That’s ok. You can still vote for Labour.
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In the run up to the General Election we need to project our minds to the morning of Friday 13th December and the potential consequences of the night before.
Who will decide the future of our NHS, and our public services? Will there be an end to the cruelty of austerity?
Much soul searching is to be done over the next six weeks. You need to think carefully and methodically about what matters to you, in what is going to be the most important, yet unpredictable election, ever.
Now, I’m putting myself on the line here. I’m subjecting myself to a swathe of backlash from both the pro and anti Corbyn camps, and everyone else in between. I am a self-proclaimed Corbynista, by the way. But Jeremy Corbyn is not God.
He has demonstrated inadequacy and incompetence on a range of issues that required proactive and decisive leadership in times of insecurity and crisis. From the antisemitism issue to Brexit, he has stayed silent. Whatever his reasons for this, in my view, on these issues, he has failed at leadership.
Yet whenever I attempt these conversations with fellow Corbynistas I am met with defensive, uncomfortable, heated debates about why I am wrong. Despite me saying I will vote for him, I am shunned from the proverbial camp and told I must be too indoctrinated by the mainstream media. I find this offensive and wholly inaccurate.
According to this camp, I’m clueless and naive for wanting a party led by someone who doesn’t act like a leader. A party who’s leader sat on the fence over Brexit; who’ll take us back to the 1970’s; who presides over a misogynistic team; and who’s hijacked the party we know and love.
But what is a leader? This is another question people need to ask themselves. Jeremy Corbyn demonstrated commendable leadership in the Grenfell Tragedy, unlike Theresa May.
Perhaps his flaws are worthy of a legitimate debate and Labour supporters should not shy away from this. But calling him a ‘terrorist’, a 'traitor' or ‘IRA sympathiser is all propaganda, it’s not journalism, and people shouldn’t waste their time debating that level of stupidity.
We’re only human
Here’s the thing: Jeremy Corbyn is a human being and one that’s vying for election of the highest office. He is accountable and like any of our elected representatives he should be subject to the same level of scrutiny.
It is OK to criticise Jeremy Corbyn. It is OK to call him out on his incompetence; how else do our politicians learn to know what we really think? It is OK to think he has failed on all the above and at the same time it is still OK to vote for him.
The manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn is built on principles of creating a socialist economic and societal movement. One which eradicates some of the evils of capitalism, from tackling inequality, and reducing the barriers that our children and our grandchildren will face, if we don’t act now.
Policies not personalities
These life-changing policies include:
· Scrapping Universal Credit and changing the culture of the DWP
· Tackling climate change under the Green New Deal
· Addressing wealth inequalities by taxing the super rich, tackling poverty and investing in our public and health services
· Protecting and developing the NHS and tackling the mental health crises
· Improving access to education
· Enriching people’s lives from young to old by eradicating student debt and preventing pension age increases
· Ceasing the sale of arms to countries who incite terrorism
· Building and maintaining homes
· Eradicating rough sleeping
· Improving access to drug treatment services
· Investing in jobs and infrastructure
Contrary to popular belief, even the party’s stance on Brexit is clear: a renegotiated deal in three months, with a vote on it in six. That vote will include an option to remain. I don’t see how anybody in today’s political climate could do more to square the circle of Brexit, caused by the inequalities of the capitalist rhetoric that the Labour Party is determined to abolish. How is that not palatable?
What matters to you?
So, you’ve said you’re a life-long Labour voter but you can’t vote for Corbyn?
What matters to you?
Is it the development, and protection from privatisation, of our beloved NHS?
Is it the climate crisis that is being tackled by Labour’s Green New Deal?
Perhaps it’s the deaths caused by austerity as a result of nine years of dismantling of the welfare state?
Or maybe it’s the mental health crises that is debilitating our communities?
If any of these things matter to you, not voting Labour because you don’t like Corbyn is not a good enough reason, and it never will be.
A movement not a man
Despite his flaws, of which we all have many, Jeremy Corbyn is fundamentally a decent human being. He is principled, experienced, has fought for peace and justice his whole political life and is someone who genuinely wants to improve things for us all.
He might not be your ideal leader and his views might be too radical for you. He might be incompetent at times, and lack the decisive responses needed in a leader. But knowing what we know about what’s at stake under another five years of Boris Johnson, are those really good enough reasons to not vote for Labour?
If I still haven’t managed to convince you, please remember this: The Labour Party is bigger than one person and there is a wealth of skills and talent that pervades throughout.
The Labour team
The Shadow Cabinet - the Labour Party’s ‘Top Team’ - is full of incredible politicians spanning a variety of different backgrounds, who hold strong working class values, and years of experience working in some of the most impoverished areas of the UK.
The most influential of these, and who are being pitched as potential future leaders are:
· Keir Starmer - Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
. Emily Thornberry - Shadow Foreign Secretary
· Laura Pidcock - Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights
· Angela Rayner - Shadow Secretary of State for Education
If you take nothing else from this article, please read about each of these inspiring politicians. They represent real people who are ready for real change, and they are the backbone of the Labour team.
It’s quite simple. If you think the Tory party are bad, they’re only just warming up. The harm they have inflicted with a minority government has been catastrophic, imagine what they could do with a majority.
You have a choice on December 12th. You can choose to vote on your personal feelings towards one person, or you can choose to vote with your conscience. And to make it more palatable, you only need one issue that the Labour Party has said they will focus on, to resonate with you.
Not voting Labour, or abstaining altogether, is a vote for a Boris Johnson hard Brexit and another five years of the destruction of our civilisation.
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Kate Anstee is a Freelance Social Justice and Anti-Poverty Campaigner, providing training and debate facilitation on the impact of austerity and welfare reforms. Contact here for more information.