An impassioned article has just appeared on the Guardian site.
Rosie Fletcher writes,
My many criticisms of Labour in recent years – its milquetoast defence of its economic record, its lack of direction, skittering whichever way the tabloid wind blows, its bland, sputtering lack of passion – distanced me from them. But I saw May’s defeat as an opportunity to revitalise the party, along with tens of thousands of others, many of whom, like me, are young people whose futures are being clouded by the Tory present.
I joined before Jeremy Corbyn had even removed his hat to throw it into the ring, but he’s not only got the policies to clear those clouds, but also the passionate support needed to do so.
Jeremy Corbyn’s backers, that is the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, and others, such as the activists’ alliance, the Labour Representation Committee (Labour Briefing) have been arguing for a positive alternative to Labour Party national policies, for many years.
So many that we are perhaps we were convinced that nothing would change in the Party – which some of us left (although if union members we have been affiliates in a sense already: I voted in my union’s elections for the last leadership candidate).
We were however convinced that Ed Miliband served our full support in the May General Election.
On issues like the Living Wage, workers’ rights, progressive taxation and defence of public services (particularly welfare and education) we saw Miliband as a step forward.
He was unable to successfully defend Labour’s past economic record in the face of mendacious Tory attacks.
He did not clearly come out against austerity, or the wholesale give-away of public services to private chancers – at present enjoying a continued bonanza at the expense of the rest of the population.
He did not tackle head on the anti-migrant message of the other parties, or the anti-welfare message of the free-market right.
But, it must be said that Miliband was more open to the labour movement, new radical ideas, and wider left-wing opinion that his predecessors.
Many of us gave practical support to Labour during the election.
We too do not relish being treated as potential infiltrators.
Rosie Fletcher notes,
as a young Labour member, it’s often hard to discuss Corbyn with – shall we say? – more seasoned voters. It can feel as though an official opinion has been issued. If in doubt, one can, should the topic of the Labour leadership come up, simply pronounce: “Of course, Corbyn is totally unelectable” and feel as if one has contributed something at least. We have reached consensus without giving him an opportunity to disprove it, despite his progress from being eminently electable in Islington to imminently electable as Labour leader.
I would take this argument seriously.
But the counter-argument is that if we wish Labour to be a copy of the Conservatives, backing welfare cuts for example, then people will vote for the original and the not the copy.
I am not so overcome with Corbymania that I believe Comrade Jez to be perfect and his leadership of Labour – should it happen –as the first step to a sort of socialist version of the 1970s’ Coca Cola commercials, where we not only buy the world a Coke, but seize the means to produce it as well.
Perhaps we are much too old to even begin to think in these terms!
The accusations surrounding his less savoury associations need a robust response, more than just a denial of antisemitism. His detractors should, however, consider the paradox held within complaining about the company Corbyn keeps and then parroting Tony Blair.