An Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP

Jeremy you are in a unique position on the left. You are well known and well respected. The last 7 years has been an rollercoaster for everyone on the left but for you most of all. What you had to endure as leader of the Labour Party is difficult for me and others to comprehend. On a personal level especially I can’t begin to get my head around how it must have effected you and your family.

So part of me feels bad about even suggesting this. But please consider forming a new political party. Yes I realise it’s a gigantic ask and of course if you decide against it that would be completely understandable. Until recently I wasn’t even in favour of the idea myself. But let me try to explain why I’ve changed my mind.

There’s already too many parties on the left as it is why start another one? This is the Biggie for me and the answer is you could make a bigger difference than anyone else. Let’s be under no illusions this wouldn’t be a party that would be preparing for Government. But more like something that could put pressure on Labour from the left something akin to what UKIP did with the Tories. That would be the main aim at the beginning anyway.

I believe your name has the potential to do what other left parties have failed to do and that’s make a breakthrough in certain areas. Of course nothing is guaranteed in politics we know that. But I believe what would be different is the membership and that’s the thing. Thousands have left the Labour Party since you ended your time as leader. I believe the vast majority of them feel politically homeless now. I’m someone who has reluctantly left Labour and I know I do. A new party with you Jeremy at the helm at least in the short term could light a spark that could set the ball rolling very quickly.

I really feel at least thousands maybe even more would join. That’s the sort of potential it has. I’m guessing that starting a new party has never been in your to do list. I understand why. You’ve loved the Labour Party and been loyal to it for many years. I only wish more had been loyal to you when you were leader but you were repeatedly stabbed in the back by certain members of the PLP and now they won’t let you back in as a backbench MP. The whole situation is disgraceful.

Sadly I feel you like many others simply aren’t wanted in the Labour Party by the right wing. I’m not someone who was ever in support of leaving Labour. I always thought Labour was the best vehicle we had to effect positive political change in this country. But what has happened inside the Party in the last 2 years and with the Pandemic as well has made me question my previous beliefs. The expelling of Ken Loach last August was the final straw for me and I resigned my Labour membership.

We live in strange uncertain times but now we are back to business as usual politically speaking. 3 main parties that seem to have more in common with each other than any distinctive political differences like there should be in a healthy democracy. Our system is broken in so many ways. I believe our country is crying out for change as the 2017 Election proved. In my heart I always felt a vast section of Society wanted something different to what is usually offered at Elections and that proved it not only to me but many others.

I believe you are seriously considering standing as an Independent for the next Election. The last thing I want to do is put you under extra pressure but please consider taking it one step further and starting a new party. You are a unifying figure Jeremy and have with everything against you inspired hundreds of thousands of people before. You can again. There’s nothing else I can think of that would cause a political ripple like this could, that with momentum could develop into a tidal wave of optimism again.

I don’t know if you know about it but there’s a petition asking you think about starting a new party that’s currently not far away from 5000 signature’s. https://www.change.org/p/jeremy-corbyn-please-start-a-new-party

Obviously Jeremy if you decide against it we will accept and respect your decision. But I really believe this could make a massive difference. Please consider it. Thank you.

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Ecosocialist Alliance Releases COP26 Statement

I support this Statement by EcoSocialist Alliance. With COP26 happening soon and time literally running out for the planet I urge everyone to please read the Statement below. 👇

If you agree with it please share as much as you can. Thanks

Rick Evans

The Ecosocialist Alliance, organised by Green Left, Left Unity and Anti-Capitalist Resistance in the UK, have released a statement ahead of next month’s COP26 conference, in Glasgow, Scotland, from 31 October to 11 November. 
The statement is supported by ecosocialists from many different groups and individuals, in the UK and worldwide and is reproduced below. We have asked those with websites to publish the statement on 24 October.

COP26 is highly unlikely to produce anything significant, from international governments who have failed to do so at the 25 previous conferences, especially the richer nations of world. Our call on them to take meaningful action, will probably fall on deaf ears. But we have released the statement nonetheless, to expose this charade to the people globally.

Something similar to our proposals will need to be implemented, if we are to have any chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change in the years ahead, with all of the misery that will entail. This is our last chance to take action.

The Ecosocialist Alliance will be present on the COP26 Coalition demonstrations, in Glasgow and London, on 6 November, with the banner pictured above. Come and join with us. See here for details.

There is a contact email address for the Ecosocialist Alliance at the end of this post. 

Ecosocialism not extinction!

COP 26 unfolds against a backdrop of growing climate chaos and ecological degradation, after an unprecedented summer of heatwaves, wildfires, and flooding events. Climate change is upon us, and we face multiple interlinked and inseparable crises of climate, environment, extinction, economy and zoonotic diseases.

As ecosocialists we say another world is possible, but a massive social and political transformation is needed, requiring the mobilisation of the mass of working people across the globe. Only the end of capitalism’s relentless pursuit of private profit, endless waste, and rapacious drive for growth, can provide the solution not only to climate change, environmental degradation, and mass extinction, but to global poverty, hunger, and hyper exploitation.

The big issues of climate change will be debated in Glasgow but whatever is agreed, capitalism can at best mitigate climate change, not stop it. Genuine climate solutions cannot be based on the very market system that created the problem. Only the organised working class, and the rural oppressed and First Nations of the global south – women and men – have the power to end capitalism, because their labour produces all wealth and they have no great fortune to lose if the system changes, no vested interests in inequality, exploitation, and private profit.

Action now to halt climate change! We demand:

• All fossil fuels must stay in the ground – no new gas, coal, or oil!

• A rapid move to renewable energy for transport, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, and homes

• A massive global programme of public works investing in green jobs, and replacing employment in unsustainable industries.

• A globally funded just transition for the global south to develop the necessary sustainable technologies and infrastructure.

• A major cut in greenhouse gas emissions of at least 70% by 2030, from a 1990 baseline. This must be comprehensive – including all military, aviation, and shipping emissions – and include mechanisms for transparent accounting, measurement, and popular oversight.

