Jeremy Corbyn is not leading a campaign he is leading a movement

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For far too long we have been accustomed to a political culture shorn of compassion, decency, and solidarity. We’re all familiar with the script: a leader, or prospective leader, is someone who isn’t afraid to ‘make the tough choices’, ‘tell us how it is’, ‘be unpopular’, ‘take the hard rather than the easy decisions’, etc, etc.

We are also by now well acquainted with the real message being delivered in these over-used and cliched soundbites – namely that if elected I will govern in the interests of a tiny economic minority at the expense of the majority and pledge to demonise, attack, hound, and hurt the poor and most vulnerable among us more than my competitors at every opportunity in order to do so.

It is a narrative, a discourse, tantamount to the equating of political power with callous indifference to human suffering, transforming cynicism and cruelty from vice into virtue, while pretending that there is no alternative. In the same inverted morality words such as compassion and decency are equated with weakness and idealism, the last qualities we should expect in a politician who is serious about governing the country or occupying any position of influence within the political mainstream.

Jeremy Corbyn has rapidly become the antidote to this lie: this Daily Mail-Tory-New Labour-City of London-benefit sanctioning-foodbank proliferating-migrant bashing-minority ‘othering’ conception of what a successful and rational society should look like. Not that Corbyn is Gandhi in a beige jacket – far from it. In fact what he represents connotes real strength and grit, the sort needed to be able to swim against the prevailing tide to mount a serious challenge to the Thatcherite, neoliberal juggernaut that has decimated the lives and communities of far too many.

Over the past month this man has come to symbolise everything we’ve been missing in our politics, a candidate for leadership who is as unassuming as he is humble, who lacks vanity, ego, and who refuses to be anything other than himself. This, as much as the message he is delivering to packed audiences up and down the country, is why he has shone so brightly and why despite the welter of column inches to the contrary, they fear him.

At a time when we have a government that sends sniffer dogs and policemen to Calais rather than doctors and nurses to deal with desperate human beings fleeing war, persecution, and unimaginable privation in countries we have helped to destabilise and destroy, we need an alternative. At a time when we have people living in disgusting ostentation while all around us homelessness, destitution, and poverty is growing exponentially, we need an alternative. And in a country that places a priority on spending billions on replacing weapons of mass destruction in the form of Trident rather than spending it on building affordable homes, investing in the NHS, schools, and on making sure that everyone who works receives a wage commensurate with a decent quality of life, we obviously and desperately need change.

Those, particularly within the Labour Party, who’ve issued warnings over the dangers of ‘lurching to the left’ behind Corbyn are standing on the shoulders of the siren voices who warned Clement Attlee and the men and women who helped transform British society after the Second World War that the creation of a national health service was a utopian pipe dream – unafforable, unworkable, and delusional. They are standing in the tradition of those who warned that the goal of full employment as the key objective of economic and social policy was contrary free market doctrine and guaranteed to end in disaster. Indeed, whether they know it or now, they are the modern incarnation of those who preferred a society divided between the deserving rich and undeserving poor, fueled by the belief that individual wealth is evidence of moral virtue while poverty is due to moral degeneracy, the former rightfully rewarded and the latter justly punished.

We’ve had enough of these Cassandras in our political culture, just as we’ve had enough of being told that the summit of human happiness and fulfilment is a massive salary and the ability to buy anything we want whenever we want it. We’ve had enough of happiness being confused with excitement, of being assured that competition is more compatible with our nature than cooperation, and that the poor man who steals a loaf of bread from a supermarket belongs in jail, while the rich man who closes a supermarket because it is no longer profitable, thereby consigning hundreds of people to poverty, belongs in the House of Lords.

What they don’t get is that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign is not driven by what ‘can’ be done but by what ‘must’ be done, by the necessity of reintroducing sanity and humanity into a political culture that has become captive to the needs of the rich and big business. It is this cult of business that has so distorted and perverted our understanding of what constitutes a viable and sustainable economy. To put it another way, no business or businessman or woman has ever created a job in this country. Not one. It is not businesses that create jobs it is consumers who create jobs, by spending money to create the demand for goods and services to which businesses respond by expanding their existing business or in the form of new businesses being created and with them employment. And when it comes to this creation of demand, it is an empirical fact that people on lower incomes will spend more of any extra money they receive than people on higher incomes, as their needs are correspondingly greater.

