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Why I Still Have Faith in Corbyn

25th February 2017

By Seema Chandwani

When Miliband resigned, I tweeted that I wish Jeremy Corbyn would stand and to my surprise a month later he did. I wanted him to stand because I was sick and tired of managerial politics. I wanted Labour to be the Labour I remembered when I was growing up. The Labour that as an ethnic minority woman fought for and empowered my existence in society, that stood up for equality and championed progressive politics.

Jeremy has been in post for over a year and I am very happy with the changes he has made so far:

Welfare Policy

My sister became very ill 5 years ago, she was 29 and her life changed overnight following an infection she contracted on her optical nerve. She lost her eyesight for 6 months and has suffered debilitating pain for the past 5 years. She had to give up working and is currently on ESA. I watched as ATOS hounded her, made her go through humiliating testing despite top medical Professors from the best hospitals in the UK supplying 15 page reports on how bad her condition was. I was stunned when they assessed her as someone who was not entitled to ESA Support. I fought her case and won, but it was too late – the damage was done. She was a scrounger and alongside her physical health, her mental health was now affected.

Where was Labour when this was happening? Who was fighting for this political injustice? We had Labour shout proudly from the rooftops with an abundance of arrogance that they “will be tougher than the Tories on welfare”.

Under Corbyn: Social security for our vulnerable, poor, ill and needing is fought for with genuine passion. We fight for social equality and for a civil society.

Immigration Policy

As someone from a visibly ethnic background, racism and immigrant bashing has a core impact on my life. The rise of UKIP was a worrying development, it empowered the rise in racism and fascism, it mainstreamed their views and allowed prejudice to be acceptable in our society.

Where was Labour when this was happening? Who was fighting the nasty vile rhetoric towards immigrants? Who was politically defending the vast majority of immigrants who work hard and add value to this country? We had Labour trying to sell us mugs to ‘control immigration’, we had leaflets going through the doors in multi-cultural communities like mine endorsing the sentiment of job theft by immigrants inciting poor vs poor conflict.

Under Corbyn: Labour clearly defends immigrants in this country, as a front-bench the rhetoric on immigrants and immigration is clear, Labour believe they are an asset to this country, they keep our services, NHS and infrastructure going, the boost our economy and productivity.

Economy and Public Services

Many vulnerable people rely on good public services run by councils up and down the country. In my borough, we have many vulnerable people relying on social care, children’s centres, youth centres and services for disabilities.

Every Town Hall needed to make terrible decisions knowing the serious impact those decisions would have on the lives of the very people who we exist to protect.

Where was Labour when these cuts were taking place? What was Labour’s plan?

Under Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, Labour was committed to a policy of “austerity lite”, accepting the need for austerity cuts to public services.

Labour also backed a 1% pay freeze for public sector pay.  In effect, Labour was promising that millions of ordinary nurses, teachers, dinnerladies and council workers would suffer real terms cuts to their wages every year.  Hardly an inspiring message.

Under Corbyn (and John McDonnell), Labour policy is much clearer that the deficit can be brought down sustainably by growing the economy without arbitrary deadlines, and by clamping down on vastly wealthy multinational corporations who pay next to no tax in this country.  Labour is clear that we can and must borrow for long-term infrastructure projects, and secure regional investment right across the country.  We’re now committed to making sure that workers receive a real living wage as determined by the Living Wage Commission, and ending the blight of zero hours contracts.  Where once Labour was offering merely to soften the intensity of Tory cuts, now Labour plans to make a real difference to the lives of working people.

We are finally on the road of having a real Labour plan based on solid progressive socialist values that is distinct from the policies we see from the Tories. We still have some way to go, but we’re not regressing

Our job now is to communicate our plans to the wider electorate, a tough task given what we used to promote and tougher as some Labour MPs are still promoting regressive policy ideas that no longer fit in our movement.

But the strength of our policy ideas and the positive impact they could have on the lives of millions is worth the hard work we will have to put in.


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