Corbyn’s Position

A lot has been said about Jeremy over the last week. Some of it fair. Most of it unfair. Some of it out-right abuse.

But most of all, almost all of it; ignorant. Not just about Jeremy as a person and his plans for the country, but about those of us who elected him, who support him, and will continue to do so.

So, in the interest of clarity, here are a few points of information for anyone unsure of Jeremy’s position as leader:

  • We didn’t elect him for his public speaking abilities. We elected him for his ability to speak the truth.
  • We didn’t elect him for the way that he dressed. We elected him because he thought standing up for the weak and vulnerable was more important.
  • Above all, we didn’t elect him because he wanted to be PM. We elected him precisely because he didn’t.

Still, for any doubters in Jeremy and his New Politics project, ask yourselves this:

When the next attack on trade unions occurs, who would you want to represent you?

When the next savaging of welfare occurs, who would you want to represent you?

When the next privatisation of public services occurs, who would you want to represent you?

When the next military invasion occurs, who would you want to represent you?

When the next expenses scandal occurs, who would you want to represent you?

When the next phone-hacking occurs, who would you want to represent you?

Is it the New Labour moderate who voted for all of the above? Or the quiet, honest, principled man with an intolerance for injustice and an overwhelming mandate for a new politics?

We know that Jeremy isn’t a “leader” in the traditional sense. And thank goodness for that.

Jeremy has brought a new form of leadership. Leadership through service. Not leadership through ambition.

People who planned their whole political lives to be leader of the Labour Party find themselves punished for their “ambition-at-all-costs” attitude.

Their vote for the welfare bill, for the Iraq War, for tuition fees, for private finance initiatives, for the de-regulation of financial services and the raising of the child benefit cap; all for nothing. They sold-out their principles so they could acquire them later. But all of it too late.

There is only one person in the Labour Party who has retained their integrity, who has stayed principled, who has been true to his word; and he has been rewarded with a resounding mandate as leader of the Labour Party for precisely these reasons.

The PLP can’t stand it.

The Labour front-bench has never been a meritocracy of service. It has been an oligarchy of blackmail – of falling into line, of promotions for votes, of indulging the corporates and the media elites.

Not any more.

The Right of the Labour Party is now experiencing its own sense of powerlessness.

In government, Labour became arrogant. It bought into its own success. It allowed the liberalisation of financial services because “it could.” Because “nothing bad would happen on our watch.” Because it “was a small price to pay when you could raise more taxes.” It allowed us to be dragged into an illegal war because “it would better the Special Relationship.” It allowed immigration to become a dirty word because “it would win more votes.”

And all the while, this arrogance led to complacency. So much so that the whole purpose of even allowing these tragedies in the first-place was forgotten about.

“Playing the long-game” is a one-way ticket to a Faustian dystopia.  Jeremy didn’t play this game. Indeed, he doesn’t even know how.

And this is where we need to look ourselves in the mirror.

Many Labour voters and supporters voted to leave the EU because, for whatever reason, they convinced themselves that Jeremy was – “secretly” – in favour of Brexit.

The media appearances, the arguments for remaining, the campaigning up and down the country; this was all farcical because “Jeremy didn’t actually believe any of it.”

The guy who can’t lie to save his life had campaigned on the most important political issue of the last 50 years against his own beliefs. Seriously?

This is as much a betrayal of Jeremy Corbyn as Angela Eagle’s leadership challenge.

Jeremy is not just the democratically-elected leader of the Labour Party. He is the necessary leader of the Labour Party.

And this is why we must all – Brexit or not – support him to the hilt.

And yet, due to the wave of unrest which the PLP has voluntarily inflicted upon itself over the past week; and due to the personal, emotional damage this has done to Jeremy and his family, we have to consider the possibility that Jeremy might resign.

This would be a tragedy – but it doesn’t have to be a catastrophe…

First, if Jeremy does resign, he’ll have a plan. He will not leave us in the lurch. There will be a proper plan for transition.

Second, it is important that we – as members and supporters – do not quit immediately. We don’t know who would take-over. If Jeremy is not on the ballot then we could conceivably see John McDonnell stand in his place. He would need all of us to stay and vote for him – and we should do this with the same passion and energy that elected Jeremy.

Third, there could still be a Party split. Even if there was no viable candidate from Corbyn’s team, a split could still occur with trade unions and others backing a formal split between “Corbynistas” and Blairites. “Luke-warmers” would then have a decision to make, and this could result in a pretty even split.

