Why Corbyn is well placed to win

The right want Jeremy out because he stands a real chance of changing this country, says 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 and is starting to shift the framework of political debate in Britain.

Jeremy has only been the leader of the Labour Party since September but he has already delivered significant change, not only in the direction of the Labour Party but in how politics is conducted.

Labour has forced government U-turns which have benefited hundreds of thousands of people’s living standards.

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 approach — of strong opposition to Tory austerity backed up with a credible, coherent alternative that puts investment in our future at its core — means that victory in a general election is possible.

It is not because he can’t win that the Establishment is trying every trick in the book to remove Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, it is precisely because they are concerned he can win that they are so desperate to remove him.

Our leadership debate last summer showed people wanted a strong, principled opposition, not least in terms of opposing the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity.

We should remember that it was only last summer that the temporary Labour leadership was arguing for abstention on the Tories’ hated Welfare Bill.

In contrast to this, as leader, Jeremy has channelled the clear stance from his leadership campaign through to parliamentary tactics, flowing from the strategy of standing up to the government more clearly.

While the Tories expected to write a script for Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of a weak, irrelevant opposition, they have instead suffered defeats in Parliament and been forced into numerous U-turns.

Jeremy was quite right at his leadership launch this week to draw attention to these achievements.

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.

The Tories have also been defeated on Sunday trading hours, and retreated on police cuts and forced academisation of our schools.

As with the earlier Tory chaos and partial U-turn over tax credits last year, none of this happened by accident. These victories are a result of Jeremy’s clear and consistent approach.

But 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, and this week an amazing 180,000 registering as supporters in only 48 hours.

We have a mass membership base ready to engage in both community and electoral campaigning and Labour is now unafraid to connect with the mass movements and civil society that form our country’s wider opposition to the Conservatives.

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.

For me though the key reason Labour needs to keep Corbyn is that he and his leadership team understand the fundamental problems facing the British economy and have a clear, coherent alternative that can both restore Labour’s economic credibility and transform our economy into one that works for the 99 per cent rather than the 1 per cent.

With Theresa May appointing a clearly Thatcherite Cabinet, it’s important to remember that while the Tories constantly say Thatcher’s economic strategy saved Britain, when she died The Economist, which devoted six pages to her record, did not mention growth in the economy or investment.

We were told that breaking the power of the unions, cutting taxes for the wealthiest and big corporations and deregulating the banks would unleash a wave of investment and growth.

But in the 30 years following Thatcher’s election the British economy only grew at two-thirds of the rate it did in the 30 years before Thatcher came to power.

What holds back Britain’s economy is lack of investment, both public and private, which is now running at its lowest level since the second world war.

Jeremy’s proposal for a national investment bank to deal with the economic shocks following the EU referendum result, his support for a major house-building programme and commitment to modernise our transport system and install a speedier broadband service equivalent to those in the Far East would lay the foundation for an influx of private-sector investment.

He is also proposing that Britain should take the lead in tackling climate change which would mean new high-skill, high-tech, high-wage jobs.

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 2020 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.

But his continued support is primarily because he is offering hope for a better future to a generation that had no hope.

He knows 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.

For these reasons, Jeremy is the candidate most likely to win the next general election for Labour.

His ability to speak clearly and provide a real alternative to cuts and austerity is what’s needed now with the Tories set to continue on the failed road of austerity after the EU referendum.

What makes me angry about austerity Britain today is that my generation is the luckiest in human history.

Born into post-war Britain’s welfare state we all got a job, healthcare, free education and help to buy our homes or pay our rents.

I want my children and grandchildren to have the same opportunities we had.

I believe Jeremy Corbyn is the best chance to achieve that and take Labour back to Downing Street — let’s keep Corbyn and then take the fight to the Tories.

First published in the Morning Star