There’s been a lot of talk about us Trots, rabble, dogs and our membership of a mass social movement. I’m using ‘we’ because it’s only in the last week that I’ve officially joined Momentum, so I’m still an excitable newbie. I joined shortly after renewing my membership of the Labour party itself. I only joined Labour to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in his first leadership election (despite having been a socialist all my life), and I wouldn’t have renewed if he hadn’t been on the ballot paper this time. I’m the type of person who only joins things if I think it’s really necessary.
And now, I feel, it’s really necessary to join, and be part of what’s been derogatively termed a ‘mass social movement’.
Why? Well, it was summed up for me in a TV interview that other day. I overheard (because I no longer actively seek to listen to MSM) an interviewer asking someone if it was more important for Labour to be electable or to be a mass protest movement. This dichotomy in itself enraged me. What is democracy if a mass movement, something that people want to join and embrace, has little impact on electability? If Owen Smith, whose views are either borrowed from Jeremy Corbyn or Ed Milliband, and have the internal coherence you would expect from that mix, is deemed ‘electable’ by the Westminster literati; whilst someone who can draw crowds so large that he regularly has to do a second, outdoor gig, is regarded as a joke by some in his own party, and regularly deemed ‘unelectable.’
We are living through politically and socially turbulent times. There’s a lot of talk about how people are disaffected with politics, and with politicians. That they are turning to ‘extreme’ forms of politics, and charismatic leaders. Often this talk is followed by a list, and Corbyn’s name put alongside Farage, Trump, and other so-called populist politicians. But us ‘Corbynistas’ are different. We are not following because we think Jeremy Corbyn is someone we would like to have a drink with down the pub whilst quietly airing our non-politically correct views about immigration. We are not following because it’s fashionable, or because we don’t normally see the relevance of politics in our lives. We are not following because the leader delights the media by saying things which were until now considered offensive and unspeakable in polite society. We want a return to old Labour-party values, where each person was regarded as equal, and where a mass movement based on sound principles, articulated carefully and in a reasoned way, can challenge mainstream views.
This is how progress has been made in the past. Things change because people come together to create societies where it is acceptable to be different, to have different views, and sometimes for those views to prevail. I want my (Labour) MP to realise that it’s not OK for her to rely on my vote, and then vote with the Tory government when she herself feels that’s it OK. I want her to think about the views of her constituency when using her vote for a party leader, rather than telling me that she herself thinks it’s time we had a woman, so that’s the way she is voting. I want her to send me a regular email, as my MEP has done each month, to explain what she’s doing and how she’s voted, and ask me to get in touch if I’d like to talk about policy. Because that’s not happening, because my vote in a safe Labour seat seems to be being taken for granted, and because I can see many people like myself who want these things to change. That’s why I’ve joined a mass movement.