Councillor Kevin Allen: Why I welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s victory

Kevin Allen is a Labour councillor for Preston Park on Brighton and Hove City Council
Kevin Allen is a Labour councillor for Preston Park on Brighton and Hove City Council

In the previous Labour leadership contest, I gave my first vote to the left-wing candidate.

In the previous Labour leadership contest, following the 2010 general election, I gave my first vote to the left-wing candidate, Diane Abbott, knowing full well she didn’t have the slightest chance of winning. My second preference went to Andy Burnham, just as it did this time. On both occasions, I expected Andy to top the poll - thanks to the second preferences of people like myself.

It didn’t turn out that way. In the recent leadership election (let’s hope it’s the last for some years), Andy was a disappointment; after a reasonable start, he lost momentum.

Yvette Cooper was the other way round, starting to come alive towards the end - but all too late.

Liz Kendall made her case well enough. But the derisory 4.5% she received is proof that her neo-Blairite brand of politics has lost whatever support it may once have enjoyed.

So why Jeremy Corbyn?

Words such as "authentic" and "unspun" are used to describe him. There’s a lot of truth in that. Too many leading Labour politicians - buttoned-up, media-trained to the point of personality-destruction, afraid to utter an independent thought, mouthing stale clichés and empty slogans - come across as desiccated and robotic.

Along comes somebody with the courage of his convictions, daring to say what he believes, daring to show real emotion and passion. No wonder there has been such a response.

Unlike so many, Jeremy Corbyn explains his arguments in complete, thoughtful sentences, making the case for public ownership, for trade unions, against over-mighty international corporations, against poverty. He speaks the language of democratic socialism, derided as old-fashioned and out-of-date by the Blairites. It isn’t, they are.

Will the Corbyn leadership work?

Of course, there are a number of reasons why it could all end in tears. It’s certainly likely to if his enemies in the parliamentary party are determined to undermine him. Probably enough know it’s in their interests to give him a chance. For his part, Corbyn has got off to a good start by putting together an inclusive shadow cabinet, with Burnham and Cooper supporters outnumbering his own.

Labour couldn’t go on in the same old way, uncertain and timid. Corbyn’s victory has the potential for a great and fundamental change in our politics. I, for one, am optimistic.

Kevin Allen is a Labour councillor for Preston Park on Brighton and Hove City Council.