• The end of emissions trading schemes.

• An immediate end to the encroachment on and destruction of the territories of indigenous peoples through extractivism, deforestation and appropriation of land.

Sustainability and global justice

The long-term global crisis and the immediate effects of catastrophic events impact more severely on women, children, elders, LGBTQ+ and disabled people and the people of First Nations. An eco-socialist strategy puts social justice and liberation struggles of the oppressed at its core.

Migration is, and will increasingly be, driven by climate change and conflicts and resource wars resulting from it. Accommodating and supporting free movement of people must be a core policy and necessary part of planning for the future.

We call for:

• Immediate cancellation of the international debt of the global south.

• A rapid shift from massive ‘factory’ farms and large-scale monoculture agribusiness towards eco-friendly farming methods and investment in green agricultural technology to reduce synthetic fertiliser and pesticide use in agriculture and replace these with organic methods and support for small farmers.

• A major reduction in meat and dairy production and consumption through education and provision and promotion of high quality, affordable plant-based alternatives.

• The promotion of agricultural systems based on the right to food and food sovereignty, human rights, and with local control over natural resources, seeds, land, water, forests, knowledge, and technology to end food and nutrition insecurity in the global south.

• The end of deforestation in the tropical and boreal forests by reduction of demand for imported food, timber, and biofuels.

• An end to ecologically and socially destructive extractivism, especially in the territories of indigenous peoples and First Nations .

• Respect for the economic, cultural, political and land rights of indigenous peoples and First Nations.

• A massive increase in protected areas for biodiversity conservation.

• End fuel poverty through retrofitting energy existing homes and buildings with energy efficient sustainable technologies.

We demand a just transition:

• Re-skilling of workers in environmentally damaging industries with well paid alternative jobs in the new economy.

• Full and democratic involvement of workers to harness the energy and creativity of the working people to design and implement new sustainable technologies and decommission old unsustainable ones.

• Resources for popular education and involvement in implementing and enhancing a just transition, with environmental education embedded at all levels within the curriculum.

• Urgent development of sustainable, affordable, and high-quality public transport with a comprehensive integrated plan which meets peoples needs and reduces the requirement for private car use.

• A planned eco-socialist economy which eliminates waste, duplication and environmentally harmful practices, reduction in the working week and a corresponding increase in leisure time.

• Work practices reorganised with the emphasis on fair flexibility and working closer to home, utilising a free and fast broadband infrastructure.

As eco-socialists we put forward a vision of a just and sustainable world and fight with every ounce of our energy for every change, however small, which makes such a world possible. We will organise and assist wherever possible worker’s and community organisations internationally, raising demands on governments and challenging corporations.

Groups

Green Left (UK)

Left Unity (UK)

Anti-Capitalist Resistance (UK)

Global Ecosocialist Network (International)

ecosocialist.scot (Scotland, UK)

RISE (Ireland)

Red Green Labour (UK)

Green Eco-Socialist Network (USA)

People Before Profit (Ireland)

System Change Not Climate Change (USA/Canada)

An Rabharta Glas (in English, Green Left) (Ireland)

Climate and Capitalism (International)

Socialist Project (Canada)

Parti de Gauche Marseille Nord (France)

Ecosocialist Independent Group (UK) Lancaster City Council

Socialist Action (Canada)

Grenzeloos (in English Borderless) (Netherlands)

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (kctu) (South Korea)

Labour Representation Committee (UK)

Gauche anticapitaliste / SAP – Antikapitalisten (Belgium)

University and College Union Winchester Branch (UK)

Anti-Fracking Nanas (UK)

Pittsburgh Green Left (USA)

Ecosocialist Alliance (UK)

Breakthrough Party (UK)

One Vote for the Planet (UK)

Individuals

Beatrix Campbell (UK) (OBE, writer and broadcaster)

George Monbiot (UK) (journalist, author & environmental activist)

Victor Wallis (USA) (ecosocialist author and professor of political science at the Berklee College of Music in Boston)

Professor Krista Cowman (UK), (Historian)

Peter Sainsbury (Australia) (Professor, School of Medicine, Sydney, University of Notre Dame)

Professor Julia Steinberger (Social Ecology/Ecological Economics) (Switzerland)

Romayne Phoenix (UK)

Jhon Giyai (West Papua)

David Schwartzman (USA) (Climate/energy scientist Member of the Global Greens COP26 Working Group-International Committee Green Party of the United States)

Thelma Walker (Former Labour MP Colne Valley) (UK)



Dee Searle (UK)

Steve Masters (UK) (Environmental activist; Green Party District Councillor, W Berkshire)

Jim Petersen (USA)

Osver Polo Carraco (Peru)

Sally Lansbury (UK) Labour Party Cllr. Allerdale Borough Council

Rafael Arturo Guariguata (Germany)

Tina Rothery (UK)

Christopher Lozinski (USA)

Farrah Jasmine Dingal (Philippines)


Pat McCarthy (UK)

Erfan Rushidi (Iran)


Clive Healiss (UK)

Felicity Dowling (UK)

Charles Gate (UK)

Emma Lorraine Coulling (UK)

Ken Barker (UK)

Stephen Hall (UK) (President, Greater Manchester Association of Trades Union Councils)

Lucy Early (UK)

Andrew Francis Robinson (UK)

Kevin Frea (UK) (Deputy Leader, Lancaster City Council)

Richard Finnigan (UK)

John Burr (UK)

Andrea Carey-Fuller (UK)

Paul Hutchens (UK)

Gordon Peters (UK)

Jonathan N Fuller (UK)

Nicole Haydock (UK)

Deborah Fink (UK)

Mary Stuart (UK)

Cathy Slaughter (UK)

Anna Moon (UK)

Oliver Charleston (UK)

William A Richardson (UK)

Tamsin Evans (UK)

Gordon Housley (UK)

Rick Evans (UK)

Geoff Bowman (UK)

Graham Wardrope (UK)

Laurent Garsaud (France)

Elizabeth Shephard (UK)

Gemma Mitchell (UK)

Martin Salmon (UK)

To support the statement and to keep informed about the Ecosocialist Alliance and our particular actions email eco-socialist-action@protonmail.com

Back to the Bad Old Days

I rejoined the Labour Party in 2012 because I thought Ed Miliband as leader was trying to move the party left. Not an easy task and I certainly didn’t agree with everything he said or did. But after the New Labour years I at least felt however slowly the Party was moving in the right direction. It turned out I wasn’t alone amongst the membership who felt like that.

