A month before the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party in September 2015, the left-wing author and journalist Owen Jones wrote a prescient piece for the New Statesman headed “If Jeremy Corbyn wins, prepare for a firestorm”. In it he forecast that if Corbyn won he would “come under attack from the media establishment, the Tories and much of his own party … because he presents a dangerous threat to the post-Thatcher political consensus”. He argued that the Blairite/New Labour wing of the party would never want it to succeed under his leadership and would make every effort to ensure it failed in order to give “a permanent lesson to the left”. Almost a year into a Corbyn leadership, it is now clear that much of what Owen Jones predicted has come to pass, although he possibly underestimated the ferocity of the onslaught that the Labour leader would have to endure from most sides of the political spectrum and, as he also predicted, some of the most aggressive attacks have come from those in his own party.
How has this come about? Why is the Labour party leader with the largest democratic mandate ever regarded with such fear and loathing? Probably the simplest answer is that Corbyn’s election signified a clear break with the dominant model of neoliberalism in favour of an egalitarian economic policy and a commitment to address the many forms of social inequality that had increased over the previous three decades.
In order to understand the importance of this shift in approach and why it is being so fiercely resisted it is necessary to go back to the first Blair government of 1997 when Tony Blair said shortly after the election victory that the government was “elected as New Labour and would govern as New Labour”. Here he was making clear that the newly elected Labour government would not challenge the fundamentals of the Thatcherite revolution such as privatisation, deregulation and the restructuring of welfare. In fact Blair himself said, at the time of Margaret Thatcher’s death, that he saw his task as being “to build on some of the things [Thatcher] had done rather then reverse them”. The political relationship between Thatcher and Blair is crucial to understanding what is happening now. In his biography of Blair, Anthony Seldon discussed the influence of Margaret Thatcher on him and details how much he admired her as a politician. He describes her influence on him as “profound” and that it “shaped three of his five core beliefs: social moralism, direct democracy and the commitment to the free market”.
Owen Jones quotes a Tory minister who said Thatcher once declared to a crowd of her supporters “Our greatest achievement was Tony Blair. We forced our opponents to change.” In turn, during the early days of his Tory Party leadership, when he was trying to rebrand the party as caring and compassionate, David Cameron is said to have described himself as the “heir to Blair”. Recently the political commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown summarised the relationship between the three politicians as: “Thatcher”s heir was Blair: Cameron is the love child of both.”
What this meant was that during the New Labour period of government none of the key pillars of the Thatcher era were dismantled. The sale of council houses continued unabated; the idolisation of the City of London as the most important source of wealth remained unchallenged, the privatisation of public utilities was left alone. In fact the Private Finance Initiative that introduced private sector funding into capital projects within the Health Service has served as a potential stalking horse for privatisation. It was for some of these reasons that many Labour supporters left the Labour Party during the period of Blair’s leadership, even before the outrage caused by his support for the Iraq war. A considerable number of these people are now rejoining to support Jeremy Corbyn.
But, as Tom Clark has pointed out in The Guardian, this view understandably outrages many in the Parliamentary Labour Party (its MPs) for it is clear that New Labour did a lot of good things: it increased funding for the NHS, set up Sure Start Family Centres open to all, lowered class sizes and reduced child poverty. However Clark argues that New Labour did not change Britain’s political discourse: “…progressive policies were pursued but … progressive arguments were dodged around” with the result that “ … New Labour failed to change anybody’s mind about much apart from itself. The result is a frail legacy that is now being unravelled with extraordinary speed”. And this is the real issue: many of New Labour’s policies not only could not survive the coalition government’s austerity approach but their demise provided some justification for those Tory policies. For example the Blair government’s timidity on supporting those on state benefits and creating a narrative about welfare cheats meant that the Cameron administration was able to press on with an assault on benefits that would once have been unthinkable. If Blair was “continuity” Thatcherite, Cameron and Osborne have been “real” Thatcherite. As Clarke says, “New Labour never showed quite the same zeal for taking on the arguments of the right as it did for smashing the unelectable left. The 1997 landslide suggested a country that was open to new arguments, but it heard too few of them.” In some ways the same comment might apply in today’s political circumstances.
