Vox Pop: Jeremy’s Christmas Stocking

Written By: Cary Gee
Published: December 20, 2017 Last modified: December 20, 2017

What ‘gifts’ should Jeremy Corbyn put in his general election manifesto in order to achieve the 3.57% swing he needs to form the next government? And what gift would you give to Jeremy to cheer up his Christmas? Cary Gee put those questions to some of Tribune’s Great and Good …

Jeremy needs to close the gender pay gap. We need more women in government and a greater reflection of different classes in parliament. We need safeguards for the NHS, better funding in state education and programmes to increase vocational education and to teach more craft and skills. There needs to be less emphasis on academia being the only way to feel any value in society.
Paloma Faith, Singer and Songwriter.

As a pro-remain MP who campaigned on this issue in a remain seat and saw my majority rise 50 fold in the general election of 2017 I’d say he should unambiguously campaign to take us back into Europe to get that elusive swing – though my colleagues in the north might disagree.
On what present might bring jollity, the GQ interview apparently says he has not seen any films lately so maybe a pair of tickets to Paddington 2 (I’ve not seen it yet either but apparently its full of Christmas cheer) or Labour of Love, the play by James Graham, which I have seen and found a rollicking good laugh.
Rupa Huq MP, Ealing Central & Acton

Of Jeremy Corbyn, who is a patron of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, we would ask for a truly ethical foreign policy framework, with respect for international law and human rights at its heart. In support of Palestinian rights and to hold Israel accountable, a start would be an end to preferential trade deals and the bilateral arms trade with Israel, as well as a ban on the import of Israeli settlement goods. To Jeremy, we would give the gift of a key to mark 70 years since the
Nakba, and in honour of his many years as a champion of Palestinian rights.
Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Labour should commit to PR using the Scottish and London election model, which retains constituency members. It is more democratic and fairer than FPTP and could help keep the Tories out of office for decades (over 60% of people did not vote Tory at the last three elections). Plus it would encourage tactical votes for Labour from pro-PR Lib Dem and Green supporters, which could help secure a Labour victory in some constituencies. Make corporate negligence and recklessness a specific criminal offence to deter a repeat of the 2008 meltdown. Promote economic democracy with mandatory one-third employee and consumer reps on the boards of private and public enterprises (such as the NHS). This would empower ordinary people and act as a check and balance on top decision makers. Statutory profit-sharing for employees and limits on fat cat bonuses. My gift to Jeremy: a thick skin. He’ll need it.
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Jeremy needs to end austerity and give poor people back their dignity.
David Drew MP

Jeremy should say Labour will contest all eighteen Westminster seatsin Northern Ireland for the first time. He should say he will stop suppressing Labour Party candidates here and stop giving the DUP/Tories a free run in 18 seats. This would win lots of new votes for Labour and also improve his andLabour’s image across the entire  country.
I would give Jeremy an expenses paid trip to Belfast so that he can meet his thousands of Northern Irish members for the first time.We feel very neglected by him and if he got to know us he would discover we don’t have horns.
Boyd Black, Secretary, Northern Ireland CLP

At Christmas we take time to think about people less well-off. Our thoughts are with all those who have lost their jobs in the run-up to Christmas or are facing redundancy in the New Year, including Palmer & Harvey and Toys ‘r Us. It is still too easy to sack workers in the UK and administrators should focus on saving not closing struggling businesses. We remain extremely concerned for low and middle income families transferring from tax credits to Universal Credit, resulting in an average £2,000 a year loss of income. This Christmas far too many working parents are reliant on foodbanks and the Government’s failure to pause and fix Universal Credit imposes unnecessary hardship on so many working families. Finally we ask readers to keep their cool when Christmas shopping and respect shopworkers, far too many are assaulted, threatened and abused in the course of their duties.
John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary

A commitment to invest in education would be the gift that keeps giving for this and future generations. 2017 has been tough. Schools are feeling the pain caused by the Government’s decision to take £2.8 billion out of their budgets since 2015. Worse still is on the horizon with 17,942 schools (equal to nine out of ten) facing a real terms cut in funding per pupil. Class sizes are on the up, school staff are losing their jobs or are not being replaced and we are seeing cuts to extra-curricular activities and resources.
If Jeremy needs cheering up I would remind him that investing in education is not only the right thing to do – it is electorally popular, too. 800,000 votes switched during this year’s general election campaign because of concerns about school cuts. Children and young people only get one chance at school. We know that education cuts never heal. So let’s make 2018 the year when we end school cuts and start investing in education.
Kevin Courtney, joint General Secretary,
National Education Union