This led to the Corbyn surge and election as leader in 2015. I along with many others at last felt some hope for the future. We’d had the same old politics here since the 80’s and it needed to change. It needed to change because after 35 years of Neoliberal economic policies by both main parties Britain was as unequal as ever. It needed to change because with a Climate Emergency getting closer we needed to do far far more as a Country. There’s many other reasons but I’ll leave it at just those two biggies for now.

A Corbyn led Government would have moved the consensus of the previous 40 years and been truly transformative which is exactly what we need. After our 2019 Election defeat I still believed Labour was the vehicle for this change. With the election of Starmer in April 2020 even though I didn’t support him. https://changewemustobservationsfromtheleft.home.blog/2020/02/02/starmer-really/ I still believed that.

However since Starmer got elected I’ve become more and more disillusioned with him as leader and the Party as a whole. When members started to leave at the beginning of his leadership I thought it was a tactical mistake. In hindsight I think they could see clearer than me what would happen. Starmer sold his ‘vision’ to the membership and it was a complete lie. His actions since shows he had no intention of preserving anything of Corbyn’s legacy. His treatment of Jeremy has been a complete disgrace which in itself to me is unforgivable. The burying of the ‘Forde Report’ says a lot. One day we might find out the whole truth of the sabotage that happened during the 2017 Election but I’m not holding my breath something else that is unforgivable to me.

Starmer’s soft opposition to the Tories has been pathetic. We were promised forensic grown up politics. What we’ve had is hopeless insipid juvenile failure. I think the right wing of the party know how bad he is but are prepared to put up with it while they bide their time at the moment. A fully clothed Blairite is undoubtedly waiting in the wings.

For the last few months I’ve been weighing up whether to stay or leave the Party. While on holiday in the Lake District last week I had some time to think and finally decided to leave. Now I’ve made the decision I feel a weight has been lifted. Getting home and seeing the great Ken Loach has been expelled has only convinced me more I’ve made the right decision. I cannot justify to myself anymore staying in and financially contributing to a party that doesn’t even pretend to having any sort of Socialist vision anymore. What took Kinnock a few years to do in the 80’s has took Starmer just over a year.

I believe with our defeats in 17 & 19 the country lost our massive chance to change the direction we need. Now we are back to the bad old days and normal service has been resumed in the party. Now unfortunately I believe even if Labour win the next election ( and I honestly believe there’s no chance with Starmer as leader. His betrayal of our Brexit position won’t he forgotten in the Red Wall seats) nothing fundamentally will change and as I said earlier that is what we need if we are going to survive this Climate Emergency. The time for tinkering around the edges has long gone the Overton window on party politics for me has gone. That’s why I think the limited money I can contribute to something would be put to better put going to an environmentally organisation.

I’ve always believed in the idea of a broad church in the party but Starmer has made it very clear he doesn’t. The proscription of the 4 left organisations last month I think is a disgraceful witch hunt and although I’m not a supporter of any of them I support their right to be in the party. That is one of the other things that has tipped me to leave. Most of all I haven’t got the time or energy to fight anymore. Harold Wilson once said the Labour Party is a Moral Crusade or it’s nothing. Starmer has made it nothing in super quick time.

The Labour Party supposed to be a Democratic Socialist Party it even says that on the back of the membership cards. I left before when I thought Blair had made that a mockery now sadly I’m leaving again because I think Starmer has done the same.

The Election Cycle Biden the Saviour?

I’m as pleased as anyone about the defeat of Donald Trump. He’s probably the most unpredictable leader of a major western country in recent times which also made him the most dangerous. Obviously you could write a book about Trump but I’ll just say this for now. He has never been what he’s made himself out to be as some sort of man of the people. Far from it he’s really a ultra Capitalist who’s treaded on anyone’s toes to get what he wants. When you add that to him being a sexist, racist, misogynist, narcissistic law unto himself I’m delighted he lost the Election.

But unfortunately I’m not getting too excited by the Election of Joe Biden as President. Because we have been here before with Obama and Clinton and what did they deliver? Well Clinton especially very little and Obama although he did get through some reforms overall I felt his Presidency was disappointing. Which is I predict is how I’m going to feel about Bidens Presidency too.

Why you might ask? Well for one Biden himself has said “Nothing would fundamentally change” in his administration. Then there’s the fact that unsurprisingly Biden’s transition team includes executives from Lyft, Airbnb, Amazon, Capital One, Uber and Visa which hardly fills me with much confidence. It just tells me Corporate Executives will be running the show again. The ones who have helped to get us in the mess we are in. Add to that what we’ve already seen from recent Democrat administration’s well I won’t be buying the Champagne anytime soon.

Obviously what America does sends a signal to the rest of the world and I think that signal says business as usual. Now honestly I might not sound it but I am happy Biden won because 4 more years of Trump didn’t bear thinking about. But the least worst option does not fill me with the hope we should have been feeling.

Basically we are running out of time because of Climate Change even though Biden is a big advance on the Climate denier he’s got to go a lot further than he’s been saying so far. I mean he supports Fracking for heaven’s sake see here why I’m anti fracking https://morningstaronline.co.uk/-we-need-profits-now-1

What I’m saying is he hasn’t been bold enough and this will end up being another wasted opportunity and with time against us now because we don’t have that luxury. That’s not even mentioning all the other issues like racism, inequality, healthcare etc. So my big worry is in 4 years time Trump or another rapid right winger will win and we will be back to square one. Because it’s the disappointments of a centre or centre left Government that time and again feeds into ordinary people’s perceptions that they have done nothing or very little for them. Trust is lost which leads then to the endless cycle of a right Government getting in power afterwards which does deliver to it’s core electorate the elite. This is exactly what has happened here in the UK too over the last 50 years.

