Thursday, 26 March 2020

Thank You Jeremy Corbyn

I remember back in 2015 when Bernie Sanders was gaining attention in the US and the wider world, how excited I was by the message of this funny-talking and unpolished old American, how finally a politician seemed to get it, rejecting the establishment machinery in favour of ordinary people, understanding the damage caused by neoliberalism to younger generations and the very obvious need to create a kinder, more caring society.

Then Jeremy Corbyn entered the Labour leadership contest. At the time, I admittedly knew nothing about the man. I was a Labour supporter, but had felt unenthused by Ed Miliband, even more so by those who came before him. I was a homeless and jobless teen during the Blair years. I understood marginalisation firsthand. I understood poverty traps. And I understood Britain needed a Scandinavian-style direction to pull us away from unfairness and inequality. This was self-evident.

The problem in 2015 was few, even on the so-called left in the UK, seemed to understand this - or perhaps didn't care to. It was so disheartening. And then Corbyn made his proud and confident calls for re-nationalisation and higher wages and meaningful climate action and an end to war, and my God, I'd found the leader I'd been waiting for! Britain had its Bernie Sanders figure, but to be fair to Jeremy Corbyn, he is very much his own man!

Every time I saw Corbyn speak on TV with his compassion and wisdom and infectious enthusiasm, I was enthralled. When I looked at his track-record of fighting for civil rights, which mirrored my hero Bernie Sanders, I could not be more impressed. Here was a man arrested protesting apartheid while Thatcher called Mandela a terrorist. A man who campaigned for gay rights when it was unfashionable to do so. A man who backed the miners during the strikes. A man who was on the right side of history, again and again. A true leader.

Jeremy Corbyn was clearly one of the very best among us, and the perfect choice to lead the Labour Party. Back in 2015, I had no idea the lengths today's establishment would go to, to bring down such a man - how shamelessly they would lie, and how easily, even decent people could be sucked in by such lies. Sure, I knew propaganda was a thing, but what came was next-level character assassination. It was McCarthyism.

Every allegation against Corbyn from the IRA sympathies to the working as a communist spy to the antisemitism to the laying a wreath at the grave of terrorists was an easily disprovable smear, but those smears certainly had an impact. If you repeat lies loudly enough and often enough, many will believe them, especially if you appeal to people's fear and prejudice. The smear campaign was cold, calculated, and expertly done, and most gallingly, some of Labour's own MPs joined in, taking the side of the billionaire press barons whose only goal was to maintain the status quo.

How dare those centrist MPs, parachuted into safe seats by Blair, despite holding views utterly at odds with our membership, do every everything they could to bring our twice-elected leader down. How dare they show such contempt for democracy.

To Corbyn's credit, he never stooped to their level. He never resorted to lies or smears or bullying. He maintained his class and dignity and was prepared to reach out, every step of the way. If he was guilty of one thing, it was being too soft with his opponents, too nice, trying to see them as friends, not pushing back hard enough against the lies and manipulation. History shows us appeasement never works.

I distinctly remember the "infighting" starting the day it was announced Labour had a poll lead over the Tories. It seems absurd one of the centrists' key lines of attack was Corbyn's "unelectability" when 1) we had a poll lead, and 2) Corbyn later came so close to power in 2017.

Here's the problem with the centrist position: the unelectability came from their constant sabotage and their disastrous People's Vote policy. They showed contempt for two Labour leadership election results, contempt for a manifesto decided democratically at party conference, and contempt for the EU referendum result. They showed themselves to be absolutely anti-democratic, and today, they're terrified of open selection because more democracy would end their careers.

None of these careerists are fit to lace Corbyn's boots. They lack his dignity, intelligence, proven track record and compassion for ordinary people. Their only goal was to destroy socialism, and in doing so, destroy hope for people like me - the 600,000 who joined Labour, mostly because of Corbyn, making us the largest political party in Europe.

Neoliberal centrism doesn't have answers for the bottom of society and has no intention of providing them. Labour is a socialist party and has been since its inception. Mass privatisation and liberal social policy is the Liberal Democrat way, not the Labour way. We are not supposed to fiddle with the knobs and dials. We are supposed to fundamentally restructure our broken society.

Jeremy Corbyn had the solutions, the policy ideas, the vision for a better world. He had a plan to quite literally save the planet. Is it any wonder he inspired such enthusiastic support from a younger generation who had seen their job market destroyed, their housing market destroyed, their rights destroyed, and their planet destroyed? Here was a generation expected to be burdened with debt to get an education, pay extortionate rents to corrupt landlords, and work zero-hours contracts, knowing they faced ecological disaster when the culprits were gone. The young were rebelling against the Thatcherites who climbed the socialist ladder and kicked it down, and Corbyn was our leader.

Let us make no mistake about it, Jeremy Corbyn would have made an outstanding Prime Minister. He was destroyed not by his shortcomings, but by fifth columnists and a corrupt media who have a strangle-hold over a majority of the older generation. But the younger generations, the children abused by Thatcherism, who are internet savvy and are not limited to one or two news-sources, we have broken free of the media hypnosis. And Corbyn had a huge role to play in that.

