“Removing what she perfectly describes as the “gentleman’s club of politics” will just be the first step in handing back power from the interests of billionaires to the working people of Britain.”Jamie Greer.
December’s election result was devastating for the Labour Party. Having lost 4 consecutive elections and returning our lowest number of seats since the 1930s, it is understandable why many members now seek a supposed easy path back to power. Dropping some of our best policies in return for finally winning can be seen as sad but necessary. But the key issue for Labour going forward is not our economic programme – which has been proven to be overwhelmingly popular – but trust.
In her launch in Manchester, Rebecca Long-Bailey spoke of how voters were very receptive to what Labour were offering on climate change and public services. Ultimately though, we were not seen as any different than politicians who had come before, promised to listen to them and make their lives better but failed to deliver. However much we tried, the debate was centred on Brexit, and the voters we lost recognised that we could not be trusted to honour what they had voted for 3 years ago. The failure to properly tackle anti-Semitism in our party also caused immense anger amongst many Jewish voters who no longer felt comfortable voting for Labour.
Thankfully, Long-Bailey’s utmost priority is proving that Labour would do things differently. Scrapping the unelected House of Lords and moving an elected second chamber to the north is desperately needed to demonstrate power will not be vested in the corridors of Westminster and Brussels but in regions and communities across Britain. Removing what she perfectly describes as the “gentleman’s club of politics” will just be the first step in handing back power from the interests of billionaires to the working people of Britain.
The Green Industrial Revolution, a policy she drafted, will be further developed and enable deindustrialised areas to have secure, well-paid and unionised jobs, thus giving them a real stake in the economy once more. Her recent support for open selection in the party will mean more working-class people putting themselves forward as candidates. Pledging to quicken and tighten up the complaints process can hopefully be the start of rebuilding relations with the Jewish community. She recognises that the corridors of power feel so remote from the lives of ordinary people, and that in order to win we must pledge to tear these barriers down and create a truly democratic society. We need to show that our vision is one not of charity for the poorest but of aspiration for a better life, no matter your class, race, religion, gender or sexuality. Our vision must tell this story, rather than just be a collection of good ideas thrown together. This is a message that will unite our heartlands and beyond, in a time of climate catastrophe, colossal inequality and blatant bigotry.
Meanwhile, Long-Bailey’s primary opponent, Keir Starmer, was the strongest advocate of our Brexit policy. We will not be forgiven if, in response to the election, we elect someone whose decisions facilitated a collapse in trust amongst traditional Labour supporters. Furthermore, he has only pledged to bring rail into public ownership; if he wins, he will likely cede to pressure from the right of the party and sacrifice even more of our brilliant proposals.
People say that Long-Bailey is simply a continuity candidate for Jeremy Corbyn. This would have credibility if Corbynism was an ideology, but it is not. In the Labour Party, we give it a name that has lasted generations, that has provided hope and freedom in times of utter despair and tyranny. We call it socialism. I joined the Labour Party not to give up on socialism, but to see it implemented and change millions of lives for the better. If you value that, Rebecca Long-Bailey is the only choice for you.
• Jamie Greer is a Manchester Labour Students activist. You can follow on Twitter here.