Dara (left) campaigning with West London Socialist Party. Photo: Mark Best
Dara (left) campaigning with West London Socialist Party. Photo: Mark Best

Corbyn’s defeat made me look for alternatives

Dara FitzGerald, West London Socialist Party

I never understood wealth. The family I grew up in weren’t in poverty, but not exactly loaded either.

After leaving school, I had no designs on amassing wealth. As long as I could live a comfortable life, and go to the pub now and again, I was content.

After being on the dole a few years, I went back to university. Towards the end of that, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party.

After years of a mostly indifferent view of politics, here was someone who was speaking in plain terms about the inequality in society. He was also putting forward a programme to help make this happen.

No more foreign military intervention! No to austerity! Where do I sign up?!

Sign up I did in 2017, after following the fortunes of the Labour Party since his election. But while I was optimistic about the chance to win an election and affect change, I wasn’t oblivious to the pushback within and without the party, of which there were legion.

The Parliamentary Labour Party was dead set again him from the start, organising mass resignations and a leadership challenge. The mainstream press savaged him relentlessly. And a serving army general remarked that the armed forces would “mutiny” if Corbyn enacted some of the changes he had mentioned.

Even through this, Labour under Corbyn managed to gain seats in the 2017 election! In a way, though, this was the beginning of the end, as now the backlash went into high gear.

This allowed Boris Johnson, who the capitalist press treated with kid gloves, to reach 10 Downing Street. Corbyn wasn’t decisive enough to deal with the right-wing Blairites sabotaging his leadership, including his successor Keir Starmer.

Demoralised after the 2019 election defeat, and having lost my faith in permanent change through solely parliamentary methods, I started looking for alternatives. Time at home during the Covid pandemic meant time for reading, and I began my journey to Marxism.

A friend of mine had a similar political arc, and found the Socialist Party website after some googling. I read the Socialist Party’s ‘What we stand for’ section, and agreed with it broadly.

So I eventually turned up at the West London Socialist Party branch meeting, and joined straight after. I was hugely impressed by the regular political discussion, the filtering down of the goals into weekly tasks, and the requirement for internal and external democracy, in opposition to both capitalist free-market ‘democracy’, and Stalinist top-down bureaucracy.

A year on, and being in the Socialist Party has given me renewed hope in the creation of a better society, and a worldwide socialist revolution. That way we can get to the root of climate change, poverty, racism, sexism, transphobia, and other blights on our society and the world to truly liberate people to fulfil their true potential.