Exactly two years ago I stood against Keith Vaz as the parliamentary candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Since then I am happy that much has changed, and on 8th June I will voting to support a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, which in my case will mean that I cast my vote for Vaz.
As I have the dubious privilege of living within Vaz’s constituency (Leicester East), I have also received his electoral paraphernalia. And a brief comparison of the similarities between the campaign literature that Vaz produced in 2015 and now, reveals exactly why it is so important that Corbyn succeeds, even if I have to vote for a politician who seems to care little for promoting Corbyn’s massively popular socialist ideas.
Reading Vaz’s current leaflet you could be forgiven for thinking you were stuck in a timewarp –his party has done a 180 degree about face with a leadership that has moved from accepting austerity to being completely opposed to austerity, yet this has not registered at all in his election material.
At least no one can accuse Vaz of being inconsistent. In both 2015 and 2017 his two leaflets proclaimed: “Each year he writes over 30,000 letters to Constituents, deals with 20,000 phone calls, and takes up 15,000 new cases.”
Likewise both leaflets proudly note: “Since the last General Election, Keith has spent over 500 hours with constituents in his weekly surgeries.”
But that was not the only part of his leaflet that remained unchanged, as the “Thank you Keith” section also features identical positive statements from the same six people.
To fair to Vaz, on the backpage of the latest leaflet he does at least update what he calls his “score card since May 2015.” Here Vaz says he has taken up 2,565 cases in the past two years, which is quite a bit less than his earlier boast of dealing with 15,000 new cases a year.
Most bizarrely the only clue that Vaz’s election leaflet gives to its 70,000 recipients that the Labour Party’s leadership is now different and is genuinely committed to fighting to serve the needs of the many is a brief notification of three key Labour pledges:
“NHS: End health service privatisation and stop hospital closures in Leicester
“HOUSING: Build more affordable housing and council housing, reducing times on council waiting lists
“EDUCATION: Free school meals for all primary school children and fairer funding for schools.”
The massive growth in the membership of the Labour Party under Corbyn’s fighting anti-austerity leadership is not mentioned once, nor is Corbyn’s name or his principled leadership of the Labour Party.
By contrast, Vaz’s 2015 leaflet featured a nice photo of then Labour leader Ed Miliband posing with Vaz and his son and daughter that was taken when Ed had visited Leicester. While ironically Vaz’s 2017 leaflet contained a different picture of Vaz and his son and daughter, but a picture that was actually taken on the same day that Ed had visited Leicester in 2015 – this is clear because all three are wearing exactly the same clothes.
Of course Vaz has never been much of a fan of Corbyn’s socialist politics, so this probably goes a long way towards explaining why Vaz’s 2017 leaflet did not to feature of picture of the 1,000 odd people who turned-out to see Corbyn speak in Leicester just last month.
None of these political omissions should surprise us, but Vaz’s numerous shortcomings won’t stop me and thousands of others from voting Labour.
And then, if following the election Vaz does not do all he can to promote the exciting socialist policies that Corbyn is popularising, then he can rest assured that I and thousands of other Labour supporters will be doing all we can to ensure that he is democratically removed so that a genuine socialist can take his place in parliament.