We can get Corbyn elected, but it will take sustained effort, writes Isabel Carr
The Labour election campaign to get a Corbyn government elected on December 12th got off to a spectacular start. Activists and sympathisers in their thousands showed up across the country on the first campaign weekend. The Party, and its get the vote out wing Momentum, were off and running from the start.
Chingford - Unseat IDS
In Chingford, local Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen and her awesome team are waging a powerful campaign to unseat Iain Duncan Smith in this iconic Tory seat. And they are in with a very good chance.
As well as Faiza’s impressive political credentials and local understanding - she is from Chingford - in 2017 the Tory majority was cut from 8,386 to just 2,438.
The significance of the Labour campaign here where Iain Duncan Smith - the architect of the despised Universal Credit - could realistically be ousted is clear.
And this was borne out on a first campaign weekend that saw 400 volunteers turn up; by the second weekend that number had increased to 650.
On a cold Sunday afternoon on the second weekend I met retired people, parents with babies, people who had taken a month off work to campaign for Corbyn, local people, and people like me who had travelled for hours to get there from safer Labour seats.
That’s inspirational, but it was also clear that it’s just the start. Because the arguments need to be won on the doorstep, and we have to win them to get across the line in December.
Some of the most challenging conversations included a couple with people still very angry at the Labour Party for, as they see it, ignoring their voice - the leave vote. Labour’s position is actually very clear on this, though not always what people want to hear. But even here, a conversation about the desperate consequences of austerity and what it means to work together to overcome social injustice can seemingly strike a chord. Challenging received wisdom can start people questioning what the mainstream media have told them about Corbyn, and how the changes they need might actually come about. It is a straight choice between continued austerity and a fairer society for all, including for those who voted leave in a kick back against a ruling class’s patrician arrogance, doublespeak, and outright lies.
Across the board potential Labour voters on the doorstep can get that that’s the choice, wherever they’re coming from; there are many apparently different positions in our present political moment that can coalesce into the same political direction of travel. Our task in the election campaign is to get them there by the 12th December.
In 2017 Croydon Central saw Labour’s Sarah Jones overturn Gavin Barwell’s 165 majority, gaining the seat by 5,652.
Barwell’s shameful role in the run up to Grenfell heightens Croydon Central’s role; always a bellwether seat which at least indicates the wider political direction of travel.
Last Wednesday Owen Jones opened proceedings with a hundred or more activists who went out in freezing rain to gather data on the doorstep, and to make it clear to voters that a vote for anyone other than Labour is a vote for the Tories, and for continued and intensifying Austerity.
Keep on keepin’ on
There are always voters who will not waver from their Tory or Labour position. But there are a great many at this moment who are undecided, and who are unclear about the facts because the mainstream media has ensured they are. And they are often coming from very different positions.
So we get out there and we talk. And although you can meet anger and indifference and intransigence, we can win these arguments in many, sometimes unexpected, ways.
Successive canvassing sweeps refine and consolidate the message that it’s a straight fight between Labour and the Tories, between a fairer society and Austerity - between the many and the few, if you like.
This campaign, this election, is unprecedented - we have a real chance of taking the movement forward by electing a truly socialist government for the very first time.
Labour Party Corbyn supporters are working with people from throughout the left and the movement, and also with seasoned Party activists on the ground who may be more towards the centre - plus a Momentum structure nominally led by people who certainly are. Because in this moment we all want the same thing - an end to the murderous Austerity programme, and a reversal of the cuts which have returned us to a widespread social precarity that has witnessed the death and destitution of many, and is nearer to all of us, outside the 1%, than we might like to believe.
We can win this, but it will take sustained work from now until the 12th December to do that.
So get informed, get organised, and get out there - do everything you can to see Corbyn elected on December 12th.
Because with the understanding, connections, and strength this process will bring us all, whatever happens, we can take it from there.
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