Sunday, 29 November 2020

How the Left Could Win Back Labour


Let's be honest, the Labour left has one hell of a battle on its hands...

Tony Blair built his fifth column so effectively that neoliberal MPs have almost full control over what is supposed to be a socialist party. And neoliberalism is so very far from socialism. The situation is just as absurd as a Tory Party flooded with socialists would be. The Labour Party has been stolen and I'd like to discuss whether it's possible to win it back.

I'm not here to pretend success would be likely, simply to outline the possible path the left could take. This will be a Herculean task and would require a huge show of unity, but what choice does the left have? Compromise with Starmerists is a non-starter because the feared purge is now in full swing, and the Socialist Campaign Group doesn't seem interested in forming a new party, no matter how much we ask. Certainly, I know Corbyn is not keen on the idea.

So here is what would need to happen to return the Labour Party to its socialist roots:

Step 1. Defy Starmer and his attempts at censorship

This will be a tough one because the people who make a stand could well face expulsion. But  ultimately members will have to make a stand for the greater good, otherwise they will get nowhere. 

Starmer is banning CLPs from showing solidarity with Corbyn and sending letters banning them from discussing issues which he disapproves of. His behaviour has been anti-democratic to say the least, but when have neoliberals ever been fans of democracy? Concerningly, they even no-platformed Canary Editor Kerry-Ann Mendoza, a black woman who was booked to discuss racism and human rights. I understand they threatened to expel anyone who attended an event hosted by Kensington CLP, if Mendoza were to be present. 

The Labour hard right seems to think it can simply identify people as non-persons and then expel anyone who is guilty of being in their presence. If everyone keeps speaking out against this McCarthyite madness, passing motions in support of Corbyn, and refusing to back down, it will at least force Starmer into a difficult position. The more members he expels, the more he will look like a Stalinist. Plus, he could leave himself open to court action if he acts unlawfully, which he is currently running the risk of doing. 

The recent EHRC report specifically states political interference in disciplinary matters is unlawful. If Starmer expels people, simply for disagreeing with him, that could cause huge problems, not least that the unions will likely turn against him.

Step 2. Lawyer up, Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn absolutely must not apologise and I'm told he is very unlikely to, for two key reasons: 1) he spoke the truth; and 2) he agreed the wording of his controversial statement with Starmer and his team. 

The fact is, if Jeremy Corbyn apologises now, it is well and truly over for the Labour left. It would be an admission of guilt and a nonsensical admission at that. Even if Starmer restored the whip, Corbyn's days would be numbered. His apology would fuel demands for him to go and the McCarthyism would be ratcheted up to the extreme. My guess is he would be gone within a year and the rest of the SCG would be sitting ducks at that point. The only ones who would survive, would be the ones who fall silent and get in line.

So legal action is certainly necessary, but there is no guarantee the courts would force Starmer to restore the whip. I'm hearing Corbyn's team certainly aren't confident on that front. It could go one of two ways: 1) the judge decides Starmer has the ultimate power to withdraw the whip, whatever the circumstances; or 2) the judge decides Starmer is guilty of double jeopardy and in breach of anti-discrimination laws. It really could go either way, but... even if the judge does not order the whip to be restored, a court case could still be devastating for Starmer. This is because it would force the publication of internal communications which I'm told could prove Starmer's people ratified Corbyn's statement. Even if Starmer wins the court case on a technicality, it would make him look dishonest, if he really did suspend Corbyn for a statement which he, or his people, ratified. He would in effect be as responsible as Corbyn for those words. A person could then reasonably ask why he has not suspended himself or offered an apology. They could reasonably ask why he has not resigned.

On top of the above, Corbyn's lawyers could potentially discuss matters from the Labour leaks report, and that's a whole new can of worms. Basically, if Corbyn lawyers up, the truth will come out in court and will be there for all to see.

Step 3. Full solidarity from the unions

Unite recently cut its funding to Labour by 10% to express disapproval of the direction Sir Keir Starmer is taking the party and protest the huge payouts to the "Panorama whistleblowers". Unite leader Len McCluskey said: "I have no doubt if things start to move in different directions and ordinary working people start saying, 'Well, I'm not sure what Labour stand for,' then my activists will ask me, 'Why are we giving so much money'?"

If the left really are to have a meaningful say in the running of Labour or wrestle back control, all major unions must be prepared to play hard ball. If they demand an end to the purges and the watering down of policies, and threaten to cut funding or disaffiliate altogether, this will leave Starmer incredibly vulnerable. Labour was founded by unions and has been representing them ever since. Does Starmer really want to be known as the leader who destroyed that relationship?

