Sunday, 13 September 2015

My challenge to Corbyn supporters: Get out of the Bubble...

A blog post about godforsaken windswept Barratt estates in Great Yarmouth, Nuneaton, Carlisle, Telford or Basildon...

So, as expected Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour Party. He becomes yet another leader to proclaim "A New Kind Of Politics". (From what I can remember everyone from Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage to David Cameron and the Green Party have also proclaimed ANKOP, so I see no reason why he shouldn't, it is the way new leaders try to underline their newness) As a Labour Party member I will continue to be active and try and get a Labour government elected despite the fact that I opposed Corbyn. First however, let's get one thing out of the way, the delusion, inside the Corbyn Bubble (It's a delusion not a lie because no-one outside the Bubble believes it) that the "Tories are afraid of Corbyn". Do not deceive yourselves, they are not. Somewhere between delighted and ecstatic is probably a more accurate description of their response. Just because we don't have a video of George Osborne punching the air on hearing the result, doesn't mean they fear him. I'm sure Osborne downed an extra-special vintage of Bollinger last night.

I did not oppose Corbyn because I disagree with his politics; in fact I would place myself further to the left than him, for example I believe we can create a system of assessing privatised industries that takes into account excess profits as well as the quality of service they have provided, (lack of) investment and their behaviour as an employer to workers when determining levels of compensation to renationalise. This would enable privatised industries to be renationalised much more cheaply and in some cases with no cost to the taxpayer at all.

However I am not a Corbyn supporter for reasons of principle. I believe it is a moral responsibility for Labour to get rid of the Tories even if that means compromising on some of our beliefs. That is because, as we have seen, a large number of people suffer when there is a Tory government. Deaths of sick and disabled people have soared since Iain Duncan Smith's reign of terror and child poverty, greatly reduced under the last Labour government, has increased massively since 2010. Not only that but Sure Start, which successfully supported children in poor and disadvantaged families to start their education with a degree of preparedness and success has been decimated. As a young primary school teacher in the early 1990s, not only did I have classes of around 34-36 children but I regularly had to write letters to local council housing offices to try and get children rehoused because of the appalling and unhealthy conditions they were living in. After 1998 the largest class I ever taught was 29, and I stopped having to write those letters by about 2005. I could go on. The Tories have, in the last 5 years, harmed the sort of people the Labour Party was set up to protect. People have died because Labour lost the 2010 election and will die because we lost the 2015 election and will certainly die if we lose the 2020 election.

I believe this is a moral imperative, and as such is why I opposed Corbyn. The evidence of my own eyes and ears campaigning on the doorstep at the last election and talking to many others who have done the same up and down the country tells me he is not going to win. Other conversations with people outside the Corbyn Bubble since then have confirmed that; outside the 250,000 or so people who voted for him - less than 0.5% of the electorate - he is not regarded as a potential Prime Minister and does not attract the enthusiasm, and most of all the trust, of enough voters.

In my opinion the political positioning of many Corbyn supporters, that their own beliefs are paramount and their principles must not, at all costs be compromised, is not merely selfish but also immoral. I have encountered many, many people in discussions on social media who are calling for Labour to be a "principled opposition", putting principle above power not actually caring about whether we form a government or not. In my opinion this is immoral because it ignores all those who are suffering and who will suffer, from Tory governments. It puts your own principles above the rights of others in much greater need, people who, by-and-large, do not have Twitter accounts, who have three or four insecure, dead-end jobs, who live a hand-to-mouth existence and have no time to engage in the political process. For them we need to abandon the idea of being a "principled opposition" and become a government.

The problem with democracy is that to change anything Labour needs to be in power, anything else is irrelevant,  to do this we need to obtain the votes of something like 40% of the voting public before it can form a government, not only that but it is important where we get those votes. With boundary changes the Tories will effectively be defending a majority of 30-35 in 2020. This means we need to win 30-35 seats from them just to stop them having an overall majority again, more if you include the fact that the Ulster Unionists and Ukip would be very likely to support a minority Tory government (and maybe the Quisling Lib Dems again too). That means taking something like 45 seats, from the Tories. Let's say that again; FROM THE TORIES. Not one seat taken from the SNP, the Greens, what remains of the LDs, will make any difference whatsoever. Now look at where those seats are; Gt Yarmouth, Carlisle, Southampton, Medway, the West Midlands, Hastings, Essex, North Norfolk.  In other words they are outside the main urban areas. Campaigning in London is unlikely to produce more than one or two seats at the most. In fact if Labour takes every Green and LD vote in the next election we will only take 23 seats from the Tories, (probably fewer than that under boundary changes) and the Tories will be left with an overall majority again.

My reason for saying this is that I would like to suggest that, all those Corbyn supporters who paid their £3 and elected him now need to put their money where their mouths are and get involved. Go

doorstep canvassing,
phone canvassing,
delivering leaflets,
folding leaflets,
staffing Saturday morning stalls in high streets and shopping centres,
raising money,
trying to sign up and register new voters,
getting stuck in and doing something to support the leader you selected.

Start engaging with the people you need to get to vote for him, start persuading them to vote for him, now and for the next five years more than anything. People like me will continue to go out and canvass and do what we have always done to try and get a Labour government elected and will support him as Labour leader. Now you need to do the same. Get your hands dirty, get out of the Bubble.

Start listening to what these voters say and arguing your points. Talk to the people not on Twitter, who don't read the Guardian, who pick up the Express, the Mail, or the Sun, or who get most of they news from the increasingly biased right-wing BBC. To do anything else is to attract the accusation of armchair activism. Jeremy Corbyn needs your support.

One thing to remember is that the largest number of the people we need to win over are by and large those who voted Tory last time, how are you going to sell Corbyn to them? My opposition to Corbyn is that I do not believe he can appeal to them, and as such his election as Labour leader is morally wrong, since winning elections is a moral necessity for Labour. Now you have your leader you have a moral obligation to prove me wrong, and I hope I will be proven wrong, but you have a moral obligation to do as much as you can to make it happen. If that means getting out and campaigning on doorsteps on rainy weekends in godforsaken windswept Barratt estates in Great Yarmouth, Nuneaton, Carlisle, Telford or Basildon, that is what you need to do. That is where the next election will be won or lost, not on social media.

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