So rather than focusing on cutting benefits and incomes, we should be talking about raising benefits and incomes. And rather than listening to those who tell us that businesses can’t afford to pay their employees a living wage, we should be telling them that any business than cannot afford to pay a living wage is not a viable business and has no business being in business in the first place. We need, in other words, to reassert the primacy of the state and government over the economic forces that are in truth the real government under the status quo, a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

The ideas and vision that Jeremy Corbyn represents, for so long buried beneath a ton weight of Thatcherite ideology, have risen from their slumber and are now part of the mainstream political discourse again, breathed new life by thousands of young people who demand a real and humane alternative to the thin gruel that passes for reality today.

It is why when they those same siren voices continually shriek that Jeremy can’t win, what they don’t realise is that he already has.

48 comments on “Jeremy Corbyn is not leading a campaign he is leading a movement

  1. Karl Stewart on said:

    Sometimes I read something that puts into words exactly what I’ve been thinking, and this one of those times.

    Brilliant article John, fucking brilliant.

  2. jim mclean on said:

    Might be the other way around, the movement is leading JC, and I’m all for it.

  3. this Daily Mail-Tory-New Labour-City of London-benefit sanctioning-foodbank proliferating-migrant bashing-minority ‘othering’ conception of what a successful and rational society should look like.

    Perfect. Says it all, really.

  4. Some much needed sense about Jeremy Corbyn and the reason he has becomes so popular. I picked this up from medialens, but had to google the headline to find out who the writer was and the location of the site. And that brings me to an important point.

    Though I am very conscious of the valuable work medialens does in bringing articles like this to more people’s attention, I notice they have published your article full without a link to the original site, or giving a credit to its author. The poster – Richard 27 – alone, gets all the credit.

    It is particularly important for a site that solicits donations from its readers – as medialens does – to mention the source of the material at the top of the post and give a link, as some other sites are also dependent on contributions to keep up their good work.

    Not to do so could be construed as attempting to keep readers (potential donors) on the medialens site. It also prevents readers seeing the original site and any other articles it may have.

    Medialens should make sure its members do not publish articles in full, but limit themselves to extracts followed by links. They should always make sure the writer is credited as a mark of respect.

    It is very interesting to to note that most medialens members – who also write articles for other sites – make sure their articles are not published in full, but only have links to the site publishing the articles. Often they don’t even share as much as a sentence, Even more noteworthy, is that the two Davids don’t publish extracts from their articles on the message board, just links. I wonder if is has anything to do with the appalling typography. Thought you might like to know, as it’s time something was done about it.

    This has bothered me for some time. Sorry to clog up your comments section with it, but your case is one of the worst I have seen and I think you should have at least been given a mention.

    As the original publisher, perhaps you should take this up with medialens.

  5. Vanya on said:

    Don’t know which is the best part of this piece (it’s all brilliant).

    Possibly the conclusion, which says so much in so few words (always a sign of great writing, political or otherwise).

  6. Bryan Hemming: As the original publisher, perhaps you should take this up with medialens.

    Bryan, thanks for making us aware of this. I will definitely take it up with them.

  7. JOCK MCTROUSERS on said:

    Amen to all that! You’re on a roll there, John. Keep the red flag flying!

    BUT!!!!!

    John: That said, not everyone on the ‘left’ is impressed. How about this from James Bloodworth:
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/james-bloodworth-left-wing-case-against-comrade-jeremy-corbyn-1513969

    Are you REALLY shocked at that? From JAMES BLOODWORTH???? It’s just the same old tired (if nasty as ever) Eustonista slime – anyone who defends any regime currently being targeted by Wall Street’s goons is ‘ supporting tyranny’… It’s not even laughable anymore,

    I don’t think Bloodworth even merits a ‘left’ in quote-marks – nasty bit of work.

