You don’t have to be Christian to find the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few - Britain’s current economic orthodoxy - profoundly morally repugnant and unjust. You don’t have to be Christian to be outraged by this at all - just vaguely interested in the ideas of equality, justice and mercy that most ennoble mankind. Not everyone will go as far as me in saying that those who salute the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few so that the majority suffer unnecessary poverty, on account of this delusive and absurd Tory idea that the poor are apparently themselves to be blamed for their own subjugation so that shame is added to hunger and penury - is the ideology of Mammon, the dark side, the very axis of evil. (Can somebody please tell me when we decided that Manichean judgements were such a bad thing? What do we gain by becoming tiresome relativist liberals who believe that practically everything is moral, even robbing the poor, so long as you turn up and defend your immorality with well-spun arguments at the dispatch box and on Newsnight? Let us at least be bold enough to call out immorality where we find it).
The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party after much internecine parliamentary conflict and basically the entire establishment and media class passionately dedicated to opposing his triumph, was an astonishing moment. A moment that offers hope for a newly resurgent leftwing challenge to the centrist, Tory-led dominion of Theresa May and her cabinet. A moment of possibility for far-reaching political and economic change across Britain if we manage to make the leftist message newly appealing to the centre-ground and allow ourselves to dare to conceive that things can be different.
In his quiet insistence that things do not have to be as unjust as they are, in his commitment to change, to making the economy work for the majority of working people rather than simply the loaded elite, in his hopeful insistence on an alternative approach to austerity cuts that aid only the banks and the billionaires, in his championing of the idea of nationalising industries such as the railways and promising to build much needed social housing to benefit the most vulnerable, Corbyn is ushering in what could be a bold new era of compassionate politics. Now, more than every before, as we witness the renewed popularity of repellent rightwing ideas across Europe that amount to a lot of racist anxieties about keeping migrants from the refuge they need and deserve and allowing the fat cats to keep the reins of power, we need to see ordinary people coming together to make their needs and wishes heard so that the left can begin to hold new sway in determining the political will.
Austerity has made people angry. This anger must be harnessed to build a stronger leftist agenda across Britain. This is why Jeremy Corbyn, despite having the entire establishment set so vociferously against him, managed such a beautiful victory. The figures speak for themselves and show that despite what the bulk of the corporate media may tell you - the Labour Party under Corbyn has become more popular than ever before. More than 500,000 people are now members - that is more than double the 200,000 the party had on election day last year. I believe Northern Ireland, with its outsize public sector, should naturally hold, augment and celebrate a leftwing bias. How amazing would it be if those from disadvantaged eras realised that they have much more in common compared to what divides them and that a new union between orange and green ideas in tackling poverty could help birth a new Northern Ireland?
For now we can at least rejoice that we have a new Labour leader who sounds ready to champion the needs of the vulnerable and ready to fight the good fight against the Tories for a more egalitarian Britain.