Jeremy, on behalf of 185,000 members of the public and commercial services union (PCS) I want to wish you the compliments of the season. If we could add only one item to your manifesto it would be a return to national pay bargaining in the civil service linked to funding to allow an above inflation pay rise for the hard working civil and public servants who have been battered by years of austerity.
My gift to you would be a Cardiff season ticket so you can witness a team at the top of it’s game, regularly winning matches rather that the inconsistent performances you witness from your beloved Arsenal. Keep holding the Government to account Jeremy, we are with you fighting for a better future. In solidarity
Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary

Jeremy should pledge to stop Brexit. It’s eighteen months since the referendum and it’s now plain to see that Leave campaigners told the British people a pack of lies. It’s also evident that Brexit will hurt all but the richest. So, while Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg are wealthy enough to avoid its consequences, the rest of us, and our children, will be poorer and less secure.
Meanwhile, we have the madness of a government spending more of our taxes on Brexit than it is on our NHS or dealing with the horrendous increases in child and pensioner poverty. Jeremy is well placed to successfully make this case and explain the best way to protect working class jobs is to stay in the EU and reform it from within.
And the Christmas gift that would follow? Jeremy not only becomes our next Prime Minister but walks onto the world stage with such huge political clout that he can lead the international change he’s long campaigned for.
Stephen Cowan,
Labour Council Leader, Hammersmith and Fulham

The gift Jeremy should put in the manifesto is to at all costs be consistent and keep the content and principles behind the last manifesto intact. The British people want progressive principled solutions to our major problems of poverty, housing, the NHS and changing that winning formula would be a disaster. If there is one addition, his stronger leadership in the party and country should allow him to strengthen the manifesto commitments on foreign affairs, our moral and ethical position in the world of Trump and populism and strengthen relationships with the rest of the EU based on the ECHR and the EU Charter of Fundamental rights.
A gift to JC would be a copy of the European Convention on Human Rights signed by every leader in the Party of European Socialists. When you speak to them their enthusiasm is clear and they want him to deepen the contact and for a UK Corbyn-led government to put internationalism and human rights firmly back on the global political agenda.
Claude Moraes MEP for London,
Chair, European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee

Having achieved the biggest increase in Labour’s vote since 1945, I think we’ve already got the manifesto we need to win the next election outright. In particular, the commitment to public ownership of services like Royal Mail, investment in infrastructure like broadband and the pledges to overhaul employment rights with a bold new deal for workers set out a positive vision for the future. So for the labour movement now, I think the focus has got to be making sure that we develop the policies in the manifesto, so they can be implemented on day one, and on making sure that the Tories own what is a record of failure on the economy and public services.
For Christmas, I’m sure Jeremy would appreciate three points for Arsenal, but given that they play my own team, Chelsea, at the start of January that’s one thing we’ll have to disagree on!
Dave Ward. General Secretary, CWU

Although I am writing to you from the most southerly part of the British Isles, that bastion of democratic socialism which is Jersey – it seems clear to me that when you are shortly elected to Government, it will be with the help of those in the northern extremes, in beautiful Scotland.
In order to win back support, how about a limited offer of a free kilt for new party members? Kilts are hard wearing and stylish. Additionally, a policy of the future Labour Government could be to introduce it as part of the uniform in all state schools south of the border, as a gender-neutral item of clothing.
Deputy Montford Tadier,
MSJ, Reform Jersey

After the last two years of growing division in our country. Jeremy could use his charm and love of great global cuisine to inspire a nation and make sure there is a Nadiya or Nigella on every street. Good food, community cooking and good nutrition go a long way to help the well being of a country but all too much we are seeing a decline in families eating together. Food is s great bridge builder between communities and countries. So lets have a manifesto commit­ment to bring a community kitchen into every local area.
And for Jremy’s gift … Raise an incredible amount of money for Shelter in the auction for the fabulous painting of Jeremy as Santa by Andy Dunlop (lead guitarist of Travis). It’s genuinely a classic. Bids online please!
Seema Malhotra, MP,
Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