  8. John: Bryan, thanks for making us aware of this. I will definitely take it up with them.

    I had a look. It was posted by a commenter, not officially by medialens. The person has since posted that he thought he’d included a link to this site, so I’m inclined to think it was just someone being forgetful, rather than doing something malicious.

  9. I hope the whole electoral process is being carefully scrutinised by socialists. There are rumours about people applying for the vote, being contacted and then discounted if they don’t respond in the ‘right’ way (in both senses of the word). Let’s be honest here there are people inside and outside the Labour Party that will do what they can by fair means or foul to stop Corbyn.

  10. It is why when they those same siren voices continually shriek that Jeremy can’t win, what they don’t realise is that he already has.

    In a sense that’s true. And events following the Scottish referendum show how a formal defeat in what seems like a crucial once-in-a-lifetime vote doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. Nevertheless, it would be nice if he actually won. As this analysis of the CLP nominations – which I find quite convincing – shows, the vote of full Labour Party members alone is likely to be very close. What is likely to make a difference is the number of registered supporters and affiliated supporters who vote and who they vote for.

    It’s crucial that we encourage as many people, who are legitimately entitled to sign up, as possible to do so in the few days we have left.

  11. Molotov on said:

    The news today that Harman has given MPs the power of veto over supporters applications in their own constituencies seems to me the start of a wrecking operation. The vast majority of MPs are hostile to Corbyn and many are likely to block many perhaps most of the applications thus robbing Corbyn of perhaps crucial votes. I have said all along that Corbyn would win unless the New Labour aparat cheated him and subverted their own electoral system. I fear the wrecking may have now begun…

  12. Molotov: The news today that Harman has given MPs the power of veto over supporters applications in their own constituencies seems to me the start of a wrecking operation.

    Agreed. I think it is obvious by now that the Progress/Blairite/New Labour rump is prepared to wreck the party’s chances of winning in 2020 in order to deny Corbyn and his supporters the opportunity of setting a new direction.

    The gall of Lord Kinnock in coming out against Corbyn is spectacular. I imagine him pacing the floor of his mansion bemoaning a Labour Party that for him is in danger of becoming unrecognisable.

    I see a pattern in these steady and consistent public pronouncements of beckoning disaster from assorted Labour grandees and New Labour mannequins, such as Alan Johnson. This is part of an organised campaign, no doubt.

  13. Ian Drummond on said:

    Molotov,

    If its the sitting MPs doing the rigging, at least that won’t have much effect in Scotland, outside the leafy suburbs of Edinburgh South! Time for the Scottish left to step up…

  14. “we need an alternative.”

    Exactly, and Corbyn is the only one of the four leadership candidates that represents that.

  15. Karl Stewart on said:

    While Labour leaders are checking out who can and can’t vote in the leadership election, perhaps they should investigate the below reported comments by someone who claims to be a Labour Party member and who is regularly invited onto MSM news programmes and introduced as a ‘former advisor to Tony Blair’.

    His name is John McTernan and in the below link he tells two Spectator journalists that there should be a fascist coup against Jeremy Corbyn if he wins the election and he asks who cares about the grassroots LP membership.

    https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2015/07/john-mcternan-on-labour-leader-who-cares-about-the-grassroots/

    So why is this fascist allowed to remain a member of the Labour Party?

  16. jack ford on said:

    If Jeremy wins we can expect constant briefing against him by the Blairites. They will plan to do to Corbyn what the Tories did to Duncan Smith when he was leader.

  17. jim mclean on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    John McTernan must not be underestimated after the terrific job he did after Murphy put him in charge of Labour’s General Election campaign in Scotland.

  18. Matty on said:

    Feodor,

    MP’s don’t have the power of a veto but it does allow them to raise concerns (the timing is good – quite a few MP’s are likely to be on holiday right now). I’m also not sure that Harman is in sole control – I think that for once some decent people on the NEC are involved in this.

