Illustration by Paul Ryding for POLITICO
What U.S. President Donald Trump is to right-wing nationalism, Jeremy Corbyn wants to be to international socialism. That may not be exactly how he or his closest advisers would put it. But it is what many of them think.
The British Labour Party leader wants to make socialism great again — for the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe — and he believes 2019 presents a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to win power and transform the country. “With the British government weak and unstable, Labour is ready for a general election whenever it may come,” he says, in an email interview with POLITICO. “We’ve set out a radical plan to rebuild Britain, and we are ready to implement it.”
Like Trump, Corbyn promises national renewal after what he says are years of national decline. Like Trump, he promises to shake up the establishment and restore power to ordinary citizens — “Draining the swamp,” in Trump’s language; overturning “a rigged system that benefits the few,” in Corbyn’s.
Another lesson from across the Atlantic is that it would be a mistake to rule out the Labour leader’s rise to power. Were the 69-year-old radical to do the once-unthinkable and ascend to his country’s highest office, he — like Trump — would provide a boost to fellow travelers across the world. “The election of a Labour government will, I hope, encourage and give greater confidence to progressive parties and movements in Europe and beyond,” says Corbyn.
The internationalist left must not “partner in austerity” or “present themselves as the human face of a self-interested establishment,” he says. “If they do they open the way for the far right to claim to speak for those who have been failed and neglected by a broken system.”
Jeremy Corbyn at the memorial wall at the base of the Grenfell Tower | Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images
The only way to “keep the migrant- and minority-baiters at bay,” he says,