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Labour Blairite group Progress could go bankrupt as billionaire-backer withdraws funding after Corbyn surge


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Get out your miniature violins again. One of the groups responsible for organising repeated coup attempts against Jeremy Corbyn is facing an unprecedented financial crisis.

Progress, the Blairite faction of the Labour Party, has been financially dependent on the billionaire supermarket mogul Lord Sainsbury since it was founded in 1996. But now, Lord Sainsbury has pulled his funding, posing a threat to the very future of the centrist Blairite group.

In an interview with the Guardian, Sainsbury claimed to be handing over the baton to a “new generation of donors”, and said that “I know that there is much still for progressive politics to do.”

But more astute political analysts are likely to see this as fat-rats jumping a sinking ship. Across Europe and much of the world, the social basis for right wing social democratic parties – as characterised by New Labour in particular – has been totally smashed.

Evidence for this can be seen in the electoral oblivion faced by Pasok in Greece, the Socialist Party in France, PSOE in Spain, and the Labour Party in Ireland. If it were not for Corbyn, the Labour Party in the UK would have eventually suffered the same fate.

This fact goes some way toward explaining why Progress have not gone for an open split such as happened in 1983, where right wing Labour MPs broke off to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The SDP’s aim was to stop Labour coming to power with a socialist leader, Michael Foot, by splitting the left vote.

They succeeded in this task, letting Margaret Thatcher in for another term, and ultimately bringing rack and ruin to Britain’s industrial working class.

But if a similar strategy was pursued today by the Blairites, in a context where the cetre ground in politics is losing all support, it could be the final nail in their coffin. Better instead to remain within the Labour Party, sabotaging Corbyn’s programme at every turn.

No remorse

And indeed, the Blairites’ hubris is evident in the words of Richard Angell, the Director of Progress, who gave the following remarks on Corbyn’s fantastic gains at the general election gains:

I cannot help but think had someone not gone on a rant about Hitler, not only would we have denied the Tories three more seats – but the parliamentary arithmetic would be very different.

He added:

If we are not careful it will mean The Canary [the pro-Corbyn website] picks the next mayor of London, and not mainstream thinking.

But what this election proved beyond all doubt is that “mainstream thinking” is completely out of touch with reality. Only independent media, such as here at EvolvePolitics, or ad-free socialist newspapers predicted gains for Corbyn.

People are looking for an alternative to the Tory-lite policies of New Labour. The quicker the party can shed its toxic Blairite legacy, which still retains control of the party structure, the quicker the Labour Party can become a cohesive electoral force in Britain again.

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