Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Letter to a Young Corbyn Supporter: Courage! You are our Future!

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Vote Corbyn!

An impassioned article has just appeared on the Guardian site.

Please don’t ridicule this young Labour voter’s passion for Jeremy Corbyn.

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.

As indeed they should.

Not everybody agrees with what Jeremy Corbyn has said on foreign policy issues.

We need, just to cite one case, a strong response of complete opposition to all forms of Islamist reaction just as much as opposition to Western intervention in the Middle East. The sight of British volunteers for the jihadist genociders – people who go to murder our Syrian, Iraq, Kurdish, Yadzidi and Assyrian sisters and brothers  – cannot be dismissed as a product of the ‘West’s’ crimes. They are responsible for their actions and should be judged for them.

We need practical backing for our Kurdish sisters and brothers, against Turkey’s  Erdoğan and the Jihadist killers.

But we have confidence in the ability of people, with a new and open Labour Party, to bring these views into debate.

Jeremy Corbyn is the Chair of the very respected human rights and anti-colonial organisation, Liberation (ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom). Liberation campaigns for human rights without exception. It has taken up not only the case of the Palestinians but, amongst many others, that of  secularists in Bangladesh, the victims of Islamism in Sudan, and (as Stephen Marks notes in the comments here) has, with Jeremy Corbyn, been promoting the Kurdish cause for many many years.

We would hope that this activity is better known.

Back to the Past?

Rosie continues,

These patrician warnings that Corbyn only serves to drag Labour backwards serve to make me, as a young voter, feel patronised and unwanted. I had never considered that Corbyn was a throwback until people started banging on about how bad the 1980s were, seemingly forgetting that we are not actually electing a leader to be sent back in time into the exact circumstances of Jim Callaghan’s resignation. You’d think Michael Foot himself was running, attending debates in a hammer and sickle-print donkey jacket, from the amount we’ve been talking about him.

There were patrician predictions of dire consequences of radical policies at every stage in the left’s history…

Unfortunately we recall the 1980s campaigns against left-wingers, feminists and anti-racists, all too well.

Barely a day went past without a story about the “loony left”.

Let’s not talk about Michael Foot. We should look at somebody, who was greatly loved, and who tried to make a difference to the world, starting from where she lived, Haringey

Mandy Mudd.

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Mandy Mudd “I am not intimidated, I will not shut up”

Mandy helped set up the “Positive Images” campaign. This was after controversy was whipped up over the inclusion of a statement in the 1986 Haringey Labour Party manifesto, which committed Haringey Council to devote resources to “to promote Positive images of gay men and lesbians”.

Nobody, today, would accuse this initiative of being extremist madness.

But this is exactly what happened.

Then this,

When Bernie Grant stepped down as Leader of Haringey Council, following his selection as the Labour Candidate in Tottenham; Steve King and Martha Osamor took over as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council, and for a short while the left was in the ascendancy. But the Labour right wing within the Haringey Labour Group, soon organised to replace them. This they achieved in 1987, and immediately the new leader began making significant cuts from the autumn of 1987 onwards. In response, Mandy and Mike Marqusee initiated through Haringey Labour Briefing, an attempt to build mass resistance to the cuts by setting up “Haringey Fights Back”. Public meetings and mass lobbies were organised, whilst inside the Labour Party attempts to get councillors to oppose the cuts continued.

Then there was the evening of 10th December 1987 when the Haringey Labour Party Local Government Committee met to discuss the cuts. Heated discussion took place. Finally the riot police, already deployed within the Haringey Civic; were used to clear the public gallery during the course of the meeting. Two councillors and two labour party activists were arrested. A complaint was subsequently made against Mandy and she was charged with “a sustained course of conduct prejudicial to the Party”.

It was at this point that the attempt to smear and discredit Mandy began in the national media. She was turned into a national hate figure, with the clear intention of undermining her leadership of the campaign against the cuts. The attack was vicious and very personal. She found herself on the front page of the Sun and door stepped, having to climb over a garden wall and out through a neighbour’s door in order to be able to get off to work. Various attempts were made to get her employer to take action against her. One example of this was an article in the Daily Mail on 11th February 1988, in which Richard Littlejohn wrote: Appointing Mandy Mudd as a school governor is as appropriate as putting Kurt Waldheim in charge of a holiday camp. Do you want her ruining your daughter’s education? I don’t.”

Mandy did not shut up.

There were many Mandies, and many of us are still around.

 Perhaps Rosie you can now realise how we react to the press campaign against Jeremy Corbyn.

Forget Foot!

Corbyn is inspiring passion, enthusiasm and motivation. People want something different. He is packing out halls, bringing in new supporters and new voters. Imagine what Labour could do if they harness that over the next four years, rather than throwing away the harness and then shooting the horse and setting the barn on fire for good measure.

Exactly!

 

7 Responses

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  1. Plans to create a new SDP breakaway from Labour just out:

    Andrew Coates

    August 23, 2015 at 3:50 pm

  2. Excellent news. Let’s hope it’s SDP Mk II in terms of politics, but SLP Mk II in terms of impact.

    Francis

    August 23, 2015 at 6:33 pm

  3. Whichever the way they mean it they are definitely having a laugh, all 29 of them.

    pinkie

    August 23, 2015 at 7:43 pm

  4. ‘an acceptance of the capitalist economic system as the source of wealth and social security in the countries where it operates’

    they haven’t been paying attention have they?

    redkorat☭ (@red_korat)

    August 23, 2015 at 9:51 pm

  5. “The Socialist Anti European Union Alternative to U.K.I.P. And The Pro European Labour Party. ” is how the “old” SDP describes itself on its website. Hm.

    dagmar

    August 24, 2015 at 8:41 am

  6. They have 50 members now,(see figure on the right hand side, though this number changes…) including at least 2 people who I know are Labour Party card-carriers.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1655926984640739/?fref=ts

    Andrew Coates

    August 24, 2015 at 11:17 am

  7. Back down to 29 members, It seems the group’s being going on for 2 months. May they continue to be so successful. In normal circumstances I might imagine it to be the work of “David A. Lindsay”.

    dagmar

    August 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm


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