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The Left finds a voice

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4An extraordinary turn of events seems to be happening in the Labour leadership contest. The line-up appeared to be settling down with 4 names (though now just reduced to 3), but nobody from a recognisably Left position. Late in the day however – since nominations close at midday today (Monday) – Jeremy Corbyn entered the ring, but was given little chance of reaching the threshold number of nominations, 35, required to enter the hustings and have his name on the ballot paper. Nevertheless in the last few days the position has rapidly changed, and with assured nominations in the high twenties there is now a very good chance that Jeremy will get the number needed just in time. 

Very significantly the Daily Mirror has carried out its own Labour Leadership poll among the public with some very striking results. It found that Jeremy was backed by 54% of the public while Andy Burnham had 17% support (though 60 MP nominations), Liz Kendall had 14% (but 37 nominations), Yvette Cooper Had 11% (but 43 nominations), and Mary Creagh had 4% but has since withdrawn. It is a reasonable interpretation of these figures that a majority of the public now want a figure who will take the fight to the Tories over austerity and champion other radical causes which have been either neglected or too timidly pursued.

Jeremy Corbyn has made his name in the House as a strongly anti-war candidate, by his opposition to Trident renewal, and his championing of civil liberties and social justice in all its forms. He has integrity and conviction, a strong campaigning style, and a doughty defender of the oppressed in every guise.

The central issue in this Leadership contest should be the rejection of austerity. It has been used by Osborne to shrink the State, squeeze the public sector, and to marginalise the public realm back to its dimensions in the 1930s. As a policy ostensibly to reduce the budget deficit, it has been a comprehensive failure: the deficit is still a monstrous £92bn and growth, after a very short-lived surge in 2013-4 has now deflated like a punctured balloon.

Labour needs a Leader who will discard austerity as the Tory ideology it is, and will promulgate the alternative expansion of the economy through public investment not only to end the pauperising of large sections of the population, but also to pay down the deficit far more quickly. The new Leader should also destroy the Tory lie that the 2008-9 financial crisis was caused by Labour over-spending when the record shows that Blair-Brown never ran a deficit higher than 3.3% of GDP whereas Thatcher-Major did for 10 out of their 18 years. At last we may have a Left voice to tell the truth.

6 Comments

  1. David Pavett says:

    I hope that Jeremy Corbyn gets the required nomination. That is not because I agree with everything or even most of what he says. It is because it would be a democratic disgrace to exclude fro the leadership debate the only voice in contention from the left of the Party.

    I am sure the other contenders would feel more comfortable without a left voice to raise issues that they would prefer to ignore. The exclusion of that voice would reduce the leadership debate to an unedifying farce. Andy Burnham is tracking to the right and Liz Kendall is so close to the Tories that she has fallen off the scale.

    If Jeremy Corbyn does not get the 35 nominations required it would be a terrible indictment of the PLP and a measure of the lack of commitment to real debate of a crushing majority of Labour MPs (35 is, after all, only 14% of 256).

  2. Sue says:

    I really believe that if Jeremy does not get onto the ballot paper then it is the end of the Labour Party. How much longer do the PLP think that people will continue to door knock and leaflet etc for “Tory lite”? Many have been patient so far feeling that Labour are the least of two evils. I almost left the party when the PLP supported a benefits cap. I’ve held on due to MPs such as Corbyn.

    1. Robert says:

      He did…..with two minutes to go.

      1. David Pavett says:

        That’s good.

        Now he has a big responsibility to represent the left generally as well as he can. I hope that he is up to it. We have to do what we can to back him up.

  3. Tim Barlow says:

    “At last we may have a Left voice to tell the truth.”

    Shame it couldn’t have been yours, Michael!
    However, Jeremy is perhaps a better choice, having relative youth on his side.

    Godspeed, Mr Corbyn!

  4. Peter Rowlands says:

    Relative youth! JC is 66. Yes, I also wish that it could have been you, Michael, as you have been the foremost standard bearer of sensible left wing policies in recent years, but of course we must now all get behind Jeremy. It would have been scandalous if he had not made it, as he represents a substantial current in the party, although less so among MPs, as many have pointed out. It has also been observed that it is to some extent to Burnham’s advantage as it is now less possible for Cooper to identify herself as the centre candidate, but these two remain clearly the front runners. As for Kendall, she makes Blair and New Labour look pretty left wing. That really would be the end of the party.

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