Over the past few weeks those supporting Jeremy Corbyn - members of the Labour Party and trade unions - have been called morons, idiots and told they're in need of a heart transplant, while the press have been briefed that the contest itself should be scrapped because he's leading in the polls and that if he wins he'll be dethroned instantly. I have no problem calling out the people making these statements for their attitude to the party's membership and saying we need an antidote to them.
When Labour was in power it did a lot of good things, with the minimum wage, reducing child poverty, funding public services and Sure Start. But from 1997 it haemorrhaged support among working people, something New Labour conveniently ignores in declaring itself to be an unstoppable electoral force.
In the postal industry where the bulk of CWU members work it pushed liberalisation and competition which cost thousands of jobs in Royal Mail and threatened daily delivery services. This benefited a few big businesses, employing staff with abject terms and conditions, at the expense of the very people the Labour Party was meant to stand up for. In the telecoms industry it spent years resisting legal protections for agency workers, giving birth to the insecure employment models we see across the country today.
The CWU is supporting Jeremy Corbyn because he represents a break from this. We do not accept austerity is a credible economic policy - just look at the fact the coalition government has missed its own targets on the deficit by a whole parliament - and we do not accept that the poorest in society should be made worse off. These are two very simple reasons why we are backing him.
What underpins the Blairite position is the idea that the market is king - that all but a few public services should be in commercial ownership, that there is nothing that can be done about the vast inequalities in wealth and power if we are to survive in a 'global race' and that the narrative of the Tory party on the role of the welfare state has to be accepted. The CWU does not agree with this and we do not believe the public will vote for it. So let's have the policy debate out in the open and not simply hear phrases about 'owning the future', 'occupying the centre' and appealing to 'aspiration.'
Instead of this debate, the left is being told that it should back someone 'credible' and that the Party can only be elected by moving to 'the centre-ground' - and we know this is code for moving even further to the right.
I don't share this view of politics that the electorate is there to be 'gamed' rather than engaged and persuaded or that what we need is a Labour government in name, even if it differs little from the Tories in actions. What we want to see is a Labour Party - and ultimately a government - that starts putting its core values of equality, solidarity and democracy first.
There is no doubt that these values need to be made relevant to the world today and that this is not an easy task. No candidate in the Labour leadership election has had enough to say about how we should address the impact of technological change, or the hugely undemocratic voting system (and when Labour got 24% of the vote for one seat in Scotland, you would have thought it might start focusing on this).
I also want to hear the party talking about new ways of running companies that give workers more of a say: the left will need to grasp some new ideas and recognise it is not feasible to nationalise everything. Despite the privatisation of Royal Mail, the CWU is campaigning to protect postal services, daily deliveries and prevent a race to the bottom on terms and conditions in our People's Post campaign. We also knew we had to deal with the reality of privatisation once it happened and we have a ground-breaking industrial agreement with Royal Mail that includes legal protections for employees, precluding the insecure employment models that are rife in the world of work today. The CWU has understood the need to embrace change within our industry - it's time for the Blairites to recognise the need for change within the Labour Party.
Jeremy Corbyn recognises this and represents the best chance of us getting the Labour Party back to both its core values and the idea of being a mass movement. My message is that we must not allow the prospect of change to be strangled by a small clique with little to say beyond 'leave the politics to the professionals'.Suggest a correction