So it’s not even the case now that we as a left make too many promises we can’t keep. Rather we are that safe that we hardly make any promises at all other than we aren’t the bad nasty old Tory/Republicans. But that’s hardly a strategy for very much success let alone trying to solve the problems of life today.

Of course Biden is hardly left and there lies another problem. All those people who supported Bernie Sanders had to make the choice of either not voting and risk Trump winning or supporting Biden through gritted teeth.

So what do we do as a left? 70 million people voted for Trump and nearly 14 million here for Boris Johnson last year. Not all of them are regular right wingers who love Trump and Johnson. There’s many who were from traditional Democrat or Labour voters who feel they have been let down by Governments over the years and that they wanted a change. We can win people like this back but not by calling them idiots or by trying to outdo the Republican/Tories by going further rightwards or by some bland centrism that works for no-one. But we have to mean what we say and be bold and win people around. Not be timid and accept second best. I have to say that Moderates may have the drive to win but they don’t have a vision to sell. The world doesn’t need another Clinton or Blair who won’t challenge the establishment. Which is what I fear about Biden. No what we need is someone who is going to put the fear of God into the establishment because this neoliberal casino capitalism is only working for the top 1% and isn’t sustainable. We need to offer hope for a better future not continue with a society where obsence greed is looked on as a virtue. It’s not it’s sickening and this is where we have got to in our sick capitalist society.

The clock is ticking and we need change. Biden is no saviour just a temporary stop gap at best. It’s all of us together who can be if we carry on campaigning. So to quicken that change we need we are going to need social movements more than ever. It’s the grassroots groups that have the power to change and who I believe we need to be a part of. Be that Climate Change and the Environment, Racism and Sexism or making Corporations pay their Taxes we are all linked together in the cause of making the World a better place for everyone. After all that’s what it’s about at the end of the day and that Clock is ticking faster.

Sabotaged From Within

If I said to someone neutral that paid staff of our own party had been working against their own party getting elected they would probably say that I was some sort of crackpot conspiracy theorist. But…..

Nye

In 2017 General Election we the Labour Party were just over 2200 votes short of getting over the line to form a minority Government. That’s how close we were with everything that we were up against. Yesterday an internal Labour report  was leaked which confirms many of the suspicions which Corbyn supporters like me suspected.

I’m someone who tries to keep calm but I am absolutely raging about this and the more I think about it the madder I feel. You see basic rules, common sense and plain decency have been blatantly disregarded for the agenda of trying to make Jeremy Corbyn unelectable by factions in the party who didn’t want him as Prime Minister. Now as I say it’s always been obvious that certain MP’s were doing this for example. But now it’s been proved that some right wing Labour staffers were not only plotting against the leadership but actually wanting us to lose and work against us in 2017.

This isn’t some mad conspiracy it’s fact. These are people who get paid by the party that we as members contribute too. So we were paying their wages for them to work against us. Now we all have different views and I’m a firm supporter of democratic debate conducted in the right spirit. But that’s nothing like what I’m talking about here. As a party member it’s a given that you want your party to win elections and try and help to make that happen no matter who is leader. Whether you are a supporter of the leader is immaterial when it comes to Election time’s as we all pull together for the common cause. Or so you would think. It’s absolutely sickening to find out that’s not the case.

It seems that these people would rather have had a Conservative Government than a Labour one and actively worked against us. In my opinion they should be expelled for their acts of sabotage.

 

There’s over 850 pages in this report and it’s going to take time to digest it all. But I’m demanding that it’s not swept under the carpet. I won’t forget what they have done and the consequences of their actions helping the Conservatives win again when victory for us that would have helped so many was so close. It’s unforgivable. This may be in the past but action needs to be taken now. We need an urgent inquiry by the party into former senior officials sabotaging Labour’s election campaign in 2017 and engaging in disgusting and abusive behaviour towards members. Please sign and share this petition to help make it happen. Thanks

https://www.change.org/p/angela-rayner-angela-rayner-hold-an-inquiry-into-sabotage-by-senior-labour-officials?recruiter=61154317&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=petition_show&recruited_by_id=6eeee34d-0e4f-450f-9f66-0eec4a027e42

2017, Principle Before Power and All That

Screenshot_20200307-164902~2I’ve noticed a trend lately by some in the Labour Party who think or are saying that the 2017 Election was a fluke or freak result and that if it wasn’t it doesn’t matter because we still lost. That it can be explained by a large amount of  remain voters going to Labour to keep the Tories out. What they mean is they can’t accept we did better than expected because it doesn’t fit in with how they see things. Another thing I’ve always seen flying around is that the people won’t vote for a left leader and Manifesto. The 2019 result is what they thought would happen in 2017 so now it’s being written off as freak result rather than admitting we nearly won with one.

I really think that shows the narrative they want to push but the reality is it doesn’t explain the actual results. There’s no doubt there’s regional and local differences across the country there always is but we had a 9.6% swing in 2017 nationally from 2015. That is massive and let’s not forget just over a month earlier we had suffered large losses in the local Elections. When the Conservatives called the Election we mustn’t ever forget too we were about 21 points behind in the opinion polls which is of course why they called it because they thought they would stroll to victory. We gave them a hell of a battle and I truly believe as many have said too if the Election had been a week later we would have won. Of course I can’t prove that and we’ll never know for sure but the momentum was definitely with us.

So I believe there’s a bit of revisionism here because some can’t accept and don’t want it admitted that it had anything to do with  Jeremy Corbyn. It didn’t then and it certainly doesn’t now paint the story of what they want to say happened in 2017. Because of last December’s disastrous result the right wingers in the party who lets be honest were never happy about Corbyn being leader in the first place can say we told you this would happen and that 17 could be written off as a freak result.