Step 4. Make the truth about Labour leaks public

Starmer's people are said to be concerned that the ongoing investigation into the Labour leaks scandal will not be the whitewash some were likely hoping for. Martin Forde QC is reportedly digging into "everything" and most of the Labour left have read those leaked documents. We know how damning they appear to be and we know those who appear to be culpable are closely aligned with Starmer. If the Forde Inquiry truly is the independent investigation we were promised, this could spell big trouble. How could Starmer explain to members any links to guilty parties, if the Labour leaks concerns are proven to be genuine?

Step 5. Impact Labour's finances

Labour is facing financial trouble. It's lost around 60,000 members, with more leaving all the time and others simply withholding direct debit payments. If the unions cut funding and Labour faces multiple court cases in 2021, the party could be at genuine risk of bankruptcy. Given Starmer has already settled court cases Labour could have won (according to lawyers), the blame would fall squarely on his shoulders. Remember, the party's finances could quickly and easily be rebuilt if a strong socialist were to become leader and win back lost members. It would be short term pain for long term gain.

Step 6. Win back the NEC

The left slate had a strong showing at the recent NEC elections (with five of the Grassroots Six winning seats), despite concerns that rule changes strongly favoured the Labour hard right. But the hard right still have control over the NEC. When the next NEC elections come around, the left need another strong showing to edge towards a majority of the 38 seats. A socialist NEC can be a strong check on the power of the leader and general secretary and that is needed now more than ever.

Step 7. Stop the appointment of David Evans

David Evans is currently the acting General Secretary, but I understand his position will not be official until ratified at party conference. Given the number of no confidence votes he's faced from CLPs, there is every chance he will be formally rejected. We have to keep speaking out to ensure this happens.

Step 7. Full solidarity from the Socialist Campaign Group

So far the Socialist Campaign Group's show of solidarity with Corbyn has frankly been piss poor. Writing a strongly worded letter or asking people to sign a petition is simply not going to cut it. And John McDonnell's recent suggestion that Corbyn apologise is a complete and utter joke. 

The SCG considered a mass walkout when Corbyn was suspended, but the key reason was apparently concern they would be picked off, one by one. I get the impression many are careerists who don't want to fall off the Westminster gravy train. But they don't seem to grasp they will absolutely be picked off, unless they throw Corbyn under a bus and fall completely silent. At which point the Labour left is dead.

We need the SCG to find their backbones (tbf Diane Abbott is one of the few to still have hers). Labour's socialists must condemn Starmer's actions in the clearest possible terms and be prepared to risk expulsion, given that will be their fate regardless. They need to be prepared to resign en masse if need be and either stand as independents or preferably form a new party.

In short, they must play hard ball. This is about so much more than their careers, it's about the future of British socialism and the last chance to have a socialist government in their lifetimes. Any member of the SCG who thinks they can remain in Starmer's Labour and influence policy is frankly delusional.

Step 8. A leadership challenge

Be loud and clear about Sir Keir Starmer's awful leadership. Raise public awareness of all the above points and watch public trust in him fall. He's already polling terribly - way below the promised 20 point lead - against the worst government in memory. As Starmer continues to underperform, he will further lose the trust of the unions, membership, wider public, and even his own team. At this point, a leadership challenge would be ideal.

The Labour left need to quickly find their candidate and it needs to be someone who can put up a stronger fight than the disappointing Rebecca Long-Bailey. But I'm not even sure who that candidate could be. I can think of a few MPs I like, but all have their weaknesses and none would be guaranteed victory, even against a weakened Starmer.

We need someone we can start building up now. At the same time, we need to galvanise the Labour membership against Starmer. At the last leadership contest, 38% of members didn't bother to vote, especially those on the left, because the options available were terrible. 

What we need now is for Starmer to have a Trump-effect on the membership, i.e., make the members so determined to be rid of him, they will crawl over broken glass to vote for anyone else. 

If the SCG can then put forward a competent and credible candidate whose popularity we've built up over a period of say six months, we can overthrow Starmer. But first the SCG need to ensure they get the nominations to force a leadership challenge. 

The candidate would need nominations from 20% of Labour MPs/MEPs, which I believe works out at 44, if my maths is correct. The SCG currently has 34 members, meaning they would need 10 additional nominations from somewhere. There is a reasonable chance 10 other Labour MPs/MEPs are fed up with Starmer and will get behind a challenger, but we may have to consider a compromise candidate. Someone who is not every socialist's first choice, but still ten times better than what we currently have.

