To think that five years ago my political activity was limited to shouting at the television if it happened to be on when I walked through a room. To think that not just me, but vast hordes of ordinary hobbits British people have discovered that they’re allowed to do politics, have picked up banners and ballots and thrown themselves into the fray! To think that we thought the successful election of Corbyn just over a year ago was the final goal, to be followed by a jubilant return to Hobbiton normality! It seems years ago now that I likened the first leadership win to The Hobbit, read Richard Seymour’s Corbyn and took it as a warning of a thousand-odd pages of Lord of the Rings still to come.
(Link below to Richard Seymour’s book, and the day he spoke to Momentum Hastings…)
We all found out that Seymour’s warning of the hard road ahead was all too true. We had the appalling months of discovering just how shamelessly the media, the BBC and the PLP would play chess with people’s lives and hearts in an attempt to get us all to go home, so they could have their politics back; we had the shock of Brexit (for the remainers) and the disheartening discovery that leaving the EU was to be the work of a decade or more (for the leavers) we went through the depressing slog of leadership election number two (Eagle, then Smith, and… oh no, surely not Blair again!) then, for those who realised £3 and ticking a box online wasn’t enough to change the world, the task of finding out how to “do politics” in the real world – the meetings, the sweaty work of writing motions that worked, the town centre stalls, the learning how to make social media work, the endless deconstruction of reports on so-called anti-Semitism, media bias, mysteriously removed petitions, and petitions, petitions, petitions…
I threw it all aside at least three times over the course of the summer but each time, within a week or two I’d come across another bunch of people appealing against their jobs being twisted beyond toleration (so back to the unions together support teams work) or another anti-war or refugee appeal of unquestionable urgency (stalls, events, petitions…) or another real-life Daniel Blake, or fossil or fracking threat to the grandchildren (back to the union or the CLP, and motions, motions motions…is anything moving yet?) I re-enthused myself by reading Uterrainer’s Corbyn’s Campaign and reminiscing about that summer when I stood in that field at Tolpuddle, and was blown away by the experience of a politician standing there calmly presenting everything I’d always shouted at the television as his policies.
(The link below is Spokesman Books, where you can find Corbyn’s Campaign book…)
There’s a heck of a lot they don’t tell you, if you let them tell you your politics. You really do have to go and find it out for yourself – and read – a LOT. But after all that’s gone by in the last two years, as we square up for round forty six of ‘everyone tries to reclaim the Labour Party’, why would I want to read another Corbyn book? I ignored Nunns’ The Candidate for a while. I was too busy learning to write motions, and attending Unite political schools. People kept telling me there was more, and I ought to read it and I kept saying “no time!” but, with the onset of winter, for the first time in two years I heard the local CLP secretary read out a monthly membership report in which more people had resigned than joined… and then Momentum got infiltrated by a group I’d never heard of – or was that just another media stitch-up? Oh heck, I said “oh alright then,” and picked up Nunns’ book and started reading, and I couldn’t stop…
On page 14 we have “Could it really happen? Could an underdog, an insurgent candidate, become the leader…?” The Blairites called it “a doomsday scenario”, “a Gothic horror”, nope, not the Corbyn leadership campaign – we haven’t started on Miliband yet – turns out they’ve been going on like this for years…
I read on, all about Progress being outraged by lefty politicians descending to scurrilous tactics – what, did they murder someone? Blackmail? Bribery? No, it was worse – INSURGENCY! – they’d only been persuading people to join the party and vote for things! There followed accusations of rigging, suspensions on flimsy evidence, disqualifications of candidates, the right accusing the left of things their own people had been doing for years and complaints about the media suddenly finding the accusations newsworthy… yelps about bullying and abuse, panicky callings of police… Nope, still not the Corbyn leadership campaign – this was the Falkirk affair – Miliband versus Unite? – or Labour left versus Progress? … Just what was it that got Miliband so worked up about Len McCluskey, and why did Tom Watson so mysteriously resign in the middle of it all?
This reads like an Ian Rankin detective story – I won’t need a pot-boiler for Christmas… and just as I’m approaching the Corbyn leadership campaign in The Candidate, out in the real world, Corbyn gets caught by the old “forget to turn the mic off when he leaves the stage” ruse – oh no…! But Corbyn breaks the mould yet again – he manages to talk to his allies back stage for all of 30 seconds, and not one word of it is in any way shameful.
The guy is still worth fighting for – and he now has a good half dozen equally decent people around him in his shadow cabinet. By now I’ve read enough to know that there have always been scurrilous politicians and journalists feeding garbage to the people under the label of ‘news’, and there have always been decent people trying to force a bit of social justice into the system. So here we go people, this isn’t a short term task – don’t lose heart – read Nunns’ The Candidate, or Seymour, or any one of the million and one books that’ll tell you how it all goes, and fire yourself up ready for round 596 after Christmas (yes, we are allowed to say ‘Christmas’ – rumours to the contrary stemmed from those media people we’ve still got to sort out.)
If you haven’t joined Labour yet, believe me, we need you. There’s a lot more to it that the occasional leadership vote. Here’s the link… https://join.labour.org.uk/
If you have joined Labour but haven’t been doing politics lately, please get yourself down to that meeting, or out on that street action.
If you’re not fired up for it yet, get yourself down to Bookbuster (if you’re in Hastings) or your local bookshop if you’re elsewhere, and pick up a copy of this winter’s thriller, The Candidate by Alex Nunns… https://www.facebook.com/BlueGreenEarthBooks/?ref=page_internal
(Do apologise – it seems to be snowing in here.)