Therefore when Jeremy Corbyn started to campaign for the Labour leadership on the basis of left-wing policies, for the first time in many years, people were hearing them being presented in a coherent and unabashed fashion, without equivocation, triangulation or spin. People also knew Corbyn was committed to these policies as he had been fighting for them all his political life. This is one of the main reasons why he is seen as so threatening for the Establishment and the right wing of the party; for better or worse, he actually believes in these policies. So it is not at all surprising that he has experienced a backlash.
At the time of writing (political events in the UK change so fast), the Labour Party is in the middle of a second leadership election within a year. It has come about at this point in time as part of the political earthquake of the UK’s Brexit vote in the EU referendum. Many people in the country, and particularly in the political establishment, were deeply shocked and traumatised by this result. Somewhat surprisingly, the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) opposed to Jeremy Corbyn ‑ a large majority ‑ chose one of the worst political crises in Britain’s history as a good time to launch an internal coup against the Labour leader, (perhaps drawing on the well-worn revolutionary axiom that “England’s difficulty is the Parliamentary Labour Party’s (PLP) opportunity”). This action has involved a number of tactics to try and dislodge Corbyn from office; the serial resignations of over forty members of his shadow cabinet over four days, which achieved considerable media impact; a vote of no confidence, which Corbyn lost by 172 votes to forty, and constitutional and legal efforts to keep his name off any further leadership ballot papers. The numbers involved in the vote against Corbyn’s leadership clearly shows that it was not just the Blairite wing of the PLP that want to get rid of him but also many of those associated with Gordon Brown and New Labour generally, as well as the centre-left of the party (these groupings are used in order to suggest positions on the political spectrum of the Labour Party, not as terms of either endorsement or abuse).
The reasons given by the MPs for wanting to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn seem to fall into a number of categories: that he has no management skills, that he did not campaign seriously enough for the Remain side in the EU referendum (with the implication that therefore the Leave result was to a large extent his responsibility) and that in general terms, he is not a competent leader. These criticisms are framed within the overall view that under Corbyn the Labour Party would be unelectable in a general election. A recent article by Sadiq Khan, the newly elected Labour mayor of London, in The Guardian (25/8/16) summarised the anti-Corbyn position quite clearly. The headline said: “We cannot win with Corbyn … so I will vote for Owen Smith. Merely opposing Tory policies is not enough. Labour must win elections to protect people who rely on it.” From the beginning, the PLP have made the issue of electability central to their argument. However, to date Corbyn has not been tested as leader in a general election and four out of the five previous Labour Party leaders have failed to win an election.
Following the no confidence vote, attempts were made by the deputy party leader, Tom Watson, and Len McClusky, the leader of the country’s biggest union, Unite, to broker a deal between the different groups. However, as the main demand of the PLP members was that Corbyn should resign, this process did not go very far. Corbyn and his supporters pointed out that he had been elected by sixty per cent of the overall party membership less than a year previously. The resistance of Jeremy Corbyn to quitting his post seems to have surprised the PLP members as, in previous times, the resignation of most of a leader’s shadow cabinet and an eighty per cent vote of no confidence would have meant his position was untenable. But what the MPs do not seem to have taken into account is that under the new voting system which elected Corbyn originally, it was the wider membership who voted for him in large numbers. He has never had the support of the PLP, which made the no confidence vote of limited significance, and in 2015 he only received the thirty-five nominations from PLP members required in order to stand because a number of MPs “lent” him their support in the belief that he had absolutely no chance of being elected.
The next PLP strategy was to propose a “unity candidate” to challenge Corbyn as leader and to force another leadership election. Unfortunately for the anti-Corbyn grouping, it quickly emerged that the PLP had failed to identify such a person in advance and for two weeks there were rumours about the possible candidacy of Angela Eagle, a former Labour cabinet minister and ex-member of the shadow cabinet. But the fact that she had voted to support the Iraq war, and for welfare cuts, counted against her. A second candidate then emerged, Owen Smith, who was elected only in 2010 and so was not tainted by either the war or involvement in New Labour. For a brief period there were two “unity candidates”, Eagle and Smith, but Angela Eagle quickly “decided” to withdraw. Considerable efforts, both constitutional and legal, were made to keep Corbyn off the leadership ballot but these were unsuccessful, so a leadership election was called between Corbyn and Owen Smith.
