Callum Thomas: A case for Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership
Callum Thomas is a History and Politics finalist at Sussex, who has been a key activist for the Marxist wing of the Labour Party over the past five years, and has been a loyal constituent of Jeremy Corbyn MP in Islington North for longer.
As many of you will know, the Labour leadership contest has been underway for some time now since the electoral defeat of the party. At this time, different reasons have been fathomed as to why the Labour Party lost so spectacularly in that election. The two divergent, and most notable cases for this defeat were as follows. The party wasn’t left wing enough, and didn’t represent a significant proportion of the population who stood against the coalition’s austerity plan. Those voters went to other parties, splitting the vote and subsequently diminishing the chances of a Labour victory. The second was that the party had left its 1997 revolutionary overhaul and did not fight for the centre ground effectively. Both approaches, although cannot be considered entirely conclusive share one characteristic, that Jeremy Corbyn has seldom embodied in his time as an MP for Islington North. The need for an alternative mantra from the party, not simply reflective in policy, but reflect a wholly divergent set of values that sets out to create an alternative and better society.
Whether these values were originally present within the party’s earliest incarnation, or emerged as a result of the problems of 21st century Britain. The party is at a crossroads, juggling a decision to go backwards rather than forwards. The leadership debate, has become a reflection of this debacle. The main candidates, embodied in the likes of Andy Burnham, Liz Kendal and to some extent Yvette Cooper. Are continuing with the party’s prior manifesto position, to adhere to the Conservative Party’s plans to cap benefits and cut major, grants loans and assistance. Jeremy on the other hand is challenging this continuation. By this act of defiance. My case for his leadership of the party comes as a result of attending many meetings in which he spoke, on top of the personal conversations I’ve had with him as a constituent in Islington North.
The defeat in the general election on the 7th of May, came as a great shock to many. As mentioned before, the lack of an alternative, was only one problem out of many. The party has always referred to its politics internally as a broad church, yet up until now Blairism and the new labour project has been more overtly dominant. Yet they have been consistently ambivalent to accept views from their peers on the left. The need for a large and wide-ranging debate on the different reasons for the loss of the election, as well as a debate that encompasses the anti-austerity position. Is paramount to the future of the party. Comparisons to downfall of Pasok, and the rise of Syriza have become the main arguments used by those on the left to call for a new position against austerity. Even if this may seem like an unlikely bid for the leadership. Jeremy represents many who cling onto the values of party and wish to see a better future for the people of Britain. Fortunately as of the 15th of June 2015, Jeremy has been confirmed as reaching the required 35 nominations to be on the ballot and participate in the leadership debate. As a MP he has the lowest expenses list that he claimed for. He is, in the realm of Islington North, a people’s MP. While others in the party were concerned with cabinet positions and careerism; which has to some extent contributed to creating a significant disconnection between citizens and politicians.
Why Jeremy is significant to both the Labour Party and politics as a whole, isn’t simply what he can do, but what he inspires others to do. If I were to apply one quote that sums up what he does, and defies on a daily basis, is this one from no less than Frederick Engels, “More often than not, the servants of society end up becoming the masters of society” in the case of his constituency, there has been a greater emphasis of talking and discussing politics than any other constituency. In fact the Brighton and Hove district Labour party AGM had just over 100 attendants. In the constituency of Islington North alone they had 210, a third of which were new members of the party.
Such a need for a revolution in the party, is paramount to its survival, and Jeremy Corbyn’ ssuccess in making onto the ballot will at the very least make others in the party consider the left position. With his entry into the leadership race we hope to avoid, as James Doran describes as Pasokification. We on the Labour left are nonetheless confident.
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