Vote me, I support Corbyn – A hollow battlecry

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Telling someone you’re a Corbyn supporter so they should get your vote is not enough, taking a vote for granted because you say you’re a socialist is not enough. There needs to be more, much more in order to galvanise the kind of support we need at grassroots level.

That means setting out a local vision, working within local communities and building an (at first) informal bottom up structure within our local constituency. The internal struggle within the CLP over Corbyn is one huge distraction, it’s a movement – it isn’t about Corbyn, it isn’t even about the Labour Party *gasp*. It is about that hungry person you passed on your way to work, or that homeless person you see outside your local shop, it is about a single mother facing eviction, or an elderly person that dies because of winter. It is about those suffering at the bottom, and the more we get bedded to internal struggles, the more we let them down, the more we look internally, the less we are doing externally.

So don’t expect people to support you just because you support Corbyn, or just because you’re a socialist. You need to prove to the people that you are worthy of their support, you need to show them, with your actions not just your words that you are on their side, and that they can rely on you to fight with and for them.

The vote me because I support Corbyn message is unsustainable (Corbyn won’t be here forever), while it will galvanise us to a degree, it can’t go much further than that. I want to vote for a local candidate whether that is in an internal election, a local election or a general election because I like what they’re having to say, I like where they want to take my community and I can see through their track record that they’re trustworthy – they mean what they’re saying.

If we want to transform our communities we can’t rely on Corbyn, we can’t wait until the next GE. The power to transform our communities is with all of us, the power of the movement is not with one man at the top, but all those engaged in the struggle. Less vote me because I support Corbyn, and more tapping in to that message of hope and unity that he brought to the mainstream.

Now is our chance, so let us harness the energy Corbyn has unleashed and utilise the message, but let us take ownership of it and make it our own. Make it local, make it relevant, take it and make it part of the DNA of our communities.

I could see the necessity when Labour were in a full blown civil war, but we have won that war, it is now time to win the peace.

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Practical solidarity: Labour must adapt the way it campaigns so it helps those most in need

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One day campaigns and calls for Theresa May to sling it are great at galvanizing support, but if the next election isn’t within the next six months, we run the risk of running out of steam.

Words have power that is clear, but words and actions working in unison will lay the foundation for the kind of change we need to see in our society. Which is why it is unsustainable in the long run to keep up momentum indefinitely.

Why? Because if there are no results, people will grow bored, people drop out, and slowly but surely the momentum slows to a crawl before going in to reverse. We have momentum on our side, at the moment, and no doubt the Tories will be trying to delay until the winds change in their favour.

So what can we do to help sustain activity, to keep our momentum up?

We need to adopt a more community minded, grassroots approach to our campaigning – non traditional forms of campaigning which seek to build up networks within communities, and effect real change within them.

It’s great marching to end homelessness, or against the harsh reality of the cuts, those kind of public displays of peoples anger, and dissatisfaction with the system are integral but you hardly ever see immediate results.

Contrast a march against homelessness with a Labour led drive to support the homeless within their communities, to alleviate the harsh realities of the cuts. When you see that a homeless man is going to get a roof over his head, or isn’t going to go hungry that night, you see a direct return on your political capital.

When you are bringing your politics to life through your work in your community and help stop a family getting evicted, or put food on a single mothers table, so neither her or her child go hungry that night – you see results. Politics in action effecting change on a community level, which feeds back into a national narrative.

Not only this but it is through these networks of resistance that we can sustain momentum, we see small successes, thus keeping people engaged politically. While at the same time engaging with the people that a) need our help the most and b) we need to have a political voice c) providing the apparatus/network for future political work

We need to be radical, we need to be innovative. Combine the social, community and the political, and provide cross community solutions – you have a presence, you are fighting back at the system, and you’re carrying out practical politics.

History is littered with examples of it being successful, and it is a political necessity in this country already. People on the bread line can’t wait to the next election, a disabled person house bound due to cuts, cannot wait to the next election. The people who are suffering most cannot afford to wait, and we shouldn’t leave them behind.

While momentum is on our side, while we have the Tories on the run, it is the perfect opportunity to expand our political activity and get out into our communities supporting those in need, with our actions and deeds.

Media Narrative Manipulation; Momentum & Corbyn “Thug Life”

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Go to any mainstream media website, open any news paper and no doubt you will find similar stories about Corbyn, he’s a friend of terrorists, a director of bullies, a mob leader that would make even Al Capone quake in his boots, he has an army of rabble doing his evil bidding up and down the country, terrorising his opponents, all in all he is a mean guy that is trying to control our politics through the use of force. This is actually the subtext that the media are trying to create, this is the narrative they are creating, and this is the reality they are trying to shape. This is all of course in an effort to discredit him, but it is very dangerous what they’re doing. It is now so obvious that the media do not report on reality, but try to shape it and create it.

Recent events really expose the dark nature of our media and how they seek to influence and shape our democracy, but it runs much deeper when they’re actually trying to shape our perceptions of the world around us. Just to highlight a few examples Malhotra having her office “broken into” in order to “intimidate her,” first and foremost if you have a key and you enter using a key it isn’t breaking in, secondly, if you’re the office manager, it’s your job to.. manage the office but finally and most importantly, it stopped being her office the moment she stepped down from her position in the shadow cabinet. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of shaping a false reality and furthering your agenda.