  19. I’ve been away so I’ve only just picked up this post. And, like others, I agree with the sentiments expressed. If Corbyn wins, I’ll join the Labour Party – or rather rejoin, I left to join the SWP before that 1983 defeat discussed on another post. It’s not that I’ve got a problem with people joining up and voting for Corbyn now, just that I don’t feel that I’ve ‘earned it’ if that makes sense, not having done the hard yards on the left during New Labour and after. That’s just me, it doesn’t matter much.

    The only thing I wonder about Jeremy Corbyn, something I think alluded to by Andy H on another thread, is, if elected Labour Party leader, how effective he’ll be in taking on the Tories. Take PM’s Qui Time, something that does set, like it or not, the political temperature, mood of the parties – even if few voters watch it. It’s possible to defend robust political parliamentary exchanges but PM Quis is a pretty horrible institution, principally because (at the moment) of the strutting, I was born to rule and I know it so I won’t disdain to answer your questions you oik, arrogance of Cameron, backed by the loutish behaviour of his front bench and backbench MPS. You can be sure that even now they are thinking up puerile jibes and insults to hurl at Corbyn should he win. Now faced with this, he’ll have to have sufficient self confidence – self confidence bordering on egoism – to take on the bastards in a weekly forum that matters. That doesn’t mean being equally as nasty as the Tories, but it will require a steely toughness and determination to stand up to the sneering barrage that will he hurled at him – in parliament, by the press etc.

    Don’t get me wrong on this. I am not suggesting that Corbyn is weak. I am suggesting that whilst his humanity is a quality – as John’s article points out – to be an effective political performer, it has to be laced with hardness. And a different kind of hardness to take the fight to the Tories rather than keep the light burning for socialism on the Labour backbenches.

  20. #25 The lack of “hardness” as you put it distinquishes him as a personality from the likes of Scargill or Galloway, but puts him more in the category of Tony Benn.

    The thing is that individual personalities are not what count, but rather collective leadership, in which different personality traits and qualities compliment each other and my instinct tells me that JC understands that. He makes it clear that it’s very much not about him.

    As for the question of whether people should join up as supporters to vote for JC, my view is that anyone who wants him to win should do this unless they are excluded by the rules.

    If you’re not a member of a political party that stands candidates against Labour or weren’t expelled from the Labour Party for standing against them or advocating a vote against them then I don’t see why you should be excluded (or exclude yourself).

    The fact that you are a “Johnny Come Lately”? So what? Nobody would ever join anything on that basis.

    The aims of the Labour Party are, according to its webpage:

    social justice
    • strong community and strong values
    • reward for hard work
    • decency
    • rights matched by responsibilities.

    Anything there you don’t agree with (bearing in mind that all of those are clearly open to a whole host of interpretations)?

  21. UncleAlbert on said:

    Sam64: will require a steely toughness and determination to stand up

    These are the qualities Corbyn has displayed during the leadership campaign.

    The Labour Establishment and media have thrown everything at him yet Corbyn remains calm and focused. These are the qualities that will see Corbyn hammer Cameron at PMQs. Even when placed under the soft-opposition by Miliband a red-faced Cameron often appeared to be losing his rag.

    It’s not ranting and raving that demonstrates hardness, it’s staying true to your purpose and getting the job done. Based on current performance, there should be no doubt that Corbyn has what it takes.

  22. Our and Corbyn’s struggle will really begin after the election, should he win, which I now expect he will.

    I am looking forward to attending his Edinburgh rally on Fri and will write a report. I have just written a piece on why he offers the only antidote to Scottish independence, which I’ll post up later.

    On that, I have been asking members of RIC what their position will be if Corbyn is elected Labour leader. Will they still advocate and campaign for Scottish independence, and if so on what basis?

    As yet I have had no answer.

  23. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 28 John you will get no answer from RIC because all they are interested in is creating a new Scottish Left party out of the Scottish Left project in alliance with the Scottish Socialist Party on the 29th August. They see the Corbyn campaign as a purely English/Welsh affair.. I would like to suggest that the programme and policies of Corbyn is far to the left of RIC/Scottish Left Project and they will not be able to cope with the fall out from it if he does win the Labour election. Mind you if Corbyn does win he will have to fight the pro-capitalist Blairite majority in the Labour Party to win his policies and to push for a re-introduction of clause four. I wish Corbyn well and hope he wins.

