Kate Osamor
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Kate Osamor MP: Jeremy Corbyn represents the working man and woman

Jeremy's policies have popular appeal - as the Owen Smith campaign shows. 

In May 2015, I was elected Member of Parliament for Edmonton. It was – needless to say – a disappointing election for Labour. And as I, my Labour colleagues and the press, came to dissect the election result to work out what we could do better, it was clear we needed to start with a stronger and clearer message. We needed to stop pandering to Tory rhetoric about migration – the now infamous immigration mug a lasting memory of this. We needed to stop pandering to Tory rhetoric about the necessity of austerity, as Labour’s whip continued to do post-election by abstaining on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. We needed an alternative vision; and whatever you may now think about Jeremy Corbyn he has put forward that vision. He galvanised a large section of the previously disenchanted electorate in last summer’s leadership election, and Labour’s membership has continued to grow since.

The reason is simple - Jeremy’s politics represents the working man and woman. He speaks to our very ordinary – and increasingly frequent – concerns: that our NHS is in an increasingly precarious position, that our schools are overcrowded, that the once realistic goal of owning a home now seems like a dream for so many. Neoliberalism is not and has not been working for the vast majority of the population. This was ignored by Labour for too long. It has enabled the Scottish Nationalist Party to carry an austerity message in Scotland which is clearer and more united than our own.

Jeremy’s policies have popular appeal. The parliamentary Labour party realises this. Owen Smith realises this. That is why Owen’s leadership election is being fought on policies that Jeremy does support and has put forward himself; issues that Jeremy has campaigned for his entire political career.

The PLP believe that Jeremy does not have the skills to lead this Party through a general election and into government. That, fundamentally, Jeremy is an unelectable idealist. But who defines electability? Jeremy does not pander to the media, to the Westminster bubble or to lobbyists, three powerful sectors that influence over our public perception of what it means to be the leader of a country. Public perception is changing, in Britain and worldwide. And for this reason, I fail to see how Owen Smith is inherently any more credible a candidate.

People are disillusioned with the political establishment. There has been a resurgence of populism on the right and the left, demonstrated clearly in the US presidential primaries with Donald Trump’s nomination as republican presidential nominee, and Bernie Sanders’ extraordinary journey in the democratic primaries. Nationally, the Westminster Bubble is bursting. In May 2015, the SNP took Scotland and UKIP secured 12.6 per cent of the vote, up 9.5 per cent on the 2010 election. And if Vote Leave taught us anything, it was that this country isn’t working for many people; people are angry and wanted to make their voices heard. It is devastating that people took out their anger on the wrong establishment (although two thirds of Labour voters did vote Remain).

At a time when people – perhaps justifiably – don’t trust politicians, Jeremy has shown himself to be trustworthy. He has loyally campaigned against the privatization of our public services, against human rights abuses worldwide, for decades.

Labour is now the biggest left-of-centre party in Western Europe and has won all its by-elections under Jeremy. We should be celebrating the fact that Jeremy has grown the Labour movement at a time when membership of political parties was widely accepted as a thing of the past. We need to continue growing this movement, ensuring that our growing membership extends into growing community activism. We need to be campaigning locally to make sure that our politics grows into inclusive social movements. As was key to Obama’s US presidential election victory, we need to be working hard and working constantly to expand the electorate because young people are still disproportionately underrepresented in voter turnouts.

Jeremy stands for the best of Labour. He has vision and hope for a fairer society and he understands that to enact real change we need to break through the political disenchantment of 21st century Britain and build a mass social movement.

I stand with Jeremy.

Kate Osamor is the Labour Co-operative MP for Edmonton and shadow secretary of state for international development.

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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