Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Real Alternative to the Same Old Tired Politics of Austerity (GE2017 - Week 7)

The Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn offers a real alternative - a chance for progressive politics instead of the failed politics of austerity that we've all been subjected to for these past 7 years.

So much has changed in the last two years - since the 2015 general election.  It seems so much longer ago than two years when each party was squabbling for what they perceived to be the centre ground.  I and many other like me kept noticing that the Tories were dictating the narrative and pulling Labour along to the right with them.  This left a yawning void on the Left and I wondered why it wasn't being filled. Surely there was an appetite for an alternative?  But frightened by the unchallenged and false narrative chanted ad nauseam by the Right that Labour had crashed the economy (rather than it being a result of the banking crisis), Labour did little to counteract these claims. They could have easily done.  They could have boasted how well the economy had done under years of Labour until 2008.  But instead many former Labour supporters became disillusioned by the offer of what many perceived to be 'Tory Lite' and a Westminster club out of touch with their constituents, especially in the regions most distant from London: the north east, the south west and many more.

Labour was at a crossroads. Ed Miliband did put forward many progressive policies but they weren't translated into votes.  Socialism was the elephant in the room but when it was mentioned, Labour seemed to be defensive and apologetic, instead of proud.

But when they lost the 2015 election and Ed Miliband resigned, one outsider put his name forward - that was, Jeremy Corbyn.  Against the others - Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and even Andy Burnham, he stood out.  He offered a real alternative.

This is what those on the Left had been craving - not another watered-down Tory. After all, if people want to vote Tory, why would they vote for a paler version?  You have to be offering a real alternative and that's what Labour offer now. Corbyn took a gamble and was unafraid. He embraced the new way of doing things, via social media and emails, as well as good old-fashioned crowd-pulling talks up and down the country where he always pulls a crowd.

Far from showing character weakness, he's showed dogged determination - and that he isn't a quitter! He listens - that's an important part of being a leader, he says, in his quiet unassuming manner.  In fact the Labour manifesto has been put together as part of that listening exercise and isn't a million miles away from the policies of the SNP - which many of us south of the border could only dream about two years ago.

But the Brexit referendum has further shifted people's alliegances.  The political landscape has changed. Just by how much will be confirmed or otherwise on June 8th.  But make no mistake, five more years of austerity as well as a hard Brexit will leave our country and its people more divided and all the poorer. This is our chance to turn the tide, to vote for investment into our public services and our young people as well as a savvy negotiation out of the EU, a vote for social justice and a fairer more equal society.  And everyone benefits from that.


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