Sunday, 2 August 2015

Jeremy Corbyn: Compassion, Honesty and Hope at last!

For a few minutes, forget the media hype of the Labour leadership contest, the furore of the right wing newspapers using their tired and worn phrases of "hard left, militant, extreme left wing" when saying anything about Jeremy Corbyn - (prefixes gone mad) - and let's concentrate on three of the key aspects of Jeremy's bid that is setting him apart from the other candidates; compassion, honesty and hope.

Compassion. Pre Blair it is what the Labour Party stood for. Whilst the Tories and their millionaire mates made money and to hell with everyone else, the Labour Party had compassion for those vulnerable people: the disabled, the carers, the poor, those fallen on hard times and made redundant and unemployed, those who suffered workplace injuries and could no longer work. Then as Labour cosied up to big business, lost the last 2 general elections, we ceased to be compassionate, we ceased to care. Instead the special advisors in the London dominated Wesrminster bubble decided that the disabled and carers, well they were not worth bothering about because the computer said so. As a focus group the disabled carers and poor simply didn't matter as the computer said they were so far down the list of those who would potentially vote Labour, it wasn't worth spending time talking to them about their concerns and what policies they would like to see Labour adopt. Labour let the suits talk "about" the poor but not to us, the middle class vote all too important to court and catch. After all that was how Blair had won his elections, surely the same formula could still work?

The answer is a blunt no. It didn't work. Labour left its core vote behind and arrogantly presumed we would have nowhere else to run to. Compassion was a dirty word. The special advisors were in charge and they knew best because anything that was happening outside the London bubble didn't count. How wrong they have been proven.

So in walks Jeremy Corbyn; a candidate for the leadership who the right of the party and the suits dismissed in the early days as merely the voice of the left getting heard but who would surely finish a distant fourth in the race. Wrong again! Corbyn has articulated a vision of Labour and indeed of the wider society that ordinary people yearn for. Read any Corbyn speech, hear him at any public appearance. In an almost gentle manner, he has ,whilst making arguments about renationalising the railways, protecting public sector pay, arguing for a living wage, then reached out and put an arm around the vulnerable and spoken about compassion. He knows how desperate disabled people are about the closure of the Independent Living Fund, the stress terminally ill people are being placed under in order to claim the new Personal Independence Payment that has replaced Disability Living Allowance, and he knows intrinsically how carers who are struggling by on £62.10 a week are providing such a vital service  and then having  social services care and respite being stripped away from them.

Jeremy Corbyn realises that a decent society has compassion for the vulnerable.  He knows the work capability tests for severely sick people and the PIP assessments made by private firms like Capita  are just a means to save money and not help people at all, but hand vast millions to the private firms running the tests. Jeremy connects with all sections of society and not just the wealth creators that the other candidates and previous Labour leaders are so keen to triumph. He listens and acts as he sees the poorest in society and increasingly more working poor people being forced to turn up at foodbanks for food handouts, as their wages cannot cover the rent, the heating and food any longer.

And Honesty. An honest politician would make most of us laugh until we cried. But Jeremy's honesty and open approach when looking at the way forward, when giving us his vision of a Labour Britain under his leadership has connected with  Labour members aged 16-105! He simply doesn't accept Tory austerity. He knows there is another way and while Ed Miliband was shackled with "balancing the books" (same as the Tories), being tough on immigration,( same as the Tories) and being even tougher on welfare (same as the Tories) Jeremy Corbyn is honest in saying lets make the big corporations pay their taxes and then we can free young people from the burden of huge student debts. He wants to ensure those who are earning in excess of six figure salaries contribute to society as they have the broadest shoulders to do so. Corbyn will rid us of "welfare" and bring back
 "social security" as leader. Workers will pay in for when those hard times fall and then have the
security of knowing the state will step in with compassion. Isn't that what we want? A fair and decent Labour Party who put workers first, collectively bargain for workers rights and protect the vulnerable from poverty? In Foodbank Britain where soup kitchens are on the rise for those who work, where working mothers are visiting and using clothes banks to clothe their kids and get their school uniforms we need a Labour leader who is not in the Westminster bubble looking out. We need a leader who thinks for himself without being advised by special advisors who have never travelled north of the Watford gap and spent their time jumping from university to parliament without having any experience of the wider world.

Hope. Hellfire we have had little of that both as Labour members, supporters and voters, but also as a movement of working class people with our own dreams and aspirations. Post 2010 hope has been very thin on the ground. Hope that we could defeat the ConDems in the election, hope the policies threatening our very way of life would be consigned to the Tory dustbin of history. That was all we had and it was taken away from us. We listened in vain for Labour policies that would bring some stability to our lives, - granted the bedroom tax abolition was one, but where were the rest?  A vain promise a Living Wage was 5 years in the future,  and then the incredible Child Benefit freezefor a few years! Where was our hope that by then we would even have  a decent roof over our heads?!

Jeremy Corbyn is offering real tangible hope. Hope to the young who have mostly given up on politics. JC is speaking the language of the young on tuition fees,the environment and decent jobs and homes. For those of us wearied by constant attacks on the cost of living he is promising a fair days pay for a fair days work and a purge of zero hours, unstable work. All ordinary people want is what previous generations had: a warm secure home, a job that pays the bills, clothes for the kids and enough to allow for a holiday; an NHS in public ownership we can turn to when needed, knowing we will get the best possible healthcare available for free without fear of having to have a cheque book in our hands to pay for it first. Simple things but precious things. Jeremy is offering hope that we have lost and that the younger generation can't even remember having. And hope that lives will improve for the better and the working class can follow our own aspirations is intoxicating for a people whose
backs have been used to bear the burden of Tory imposed austerity.

So those of you who are party members and those who have a vote through the affiliation of their union, vote for Jeremy Corbyn as leader and let's have compassion honesty and hope at the heart of  a Labour Party. A Labour Party where social justice is guaranteed by a leader who has courage, boldness and conviction to do politics in a different compassionate and honest way.  #JezWeCan