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’