Everywhere he goes, Jeremy Corbyn is speaking to huge crowds. People are queuing in the streets for the chance to hear his vision of a better tomorrow. While the reactionary media paint him as a relic from the politics of 1983, the youth of this country are flocking to hear ideas new to them, but which chime with their own sense of what’s right. People who feel the Labour Party left them behind years ago have had their party politics rejuvenated by Corbyn’s. People who have reluctantly thrown their lot in with parties of the left which have no hope of electoral success can suddenly see that they could take an active part in a genuinely mass political party led by someone unashamed of the words “Democratic Socialist” on his party card. If you’re not excited by this, you’re unlikely to want to carry a party card declaring you a Democratic Socialist either.
The other leadership contenders are struggling. Not for money. They’ve got plenty of that. They’ve got lobbyists on secondment working in their offices. They’re getting donations from interests who want access to power. No, they’re struggling for publicity. Because no one is interested. They’re saying nothing that’s worth printing. Nothing resonates with anyone. So no one wants to report it.
Conversely, the media laps up everything Comrade Corbyn says. They write it off, of course. But for once no one out there is influenced by the write-offs. They’re just hungry for the policies. So the campaign snowballs. And the odds on a Corbyn victory shorten and shorten.
But even a straight-talking campaign free of whistles and bells costs money. And the big consultancies and privatised utility firms aren’t stepping forward to foot the bill. And if the Corbyn Campaign heralds a rebirth of the Labour Party as a social movement, we’re going to have to get used to that. Perhaps not before time. So the component parts of that social movement – the socialist and progressive elements of civil society – are going to need to step up. Mostly our time and our energy will be all that’s required. But sometimes those that can are going to need to chuck a few quid in. With no quid pro quo. Just out of faith, trust and solidarity.
That’s what this gig at Union Chapel is about. We’ve all been to see Jeremy speak at the rallies and meetings, the Tolpuddles and the town halls, to hear what he has to say. This is different. This is a night out. You know those glittering balls the Blairs used to host, where the ruling class would cough up a few grand a head to break bread with the political elite, to make sure that backs were scratched and doors were opened? That’s not going to happen. Instead socialists are going to find fifteen quid to come and listen to Owen Jones, Janine Booth and Phyll Opoku speak, to Robb Johnson and Thee Faction orchestrate a socialist sing-song, and to welcome Comrade Jeremy Corbyn to the stage, and listen to his vision of a better tomorrow.
It’s going to be a celebration of a class resurgent. And an affirmation that a war is going to be waged against austerity. It’s going to be a night of adrenalin and analysis. And it’s going to raise lots of much needed funds for the Corbyn campaign.
And those funds really are needed. Because this isn’t a battle against Burnham and Kendall and Cooper. They’re not the enemy. Far from it. Their solidarity is diluted – in at least one case to almost homeopathic levels – but they’re not the enemy. Austerity isn’t a set of administrative policies. It’s a declaration of war by an emboldened class. It’s not just about benefit cuts and tax credit tweaks, though those are in the front line as a bludgeon to smash the weakest first. It’s total war, designed to break down our resistance and to normalise a general acceptance of poverty and a general reduction in expectations. The government is in the vanguard of this, but only to soften us up. Hit the welfare state and the public sector hard and early. But we’ll be feeling it far beyond there. Capital is preparing us for a whole new onslaught. That’s what austerity is. A culture change. Its mission will be complete only when we all believe that we must accept less and less in order to ensure that the ruling class trouser more and more. Comrade Corbyn’s leadership bid is a part of the fightback. It is a symbol of a wider resistance. But it could, if he wins, become the leadership of a wider resistance. That’s what this is about.
If he wins there is going to be an almighty shitstorm. The forces of capital will throw all they have at him. So we’re going to have to get used to being resourceful. We’re going to have to get used to looking to ourselves for the stuff we need to fight on. This fundraiser is an early example of how things are going to be. Get used to it. It’s going to be fun. And the adrenalin is going to run.
So, book your tickets now. £15 a head. We’ve got to pay to hire the Union Chapel. We’re donating every other penny to the Corbyn Campaign. Tell everyone you know. Share the details. Tell everyone in your workplace, your union branch, your Labour Party branch. Let’s raise money, sing songs, and share our visions of a better tomorrow. Cos with enough of us committing to this, there’s a better chance than there has been before that we might realise those visions.