There is only one way to get a government which wants to improve working people's lives - and that's by voting for Corbyn, argues Lindsey German
The election taking place in six weeks time will be one of the most important of our lifetimes. It will shape politics for a long time to come. We have the choice between on the one hand the continuation of the worst forms of neoliberalism, policies which deliberately favour and facilitate the minority of wealthy and powerful in society and which will widen inequality and injustice across the board. On the other, we have the policies of a left Labour leader which will restore public spending, defend the NHS and education, and promote a society where fairness and equality take centre stage. The choice is also between a crude and ugly form of politics, with Boris Johnson's casual racism, his support for a hostile environment for migrants, his grotesque sexism where he calls Jeremy Corbyn a 'girl's blouse' and for him to 'man up'.
It should be a no brainer but we all know it isn't. That's a lot to do with Brexit - and Labour's drift towards full Remain will make its chances of victory harder. But of course it isn't just about Brexit - it's also about scapegoating of anyone from refugees to those on benefits, about a more callous and privatised society which has allowed right wing ideas a hearing. These ideas are reflected in much of the mainstream media and in the seats of government from Washington to London and from Budapest to Rome.
As is ever the case, at least some of the problems that those on the left face come from our own side. Look at the appalling behaviour of some right wing Labour MPs who have had to be dragged kicking and screaming towards an election, because they are desperate to prioritise a referendum over an election and because they would rather keep Johnson in Downing Street than see Jeremy Corbyn there. They follow the views of their prince over the water, Tony Blair and want Labour to return to the centre politics of the Blair years - politics which did a lot to create the conditions for Brexit in the first place.
The bulk of the PLP has behaved appallingly ever since the members had the temerity to elect Corbyn four years ago. They neither support nor understand Corbynism and long for the day when everything can go back to normal. Except there's no normal and no going back. Which is why the fight to elect Corbyn is so important - not just for Labour members but for the millions of Labour voters, trade unionists, campaigners, who desperately want a Labour government.
The mood of some MPs is not, it seems to me, reflected among most Labour supporters. I have been struck by the enthusiasm for the election - which I'm sure helped those in the Shadow Cabinet dragging their feet to decide to back one. There are hundreds of thousands of people now gearing up to do what they can to make sure Labour is successful. It's as if the election has unleashed some of the latent support, some of it no doubt demoralised by endless parliamentary manoeuvres.
This is going to be a dirty campaign and a tough battle. Already Johnson's PMQ message shows how the Tories will scrape the barrel - Corbyn is an unpatriotic traitor who lives in Islington (although Corbyn lives and works in working class and poor Islington, not in the mansions of Canonbury and Barnsbury which were home to Johnson).
Labour confounded expectations last time in 2017 and can do so again, but only if it mobilises every single one of its human resources to do so. It has to put mass campaigning at the centre, and it has to foreground class issues. No trade unionist should vote for Jo Swinson or Boris Johnson, both of whom have worked actively to weaken unions. No environmental campaigner should support these people who endorse fracking.
Most importantly, Labour has to argue that whichever way you voted in 2016, there is only one way to get a government which wants to improve working people's lives - and that's by voting for Corbyn.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- The battle is on: and the left can’t win in Labour - weekly briefing
- The movement that can dump Trump – weekly briefing
- The good, the bad and the ugly – weekly briefing
- The looming danger of a US-China military confrontation
- Boris Johnson, statues and staying in the streets
- Black Lives Matter, the sixties and socialist organisation - video
- A turning point against racism – weekly briefing