At RMT’s Annual General Meeting in June 2015, I proposed an emergency motion for the union to back Jeremy Corbyn, then an outsider in the Labour Party’s leadership election. These are the notes of my speech.
It is very exciting that Jeremy Corbyn made it onto the ballot paper in the Labour Party leadership election. This is the first time in a long time that people will have the chance to vote for a genuine socialist for this post.
This is an opportunity:
- not just to get Jeremy Corbyn elected
- but to mobilise in support of the demands that we support and he supports
- public ownership of public transport
- repeal of anti-trade-union laws
- opposing austerity
All three of the other candidates want to move Labour to the right, competing with each other to be more pro-business. All three buy into the myth that Labour lost because it was “too left wing”.
This is not true. Labour lost because it attacked the working class in government and abandoned us in opposition. In general elections, the majority tend to vote for the party that looks like it can run capitalism most efficiently or for a credible, radical alternative – Labour was neither. To win again, Labour needs to become that radical, credible alternative – and under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, it can.
Some people say that Labour won’t win under Corbyn’s leadership, but I think it will be more likely to win with him as leader.
So this motion commits us to supporting Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader.
It’s not about setting him up as a new saviour – his initials may be JC but he’s not the Messiah. JC is a principled socialist and a workers’ ally with a fine record. I don’t agree with him on everything, he doesn’t agree with RMT on everything, and I agree with some of the things he disagrees with RMT on!
But he is on our side. And his campaign enables us to really build the case for working-class political representation. This union tried to build that case through TUSC – but let’s face it, TUSC only got 0.6% of the vote. This leadership contest will be noticed.
Some people say ‘Ah, but he can’t win’ – but with the rather silly electoral process that the Labour Party is using, he could! You can – and I urge you to – sign up as a Labour Party supporter and vote for JC. It only costs £3: the same price as my poetry book and less than the price of a pint of beer!
Please don’t just vote for this resolution, organise for it – go round your workplaces, join our Facebook group, organise meetings and events.