I take a very different view of it. The truth is no Election results should be written off they all have their own story to tell. It’s easy to now try and sweep the 17 result under the carpet because you want to push the 19 result because that’s the angle you want to have as your narrative. That Corbyn was a disaster most people hated him and that our Manifesto was a gigantic wish list that people didn’t believe we could do.

Of course some of that is true to an extent. I heard myself on the doorstep that some couldn’t stand Jeremy. But this is ignoring the biggest issue by far the elephant in the room if you like. Yes of course it’s Brexit. More than that in our heartlands our vote had been going down for years long before Corbyn was ever leader. So I think we need to take lessons from the last few elections and not just cherry pick the ones that suit us because that’s the only way we are going to understand what’s been going on and why we have lost 4 of the last 5 Elections.

Screenshot_20200307-172027~2

So to my way of thinking I would turn things completely around and say surely the most logical thing to do would be to find out why 17 bucked the trend of recent Elections and learn what we did right and better then. And what was different about it. Well undoubtedly the Tories under May had an disaster of a campaign. For the party that was supposedly ready for it they were unbelievably bad. But let’s not take anything from our campaign either I thought ours was the best it had been for many years. One key factor that was even grudgingly admitted by some in other parts of the party after was that Corbyn had a superb campaign and was totally in his element. Slowly from having absolutely no chance whatsoever our campaign picked up pace and our message began to resonate with massive amounts of people especially the young. Yes we didn’t win but we came so so close and 9.6% swing to us was truly historic.

To write all this off would be a totally foolhardy thing to. Our Manifesto was transformative in it’s aims and Socialist in it’s principles. Vast amounts of people were excited by it’s vision and nearly 13 million people voted for it. So what was different between 17 and 19 when we got smashed? Our Manifesto was still transformative and Socialist but maybe one criticism of it now was there was too much in it. It wasn’t a plan for one Parliament more like for at least 2 and that wasn’t made as clear as it should have been. We still had the same leader but Corbyn had been subjected to another 2 and half years of relentless battering by the media. I’m sure these 2 factors were elements in our defeat but we lost 2 half million votes in 2 years. There’s more to it than that so of course I have to come back to our Brexit position.

Screenshot_20200307-093652~2

In 2017 we accepted the referendum result but in 2019 we said would negotiate a sensible deal and put that deal to a public vote alongside an remain option. This along with that it looked like to many that we were stopping the will of the people in Parliament I believe was the biggest thing that killed us by far at the ballot box last year. The sooner we can accept that we got this massively wrong and own it the better because until then no matter who becomes leader we are going to struggle to win back votes. I think one of the biggest faults of the last 25 years is we have become too London centric and disappointedly that carried on to a large degree under Corbyn’s leadership. We are seen to be too removed from a lot of ordinary people and this has to change.

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There’s another related point I wanted to talk about. How well we did in 17 flies in the face already of the conventional wisdom which is why some like I said at the beginning want to see it as a freak result. You see I never seen it like that because I always had faith that people could vote for a Socialist leader and manifesto. This is I think a key difference between those on different wings of the party. A lot of the right wing not only don’t believe in a Socialist vision of society they don’t believe we can win elections with it. They always maintain that Elections can only be won from the centre which is why they cite 1997 as an example so much. That ignores 1945 and 1974 when we won with Socialist Manifestos however. This is why I believe 2017 is so important and an inconvenient truth to many.

Why should we be timid and cautious and in being so letting the Tories set the agenda? This is why I was so enthused by Corbyn as leader because we set the agenda again and any fall back to  pre 2015 like positions would be a gigantic error. We aren’t taking notice of what the country is telling us if that is what we do. The vote for leave in the referendum was itself a massive vote against the establishment  because there is a massive appetite for that and that is how we looked in 2017. By 19 we again looked like an establishment party who had been blocking Brexit. To win in 2024 we need to tap again into that anti establishment feeling and excite and inspire the young. After all it’s their future and I believe we will fail even after 5 years of this right wing reactionary Tory Government unless we can claim the narrative that we are an anti establishment party who will look after the people. It’s all in our hands which is why this period is vital.

It’s not Socialism that people don’t like or in itself a vote loser unlike what some say and 2017 proves that. It was Brexit that ultimately scuttled us. I’ve seen it sometimes said that it’s the left who don’t want to win that we would rather lose with the right policies than win with the wrong ones. Apart from being insulting it’s also very wrong. What we do have is faith that we can win people over to our ideas. Politics is a 2 way street we listen and engage with our own message, all too often in the last 20 years we haven’t listened and not properly engaged either. To dictate down from on top of the party isn’t going to cut it or win us elections.

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So this is why I believe out of all the elections in the last 15 years it’s 2017 that is the one to build on and look to see what we can learn from. No we didn’t quite win but we were so very close and we did this without compromising our principles or vision. It proves to me what I always believed that we don’t have to sacrifice our principles to get into power. Some will always tell us otherwise that there is an easier way to get into Government that we have to dumb down in some sort of race to the centre. I don’t and have never believed that and now more than ever we don’t need the bland centre but a radical left agenda to deal with Climate Change and rampant Capitalism with it’s gross inequalities that we all face. This is a crunch time and we have to learn from our recent past which is why I think we can still win with Socialism. It’s time to keep the faith there’s simply to much at stake to lose it.

Richard Burgon 4 Deputy

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To be quite honest the Labour Leader and Deputy Leadership contest hasn’t exactly set me alight like it did in 2015 with the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn as a candidate. I suppose that’s inevitable to an extent because that was like a reawakening of something for some or the first flush of an political awakening for others. Also we’ve had 4 and half years of relentless attacks not just from the Tory press but pretty much most the whole media not to mention the attacks and backstabbing from inside our own party. I feel battle weary like most of us.  But when I look at our candidates for leader and deputy the one who really excites me the most is Richard Burgon and that’s who I’m endorsing for Deputy Leader.