To understand how the Labour Party has got into its current predicament it is worth noting that the current leadership election processes were arrived at after a number of revisions over the last twenty years, ostensibly in order to introduce more democracy, but if they also reduced the influence of the left within the party many regarded that as a helpful side effect. Under Tony Blair’s leadership in the 1990s steps had already been taken to curb what New Labour regarded as the excessive influence of the trade unions in party elections through the block votes of their millions of members, and the voting system was changed to a three-part arrangement with one third of the vote going to the Parliamentary Labour Party (MPs), one third to the unions and one third to party members. Unfortunately, from the Blairites’ point of view, in the election of 2010 this still did not produce the “right” result and the voters ended up choosing the “wrong” Miliband brother ‑ Ed instead of David. Therefore the voting system was altered again to broaden the franchise and to base it on one member, one vote (OMOV). As a result, the electorate is now made up of individual party members (which means MPs have one vote like everybody else), affiliated supporters (individual members of unions affiliated to the Labour party) and registered supporters (Labour supporters who could pay a registration fee of £3 to be allowed to vote). So there was much shock and surprise when Corbyn was elected in a landslide in the first round in September 2015, with a quarter of a million votes (59.5 per cent), 170,000 more than Andy Burnham in second and over 230,000 votes more than the Blairite candidate, Liz Kendall, in fourth place. Jeremy Corbyn won each of the three sections of the electorate, the party membership, the affiliated supporters and registered supporters.
As an aside, it seems clear that the Irish Labour Party was watching closely the outcome of this experiment in democracy and, after careful consideration, decided it was not for them. Having been decimated in the Irish general election of 2015 and losing eighty per cent of its Dáil seats, one might have thought that a debate among its members on its future way forward would have been useful and a leadership election could have provided such an opportunity. As the party was left with only seven TDs this did not leave a great number of options for potential leader. The numbers were further reduced by the fact the previous leader and the party chairman said they would not participate in the election. Two of the five were interested in standing for leader but one said he would only stand if there were no other candidates and the other proposed himself but could not get a seconder. Therefore the party decided not to have an election and agreed that the one person who had a seconder would be the leader. When others outside the parliamentary group objected to this they received the Fr Ted response that it was “a constitutional matter”. As one party member commented “Four decided for the four thousand (members)”.
In the 2015 leadership election there was a well-organised campaign to support Corbyn that quickly gathered pace via union support, social media and an extensive series of overflowing mass meetings throughout the country. One of the key factors in this was the development of a well-organised grass roots campaign which made extensive use of social media and the Red Labour Facebook page and the JezWeCan hashtag became spaces where volunteers organised mass support for Corbyn, spreading instant news and dates and times of events. During this first leadership campaign, a meeting in Newcastle in a 1,200-seat theatre sold out within twenty-four hours and Corbyn addressed another five hundred people outside the theatre beforehand. At another meeting on the same day in Middlesbrough, twenty-five miles away, Corbyn spoke to over a thousand people in the town hall. While the social media campaign quickly attracted media-savvy young people who were interested in engaging in politics for the first time, the mass meetings around the country gave an opportunity for disaffected former members of the Labour Party to engage again with positive left-wing policies. The Corbyn campaign understood that the model of the £3 registered supporter category was a very good way to widen the support for their candidate for those who could not afford or did not want full membership, so it worked very hard to sign people up as supporters. By the time the vote took place this part of the electorate had grown to 112,000, mainly Corbyn supporters, and at the same time the actual membership of the Labour Party doubled over the period of the election campaign from 190,000 to nearly 400,000.
The social movement aspect of the campaign has continued since the election and under Corbyn Labour Party membership has now reached over 500,000, making it the biggest left-wing party in Europe. This time round the Labour NEC made the requirements for supporters who wished to vote in a leadership election more stringent, requiring people to register within a two-day window and pay £25, instead of the previous £3 fee. Despite this, over 183,000 still signed up. While these people may not all be Corbyn supporters, it is likely that most are.
The fractious nature of the current election campaign can be seen in some of the extreme responses to the increase in party members and supporters. In a recent interview, deputy leader Tom Watson, who tried to persuade Corbyn to resign, claimed that some of these people signing up as supporters are actually “hard-left Trotsky entryists” who are “twisting the arms” of younger members and are looking to “take over the party”. A few days later a leading donor to the Labour Party wrote in one of the tabloids that the party was being taken over by “Nazi Stormtroopers”. As one supporter commented on Twitter: “Make up your mind. I’m going to a supporters meeting and I don’t know what to wear.”
