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Billy Bragg joins Labour Party

Billy Bragg“ Of course we can take part in the argument online, but if we really want to achieve the fundamental change that Corbyn offers, then we have to get out there and talk to the people who don’t agree with us, to convince them of our case for a fairer society. If we don’t do that, then the nay-sayers who claim Corbyn is unelectable will have been proved right. And if that happens – if we are unable to counter the lies and smears put about by the Tories and their allies – we will have no one to blame but ourselves. ”

Having voted for Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership race via my membership of the Musicians Union, I went along to my first Labour Party branch meeting in Bridport last night.

The room was packed, with some standing at the back, many of us attending for the first time. After welcoming newcomers, the chair informed us that the branch now has over 200 members, which is not bad for a Tory safe seat in a rural area. He was impressed by the number of young people who had joined and stated his hope was that, in a year’s time, someone in their twenties would be chairing our meetings.

Once the brief formalities were over, we began discussing how the party would be changing in the light of Corbyn’s commitment to giving party members a greater say in making policy. It was agreed that, rather than send someone to speak for us at General Committee meetings, they should be open to all members to come along and make contributions.

With party conference just 10 days away, our Constituency Labour Party delegate was present to hear our views on the issues that we felt were important. We discussed affordable housing, the NHS and the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons.

The chair also proposed that we began reaching out to other parties that might share our aims and, as a result, we agreed to invite the local Green Party to send a delegate along to address our next meeting.

We also heard that, on some occasions in the past, leafleting had been done by the chair alone, for lack of available volunteers. It was hoped that this would change with the new influx and that the party would be able to get its message out locally. I felt this was the most crucial part of the meeting. If we hope to overcome the torrent of abuse and misinformation directed towards Corbyn’s leadership, then we have to become active.

In the past few weeks, we have overturned the all-powerful Blairite machine within the party and served notice to the political class that we demand different solutions to the problems that our society faces. However, to have voted for Jeremy Corbyn without now engaging in his struggle – our struggle – is to reduce your participation to little more than a Facebook like.

Of course we can take part in the argument online, but if we really want to achieve the fundamental change that Corbyn offers, then we have to get out there and talk to the people who don’t agree with us, to convince them of our case for a fairer society. If we don’t do that, then the nay-sayers who claim Corbyn is unelectable will have been proved right. And if that happens – if we are unable to counter the lies and smears put about by the Tories and their allies – we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

I’m not prepared to sit at my keyboard and watch helplessly while that happens, so last night I came home and joined the Labour Party.

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