I’m a Socialist. I’m on the left. I’m backing Liz Kendall

by Daniel Charleston Downes

I remember the first time that I read Karl Marx. I studied sociology at university and I remember reading it and my world view falling apart. Up to that point as a grammar school boy who used to stay up all night reading biographies of Thatcher and her cabinet, I thought I had a pretty good idea of which way my political ideology was going to pan out. Marx blasted that apart, he guided me through the Matrix.

I went on to devour other Marxists texts becoming obsessive about theory and ideology. Even at this stage, the high point of my intellectual journey into socialism, I felt uncomfortable with the Occupy movement and other far-left protest groups. I had become a religious zealot, as far as I was concerned I had found the Promised Land, the task now was to take as many people there with me as possible. I didn’t understand why everyone else was so angry, aggressive and insular.

The left hasn’t changed since then, at least not the hard left. It is still a movement that clings more to the processes of socialism (nationalisation, higher taxes for the rich, no private investment in state services etc.) rather than the values. Most of the time it feels as though these ideals are held religiously without any acceptance of challenge, the lack of flexibility has allowed the left to stagnate and fall apart. The lack of fresh ideas or an optimistic vision has seen the left become a rock for tenacious veteran campaigners and a disenfranchised and destructive youth.

Jeremy Corbyn represents for me the huge errors that the left has made over the last 50 years. He, like many others, is an apologist and even supporter of ‘socialist’ dictators in South America. His passion for the disenfranchised leads him to make peculiar and outrageously inaccurate statements about radical Islamic militants in Hamas and Hezbollah. He clings, like many others, to the nostalgic dream of nationalisation without a clear vision of what can be achieved by a larger state.

Corbyn’s aggressive anti-Israel stance is, in a typical leftist fashion, both inconsistent with his support of nations where human rights abuses take place in the name of socialism and drifts often into anti-Semitism. I have no affiliation with leftist organisations that see wealth and power as evil and place Jewish people in their narrative as always having both.

Away from ideological matters Corbyn cannot unite or lead a party that he says quite openly he doesn’t want to lead, in his manner of false modesty. If you believe that any politician truly resents having a shot at leader of their party and therefore the nation, then go and have a lie down and think about it again later.

His anti-austerity message, whilst commendable, says that austerity is bad because… it just is. There is no credible argument from him or anyone else about what the alternatives are to austerity, just relying on pointing out that it is painful for the most needy simply won’t make waves with the electorate. Voters where just offered a choice on heavy austerity or slightly less austerity and they chose the more painful of the two.

I, like a surprising number on the left, have found myself being pulled almost unimaginably towards Liz Kendall. Burnham and Cooper seem to have no real narrative on what went wrong during the election. Burnham has done all that he can to distance himself from both Ed Miliband and the unions. His primary vision for the party seems to be ‘I am not Ed Miliband’. Cooper’s is that she is not Andy Burnham. If you want to sacrifice a lamb to 2020 and instead focus on developing leadership talent in the next generation to mount a serious challenge in 2025, then either one of these two is your candidate.

Liz Kendall has a strong vision and a strong idea of what went wrong in 2015. To dismiss her as a Blairite is foolish for two reasons. Firstly we must be the only party to demonise its most successful leader and the ideology that won the party three straight election victories. Secondly her thinking is much more nuanced and complex than her opponents would have you believe.

I remember reading a Philip Gould phrase that stated something like ‘using the tools of capitalism to achieve the aims of socialism’. Kendall’s vision of creating a more equitable education system, better preparing industrial communities by introducing skilled and green tech jobs and addressing out front the party’s lack of vision on the economy will all make life better for C2 and below voters that abandoned Labour in 2015.

Being for working class communities does not mean that you simply raise taxes on the richest and talk tough on big business. For one, business provides employment for people that desperately need it. Wealth creators may well have a substantial amount of cash but what is wrong with injecting optimism, ambition and the skills needed for those born into low socio-economic backgrounds with the tools to achieve a piece of the pie? A more equitable education system providing the skills to take jobs in growing sectors would be a massive step towards this goal.

I will be backing Liz Kendall for Labour leader. Not only do I think that she is the best and most exciting of the candidates but I also think that she is the best placed to win in 2020.

Dan Downes is a Labour campaigner, a secondary school teacher and blogs at http://redgrassroots.wordpress.com/ 

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25 Responses to “I’m a Socialist. I’m on the left. I’m backing Liz Kendall”

  1. swatantra says:

    But can she win Dan, against Boris or George or May in 2020? The answer is No.
    And that’s why it would be a mistake to make her Leader.

