28.09.2016 Word of the Week: Socialism


Whisper it quietly, but socialism might just be back in vogue.

Or actually, if you are a member of the Labour party, you can talk about it as loudly as you like. Shout it from the rooftops in fact.

For, speaking at the Labour conference in Liverpool earlier this week, shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced to delighted delegates: “In this party you no longer have to whisper its name, it’s called socialism.”

Yes, the political creed of such towering historical figures as Marx, Guevara, Castro and, er, Foot, is back, and we can all wave its red flag proudly.

Here in the UK socialism became a dirty word circa 1997 when Tony Blair swept to power with his New Labour project.

Throughout the Blair years there was nary a mention of the ‘s’ word in Labour circles for fear of political implosion – it was considered electoral Kryptonite to the party.

In the US socialism has been a proscribed term for far longer, since the 1950s in fact, when Cold War paranoia led to fears of ‘reds under the bed’.

Over there, socialism because synonymous with treachery, and for a American politician to label themselves as such was basically to announce to the electorate that they were un-American.

Recently though, with the growth in popularity of politicians like the Democrat former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, those reds under the bed have started to venture out from under their valances to make their voices and arguments heard.

On this side of the Atlantic Labour has been flirting with socialism since ‘red’ Ed Miliband was elected leader in 2010.

But when left-wing veteran Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader last September the red floodgates really opened.

His re-coronation as leader this week following a fractious contest has cemented those red credentials as the guiding force of Labour party policy once again.

We’ll no doubt be hearing the s-word a lot more on both sides of the Atlantic in the years to come.

All together now: “We’ll keep the red flag flying here…”