I really like this picture, retweeting it when I first saw it. Jeremy Corbyn has been my favorite MP since Tony Benn stepped down as an MP to spend more time with his politics. In his last television interview, the great Tony Benn reminded us that MI5 had once warned him they’d murder him if he was ever elected Prime Minister. MI5 never felt the need to carry out their threat because they found other means to stop him being Prime Minister. However, Jeremy Corbyn is on the verge of fulfilling the ambition of his friend and mentor: the father of that disgraceful turncoat, Hilary Benn.
Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t just my favorite MP; he was also Tony Benn’s, and for good reasons, and Jeremy Corbyn feels great pride in being able to say that. Who wouldn’t?
Jeremy Corbyn is set to become Britain’s Salvador Allende – with one key difference, I hope. Theresa May’s role model – Margaret Thatcher – was a friend of the blood-thirsty military despot General Pinochet, the fascistic puppet who carried out the dirty work of the United States’s Central Intelligence Agency.
Pinochet overthrew Chile’s democratically-elected socialist government. Jeremy Corbyn’s more mature voters (coffin-dodgers is I believe the technical term for people like us) appreciate that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Well, we are not about to allow Britain’s generals to carry out their threatened mutiny if Jeremy Corbyn gets elected Prime Minister. Nor are we going to let MI5 keep threatening to murder socialists who dare to get elected Prime Minister. Those days are gone, whatever Theresa May and Alan Johnson want to believe.
As I say, I like this photograph of Jeremy Corbyn, partly because it reminds his supporters that he’s carried out his hard work for decades with precious little publicity. He didn’t devote himself to these good causes for glory. He did what he thought was right. And he didn’t demand free votes when he voted against the whip, contrary to what the 172 MPs pretend.
Jeremy Corbyn always put himself out there, and if the whip was withdrawn for breaches of discipline, or he had to face a vote of no-confidence from his CLP, then he was ready to face the consequences, persuading his critics that he did the right thing. That’s what Labour’s PLP have to do today: take responsibility for your actions, just like Jeremy Corbyn has done his entire life.
While backbenchers can’t be sacked for disobeying the whips (because they don’t have jobs handed them by Labour’s democratically-elected leader), Constituency LabourParties may deselect. Within the front bench, free votes have to go, other than in the most extreme circumstances. So-called supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have lauded these ‘free votes’ always, in every case, snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. They only ones who are liberated from these ‘free votes’ are Tory Prime Ministers.
These free votes are an acid that Labour’s voters hate: they remind us that Labour voters have no idea what we are voting for when we elect a Labour MP, which is why we find ourselves lumbered with Owen Smith’s 172. There has to be collective responsibility, and all Labour MPs need to accept that.
Is there any criticism I have of that photograph? Actually, I do have one criticism. There is the implication that we are voting for Jeremy Corbyn to reward him as an individual, as a kind of ‘thank you’. Of course, we are giving him a vote of confidence. He is inspirational, and we are letting him know that just in case the lies of the British Establishment actually do make him doubt himself. No one could blame him if the bile poured on him 24-7 by so-called ‘journalists’ at the BBC, SKY News, Channel4 News etc acctually dented his belief in himself. That is why editors make them do it, those who don’t happily do it out of the evil in their hearts. It is calculated psychological warfare, and it is disgusting, and makes voters feel empathy for a good man. And this is empathy that is not just felt by those of us who are happy to vote for him. This empathy is shared by many who agree with very little of his politics. I hope Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t let these vile smears get him down, but he’s only human, and I’ve no doubt, despite putting on a brave face, some of it is hurting.
However, despite our vote in Jeremy Corbyn being in part a reward for Jeremy Corbyn as an individual, we are not doing it just for him. Much more than that we are doing it for ourselves, for each and every one of us. Jeremy Corbyn is no leader of a cult. His voters don’t all agree with each other on everything. And we are actually very proud of being willing to vigorously debate our differences, and in the process of debate thanking each other for talking us round when that happens; and it does happen – a lot. We change our minds in the process of debate, and are happy to concede that. And that is one key pillar to Jeremy Corbyn’s success as a leader.
Owen Smith has attempted to steal policies that he knows go down well with Jeremy Corbyn’s voters: not all his policies, but quite a lot of them. However, Owen Smith also ‘forgets’ he promotes an alleged ability to unite the the Parliamentary Labour Party who hve been trying to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn for backing, among other things, precisely those policies he has now stolen.
Owen Smith has zero intention of delivering on any of his promises. He just hopes Liz Kendall’s 4.5% ultra-losers won’t publicly attack the ripped-off policies of her ‘Anyone-But-Corbyn’ donkey until after he’s stolen enough of Jeremy Corbyn’s votes to secure the position from which to unravel everything that’s happened over the last year, including a purge of maybe eighty percent of the party’s members. It’s not going to work, Owen. Labour’s half a million members see right through you.
Jeremy Corbyn is a symbol. He is a figurehead. He has successfully unleashed forces of democracy inside the Labour Party, turning it into the pole of attraction for all the left. Those still languishing on the outside will join before too long, putting an end to the days of splitting the anti-Tory vote. Labour is now precisely the broad church of the left that Tony Benn always wanted it to be – at least outside Scotland. Only pro-Tories like Stephen Kinnock and Frank Field are toying with the notion of a breakaway party under first-past-the-post.
To cut a long story short, I am voting for Jeremy Corbyn not to help him as he has helped all of us for the last few decades: I’m still voting for Jeremy Corbyn for myseelf, and for all the other victims of Theresa May’s austerity and her contempt for justice, human rights and democracy.