Step 9. Open Selection

All of the above will ultimately be pointless if the left don't force through open selection. They had the chance at last year's annual conference, but Corbyn went cold on the idea in favour of party unity. He also went cold on the idea of getting rid of Tom Watson as deputy leader and we saw how that turned out. The left need to get their act together and find the same ruthless streak the Starmerists are currently showing.

If Labour members get open selection, there is every chance most neoliberal fifth columnists will be gone by the 2024 general election. This will be hugely problematic in itself, leaving Labour without many MPs and leaving the party in disarray. But it's already in disarray. Open selection would offer a chance to rebuild and get Labour back to its socialist roots for good. 

If none of this can be achieved, Starmer will kill off the Labour left and British socialism will be dead until a credible new party emerges, because there will be no way back within Labour's neoliberal framework. They will make sure of that.

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Monday, 23 November 2020

Has Starmer Ended His Own Career?

When the internal Labour report was leaked to the public, the new party leader Sir Keir Starmer was accused of attempting a cover up. Even worse, he was accused of promoting some of those named in the report - which let's not forget shows evidence of horrendous behaviour - from the racist bullying of MPs to the deliberate sabotage of general elections. 

If the accusations are true, then they are truly damning. 

Not only would the culprits have to face immediate expulsion but possibly even prosecution. And if the Labour leader is as close to the suspects as he appears to be, he would surely have to resign.

The anger from the Labour membership is palpable. When Starmer announced an investigation into the investigation(!), eyeballs rolled and understandably so. Surely, the appointment of Martin Forde QC was an attempted stitch-up, wasn't it? Not so fast...

A party insider has stated to The Guardian, the ongoing investigation is proving a "nightmare" and the Forde team want to "look into everything". It would seem the promised independent investigation is turning out to be just that. And it would also seem the last thing those suspected of wrongdoing want is proper scrutiny. What if the Labour leaks report is only the tip of the iceberg?

The recent EHRC report into Labour antisemitism was labelled a stitch-up by the left, a politicised attempt to bring Corbyn down. But despite hysteria from the mainstream media, it's reasonable to say nothing in the report was particularly damning of Corbyn himself. Indeed, it showed the only times his team were guilty of wrongdoing was when they interfered to speed up and improve processes. 

It would seem most of the wrongdoing arose when Labour had a general secretary who was openly hostile to Corbyn in Iain McNicol. You could make a convincing argument, based on the EHRC report, that failings on antisemitism came from the hard right of the party, not the left. Good luck trying to find anyone who would point that out in the mainstream media.

So the EHRC report failed to destroy Corbyn as the Starmerists hoped. But the Forde investigation may well destroy Starmer.

Let's consider what is taking place here.

We have Starmer facing the possibility of legal action from all angles. Some of those named in the Labour leaks report were given six-figure compensation packages, but many other former staff members are said to be considering legal action too.

We also have Corbyn (and others supportive of him) considering legal action, based on the withdrawal of the whip and the outrageous shenanigans surrounding Labour leaks. It's worth pointing out, Starmer's action following Corbyn's reinstatement by the NEC is probably unlawful and flies in the face of the EHRC report.

Multiple court cases could seriously impact Labour's finances, especially if the party were to lose. When you combine this possibility with a huge reduction in membership numbers (meaning a huge drop in income), and the recent reduction in funding from Unite, things are looking rather grim. Whichever way Starmer goes next, he is looking at potential court action from one or both sides. The last thing Starmer needs is an independent report (which he arranged) which shows him and his people in a bad light.

And look at the huge outpouring of public support on Twitter for Jeremy Corbyn last night. We're talking well in excess of 100,000 tweets using the #WeSupportCorbyn hashtag.

The Labour left are clearly mad at Starmer. But so too are the Labour hard right. They've been expressing their sheer disgust that he is too lenient on Corbyn and the Labour left in their view! They want an all-out purge and they're certainly not being quiet about it. The Labour Party is at civil war.

Starmer made the mistake of siding with the Labour hard right under the belief this would make things easier for him. What he failed to understand is the hard right didn't want a leader who would placate them. They wanted a leader who they could control, a leader who would destroy the left at all costs. These people were happy to see Labour lose the last two general elections and couldn't give a damn if Labour loses the next one.

Starmer, in his naivety, thought the right could be placated, and that if he simply got rid of Corbyn, the left would get back into their box. He ran as the "unity candidate" and he really thought he could create the illusion of party unity with this McCarthyite nonsense. This shows him to be a staggeringly inept political operator. 

