“The choice of leader & deputy now is as important as any other election. We must keep our transformative policies, community organising & grassroots movement, while learning & improving.”Corrie Drew
For context and pigeon holing purposes I’m a socialist. My earliest memories are of disliking Thatcher, inequality and climate change. Things weren’t fair, but apparently the grown ups would sort it out and I should be out playing with the other kids on the estate.
Decades pass and things are not sorted out. I’ve always believed in sharing resources; that we are all born equal with our fates firmly tied and that privilege stinks. As such, I was politically homeless – unable to vote for Blair’s war, despising the Tories and struggling to see the point of the Lib Dems. Voluntary work, social work and evenings as an arm chair warrior proved useless against the scale of society’s problems. I was pretty bleak.
The efforts of the press to ridicule Jeremy Corbyn were the best advert possible. In 2015, after reading his voting record and history of campaigning, I found myself in tears watching a film of Corbyn speaking at a rally. A leader who puts people and principles first, regardless of personal cost? Who is anti-war, anti-privilege, anti-corruption, anti-racist and grows vegetables in an allotment? I joined Labour immediately.
After almost 5 years of non-stop campaigning, huge increases in membership and the best manifesto ever I’m devastated to see Corbyn stand down without having been our Prime Minister. I gave everything I had to the fight and I’ll never regret it.
Labour party life is a steep learning curve, as those of us who came in from the cold to help claim it for socialism in 2015 know. It’s equal parts victorious and vicious. Many members and MPs are poker faced and playing the long game, but not me and certainly not Richard Burgon. Burgon has worn his heart on his sleeve since day one, a quality which deserves trust and respect- whichever side you’re on. He isn’t playing the game of politics and hasn’t spent his 5 years in parliament manoeuvring for positions. Instead, he shouted down the coup, spoke at anti-war, anti-Trump and anti-austerity rallies, sued The S*n newspaper and defended Corbyn and our membership to the last. These are not the actions of an MP looking for an easy or secure career.
Burgon is a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, the group who put Corbyn forward as leadership candidate. He’s shown the clearest understanding of the role of deputy for which he now stands and has put forward what I feel is the most considered and potentially effective plan. He’s focussed fully on respecting and empowering the membership, understanding that it’s us, the many thousands of volunteers, who will win the next election, not the few in Westminster.
He’s experienced in fighting for workers’ rights, both in court and in parliament. He stands firm on public ownership, which would give us services for the people, not contracts for profit. His proposals such as Open Selection and a Peace Pledge to ensure full democracy of our most important decision making are essential if you’re one of the over half a million members. (Alarming, perhaps, if you want to be an unaccountable career MP.) Burgon has resisted the vagueries and centrism that would offer an easy ride with the press, instead holding firmly to his principles. He’s fundamentally kind, honest and down-to-earth. Sound familiar?
Hope may be tattered and faded, with 5 years of desert to cross and untold thousands who will be sacrificed to Tory policy, but it’s always worth fighting for. We’re all tired from the election and it would be easy to sit this one out. Please don’t. The choice of leader and deputy now is as important as any other election. We must keep our transformative policies, community organising and grassroots movement, while learning and improving. This is possible and the next election is winnable.
Right now, my hope rests with Richard Burgon.
- Corrie Drew was the 2019 Labour Parliamentary candidate for Bournemouth East. This is part of our ongoing grassroots #Richard4Deputy takeover this week.