Fourth, if a non-Corbyn ally wins the leadership election and/or a split occurs; this is the time to assess our membership status. Not before a vote. And not before it becomes clear exactly what the Left of the Party aims to do.

We cannot let the Labour Party fall back into the hands of the PLP.

The PLP must fall back into the hands of the membership.

We need to stay. We need to vote. And, above all, we need to make sure that – whatever happens – Jeremy’s legacy is protected and, hopefully, continued.

New politics – why Corbyn?

Everyone is in agreement. We need a “new politics.”

Many of us aren’t sure what that is. Many of us, even with some idea, aren’t sure how to implement it.

Over the coming weeks and months there will be a demand to get this right.

Jeremy Corbyn has had less than a year to get his feet under the table; yet people are doubting the “new politics” he has tried to deliver.

Many of us claim we want a new kind of politics. Yet when this is presented to us we dismiss it as illogical, naive or ineffective.

We need to do better.

We are the first generation whose entire youth has been documented online.

Our futures are almost entirely dependent on our pasts. The embarrassing video. The Tweets of anger. The Live Journal post you did when you were 15. This couldn’t be more true of politics and this, above all, is why politics must change.

Despite a healthy cynicism toward politicians, there is an expectation for them to be faultless; a sense that, “Only a perfect person is good-enough to represent me.”

This has led politicians to try their hardest fulfilling this ambition; to appear perfect – distinct above the rest – responsible-enough to lead.

The soundbites, the fake decency, the lack of public outburst and the profuse apology that follows (Duffy-Gate), all point toward a political class all too-conscious of what people expect from them.

Should a glimpse of humanity show itself, it’s treated as an unmitigated disaster.

So when we complain about a “disconnect” between ourselves and “the Establishment,” we should keep this in mind.

Our criticism often stems from the same self-righteousness that demands politicians exceed the standards we might normally hold ourselves to. A disconnect entirely of our own making.

Unreasonable demands on public officials to be other than themselves, to have no past – no history – has suggested they become empty and robotic.

On the rare occasion when they do show passion, it’s passion they think the electorate agrees with. No honest disagreement. No argument. No “battle of ideas.”

If we want politicians to really represent us, if we want politicians to show more humanity, then we need to be willing to humble ourselves and allow their mistakes. All them a past. Allow them a history. We all make mistakes. It’s how we learn from them that matters.

This is why Jeremy Corbyn is so important.

Corbyn’s insistence on avoiding personal attacks, to ignore and forgive past faults, to emphasise the importance of now; shows the way for an effective, open and engaging politics of the future.

If Jeremy is to succeed in achieving this he needs our support.

We need to back him. Not just with words, but with actions, too.

We need to rise above personal insults, above cocaine and “Pig-Gate.” Even the Bullingdon Club.

It’s hard. At the peak of Tory cruelty – in the midst of the bedroom tax and disability cuts – damaging personal revelations and opportunities for insults were too good to ignore.

But the truth is we knew these revelations had nothing to do with Tory policy.

On the contrary, we were afraid they might make politicians feel a little bit closer to ourselves – that they too are human – that they too make mistakes.

Our own frailties, our own histories, are not that different from others’ – whether people grow-up to destroy lives through politics or save them.

It is convenient for us to condemn, to judge to gloat. It maintains the separation that we ourselves have demanded.

But no more.

Over the next few years, we are facing the prospect of a Tory government to the Right of anything we’ve ever seen in this country.

Backed by a wave of populist support against migrants, re-energised by their victory of leaving the European Union; we are in the very real danger of repealing all that was good over the last 20 years.

The National Minimum Wage, increased maternity and paternity rights, tax credits, increased welfare spending, investment in our public services, among many other success stories.

It is easy (and justified) to get lost in the Iraq War. The repealing of Clause 4. The damage to the core of our membership and the communities we’re supposed to represent.

But we must not let this cloud our judgement on just how bad a new Tory government would be; a Tory government that could boast a majority of over 200 should Labour allow itself to descend into the chaos of a new leadership election.

The new politics would be over. And Labour would be handed back over to the Blairites.

We need to fight.

We need to fight the Tories on policy. Unite ourselves around Jeremy. Help convince people of the new politics he has tried so hard to deliver. We need to live-out these values.

Do we really want to trade the last 12 months and the future of British – even global – politics for a handful of ineffective, irrelevant insults?

The Tories and Blairites must be defeated not because of their pasts, but because of their futures. It is our job to convince them of a better way.

We need to represent a new kind of politics. And Jeremy is best-placed to deliver.