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Why, across the UK, we need Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper

440px-Jeremy_CorbynThe Labour Party in Scotland and the UK is hurting and hurting badly. Now is the time for our members, supporters, trade unions and affiliated organisations and wider society to engage in a major debate about the future of the party, what we stand for and Labour’s  place in our democracy:

  • How do we address issues such as growing wealth and health inequality and the march of the neoliberal economic system that creates such disparity in incomes and life chances?
  • How do we sustain and fund high quality public services in the face of tax cuts, job losses and the threat from privatisation, not to mention TTIP?
  • How do we educate and encourage all our young people to enjoy fulfilling lives?
  • How do we finance and staff our NHS to deliver high, quality compassionate care  for our ageing population?
  • How do we devolve power across the UK to the nations, regions and our communities ?
  • How do we end our disastrous obsession of getting involved in regional conflicts and begin to play a more positive and productive role in building peace, respect and understanding between the people’s of our planet?
  • How do we address growing nationalism at home and abroad?

And what is the Labour vision that offers hope and inspiration to our young and old alike ?

A vision rooted in Labour values of community, justice, fairness, equality, cooperation and solidarity? These are the questions I want to see addressed in Scotland by Kezia Dugdale and Ken McIntosh and by Andy Burnham, Mary Creagh, Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and I hope Jeremy Corbyn. In a few weeks time the Scottish Labour leadership election will move into full swing but for now I want to comment on the UK contest.

As the nomination period is about to open, I am struck by the way in which the “debate” has developed (or not) to date: 

  1. Competition to “out right” each other on “welfare” — whatever happened to the term “social security?
  2. Various critiques on the failings of  Ed Miliband — presumably they spoke out about these matters when some of the were sat around the cabinet table with him?
  3. And vague notions of an economic policy based on accepting the Tory arguments on austerity.

All in all hardly the most inspiring of analysis. That is why the late entry of Jeremy Corbyn into the race is so important. If he can secure the 35 nominations necessary to get on the ballot paper then the contest when it begins in full will take on wholly new dimension. Jeremy is a very experienced politician elected in 1983 to represent Islington. He has been a lifelong community activist, trade unionist and peace campaigner and was unshakable in his opposition to the wars in Iraq, the renewal of Trident and an interventionist foreign policy. He has been one of the principal opponents of austerity that is wreaking so much pain in communities across the UK.  He is a committed environmentalist and a strong advocate of progressive taxation to invest in our public services and create growth and jobs.

With Jeremy in the race we can be assured that all of the leadership candidates will be forced to address the major issues that people want to hear from Labour about:

  • Liz Kendall will be forced to explain why she thinks we have to cut benefits even further for some of the poorest and needy people in our society.
  • Mary Creagh will need to set out her economic vision for the country.
  • Andy Burnham will have to tell us whether or not he will vote to renew Trident.
  • Yvette Cooper will need to say whether she believes the economic policy that we promoted during the election was was a vote winner or loser.

All candidates will have to set out a clear vision and direction for the party and country. So in Jeremy Corbyn we have someone who will force all  candidates to face up to questions they would prefer to avoid: where they stand on austerity, whether they will invest in or cut public services, how (or if) they will devolve power, whether they will reverse or maintain privatisation, whether they will renew or scrap Trident and if they will cut or defend social security. You will only hear these issues fully debated with Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot paper.

So in the next few days whether you are Labour Party member or not, contact Labour MPs across the UK and urge them to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. A contest involving Jeremy will be good for the Labour Party, good for the broader Labour movement and good for our democracy.

Neil Findlay is MSP for the Lothian region

11 Comments

  1. Eric Bell says:

    Nothing in the document about promoting business and industry to achieve full employment inproper jobs. Give the young a chance to earn a living, proper industrial training and aprenticships.

  2. David Pavett says:

    Like Neil Findlay I am glad that Jeremy Corbyn is trying to enter the leadership contest. I hope that he get at least 35 MPs to support his nomination. If he doesn’t then that will tell us a lot about the Parliamentary Labour Party.