Starmer has already burnt his bridges with the left, but he can never satiate the bloodlust of the right, because Labour's union backers won't allow him to. (Certainly not without an almighty fight.) Starmer could soon be without support from his faction of the party and I'm hearing murmurings it may be them who ultimately push him out. 

While Starmer may have some support from those who neither consider themselves on the left or right of the party, they can't have failed to notice Labour's awful polling. The man who promised to be 20 points ahead is trailing behind the worst government in living memory. It seems voters want more than Brylcreem and a Hugo Boss suit from a leader. They want representation.

The likes of Len McCluskey and Howard Beckett have not been pulling any punches in their condemnations of the current leader, and both have demanded the whip be restored to Corbyn. Not only is Starmer running the risk of unions cutting funding from Labour, but if he stays on this path, some unions may disaffiliate altogether. 

What's more likely is the unions will push for a leadership challenge in 2021, and it will be interesting to see which candidate they'd back. The smart money would be on deputy leader Angela Rayner, but she may struggle to win the support she'd need from the left, because many feel betrayed by her recent criticisms of Corbyn. Maybe a contender more appealing to the left will emerge in time. We shall see...

And let's not forget, the conclusion of the Forde inquiry will possibly implicate those staff and MPs Starmer has surrounded himself with. If that happens, we might not need a leadership challenge in 2021 after all. Starmer, having lost the support of both the left and right, might be forced to resign. 

I'm told internal Whatsapp messages, which are yet to be made public, would show Starmer has lied to the public about Corbyn's suspension and that his team helped word the controversial Facebook post. If my source turns out to be correct, it would seem Starmer has checkmated himself.

This could turn out to be one shortlived leadership.

**Update**

Since this article was published, it has emerged Starmer liked a Twitter thread in 2018 which suggested the scale of antisemitism within Labour was greatly exaggerated for political purposes. Starmer has recently said anyone who believes this, i.e., Jeremy Corbyn, is "part of the problem". It looks the Keith may well need to suspend himself now. Oops.


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Corbyn Storms the Internet: 100k Tweets Showing Solidarity


Yesterday, a huge storm took over Twitter with the hashtag #WeSupportCorbyn. 

Shortly after midnight, an incredible 100,000 tweets expressing support for the former Labour leader had been sent out. The storm was organised to urge the current leader Sir Keith Starmer to restore the whip, and it's safe to say a strong statement was made. If Starmer thinks he can marginalise and silence so many passionate activists on the left, he is sorely mistaken. 

The #WeSupportCorbyn storm completely overshadowed an attempt by the Labour hard right to launch their own Twitter storm ridiculing Corbyn. Troublingly, some hard-right Labour accounts have resorted to smearing and dog-piling those on the left, knowing they could not win any moral or political argument. At some point, the public is going to start seeing through this tactic.

My advice to the Twitter left, for what it's worth, is to not dignify these dog-pilers with a response - because that is exactly what they are looking for - a response. Instead, let's show solidarity with one another and keep the message overwhelmingly positive. The Labour hard right is rattled.

It's natural for us to express frustration (I certainly do), but what sets us apart is we don't target ordinary people, or set out to humiliate or destroy members of the public, because we are better than that. We care about people no matter which side of the political spectrum they fall on. 

Let the Labour hard right focus on the trolling and we'll concern ourselves with pushing the policy ideas that will transform our society. We all know the Starmerists have nothing in terms of policy, which is why they set out to destroy a good man in Jeremy Corbyn. He holds up a mirror and shows them for what they really are.

I'm hearing Jeremy Corbyn and his family are thrilled by the overwhelming public support and indeed, his wife Laura and son Tommy even participated in the Twitter storm themselves. Let's look back at some of last night's finest moments:

First Jeremy's son Tommy:

Next Jeremy's wife Laura sharing an absolute banger from Craft-D

And this from the man himself... Okay, it's a parody account but still...

Kate Osbourne was one of the few Socialist Campaign Group MPs to speak out

Unquestionably the most powerful contribution of the night...

And finally here's my contribution... 

Obviously there were many more great tweets we could've shared so make sure you get on Twitter and click on the hashtag #WeSupportCorbyn to check them out. I'm hearing Starmer's team is rattled by the huge showing of public support for the former Labour leader. Bizarrely, they genuinely seemed to believe that by making an example of Corbyn, by humiliating and destroying the man, they would destroy an entire movement. What they completely failed to understand is we're not actually Corbynites or Corbynistas, we're socialists. 

We didn't spontaneously appear when Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015. We've always been around, our problems have always been real, and we've always needed the representation which the Labour hard right would deny us. But now we have a voice and we are not going away.