  2. Tafia says:

    With regards to Hamas and Hezbollah, we are providing both with assistance and intelligence – espevially Hezbollah in their fight against both the Syrian government and ISIS in Hezbollah’s case and infiltration by Islamic extremists in Hamas’s case (note how they are no longer considered extreme). The boundaries have changed. Even Iran is providing artillery support and air cover for the Kurds, ably assisted by drone and satellite imagery from the USA

  3. steve says:

    Forget about reading Marx. Try some real life experience instead.

    Try working on building sites for twenty-three years. Try working in a motorway service station for seven years. Try being a carer for five years.

    Then you’ll understand why Corbyn is the best option.

  4. Tone says:

    “I’m a Socialist. I’m on the left.”

    “….I will be backing Liz Kendall for Labour leader. Not only do I think that she is the best and most exciting of the candidates….”

    Good grief! No wonder Labour’s dead.

  5. Phil Edwards says:

    “Corbyn’s aggressive anti-Israel stance … drifts often into anti-Semitism”

    Can you substantiate this statement? Pay particular attention to the word ‘often’.

    As for austerity, Corbyn is a fairly middle-of-the-road social democrat who believes the best way to get out of an economic slump is through a Keynesian stimulus, i.e. government investment to create jobs. As far as most economists are concerned, he’s the only one of the four candidates who’s talking sense on this one.

  6. Michael Worcs says:

    Excellent article. The phrases ‘processes of socialism (nationalisation, higher taxes for the rich, no private investment in state services etc rather than the values’ and ‘organisations that see wealth and power as evil and place Jewish people in their narrative as always having both’ are especially powerful. The self-righteous shouty left is completely off putting to the electorate eg the poll tax riot was one of the main reasons Major got elected. Ed joined the austerity marchers in 2012 but would have cut the same because the deficit forces any government to do so. It is time for grown up politics

  7. Dave Roberts. says:

    Marx guided you through the matrix. Was that the film?

  8. Well I hope all you other Marxists supporters of austerity out there will get behind Daniel and Liz. How many of you are there Daniel? Can’t say I’ve met any others.

  9. Madasafish says:

    Anyone – but anyone – who introduces Marx into a political conversation as an aid to their cause – is automatically lost..

    He dies 132 years ago and his teachings have been tested to destruction by various governments in various countries.. most recently Venezuela.

  10. john p Reid says:


    rod Liddle who backed andy last time,is backing Liz this time as are 2 MP.s

  11. Mr Akira Origami says:

    “Marxism is the impotence of the human mind to deal with occurrences it cannot understand.”

    The lefties should come out of the closet and just call for a jihad against capitalism –

    that’s what the bearded political prophet wanted.

  12. swatantra says:

    I’m a socialist too, but can JC win a GE. NO. Neither can Liz. All are genuine candidates, and JC the most genuine of them all; he’s not a ranting loony lefty as some may make out, but he may not be in tune with todays Britain, where you ‘re not gong to get something for doing nothing.
    The only 2 that can possibly win are Yvette and Andy, and Andy has the edge on Yvette, so by a process of elimination it has to be Andy.

  13. David Holland says:

    ” I have no affiliation with leftist organisations that see wealth and power as evil and place Jewish people in their narrative as always having both.” There are no such left wing organisations. As for the surprising number of leftists drawn to Kendall – pull the other one. There aren’t any.

  14. Thomas Jones says:

    Kendall backs free schools, not sure where that ties in with her more ‘equitable education system.’

  15. follymath says:

    It’s amazing that you say there are no credible arguments regarding what the alternative to austerity is. As a researcher in employment and work sociologies I can assure you not only are there many, but they are in the majority. Outside of the Sky News office there is barely a respectable academic who argues in favour of it for as long and as deep as the Tories have enacted, and your pragmatic saviour Kendall will continue.

  16. Leon Spence says:

    Andy Burnham is a very good candidate but anyone suggesting he has the edge in a general election is sadly wrong.

    We have just seen how Ed was attacked for five years but Andy has so much more going against him than Ed did. The media will regularly go for (in no particular order) Mid Staffs, PFI, the man at the treasury when the crash happened, a union puppet, a flip flopper, a scouser that cannot appeal to Middle England.