Following his nomination as the challenger, the problem facing Owen Smith in the current leadership election is that in order to win he needs to attract many tens of thousands of voters who either voted for Corbyn last time or did not vote. His strategy so far has been to present himself as nearly as left-wing as Corbyn but more competent as a leader and manager of the parliamentary party. This is quite a difficult position to maintain as a review by the Daily Mirror of twenty policies announced by Smith at a press conference at the end of July pointed out that at least ten were already policies espoused by Jeremy Corbyn. One of the difficulties for Owen Smith is that both Corbyn supporters and detractors know only too well that Corbyn has a forty-year record of fighting for the causes and beliefs that he is now turning into policies, whereas Smith has only been in parliament since 2010 and his backstory of commitment to left ideas is somewhat patchy. A number of commentators have noted that his pre-parliamentary career with BBC Wales and as a lobbyist for the drug company Pfizer does not necessarily constitute a radical past. Paul Mason, the broadcaster and author of the influential book Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, is a Corbyn supporter who has described Smith’s campaign as “Jeremy Lite”). He notes that many of the policies Smith is proposing could not possibly be supported by a significant proportion of the 172 anti-Corbyn MPs as they are far more left-wing than they would accept.
Mason asks in another article on the Labour Party: “Why are the mainstream Labour MPs are so afraid of Corbyn and his policies?” His answer is that they realise if they came to power Corbyn and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, would ditch neoliberalism and the policies associated with it. Mason has been arguing for a few years now in a number of articles that neoliberalism is producing global stagnation and increased inequality and, as a result of the rise of grass roots movement in so many countries, it is fragmenting standard two-party politics. Therefore, to have a government in a Western country actively rejecting neoliberal approaches would be a huge challenge to the political status quo.
This analysis is echoed by Martin Jacques, who was the editor of the influential left magazine Marxism Today in the 1970s and 80s. He, with his fellow writer Stuart Hall, the cultural theorist, first identified the emerging dominance of neoliberalism in the West and coined the term “Thatcherism” to describe its application in the UK. In a recent piece in The Observer (21/8/16) Jacques says that: “Although it failed the test of the real world, bequeathing the worst economic disaster for seven decades, politically and economically (neoliberalism) remained the only show in town. Parties of the right, centre and left had all bought into its philosophy, New Labour a classic in point.” In Jacques’s view, neoliberalism had become in Gramsci’s sense, “hegemonic”. He argues that even as an economic approach neoliberalism has not been particularly successful, with only half the growth rates of the postwar Keynesian era. But what it has changed dramatically is the level of inequality in society as evidenced by studies such as The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett and Thomas Picketty’s Capital. As a result, Jacques says, “…large section of populations in the US and the UK are in revolt against their lot”, as was dramatically illustrated in the UK by the Brexit vote.
Although many in the PLP openly blame Corbyn for the Leave vote ‑ most recently the “clairvoyant” Owen Smith who suggested that Corbyn might have voted to leave ‑ the reality is that Labour voters voted by a majority of sixty-three per cent to remain in the EU, one percentage point less than the SNP Remain vote, and considerably more than the forty per cent of Tory Remain voters. Analysis of the referendum results has shown there were far more people in the southeast of England who voted Leave than in the working class Labour heartlands of the North. Martin Jacques suggests that although the referendum vote was “ostensibly about Europe, it was in fact … a cri de coeur from those who feel they have lost out and been left behind, whose living standards have stagnated or worse since the 1980s, who feel dislocated by large-scale immigration over which they have no control and who face an increasingly insecure and casualised labour market”. Further south, Little Englandism was clearly important. Indeed the anti-immigrant narrative that was allowed to flourish under both New Labour and the Tory/Lib Dem coalition governments, exacerbated by the often crudely racist campaigns run by Nigel Farage and UKIP, did gain some traction among working class voters. In the northeast of England where I live, Sunderland, a staunchly Labour-voting city in general elections, gained some international fame for announcing Brexit to the world when it declared a sixty-one per cent Leave vote shortly after the