest bloggers.
Today’s post by Tim Strangleman concerns the recent rise of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain’s Labour Party and what his emphasis on class means for the trajectory of left-wing politics in Great Britain.
This era of ‘New Labour’ was marked by a striking reluctance to talk about class, which was seen as part of the vocabulary of ‘old labour’ and a manifestation of the politics of envy. This trend continued even after the economic crash of 2008 and the beginning of the Party’s period of opposition. Corbyn himself rarely uses the word ‘class’, but through his actions and speeches he clearly articulates a class-based understanding of the economy, education, and the workplace. While his leadership election rivals were busy arguing over the extent to which they would match Conservative plans to extend austerity, Corbyn confronted head on the claim that Labour had mismanaged the economy. As Paul Krugman has recently pointed out, the Labour Party has a relatively strong story to tell in economic matters before during and after the crash, but it has allowed the Conservatives and other rivals to paint them as reckless and clueless.