That’s not to say there aren’t others I don’t like but it’s Richard who I feel is the one who’s carrying the torch that Jeremy lit for Socialism the most. Make no mistake I’ve always liked Richard but that’s not the only reason I will be voting for him. He’s a campaigner and if elected he’s promised that he will be a campaigning Deputy. We have to get back out into the communities not only listening but getting our message out there. Richard will help do that and engage and encourage our members to do it too. He’s a fighter who doesn’t give up as well that can be seen in his successful libel case against the Sun newspaper ( if it can be called that) and the Tories hate someone like that.

Something else very important is he’s a brilliant public speaker who always electrifiy’s the crowds. He is someone who can make us feel a bit better by his rousing speeches when things are tough. This attribute shouldn’t be underestimated because it’s a very powerful talent and is a vital part I think of the Deputies job. Richard is a breath of fresh air not just in this contest but in politics generally where boring and middle of the road politicians usually hold sway.

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One of the most important things to me is that Richard is a Socialist and that’s vital to keep the party moving in a Socialist direction. So often in the past we have seen backtracks and capitulations on policy and I’ve every confidence in Richard to make sure there isn’t any sort of that nonsense if he is Deputy. As he says it’s Socialism that has given this country it’s greatest achievement the NHS and he wants more of society running along the same values putting people before profits. That’s why he’s calling for a new Clause IV that hardwires support for public ownership into Labour’s constitution.

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Something else that is vital for me is that Richard backs Open Selection. Much more needs to be done to democratise our party and this would be a massive step towards this goal. There really isn’t anything controversial about it after all it’s what Councillors have to do why not MP’s? What makes them so special? If they are good MP’s they shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The trigger ballot system is cumbersome and not as fair as Open Selection and has got to be the way forward for an open transparent socialist democratic party.

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But when I look who to support it’s not only what they want to do in the future it’s what they’ve done in the past that interests me. Richard passes that test with flying colours. One of the most important litmus tests for me was the Tory Welfare Bill in 2015 and in all honestly I would only consider someone who voted against it for leader or deputy and as you can see from the list above  Richard voted against. I say this because it was a vital test and one of the clearest indicators I know of where the candidates really stand. We mustn’t ever fall into line with the Tories or play political games on something so fundamental as Welfare and this back in 2015 was a clear indication of Labour’s drift at that point. It’s Jeremy Corbyn who has put us back on track on this and so much else besides. To see Richard’s name on that list along with Dawn Butler and Rebecca Long-Bailey shows the only options for me to vote for.

Another plus point for me is that Richard’s campaign manager is the wonderful Laura Pidcock who was simply magnificent as an MP and is a massive loss to the Parliamentary Labour Party. Don’t forget he nominated Jeremy Corbyn for leader in both 2015 and 2016 and has been totally loyal to him since he became leader. More than that he has defended Corbyn against the demonisation he received in the right wing press time and time again.

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There’s one last thing that I think is very important. I’ve said this many times before that I think it was our Brexit position that was the biggest (not only) reason why we lost in December. Since our disastrous defeat it’s been truly disturbing to see how so few have actually owned up to this catastrophic decision and how so few in the party actually get this. As you see Richard does and it’s another reason to vote for him because unless we understand and recognise  where we went wrong with Brexit we are going to struggle to ever win back these voters back to Labour. If we are to win the next Election we have to start winning these people back to Labour and we need to start doing it now. I’m convinced that Richard will be able to reconnect to our lost voters.

I hope that you can see why I think Richard Burgon is the best candidate for Deputy Leader and why I will be voting for him. It’s a time for standing firm and bold and there’s no doubt in my mind that Richard will do that because he has the courage and conviction needed. Backtracking and capitulation is not the way to go and will only lead to the collapse of our vote more. Richard gets this. Just one last thing like his Political idol Tony Benn he believes in a member’s led party and that is his aim to deliver that. Please consider voting for Richard Burgon as 1st preference for Deputy Leader. Thank you.

Keep Left to Win

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As a Labour Party member I want us to win all Elections. Seems an obvious thing to say surely we all do. You would think so anyway but some on the other side of the party to me sometimes seem to say that our ideas are unelectable and we must be round the bend to think that we could ever win with them. If there’s one thing guaranteed to wind me up it’s when another member says something like “For all its great ideals, socialism is a minority interest. When Labour offered it red in tooth & claw, it enthused the few but scared the many. Corbynism failed.” The underlying tone is we can never win with Socialism.

I disagree and if I thought we couldn’t I might as well give up. Some speak as though it’s an impossibility but you only have to look through history to see that’s not the case. In the past the Labour Party has had what I would call 3 different sorts of Election Manifestos. Firstly the explicitly Socialist,  Secondly the ones with bits of Socialism in it and Thirdly the ones with none or hardly any. Well we won in 1945, 1950 and 1974 with explicitly Socialist programmes. Now yes they were different times but to deny that happened is completely wrong.

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What is happening now is like what happened in the 1950’s and again in the 1980’s the right wing is fighting back. So they can retake control of the party. This is politics let’s be honest about it. I’m old enough to remember the 80’s and after the defeats in 83 and 87 being told we can’t win with Socialism. So the policy reviews begin the focus groups start and we get told we didn’t listen to what the people wanted they didn’t believe us etc. It’s all been said before.

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The right wing in the party will tell us they were proved right because of our win in 97 and after and that we have to appeal to middle England to win. For me there are some big flaws in these arguments. I truly believe that John Smith would have easily won in 97 had he lived or indeed any leader who was a bit left of Blair because by then the majority of the people after 18 years of Tory rule wanted a change. Yes maybe the charisma of Blair won us a few more seats at first but I believe we would have gotten a majority.