  24. John: I am looking forward to attending his Edinburgh rally on Fri…

    Went to the Cardiff rally tonight, amazing turnout (more than 1,000 I’d say, all ages, different walks of life), amazing atmosphere, huge ovations throughout. Corbyn was impressive too. His self-effacing nature makes him the perfect candidate for the left. It’s really not about him, but the politics. At no point did he start listing his strengths (‘I can make the hard choices blah blah blah’), though they were on display for everyone to see nonetheless. We’re witnessing something important here, a real shift in the political landscape. Very exciting to be part of, me thinks.

  25. Some interesting thoughts on my question above. I guess we’ll see as – you still have to pinch yourself – it does seem that Jeremy Corbyn is likely to win outright and become leader of the Labour Party. The ABC (Anybody..) of Alastair Campbell in yesterday’s Guardian seemed almost despairing.

  26. Molotov on said:

    John,

    This is the 64,000 Groat question. Few have focussed on the fact that ONLY Corbyn can turn Labour’s fortunes around in Scotland and that therefor ONLY Corbyn can stop the break up of Britain.

  27. Karl Stewart on said:

    Both the Telegraph and the Independent are quoting Rochdale MP Simon Danzuk threatening a fascist coup if Corbyn is elected party leader.

    If these reports are accurate, is he going to be immediately suspended from the party for this? If not, why not?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/well-try-to-oust-jeremy-corbyn-on-day-one-if-members-pick-him-says-labour-mp-simon-danczuk-10451581.html

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/11797857/Jeremy-Corbyn-will-be-ousted-on-day-one-as-leader-Labour-MP-Simon-Danczuk-warns.html

  28. Vanuatu.

    Well yes – convinced enough to join. But not now. If I’d made the decision to join immediately after the election defeat then fair enough, but it just doesn’t sit right with me somehow. Like I say, I’m not making any kind of judgement on anybody who has signed since JC’s unexpected surge.

    Interestingly, my partner and other UNITE members in her office have switched to Corbyn from Burnham over the last 3 weeks. All from Liverpool Labour families but not particularly political. What has impressed them is Corbyn’s readiness to resist attacks on the achievements of New Labour – Sure Start Centres, tax credits and so on – in contrast to the other candidates. There was good article by Owen Bennet Jones the other week about this paradox.

  29. Karl Stewart,

    If you suspend him perhaps he will become some kind of martyr. I think Danczuk is having a kind of breakdown to be honest – he just split up with his wife.

  30. BigTam on said:

    Good old Fred Engels nails it again – “In times of acute crisis the petit bourgeoisie will go mad and shit themselves”.

  31. John Grimshaw on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    I think this is entirely likely. He has already admitted to a “drink issue” in the build up to and split with his selfie obsessed wife. She of course has made allegations of child sexual abuse against her brother which is still going through the courts. Danczuk, whilst I have no objection to him exposing the past behaviour of creeps like Smith, does seem to be a little obsessive, perhaps at the expense of his normal duties.

    Of course it could just be that he is a standard model aggressively ambitious, self-aggrandising Blairite. It may amuse people to know that the same story was also carried in the Daily Mail (he’s quoted in all the right places) where he was referred to as the MP for Rotheram.

  32. John,

    What do they just stand and stare at you and say nothing? I welcome a Corbyn victory – although he has not won yet – but I can’t see the yes activists changing their position anytime soon. That said, a Corbyn victory changes entirely the independence debate, although Scottish Labour, even with a Corbyn win, are still not credible.

  33. Karl Stewart on said:

    John Grimshaw,
    To be honest, I’m not really interested in why an individual might degenerate into fascism, maybe other fascists have had personal relationship problems too – frankly, who gives a flying one?

