There has been little in the news lately but the refugee crisis and the Labour leadership election. I’m here to talk, briefly, before the polls close on Thursday, about the latter.
I just voted, and guess what? For Jeremy Corbyn.
I’ve never been a member of the party before.1 I always thought that I was too independent to toe a party line; too many of my anarchist ideals, forged in the fires of punk, still stood.
Well, maybe. But my anarchism, such as it was, was always on the socialist wing. And I recognise the idealism that drove it. I’d like to think that humans could live without governments and leaders — that we are perfectible, and could form a working society through cooperation. But the fact is, of course, that that is not yet the case. And until it is, there are things worth standing up for, worth believing in. Worth fighting for.
I didn’t want to toe a line; but in May we crossed a line. After five years of a Tory government in all but name, we have a named one. David Cameron and his regime will go down in history as worse than Thatcher’s; but until he does go down, we have to deal with the effects of it.
On the morning after the election I resolved to join the Labour party and do what I could to help. This wasn’t about electing a new leader, though I realised that would be part of it. It certainly wasn’t about Jeremy Corbyn: I made the decision before Ed Miliband had even resigned, and enacted it before the leadership candidates had been nominated.
And for what it’s worth, I joined as a full member, not one of these £3 Supporters that we’ve been hearing so much about.
I think the aftermath of the Scottish referendum had some effect on my decision. Seeing how the failure of the “Yes” vote energised the SNP and led many supporters to join led me to hope that something similar would happen with Labour. As indeed it has.
Anyway, getting back to that choice of leader. It’s long past time that Labour had a woman as its leader, but neither of those standing are right for me. Where we are right now, Corbyn’s views most closely match my own values. When he says things like this:
Paying tax is not a burden. It is the subscription we pay to live in a civilised society.
that is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been saying about tax for years.
There is much else. I’m not convinced about leaving NATO, but I don’t think it’s a fundamental policy. I do think we shouldn’t waste vast amounts of money on replacing Trident. The cold war is over, more or less.2 And even if Russia is getting alarmingly expansionist these days, a British not-really-independent nuclear missile submarine is going to worry them much.
Corbyn might not be electable — I doubt that analysis, but let’s go with it for now — but he should at least lead a Labour party in opposition that actually opposes the government. Which, with its slim majority, could actually be vulnerable.
Interesting times ahead.