Vote for Jeremy Corbyn
July 27, 2015 § 1 Comment
Who’d have imagined six months ago that we’d have a prominent party in Parliament with a forceful anti-austerity agenda, and, sharing it, a hugely popular candidate for the Labour leadership? The SNP and its 56 MPs now constitute a genuine, if numerically small, opposition to government policy. Having displaced the Lib Dems as the third party, they now get substantial airtime on the BBC, articulating a politics long banished from the mainstream. Jeremy Corbyn is also very much in the news, ably fending off interviewers’ slurs and earning public respect in the hustings. It takes real grit to deal with nasty attacks from an almost entirely hostile press and members of your own party.
Despite the small war of attrition waged against him by Guardian writers such as Polly Toynbee, Nick Cohen, Michael White and Jonathan Friedlander, the paper’s online poll of readers showed 78% in favour of Corbyn. The Daily Mirror’s poll results (ongoing) likewise strongly favour him and support his policies on rail renationalisation, scrapping tuition fees and Trident, and spending on the NHS and public services. His popularity among the young has given him massive visibility on social media.
What’s happening in the Labour Party itself? There is a clear anti-austerity surge from below. Corbyn so far has the highest share of constituency nominations (the leadership contest is now decided by individual votes, so these don’t strictly count, but they do give his campaign momentum) and he’s had backing from 27 of the failed Labour candidates in last May’s election. Last week’s Welfare Bill vote saw 48 Labour MPs defy the whip, including 18 of the new parliamentary intake.
There is disarray in the shadow cabinet and among leading Labour figures elsewhere, and a degree of disbelief about this unexpected turn of events: the growing possibility of a socialist becoming leader of the Labour Party. It is almost laughable that this possibility should be regarded as a threat, should be seen as lacking maturity and even legitimacy, but these responses have their origins in Tony Blair’s version of what the party needed to become: a partner in the neoliberal project.
Rallying Blair to condemn and insult those who back Corbyn may well have backfired. The Prime Minister who took us into war in Iraq seems out of touch about his standing with the British electorate. In his rivals for the leadership Corbyn is up against three shades of Blairism. Perhaps in the end he won’t win, but he’s already shown that many want to return to founding Labour principles. All it took was a little space to be created for dissent. Perhaps he will, and we’ll see Blairism ousted.
We can all vote for him if we want to see him elected as leader.
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