There are over 13 million disabled adults and children in the UK. Jeremy Corbyn could get many of our votes, and those of our families, with his pledge to repeal the cuts which are making life a struggle, and even killing us. Many pensioners could be won over to Labour if everyone who needs it could get respectful support to live full lives, free of charges, and if profiteer companies exploiting women workers with zero-hour contracts were banned as social care providers.
The disability movement and its priorities contributed to getting Jeremy Corbyn elected as leader of the Labour Party. His Xmas gift is the unpreced­ented 3,000 testimonies to MPs of all parties from disabled claimants protesting against the current system of benefit assessments carried out by Atos, Capita and Maximus. In 2018 we pledge that there will be no rest for the wicked!
Claire Glasman,
WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)

Jeremy should pledge to end producing and trading in arms, beginning with Saudi Arabia and Israel. We can turn weapons into ploughshares: using our productive forces for green technology and green jobs. We can learn new skills to save our planet. Redirecting the war economy will attract young voters and women of all ages. Even Tory voters can be won over to clean water and clean air, and valuing all life.
Reinstating single mothers’ benefits would strike a blow for freedom: it would be an insurance policy against dependence on violent and rapacious men – and there seem a lot of them about, from MPs to landlords to partners. If mothers had money to fall back on we could refuse slave wages and win a living wage. Another vote winner!
Our gift to Jeremy is our ‘special relationship’ with the Poor People’s Campaign, the anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-war movement to defeat poverty that is sweeping the US. So when Jeremy becomes PM and the forces of reaction on both sides of the pond try to undermine our victory, that new movement will mobilise to defend us.”
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike

I’d get Jeremy a traditional Palestinian keffiyeh so as to remind him of Labour’s commitment to secure justice for Palestinians and for the recognition of Palestine as a state. And for the policy: If Labour wants the confidence of the 3.5% of voters we need to gain a full, working majority, then we should consider pledging to push back the increasing of the state pension age. It can’t be right that men and women are having their state pension age increased to 66 by 2020, often without being given proper notification. We could be pledging either to push this increase back to the late 2020s or simply cancel the increase. Politics is about political choices and this government’s preference to pursue a policy of austerity and balance the books on the backs of the workers, while giving the banks a £4.7 billion tax break serves the interests of the few and not the many.’
Grahame Morris MP
Chair Labour Friends of Palestine

The best presents are the ones that spread happiness. So Labour’s 2017 manifesto should be in everyone’s stocking this Christmas because its promise to restore humanity, decency and opportunity to this country is up there with the greatest story ever told. All Jeremy needs to do is ensure that the wise men – and women – of our party keep hammering its message of transformation and fairness. That way a Corbyn Labour government will be in number 10 and the current shower will be deservedly packed off to the political wilderness where they can do no more harm.
If I was to give Jeremy one gift this Christmas it would be this: time to spend with Laura and his family. People respond so positively to Jeremy because he is a warm and lovely man, not your normal politician. He deserves time with the people who help him be the person that has inspired so many to feel hopeful about politics once more. When the bells toll to usher in 2018, Jeremy will be back, charged up and ready to bring change to this country.
Len McCluskey, General Secretary, Unite

A “gift” for the manifesto would be putting forward a proposal for Basic National Income, or UBI, whatever you want to call it. Really make an effort to end poverty in this country (which we definitely can, seeing as we’re something like the 6th richest nation). He could also flesh out the National Education Service idea, because that could be a big hit. In terms of a gift for Jeremy, I’d probably knit him a nice new sweater for PMQs, perhaps with God Save the Queen on the front.

Joseph Prowen, Actor

A clear and coherent Brexit policy, coupled with a plan to build a significant number of houses that somehow manages to avoid pissing off elderly shire Tories, would be a pretty great set of gifts for the electorate. It may even happen, considering Christmas is the season of miraculously achieving the hitherto impossible. As for the gift I’d give Jeremy, I’d go for the UE Boom 2 wireless bluetooth speaker. There is no great political reasoning behind this, it’s just a really good speaker and unless he already has one it’d make a solid gift. It’s waterproof and everything. They’re not paying me to say this.

Ahir Shah, Comedian

About Cary Gee

Cary Gee is a freelance journalist and Tribune columnist