Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A good day for the labour party, a great day for the future of British democracy

Since the labour party disastrous defeat in the recent general election and Ed Milliband stood down as party leader, I hadn’t paid much attention to the leadership contest. From the little I did hear, it seemed to me to be difference faces saying the same old things. Just the same old tory lite policies we have all heard before. “Aspiration” became the buzz word of the campaign and a number of the candidates attacked the policies of Ed Milliband, saying he was too far left and the party needed to take a more central ground. I, like many others felt uninspired by any of the candidates and quickly lost interest, while wondering to myself what the purpose of the labour party is, if it can’t challenge tory policies and offer the electorate a real choice. Disheartened and disappointed that a golden egg opportunity had been wasted I stopped listening, just as the party stopped listening to it’s members a long time ago. I was certain that the labour party was doomed, finished as a front line player in British politics. Until the Greens, or a new left wing party was formed and gained the required momentum, we would be stuck with successive conservative majority governments.

Then in the final quarter, north Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn declared his intention to enter the competition. I live just outside the border of his constituency, so although he is not my MP (unfortunately) I have met Corbyn a number of times. Two friends and myself had set up a new project for people in early recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and we organised a party to celebrate the clubs first birthday. As chairperson of the committee I invited both local MP’s, the two mayors and the local press. Jeremy Corbyn was the only one who turned up, despite having a busy schedule that evening and spent some time with the club members, talking to them, socialising with them and it was a great evening. He left the club at 9.20pm and told us he was heading back to the houses of parliament to finish off some work.

The second time I met Jeremy was when a friend of mine, who was a constituent of his, was receiving an award from our local mayor. Again, he mixed and spoke to lots of people, didn’t matter who they were. We had a conversation about an issue I was having with the local PCT. The reason I am telling these personal stories is in an attempt to demonstrate the type of man Jeremy Corbyn is. He is an exemplary MP who works hard for his constituents, whatever their issues or concerns might be. Many of our MP’s could learn a lot by following his example. Jeremy is not a 9-5 five days per week MP, nor is he anyone’s puppet, having repelled against different labour party leaders five hundred times when voting. British politics would not be in the state it is now if all MP’s were as dedicated, committed and worked in the interests of their constituents, as Jeremy Corbyn does. The people of north Islington are very lucky to have him as their MP and I am not in the least bit resentful my house is not 500 yards further north.

Today, if only by the skin of his teeth, Jeremy has made it onto the ballot for the labour party leadership contest. This is indeed a good day for the labour party, but also a great one for the future of British democracy. There has been a huge campaign on twitter supporting him and his facebook page now has 21,000 fans. Suddenly there is a new buzz and excitement about the leadership contest. You see Jeremy Corbyn is a man of the people. He is the only candidate who appreciates the damage and suffering being caused to real people by the tories austerity program and he stands firmly in the anti austerity camp. In fact, he has actually joined many of the anti austerity demonstrations in London. He is also the only candidate who is anti trident, believing it is insanity to spend £30billion+ replacing our very own weapons of mass destruction. Jeremy was one of the few labour MP’s who voted against the Iraq war and possibly the only one to join the anti Iraq war demonstrations.

With Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the labour party we would have a strong voice to speak for the benefit claimants who are being unfairly sanctioned, the 4.1million children living in poverty, the working class poor, those unable to get a fair trial because of the tories cuts to the legal aid budget, all of our public sector workers who have had to endure a five year pay freeze, and the 1.084million people who were forced to depend on food banks last year, to name a few. We would have someone to challenge the tory policies of austerity, trident renewal, fracking our countryside, attacking our fundamental human rights, tax breaks for the rich, bankers bonuses, the estimated £122billion in unpaid taxes last year, allowing the banks to continue with their irresponsible activities that caused the global financial crisis in 2008 and perhaps most importantly the privatisation of our NHS. He would be a voice for all taxpayers who stand to lose £14billion from George Osborne’s plans to sell off our 81% shareholding in RBS bank, plus the 7 years of interest we have paid on borrowing the money to bail out RBS in the first place. If elected, Jeremy would be a voice for the millions of British people who currently do not have a voice.

The possibility of a move towards real democracy in Britain is alive again with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the labour party. Now that he is on the ballot for the leadership contest, a real debate can begin about the future of the labour party, but also how we are to be governed. It will be a tough campaign, but Jeremy has a lot of grass roots support and many people will be encouraged by the possibility of a clear alternative to the policies of the tories. There are four candidates in the contest, but Jeremy is the only one standing firmly on the side of everyone who is fed up with our wholly undemocratic political system. But even if he does not win the contest, the four months campaign will present an opportunity to challenge the lies and myths spread by the tories and our national press. I am not traditionally a supporter of the labour party, but I encourage everyone to grab this opportunity with both hands and join in the debate about the future of the labour party. There has never been a greater opportunity to be a part of bringing real change to British politics and there has never been a better chance for a move towards real democracy.

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