Letters: Corbyn is the obvious choice for Labour

The following letters appear in the August 4 edition of The Independent

Independent Voices
Tuesday 04 August 2015 13:51 BST

We are trade unionists and anti-poverty and justice campaigners. Over the past 32 years, we have lobbied, marched and picketed alongside Jeremy Corbyn MP. Jeremy’s dedication to peace and social justice has won our respect, as has his personal integrity and commitment to socialist values.

Corbyn’s decision to stand for Labour leader could not be more timely. It has helped to inspire a national debate within the trade unions and among Labour voters about how best to oppose the unprecedented austerity measures and £12bn cuts to welfare promised by the Conservatives.

Corbyn’s candidacy has ensured that a powerful voice in defence of public services is heard in the Labour leadership campaign. He has rejected the failed politics of Blairism and resisted the drift to the right following the general election. He opposes the Ukip-lite calls for greater controls on immigration, and has defended free movement of labour.

Whether putting the case for Labour to adopt socialist politics in leadership hustings, addressing a rally of hundreds of thousands against austerity in London, or speaking on picket lines opposing privatisation, Corbyn represents the only candidate able to galvanise the popular struggle against the government and translate this into a Labour majority at the next election.

We urge all those who like us support Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader to pay £3 to join Labour as supporters, or sign up as members or affiliated supporters.

Brian Eno, Giles Fraser, Maxine Peake, Ricky Tomlinson, Suresh Grover, Jeremy Hardy, Mike Jackson, Bruce Kent, Imran Khan, Michael Mansfield QC, Francesca Martinez, George Monbiot, Billy Power, Mark Serwotka, Hilary Wainwright, Mick Whelan, Robin Bunce, Michael Chessum, Louise Christian, Liz Davies, Paul Field, Bali Gill, John Hendy QC, Dave Lewis, Rajiv Menon QC, Breda Power, Asad Rahman, Frances Webber
London N16

The idea that Labour MPs would not serve under Jeremy Corbyn is ludicrous. They have been elected to serve in Parliament to uphold democracy – how could they do this by defying a democratically elected leader?

Some may serve reluctantly, but what’s new? One major skill of the MP is the art of self preservation – so far more likely than a coup against Corbyn is that vast numbers will become Marxists overnight.

Paul Donovan
London E11

Should Jeremy Corbyn become the new leader of the Labour Party, and George Osborne of the Conservatives, we will be back to old politics. That is, left-wing old Labour and right-wing old Conservatives. That would leave a massive centre-ground gap, where I suggest all those from those two parties who have no wish to be extremists join the Liberals. The Liberal Democrats have more than 60,000 members and an early goal is to increase that to 100,000.

Richard Grant
Ringwood, Hampshire

Chris Leslie is a great advertisement for Jeremy Corbyn as he illustrates exactly why people have lost confidence in Labour: he looks and sounds exactly like a Tory.

Mora McIntyre
Hove, West Sussex

In the run-up to the election for Labour leader, it has been interesting to see the other candidates going out all guns blazing against current frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn. Especially noteworthy is their assertion that if he were elected, they would not agree to serve in his cabinet. This is shortsighted and petty. As a lifelong Conservative I am certainly not a party toady and often disagree with some of the policies implemented, but I take the view that I am better placed to influence decisions that are made by being inside the party than outside it.

Linda Piggott-Vijeh
Chard, Somerset

Grouse shoots are a boon to the landscape

I write in response to Mark Avery’s article “The Inglorious Twelfth”, 28 July. Contrary to what Mark says, grouse shooting is central to upland management and without it our heather-clad hills and the wildlife they support and tourists they attract would be a thing of the past.

Heather moorland is rarer than rainforest and 75 per cent of it exists in Britain because of grouse shooting. So important is this landscape that in England alone 90 per cent of grouse moors are found within National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Where heather is managed for grouse there are up to five times more threatened wading birds. The time and money invested each year in this important conservation effort in Britain is almost £100m. Management of heather by burning is carried out to agreed management plans and in accordance with codes of practice. It is recognised by the UK Fire Service as an important way of preventing wildfires which can cause serious damage.

But of course, Mark Avery, like grouse shooters, is frustrated that more hen harriers are not found on grouse moors – many moorland owners would like to have them. The answer to seeing more hen harriers is for the RSPB to support the government’s hen harrier joint recovery plan. This would involve moving hen harriers to suitable habitat to allow them to establish and breed successfully.

If Mark is really interested in conservation he should encourage his former colleagues at the RSPB to work with government on this initiative.

Tim Russell
Director of Conservation, The British Association for Shooting and Conservation

Value of Manchester voluntary sector

As the CEO of the Greater Manchester voluntary sector leadership organisation, I was surprised to read your article “Manchester NHS devolution plans fatally flawed as voluntary organisations not involved, say charity leaders” (29 July). Far from being “forgotten in the plans” the local voluntary sector is actively involved, and the local voluntary and public sectors share considerable common ground and ambition.

We recently held a very successful event bringing together commissioners with voluntary organisations to look at how to deliver on devolution and how each sector might play to its strengths. We are now following up with more intensive strategic discussions, working alongside a group of some of our larger and most connected organisations representative of our wider sector. These organisations have strong roots and relationships within local communities.

We would all acknowledge real challenges in the scale and speed with which reform has to take place, and issues of capacity in both public and voluntary sector organisations to communicate as much as we would like. But there is no doubting the value placed on the voluntary sector and its knowledge and capacity by commissioners and public sector leaders.

Alex Whinnom
Chief Executive
Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation

Gene technology can’t be kept secret

Scientists who say that it would be foolish to try to keep information about gene drive technology secret (Steve Connor, 3 August) are right. It wouldn’t work. The basic principles are already in the public domain. Fears about its deliberate use by terrorist groups should be tempered by their longstanding track records of scientific incompetence.

The last outbreak of infection ascribed to such a body was 750 cases of Salmonella gastroenteritis caused by the deliberate contamination of food in Oregon salad bars by the Rajneesh movement in order to swing a local election. Nobody died. The perpetrators were jailed.

Hugh Pennington

What next for illegal immigrants?

I read “Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison under new government plans” (3 August) with interest.

Surely the next logical step would be to require supermarkets to check customers’ residence status before selling them food?

Dr Peter Glover

McCowan’s amazing feat of memory

Boyd Tonkin’s “Thanks for the memory” (31 July) reminded me of listening to Alec McCowan’s astonishing solo performance of St Mark’s Gospel in 1978 at the Mermaid Theatre in London. Hamlet contains 29,551 words, of which Hamlet himself has to speak 1,480 lines, approximately 40 per cent of the total text, say 11,800 words; St Mark’s Gospel has 14,949 words.

David Ashton
Shipbourne, Kent

And the band played on

Chris Brown’s letter about Enoch Powell’s haircut (31 July) reminded me of the story of George Bernard Shaw dining in a restaurant which had live music. The band leader recognised Shaw and sent a note over asking if there was anything he would like the band to play. The answer was “dominoes”.

Mark Redhead

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