Jeremy Corbyn taunts centrist Labour MPs with a subtle repudiation of Neil Kinnock’s 1985 party conference speech denouncing Militant Tendency
After avoiding a party stitch-up to prevent him from automatically going forward into the Labour leadership ballot, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have been taking something of a victory lap.
The Labour NEC’s decision prompted the valedictory video shown above, hosted on the official Jeremy Corbyn YouTube channel and promoted on the Labour leader’s social media accounts.
In the video, Corbyn concludes his remarks:
Our party is determined that the next government will meet the needs of all of the people of this country. That will invest in health, in housing, in education, in jobs, in infrastructure.
The next government will be a Labour government – a Labour government– committed to ending the injustice and inequality that exists in Britain today.
My emphasis in bold.
I highlight this phrase because I do not believe it was accidental. In fact, I believe it was a direct and very deliberate reference to former party leader Neil Kinnock’s 1985 speech to the Labour Party conference, in which Kinnock (in a bid to make his party more electable) denounced the far-left Liverpool city council and the Militant tendency wing of the party.
Here’s what Kinnock said in 1985:
I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end up in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council – a Labour council – hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers.
Jeremy Corbyn’s choice of repetition (“a Labour government – a Labour government”) in his address today is, I am certain, not coincidental. On the contrary, it is a direct reference to Neil Kinnock’s speech and a repudiation of Neil Kinnock’s work in the 1980s to drag the Labour Party closer to the political centre (Corbyn himself was part of an effort to depose Neil Kinnock from the leadership in 1988).
By flagrantly co-opting Kinnock’s turn of phrase, Corbyn is defiantly stamping his own authority on the Labour Party. Corbyn is making clear that he is the Labour Party now, for all intents and purposes, and that the party of Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Miliband has passed away.
Anybody entertaining any lingering wistful belief that Jeremy Corbyn will “do the right thing” and slink away “for the good of the party”, letting the centrists resume their rule without a fight, should now abandon all hope.
This is Jeremy Corbyn’s party now. And he is here to stay.
Neil Kinnock’s 1985 party conference speech – highlight:
Support Semi-Partisan Politics with a one-time or recurring donation:
Agree with this article? Violently disagree? Scroll down to leave a comment.
Follow Semi-Partisan Politics on Twitter, Facebook and Medium.