Jeremy Corbyn is one of the finest among us, and if you come for him, you come for us all.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Top 5 Reasons I Support Corbyn

I may not be a Labour member anymore, but I am certainly still a socialist. Here are the top five reasons I still support Jeremy Corbyn.

1. Corbyn proudly represents my views

Jeremy Corbyn emerged as Labour leader while we were in the midst of a worldwide recession caused by centrist neoliberal economics. While other countries were in a mess, the Nordic social democracies kept their heads above water and continued to offer their people the world's highest living standards. Even historically conservative groups like the WTO were advising countries to emulate the Nordic model. To me it was plain as day we must shift left, yet UK politicians for the most part were glued to the economics which had failed so badly. Then along came Jeremy Corbyn who wanted to give us a little bit of that Nordic magic. It's worth noting he was vilified by those who wanted, and still want, to maintain the status quo.

2. Corbyn is strongly antiracist

Corbyn has fought racism throughout his political career. He was arrested protesting apartheid outside the South African embassy in London. At the time, both Reagan and Thatcher considered the ANC to be a terrorist organisation. Corbyn campaigned to save a Jewish cemetery from demolition and called for Yemeni Jews to be granted asylum in the UK. He is a proud advocate for Palestinian rights and has spoken up for marginalised people around the world, often jeopardising his political career to do so. Jeremy Corbyn is as committed an antiracist as you will find, and as a father of Black children, this is a matter close to my heart.

3. Corbyn is a long-term supporter of LGBT rights

Today many politicians claim to be supporters of LGBT rights, but this was certainly not always the case. Corbyn didn't need to wait until a view became trendy or politically necessary to adopt it. He has simply relied on his judgement and sense of morality since learning about these issues in 1967 when he was in a minority of one in his class. He attended the earliest Pride parades in the 1970s and he helped set up a North London gay centre. He opposed Thatcher's notorious Section 28 which banned teaching about homosexuality in schools, and as Labour leader, he pledged to put gay history on the school curriculum. Corbyn is a true LGBT ally.

4. Corbyn warned us against the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Jeremy Corbyn correctly warned us about the consequences of Iraq, Afghanistan, and every other imperialist invasion. As a young man, I had mixed feelings about Iraq and was anti-war at the time, but also swayed by the lies of Blair. I distinctly remember speeches from politicians like Jeremy Corbyn and celebrities like George Michael. I remember thinking history will show us who was correct. And history has shown Corbyn and the anti-war brigade to be correct, emphatically so

Here is Corbyn's famous speech from February 15th 2003 at the UK's biggest ever political demonstration in Hyde Park:

5. Corbyn is always on the right side of history

Hopefully, the examples given above show Corbyn to be on the right side of history on key issues where his stance was often unpopular at the time. I certainly believe they do. 

As Tony Benn Famously said: "Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them. And then there are signposts, which stand true, and tall, and principled. And they point in the direction and they say, 'This is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why.'"

Jeremy Corbyn is a signpost.

So these are my five biggest reasons for supporting Jeremy Corbyn, what are yours?

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Saturday, 21 November 2020

Twitter Storm for Jeremy Corbyn!


There has been a huge outpouring of support for Jeremy Corbyn throughout the country in the past few days. CLPs up and down the UK have passed motions demanding the whip be restored to the former Labour leader. Others have said they weren't allowed to do the same. One CLP even pass a motion of No Confidence in the current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Earlier this week, the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg suggested withdrawing the whip from Corbyn would be a popular move among Labour supporters. Who the fuck did she ask? Luke Akehurst?

People are livid. They feel betrayed, insulted. 

Corbyn's only crime was to defend the left from unfair criticism.

And even those like myself who've given up on the Labour Party, still have a huge amount of respect for the former leader. We know that after giving decades of his life to Labour, he deserves so much better. We also know Corbyn is a much better representative of the values Labour was founded to represent than Sir Brylcreem will ever be.

For this reason, a huge Twitter storm is planned: 6.00pm Sunday 22/11/20.

Keep your eyes peeled, feel free to share our memes (h/t @rachael_swindon), and think of a good tweet to lend your support. Let's make this one huge!

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Monday, 16 November 2020

Jeremy Corbyn: MP of the Year

Back in July 2020, Council Estate Voices posted an article entitled Let's make Jeremy Corbyn MP of the Year! It was one of our most popular articles, getting over 35,000 reads at the time of writing. It's safe to say Jeremy Corbyn had huge public support with many online activists pushing for his victory.

