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Monday, 11 July 2016

KUWG statement in support of Jeremy Corbyn's mandate as Leader of the Opposition

(The statement below has been expanded slightly from the original. The figure for MPs' salaries has also been amended with the aid of referencing information given below.)



The Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group (KUWG — aka 'Kwug') is non-party-politically aligned, including members of different political parties and none, as well as people with no vote in UK parliamentary elections and no vote in the recent UK EU Referendum. We are united by a commonality of interests in terms of maintaining and upgrading our basic living standards. The casework that we do helps promote our freedom of association and most fundamental rights.

Our casework by unpaid activists helps people prove their entitlements and continue living in the face of relentless attacks on 'public expenditure', our rights, our dignity, our health, our housing, and our character.

At our weekly group meeting on Thursday 7 July we discussed the attacks by some Labour MPs on Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and the prospect of a response statement from us to be posted on the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group 'Kwug blog' regarding Jeremy's position as a democratically elected leader of the Labour Party. This initiative was enthusiastically welcomed.

The vast bulk of the media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership — as illustrated by the above Andrew Marr youtube video of an interview with Jeremy — focuses on Jeremy's support or lack of support from Labour Members of Parliament. Those Labour MPs who have attacked his leadership generally argue that he 'showed a lack of leadership' in the EU Referendum. In the above interview, Jeremy rebuffs that idea. Jeremy also draws attention to his 'real mandate', a mandate that got non-party-politically aligned KUWG members to join the Labour Party with rekindled hope in the electoral process even after what Tony Blair's Government did to their faith in the Labour Party.

(Lies of Tony Blair and his allies preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2003; their 'benefit thieves' lies also preceded attacks on the welfare state.)

We point out in our turn in this statement as members of a non-party-political organisation, that it is wrong to focus on a party leader's 'mandate' or 'leadership credentials' as being the number of elected Members of Parliament who support him in Parliament.

  1. The 'first past the post' electoral system lacks Proportional Representation and scope for proper representation of the most marginalised people socio-economically in a society dominated by the interests of home owners and salaried classes;
  2. The majority of his detractors within the Parliamentary Labour Party are MPs who failed to stand out in opposition to the Conservatives' worsening attacks on all people in unemployment and precarious working conditions. When it came to the vote regarding the Welfare Reform & Work Bill their failure to be an effective opposition and support other opposition parties in voting against that legislation, that Bill passed as an Act of Parliament while the majority of Labour MPs abstained; and
  3. The gulf between MPs' nearly £75K salaries plus parliamentary expenses and the degrading level of 'overall benefit cap' that the Welfare Reform & Work Act introduces reduces the credibility of those now-dissident Labour MPs. They did not act against the reduced overall benefit cap and spread of more and more benefit sanctions while Universal Credit is actually set to destroy the welfare state rather than redeem it.

We concur with Jeremy Corbyn that he would be wrong to 'walk away' under the attacks of such opposition to his leadership. He really does have a mandate, and he should have more time to outline our interests than he got in that interview and the like. Such a surrender to lobbyists and media interests with dubious credentials and motives would be a desertion and a kowtowing to the interests of those MPs who do not represent our views and fail to support vulnerable people.


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