It took half a decade of deliberation before I joined the Labour party. Born at the start of the millennium, I’m not quite old enough to remember the Blair years with any clarity – I was two years old on the onset of the Iraq War, and still wearing Velcro shoes when Gordon Brown assumed the mantle of Prime Minister.
Like many young people, my political awareness was instead forged under the coalition. Incensed by the harm the premiership of Cameron and Clegg caused – and still causes – I looked for something to turn to. Uninspired by Miliband’s Labour Party, I didn’t even consider joining.
As an alternative, I turned my anger towards the occasional anti-austerity protest, anti-war rally, and climate demonstration.
That was until Corbyn came to power.
Corbyn’s meteoric rise from backbencher to leader ushered in a transformation in the Labour party. From previous domination by right-wing careerists and the interests of big business, Labour now stood to represent the fight for the interests of the working class.
Although I, like countless others, was galvanised by the enthusiasm the Corbyn movement had injected into British politics, I was also becoming increasingly perturbed by the inadequacies of left reformism in the face of the crisis of capitalism.
Moving towards the principles of Marxism I was reading about on twitter, but without discussing any of the ideas I was looking at with real life Marxists, resulted in the wasting of years flitting around in political limbo.
Still sceptical, but restless to do something in the face of Tory austerity, I finally joined the Labour party in February 2019. It was at one of my first Labour sessions, leafletting for the local candidate, when I met a group of Marxists from Socialist Appeal who told me the simple but vital message I had been needing to hear: defend Corbyn, fight for Socialism.
As Marxists, there is a need to work within Labour, and at election time this cannot be overstated. Without the press or the multi-millionaires on our side, our strength is in our numbers. As Europe’s biggest political party with over 500,000 members, it has been imperative to canvass, leaflet, door-knock, and fight for Labour on the doorsteps. Crucially, working within the Labour party doesn’t negate the need to put forward our Marxist standpoint, it reinforces it.
In the cacophony of an election, it’s easy to become blinkered; but the importance of theory at a time like this is only amplified, and our Marxist perspective must not be pushed to the side –that’s what makes Students4Corbyn so valuable.
The election on December 12th couldn’t pose a clearer choice: a reactionary Conservative government, or Corbyn in number 10.
It’s an election about rent, privatisation, tuition fees, school funding, the NHS, the environment, workers’ rights, and so much more. Framed as the ‘Brexit election’, it couldn’t be clearer that this election at its core is about the failure of a crisis-plagued system and its impact on ordinary people.
Nonetheless, without the overthrow of capitalism, the reforms promised in the Labour Manifesto will be impossible to implement. This is why perspective is key. In the face of the biggest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, Marxism implores us to see beyond December 12th and past the limitations of reformism. Instead we must fight on for a bold internationalist and genuine socialist Labour Party, and of course, the socialist transformation of society.