One of the things that always annoyed me about Blairism was that in our drive to appeal to middle England and the home counties we forgot about our core traditional voters. Over time this has bitten us on the backside. I have always believed in our desperation to get elected after losing 2 then 3 then 4 Elections that we compromised our vision of a better fairer more equal society far far too much.

In the 97-10 period we did some good things but also bad things and we didn’t take the chance of the opportunity that was before us. Worst of all we let people down and we didn’t take any notice because we were complacent thinking that our  traditional voters would stay with us because they had nowhere else to go. We were arrogant and completely out of touch hence by 2010 we lost and in 2015 we not only lost but we were annihilated in Scotland. Red Scotland of all places the most left wing place in Britain. We failed them and they punished us and I think some seem to be forgetting this to suit their narrative. Anyway back for power for us must include Scotland it’s that simple and turning back rightwards will never cut it in a million years there.

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This wasn’t Corbyn’s fault he wasn’t even leader then but he hasn’t been able to win the Scottish people back. Let’s be completely honest whoever wins the Labour Leadership has got a massive task on. With where we are now electorally it will be a gigantic uphill battle. But nothing is impossible. However if we are to do it there’s certain things we have to admit and not brush aside. There’s an inconvenient truth that some are refusing to see because their views are clouding this simple truth. I mentioned earlier that in the 80’s we were told we didn’t listen to what the people wanted. Well the biggest lesson we need to learn now is at the last Election we didn’t listen to what the people wanted. Yes I’m talking about Brexit.

I find this quite ironic that the people who say we need to listen to the people didn’t and still won’t on this. I knew we were going to lose in December and that frustrates the hell out of me. Others knew too. As soon as we changed our Brexit position we were doomed and what we came up was a fudge that didn’t go down well in vast areas of the country. Until we realise this and own up that we got it very wrong we aren’t going to do better electorally because people think we betrayed them from saying in 2017 we would honour the referendum result to our fudge 2 years later. They won’t forget in a hurry. I haven’t got a crystal ball and I’m certainly not especially clever so why couldn’t the architects of our Brexit U turn see what was going to happen? I didn’t expect us to lose so badly but deep down I knew it would happen. So how can we trust these people with Starmer being the key figure in this.

The right wing will keep blaming Corbyn for our defeat and I’m not going to deny it wasn’t an issue on the doorstep but quite often it was related to our Brexit position. What I’m saying is we need to recognise what is happening here. Corbyn has always been the fall guy and now groups like Labour First are using our devastating defeat as the excuse they needed to change the direction of the party back to being some sort of Blairite version. This is inevitable and part of the normal cycle of politics but the importance of this next period shouldn’t be downplayed. We are heading into the most important time in human history.

I think there are many differences between the left and the right of the party of which one of the key ones is the right’s lack of boldness. Winning is everything and the only way to win is to play safe. The right say we have to listen to the people but they don’t seem to have faith in them and as we have seen it’s only when it suits their narrative. Corbyn failed because we were too left wing too ambitious they didn’t believe us but what is their vision? They simply don’t have a coherent vision of a better society or how it can work rather they want to tinker with the system to improve people’s lives. The trouble with that is after 40 years of Neo-liberalism’s inbuilt inequalities and now Climate Change hanging over us all like a black cloud of doom it doesn’t provide the solutions to the crisis that’s happening.

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We can’t take another 5-10 years of Tory rule making us even more unequal and with their inadequate response to Climate Change. That is exactly why bold policies and a bold vision are needed. Any backtracking on policy isn’t going to help us the people in the long run. The Blairites say the voters rejected our bold Socialist vision but that is only telling part of the story. As I have said they aren’t taking our Brexit position into account and completely ignoring how close were to winning in 2017 completely against the odds. Politics is so often about the short term but we are entering uncharted waters now and we need to do so much more than that. What we need is radical Socialists solutions not tinkering around the edges.

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I believe we not only have to listen to the people we have to take the lead and show a positive alternative vision. As Socialists one of our crucial jobs is to educate and that is a key thing for us to do now more than ever. Lots of people feel hopeless that there’s nothing that be done. That’s why so many were attracted to Corbyn because his message was one of hope. With the environmental and economic crisis that is enveloping us any return to some sort of 3rd way isn’t going to be enough not only to inspire the majority of people but to actually provide what’s needed to help the people and the planet. These are uncertain dangerous times and the Labour Party has to start wining but not by trying to go back to some 1997 timezone. We have to regain people’s trust by listening, helping in our local communities and putting our case forward for the type of Society we not only want but actually need. The times are a changing and we have to be on the right side of history for the good of everyone. Democratic Socialism offers the solutions to the problems facing us more than ever as unregulated Capitalism runs amok with the environment and ruins people’s lives not only here but all around the world. We have to say what we mean and mean what we say as Tony Benn use to say. This really isn’t the time to backtrack it’s a time to keep the courage of our convictions. The future is still to fight for and it’s the future that we have to think of because future generations won’t thank us for any centrist fudge. Now more than ever we need to be bold and stand up for our Socialist beliefs. That’s what the Labour Party is for and to make the changes we need by winning the battle of ideas and then enacting them. The fight carries on.

 

It’s Still Labour for a Socialist Future.

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I know we are all fed up but I just wanted to say this because I’ve seen on social media some have said they are thinking about leaving Labour or have left already. I get that, we have been fighting for what we think is right for a long time and it’s been hard work. Now Jeremy Corbyn is standing down and we are all weary.  Sometimes all we need to do is step back and have a recharge. I’ve done that a few times and it can work wonders. But  I wanted to share my perspective on why I think leaving would be a huge mistake.
The idea of leaving Labour to start another party might seem appealing especially at times like this. But the reality is it puts you straight into the fringes and nowhere land. There have been countless attempts to start another party left of Labour and they have all failed and failed dismally. There’s plenty of left parties out there already and they have never set the world alight. Recently there’s been Left Unity and Respect. Bit further back to the 90’s the Socialist Labour Party. Recently there have been a couple of alliances the Socialist Alliance and TUSC both with various left parties. None of them have made any headway. The only major success has been George Galloway’s two Elections wins as an Respect Mp and that had at least something to do with him being a ‘name’.  If you go further back when the ILP disaffiliated from Labour in the 1930’s they had a big membership but soon faded into obscurity and the fringes eventually of course coming back to Labour in the 1970’s.