    It doesn’t matter that most of these are substantively untrue they will gain enough traction to mean Andy is dead in the water before he effectively even starts.

    It saddens me that Andy is unelectable, but he is. Making him leader will guarantee five more years of Tory power in 2020.

  17. Damien Quigg says:

    While I disagree with everything you have written, I respect that is your point of view and you are as entitled to yours as I or anybody else. However, what I do take exception to is your need to discredit and insult the other candidates and their supporters. This is a relatively new thing which has been enhanced by the conservative party mainly, but now it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

    What happened to free speech? What happened to mutual respect for others point of views? I’m not saying we all have to be best buddies, just show a little common decency.Evidently you support Liz Kendell as the next labour leader, so an article about the reasons you support her and why you believe she is the best candidate might have lead to others thinking actually this guy has a point, I’ll support her too.

    But instead you chose to take up the majority of your article criticising and attacking the beliefs of the other candidates, Jeremy Corbyn in particular. So you don’t agree with his point of view, that’s fine, but there was no need to stoop so low as to insult the man and those who support him. This kind of behaviour has no place in a modern democracy and all you have done is reinforce the tory agenda by insulting members within your own party and weakening it’s position.

    It concerns me greatly that you are apparently a teacher, entrusted to stimulate the minds and curiosities of our future generations.

  18. swatantra says:

    Pity that Chuka got cold feet and pulled out at the last minute. He would have been the obvious candidate, untarnished by 13 years of modest reforms in the economy, but great social reforms, which the People have forgotten about. Labour failed on Housing and Immigration and Integration of minorities into the community, and Foreign Policy. Now we have ‘unelectables’ in pursuit of the unattainable. I thought it would take us just 5 years to get back into Govt; I’m going to revise that to 10 years. Labour is simply not in tune with what the majority of people want to see Britain to be in 2020.

  19. Mike Homfray says:

    Is this the best you can do?

    You’re not on the left. Thats why you are voting for Kendall along with the other pseudo-Tory entryists

  20. Mike Homfray says:

    “Labour is simply not in tune with what the majority of people want to see Britain to be in 2020”

    If thats the case, then we won’t win. But that is no reason to change simply to be popular – if the majority of people are right wing then they will vote for right wing parties. Its not up to us to be that right wing party – there’s another with a far greater pedigree

  21. Jas says:

    all our candidates are moderate middle of the road social democrats who I doubt can face down the strength of the forces of reaction.

  22. Andy Dodd says:

    I, like many others it seems, don’t in the slightest bit agree with you. At least, not in the sense that I think Jeremy Corbyn is the terrible candidate you paint him out to be. He has some reasonable ideas on many topics, albeit that I don’t think he is the right person (in the round) to be the next Labour leader.

    Be that as it may, I’m curious to know more about the ‘socialist dictators’ of South America. Who are you referring to? When I think of dictators in that region, I think of the repressive military regimes of Chile, Argentina and Brazil in the 1970s. And they were anything but socialist, surely?

  23. John. Reid says:

    Mike Homfray entryists, you were the one who only joined the Labour Party 5 years ago, after having 7 years out, you’re the one,who’s saying that if Krndall looses,she and others should leave
    Surely you’re the entryist, just joining 5 years ago,and then telling other too leave
    What do you know about left/right.

    You say about it doesn’t matter if we don’t win,as you have better ideas,you said your friend committed suiccide in 1992 as labour lost, but you keep going in about,how important it is too stand in a platform that may be unpopular.

  24. Iain says:

    As one teacher to another: you need to do some homework my friend.

    The alternative to austerity is not cutting services, I’d have thought that’s quite obvious. Any number of economists (including the OBR and the IMF) will tell you you can’t cut your way to growth. Anyone who talks about “living within our means” is an economic dunce I’m afraid. It’s nonsense, we’ve never done it and neither has any other country without massive natural resources. Deficit spending isn’t the issue, it’s deficit spending on the correct items that matters. Spend on things that give a return, cut those that don’t.

    You make some rather slanderous remarks about Corbyn, but show no sources for the uninitiated to view. I’ve read a fair bit of what Corbyn has said, including critical articles and I can’t find anything much wrong with it to be honest. And pulling out anti-semitism with no support is just a cheap shot.

    To Liz Kendall: getting your supporters to do repeated hatchet jobs on your opposition will endear you to no one.

  25. Iain says:

    Challenge to anyone: proof that “the left are unelectable” please.

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