A Jeremy-led Labour Party can best take the fight to the Tories, win the next election and give us a pathway out of austerity
31 Jul 2016NOW, after the hugely destructive and drawn out attempt to drive Jeremy out of office which has damaged our party’s standing when we should have been uniting to take the fight to the Tories, we have a formal leadership contest in the Labour Party.
Once again party members will be asked what sort of party they want to be and what sort of leadership they want.
It’s vital to understand the background to this. The attempt we have seen in recent weeks, prior to Angela Eagle and Owen Smith declaring their candidacies, to hound Jeremy Corbyn out of the leadership had been planned for months.
Blaming him for the Brexit vote was just a pretext. The truth is that Jeremy travelled thousands of miles mobilising Labour voters. YouGov polling shows that 68 per cent of Labour voters voted Remain, but only 43 per cent of Tory supporters did so. David Cameron failed to convince a majority of Tory voters.
While during the referendum campaign many sought to blame all of Britain’s structural problems on the EU and migrants, Jeremy understands that Britain’s problems come from a place much closer to home. They come from successive government policies that have promoted the financialisation of our economies and public services, putting profit before people. They come from a Tory government slashing public services and widening inequality under the dubious banner of austerity.
More than any other national political figure in Britain, Jeremy has made it clear he understands that these problems are so systemic today that fixing them will take a radical change to the structure of both our economy and political class. Returning to the past will not resolve the very real and interconnected global issues of our time: vast and rising wealth inequality, climate change and a foreign
policy trapped in a cycle of destruction.
Under Jeremy’s leadership, Labour is more clearly identified as a party that will stand up for the living standards of the overwhelming majority of people against the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity, and the shifts we have started to achieve in the political debate can be shown by how different the leadership debate is now compared with before Jeremy entered the race a year ago.
Prior to Jeremy coming into the contest last year, not a single one of the leadership candidates opposed “austerity-lite” and not a single one opposed the welfare cap, instead following the temporary leadership’s disastrous line of abstaining on the Welfare Bill.
In contrast to this, Jeremy as leader has taken the battle to the Tories on the proposed cuts to tax credits, won the argument and defeated them. We did it again on the proposed cuts to PIP disability benefits. In May the Labour Party detailed 24 Tory government U-turns under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
These are not an accident — they are a consequence of Jeremy’s approach where we have firmly opposed the Conservative attacks on working people and started to shift the terms of the debate.
We need to keep doing more of that, not least because what is often referred to as “middle England” cares as much about the NHS, our schools, gross levels of widening inequality and the deepening housing
crisis as do long-term Labour voters.
It is for this reason that under Jeremy, our election results have also started to put Labour in the right direction to win a future general election.
In May, our national share of the vote — the most important indicator — was up. At the 2015 general election we were nearly seven points behind, now we were a point ahead.
To give more detail, Labour won more councillors than other parties at nearly half of the 2,769 council seats contested — the Tories won 30 per cent — and had the overall majority on 58 of the 124 councils up for election.
In England as a whole the votes for the council elections were a clear Labour lead in terms of the vote share, with Labour on 38.5 per cent, the Conservatives next on 27.1 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on 12.8 per cent, Ukip on 10.9 per cent and the Greens on 6 per cent.
We also won all the mayoral contests we ran in. We have performed well in parliamentary by-elections, most recently in Tooting in June with a majority of 6,357, more than doubling last year’s lead of 2,842.
We were moving in the right direction in the opinion polls until the disastrous actions of many in the Parliamentary Labour Party in recent weeks.
As well as becoming a clearly anti-austerity party that consistently and genuinely opposes the Tories and has forced retreats and U-turns, as well as doing very well at the ballot box, the Labour Party membership has surged and is now treble what it was at the 2015 general election.
All these achievements are in the face of the most concerted campaign of denigration any Labour leader has ever endured in such a short space of time and in a situation where unfortunately some in the parliamentary party have continually refused to respect Jeremy’s personal mandate and join with the rest of us in turning our fire on the Tory Party.
I am again supporting Jeremy as he is the leader for Labour who can best address the concerns of those angry at a government that continually misleads the public and have felt no benefit from the “economic recovery.”
It is Jeremy’s straight talking, honest politics combined with his message of investing in our future that can provide people with hope and deliver better living standards. It aims to lift us all up from the bottom — through investment in public services and infrastructure — rather than to lift a few of us up from the top. He represents fairness and decency and a belief that the future is not something to be feared.
A Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party can best take the fight to the Tories, win the next election and give us a pathway out of austerity — please do all you can to support his campaign at http://www.jeremyforlabour.com/