Written by Holly Firmin
In the 2015 general election, Labour leader Ed Miliband came under considerable criticism for his proposal to temporarily freeze energy bills, taking on the private companies that the country finds itself at the mercy of. However, in a society that has seen accepted political opinion shift further and further to the right since the dawn of Thatcher and her neo-liberal dogma, such a moderate proposal was heralded as the brainchild of the ‘loony left’. The criticism that left-wing Labour leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, has endured therefore comes as no surprise.
The stronghold of an ‘establishment’, entrenched in ‘free market’ rhetoric, over electoral outcomes is best illustrated in statistics recently published by YouGov. Polls have found that 84% of Brits believe that the NHS should remain in public hands, 68% support the nationalisation of energy companies and 66% support the nationalisation of railways. These figures therefore show that, despite David Cameron, the business elites to which he is a lap dog and his media-mogul pals relentlessly defending the status-quo, there is in fact widespread support for an alternative, one that far exceeds Miliband’s modest proposals so vilified by the right-wing press.
Liz Kendall, does not offer the decisive shift to the left that, in order to pose a genuine alternative to the inequality and dismantling of the state offered by the Tories, is necessary for Labour. Kendall claims that the party needs significant change, and that she offers it, when in fact her leadership would simply counterbalance the small shift to the left under Miliband. She continues to support private interests in the NHS, a policy that polls have shown to be unpopular and remains Blair’s most damning legacy. Hospitals all over the country still struggle with the burden of debts left by Blair’s Private Finance Initiatives. Her desire to be ‘down with the kids’ through her love of rap, citing Dr. Dre as her favourite artist, perhaps leaves her better suited to the role of party DJ, not leader.
Yvette Cooper might claim to strive for a ‘stronger, fairer, less divided Britain’, Burnham, to be the ‘prime minister for the whole of Britain’ with his northern accent, and Kendall echoing Tory slogans in her promise of ‘a stronger economy’, but it is only Corbyn that offers the anti-austerity platform this country needs. Despite the Tories’ claims that we are ‘all in this together’, it is the most vulnerable members of society that shoulder the burden of drastic cuts, as seen in the recent scrapping of the Independent Living Fund, leaving many disabled people without the means to live with dignity in their communities. Corbyn’s anti-austerity platform acknowledges and aims to address this gross inequality and the suffering of the most vulnerable, something not offered so explicitly by the other candidates.
A life-longer defender of LGBT rights, committed to the democratisation of the Labour party through greater union and member involvement and a staunch opponent to the inequality and suffering inflicted by the Conservative Party, Corbyn is the future of the Labour party. Although a candidate in the ‘centre ground’ is most likely to win, to have Corbyn on the ballot paper is perhaps symbolic of a come-back for the left that will hopefully have Cameron and his establishment pals quaking in their boots.