Jeremy Corbyn, along with Bernie Sanders across the pond, has created a new wave of socialists, and there is no going back from this - our ideals are embedded in our DNA and will be until the day we die. Our country and the wider world will inevitably embrace socialism in the coming years because neoliberalism cannot provide answers to the problems we face, not least the Covid 19 pandemic, and as more young people come of voting age, and demographics shift, we will be looking at a very socialist electorate. The under 50s want a Labour government. Overwhelmingly.

Jeremy Corbyn may not have become the socialist Prime Minister he deserved to be, the Prime Minister Britain very much needed, but he has absolutely paved the way for socialism. He has changed the conversation, made nationalisation mainstream, inspired the youth to challenge injustice, and demand action to save the world, all while inflicting more government defeats than any opposition leader in history and coming to within 2000 votes of electoral victory.

Let no-one rewrite history: Labour's 2019 failure was not Corbyn's failure, it was neoliberalism's failure, it was People's Vote's failure. Centrism is well and truly dead and the flame of socialism is burning brighter than ever.

A better Britain is possible, thanks to Jeremy Corbyn.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2020


As many of you already know, I am suffering from suspected Covid-19. I wanted to share a quick update which should alleviate some concerns but will no doubt exacerbate others.
Symptoms began late Friday night with a very mild cough. Immediately I suspected Covid-19 because it just felt different. But alas there is no testing available for those with mild symptoms. Those symptoms are a little worse today - my arm is aching as I type - but in all honesty I'm okay.

My symptoms are as follows:
  • Coughing
  • Slight fluid in lungs
  • Breathlessness
  • Hot flushes
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling & tension in upper-body
NOTE: Symptoms should last 5 days. If you are unwell on day 6, call 111 for advice.

My symptoms are not close to the point where my life is in danger, but it's surreal to think I could have such a dangerous virus inside me. I'm taking self-isolation very seriously. I have the kids off school, but I deliberately didn't separate myself away in a room for the following reasons:

1. It seems pointless as our house is small & this thing's so contagious
2. Symptoms are much less severe in kids
3. Best get this out the way before the hospitals are inundated
4. If we develop immunity, we help society

The kids have possible symptoms now, not that you would think so, at first glance. They are enjoying their time off school, jumping on the furniture and fighting over the Nintendo Switch! But we don't know if this is merely a chest infection. It could be. And this is problematic.
What if we develop another cough in a few weeks? Do we self-isolate again? This confusion will jeopardise lives. While many may self-isolate once, I doubt many will more than once. Not least because employers are pressuring people to work.
I've heard the public could be fined and jailed for refusing self-isolation. Will fines and jail apply to employers who don't allow self-isolation and threaten to sack them? If not, we have a problem.
Also, as many are pointing out, sick pay is not enough to live on, and not everyone's entitled to it. While we are certainly struggling, we do have supplies of basic and bland food - mostly tins and cereal. I'm not complaining. Others have it much worse. I couldn't imagine being homeless or hungry through this. We need to end homelessness and hunger now, no matter the cost.
Some have suggested a basic income paid by the government for all in self-isolation, or an increase of statutory sick pay. I would go a step further and trial a universal basic income. We'll surely have to do this one day. What better opportunity than during a crisis where people would otherwise starve, lose their homes, and die in huge numbers?
Of course, there are a range of alternatives, including suspending rent, mortgage, and utility bills. Our government's inaction, combined with their now withdrawn "herd immunity" strategy has been alarming. It seems their motivation is to protect capital, when other countries are protecting their citizens. And don't even get me started on our Houdini Prime Minister. His lack of leadership has been nothing short of breathtaking, so let me tell him how to do his job:
We need 100% testing on suspected Covid-19 cases now, and we need to trace those who've contacted the infected, as the World Health Organisation keeps telling us. We're not even testing the hugely at-risk and heroic NHS staff. Every Covid-19 case must self-isolate for two weeks minimum and we need to be ready for national lockdown for a sustained period.
Our know-nothing, do-nothing government is ignoring international consensus. I think we can be forgiven for not feeling reassured.
My aunty is a nurse. Her grandkids fall into the high-risk category. She can't even visit them for their own safety. What a nightmare.
And let's not forget, high-risk groups are why we are doing this. Self-isolation is not for you. It's for the elderly, frail, and disabled who are vulnerable in the extreme. We can't sacrifice them because we're feeling bored and fed up now.
NHS staff expect 300 severe cases for every hospital bed. They're going to be forced into unthinkable choices about who gets a ventilator - essentially who lives and dies. And viral pneumonia is not a pleasant way to go.
Without extreme action, we are looking at 250,000 to 500,000 deaths in the UK, and up to 100,000,000 deaths worldwide.
The world is at war with a virus. And we must pull together for each other.
This pandemic will bring out the best and worst in us.

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