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THE small group of Open Britain protesters who raised their Stop Backing Brexit banner and chanted that slogan over the closing sentences of Jeremy Corbyn’s excellent Labour Live speech delighted Labour’s enemies.
From the Observer to the Sun, right-wing journalists revelled in this challenge to the Labour leader, proclaimed chaos in the party and regurgitated previous tales about a poor turnout and the party losing a fortune on the political-cultural festival.
Party chairman Ian Lavery’s rejoinder that the event will be repeated next year and be “twice as big” strikes the right spirit of defiance.
While there is a tradition in other countries of parties and publications — usually on the left — of staging such festivals as fundraisers, that is less true in Britain, especially with major political parties.
Their value cannot be calculated simply in financial benefit, as Corbyn made clear. Bringing together people in large numbers offers the opportunity of hearing new ideas, discussing them and working out how to put them into practice.
It reveals the benefits of collective endeavour rather than the Tory alternative of a handful of, usually, men in a boardroom taking a decision and writing a sizeable cheque.
A fresh initiative faces problems — that much is a given. Headaches can be overcome if organisers learn from mistakes and prepare better next time round, but the event has to be seen overall as a great success, not least for being the first of its kind.
There is little likelihood that the Murdoch, Rothermere and Barclay media would have paid heed to Corbyn’s speech even without being gifted easy propaganda by the corporate, cross-party pro-EU Open Britain group.
His message of internationalism, anti-racism, greater equality and, especially, his excoriation of the government’s policy of allowing wealthy overseas clients to buy luxury property as an investment while growing numbers of people are forced to sleep on the streets would have been a little too rich for their blood.
Labour should be sharper, however, in its criticism of the Open Britain elitists who are dedicated to thwarting the democratically expressed view of the electorate to leave the EU, which Labour insists must be honoured.
Their demand for a “People’s Vote,” as though the 2016 referendum votes were cast by machines or extraterrestrials, amounts simply to a rejection of democracy because they didn’t like the decision.
Their willingness to disrupt Corbyn’s speech and flood social media with images of their provocation identifies them as inimical to Labour.
Don’t take May’s NHS words at face value
THERESA MAY’S claim that, “in 2023-24, there will be about £600 million a week … more in cash, going into the NHS,” because of savings made by leaving the EU can’t be taken seriously.
Nor for that matter should the wild assertions of her pro-EU Tory Party critics, Institute for Fiscal Studies director Paul Johnson or other prophets of doom who claim there will be no savings.
These are the people who forecast chaos and an emergency Budget if the electorate voted the wrong way. They haven’t changed.
The main obstacle to higher levels of government expenditure in our social care and health services is May’s Tory government, dedicated to private-sector penetration of all public services.
It is the main barrier to economic development too, continuing on its austerity path in practice if not in words and prioritising the interests of parasitic capital over productive labour.
A reforming Labour government, honouring the EU Leave decision and implementing a transformative economic programme, will be the only guarantee of salvation for our NHS.
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