Over the past year Jeremy Corbyn has been the subject of one of the most intense political smear campaigns in recent history. This deceitful campaign has been relentlessly pursued across all mainstream media outlets (from the Daily Mail through to the BBC) with the willing and gleeful support of hundreds of rightwing political representatives in the Labour Party.
The deeply undemocratic offensive against the leader of the Labour Party is largely fuelled by personal attacks upon Corbyn and his supporters, nearly all of which are factually baseless. But a good lie has never stopped a vigorous smear campaign being waged against a principled socialist.
Yet before Corbyn’s unexpected rise to the leadership of the Labour Party last year, there could be no doubt that the leadership of the party and nearly all of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the majority of local councillors were committed to the now thoroughly-debunked idea that Britain needed more austerity! This deluded vision ran counter to the majority of the Labour Party members, which was connected to Corbyn’s landslide victory and his plain-speaking socialist, anti-austerity vision for the future.
Ironically, when I stood for parliament in Leicester East against Keith Vaz last year for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), I was actually campaigning on the same type of anti-austerity platform that has proved so popular with the lay membership of the Labour Party (a £10 an hour minimum wage and renationalisation of the rail network etc.). TUSC, however, have always been clear that we would not stand against any Labour MP or councillor who was genuinely opposed to austerity. Thus, at last year’s general election TUSC did not stand parliamentary candidates against either Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell.
At the same time, despite Corbyn’s victory, the rightwing of the Labour Party have made it clear that I am not welcome as a member of the Labour Party. The recent suspension of the lifelong Labour Party member and General Secretary of the Bakers Union, Ronnie Draper, just goes to highlight how urgent it is to kick out all the Blairites from leadership positions in the party.
But although I am not a member of the Labour Party, only a member of the Labour movement, I did recognise that Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party would be a very positive development for strengthening of the Labour movement in Britain. As a result of this obvious realisation, throughout Corbyn’s leadership campaign (last year) I sent a continuous flow of letters to the Leicester Mercury to counteract the rightwing hate campaign being waged against Corbyn by the Tories and Blairites.
In all instances, I have been scrupulous in making sure that my criticisms of either the Tories or the Blairites did not stoop to personal attacks, but instead were argued based upon real political differences and fact.
As most of these letters remained unpublished by the Leicester Mercury, I published them in a book (which can be found in our city council libraries). Nevertheless, here follow a brief summary of some of my letters that were successfully published in the Mercury during the course of Corbyn’s leadership campaign…
July 21, 2015 — The first letter I published had the misfortune of noting how Leicester’s three Labour MPs had failed to vote against the Tories hated Welfare Bill. I noted, however, that 48 Labour MP’s (including Corbyn) did vote against the Bill, and concluded that “Corbyn has enthused many with his clear call for abolition of student fees and to reinstate the student grant, his promise to repeal anti-trade union laws and other pledges. This fresh left-wing programme is a far cry from the insipid goals and aspirations of the three Labour careerists representing us in Parliament.”
August 10, 2015 — My second published letter took up the Blairite politics espoused by former Labour County Councillor Denis Bown and current Labour City Councillor Vijay Singh Riyiat, by making a firm political case for the Labour Party to adopt the anti-austerity politics of Jeremy Corbyn.
August 13, 2015 –- I explained in precise terms why Jon Ashworth’s analysis of his party’s political misfortunes at the General Election were plain wrong. I noted the problems with Ashworth’s support for Yvette Cooper, and concluded: “Thankfully, not all Labour Party members believe that further austerity must be inflicted upon the 99% of us. This is why it is so refreshing that local Labour Party members of Ashworth’s Leicester South constituency chose to back anti-austerity realist Jeremy Corbyn as their preferred candidate to represent the interests of the working-class.”
August 24, 2015 –- In response to poisonous slurs in the national media that Corbyn was an anti-Semite I pointed out how “Unfortunately, none of our city’s 52 Labour councillors or 3 MPs spoke out to the media in Corbyn’s defence.”
September 10, 2015 –- I made clear that “the rise in electoral support for right-wing populists like UKIP has occurred precisely because the Labour Party has vacated its traditional position as the voice of the majority of ordinary people — the working-class.” I then went on to conclude: “A victory for Corbyn within the Labour Party represents a step forward for socialism, and will enable Labour to begin to make good on past electoral losses. Yet his election as Labour’s new leader marks just the start of a long and difficult battle for working-class democracy.”
September 14, 2015 –- In this article I celebrated Corbyn’s leadership victory to highlight concerns about the government’s planned anti-trade union proposals, set out in their Trade Union Bill, which I said was “the most serious attack on trade union rights for three decades.” With respect to the Labour leadership battle I noted: “Jeremy Corbyn’s monumental rise to Labour’s leadership is a reflection of the mood to fight both Tory austerity and their attacks on the unions. And if the resounding nod of confidence that Corbyn attained in recent months can amplify the fight-back against our government then the Tories should be running scared.”