Corbyn: the times they are a' changin'

Submitted by AWL on 18 August, 2015 - 5:46

Jeremy Corbyn spoke to Solidarity during the Labour leadership election campaign.

The campaign has got lots of people, from many different backgrounds, involved and excited. Win or lose how will those people be kept mobilised and organised?

Yes, fantastic mobilisation of people around this campaign, which is exciting, because its about hope. Its about inclusion. It's about saying we can all do things strongly together, whatever our ethnic background, faith, or anything else.  Whatever the result, we're going to stay together.

We'll have to have regional conventions [After 12 September], we'll have to have national conventions on economic policy, social policy, environment policies, peace policies. We got a social movement here, and it's having a huge effect on politics in Britain. Look at the way in which the political debate has already changed in the past two months, austerity has now been questioned for what it is: a political process, not an economic process. When Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman come out in our support, Nobel Prize-wining economists, I think that shows we are having an effect. What we're doing here is we're not electing a dictator, we're not electing a celebrity, we're not electing a personality, what we're doing is electing ourselves.

If the sort of ideas you're advocating are the programme for the next Labour government, what's to stop a massive financial assault — we saw the ECB hammer Syriza and hold it to ransom, what's to stop a reaction like that?

Well we're not in the Eurozone and therefore not under the same control levels of the European Central Bank. But it's a fair question that the financial institutions have often assaulted the Labour governments in the past that have done their best to try and redistribute wealth. We've got to be strong, we've got to be determined; we've got to rebalance our economy away from one that's solely dependent on financial services into manufacturing. This is a forward looking campaign. This is about developing sustainable green industries, a million jobs through a green energy revolution.

Mainstream politics is often about highlighting things that threaten us; whether it be terrorism or “swarms of migrants” as Cameron put it. That's so much easier than a positive politics of hope and optimism. How do we achieve that positive politics?

The right play on insecurity, the right play on fear, the right play on the negative. This campaign is about positives. We are not blaming migrants, we are not blaming the poor, we are not blaming the marginalised. We are for a decent fair society does not allow people to sleep on the streets, doesn't blame victims of war for being victims of war but looks to the causes of war, and presents a foreign policy that does not promote yet more wars and more weaponry in the Middle East.

Would being part of the European Union stop some of your programmes such as nationalisation?

There are big issues surrounding Europe. One is the one you've just referred to — challenging the European Union on its Rail Directive. David Cameron appears to be trying to sign away what remains of the Social Chapter — workers rights, environmental protection and social solidarity. I think all of us should be part of that debate now — demanding workers' solidarity, universal workers protection, but above all, closing down the EU-sanctioned tax havens which means that companies like Boots can evade their tax responsibilities in Britain by shifting themselves to Switzerland.

Are there different strategies for winning back Ukip voters who were form Labour voters, or SNP voters in Scotland, or non-voters and people that were lost under Tony Blair or since?

The strategies I think are the same for all of them. I spent a lot of the last election campaign in Thanet where Nigel Farage was trying to become the MP. What I found was, once you get past the blame-game on migrants, of Eastern Europeans or Roma and got onto issues of wages, jobs, security, lack of investment by councils and central government in education and health, you began to develop a whole process of solidarity. You have to end the blame-game, get the collective going, re-discover ourselves as a party based on working-class culture and working-class values of providing collectively for all, rather than individually for the few. And it does win people back, trust me!

The right in Labour is very entrenched. How are we going to tackle that?

Well Labour's membership is going up very fast. I want the supporters to become members. I want the party to become more democratic, policy-making from the grass-roots up, not from the leader’s office down.

And I'm sure my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party will understand that an election that's involved up to 450,000 people is a voice of people who actually are the ones who knock on doors, who promote the party, and I'm sure they will fully understand that “the times, they are a' changin'”.

Comments

Submitted by Joe Baxter on Sun, 23/08/2015 - 23:28

This interview is a missed opportunity. I hope that is all it is. Jeremy Corbyn has expressed support for some pretty odious characters, appeared on platforms with them and when called out on it has been at best evasive. Yet, in what appears be the first interview with him in Solidarity, there is no attempt to address these issues with Corbyn; nothing about appearing to endorse attacks on freedom of speech, nothing about his views on Ukraine, nothing about his association with anti-semites. Why?

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 28/08/2015 - 09:12

Hi Joe,

As you can imagine it's quite hard to get an interview with Corbyn, because of the frantic pace of the campaign. This one was done by an enterprising comrade grabbing him when he visited somewhere - it wasn't centrally planned.

We're trying to get a second interview and we've come up with a list of questions for comrades who might get one to have in their pockets.

Comradely,

Sacha

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