It is not because he can’t win a General Election that the establishment is trying every trick in the book to remove Jeremy Corbyn, it is precisely because they are concerned he can win, and then transform Britain, writes Ken Livingstone.
Since his landslide win in the contest to be Labour leader last September, the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party has continually and consistently opposed the Tories’ austerity agenda.
In this short time he has already delivered significant change, and has started to shift the framework of political debate in Britain.
Significantly, Labour’s strong and consistent anti-austerity approach has forced government U-turns which have benefited hundreds of thousands of people’s living standards.
The proposed cuts to personal independence payments (PIP) would have left nearly 400,000 disabled people thousands of pounds worse off had the Tories not been forced to withdraw them. This followed last year’s U-turn on cuts to tax credits - a proposed raid that it was estimated could have robbed 3 million families of an average £1,300 a year.
The Tories have also been defeated on Sunday trading hours, and retreated on police cuts and forced academisation of our schools.
This approach of consistently and strongly opposing austerity is also the way to win a general election, and indeed being identified as a stronger opposition has started to be reflected positively electorally.
Labour won all the mayoral elections in May and has performed well in by-elections. And in May, while in the 2015 election we finished almost 7 percentage points behind the Conservatives, Labour closed that gap and achieved a one-point lead across the country.
Jeremy’s leadership is important not just for how he has given expression to the need for a strong opposition in Parliament.
The changes are far wider, with Labour membership increasing to levels we could only have dreamt of a few years ago, with 600,000 members.
Labour is now unafraid to connect with the mass movements and civil society that form our country’s wider opposition to the Conservatives. We have a mass membership base ready to engage in both community and electoral campaigning that can deliver support for Labour on the doorstep.
From trade unions to those campaigning in their communities against the damaging and divisive austerity policies of the Tory government, to those active in campaigns and lobbying to save our planet, Jeremy’s Labour has allies across British society when we take the fight to the Tories.
It’s also important to understand that Jeremy connects with ordinary people because he is fundamentally decent. Do not underestimate how important that will be in the next general election.
So many people have said to me: “What a nice man” and in more than 40 years working together he has never said something he didn’t believe or lost his temper.
After years of MPs mouthing the platitudes of their spin doctors while living standards have been hit, people have become disillusioned. Jeremy’s straight-talking, honest politics can relate more to these people.
But Jeremy’s continued support is primarily because he is offering hope for a better future based on a credible economic alternative to austerity.
Labour needs a real, radical ambition to reshape our economy if we are to win the hearts and minds of these voters back that we have lost in recent years. We didn’t lose the last general election because we were too left-wing but because we didn’t have a coherent economic strategy – Jeremy and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have now given Labour this, based on investing in our future.
Not only is Jeremy Corbyn’s plan for a big expansion of investment in transport, housing and upgrading our broadband system to match the levels of our competitors crucial to turning the British economy around, but it is the best way to deliver social justice.
Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world and the idea that we can’t make the changes necessary to give all our people the chance to succeed is rubbish.
To give just one example — poverty could be eliminated by a very substantial increase in investment, particularly public investment.
This would not only create high-wage, high-skilled jobs but it would also reduce the government’s outlays to alleviate poverty and increase the government’s tax revenues.
Labour’s new economics also makes it clear that investment can be the source of decent work and provide the resources to fund high-quality free public services for all, including an even better, publicly owned NHS and free education.
People are crying out for real change based on a credible and coherent alternative economic strategy — that is why Jeremy Corbyn can win a General Election for Labour.
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