A rumour has recently been circulating that Jeremy Corbyn has been considering forming a new party. The source of the rumour, a Tweet from a right wing newspaper, may understandably lead to a degree of scepticism regarding it’s truth. It seems likely that this is a ploy on the part of the current Labour leadership to prise the party’s former leader from his seat.
Whatever its veracity it might reasonably lead to consideration of the realities of forming a new party and the consequences of forming it around an already well known political figure. It is understandable that those people curious about RISE might be wondering why, as yet at least, there are no big names involved.
No doubt a figure like Jeremy Corbyn would be able to attract a considerable number of people to join and this would not be unwelcome. We are a party that seeks to be driven, democratically, by its members so in many ways the more the better. However, we do not want to end up merely as a vehicle for a big name. If we are to establish any long term credibility and electoral traction there is a need to build strong democractic foundations which is what the steering committee has been applying itself to.
The reality of forming a new party is that it will, more than likely, be a small scale project to start with. So it is easy to be pessimistic about the prospects for success. This is compounded by too narrow a focus on what a small party can achieve. Whilst it would be great to start winning seats at the local and national level there is value in being a voice that widens political debate and is prepared to champion ideas and causes that the mainstream parties are too conservative to contemplate. Taking votes away from the mainstream parties creates its own pressure as ‘Power only concedes to a demand’.
Change will only happen when enough people are courageous enough to bring it about rather than waiting for others to lead it. RISE offers the opportunity to build a new left party from the ground up rather than accepting what is handed down by a party hierarchy. If a figure like Jeremy Corbyn wants to be part of that process then they are most welcome. But there is alot more to be done by whoever wishes to contribute.