Jeremy Corbyn, Welcome to Europe’s Fight Against Austerity

The Labour leader and my own party Podemos have one thing in common: a rejection of the neoliberalism that has impoverished our people

by Pablo Iglesias

How surprising, paradoxical, even ironic, that much of the media are comparing the Labour veteran Jeremy Corbyn to Podemos. What can the new leader of the old political party founded by British trade unions have in common with a movement born barely 18 months ago in Spain? Basically one thing: the failure of the social-liberal “third way”.

It is often said of my party that we represent the indignados, the outraged. This is not wrong, but is only half an explanation. This movement in Spain is an expression of the failure of neoliberalism, the political ideology which destroyed social protections, industry and trade unions, produced speculative bubbles and consumption based on credit, and proved unable to deliver acceptable solutions when the financial crisis accelerated the destruction of public services impoverishing both workers and the middle class. When the crisis hit Spain, the Socialist party PSOE, traditionally identified with the welfare state, was in government and failed to provide an alternative.

Not only did the Spanish socialist party not react as socialists, they didn’t even dare to reject the policies of austerity and the slashing of public spending or to offer a minimal Keynesian rescue programme. The prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero simply surrendered to the crisis, embracing the same measures that a conservative government would have done. He himself acknowledged in a memoir that he knew that the measures he took would cost him elections and the leadership of his party.

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