When there is no actual evidence that it has anything to do with the Labour party or Corbyn, this hasn’t even stopped them. Look no further than Angela Eagle and her “constituency office window” being “bricked.” the media are leading us to believe this was done by some “Momentum thugs,” that Corbyn is bringing political violence to our streets. Yet there is no evidence what so ever that what happened had anything to do with politics, and if the Labour figures and media commentators know something, perhaps they should take it to the police. The worst thing is, it wasn’t even her office window! It was a stairwell in a shared office block! It gets even more slanderous when it was revealed she lied about closing her surgeries due to police advice, and pulling out of a press conference because of threats. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of shaping a false reality and furthering your agenda.

They are calling on Corbyn to do more, they are all saying he isn’t doing enough (sounds familiar), but what more can he do? He has condemned it, he doesn’t conduct himself that way, he doesn’t bully, doesn’t insult, he doesn’t do personality politics. If members of the Labour party are breaking party rules, then they will be dealt with. What they’re hoping to do through this is alienate Corbyn from his support, they want him to come out against Momentum, and isolate him from his supporters in order to weaken him and bring him down. They hope that they can make him turn on his supporters, by constantly piling on the pressure, in effect what they’re doing is bullying, but what they’re doing is bullying, then victim blaming.

Alone these things could be harmless, but when taken together it is very worrying and completely destroys any notion of a free press in this country. There is no critical analysis taking place, they’re printing lies In order to discredit Corbyn supporters, they’re building up a narrative which seeks to undermine the ideas that he represents, because they cannot combat these ideas any way except on a underhanded level. This is all in an effort to essentially brainwash unengaged people that just digest the news. It is like we are living in a country where the press are operating with Goebbels handbook as a go to manual. They have even tried linking Corbyn to the killing of Jo Cox, or at least implied that it is somehow similar to the actions of his own supporters, which is completely and utterly distasteful and shameful.

There is no doubt in my mind that MPs will receive abuse, especially on the internet which is rife with trolls, but that isn’t just Corbyn rebels, that happens to all MPs. Corbyn has got death threats, he just hasn’t run to the press and tried framing it into a false moral panic. People are angry, and they are entitled to be angry at what the Labour MPs have done, they have acted in a dishonourable and underhand fashion, and ultimately put their own self interest before that of anybody else. But doesn’t it stink of hypocrisy? The fact that one of the MPs strategies for making Corbyn resign was literally bullying him into resigning? Or the fact the media have basically non stop bullied Corbyn? (LSE study revealed overwhelmingly negative stories in relation to Corbyn in the media).

Yet if there is any genuine abuse, it is getting lost behind all the fake smears, half truths and lies, and in the wake of the murder of a Labour MP by a far right extremist, surely it’s very dangerous to be doing that. This kind of narrative creation isn’t just reserved for Corbyn, but if they can successfully paint a long standing Labour MP, a pacifist, and an avowed peace and equality campaigner, as the complete opposite of all those things, then just think for a second what other narratives they are creating and what purpose it is all serving.

Momentum – shrinking back into Labour

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Momentum, the social movement set up in the wake of the phenomena that was Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader has steadily and consistently retreated from the spirit of the campaign, and its founding ethos to the point it is in a real danger of becoming irrelevant to the wider movement.

The writing was on the wall when the right wing of the Labour party came out publicly attacking Momentum. Momentum’s response to this was revealed in a Guardian article entitled “Corbyn’s Momentum group moves to block influence of hard-left parties.”

Within that article it declared: “It would mean members of other leftwing parties such as Left Unity and the Communist party would not be allowed to attend its decision-making meetings. Momentum has decided that office holders in the group must all be Labour members and it is urgently preparing plans to develop a more democratic structure.”

This was a sign of things to come, firstly Momentum is not Corbyn’s group, it is suppose to be a grassroots social movement. The campaign to get him leader was led by many different forces in and out of the Labour party, and they have now been effectively expelled from a movement they were integral in creating.

Secondly, Momentum now has unequal membership, it sees Labour members as more important than the rest of us. How can a social movement be one, when it is now excluding large parts of the movement from involvement, or decision making?

Momentum had its first national meeting of delegates (no observers allowed), and it reinforced this previous position by voting to exclude at every single level, members of other parties, even if those parties campaigned to get Corbyn elected, and have similar values to that of the Labour party, and the trade unions.

The exact decision reached is as follows: “The Committee decided that Momentum should become a membership organisation. Members of other political parties will not be eligible for membership of Momentum.”

This is incredibly short sighted and extremely damaging to any movement Momentum was hoping to create, and for Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in general. Without his supporters outside of the Labour party, he will find himself extremely isolated, it is the pressure and power of these collectively working together which is his biggest weapon against the right wing, and the media onslaught he has faced.

Within this context Momentum’s decision is nothing short of a betrayal, a betrayal to those that helped get him elected and a betrayal to the wider movement, as Momentum retreats into the Labour party to become an internal echo chamber, a Progress of the left.