    I think that Jeremy Corbyin could inject some elements into the contest which would otherwise not be there. But it is touchingly naive to imagine that his participation would force Liz Kendal “to explain why she thinks we have to cut benefits even further” or make Mary Creagh “set out her economic vision for the country” or oblige Andy Burnham to “tell us whether or not he will vote to renew Trident”.

    Anyone familiar with Labour “debate” knows that nothing will make the contenders speak in an open, honest and informed way about the direction they want for Labour. That is not the way the Party works.

    The whole thing will be treated as a beauty contest with each candidate vying for supremacy in the world of media sound bites. Jeremy Corbyin I am sure would not be drawn into this. But then he won’t be a front runner either.

    What one can hope is that JC will act as source for awareness about left-wing alternatives to current government and Labour policies. But for that he will need to set out his platform in some detail. He hasn’t done so yet. I hope he will do it soon.

  3. David Ellis says:

    Labour need him more than just on the ballot they need him to win because if they settle for a New Labour clone, Brownite or Blairite, they will face electoral annihilation. But Corbyn need to broaden his campaign to include such things as a Federation to replace the Union, a NO Vote in the EU Referendum and a programme for working class power and socialism not just a simplistic anti-austerity message.

  4. Peter Rowlands says:

    It would look very bad for Labour if Jeremy Corbyn did not get the 35 nominations required to become one of the candidates for the leadership election, as it would then appear that Labour MPs were not prepared to have a debate representing all shades of opinion within the party. Labour is a broad church.
    At the same time it is important that Jeremy presents a detailed case for the policies that he advocates, including costings where relevant. It would be unfortunate if opponents felt able to dismiss his arguments as being too vague or general.

    1. David Ellis says:

      How the heck can you cost socialist policies? The capitalist class controls the purse strings and all this costing crap is how they discipline the working class to accepting austerity. Socialist policies are about a complete reorganisation of society. Corbyn needs policies such as a People’s Bank to replace the bankrupts, a regime of full-employment by which al are bought into the workforce and paid the minimum of a trade union living wage, workers democracy and social ownership to replace fat cat executives and greedy shareholders, a federation of nations to replace the Union and a reconstituted EU based on socialist principles instead of the neo-liberal ones that are tearing it apart.

    2. John P Reid says:

      If Tom Watson had stood for leader,or Jon Cryer ,or Cruddas had stood ,then a serious choice of the left would get the 35 votes and argue it to the party,
      It’s like if Frank afield stood he wouldn’t get the 35 votes needed either ,I backed John McDonnell till he dropped out last time,

      1. David Pavett says:

        I am puzzled to see Tom Watson or Jon Cruddas spoken of stand as possible candidates of the left. Both have identified themselves with the Blue Labour camp. Both stir in religious pretensions with their politics. ‘Faith, family and nation’ politics do not point to the left. Cruddas might use words like “Gramsci” and “hegemony” a lot when he thinks that such words will go down well with his audience but there is nothing left about his thinking. He is sometimes described as a “Labour maverick but in fact, in Labour terms, he is an establishment man.

        1. John P Reid says:

          They’re to the left of Ed Miliband, but not loony left. Religion and left wing politics are always confusing but then define what is left wing

          apart from their racist views the BNP were like a version of old labour up north
          Labour were the original party to build a nuclear deterrent, offer the choice in the 1959′ and 1970 elections to let people buy their circuit homes,and the original anti EU party
          Take labour in 2005 proposing letting women to np be able to set up their own brothels ,until 2007 when Blair and Harman dropped it.is letting women do what they want with their own bodies, left wing?, some feminists are against,

          same with abortion are Protestants, in the right wing DUP against it, the SDLP agreeing ,or Sinn fein have a pro choice policy

  5. Peter Rowlands says:

    David Ellis’s reply to me exactly illustrates the problem I was referring to.

    1. David Ellis says:

      I suggest you vote for one of the bog standard New Labour candidates if you want to cost the future in accordance with capitalist principles.

  6. The odds of Corbyn winning are currently slim to none – but if he performs strongly it could help drag the Labour party away from it’s (current) Tory-lite model. He is the only candidate on the ballot who is not a career politician. We disagree on various issues – but I wish him all the luck in the world.

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