Open Letter to the Labour right
This is not addressed to those who are busy attacking and undermining Corbyn in the media. As far as I am concerned your behaviour is disgusting and reprehensible. Leave this blog now.
Instead, this is for those Labour members who didn’t vote for Jeremy, and have grave doubts and fears about what this will mean going forward. I’ve had some interesting discussions with a few of you lately, and so I wrote this. I hope you read it and that, even if you aren’t convinced, it sparks discussion. I don’t want to dismiss your thoughts, but I do want us to talk.
It’s impossible to speak for the movement, and I wouldn’t presume to, but broadly speaking this is about breaking with austerity and with consensus. It is about a new settlement. If those words strike fear into your heart, I ask you earnestly to provide an actual alternative that addresses the many problems we face and debate it. Gloomily muttered complaints to us about “the electorate,” failure and naivete will not subdue us, nor will they convince us. We have hope and confidence. We have new ideas with popular appeal. Hope catches. If you think that talk of hope is irrelevant, then I respectfully suggest that you consult some basic psychology textbooks. We are human, and our politics (without regard to Westminster) are human things too.
We will no longer be satisfied with crumbs from the table. For too long, electoral victory has been separate from victory for the majority of ordinary people. We want those two things to be the same thing: that if Labour wins, ordinary people win, and win big. That is what a new settlement is about. Everyone benefited from the Labour victory in 1945, when the only alternative offered was austerity. Everyone in this country right now, regardless of how they vote, whatever their views are, or wherever their perceived interests lie – all still continue to benefit from the things achieved by that Labour government. All will benefit from a Corbyn-led Labour government, likely for whole generations to come. That is what a new settlement means.
However much it frightens you, it is about not just changing the words we use, but a revolution in the way we think about issues like social security, employment and yes – representation. It is not enough for Labour MPs to pursue their own favoured agendas against the expressed wishes of the party membership as a whole. I should add that those wishes soon will be expressed. There are many of us attending our branches and CLPs now, and we will be heard with the aid of Corbyn. The things our MPs stand for must be the things that we agree together. We must be united in order to change the direction of travel. The Overton Window will begin to move back towards the centre at last, despite the best efforts of our mainstream media, and I have no sympathy with those who tacitly approve of political debate in this country moving further and further to the right. Even in the most basic interests of balance, that is undesirable. Democratic socialism of the kind we support protects a society against civil unrest further down the line, and due to the decline in our manufacturing industry, there is a dire shortage of pitchforks. Let’s not go there. Let’s change things now.
On the economy, it must serve everyone. A society which leaves people behind is an enemy to the basic premise of civilisation and invalidates the social contract. An economy that benefits the few or otherwise panders to the interests of an elite is a failure. Full employment is necessary not just for growth and governmental income, but because it raises the living standards of all by providing quality jobs with real benefits and higher wages. Realistically, combined with adequate public services, a properly funded NHS and free education, that is what most people want. It’s not too much. It’s fair, it’s reasonable, and more than that, achievable.
Ideological opposition to Quantitative Easing for capital investment in infrastructure is below you, please let go of it: you are Labour. Osborne’s failure to contain the deficit by cuts shows that the multiplier (when reversed) would lead to greater income and would pay for the original investment, plus generate extra in tax returns. Many economists agree on this.
I fear that, having considered some of your responses to our popular election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader, I must leave you with this quote, and remind you that the “children” you patronise range from teenagers through to those in their nineties. We are not stupid, naïve or even destructive. But we are eternally young. We are the optimists. Debate this, come up with an argument, and if you can’t do that, please put down your doubt if you can and join us, because together we will win!
“And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through”
David Bowie – ‘Changes’
Dear Mr. Corbyn,
Some time ago, I addressed that tweet to you when I heard you were running for the Labour Leadership. I’d never heard of you before, except probably in passing. Even then so many were expressing their disapproval of you (most of them people I disapprove of), that I was certain you were worthy of further investigation.
In one way I was disappointed. You didn’t impress me to vote for you. Like Clement Attlee’s quote about charity, in some ways voting is a cold, grey and loveless thing. Voting, if we’re honest, mostly involves passing responsibility onto someone else. Instead, you did something amazing that I never expected and had forgotten to hope for – you inspired and encouraged me to actually join in and get involved.
So we had the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, and you made a stand. With that you announced your determination not only to properly oppose the Conservatives’ plans, but also to represent people instead of opinion. How refreshing! I dared to imagine a Labour Party that stood its ground; that no longer followed, that did not act like a member of the electorate, that didn’t allow the Tories to set the terms of debate. I was angry with abstaining MPs, but I tweeted them with a view to encouraging them to support you.
You released policy documents that I read and re-read, finding ways to edit your sentences so that they’d fit into tweets I could share with others. I changed my name temporarily to Corbynette, to reflect my cheer-leading.
I was there when you visited Doncaster. I was listening carefully when you talked with us, rather than merely to us. The Jeremy Corbyn campaign is our campaign. The ideas are there for us to debate and discuss, and take forward. How wonderful!
We made endless blog posts, made videos, tweeted, shared statuses, talked to people every day about policies and ideas and what we really want for each other. Do we want austerity? No! Do we want everyone to share in the success of this country? Yes. And what we want most is for our campaign, the Jeremy Corbyn campaign, to win.
I donated to our campaign with countless others, as much as I could afford. I volunteered to help in any way I could, along with many others. So I was there when you came to Sheffield. And while you spoke with the hundreds of people outside, I was behind the ticketing desk, working together with someone I’d never met before, but with whom I shared an enthusiasm for this new politics which involves us all.
And now, if we should win, what then? You will have your own part to play, just as we have ours, and the campaign will continue. I hope you give that speech on Saturday, Mr. Corbyn, I really do, because we are all about the aims and values of the Labour Party: peace, hope, equality, democracy and prosperity. But most of all, solidarity.
Remember us. We stand with you on Saturday, and every day. We stand with you at PMQs. We stand with you in your efforts to unite the parliamentary party. We stand with you against opposition. If you represent us, we shall represent you on every doorstep, in every town, every public house, every workplace, every constituency Labour Party meeting that will have us.
You did so much more than impress me, and I did more than vote for you. Should all we hope for come to pass, we have five years, and we will pick up many others along the way as our movement grows. Then, together, we will all win in 2020.
Thank you so much for standing as Leader, and for inspiring and including so many of us. Thank you for uniting us. Thank you for not allowing all of our praise to go to your head. You are the same man who began this contest, and we can rely on you to remain constant going forward. With hope, I say: lead on! We are with you!
Review: Year of the Badgers – Paul Howsley
Set in the not-too-distant future, this is a story about a man, and his struggle to come to terms with a society that doesn’t care what becomes of those at the bottom.
Given today’s protests against workfare, it’s amazingly current, and eerily prophetic.
To those who think the events in this book are far-fetched. Respectfully, I’d suggest to go work in an Amazon warehouse for a week (if you can take it), or a call centre where every second of your time is micro-managed (and I do mean every second). Spend a month trying to satisfy the DWP, and see how long it is before you enter your first food bank.
It’s a brilliant story, and I’m wary here about giving anything away. But we’ve all known a Joanna. Whatever happens to those people? The legends in our lives. You may or may not find the answer in this book.
What you will find is a perfect juxtaposition of despair versus hope, and I’m not going to tell you which one wins out in the end, but I will say the sense of prophecy continues all the way through.
This book costs next to nothing for the digital version. Buy it – you will not be disappointed!