My thoughts on the Leadership election

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As one of the people who supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to get on the ballot paper to be Leader of the Labour Party, I have been as surprised as anyone about the journey we have taken as a party over the last few weeks. But perhaps it should not be such a surprise.

Like Jeremy, I am a product of North London Labour politics – though not the shallow media stereotype of dinner parties and the Granita pact. It is the politics of defending people who have been hardest hit by the Conservative Party’s onslaught against communities like ours.

In my previous role as Leader of Islington Council, I always found Jeremy to be a supportive MP, who understood how difficult it was to lead a large borough with high levels of inequality and who supported the tough choices I had to make as Council Leader in a period of Tory austerity.

Jeremy has a keen sense of moral clarity, but until this campaign, few people realised that he is warm, pragmatic and wildly popular with the constituents he serves. His popularity was the reason why, in the 2010 election, council candidates from across the spectrum of the local Labour Party proudly penned joint election addresses with Jeremy.

It was unquestionably the right thing for me to help him onto the ballot paper. But let's be honest, none of us expected the Corbynmania which has ensued.

Well, in retrospect, we should have. Despite his longevity in politics, Jeremy represents something new, he is not cut from the same cloth as most Westminster MPs. His judgement was right on the Iraq war.

In this period of 'anti politics' he appeals to young people who want to hear politics 'unspun'. He has rarely sought personal advancement and he is a committed anti-racist campaigner. He is a strong supporter of local communities and has defended the NHS and public services throughout the Tory years of cuts and pay freezes.

Jeremy understands that we do not win by accommodating the Tories’ attack on our communities, instead we need to challenge it head on. It is an optimistic message that says we need to restore the balance between the powerful and ordinary people if our economy is going to stand up for the millions not just the millionaires. That we need to give hope to the young people who have been hit so hard by Tory policies in the last five years.

Despite the strength of other candidates' appeal, it is the freshness of Jeremy's approach which has the momentum in this leadership campaign. So I will be voting for Jeremy. I believe that my colleagues in the House of Commons can and must embrace the 'big tent' approach that he has pledged, including all wings of the party.

More importantly, I believe his authentic leadership style will engage the next generation of Labour members who will have the energy to take the fight to the Tories, providing a genuine alternative with Labour values of social justice at its core.

Catherine West
Member of Parliament for Hornsey & Wood Green

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commented 2015-09-06 19:11:29 +0100
I am also pleased you support Jeremy – and that you are behind the ‘big tent’ approach. I voted for Jeremy as a new Labour Supporter, because I support his anti-austerity views, but I’m nervous about the entire old-left platform that might be coming along. Keeping the party together is very important, as is maintaining electability!
commented 2015-09-05 09:54:33 +0100
I’m so pleased yup have decided to vote for Jeremy Catherine. When we met you told me you has helped him onto the ballot paper but it was unclear to me whether you would actually vote for him. He’s the real deal, a committed principled man who I believe would rally around all the voters New Labour lost for us. With him as leader we would defy the relatively new pressure of choosing a leader who looks good for photo opportunities but has little by the way if principled policies rather then the policy of personal ambition. Jeremy exudes real socialist values and integrity. After years of austerity and betrayal by the New Labours Mandelson and co, he will lift people’s hearts and arouse them from their consumer induced or living on the edge slumbers and. empower them again. Thank you Catherine!
commented 2015-08-28 14:08:55 +0100
I’m very happy to read this. Mr Corbyn is the best thing that’s happened to Labour in a long time. Despite attempts in the media to spin against him , people can sense his honest commitment to Labour’s core values. His track record proves his authenticity and integrity. His media interviews communicate his intelligence and warmth.
commented 2015-08-28 14:07:34 +0100
I’m very happy to read this. Mr Corbyn is the best thing that’s happened to Labour in a long time. Despite attempts in the media to spin against him , people can sense his honest commitment to Labour’s core values. His track record proves his authenticity and integrity. His media interviews communicate his intelligence and warmth.
commented 2015-08-28 13:39:25 +0100
I am really impressed that you are prepared to stand up for the values you believe in and to support Jeremy Corbyn. I read your piece expecting there to be a ‘But….’ at any moment, but there wasn’t. I agree that Corbyn could revitalise grassroots politics. If he gets elected as leader we should begin a voter registration drive asap.
commented 2015-08-26 23:36:30 +0100
Wise choice Catherine. What distinguishes Jeremy from the other candidates is that he was never a career politician. He always recognised that all war is futile, and that strong trade unions are the best means to minimise inequality and injustice.
published this page in My Latest News 2015-08-24 10:31:56 +0100

Catherine West MP

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