    Fact is, both Danzuck and McTernan have been quoted openly calling for a fascist coup in the event of a Corbyn victory, and there are no reports that I’m aware of that either of them has denied making the statements attributed to them.

    There is, therefore, a prime facie case for immediate suspension of membership of both men pending an inquiry to determine whether those statements were actually made.

    If this is proven, both should face exemplary punishment.

  34. Karl Stewart,

    Karl
    It is best to follow Jeremy Corbyn’s example and don’t do personal. Whatever the personal traumas of Danczuk and however compelling a psychological explanation might be for his political behaviour the key issue is the politics.
    Danczuk, and before him the contemptible Mann, have tried to dirty this fight (as have the usual Zionist suspects). The interesting thing is that this has not stuck. The reason being JC’s transparent honesty and principled conduct.
    The best way to deal with the people is through constituency and community/union pressure and the reelection process.
    Incidentally, however unsavoury Danczuk’s call for a coup is, it cannot be categorised as ‘fascist’.
    For this term to retain any explanatory or analytical power it can only refer to as and ideology supporting a system of state power. I doubt, at this stage, that the most powerful and reactionary sections of the bourgeoisie have concluded that it is impossible to rule in the old way and that bourgeois democracy can be dispensed with. And even if they did so they might find a more reliable instrument than this sad man.

  35. Karl Stewart on said:

    Nick Wright,
    Good points Nick – and Jeremy Corbyn’s dignified, calm and firm reaction to the irrational Blairite hysteria has been very notable.

  36. Random ramblings but I feel this is the place to jot them down.

    This is a movement as you say and I feel we need guidelines, as we are all ambassadors now, and the mainstream media including the liberals like the Gaurdian (more like guardian of the corrupt and venal) have declared war on us.

    We know instinctively we are right but we face a well organized campaign of coordinated misinformation and propaganda and I feel we need ready made retorts.

    1. Capitalism is a system of production for profit, not for use value. This means the goods and services society needs can only be supplied as long as they provide more money to the capitalist when s/he sells them, than s/he invested in their production. In Marx words this is M-C-M* where M is money, C is commodity (eg good or service) and M* (no delta sign on my samsung lol) is the increased original investment + profit.

    Given such a model it is inconceivable that the capitalist would go through the risk of investing and producing to just have M-C-M.

    Hence if there is not permanent EXPANSION of capitalism it DOES NOT PRODUCE the goods and services society needs (according to market logic) and we have cut in jobs, eages and wealth produced by society.

    2. In a “mature” economy it is more profitable to invest in speculation and rent seeking than in production, which has become “saturated”.

    3. This not only is contributes nothing to the real economy but it is counter productive, as more MONEY is accumulated by the super rich in relation to wealth produced. MONEY IS NOT WEALTH it is simply a claim on wealth therefore when the “one percent” accumulate huge amounts of money without producing wealth, they aimpli price the “99%” out of the market for said wealh, eg it becomes a zero sum game.

    4. The economy is not a neutral tool to be managed by technocrats, such as a car or a plane. Rather econpmic policy is a political decision and can serve one section of society or another.

    To put it in terms relevant to modern Britain, a government is NOT an accountant, it is a CEO, which can actively choose whether to invest in human resources, to rause wages and educatipn of staff, to grow the company, or to expand short term profits to pay off the company owners by cutting pay, laying off employees, asset stripping the company by selling off land and machinery, etc.

    The point being the state is mot simply a passive recipient of income from businesses, but the central actors which sets the rules for what kind of economy businesses must operate in.

    5. The media are not passive reflectors of public opinion but active campaigners who manipulate information and interpretation to affect the opinion of their readers.

    If someone tells you this doesnt work, then ask them, why do advertisers waste billions in communicatong to the public? Why are politicians desperate to court thr support of the media? Why is PR a multi bullion pound industry? If the media have no power and public opinion is not affected by the messages it receives daily, then all of our corporations and politicians are wasting billions each year.

    For now thats it I know these are obvious points but I felt the need to try and put them in plain english and I would love if someone has ideas to build on this…