I’m not a member of any other party but I had hoped that Momentum would be a vehicle for change, where forces from across the left could come together under the banner of Momentum in order to fight for the values put forward during the Jeremy Corbyn campaign by all those that supported him, both inside and outside the Labour party.

It feels that Momentum was dishonest about what it was from the start, as it clearly is no longer a social movement, nor can it be under its current structure. It clearly has changed from its original intentions which were: “The group is designed as a grassroots network to create ‘a mass movement for change, for real progressive change in every town and city’. Momentum describes itself as the successor to the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign, but it is independent of the party’s leadership. It will work both inside the Labour party and organise in broader civil society.”

Momentum also wanted to effect change within the Labour party, hence the massive pressure it has come under from Labour MPs attacking it, but it was suppose to be independent of this Labour influence. In any case the solution to sheltering the Labour party from any outside influence that can be of a negative nature, was to have Labour members within Momentum organised, so that part of Momentum’s work is carried out by Labour members, the solution they have come to however is to exclude everyone, which shows extreme weakness and is going to damage Labour’s electoral chances.

It seems however these internal problems are going to bog down Momentum, this has already happened to some degree, Momentum has slowed down and well lost some of its momentum – a victory for the right who wanted this to happen. It looks like the Momentum leadership are trying to appease them, rather than effectively create a social movement that aspires to change society, while helping those in need who as it was put when it was founded, cannot wait for a Corbyn led government.

The steps it is taking are not new, not radical and I cannot see it achieving its aims unless it drastically begins to change. It is just a new name but carrying out old methods, we live in the internet age, we should be looking to have an inclusive movement that incorporates new media with a non-hierarchical structure.

Look at how Podemos are doing it in Spain, there is another way but mimicking the old methods isn’t going to reach the masses, and the more Momentum gets dragged into part of the internal Labour machinations, the further it is going to be from helping the people that cannot wait for a Corbyn government.

If Momentum is going to be successful it needs be brave, it needs to be bold but more importantly it needs to break away from the shackles of the Corbyn campaign, so that it can begin achieving change in our society, while it lays the foundation for a Corbyn victory in 2020.
I’m still going to be a member of Momentum, and everyone that reads this you should get involved too. We need to shape Momentum in its early formative months, and the more people fighting for an inclusive radical looking and acting Momentum, the better.

Get involved!
Lets keep the Momentum we need alive and kicking.

County Council: Death By A Thousand Cuts

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Lingchi was an an ancient Chinese torture method which is more widely known in the west as death by a thousand cuts, a torture method this council seems to have adopted as its model for local government policy.

Make no mistake that sooner or later people will die because of the butchering of our local services, make no mistake that people are already suffering under the brunt of the county councils new torture regime.

This is an ideological restructuring of local government, the Tories have already committed themselves to destroying the state on a national level, and now their cronies at a local level are going full steam ahead with this ideological mission in their destruction of local services.

Removing lifelines for some and completely changing the face of our local services, is of course spruced up with fancy words like “efficiency savings” but regardless of what words they use to make these cuts more palatable it will never disguise them from the cold hard reality, and when reality bites believe me people will be angry.

Earlier this year the County Council agreed to outsource all its services, and now it is going to be cutting a further £77 million from its budget, no doubt they love to gamble with the future of our town, sadly the only losers in this will be us, the people of Northampton.

As it was reported the budget “Proposals include a reduction in children’s centre services, a reduction in funds for the fire service and highways maintenance, a cut in the subsidies given to the bus services, the cessation of Nourish school meals service and decommissioning two care homes run by Olympus Care Services.”

Just how much more do they think the people can take? Just how much more of this burden do we have to shoulder? We were never responsible for the recession, yet time and again we are the ones footing the bill.

These cuts, like the cuts at national level are being billed as the only way, that there is no alternative, but this is pure political posturing, there is always an alternative. When these cuts continue to hammer home just keep one thing in mind, there is but one group of people to blame for them; The Conservative Party.

We are now locked into a race to the bottom, and who knows where it will end? No support for young people, no care for the elderly? Just how far are they willing to fall, and how much suffering are we going to have to endure?

Instead of a council with a commitment to slash and burn, how great would it be to have a council committed to helping the people? To homing the homeless, to protecting those that need it, to investing in the future of the town.

Because that is the alternative, investment, investing in the future instead of planting the seeds of this towns suffering, creating revenue outside of tax. We are expected to believe that outsourcing and businesses (which we will be paying to carry out these services), will be more efficient.

Well why is that the case? Instead of throwing money at private companies (making them very rich), surely the brilliant minds in government can operate these things as good, if not better. Instead of them being operated for the profit of private companies they should and could be operated for the improvement of the town, for the benefit of the people.

The governments in post war Britain recognised this, that is how they dug their way out of a 200% deficit, through investment, through public ownership, and ultimately through a commitment to helping people, instead of cutting them piece meal.

Just how much more can the council take? How much more can we take?

What are your views on the cuts? Are you afraid of the future? Let me know in the comments.