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Why I am supporting Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader

I’m absolutely thrilled to bits that Walthamstow CLP voted to give our supporting nomination for the Labour leadership to Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday. Due to some procedural irregularities, not everyone who wanted to speak in support of a candidate had a chance to do so. If I had done, here is what I would have said:

Good morning everyone, my name’s Tim Cowlishaw, and I’ve been a member of the Labour party for a little under three months. While I don’t have a history of membership and campaigning that’s as long or venerable as those of of you who have already spoken, I suspect that the perspective of a new member might be a valuable contribution to this discussion.

As will come as no surprise to those of you I spoke to or thrust a leaflet at outside, I’m supporting Jeremy Corbyn as the next leader of the Labour party, and I am doing so in a spirit of both principle, and pragmatism.

Jeremy is the right candidate for the leadership from a point of view of principle, as so far, he is the only one of the four who has articulated a vision of what the Labour party is actually for. Rather than simply making a case for how he will win a general election, he’s powerfully and plainly outlined why he would want to do so, and what he would do in power. He is the only candidate who is making the very straightforward point that the Labour party exists to represent the interests of the working people of this country, and who also has a concrete plan of action to represent those interests.

Now, many will argue that this sort of idealism is all very well at a CLP meeting, but that it doesn’t win general elections. I don’t agree, and further, I’d argue that this is not necessarily even a useful concern at this point in the history of the party. Therefore, I think that as well as being a principled choice of leader, Jeremy is also a pragmatic one. With five years until the next general election, what the party needs in a leader is someone with the courage of their convictions, and the ability to make a case for these convictions, providing a visible and viable opposition to the Conservatives' economic illiteracy and social barbarism. I’d argue that doing so will bring dividends at the ballot box come 2020, but more importantly, I believe that our role as the party of working people means that this is even more important for its own sake. Further, to those who do believe our electability is an imminent and overriding concern - I would simply point to the massive outpouring of support for Jeremy from all sections of society - from Labour members of many years who stayed silent as we tacked towards the centre ground, and from people like me who are new to organized political activism, especially those younger than me, who, for perhaps the first time, have seen a politician at Westminster who cares about their interests. I’d argue that the popularity of Jeremy’s campaign is a better indicator of his popularity in the country at large than the reckons of those party functionaries at headquarters who for some reason believe that they’ve a miraculous gift to predict the future.

We live in a country with a GDP per head of twenty-five thousand pounds a year, but a quarter of us live in poverty. We’ve a proud tradition of representative democracy, but thirty-five percent of the electorate felt so disenfranchised by Westminster politics that they didn’t even turn up to vote last May. I believe we should see both of these facts as nothing less than a dereliction of our duty as a party (and as Labour activists, councillors and MPs) to stand up for the rights of the working people of this country. I believe that of all the candidates on the ballot, Jeremy Corbyn is the only one with the vision, and the track record as a campaigner, to put that right, and put it right we must, both because it is right in and of itself, and because once we start representing the working people of this country again, they’ll start voting for us again. Thank you.