Think back to September 2015. As the returning officer read out that Jeremy Corbyn had won the party leadership outright on the first round, it seemed we had taken our party back – for good.
But what from?
Corbyn’s candidacy represented a break from the London-centric nature of Labour’s operations and policy focus. He represented the frustration of many Labour members who in 2015, were forced by the top to somehow defend the concept of austerity on the doorstep. All this for just 30% of the popular vote and another term on the opposition benches.
The following four years were quite a ride. Two general elections, each with their own distinct political settings, themes, debates (or lack of) and expectations. But despite the hard work, the result of December’s election meant lifelong Corbyn critics were keen to make 2020 the end of the ‘Corbyn project’.
Sir Keir Starmer is a good man. Just look at his past record as a lawyer and Director of Public Prosecutions. But he does not inspire me in the same way Jeremy does. The Labour Party is a victim of its own institutions. Though set up as a check and balance on each other, they have become fortresses, overtaken by various factions – factions intent on destroying each other.
The Green Party of England and Wales are currently holding a leadership election of their own. The candidates are refreshingly ‘normal’ and come from diverse backgrounds. The party’s top positions are far more accessible to the average member – a stark contrast to the usually challenging and bitter process of appearing on the Labour’s leadership and deputy leadership ballot.
Corbyn’s premiership marked the first time since the 1980s that the hard-left of the party had seized control. Though Corbyn did not become Prime Minister, we grassroots activists gained invaluable experiences as organisers, communicators and campaigners. We are unlikely to hold these senior positions again anytime soon. Why not use these skills in a party in need of streamlining its operations and getting that much needed media cut through.
I know Liberal Base is not here to advocate parties merging, or even for informal political ‘understandings’ between progressive parties at election time, but I want to take this opportunity to ask those of the Labour-left to break away and merge with the Greens. Without an endless internal political machine to fight against, we can achieve so much more and this is perhaps the best chance we have of removing this extreme Conservative government.
Jenny is a Labour Party supporter from Brighton.