Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party is good news for progressive politics.
Jeremy Corbyn’s election as the leader of the Labour Party is good news for progressive politics. For the first time in living memory, the Labour Party is led by someone willing to challenge the political and economic consensus. It’s particularly encouraging to see a Labour leader in place who rejects the so-called “logic” that says everything around us should be bought and sold on the free market.
For us, as local representatives, Corbyn’s election presents us with a possibility to work across party lines for the very best for people in Brighton and Hove. In parliament, there is the chance for Labour MPs to be part of a serious opposition to the government’s pernicious attacks on the welfare state, their short-sighted slashing of renewable energy subsidies, and their economically-illiterate austerity programme.
Locally, there is an opportunity for Labour and the Greens to work together. The flourishing of the People's Republic of Brighton and Hove shows that the majority of people in this city reject the Tories and yearn for a new start where all progressives work together. By doing so, we can reject austerity, rising inequality, and the relentless attack on the poor – and we can work together towards a fairer, more sustainable society.
As Greens, we won’t hesitate to express our support for Corbyn’s policies when we agree with them. In the face of attack from the mainstream media - and with few friends in the political establishment - he will need all the support he can get when articulating the bold policies upon which we agree.
Our challenge to Labour in Brighton and Hove is to dare to live up to what Corbyn’s win means. When Labour are bold and when they stand up for the voiceless, we will support them. We could start by standing together to safeguard council tax relief for the poorest.
We will stand side by side with Labour in voting to rid our country of nuclear weapons, calling for a fair deal for public-sector workers, and trying to protect people from the spiralling cost of rent. In Brighton, politicians from across the political spectrum should support long-suffering train passengers by calling for the railways to be brought back into public hands.
Politics is starting to change from the ground up. To ensure that change is meaningful and long-lasting, we need to transform radically our democratic structures - redistributing wealth must go hand in hand with redistributing power. In the Green Party, we are committed to leadership as the honest sharing of power, to organising locally, and to working co-operatively. To this end, it is encouraging to see that Corbyn has appointed Jon Trickett to lead for Labour on constitutional reform - and that the trade unions voted last week to support the growing campaign for reform of our anti-democratic electoral system.
Greens won’t always agree with Corbyn’s Labour - and when we don’t we will say so. More important, however, is our role in moving beyond Labour’s policies and calling for the radical overhaul of the political and economic system that lies at the heart of the social and environmental injustices we face. That means working with local communities that are already demonstrating it’s possible and positive to do things very differently, from neighbourhood planning and housing cooperatives to community-owned renewable energy and social enterprises. It means reaffirming our vision of an economy that provides enough for everyone - but doesn’t require people to work all of the hours of the day to stand even a chance of feeding their families.
Greens will continue to act on the belief at the heart of our politics: it’s only by tackling climate change and environmental degradation that we will secure our future prosperity, and security for our children and grandchildren. Recent events, of increasingly-extreme weather events across the globe, flooding in the UK - and the global refugee crisis - show the urgent need for Green policies.
The tide of progressive politics and ideas is surging, and it’s refreshing to see policies that many of the ideas Greens have promoted for decades now being articulated by a leader of the Labour Party. The Green Party will continue to show people that we offer a radical alternative to business-as-usual - but that we’re open to working with others to further our shared goals, and we believe politics is better when we do.
This could be the beginning of the end of partisan politics and the flourishing of a people’s movement that goes beyond political parties. We must not let this opportunity pass us by.