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Even if you look at it the other way the right wing split off the SDP  formed in 1981 after some initial success and some backing from the right wing press had to eventually merge with the Liberals or risk obscurity.
I also speak from a little personal experience. A long time ago I was in Militant in Coventry in the Dave Nellist era and when I first come back into politics in 2012 I went to a couple of Socialist Party (as they are now) meetings. I quickly came to the conclusion that it was only going to be through the Labour Party that we could achieve mass Socialist change. Think back to what the Labour Party was like in 2012 and it will give you a glimpse of how hopeless being on the fringes felt to me. But joining Labour then still felt like a massive thing with Blair and Iraq in my recent memory. But I was encouraged by what I was seeing on Facebook in those days and I felt some change was in the air at last. Although many on the left scoffed at the idea then I began to think that Labour wasn’t a lost cause for Socialism. So it was in the winter of 2012/13 that I decided to  join Labour and the rest is history so to speak.

This little history lesson shows the Labour Party for all it’s many faults is the only game in town as far as left political parties that can get into Government. Many have tried to make a breakthrough but the odds are stacked so far against them. We would be fooling ourselves to believe otherwise.

A major thing we have to grapple with as Socialists is how pure can we be to get into power balanced with how much we have to compromise? I have always thought that many times in the past we have compromised too much.  But also I realise if we are too pure it can be self defeating as well because we can back ourselves into a corner that keeps getting smaller. I have always put it like this. We all have to compromise in life and that is what a political party is all about. But if we go too far down this watering down compromising route we actually lose the essence of what we are and what we want to achieve.
My point is we are so much stronger than we were back in 2012-2015. Yes things have gone wrong but I truly believe Socialist change is only going to come through the Labour Party in the UK. I thought that then and we are so much stronger now than before Corbyn became leader. In some ways when we elected JC we did it the wrong way round.

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So yes I get people are demoralised, depressed, frustrated, hurt, angry and upset. I am too. The last 4  and half years are starting to look like they have been a waste of time. But they haven’t been because we the left are still in the ascendancy. But just think about this if many of us do leave they will have been for nothing and it will play into the Blairites hands. Two of our Socialist heroes Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner did what I’m going to do. They stayed in the party through the battles of the 80’s, the take over of the Blairites in the 90’s and fought and kept the left wing beacon burning. That’s what Jeremy Corbyn did too. Being a Socialist in the Labour isn’t easy but I still believe it offers the best path open to transform our country.

Yes the Labour Party will need a push from the outside too but it needs the mass left membership we have now to drive it. We have lots of battles ahead and it’s going to be very tough. So if you’re thinking of walking away I totally get it. But please think carefully. We need all of us.

A Return To Blairism? No Thanks

Item of the Month – June 2014 – People's History Museum _ Manchester Museums
I know there are many on the political right & some on the right of our Labour Party who are celebrating the end of Corbynism. Who think the Corbyn ‘project’ is over, that the last 4 & half years have been just a blip & now normal service can be resumed.
Well I’ve got some important news for you if that’s what you’re hoping for.
Well think again.
Us Socialists aren’t going anywhere.
You see all the talk I’ve seen of it being the ‘cult of Corbyn’ has been a load of rubbish. Yes we all admire Jeremy Corbyn but it’s never been about one person. Ever.
It’s been about Democratic Socialism & completely changing the narrative from the Blair days. That’s what we’ve done with 2 exciting manifestos.  So before some start rubbing their hands thinking we need the return of Blairism to win again we need to evaluate why we lost.

As I’ve said before I think our Brexit position was the biggest reason where in our leave heartlands we were well beat. Winning Putney & keeping Canterbury was no substitute for losing our red wall. Labour leave voters felt betrayed by our position. I’m not denying either that Corbyn polarised opinion. Some love him some hate him. But there’s an elephant in the room here that’s absolutely vital not to forget. We have been losing votes in our heartlands since 2001. We were wiped out in Scotland in 2015. These things weren’t Corbyn’s fault as he wasn’t leader then but rather a rejection of the Blair New Labour era & people losing trust in us. They lost trust because they felt we took their votes for granted & hadn’t done anywhere near enough for them in all the years we were in power not to mention Iraq of course. I’m denying that our 97-10 Governments didn’t do some good things. But we could and should have done more for ordinary people and the sense of frustration by the early noughties was palpable.

 

If we don’t remember this and learn from it we still won’t get elected. So blaming Corbyn and the left might suit their narrative but the facts don’t stack up. In 2017 we got our most votes since 2001 and the 9.6% swing to us was the highest since 1945 even higher than the 8.8% we got in 1997. We gained seats for the the first time since 1997. This wasn’t by luck but because people were genuinely excited by our Socialist Policies. We were seen as an anti establishment party and most importantly we pledged to honour  the referendum result. As soon as we changed that we were in trouble. It’s important to note too that we still got a higher share of the vote than we did in 2010 and 2015. Also that while we won in 2005 it was with the lowest share of the vote in an Election since the Second World War just 35.2%. This is still an uncomfortable truth for fans of Tony Blair and we should have been learning the lessons then but we didn’t. This is something we need to remember in the forthcoming period.
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So yes we lost and lost badly but if you think a return to the 1990’s is the answer it’s not. That boat has sailed & sunk. The times are very different and there’s no appetite for some 3rd way that let so many down.  This isn’t the death of Socialism either. There must be no big retreat on policies. We need it more than ever and I refuse to believe it’s not popular or we can’t win a General Election with a Socialist Manifesto. It’s Brexit that has sunk us now not Democratic Socialism.  So we carry on and fight on for Socialism because not only does the Country need it, the whole world does if we are to have a future.