Jeremy Corbyn’s entry into the Labour leadership race opens the debate about the party’s future, by offering serious opposition to the Tories austerity agenda and a positive vision for public services.
Since Labour’s general election defeat, the Labour right has dominated analysis in the media, incomprehensibly arguing the party’s campaign was ‘too left’.
The first weeks of the Labour leadership debate have since followed the same pattern, with candidates arguing Labour spent too much in office and failing to oppose the Tories planned cut in the benefit cap.
Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement of his candidacy will see the Tories ideological austerity agenda challenged for what it is – a political rather than economic mission which demonises public spending and requires the poorest in society to pay for the banking crisis, while the wealthiest continue to benefit. Austerity has forced down wages in real terms in both the public and private sector for seven years – affecting the majority of the population.
Jeremy has also reached out to those campaigning against austerity in Europe – particularly in Greece – where the anti-cuts movement took power earlier this year.
His campaign offers an alternative to austerity and those struggling with its effects.
For councillors facing tough decisions on services due to grant reductions from central government to trade unionists who face further real terms cuts to public sector pay to those benefit claimants struggling with rising rents and low wages or migrants demonised by a divisive media and resurgent right, there is a clear alternative on offer and being articulated.
Jeremy stands for public intervention and investment to deliver quality public services – whether that is building new council housing, ending the wasteful private sector role in schools and hospitals, running rail franchises in public hands, delivering free university education, funding a carbon-free energy future and ending the costly Trident replacement programme.
After the election defeat, it would be perverse to ignore the overwhelming popularity of many of these policies in public opinion polling.
Labour MPs have a privileged role in shortlisting candidates, but this is just the start of the debate, not the end, and so is not the time to narrow party’s members discussion through their nominations.
Jeremy’s candidacy will encourage other candidates to consider and discuss austerity and shape the party’s new narrative throughout this parliament.
For Labour members – including 40,000 who have joined since the election – Labour MPs must back Jeremy Corbyn for an inclusive debate. For the wider public, Jeremy must be allowed to stand, if we are serious about delivering a brighter future for those suffering under austerity.