Serious politics is about the common good, not just the good of a particular political party, writes DEREK WALL of the Greens
TO SAY that I am enthusiastic about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign would be an understatement.
It is an unusual situation — I am an executive member of another political party and therefore the accepted rule in British politics is for me to hate all other parties.
But Jeremy is someone I value as a friend and, like thousands of other people, I have met him at numerous demonstrations, protests and pickets. I have a lot in common with Jeremy. We are both from Chippenham, Wiltshire, and share the same birthday May 26 (along with Peggy Lee) and of course we both cultivate beards.
Unlike many MPs, Jeremy is a self-effacing person and hasn’t the slightest trace of ego. In an age of MPs’ expenses scandals, Jeremy’s statement: “Well, I don’t spend a lot of money, I lead a very normal life, I ride a bicycle and I don’t have a car” really marks him out from the often greedy parliamentary crowd.
I would honestly find it quite difficult to think of any point of political disagreement with him, other than that he is in the Labour Party and I am currently international co-ordinator for the Green Party. In the past I have contested positions in my party to try to promote the left and I identify absolutely with what he is doing, running as a campaigning candidate to promote socialist politics.
We are now reaching beyond unitary party policy. It is my firm belief that when the left wins in one party, that benefits the left in other parties. I have been impressed by Caroline Lucas’s attempt to promote anti-austerity electoral alliances. As well as praising the fact that Jeremy has made it on to the ballot, Caroline has called for different political parties at a local level to co-operate in ousting the Tories in future elections.
A victory for Jeremy would make this far easier, in my view. Of course many of us are “Greens4Corbyn.” He has always been open to comradely work with the Greens. The gains from a Corbyn victory would be immediate. The Tories have a wafer-thin majority, and a Labour leader who is ideologically strong, charismatic and able to appeal to other parties could defeat David Cameron in vote after vote.
A weak Labour leader who lacks charisma and is tempted to shy away from appearing too radical would allow Cameron to advance in his attacks on trade unions, the BBC and to rewrite parliamentary laws to increase Tory power.
Already, Jeremy has inspired millions of people, particularly young people, to get involved in politics and has helped bury Blairism. While the Blairite candidate Liz Kendall flounders, the question is whether she will withdraw from the race in coming weeks or stay in and suffer the indignity of coming fourth.
There is an argument that Jeremy could not win a national general election.
This is flawed for two reasons. First, you can look at the example of the SNP — by moving left it won big. And second, there is no-one else in the race who looks more popular. Andy Burnham polled poorly in the last Labour leadership contest and there is no evidence that either he or Yvette Cooper are generating support from either Labour members or the electorate.
When people say Jeremy is unelectable they mean simply that he rejects the neoliberal consensus and he won’t gain the support of our right-wing tabloid media. It’s true that the right-wing media are strong — election-winners tend to be chosen by Rupert Murdoch.
Likewise, the Conservatives, loved by the plutocrats and hedge funds, can outspend other parties. But those who argue Jeremy couldn’t win ignore the fact that his honesty and enthusiasm are gaining him votes. Nonetheless, the enduring structural factors in British society — such as the predominantly right-wing media and finance capitalists with lots of money to spend on their political puppets — make change difficult.
However, instead of giving up and advocating a paler shady of Tory, all of us on the left need to be working to challenge the powerful who have too much influence in British politics.
As a member of another political party, I am not in a position to vote for Jeremy. Aside from anything else, I fear that if his victory was seen as built on the votes of non-Labour Party members it might be challenged.
However, like many of us on the left, I find his work and the momentum he is gaining hugely inspiring. I would of course urge all of us who are not committed members of other parties to register to vote for Jeremy.
For as little as £3 it is possible to register as a Labour supporter and to take part in the leadership election as long as the August 12 deadline is met.
Like some mysterious figure who suddenly arrives in a Hollywood Western film, Jeremy has turned up in the wind-blown, parched town and taken on the oppressors. I am sure his bold initiative will be rewarded. Indeed, in the growth of a more confident left, it already has.
For the first time in decades, instead of retreating, the left in the Labour Party is boldly advancing. I don’t know how far it will advance. I am committed to pluralist politics where diversity is strength, but I am amazed and happy.
It is also worth noting the sterling work that our paper the Morning Star has been doing in supporting his campaign. Politics rests on precise practical action.
Building support for Jeremy and challenging the right-wing arguments used against him are things I hope all of us who want a better Britain can do.
Of course a right-wing Labour leader would make it easier in the short-term for my party the Greens to gain. But serious politics is about the common good not just the good of a particular political party.