The Blog

Labour Leadership Grassroots Campaign


Prior to the launch of the general election campaign I accepted some advice, albeit with much scepticism I rejoined the Labour party. In hindsight this advice was to more than prove it's worth. I'll explain this later.

I had previously joined Labour at 18, mindful of social justice from an early age, I was raised by parents who championed fairness and whilst not particularly vociferous on political issues they harboured a natural sense of Socialist values. Those seeds, already sown by my forebears were later propagated by a left leaning, wholly influential Sociology teacher. I subsequently revoked my membership sometime during the Blair era.

As the general election campaign unfolded I complained bitterly that Labour no longer projected itself as the viable alternative keen on upholding their Socialist ideals, or the 'worker's party', further distancing itself from the trade unions. The main recipient of my continual bellyaching was my friend, a fellow trade unionist and lifelong Labour supporter. He explained that griping from the side-lines was futile as you can only make change from within the ranks. "You have to be in it to win it, now join up Becks!" He was right, our own trade union is testimony of this. I re-joined Labour.

Three weeks on from that disastrous general election night, still licking my wounds, I sought solace with like-minded individuals online. Solace was meagre but frustration plentiful, I was unhappy with the stagnant discussions and pointless blame game being replayed, so I set up a Labour forum focussed on progression and solutions.

We quickly discovered where the party's direction should be heading and discussed attaining this. Of course what we 'discovered' was no real "discovery" at all. Labour should appeal to voters as an alternative to the current status quo. Labour hadn't learnt from past mistakes and still offered a quasi-neoliberal "Tory-lite" agenda. This was apparent in Labour's "We're not as bad as them" election campaign. Now, post-election, our anxieties fed upon the uninspiring crop of prospective leaders that emerged, no candidate offered any real alternative, just more 'New Labour' faces, Tories in a watered down form. The general consensus reached was none of the candidates stood for what we as ordinary members uphold as true Labour values, we needed to act fast.

A friend I met online drew my attention to an open letter from ten fledgling Labour MPs seeking an anti-austerity candidate, suggesting we do something similar. Their letter called for typically socialist ideologies, seeking an agenda that "fights the cuts by challenging the austerity notion" a leadership "That would take on powerful vested interests" and "in tune with the collective aspiration of ordinary people". Also sought were "strong public services in public hands and the restoration of "Sure Start". I wrote our open letter to the Labour Party Chairman endorsing the new MPs' demands from party members at grassroots level.

We launched an online campaign collecting signatories with help from "Red Labour", who campaign on left issues. Less than a week later we were nearing our 5000 signatures target. On Twitter we had backing from campaigner Mark McGowan AKA 'The Artist Taxi Driver' and momentous support from the Labour movement including MPs like Jeremy Corbyn. We reached our goal and submitted our letter to the party chairman and with extraordinarily coincidental timing came the official announcement that Jeremy Corbyn had thrown his hat into the leadership ring. A press release stated that Jeremy had made "his decision to stand in response to an overwhelming call by Labour Party members who want to see a broader range of candidates and a thorough debate about the future of the party. I am standing to give Labour party members a voice in this debate" We were elated with this news, our campaign had paid off.

Now that Jeremy has entered the leadership campaign we have a voice from the left and can expect some constructive debate. We need a leader who opposes not appeases The Tories. What's the point in a pro austerity Labour party? We need to encourage spending to promote economic growth. If you believe the old austerity rhetoric why opt for half measures? If you welcome cuts, cuts and more cuts then just vote Tory. Labour are in opposition, therefore should oppose, Jeremy can be trusted to do this, he's agsinst austerity. It's vital he gains his 35 MP nominations, I'm confident he'll achieve this.

We've had war-mongering Blair, pro banker Brown and fair but bland Miliband, Labour members deserve better. We need a party to be proud of. Jeremy is popular and will gain votes. As leader he'd re-claim our roots and rekindle Socialist values; values that are as important today, with inequality endemic, as they ever have been. He offers the alternative that party members desire and voters require. As for citing the latest populist buzzword 'aspire' can we now 'aspire' to be Labour?

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