Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Voting for Jeremy

I voted Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader today, with Andy Burnham as my second preference.

Why?

(1) The Best of the Bunch
 I don't think that the feeble policies and approach offered up by the others would have any chance of winning. Although Corbyn's success has given the other candidates some temporary backbone, I'm sure they would revert to jumping at Murdoch's shadow were any of them to be elected. Corbyn has a better chance of winning for Labour than any of the others.

(2) Margaret Thatcher
 I believe that, perversely, Corbyn has the Thatcher Factor – a conviction politician who inspires passion from supporters and respect from detractors. Remember, Thatcher was seen as unelectable in the 70s. Nobody thought she could would win the leadership, let alone become Prime Minister, but it was her clear conviction about what she believed was best for the country that set her apart. Corbyn is a conviction politician and after decades of spin people are crying out for someone who has authenticity. The hundreds of thousands joining the Labour party have proven that.

(3) Unity is Likely
The Labour Party will unify around Corbyn. It saw what happened when the right wing of the party last split off and formed the SDP – it won't do it again. I want Burnham to have a strong showing because of his declared willingness to support Corbyn and help quickly unify the party. The task then is to agree on a set of policies based on what's best for the country, and set about the task of convincing people that these policies are good for *everyone*.

(4) Grass Roots Shoots
The Labour Party needs and will hugely benefit from the enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands of new supporters it has gained. Top-down, PR-led campaigning has left many CLPs hollow. South Thanet Labour Party (for whom I campaigned in May) has websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts that are like the Mary Celeste. They have been untouched since May 7th... The party urgently needs to build itself up in those areas, and integrate true local passion and expertise with superior organisational help and resources (I voted for Stella Creasy for Deputy Leader as she appears to get this). If Corbyn wins, the enthusiasm will intensify, if he loses, it will disappear, possibly for good.

(5) Managing Murdoch
New Labour is intellectually bankrupt and definitely isn't new. (I had to laugh at the the description of the New Labour as "the modernising wing", recently). What's interesting about all of the commentators from that tradition, most especially Tony Blair*, is that their arguments have been about electability rather than about why their policies are better. Blair believes that not upsetting Murdoch and the right-wing press is essential for a Labour victory – and you know, he may have been right in 1997. But right now, and over the next 5 years, social media is going to act as a counter-balance to the massive scare-mongering about Labour and Corbyn that we will see from the right-wing media, and social media will allow Corbyn's message to get through unfiltered, in a way that wasn't really possible until recently.


(7) PQE and More
Finally, I think the majority of Corbyn's policy positions are right for the country, including, crucially, his economic policy. Nations aren't households, despite what the Tories and the bankers want us to believe, and printing money for the good of the country instead of (as has happened until now) for the good of bankers should be a weapon in the UK's economic arsenal, to be used when needed.
So for those reasons, and more, I'm voting Corbyn. Politics in the UK is going to be an exciting place if he wins...

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*The Iraq War has indelibly tainted Blair, but I remember when he was a real hero, back in 1998. Here he is, in January of that year, holding up a copy of the CD-ROM that my company created for the British Embassy in Tokyo. I basically manhandled him into position to show off the cover to the cameras. It was an interactive guide to the best of Britain at the the time: Mr Bean to Kenneth Branagh, Anita Roddick to Richard Branson, Trainspotting to Hamlet to the Spice Girls...Eek!