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Labour Leadership Contest - Why Can't We Vote for Hope?

I won't be joining the Labour Party, but I am part of the wider labour movement. As such, I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn. I will be voting for hope.

In a recent article comedian Frankie Boyle suggested that following the decision to abstain in the recent welfare bill vote the Labour party was now so passive it could be "led by an out-of-office email".

It was indeed a pathetic move by Labour, and this is the background to which the Labour Party leadership election is being fought. And, I get to vote.

I'm not a member of the Labour Party - I'm a revolutionary Socialist. However my Trade Union, the GMB, is a major backer of the party. Personally my belief is that the political fund should be democratised, and MPs should be given backing on an individual basis, irrespective of party.

However, that is not an argument that has been won within the union, so whilst it continues to give part of my subs to the Labour party, I believe that I have a right to exercise my democratic rights in voting in this election.

On the TUC anti-austerity demo in October 2012, I was talking to two trade unionists who were members of the Labour Party. They had voted for Ed Milliband to become leader, but now wished they had voted for his brother David instead.

That wasn't because in hindsight they decided that the political agenda he put forward was now the correct one. No, it was for one reason - they were frightened that the Tories would get re-elected.

Everything was driven by that fear. That's why ordinary party members may look towards Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham (or the sadistic towards Liz Kendall).

But now we have a candidate worth voting for in Jeremy Corbyn. He is pretty much spotless. Not only has he always stood up for the right causes throughout his political career, he has also managed to do so without being a crazed ego maniac (oh George Galloway, I remember the hope we had only for you to smash that to smithereens).

The Daily Mirror has reported that Jeremy Corbyn is way ahead in the leadership contest so far with a 42% poll rating (Yvette Cooper currently second with 22.6%). Hardly surprising, this is what the ordinary activists, both inside and outside of the Labour Party, actually want in a leader.

Who is voting against Corbyn? Well, some activists who still have that 'pragmatic' fear of losing to the Tories, but also the 'professional' political figures within the party.

MP's make a good living from their position. I'm not saying that none of them care about politics, but it makes a big difference when your income depends on winning elections. In that position, you are desperate to keep your seat. This is not a gravy train they wish to disembark from.

It certainly explains the tendency to lean to the right in such arguments. The same goes for full time, unelected, trade union officials. They don't want to rock the boat with employers any more than they have to, because they have their own income to protect. Again, it's not to say that none of them care about the workers they represent, it's just that it does explain the tendency to want to avoid fighting for what is right.

All union officials should be workplace based and elected by the members. That way, if the members do not agree with their actions they can be removed from the post and go back to their job. If that job is there, and their income doesn't change when elected, they will be a lot less likely to take the side of the bosses.

But still, is there any point in striving to elect a leader like Jeremy Corbyn if no-one will vote for Labour in a general election? Well, it turns out that the general public actually agree with most of his policies, with a significant majority willing to support moves to renationalise the railways, bring in rent controls, etc.

When Tony Blair was elected with a massive majority one of the reasons he was able to do so was because he had over 60,000 activists campaigning on the streets. He offered a vision that was clearly different to what the Tories had to offer.

Yes, he was a fucking abomination, but those were the reasons he was able to win so convincingly. In the years that followed, the more he moved the party to the right, the more it appeared to be similar to the Tories, the more his majority fell.

Jeremy Corbyn stands up for policies that are right, and are what the mass majority of Labour Party members and supporters actually believe in, but have been too afraid to express in fear of losing the 'middle ground' to the Tories. He is also someone who can carry forward arguments with the general public in a convincing fashion, and can attract a mass activist base to the Labour Party.

I won't be joining the Labour Party, but I am part of the wider labour movement. As such, I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn. I will be voting for hope.

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