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Corbyn Supporters Have Given Me The Best Birthday Present Of All – Hope

Today I turn 46.

Every birthday sends me on a trip down memory lane, which involves me meandering through memories of significant events that have taken place between my present birthday and the last. This year the memories are richer, more vivid and more emotional than usual, something I normally associate with losing someone I love, or new life coming into the world, such as when my three children and my granddaughter were born.

This past year there were no deaths and no births, but in someways I feel like I have experienced both, and they have both been a force for good. Though maybe death isn’t the right word…maybe ‘ending’ is better.

In this past year the New Labour project came to an end.

Some Labour MPs have not accepted this, and are fighting for its political life, but these are just the death throws of a wounded animal. The reason these MPs talk so big and tough about coups and leadership challenges, is because they feel frustrated and powerless, and this tough talk makes them feel powerful again, albeit momentarily. They know deep down that a change of leadership is not in their hands. If Jeremy Corbyn is on the ballot, he will win by a monumental landslide. If they try to keep Jeremy off the ballot, there will be petitions, mass demonstrations, sit-ins, marches, rallies, occupations, the like of which this country has never seen. Corbyn backers won’t simply roll over and meekly say ‘Oh well, that is that then,’ and get on with their lives. The socialist geni is out of the bottle and there is no putting it back in.

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Which brings me on to the figurative birth that took place this year. And it’s a birth that has an almost fairy tale quality to it. Remember the tale of the emperors new clothes? Remember how an emperor and his subjects were duped by con-men posing as tailors into believing the emperor’s new suit of clothes were made out of such fine fabric, only those who were worthy and competent could see them. So when the emperor paraded through the street butt naked, no one dared acknowledge the evidence of their own eyes, lest they be labelled as stupid and incompetent. It took a little boy in the crowd to speak the truth no-one else dared speak. But once that truth had been spoken there was no holding the rest of the crowd back.

I credit Andy Burnham with waking me up to all that was ridiculous about the New Labour project. He was my leadership candidate of choice, prior to Jeremy. I say choice, but I really didn’t feel I had much choice in the leadership contest before Jeremy. Andy was the best of a bad bunch. With my nose clasped firmly between my fingers, I was going to cast my vote for him. That was until the day he called the mansion tax the politics of envy. After that I wasn’t going to vote for anyone, which left me feeling hopeless.

It was around that time, while perusing the Labourlist blog, when I read an open letter, written and signed by 10 newly elected Labour MPs, calling for an anti-austerity candidate to stand in the leadership contest. With excitement and hope bubbling away inside of me, I shared the open letter on a pro-Labour Facebook group I had joined only the day before. ‘Should us Labour members do something like this?’ was my question to the group. One particular member, Beck Barnes, jumped at the idea, and offered to write a similar letter, but from labour members and supporters, instead of MPs. When we were both happy with it, we sent it to the campaign group Red Labour, where it was picked up by activist Naomi Fearon, who converted it into a petition on our behalf. That is how the three musketeers were born.

I know it sounds bizarre, considering I have never met Naomi or Beck, but I feel genuine love for these two women. Together we shared that petition morning, noon and night, fitting in its promotion between very busy lives. We set up our own message group to share our triumphs and frustrations. One of the frustrations stemmed from Owen Jones’s failure to sign or tweet the petition. We knew his support would give our petition real wings, and we could not understand why he wasn’t responding to our pleas. Months later he admitted he didn’t think the timing was right for a left candidate to stand so that solved that mystery.

Our triumphs were many, but the two that stand out the most was when John McDonnell signed and tweeted our petition, followed by Jeremy Corbyn just a few days later. It tickles me to look back now, to think of Jeremy Corbyn signing our petition calling for an anti-austerity candidate to stand, knowing that only a few days later, he was the one who would stand.

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Rightly or wrongly, our petition has been credited with the final push the left needed to put someone forward. I will always be eternally grateful to Jeremy Corbyn for heeding our call, but also to MPs like Clive Lewis and Cat Smith for writing the original MPs letter which inspired our petition. I am also grateful to groups like Red Labour, who were lobbying for a left candidate to stand from behind the scenes.

Getting Jeremy to stand was just the start. He became a point we could focus all our efforts on, first to get him on the ballot, and then to get him elected. Now we are all fighting to get Jeremy elected as our Prime minister in 2020.

It has always been about more than a man. The movement was born the day ordinary people stopped buying the establishment narrative about what it takes to win elections. We are all the little boy in the crowd shouting ‘the emperor is naked!’

