As the Goldsmiths Labour society becomes more prominent in the university’s political scene, student Jonis Liban speaks to its president about the need for Labour at ‘Smiths and whether Corbyn really connects with students.
Jamie Green is feeling jubilant. “Labour are the biggest party”, he tells me, “and it’s therefore important to ingrain it in Goldsmiths.
“As a socialist Labour party, it is best to manifest [Corbyn’s program of government], and a Labour society is quite important in doing this”.
Green seemed positive about Corbyn’s prospects, but more cautious when I questioned him on the problems faced by Greece’s Syriza and drawing parallels with Labour now.
He declared that it’s good “as a democratic socialist for Corbyn to be in power” because he tapped into “insurgent politics” which “came out of the 2008 crash”.
He added that there we need a “movement that takes on power.” I asked him whether Corbyn is up to the job, when the gulf between moderates and Corbynistas have never been so wide.
He argued that fundamentally that Labour under Corbyn would “get rid of inequality in the workplace, bring in a real living age and tackle the deficit. We have missed the chance to attack because we have focused on trident”. Moderate Labour blogger Dan Hodges, he adds, has quit the party two times in as many years – hardly, he tells me, the best measure of moderate Labour opinion.
Furiously condemning government policies, he said: “I was walking down the street the other day and I saw the government advertising this national living wage, now that’s a sham”.
But from a socialist perspective, which would require the Labour party to be in power, would it help to have groups like Momentum?
“I am in momentum and am not going to try to hide that fact,” he tells me, adding that when MPs such as Tristram Hunt say the Labour Party should have no connection with groups like Momentum, it is “opportunism on his part… If you are opposed to the leadership of the party and wanted to get rid of him what would you do you would try and cut it off from the roots”.
When I questioned him on the concerns that some within the Labour have about Momentum and whether this could be similar to the Militant grouping of the 1980s, he was rather dismissive.
He tells me that “was an overtly Trotskyist group, that came from a political tradition in Britain” whereas Momentum is “a broad coalition of people, and, yes, there are some tendencies in there, some people who would call themselves Marxists in there”
He seemed very worried overall about the campaign of the Labour party, arguing that in the end Corbyn would get this level of criticism. “If you are too young, you’re too naive, if you’re too old you’re a dinosaur. If you’re too poor, then you’re just jealous and if you have relative wealth you’re a champagne socialist.”