Why the Labour Party needs Jeremy Corbyn in the contest

Let us be clear. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to win the leadership contest, and may not be the potential leader most likely to win a general election. Anyone judging his candidacy on those bases misses the point.

The Labour Party, and the broader labour movement, needs a wide ranging, and evidence based debate about why we lost the last two general elections. Up until now the leadership contest has been dire, with all candidates seeking to occupy similar narrow ground, based upon the political perceptions of those who spend too much time in the Westminster hothouse of Portculis House.

Jon Lansman is exactly right when he says:

Jeremy Corbyn may not win this election but if he gets on the ballot paper, he’ll widen the debate and change [the other candidates’] campaigns. Candidates will talk more about austerity than aspiration. If they mention party “reform”, they’ll be more likely to mean democracy and less likely to mean new ways of excluding trade unions.

When the “left” candidate [Burnham] says he won’t take trade union money and wants to downgrade the role of party members in picking candidates, the contest needs a shake up. I hope that MPs, new or old, won’t rate any commitment they may have made last week to a fellow MP above the right to choose of those that put them there.

Back in the 1980s the left in the party lost sight of the need to adapt as society and the electorate changes, and therefore argued both a programme, and a style of politics that was out of touch, and could not lead to electoral victory. The danger in the current leadership election is that the centre-right of the Labour Party are making a similar mistake, assuming that the policies, campaigning methods and attitudes that led to electoral victory in 1997 could be successfully replicated today.

The changes made in the party’s constitution following the Collins review have consolidated the gatekeeper role of MPs. They must use that power wisely to enable a serious debate. Jeremy Corbyn is a substantial political figure, who will bring into the debate opinions and arguments which would otherwise not be heard. Labour is a coalitional party, and in order to reach a new election winning consensus, the voices of all parts of the party need to be heard in the debate.

30 comments on “Why the Labour Party needs Jeremy Corbyn in the contest

  1. Robert p Williams on said:

    Think he’s got about ten nominations so far, but still plenty of time… how many nominations do folks here think he will get? As there are no other left candidates in the leaders race and with austerity continuing to devastate our lives, now is the time that the Labour Party will show us who’s side they are really on.

  2. Karl Stewart on said:

    Apparently rumours that some MPs are considering switching from Burnham’s list to Corbyn’s.

  3. Feodor on said:

    If he doesn’t get the 35 required, it will be a tragedy for the Labour Party.

    Good penultimate paragraph too Andy. Very perceptive.

  4. Feodor on said:

    PS. What’s happened to the Barca article? Went to send it to a friend and got the following message: “404 – What have you done? You broke the internet!” Hope it wasn’t my comment that did the damage! 😉

  5. james? on said:

    im predicting he will about fourteen nominations, it is a public humilaition that he has volunteered for

  6. Tony on said:

    Every MP became a parliamentarycandidate by winning ten signatures. The equivalent figure under Labour Party rules would be around 10,000.

    What an absolute sham it is!

    I am thoroughly sickened by most of the candidates.

    Corbyn fully deserves to be a candidate and that is why it is unlikely that he will be.

  7. james? on said:

    point of information the labour party is publishing who has nominated who every day at 12.30 corbyn has eleven as i write this. it dont look good though as two of the socialist campaign group mps have chosen to nominate burnham, i would say he is not going to be a candidate though it will probably be obvious by friday. nominaations close on monday. i think it is a bit ambarrassing.

  8. Feodor on said:

    I’ve seen it said that Burnham is willing to give his excess nominations to Corbyn, to ensure there is a broad range of views represented. Is this true? Is it even allowed?

  9. Matty on said:

    Feodor,

    It would be up to each MP him or herself though Burnham could encourage them to switch. However, I read he would only do that if Corbyn was just a few MP’s short.

  10. Feodor on said:

    Matty,

    Cheers. I take it then that the MPs themselves would have to formally withdraw their original nomination, then re-nominate Corbyn?

  11. Matty on said:

    Feodor,

    Yes, that’s my understanding. In addition there are plenty of MP’s are yet to nominate but at this rate it is looking difficult for Jeremy to make it onto the ballot.

  12. james? on said:

    im not sure it is allowed my memory is that david milliband instructed a small number of mps not to nominate him and then got some to nominate andy burnham. my memory is that he only told the rest to nominate dianne abbot after john mcdonnel withdrew as it was not possible for john mcdonnel or dianne abbots supporters to change candidate with out one of them witdrawing.

  13. Feodor on said:

    james?,

    If accurate, that would add a new wrinkle. Perhaps this time Creagh will instruct her supporters to switch upon withdrawing–though Corbyn would still be short by 14.

