On Friday (August 14), voting begins to elect a new leader of the Labour Party. Circa Waves’ bassist Sam Rourke is backing left-wing candidate Jeremy Corbyn, and he’s keen to see others embrace the man promising a major shift in the party’s politics
Sam Rourke: “For the first time in a generation we might see something that resembles a choice in British politics, but first we need to get Jeremy Corbyn elected as leader of the Labour Party.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people publicly and excitedly engaged with British politics as I have this summer. Many friends that were previously quite silent on the subject have been constantly talking, tweeting and blogging about it and one thing I know for damn sure is this surge in interest has nothing to do with the three Blairite candidates and everything to do with the first genuinely left wing prospect for the Labour leadership in well over a generation.
Jeremy Corbyn is the only candidate to stand up and vote against the ideologically driven class war of David Cameron and George Osborne; the only candidate to have spoken out and stood up against the Iraq war; against the wasteful renewal of the Trident nuclear system; the only candidate to have directly spoken about the destructive nature of our reckless financial services industry and the only candidate who has a message that is about ideas rather than simple platitudes about ‘taking tough decisions’, ‘being strong’ or just simply ‘winning’. For once we have a potential political leader who openly rejects austerity, has the guts to propose an alternative and who is ready to admit the failings of New Labour after its mid-’90s shift to the right (a move that had Blair and Brown dubbed “sons of Thatcher”).
After depressingly losing the general election campaigning on a Tory-lite agenda and losing Scotland to the SNP (who won by a huge margin on a markedly anti-austerity campaign) the Labour Party has had the largest swell in membership since 1951, from 194,000 members to more than 270,000 and over 70,000 more signing up to vote in the leadership election. People aren’t doing this so that they can collectively say ‘well done everybody, carry on!’, they’re doing it because they want the Labour Party to change and they’re seeing somebody who finally represents that. We can be absolutely sure that this isn’t going to come about through the other candidates Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall, all of whom are graduates of the Blair years and represent nothing but business as usual.
Of those three, the main rival in the leadership contest according to most polls and bookmakers is Andy Burnham. This is a man that campaigned on an openly Blairite platform in 2010 and described himself as a “Blairite for Brown”. He has continuously supported the deeply unpopular invasion of Iraq and has opposed investigations into its legality. He wants to take a tougher line on immigration and has been accused by none other than his former campaign chief of falsely moving to the left to attract votes in the wake of the surge in popularity of Jeremy Corbyn. He has also never rebelled against the party line. Does that sound like someone who is going to save the Labour Party from itself and provide a progressive platform? The same goes for both Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.
However, something that has been slightly absent from the conversation so far is that before the election in 2020 there is firstly the job of opposing the Tory class war for the next five years. George Osborne is planning the single largest privatisation of assets in history. This must be opposed. Make no mistake, the Conservatives are planning on continuing their war against the poor, the young and the disadvantaged. Whether it’s through forcing people with disabilities into work then hiding the related death figures from such actions; lowering benefits caps for families that are struggling because of the economic crash that they had nothing to do with, or increasing police powers to crack down on forms of dissent such as the student protests of 2010, the next five years are going to be a struggle. Before we can even begin thinking about making things better we need to stop them getting worse and this requires a genuinely strong and principled leader of the opposition. It requires someone who has an alternative vision than the one that’s dominated politics since the early 1980s and also has the ability to put this message across to the people.
It’s too late to sign up now but, to anyone that is registered, I urge you to ignore the fear-mongering of the right wing press. Anyone that cares about seeing an actual alternative to Thatcherism, austerity and big business I ask to cast a vote for Jeremy Corbyn, a man who so far has managed to scare the hell out of the establishment with nothing more than simple and honest politics.