The last few weeks have arguably been the most interesting that the Labour Party (and British politics in general) has seen for at least a couple of decades. And, although the profound change which British workers need may still seem a long way off, there is clearly a chance under Jeremy Corbyn for them to take a step forward – towards a fairer, more democratic future.
1) Corbyn’s Alternative to ‘Austerity-Lite’ Politics
In the interest of summarising a large amount of positive ideas down into a few key points, the most notable policies Corbyn has called for are:
- A crackdown on tax avoidance, an end to corporate subsidies, and a “more progressive” tax system;
- State-led investment to create a genuinely strong economy that can decrease the deficit in the long term;
- For Britain to use its role in the EU to fight for the rights of all workers, protect the environment, and crack down on tax havens;
- The scrapping of tuition fees and restoration of maintenance grants.
- Greater support for councils to encourage the building of affordable, eco-friendly social housing;
- An end to the lie that immigration is “a drain on the economy”;
- The scrapping of Trident, and the UK’s withdrawal from NATO;
- For “50% of Labour MPs to be female” and a “50:50 shadow cabinet”;
- For essential public services to be run “co-operatively”;
- And for people to be given the power to improve their own lives in a truly democratic manner with regards to transport, education, and business in general.
2) The Non-Corbyn Candidates
In spite of the fact that “neither Burnham, Cooper nor Kendall has shown any evidence that they can command confidence outside the Labour Party”, it would seem rude not to mention some of the contributions of the non-Corbyn candidates in the leadership race.
Andy Burnham, for example, has:
- Sought to “win votes from everyone” with his “soft populism”, while proving to blow “a little too easily with the wind”;
- Accepted that figures trying to dismiss and insult Jeremy Corbyn had seriously “misread the mood of the party”;
- And claimed he is “the only candidate who can win” against Corbyn despite an apparent lack of inspiration, policies, and passion.
Yvette Cooper, meanwhile, has:
- Been seen by the general public as a capable, but boring and uninspiring, politician, having chosen effectively to “say and do nothing”;
- Claimed that her ‘radically centrist’ ideas (which are actually on the right) are the only ones that can ensure “party unity”;
- Spoken with a form of coded language which would not be out of place in a “middle management presentation”;
- And received the support of the spineless Guardian, which spent most of its endorsement talking about Jeremy Corbyn rather than the unexciting and unappealing
Finally, the Blairite candidate Liz Kendall has:
- Received money from lobbyists who work for “arms manufacturers, autocratic regimes and multinational corporations”;
- Demonstrated a clear lack of popularity among Labour voters;
- Advocated austerity whilst trying her best to impersonate Tony Blair;
- Patronised her way right to the bottom of the polls by talking to her electorate like “dim schoolchildren” while repeating “empty slogans” about being the only “electable” candidate;
- And focussed on “petty personal attacks” and plots against Corbyn rather than actually proposing anything different from the status quo.
In summary, then, the three non-Corbyn candidates have essentially been competing to “say the most words with the least content”, having had “all the meaning and personality stripped out” of their campaigns “by a crack team of lawyers and PRs”. These “tiny ideas”, then, “expressed without inspiration”, never had any chance of gaining the same kind of popularity as the sensible, progressive, and realistic alternatives proposed by Corbyn.
3) Creasy and the Deputy Leader Candidates
Although “none of the candidates” for deputy leader voted against the Labour whip over the Tory welfare reforms and the union favourites Tom Watson and Angela Eagle did little to show truly left-wing credentials, there wasn’t cause for complete indifference regarding the contest for Labour’s second in command. Stella Creasy, for example, said a number of seemingly positive things about democratisation and “people power”. As a “fearless” feminist with a “vision for a less factional party”, the Labour Co-Op MP seemed like a candidate who would both stick up for women’s rights and try to find “common ground” among the different sections of the party.
Referred to as a “decent, principled, and passionate” candidate, Creasy regularly expressed a “genuine commitment to making Labour a democratic movement again” through cooperating with, and promoting the importance of, grassroots movements. Unlike what she referred to as the current establishment “machine” in the Labour Party, which had “far too shallow and one-sided a relationship with its activists, councillors, voters and supporters”, Creasy called for politicians to organise “out in the field on the front line” in order to inspire citizens and harness “the energy, enthusiasm and experience of every man and woman who wants to speak up for a different kind of Britain”.
Some of Creasy’s supporters may not have taken her impartial stance on the leadership elections and the right-wing abuse directed at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, but Creasy herself maintained that “politics is for everyone to participate in” – a view which seemed very much in line with what Corbyn was trying to get across. Therefore, her stated aims seemed to be a very good compliment to the principles and policies being put forward by the leadership frontrunner.
 To see why, look at Labour’s sharp turn to the right: https://ososabiouk.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/new-labour-is-right-wing-but-corbyn-could-change-that/