    Nevertheless, I’ve been surprised at how much support there is for Corbyn on facebook, as well as his romping home in first in the Mirror poll. If the parliamentary party ignore this, they’ll be committing political suicide.

    Finally, despite a well-worded letter, with lots of signatories, which highlighted the role her predecessor had played in getting Abbot on the ballot last time in order that there were a range of voices heard, my new Labour MP backed Burnham, well after he’d already got the 35 needed.

  14. Vanya on said:

    If anyone reading this lives in Manchester Gorton constituency, bear in mind that (as far as I know at the time of writing) our MP has still not nominated any of the candidates, and he shares a strong pro Palestinian position with Jeremy Corbyn, a point that could perhaps help him to at least to conclude that he wants him on the ballot paper..

  15. John Grimshaw on said:

    According to an article in the Guardian today Corbyn has 17 nominations but is refusing to take “charity” from others with excess nominations.

  16. Feodor on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    ‘“If we get [on to the ballot paper], great,” [Corbyn] added. “We’ll see what happens, but as far as I’m concerned, we’ve already – by the action we took a week ago – changed the terms of debate.”’

    Those sound like the words of a man who doesn’t want to become Labour’s leader. Perhaps his popularity has taken him by surprise and he’s more content to ride off into the night as a heroic failure? Be sad if that’s the case.

  17. james? on said:

    a few points, 1, he already has nominations from people who are not going to vote for him, are they charity nominations 2, a candidate has to withdraw to realease there nominations people cannot withdraw there nominations andy burnham has nominated himself when he did nt need to if he was going to ride to corbyns rescue he might have saved his own nomination, 3, some of the people who have nominated no one could in effect be undeclared supporters of other candidates and he might be able to get them to nominate him but those who have sent papers in cannot now change there mind unless a candidate withdraws.
    John Grimshaw,

  18. Feodor on said:

    Liz Kendall’s campaign literature talking about ‘vicious Tory policies that divide our society’. Haha, pull the other other.

  19. Noah on said:

    robert p. williams: Jeremy has just made it onto the ballot.

    This is the best news for a very long time. The contest is no longer about picking the least bad candidate. It is now about choosing the best candidate. This should make a real difference not just to the nature of the debate but also to the level of enthusiasm generated and hence, the turnout.

    The new ‘one person one vote’ process for the leadership ballot, with all affiliated union members able to register and vote, means that there is no structural reason why the candidate supported by a good majority of active and interested trade unionists should not win. With Labour supporters able to register for £3, there is also a further pool of progressive people who can be encouraged to participate in the vote.

    There now needs to be a serious campaign, backed by resources and organisation, to get potential supporters for Jeremy to register, and to get Jeremy elected.

  20. John Grimshaw on said:

    jim mclean:
    Can Tory supporters register for £3 and vote?

    I don’t know Jim. I presume they’d have to join the LP, but can you be a member of two or more parties at the same time? I presume not, but who would know.

    In the recent Tower Hamlets mayoral election Labour and Tories encouraged their supporters to give their candidates the second preference votes to keep out the independent candidate. It was just a rumour but on Sunday the Tory (can’t remember his name) on the debate on the Sunday Politics show openly admitted it. To me that sounds like an establishment trying to keep the others out.

  21. Feodor on said:

    jim mclean:
    Can Tory supporters register for £3 and vote?

    Yes. Quite a few will I suspect register and vote for Corbyn–see comments here–but that may backfire if he wins and turns out to be an effective leader, which the more I see of him the more I am convinced he could be.

    His interview style is brilliantly disarming. ‘Are you to the left of Karl Marx?’, asked a Channel 4 reporter. ‘Well I’m not quite sure where you’d put Karl Marx on the left-right spectrum. Karl Marx was a philosopher who examined the process of history…’ Watch.

  22. Also, I’ve started a blog and the most recent post is a short profile of Corbyn, if anyone is interested. Shameless plug over, if Andy and the other SU editors thought it was of a good enough quality, you’re more than welcome to syndicate it on here–you can get in contact via the e-mail attached to this post, and if necessary I can provide additional links showing where I sourced most of the information from.

  23. Matty on said:

    Good article. I think the Tories who are talking about joining up are just trolling, I doubt that more than a handful will actually do it.

  24. Matty: the Tories who are talking about joining up are just trolling

    Indeed. Now that Jeremy is on the ballot, the campaign to discredit him as potential leader is just beginning. Typing ‘Corbyn’ into a Google news search just now, the majority of articles coming up are poisonous attacks of various kinds on his candidacy.

    Be prepared. This will get considerably worse if / when the campaign for Jeremy begins to gain serious traction.

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