Jeremy Corbyn has long been criticised for his lack of media strategy. In response to both his referendum campaign and the subsequent leadership coup by his fellow MPs, he was lambasted for lacking the strategy and leadership Britain needs. He’s now addressed both these criticisms in an article for The Guardian titled ‘We can’t leave the negotiations with Europe to the Tories’.
His analysis, which outlines the Tories failed policies that led to this point and his leadership strategy for post-Brexit Britain, is bold and persuasive.
Debunking – not just acknowledging – racism
We all know the country is divided, but people of colour are, as usual, feeling this division more than others. There was a five-fold increase in reported racial abuse in the week after Brexit, and while the Conservatives addressed and denounced this in the Commons, Corbyn goes further.
He cuts the head off the racially divisive rhetoric employed by both politicians and right-wing news outlets over immigration, plaguing both sides of the referendum campaigns, honing in on the true paths to the economic mess that led to 17 million votes to leave the EU:
After clarifying the most pressing reasons behind Britain’s vast inequality, he goes on to immediately address the rise in racial abuse since the vote, and debunks the belief that immigration is the cause of hardship for British people.
His position is clear – he doesn’t just acknowledge and condemn racism. He clearly and purposefully proves why it has no basis in truth.
Part of it was clearly about the impact of immigration on a deregulated jobs market and investment-starved housing and public services.
But leave voters were also concentrated in former industrial areas hit hardest by low pay, job insecurity and economic stagnation.
Corbyn makes clear that immigration does indeed have an economic impact, but it has been negative only in combination with an electorate hit hard by economic policies that, since the late ’70s, have created a ‘precariat‘ class.
Immigration has been proven to generally have an economic benefit for the UK; because the hugely diverse and multi-faceted ‘immigrant’ demographic pays more in tax overall than the benefits received by ‘immigrants’. The Conservatives know this, but it doesn’t fit their line – if the lower classes can’t blame each other, they’ll start blaming the political and business classes.
Highlighting the lies of the Labour coup
Another criticism to be debunked is that of Corbyn’s lack of influence over voters in the referendum. In his constituency of Islington North, three-quarters voted Remain. Overall, Labour voters were two-thirds in favour of Remain. And still, this was one of the many false accusations levelled at Corbyn by his colleagues during the attempted Labour leadership coup.
Labour MPs opposing Corbyn – several of whom had Leave votes in their own constituencies – criticised him for not working hard enough in persuading the voters to come out behind the Party’s official ‘In’ campaign.
Corbyn writes that “Labour-supporting cities that voted remain, such as London, Bristol and Manchester, have far higher migrant populations than many that backed leave.”
Corbyn’s attention to success stories of unified cities, rather than to division, stands in stark contrast to those MPs who have ignored their constituents to focus instead on battling within the Party.
Strategy and leadership focus
Corbyn outlines Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s three “red lines” for an EU economic strategy:
the maintenance of existing employment and social rights, freedom of trade with Europe, and protection of work and residency rights for both EU citizens in Britain and British citizens in Europe.
Current Chancellor George Osborne, however, disappeared for days following the Brexit vote. He emerged to tell the British people to expect to be poorer, because even though he had made “extensive contingency plans” there would need to be – of course – more public spending cuts.
Osborne’s latest announcement, that he will further cut taxes for corporations, has been condemned by EU leaders including German Finance Minister Schäuble as unfair, and potentially triggering “a race to the bottom”.
Corbyn reminds readers that, during the referendum campaign, he:
argued for an end to EU-enforced liberalisation and privatisation of public services – and for freedom for public enterprise and public investment, now restricted by EU treaties. Those freedoms need to be part of the coming negotiations.
For those who voted leave in opposition to the EU’s negative impact on the economy, this makes clear the true opportunity that has arisen from Brexit. Rather than simply a financial crisis of immigration or overspending, it’s also the top-down enforcement of austerity policies by the EU – in a similar fashion to the Conservatives’.
Corbyn confirmed that he will be:
meeting fellow European socialist leaders in Paris this week.
Why leftist Labour are the ones to deliver
‘Socialism’, as explained and defended here by prominent Labour MPs, is simply ‘solidarity, not selfishness’. Late MP, and mentor to Corbyn, Tony Benn points out that “Labour has never been a socialist party but it’s always had socialists in it”, and yet it’s “greatest socialist legislation” – the NHS – is also it’s most popular.
Corbyn outlines the need for socialist values that reject exploitation, and why the Conservatives’ rejection of social policies hasn’t worked to date, and cannot work for a post-Brexit Britain:
…none of those seeking to replace David Cameron has any kind of exit plan. Instead, once again, they are planning to make working people pay, with yet more spending cuts and tax rises.
If freedom of movement means the freedom to exploit cheap labour in a race to the bottom, it will never be accepted in any future relationship with Europe. But the reality is that we have allies in that cause across Europe, as on many other issues that will be at the heart of the negotiations ahead. Those negotiations cannot be left to a Tory government that does not speak for the country.
He points out that under his leadership, he and MPs working alongside him have gathered real victories against the worst of Conservative austerity:
we have repeatedly forced the government to drop damaging policies, won every byelection, and beaten the Tories in the local elections. I have made clear I am ready to reach out to Labour MPs who oppose my leadership – and work with the whole party to provide the alternative the country needs.
Corbyn then condemns both the traditional imperialism and elitism of the right-wing Conservative Party, and New Labour:
After years of disastrous wars, ballooning inequality and a failing political elite, there can be no more business as usual.
Democratic leadership, not personality politics
Finally, while many of us who support a turn to the left for our country occasionally fall into the trap of faux-worshipping Corbyn, he himself has made clear that it’s his policies, not him individually, that will benefit the country. He would stand down if someone else was elected by the membership.
Our priority must now be to mobilise this astonishing new force in politics, and ensure people in Britain have a real political alternative. Those who want to challenge my leadership are free to do so in a democratic contest, in which I will be a candidate.
As in the Brexit vote, accepting a democratic decision is of utmost importance. For a political class so out of touch with the average citizen’s needs, and a citizenry so divided and out of touch with each other’s needs, it’s imperative that we have a leader who not only listens to the people’s opinion on his own leadership, but also commits to taking forward a democratic decision which he campaigned against. And, that he do so while debunking the false reasoning given for those divides and democratic decisions:
the responsibility of our whole party is to stand up in united opposition to the Tory government. If we come together, we can take them on and win.
Whether or not Corbyn has enough support yet to win a snap general election is unclear. However, this outline of his clarity of purpose and leadership, in line with what so many of the public have been calling for, should put to rest many of the false charges levelled at him.