This push was for the annual MP of the Year award run by the Patchwork Foundation. Unfortunately, I will not be linking to their website today because our push gave them lots of traffic which quite frankly, I no longer feel they deserve. This is because they have cancelled this year's award, citing "voting irregularities" and are instead suggesting their judges will decide a winner.

Many are claiming the "irregularities" stem from the huge popularity of Jeremy Corbyn which meant he was almost certain to win, and the Patchwork Foundation were not keen on that idea. When you consider that last year, Chris Williamson was kicked out of the competition after receiving huge public support, you can start to see a pattern emerge. I have read claims the Patchwork Foundation is funded by Tory donors who would prefer not to see a socialist winner. I'm sure many of you will draw your own conclusions. 

Whatever is going on here, the fact of the matter is the Patchwork Foundation has denied two hugely popular socialists a chance at winning their MP of the Year competition in consecutive years. It's no wonder people believe they are simply cancelling a result they don't like.

So let's agree to not mention the Patchwork Foundation ever again. They and their competition have lost credibility in the eyes of many, and we don't need them anyways.

We at Council Estate Voices can easily designate our own MP of the Year, and there can only be one winner of that award: Jeremy Corbyn!

The MP for Islington North has not only gained a huge amount of public support which would surely see him sail to victory in any fair competition, but he has inspired a generation. He has engaged people in politics who were otherwise forgotten and this 71 year old has connected with the youth in the way other politicians can only dream of.

For proof of that, look no further than top 20 iTunes single A Letter to Corbyn by Craft-D. It's amazing by the way.

And let's not forget the chants of "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn!" at Glastonbury. How many other politicians can attract the crowds and achieve rock star status like this jam-making septuagenarian?

On a personal level, Jeremy Corbyn inspired me to join the Labour Party (sadly I have since left). I was a council estate lad who'd seen nothing but marginalisation my whole life and here was an MP who was actually on my side. I had little interest in British politics prior to Corbyn and many, many others would say the same.

Jeremy Corbyn is a man who was awarded the Gandhi International Peace Award and Sean McBride Peace Prize. He has stood on the right side of history since his days as a young activist, getting arrested outside the South African embassy in London, protesting apartheid. He has been prepared to put his reputation and career on the line, again and again, to make principled stands, as he is doing today with Palestine and Bolivia. He has been a proud campaigner for LGBT rights. He stood alongside the miners during the strikes. He correctly warned us about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He has defied imperialism and challenged the status quo when so many others have fallen silent.

Jeremy Corbyn has inspired the masses because his track record speaks for itself, because he is a man of substance, and unlike most politicians, he genuinely wants to create a better world for everyone. He shocked the establishment by getting to within a whisker of power in 2017 and showing the nation that change really is possible. He has been unfairly smeared and vilified as a result.

In the past 12 months, Jeremy Corbyn took huge strides to tackle Labour antisemitism alongside Jennie Formby and was unfairly maligned by the press, despite clearly acting in good faith. Outrageously, he was suspended from the Labour Party by the new leader in 2020, despite speaking the truth about the situation, as acknowledged by deputy leader Angela Rayner. Corbyn has been the victim of McCarthyite practices and he has handled the situation with admirable dignity. 

Everyone who's been paying attention is well aware that were it not for members of his own party acting against him, Jeremy Corbyn would likely be prime minister today. It would seem he was destroyed by a fifth column, but the fact he came so close with the entire establishment acting against him is a remarkable achievement in itself. Corbyn represents the strongest challenge to the status quo in decades.

More so than anything else, Jeremy Corbyn deserves to be MP of the Year because every ordinary person he comes into contact with immediately loves him. He carries a magic and connects with people with absolute sincerity. You can see it in the eyes. Theirs and his. This is not something that can be faked. Young and old alike cannot help warming to the man when they see who he really is, and it's an absolute tragedy there are so few others like him in politics.

Jeremy Corbyn is the Council Estate Voices MP of the Year.

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Saturday, 7 November 2020

Joe Biden: "Nothing Will Fundamentally Change"

Joe Biden has been declared president-elect of the United States of America to cries of "Thank God the child cager has finally gone!" and I fully understand the sentiment, I really do, but the problem here is Joe Biden built those cages to lock up unaccompanied minors, as confirmed by Politifact. He actually started the process of caging children that Donald Trump is so rightly vilified for, and he lied about it during the presidential debates.

"... and when they were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, they were shipped to Nogales from overwhelmed processing facilities in Texas. But they are still children in cages, not gangsters, not delinquents. Just children, 900 of them, in a makeshift border-town processing center that is larger than a football field." The Arizona Republic reported on Biden locking up children.