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To everyone who makes up this remarkable movement; which includes everyone who signed our petition calling for a left candidate to stand in the leadership contest, lobbied MPs to get Jeremy on the ballot, campaigned for Jeremy to win the leadership, and who are now campaigning in whichever way they can manage to help Jeremy Corbyn become our next prime minister, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

You have given me the best birthday present a girl could have.

You have given me hope.

 

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We Must Stand Up To The Labour Party Witch-Hunters.

I write from a pro-Corbyn perspective. Not only is that my right as an independent blogger – because of the extreme right wing bias of our media, I almost feel duty bound to do so. A small red boat bobbing about amongst a vast ocean of blue.

If I was suddenly plucked from obscurity to be given the role of political editor of the BBC, I like to think I would be strenuous in my efforts to be seen to be politically impartial in accordance with the BBC charter. If I failed in these efforts, I would hope my boss would take me to one side to pull me up on it.

But what if my boss shared my politics? What if they were blind to my bias because they shared it? If that was the case I would imagine the public would help keep my bias in check. If I was doing my job well, I would expect to get as many complaints from viewers on the left as I received from viewers on the right. So if it came to my attention a petition had been launched calling for me to be sacked because of my blatant anti-Cameron bias, I would take that very seriously. Even more so if it attracted 35,000 signatures in under a week. Knowing me, I would probably resign because I’d find it impossible to convince myself that such strength of feeling had no basis in truth.

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I can only deduce from Laura Keunssberg’s appearance on my TV screen yesterday, that she is not troubled by thoughts like these. Not for her self doubt and scruples. But is that so surprising, considering she has the entire establishment jumping to her defense? In the Labour corner we had Jess ‘Corbyn is a misogynist’ Phillips, who made the sweeping and unsubstantiated claim that the ‘attacks’ on Keunssberg were ‘underlined with sexism from people who did not even know they were perpetrators.’ In the Tory corner we had Lucy ‘fake death threats’ Allan, who used her question at PMQs to call on David Cameron to condemn the ‘hate ‘campaign being waged against Laura Keunssberg.

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While Phillip’s declaration about sexism has been shown to hold only a few drops of water in a very large pond, thanks to the close scrutiny of former UK ambassador and blogger Craig Murray, Lucy Allan’s comments were nearer the mark. Keunssberg is the focus of a hate campaign, but the hate is not aimed at her, it is aimed at the way she conducts herself in a highly influential and powerful media role.

But why wouldn’t Phillips and Allan jump to Keunssberg’s defence? They are on the same team right now; united in their burning desire to see Corbyn toppled, fuelled by their secret fear that he really is electable. The saying, my enemies enemy is my friend, has never been more apt. To have such an unabashedly anti-Corbyn political editor at the heart of the BBC is an asset that must be guarded jealously. The strategy they have decided to employ to guard their asset comes straight out of the pages of Arthur Miller’s chilling book, ‘The Crucible,’ which is to point their fingers at anyone complaining about how biased Laura Keunssberg is, then scream ‘sexist!’

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When people play the sexist card for cynical and political purposes, real cases of sexism are undermined. That makes me very angry. That’s not to say we should not condemn anyone who sent a sexist tweet about Keunssberg. We should. What we shouldn’t do, is allow a handful of cases to be conflated into a ‘sexist hate campaign’ when it isn’t. That would be like suggesting all men are sexist because a few undoubtedly are, or closing down an entire corporation because one of the bosses made sexist remarks to his secretary. But sadly that is exactly what 38 degrees did. They took down the petition, having bowed to the pressure from these contemporary witch-hunters. They say it was to make a stand against sexist bullying. I don’t believe them. I suspect they were terrified they would be the next ones to be called out and accused. That is how witch hunting works and why it is so effective.

Sixteen alleged cases of anti-semitism, some dating back several years, have been cynically, and going by the dropping off of support for Labour amongst Jewish voters, effectively used by anti-Corbyn Labour MPs to paint the Corbyn led Labour Party as a hot bed of antisemites. Now anyone who is appalled at Laura Keunssberg’s biased reporting is a sexist. Witch-hunting is immoral, but it is also undeniably effective. Not only does it have a muzzling effect, because no-one wants to attract the eye of the witch-hunters, it has a dead cat on the table effect; distracting attention away from the original point of focus.

And that is why McCarthyism is alive and well in today’s Labour Party. And that is also why we must stand up to the witch hunters and expose their agenda from every platform at our disposal.

In my case, from the deck of my little red boat.