polls had closed. Although, in vox pop interviews with local voters some did say that their reason for voting Leave was because there were too many immigrants in the city, in actual fact the northeast is the region with the smallest number of non-British residents: three per cent. However, what Sunderland, and the region more widely, has suffered from over the last thirty years is deindustrialisation, with the complete closing down of major industries such as coalmining and shipbuilding. The campus of the city’s current largest employer, the University of Sunderland, is built on the site of the shipyards and Sunderland’s football stadium is now where the area’s largest coal-mining pit used to be. Unemployment is considerably higher than in much of the South and the uptake of welfare benefits is greater. Public services in the northeast have also experienced proportionately higher cuts to Government grants that those in the south of England. In 2016 Sunderland will lose £17.22 per head of population, Newcastle £19.38, Middlesbrough £20.10 and Northumberland £19.56 compared to a national average of £10.66 and even less for some councils in the southeast. Not surprisingly, Labour holds most councils in the northeast, while the Conservatives control many in the South. In these circumstances one might argue the Leave voters had nothing to lose, but the reality is that the biggest influx to the region from the EU is not immigrants but EU funding: the area is the most dependent on it of any English region. Rather than pander to ideas reinforced by media stereotypes and right-wing generalisations, Paul Mason argues that the way to reengage with those who voted Leave in such areas is not to demonise immigrants but to make up the deficits in people’s day-to-day lives by investing in industry, jobs and public services.
As the second Labour leadership contest in a year moves towards its conclusion it is clear that what is taking place is an ideological battle within the party. The fight is between those wishing to continue what might be called the “New Labour” approach and tack towards the centre ground in order to be attractive to as many voters as possible and to remain within the political consensus; or to clearly set out and adopt left-wing policies and positions as an alternative to the Conservatives’ austerity-driven programme. It is obvious from the arguments and actions that have already taken place there is no “Third Way”.
However, although there are many similarities with last year’s election process, and Jeremy Corbyn continues to address even larger mass meetings around the country, there are also a number of significant differences. Corbyn continues to attract criticism and abuse from many directions, but some of the voices are different. Whereas during the election last year when the Blairite wing of the Labour party, including Jack Straw, David Miliband, Peter Mandelson, Alistair Campbell and, most forcefully, Blair himself, spoke out continually about the dangers of electing Corbyn as leader, this time round they are very quiet. Now it is the ordinary MPs who are speaking out, with personal criticisms of Corbyn ‑ such as that he would not listen to them or that he undermined them in their particular role, or even claims of racial discrimination. Also the attacks from the media are not about his policy positions but much more about his ability or his behaviour. One report recently said that he could not be contacted about some issue because he was “making jam”.
Paul Mason suggests that the reason for the change in approach is that for Owen Smith’s “Jeremy Lite” approach to work it is necessary for the right-wing press to go quiet: “Normally, if a Labour figure stood up and, from thin air, plucked a £200bn spending pledge based on a wealth tax (as Smith has done), the Sun, the Mail and the Telegraph would have reporters going through his bin-bags”. Similarly, with Smith’s demand for a second vote on Brexit: there has been almost no reaction from the pro-Brexit press. The problem for the press is that if they attack Corbyn’s policies, by implication they are attacking Smith’s as well.
As Mason says, the reason for this quietness from leading Blairites is that those most opposed to Corbyn are fully expecting Smith to lose the leadership contest and want him to do so without implicating themselves in the defeat. But rather than the election result being the end of the matter, this will only be the beginning of the next phase. As he puts it “ … on the principle that Chekhov outlined in theatre: if a gun appears in Act I, by the end of Act III someone is going to get shot. Every signal from the Labour right appears to point towards a second coup against Corbyn … ” He suggests that this might involve trying to take over the party name and assets and claim the role of official opposition in parliament. Clearly such actions would be fiercely contested by Corbyn supporters and could only further damage Labour in the opinion polls but for some that seems to be a price worth paying.