Yep, that's 900 children Biden locked up, and that's just what we know of... 

How can anyone lambast Donald Trump for locking children in cages and give Joe Biden a free pass for doing the exact same thing? If you scrutinise Biden's political record, it shows he is nearly identical to Trump on almost every level, just more subtle in his approach. You can barely call him a lesser of two evils. He's the kind of politician who claims to be on your side to win your vote, but takes a Republican stance when he thinks you're not looking, and is cynical enough to attack Republicans for what he himself is guilty of.

If you are to criticise the outgoing US President, as you rightly should, you simply cannot overlook the track record of Biden. From white supremacy to sexual assault to ruthless corporatism, the president-elect strongly looks like Donald Trump's Democratic twin. 

A history of white supremacy.

In the early 1970s, Joe Biden opposed moves to end the segregation of black and white school children, which was embarrassingly highlighted by his VP Kamala Harris during the Democratic primary. Harris was herself a victim of segregation until she was bussed to a desegregated public school.

“You also worked with [those segregationist senators] to oppose bussing,” Harris said. “And there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

It gets worse. Biden was mentored by white supremacist Senator James O. Eastland who once called to "abolish the negro race." During the Democratic primaries, Biden was forced to apologise for his past praise for his mentor after being challenged by rival Senator Cory Booker. During his early political career, Biden surrounded himself with white supremacists, so his claim that Martin Luther King jr was his hero rings hollow. 

Sickeningly, Biden even pretended he took part in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and was slammed by civil rights activist Shaun King for his inconsistencies. This claim, and many others, were fact-checked by The Washington Times (and other publications) and appear to be completely false. 

Joe Biden is a renowned serial liar who once plagiarised a speech by Neil Kinnock, which included parts of Kinnock's personal life that he passed off as his own! Biden later claimed the plagiarism was accidental, that he simply forgot to cite Kinnock, but "accidental plagiarism" is still plagiarism. Plus, he also plagiarised Robert Kennedy, JFK, and Hubert Humphrey! These gaffes, along with past law school plagiarism and exaggeration of his academic record is believed to have cost him the presidency in 1988. He is not just a racist, but a fraud.

Maybe some people outgrow their racism, but Biden certainly didn't.

In the 1980s, Joe Biden supported crime bills that disproportionately hurt black communities, under the false belief that harsher punishments and militarised police = lower crime. He authored The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which essentially created the prisons-for-profit system which is a key reason America has the world's highest prison population. The act led to prisons being filled with black men who faced shockingly harsh sentences for relatively minor crimes and it tore families apart, leaving a devastating impact which is felt to this day.

The fact is Biden owns mass incarceration — it's his baby — so comments such as: 'If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black,' are a kick in the gut of the black community.

Whatever you do, don't mention Tara Reade.

You don't need me to tell you Donald Trump faced credible accusations of rape and sexual assault to outcry from the #MeToo crowd who were rightly insistent we should believe women. However, the troublingly partisan nature of certain elements of this movement was exposed when the believe women mantra was not extended to Tara Reade.

Tara Reade is a domestic violence advocate and lawyer who worked as a Congressional aide for Joe Biden from 1992 to 1993. She described in harrowing detail how she was the victim of demeaning comments from Biden and later raped by him. Her accusations, while unproven, are no less credible than any accusation levelled at Donald Trump. It's also worth mentioning, Biden has a history of inappropriate behaviour around women, which includes sniffing their hair and kissing their heads, and he faces a total of eight allegations of harassment and sexual assault. In this context, any accusation of rape must surely be taken incredibly seriously.

A corporatist, not a progressive.

Biden's voting record makes for grim reading: from cuts to social security, to restrictions on abortion, to NAFTA, to Wall Street bailouts, to military campaigns, he has taken a conservative stance. He even voted to cut welfare, knowing 70% of the recipients affected were children. Plus, he called award-winning journalist Julian Assange a "hi-tec terrorist"; voted to bomb Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Serbia; and condemned Palestinians for their "poor choices" so don't expect him to be a champion of human rights.

The president-elect is currently lining up Republicans for roles in his cabinet to the dismay of leftists, and is rumoured to want Dick Cheney to advise him on foreign policy! Hard to say whether the Dick Cheney thing is a joke, but fossil fuel lobbyists and war mongers are certainly making the shortlist, according to Politico. On top of that, Biden has expressed no empathy for the younger generation who so desperately need change:

“… And so, the younger generation now tells me how tough things are — give me a break! No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break." Joe Biden, January 2018

Do those words sound like the words of a man of the people? Do they sound like the words of someone who wants to make a positive difference? Someone who wants to solve the problems crippling his country from prisons for profit, to police brutality, to the broken housing market, to private healthcare, to sky high student debt, to extreme wealth inequality, and the climate crisis?

