,I was just a teenager on General election day, 9 June 1983 when I chummed my mum to the polling station so she could vote. I remember it well because my dog, Mutley refused to be have his lead tied to the school railings. When we came out there was Mutley cocking his leg to pee on the Tory sandwich board.
In Leith that year:
- Brian Cooklin, Tory candidate got 10,706 votes (26.2% of the vote)
- John Young, SNP got 2,646 (6.5% of the vote)
- David Graham, Social Democrat (11,204 or 27.5%)
- Ron Brown, the sitting Labour MP with a 7% drop in support still won 39.71% support or 16,177
The very next day was my 18th birthday. I didn’t have a party. Thatcher had won a resounding re-election – the most significant gain since the 1945 Labour govt. I was gutted, and couldn’t believe that the people had made such a terrible decision against unemployment, recession, the terrifying nuclear arms race and the Falklands war that boys little older than me served in.
Michael Foot fought the 83 election on a left wing platform. Like Corbyn today, Foot was derided for his left politics (unachievable), ridiculed for his scruffy appearance, scoffed at for his age. Party plotters and splitters to the right had already left to form the Social Democrats, and were a serious threat, as demonstrated in their percentage vote in Leith. Foot was by no means perfect, but on my 18th birthday, decided to join the Party.
How We got from there to here is a long story and a tear jerker for folk on the left, but this current attack on the left in the Labour family is a wake up call, not a wake.Whilst we can debate who is really behind the coup, it is fair to say that it’s not just the arch-Blairites, they have convinced too many soft-left and former left allies to join them. Neil Lawson the other day quoted Gramsci: “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions, without being disillusioned”… ashe argued for Corbyn to go.
For those of us that support Corbyn, let us: have no illusions we are fighting for the heart and soul of the Party. Leave to the dissolutioned, obsession with Parliamentary office, shadow cabinet and the PLP scrambling over who is going you to win the next election against Gove or Theresa May. The objective of the Labour Party is not to become the Tories, but to transform society.
PCS UNION not affiliated, but we have publicly supported Jeremy even though we have had an uncomfortable relationship with Labour leadership over the years. Our members will never forget chancellor Gordon brown in 2005 announcing 100,000 civil service job cuts to the cheers of Labour MPs
Jeremy a founding member of our parliamentary group, and John McDonnell our chair . Both have given strong and consistent support to our union’s anti-cuts demands and vision for an alternative to austerity. When Jeremy addressed our conference in May he gave an outright commitment to restore national pay bargaining – delegated by Thatcher in the 80s in the Tory attempts to divide and rule public sector workforce. This is something that the New labour leadership refused to do in 13 years.He pledged to oppose further cuts and Repeal the anti-TU Act. Our NEC met this week and agreed our members best interests are served by Jeremy’s continued leadership in opposition to the Tories.
JC has shown real bravery and leadership this week by refusing to cave in to this backroom plot and sticking to the democratic principle that members of the party are the ones who choose who leads the party, not the PLP, and i admire him for that.
For the first time in many years, I feel excited about what is going on in the Party I chose to join on 10th June,1983. My politics haven’t changed down those decades, and I am not in any mood to give up my party to the current-day SDP. It’s going to be a hard battle, not inside the party membership, but against those who share our name but do not share our socialist vision, and their friends in the establishment.
I am up for it and if Mutley was still around, so would he be.