No matter how this current conflict in the Labour Party resolves itself it is obvious that whatever leadership emerges will have to reengage with its supporters in the North of England and decide on a policy in relation to Scotland and the SNP. It is clear that the party failed to recognise the politics of cultural identity that swept Scotland prior to the independence referendum, while at the same time seeming happy to campaign with the Tory Party on keeping the union together. Also, as a result of adopting a position of austerity-lite in relation to the Conservatives in England, it found itself to the right of the SNP on economic and social policy. Of course, it is quite possible that this debate will become irrelevant if Scotland holds a second independence referendum as a result of the Brexit vote and decides to leave the United Kingdom. The Labour Party will also have to deal with the threat posed by UKIP, depending on how that party reconfigures itself. Having achieved its aim, in theory at least, of gaining independence from the EU, once its own leadership election is over, UKIP will need to decide what its purpose is, but it has shown that its xenophobic message can be attractive to working class voters. There has been talk of left-wing alliances between Labour and the Green Party and, at some point, the SNP. But as the Irish (and Spanish) experience shows, such things are not easily constructed or particularly stable. The redrawing of electoral boundaries in 2018 is unlikely to favour the Labour Party but the process will provide an opportunity for local constituencies to reconsider who their MP should be and this might provide more balance on the PLP if Corbyn is still leader.
Although, at the present time, it looks as if the Conservative Party is having an easy ride, sitting back and enjoying the Labour Party show, this is not the case. Having both sides of the EU referendum campaign in the cabinet may look like a unifying move but, in fact, nothing has been resolved in relation to the EU. Theresa May’s meaningless tautology that “Brexit means Brexit” is unlikely to survive very long once the House of Commons is sitting again after the summer recess. The successful pro-leave camp will be demanding action, even if they don’t know what that action might be.
A lot has happened politically in the UK in the last three months and it seems certain that the next three months will be equally frenetic. To misquote an Irish writer of some renown, it remains to be seen if Jeremy Corbyn will continue to lead the party to the left or will be an example of the “unelectable modality of the political”.
Jeremy Kearney August 2016
Jeremy Kearney lives in Newcastle upon Tyne and has recently rejoined the Labour Party after twenty years. He has also has signed up as a registered supporter in order to vote in the leadership election.
Space to Think, an anthology bringing together more than fifty of the best pieces to have appeared in the Dublin Review of Books since its foundation ten years ago, will be published in October. Selling in the shops at €25, it is available now for pre-order at a special price of €20 (to collect in Dublin) or €20 + post and packing charges as appropriate for shipping to addresses in Ireland and internationally. To buy online, follow the steps from the home page of our website.
One piece featured in Space to Think is Enda O’Doherty’s essay from 2015 on the politics of George Orwell, “The Romantic Englishman”. Here is a short extract:
In one of his many tirades against “cranks” Orwell relates that he was, while living at Wallington, travelling through the nearby town of Letchworth when his bus stopped and two “dreadful-looking” old men got on.
They were both about sixty, both very short, pink, and chubby, and both hatless. One of them was obscenely bald, the other had long grey hair bobbed in the Lloyd George style. They were dressed in pistachio-coloured shirts and khaki shorts into which their huge bottoms were crammed so tightly that you could study every dimple. Their appearance created a mild stir of horror on top of the bus. The man next to me, a commercial traveller I should say, glanced at me, at them, and back again at me, and murmured ‘Socialists’, as who should say, ‘Red Indians’.
The appearance of these two grotesques in Letchworth at this time can have had only one explanation: they were there to attend the summer school of the Independent Labour Party, a ginger group just to the left of the official Labour Party. In spite of his apparent aversion to cranks, Orwell attended the school himself in the following year and in 1938 he joined the ILP, writing in its journal, New Leader, that the time had come when “one has got to be actively a Socialist, not merely sympathetic to Socialism”. It was not, he stressed, that he “had lost all faith in the Labour Party” (the first sign that he had ever had any, his biographer Bernard Crick remarks). But he was relying on the ILP in particular to resist “the temptation to fling every principle overboard in order to prepare for an Imperialist war”. In a long article in The Adelphi in December 1938 he strongly criticised Labour for being half-hearted in its resistance to what he saw as the inexorable drift towards war with Germany, urging it, instead of colluding in British rearmament, to make stronger appeals to the German working class to resist Hitler. If the war were to be fought, he believed, it would be little more than an ignominious scrabble for markets between Britain and France on the one hand and Germany and Italy on the other. The only blessing would be that, given the power of aerial bombing, it would certainly be over very quickly. But declaration of war and attempted conscription and mobilisation would also give to the working classes of each of the belligerent countries the chance to stage a revolution.