Over the last month or so I and many others on the left of politics have been really considering whether to join the Labour Party as supporters in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader. It is easy to see why this would be a serious consideration. Corbyn is anti austerity, anti-fracking, pro investment in renewable energy projects, anti trident and of course favours nationalisation of public services such as the Banks and the Railways.
So what should non-labour member do? Well I have heard different opinions being expressed. One being that as it is an internal Labour election, those of us not members of Labour should just leave them to it and see what happens and just build the anti-austerity movement outside Labour. I have also heard the argument that there isn’t a short term solution to getting progressive policies implemented and it is a ‘certainty’ that Corbyn will get ousted should he be elected leader so there is no point in supporting him anyway. I’ve even seen it suggested that if some of us join Labour to help make Corbyn leader, the inevitable coup from Labour MPs will discredit those of us on the left and keep the agenda of the Tories intact.
And on this potential coup, yes it is true that Corbyn barely scraped enough support by fellow Labour MPs to get on the ballot. Yes it is true that a lot of MPs that nominated him won’t vote for him. And if you believe certain Labour insider’s, there could well be a rebellion by right wing Labour MPs, who only need just over 40 MPs to take down their leader. Corbyn could then be gone in a matter of months and MPs could discredit him in the meantime by voting for some of the government’s policies. If Corbyn did win the leadership election, his role of Leader of the Opposition could be seriously undermined. These are serious issues that have rightly been looked at when deciding whether to throw our support behind Corbyn.
But even if there is a coup, why does that mean the left wing of the Labour Party will be discredited in the media and in the public’s eye? Yes the Murdoch press will gloat bigtime in the split and chaos of Labour and will vilify Corbyn as someone who can’t keep a unified opposition. However it could well be the case that the general public have sympathy with Corbyn and distrust and dislike those that bring him down undemocratically. And actually that could help political parties like the Greens become more popular and get grassroots Labour members, who have been frustrated and ignored for years by the leadership, to join,
Whatever the risks of Corbyn winning the Leadership contest are, you can’t just not do something because of the risks involved. Life is full of risks. At the general election I voted for the Green Party in a Tory/Labour marginal seat and was accused of splitting the vote and letting the Tories in. However, It didn’t happen. Labour won the seat. But if it had happened, I would not have regretted it because I knew that at the time the Green Party were the only party to offer a clear and coherent alternative to the Government. Now a Labour leader candidate is offering that, I’m not going to turn down an opportunity to help build the anti-austerity movement. I want to see progressive policies put forward so the poorest and most vulnerable in our society can actually be helped. If that means I back a Labour candidate who advocates those policies, then so be it. There is too much at stake for the left to be tribal and split on this as we are on so many issues.
He may not even win in the end, but he has certainly opened up the debate and got the anti-austerity message out into the mainstream media. And if he doesn’t win, I WON’T be supporting Labour at all. I’ve made that clear from the start of this. In the meantime, join me and many others in backing the only Labour candidate who is offering that alternative to the Conservatives we really need right now. #Jezwecan