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan MP and fans protesting against football ticket prices before the Barclays Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday November 8, 2015. See PA story SOCCER Arsenal. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Dear Sadiq – Please Work With Corbyn, Not Against Him.

Dear Sadiq,

 

Huge congratulations on your magnificent victory. You fought a positive campaign against one of the most disgraceful campaigns in living memory, and it paid off. You have rightfully been held up as a shining example of what a working class kid from an immigrant family can achieve in modern Britain.

You have also been held up as a shining example of a successful centrist by those Labour MPs who are desperately trying to spin your victory into a bad news story for Jeremy Corbyn. To add weight to their claims, you have given several interviews which have been touted as direct attacks on Corbyn. No one expects you to agree with Jeremy all the time. Boris Johnson often spoke out against Cameron. I am just hopeful you will balance your critiques with credit where credits due, because you and Jeremy share more aims than differences. Let me explain why I say this.

According to your own assessment, you won because you focused on issues most important to Londoners; which is transport infrastructure and fares, lack of affordable housing, the NHS, the need for neighbourhood policing and pro-business policies.

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If focusing on these issues makes you a centrist, then Corbyn is a centrist. Under his leadership, Labour have come out fighting on housing issues. ‘Centrist’ New Labour failed to build enough homes, council or otherwise, to correct the imbalances so beleaguering the hopes and life chances of the young. Corbyn is planning to correct this with a much needed house building programme, guaranteed to woo voters to Labour from across the political spectrum.

On rail, we now have a coherent and popular policy which polling suggests has real traction with voters on the left and right. On the NHS, Labour have always been trusted far more than the Tories, but after the junior doctor’s dispute, growing waiting times, failed targets etc, trust in the Tories is at an all time low. Then we have the fact that the usual criticisms levelled against Labour on its policy history re: PFI and creeping privitisation etc, lose most of their teeth thanks to the fact Jeremy Corbyn voted against them.

On policing, Jeremy Corbyn has been hugely effective, forcing a u-turn on the government over police cuts, and as a wife of a police officer, I can assure you Labour are not the toxic party they once were amongst police officers. Times are a changing.

I can only assume you think it’s on being pro-business where Corbyn’s Labour falls short of the centrist mark. Quite why you would think that I don’t know. Only Labour are talking about worker’s rights for Britain’s growing army of self employed. Only Labour are tearing into tax dodging, which creates an uneven playing field for struggling small businesses. Only Labour are making the case for rebalancing the economy between the service sector and manufacturing by investing in infrastructure.

On the point you make in your interviews about economic credibility, Labour, under the financial stewardship of John McDonnell, have availed themselves of some of the greatest economic minds in the world, to guide and shape Labour’s economic policies going forward. They are already winning the argument on austerity, which is in turn exposing austerity for the economically illiterate, socially destructive and needless, project it is. And that is why support for the government is falling. Down 6% on their showing at the 2015 GE. We don’t just win elections by being popular. We also win them by shining a great big spotlight on our opposition and calling them out on their incompetence and lack of compassion.

I acknowledge that a policy platform for our capital city needs to be tailor-made for London because of its unique needs. However I would appreciate it if you in turn acknowledged that a policy platform that worked for you, cannot necessarily be extrapolated for the rest of the country, and runs the risk of turning off voters in poorer areas of the North and South. Sometimes, you have to take sides, a Labour slogan I know you dislike.

Blair took the core vote for granted when he pandered to Murdoch, bankers and big business. It might pay off once, even twice, but eventually voters will grow disillusioned and seek a new home for their vote. In Scotland it was the SNP. In England the ex Labour vote re-homed itself between the Lib-Dems, Greens, UKIP and non-voting apathy.

This was your first election for mayor and it came at a unique time. Not only did Goldsmith fight a uniquely dreadful dog-whistle campaign, you were indirectly responsible for keeping a much loved labour leader in place. Both these factors enthused thousands of campaigners to hit the streets and the phones for you. Next time round, the Tories will have learnt from their mistakes, and the enthusiasm to campaign for you may have waned if you allow yourself to be seen as the wing man of the anti Corbyn branch of the PLP. I hope you will avoid falling into that trap, especially given the fact your policy platform is not vastly different to a policy platform that would make up a Labour Party manifesto if there was a GE tomorrow. The only difference is, you had the entire party on your side selling yours. Corbyn has to shout over a rabble of dissent to get anything positive heard.

I hope your voice won’t be adding to it.

Regards

Chelley Ryan

Sent from my iPad