European Socialists look to British Labour

By David Hernandez Martinez, member of the PSOE (Spain’s social democratic party)

The two years Jeremy Corbyn has been leader of the Labour Party, and the social movement that has arisen around him, have been observed with great attention by the majority of left parties on the European continent. Corbyn represents an entirely different alternative to the dominant discourse in the classical parties of European social democracy during recent decades. He completely rejects the liberal postulates that had been embraced by Tony Blair in the United Kingdom or Gerhard Schröder in Germany.

There is a deep discussion within the European social democratic parties, as reflected by the current situation in the Spanish Socialist Party, the French Socialist Party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, or the Portuguese Socialist Party. In the primaries held to elect the new Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Party in May, Jeremy Corbyn was very present. Some party leaders in Spain refused to follow the manifesto defended by Corbyn in United Kingdom. They thought that the British leader’s proposals were too radical and away from the centre. However, the grassroots of the Spanish Socialist Party gave its majority support to Pedro Sánchez, a candidate who had come forward with a program that defended the need to turn to the left and which took as examples some of the proposals of his British counterpart.

The presidential election in France left the historic French Socialist Party totally shattered. At the moment the debate among their ranks is whether they should take the model of Jeremy Corbyn or follow the liberal social model of their colleagues in Germany, who face Merkel in elections in September. The fundamental dilemma lies between two seemingly contrary positions: to continue to position itself within the third way that Tony Blair led years ago or to walk the path marked by Corbyn and the current Labour Party membership, turning to an approach that returns to the essence of socialism. While French, Spanish, Greek or German socialists are wondering what to do, other parties have emerged in recent years, questioning their hegemony within the left, such as Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, or France Insoumise.

The crisis of the European Socialists and British Labour Party is an identity crisis, because they have not been able to give a convincing answer to the problems of the working class, which feels defenceless in the face of the economic crisis, globalisation, the deterioration of their rights and the dismantling of the welfare state. Millions of people in the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Greece and Germany need and political leaders to give solutions to all these issues and protect the gains of centuries of working class struggle. The enthusiasm that has surrounded Jeremy Corbyn in recent months, especially among younger people, shows that the people have not abandoned politics and desire great ideas for which to struggle every day.

The weakness of Theresa May’s government and the fractious battles within the Tories are a good opportunity that should not be missed. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party membership must continue to mobilise and be present in the struggles of communities, transport workers, NHS campaigners and students. The leaders of the Labour Party have to make a fierce opposition in parliament and in the streets. If the mood of the thousands of supporters does not decline, in the coming months or years we will see an activist occupy number 10 Downing Street, which would surely give wings to left parties throughout Europe.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? theclarionmag@gmail.com

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