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personal injury lawyer
     Patrick McGuire, Partner

A lot has been written and said about Jeremy Corbyn’s first conference speech as Labour Party leader over the last 24 hours.  He called for a kinder politics and a more caring society.  Underpinning everything that he said was an overriding objective to radically alter politics as we know it by making the Labour Party and the country fully democratic through re-politicising everyone in the country and harnessing the views, beliefs and political instincts of the entire country.

No more top down policies that the electorate and party members need to take or leave.  The “my way or the highway” leadership that has dominated British politics will be replaced by building a consensus around what people think is right and just.  Ultimately, it is about fanning the flames of grass roots political engagement that we have seen and benefitted from in Scotland and other parts of Europe.

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech has received large amounts of praise for style and content.  I echo everything positive that has been said about his speech.  As I watched and listened, the smile on my face and my sense of optimism grew and grew.  The speech has, however, also had its critics; principally from media commentators or, as Jeremy called them in his speech, the “commontariat”.   They ask if his consensus building approach can be described as leadership at all and they suggest that he is being naïve.

I disagree entirely.  Jeremy Corbyn is not being naïve; he is being extremely brave.

He has very clear personal beliefs about the policies that the Labour Party should follow and the laws that our country should have.  They are unashamedly redistributive.  They are about caring for the weak and empowering the collective.  They are about creating a more caring society.  They are an antidote to the traditional “I’m alright Jack” Tory mantra that has given birth to the Cameron/Osborne brutal vision of ruthless austerity and violent disassembly of workers’ rights.  

As the Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn could impose the policies that will make a more caring society; but I think that is what he would see as an oxymoron.  Instead, he wants to build the caring society “together” (another word which featured heavily in his speech).  He trusts and believes in us, the people of the UK; that when we are politicised and empowered politically, it is inevitable that the policies and laws created will be those of a caring society.

In short, Jeremy Corbyn believes that it is in our DNA that we would not cross the street if we saw someone suffering; and that, instead, we would do the right thing to make things better.  I agree 100% with Jeremy.

I also have no doubt whatsoever that if we had the bottom up politics that Jeremy Corbyn is looking to foster, we would not have on our statute books the recent raft of aggressively anti-worker laws that we have seen from Westminster; such as Section 69 of the Enterprise Act, employment tribunal lodging fees, the doubling of the qualifying period for unfair dismissal; or indeed any of the other Tory top down bully boy legislative attacks on the rights of workers and trade unions.

Equally I have no doubt whatsoever that a parliament having built a consensus around the beliefs and values of the whole of the public would never have considered for one second introducing the legislative abomination that is the Trade Union Bill that is currently before Westminster.

And that is ultimately where my optimism comes from.  If Jeremy Corbyn can engage the whole of the UK public; and if policies and laws evolve by that means, in a bottom up evolution; all of the anti-trade union and anti-worker laws that the Tories have introduced and will introduce over the next 4 years will be quickly reversed and consigned to the history bin where they deserve to be.  

With Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of politics and political engagement realised, trade union and employee rights will again have their rightful place at the heart of the industrial process and the politics of the UK.


Patrick McGuire, Partner.

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