Good day for UK politics: Green Party Deputy Leader on Corbyn’s winning Labour

Jeremy Corbyn © Neil Hall
Anti-austerity and anti-war MP Jeremy Corbyn, 66, has been elected as the new leader of the Labour party, taking the place of Ed Miliband, who resigned on May, 8. RT sits down with Shahrar Ali, the Deputy Leader of the Green Party, to discuss what the Labour vote means for British politics and life.

RT:You are a member of the left-wing Green party – do you have high expectations then for Corbyn’s win, because you share the same views, particularly on foreign policy, I would imagine?


Shahrar Ali: I think this is a good result for everybody on the left of politics. In particular, ordinary people have been suffering the consequences of an ideological austerity program which this Conservative government has been running out. We have been rallying against that loud and clear. And the Labour Party under previous leadership has actually been signed up to that austerity line. So it is very good for us that politics generally is being opened up for a wider debate. And I think it would lend both our parties credibility in the long run.


RT:You mention austerity, which has led a lot of political parties like Podemos and Syriza to victory in Europe – this anti-austerity stance. Do you that had a lot to do with his victory today?


SA: Almost certainly. I think there’s another element to this, which is that people have been turned on by a politics of imagination, if you like. And there’s been a resolute failure of imagination, just thinking in terms of short-termist economics. What we need to do, and what the Green Party will be pushing for in politics in general, is a long-term economic plan. But that actually means not just tinkering around the edges, it means changing the way that we price things and commodify things, so that we’re valuing things according to the cost to the planet.


One of the things, I think the Labour Party, and even the new leader, will have to look closely at, is climate change. And we’ve got a conference coming up in Paris in December, of course. We need to ensure that we’ve got a joined up economic plan and project, which actually values things according to the costs to the Earth. Because at the moment, it’s climate change like there’s no tomorrow, and overconsumption like there’s no tomorrow. So that’s one of things that we are hopeful. Because ultimately, as Greens we don’t just want to be party political just for the sake of it. I think that we look to this Labour new formation, if you like, to help actually move politics forward. We’ve got various fronts – for example, the most disproportionate election in British history that we’ve just come out of. We want Jeremy Corbyn, and others who agree with him, to help us to advance a more proportional political system at the same time.


RT:Do you think Corbyn will realistically ever become prime minister? And, if he does, what kind of country do you think he’ll create?


SA: As a green political party we want to be in government and we want to be making those claims, but at the same time, of course, insofar as we have a disproportionate system, and he’s now become the leader of the opposition, why shouldn’t he have a chance to form the next government? Why shouldn’t he have that chance? And I think that what’s very gratifying – that people have come out in his party, 60% almost – a massive number of people have voted in the first round for him. And I think that actually demonstrates what Greens have been fighting for, and campaigning for, and standing in elections for, and getting out people elected on a ticket of anti-austerity. I think it shows that there is a movement for that. And if all those people who did not vote in that election were able to vote in that election, we would get Greens in, we would get people from the Labour party in in greater numbers by all means, and I think that’s good for everybody on the left of politics.


RT:Well, there are a few hurdles ahead, though. A lot of people within his own party are not Corbyn fans, are they? You’re a politician – how does that work? If you do have disgruntled people in your party, don’t want you in power, what happens?


SA: I really don’t enjoy and like to watch parties falling apart. I think in this case we have decades of Blair-ism, which is not Labour worthy of the name. And, of course, this will require shift also, undoubtedly, in how the Green Party will, in some cases, pursue its messaging. Because now, if we do have a Labour which is somewhat rejuvenated, then we will be talking, I think increasingly, about all the other things – climate change, for example, which they are still weak on. But I don’t want to see any political party falling out with itself. I think that it doesn’t help politics in general.
I think that, one of the things that I admire Jeremy Corbyn for, if I may put it like that even, is that he actually stands for things with conviction and is prepared to argue his case, in spite of what he thinks might be popular – the mood that the media tend to portray. And that’s a very good vital force in politics. We need people to be representing the arguments and the ideals and the values that they stand for and put that to the test to the electorate and raise the standard of debate.

So, I think generally this is a good day for politics. It’s broadening the appeal of looking after vulnerable people in society. It’s notable that Corbyn also spoke about migrants and our obligations towards refugees, in particular. I think that’s very important, that’s something we’ve always majored on, and are proud to say so.

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