Kate Hudson observes that the outcome of the general election marks a significant shake-up in British politics and a surge in support for qualitatively different policies:
“It is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
She views the election as a significant shift towards the politics of hope, peace, inclusivity, justice and equality.
“Jeremy Corbyn’s long – standing opposition to nuclear weapons, and his personal opposition to Trident replacement, did not deter millions of people from voting for him. Indeed the likelihood is that many – particularly young people – have voted for him precisely because he opposes war, intervention and weapons of mass destruction.
“Support for Trident replacement is negligible amongst the younger generation and it is clear that the narrative of investment in homes, health, education and jobs, has been very popular. In fact, it has led to Labour’s first increase in seats since 1997 and its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945”.
The right wing of the Labour Party, and a small but powerful section of the trade union movement, have ‘peddled the myth’ that Labour needs to look ‘strong on defence’ to win – and that this means supporting Trident replacement.
But, Kate believes, support for the party has surged because it has a radical vision of a different society, and because everyone knows that Jeremy Corbyn does not support Trident replacement. When he first became leader, he commissioned an extensive Defence Review throughout the Labour Party. That review has been shelved – because it showed the extent of anti-Trident opinion within the party?
She calls for that review to be published and debated at the next Labour Party conference: “This issue must not be kept off the agenda any longer”. There is no popular mandate for a Tory security policy, or a Tory-lite security policy pushed on the Labour party by a minority of pro-nuclear forces that are living in the past. Those trade unions that have put unreasonable pressure on Jeremy to keep Trident are urged to change:
“The way for them to secure and extend high quality, well-paid jobs is to support Jeremy’s policy on defence diversification. Rather than shunning this initiative they need to work with politicians and industry to develop a diversification plan, as part of a national industrial strategy that will secure their jobs without holding the rest of the country over a nuclear barrel”.
As she points out, there is now strong public backing for industrial planning and investment and this needs to go into sustainable industrial production to meet public needs, for energy, housing and public resources, not weapons of mass destruction.
Labour’s support has grown because of Corbyn’s policies based on peace, respect and our shared humanity. And this vision goes beyond national boundaries to his vision of how we relate to the rest of the world. No longer Blair’s ‘war-fighting nation’, ‘punching above its weight’, but a decent part of a shared community of nations.
Read her article here: http://www.cnduk.org/images/stories/Summer_2017.pdf
Kate Hudson, British political activist and academic, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
Lesley Docksey writes: “The relentless criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by the Tories, the MSM and some loud-mouthed Labour MPs, though depressing, are being balanced by the energy and activism of all those Labour members and supporters who back Corbyn”.
While the sheer numbers and views of the membership and supporters are being totally ignored by the PLP, they are being aired at Momentum meetings and at events like the Build Against Austerity event. This major anti-austerity meeting at Methodist Central Hall in London on 21st November, was organised by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, backed by PCS with main speakers: shadow chancellor John McDonnell and economist Yanis Varoufakis.
There has been little mention of the Trade Unions, once the backbone of the Labour Party – also PLP invisible. But the Trade Union Coordinating Group hosted a blinder of a Rally at Westminster Hall on November 21.
Around 1400 people attended and the atmosphere was electric. It is hard to describe what it is like to walk into a hall full of strangers knowing that each is a friend with the same hope, vision and aims as you – invigorating, life-affirming, energising – all these things. Lesley, who attended the meeting, continues: “People attending such events are extremely optimistic, full of hope and energy. And they laugh a lot!”
There was a lot of humour and it was genuine, not the embarrassing jokes that David Cameron uses in Parliament; positive and forward looking humour; laughter among friends. But mostly there was an undercurrent of knowledge that, if we get it right, this is a pivotal moment in this country’s political history. If we get it right.
At the Build Against Austerity event John McDonnell spoke about how workers should and must resist any unjust legislation (such as proposed by the Tories’ Trade Union Bill). He also mentioned the reviews Labour is undertaking on the Treasury, financial sector etc., saying that there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”
Yanis Varoufakis, considering the fact that this country (and Europe) is actually very rich, asked “Why is so little hope growing among so many riches?”
On finance, having outlined the reviews that Labour is now undertaking on the Treasury, banking and the finance sector, McDonnell said there was a need for financiers “to understand that we cannot tolerate a finance sector that is not contributing to the prosperity of the country overall.”
All of the ‘austerity’ the country is suffering from comes from the implementation of the government’s financial objectives. To combat it, there has to be a comprehensive financial plan, particularly for investment, as clearly outlined by Varoufakis. It includes getting the corporations to pay the full amount of tax but at the same time get tax breaks for using the estimated £740 billion sitting idle for investing in innovation, research, manufacturing and infrastructure – a positive contribution to prosperity.
Suffering ‘austerity’ makes it difficult to imagine a better future, and that creates depression and despair. How do we build the hope, so evident at this event, out in the wider world? Unity among Trade Unions, a Workers’ Rights Bill to combat the Tory assault on workers, a sound financial plan involving a Public Investment Bank and genuine investment to combat the so-called ‘necessary’ austerity programme, bringing local community campaigns into a national campaign – we need all this, just as we need unity within the Parliamentary Labour Party.
But the hope, the energy and inspiration, the pressure to change things for the better, that has to come from us, the people. What everyone felt at the rally has to be shared among friends, neighbours, groups, strangers on buses, trains and in supermarket till queues. It is too good not to be shared and then acted upon.
Read Lesley’s account of the meeting here: https://watershed2015.wordpress.com/articles-addresses-worth-reading/building-the-fight-against-austerity-lesley-docksey/