Laura Flanders: What difference does a party make? This week on The Lara Flanders Show, we talk about what's happening in the UK, where one of the two parties, in what is basically a two party system, is picking up many of the radical demands coming out of movement groups seeking to transform the economy. Will they take that agenda with them into office? Nobody knows, but they're having meetings with activists, like this one, all across the country. From Imperial College London, this is the Lara Flanders show, the place where the people who say it can't be done take a backseat to the people who are doing it. Welcome.
Laura Flanders: In June 2017, mainstream media predicted that the Labour Party would be crushed in the UK's general election. Instead, it won its best result in 20 years, getting more than 40% of the vote, under the leadership of a lifelong socialist anti-war campaigner, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn didn't become Prime Minister, but he did come close to unseating conservative Theresa May, after just two years as Labour Party leader. You could almost hear the reporter's surprise.
Supporters: Labour in! [inaudible 00:01:05] out! Labour in ...
Reporter: Well, he has not won the election, but this has been a nice vindication for Jeremy Corbyn, defying his critics with Labour's best result for almost 20 years.
John McDonnell: It gives me great pleasure, it gives me great pleasure to invite the lead of the Labour Party, the person who's gonna take us into number 10, Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn: Last time we were here, I talked about the dire state of our economy under the Tory's, and that was two years ago. Sadly, in the two years since then, things have got even worse. Wages are lower than they were in 2016 at the time of the last conference, and lower than they were in real terms a decade ago. The Tory's have shown they have no response to these deep structural problems, and they are very, very deep. They continue instead to subscribe to the highly discredited theory that economic growth will mean trickle down and help those at the bottom. It didn't work under Thatcher, it isn't working under May.
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John McDonnell: In terms of when we go to into government as the Labour Party, the Labour Party now is a social movement. It isn't a small party. We're the largest political party in western Europe, 550,000 members and still growing. So, we have a huge body of expertise. That party membership now isn't just mobilized to get the vote at elections. That's the traditional role of political parties. We've gone well beyond that. That party membership now are involved in the debate and discussion of policies, involved in campaigning within their local communities, so all those doorstep conversations, conversations at the school gates, and in the pubs and clubs, et cetera. That's the way we mobilize now as a party, so their ideas then get implemented by the local council, implemented by national government as well. Like we're having today, we have these conferences which are packed out, where people are creative in their ideas, and they then get developed into policies in detail that we can implement in government. That's the first thing, the party itself, the party mechanism.
John McDonnell: The second is that actually what we're trying to do now is make sure the party is completely opened out to the community. Our community meetings now, town meetings, et cetera, are not just for our party members, but for everybody else. We target particular groups as well, particularly those who are campaigning on particular issues, whether it's trying to save their health service or their local school. Again, we're saying to them we're alongside of the trade unions as well. What ideas have you got? How do you think we can tackle that particular problem? By the way, we'll set up structures to enable to take the decisions and implement those policies as well. That means reinvigorating local government in particular, but also looking at new structures, too.