Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

2015 Labour leadership campaign

Jeremy Corbyn: Labour must become a social movement

Labour Party Leadership Election 2015: On behalf of Hastings Online Times, Sean O’Shea asked all four of the Labour Party leadership candidates for their views on the role of the Labour Party in the twenty first century, the disillusionment with politics, the democratic deficit and the EU. He also enquired about their vision of the good society and what they would do to help people with their everyday struggles and problems.

Here follows the response from Jeremy Corbyn, MP for North Islington. Separately we have received responses from Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, but not, so far, Liz Kendall.


corbyn resizedPurpose of the Labour Party

Labour was founded to stand up against injustice, and that has never been more necessary. We lost the General Election unfortunately and we had a policy that was not sufficiently clear, it was austerity light when we should have been setting a clear economic alternative.

Our campaign has showed there is a huge thirst for a different way of running politics and a different set of priorities in national government.  It is not about individuals and personalities, but about a much more collective approach. Most of all it is about policies and it certainly seems to chime with a very large number of young people who are being fed up with being saddled with debt, lack of access to housing and in underpaid or insecure work.

The Labour party needs to become much more involved in the wider community, much more of a campaigning organisation and much more of a dedicated organisation for social justice, mobilising and inspiring people in campaigns.

We live in a grossly unequal society, yes, as Owen Jones’ excellent writings have demonstrated. There is a systemic discrimination that exists against black youngsters who are disproportionately represented in the prisons and mental health system and in the queues at the job centres.  We have to give opportunities to everyone, so our proposals are for an economy that works for everyone and not for just the few.

The good society

The good society is one that works on the basis that everyone matters, everybody is of value and society should ensure everybody feels valued and has good opportunities. It may sound like a slogan but it’s not, it’s about how you organise a welfare system, an employment system and an education system.

There is something grotesque about the numbers of people begging and sleeping rough on the streets, numbers of children growing up in overcrowded accommodation where they cannot achieve their potential in school.  Poverty is a waste of resources, as well as being an affront to human dignity.

Democratic deficit

Twenty four percent of the electorate supported the current government, which is less than a quarter.  There is an issue about the legitimacy of any party elected on such a small vote.

I’m proposing that in opposition we hold a constitutional convention that looks at issues of the voting system, including perhaps top-up systems, such as the Additional Member System as used in the Scottish and Welsh devolved bodies. I am very keen that a constituency link is maintained whatever system is used. A constitutional convention should also look at: an elected second chamber to replace the House of Lords; issues of devolution in regional government in England, and powers of government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland; as well as protection of human rights and issues that go with that.

But voting systems are only part of the solution – the main issue is that politics must represent people, and that’s why I want a more democratic, inclusive Labour party with policies that will inspire people to vote for us.

Day-to-day challenges

The main challenges are jobs, income and housing. We deal with the jobs issue by ending zero hours contracts, by having a minimum wage that means something – the TUC figure of £10 is reasonable and achievable. It also means addressing the housing crisis which we would do through a national investment bank to ensure sufficient funds were available for local authorities to build the council housing that’s needed, and nationally regulate the private rented sector. There are also issues about how we approach society. The care crisis facing the dependent elderly is real and huge. The environmental crisis that is facing many of us through polluted air and polluted water is a serious one, and so we have to challenge a number of those things and this campaign has brought a lot of that together but has also given an international dimension to issues of human and social justice.

The EU

Labour needs to be setting out our own priorities for EU negotiations. We may be in opposition, but we can still influence those negotiations and mobilise people to campaign. We cannot leave the debate to the xenophobes and big business interests. We must set out proposals for a more democratic Europe that operates in the interests of Europe’s people.

We cannot be content with the EU as it is, but that does not mean we should walk away. Instead we must work with our allies across the continent to build a better Europe.

Improving people’s lives – a social movement

It’s not about me, this contest is about what sort of party we are. It’s about the vast and growing number of Labour party members, supporters, and union affiliates ensuring the parliamentary party is fully aware of their views and that it reflects them.  We want to see policy changes that can bring about real improvement in people’s lives.  That is the foundation stone of future election victories.

Labour must become a social movement: campaigning in opposition to the misery of the Tory budget and austerity economics, the Welfare Bill and the Trade Union Bill. They are launching an assault on the social justice Britain that we all want to live in. In opposition we need to be organising and mobilising campaigns so that by 2020 we have built a movement together that can evict the Tories and put a Labour government in office to rebuild our country.


Yvette Cooper speaks

Andy Burnham speaks


Posted 11:51 Monday, Aug 17, 2015 In: Politics

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