If your answer is that you're still unsure, consider that Biden recently told his 131 billionaire donors that "nothing will fundamentally change" if he becomes president. Just consider the problems I've highlighted above, consider the horrors of the Trump administration, and then consider again the words "nothing will fundamentally change."

In the UK, Starmer-supporting centrists are thrilled with the election of Biden. They've used it as an opportunity to punch left, as though Biden's dismal performance against the worst president in memory is something to brag about. These people love to lecture the left that you can't change things without first getting into power, but here's their guy literally boasting that he won't change things! It's hard to tell whether they're being disingenuous or just showing signs of cognitive dissonance, especially when you consider they like to claim progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while simultaneously trying to destroy UK progressives in the same way Nancy Pelosi tries to destroy "the squad" (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Presley, and  Rashida Talib).

"When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm’s distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood. But the persistent singling out ... it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful ... the explicit singling out of newly elected women of colour.” AOC told the Washington Post about Nancy Pelosi's criticisms of her. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is hated by establishment Democrats because, like Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, she shows them for what they are - an anti-progressive, corporatist mob interested only in their own career advancement. When Joe Biden scoffs at policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal which are backed by 2/3 of the US public, the squad aren't shy in calling him out. That's why it's so laughable when UK centrists try to claim both Biden and AOC as their own in order to score points over the left.

Let's be absolutely clear: Joe Biden did not reach out to progressives, and the left did not rally behind him (although some did grudgingly lend him their vote). What actually took place was left-wing grassroots movements were co-opted by billionaires to create the illusion there was a groundswell of support for Biden among progressives. At the same time, Bernie Sanders was cheated by the Democrats in the primaries. He had a clause in his contract which stated that in order to run as a Democrat, he was obligated to campaign for the winner of the primary, were it not to be him. The Democrats' master plan was not to win over the left, but simply to assimilate left-wing voices and defuse them, to mixed success.

Much has rightly been made of Donald Trump's anti-democratic behaviour, but how can we overlook the Democrats are every bit as corrupt? After rigging the first primary against Bernie in 2016, their lawyer actually argued in court, the Democrats had the right to choose their candidate in a back room, if they wanted to!

Many well-meaning progressives on social media have been pushing the line that Biden chose not to punch left and instead form a unified coalition with progressives. I'm afraid it's nonsense. The left were marginalised and disavowed by establishment Democrats like Pelosi and Biden, and virtually no concessions were made. In the presidential debates, Biden placed huge emphasis on the fact he would not endorse progressive policies, saying things like: "That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan."

Biden wouldn't even consider adopting universal healthcare during a pandemic, scoffed at the Green New Deal and said he would go ahead with fracking, even when clear evidence shows it causes tremors and poisons local water supplies. 

Even if Biden did want to compromise with the left, instead of publicly ridiculing them, he couldn't anyway. He has lost control of the Senate and lost seats in the House of Representatives, making him a lame duck president from day one.

And then there is the elephant in the room - Biden's early signs of dementia.

A decade ago, Biden was sharp as a whip, but now he can barely finish a sentence. The left mocked Trump for this for four years, but with Biden it's worse. Much worse. At times, the man is incoherent. He frequently loses track of what he is saying mid-sentence and simply stops in his tracks. He certainly does not appear to have the mental faculties to run a country and I don't think he will run his country. Like Trump, I think he was just a face to get his party into power and that's where his role ends, apart from making occasional public appearances and greeting foreign dignitaries. But he can't keep up the pretence forever and my guess is Biden will not see out his presidency. He will step down in a year or so, citing medical reasons, and make way for ex-cop Kamala Harris who is so progressive, she jokes about her eagerness to jail parents if their children skip school.

Be under no illusions: the Biden/Harris victory is not a victory for the left. It's not even a victory for them, given the deadlock they'll face when trying to pass any meaningful bill. In a situation where the Democrats have the House and the Republicans have the Senate, the only winners are corporations. This is because no changes will be made, no new regulations brought in, and the wealthy elite can basically do whatever they want. It's a billionaires' free-for-all, and when the mid-terms come along in two years, you can expect a backlash as the public show their frustration at an administration which has changed precisely nothing.

And that may well pave the way for another Trump.

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