Katy Clark, Co-Chair, Labour Assembly Against Austerity
Jeremy Corbyn’s successful Labour leadership campaign over the summer has demonstrated clearly that a Labour leadership position of opposing austerity can be effective in both mobilising members and winning over voters. The party should prepare for a hard fight but be confident we can win in 2020.
Jeremy’s campaign won through this summer with authenticity. With setting out his stall in voting against the Welfare Bill in July, it was his clear opposition to the Tories ideological spending cuts, reducing the income of lower and middle income families and pushing greater numbers into poverty, made supporting him a no-brainer for many.
Jeremy has transformed British politics. The historic scale of his victory, winning over 250,000 first preference votes and almost 60% of those cast – is unprecedented, as were the size of the public rallies he held across the country, the list of which reads like a band on tour.
He has electrified the party and wider movement with many towns and cities seeing their largest gatherings of activists for years and at each one he could be found chatting to audience members at the end of the event.
His campaign greatly increased the number of people getting involved in the party – for many this actually meant joining the party, for others signing up as a registered supporter. But polling throughout the summer also made clear that he was ahead of the others amongst long-standing members as well as enthusiastic newcomers.
And his message can prove popular with the public. He has demonstrated his desire to speak for ordinary people with his transformation of PMQs and even in his first week, initial polling for The Independent already suggests that a significant number of SNP, UKIP and Lib Dem voters are warming to the party under Jeremy’s leadership, despite the unrelenting media hostility. Winning them over is not going to be easy but a real possibility with Jeremy as leader.
His first major policy announcement with plans to take the railways back into public ownership and end wasteful subsidy of private rail profits – a policy popular with Tories as well as UKIP voters.
With Jeremy and our new Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell set to expand on their opposition to Tory austerity at this week’s conference, and announce their commitment to a message of hope, based on public investment in decent services, now is the time to get behind our new leader and campaign to win in 2020.