Corbyn urges EU party leaders to abandon neo-liberalism

Labour leader wants centre-left politicians to ditch ‘broken’ system in order to win again

Jeremy Corbyn
Corbyn addressed Europe’s centre-left party leaders at a conference in Brussels yesterday
(Image credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn has urged leaders of centre-left parties across Europe to move away from the neo-liberal economics of the “imagined centre ground” in order to start winning elections again.

The Labour leader made the plea during a speech in Brussels yesterday, The Independent reports, ahead of talks with European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. During that meeting, Corbyn told the duo that Labour is ready to lead Brexit negotiations on the UK’s behalf.

Earlier, Corbyn had been given a “hero’s welcome” at the Europe Together conference of centre-left parties. He was introduced as “the new prime minister of Britain” and received two standing ovations from a packed auditorium, says the newspaper.

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The Labour boss told the conference that the “neo-liberal economic model is broken”, and that it “doesn’t work for most people”, citing inequality and low taxes for the rich as the contributing factors behind its failure as a system of government.

“But we can offer a radical alternative,” he said. “We have the ideas to make progressive politics the dominant force of this century. But if we don’t get our message right, don’t stand up for our core beliefs, and if we don’t stand for change, we will founder and stagnate.”

An article in The Guardian recently claimed that “social democracy is dying across Europe”, and that the rise of far-right movements across the Continent has dragged political discourse away from the leftist politics that once dominated.

The Independent claims that many centre-left and leftist party leaders across Europe are following the lead of Corbyn’s Labour - in wholeheartedly abandoning neo-liberalism - as a tactic to reinvigorate their movement.

Scottish newspaper The National says that one example of the spread of neo-liberalism in the political “centre” is the rise of France’s President Emmanuel Macron, a proponent of “Third Way” politics, in which centre-left social policy is synthesised with centre-right economic policy.

Corbyn continued his speech by berating the long-standing leadership of the centre-left across Europe, telling delegates: “For too long the most prominent voices in our movement have looked out of touch, too willing to defend the status quo and the established order.”

Last year, the IMF released a report suggesting that neo-liberalism had failed, claiming it increases inequality in many countries that adopt it. However, an article in Fortune pointed out that given how deeply entrenched neo-liberalism is in mainstream politics, it “is not going to be overtaken by another ideology overnight”.

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