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Back in my youthful past, when I was a lot stronger and fitter than I am today, I delivered sailing yachts across oceans for a living. It might not sound like a ‘job,’ but there were challenges as well as exhilarating highs, surfing down following seas driven by a stiff trade wind. You cannot spend as much time on the ocean as I did without feeling deeply connected to and dependent on your glorious natural surroundings, so I was fired up about protecting the planet in the very early days of GreenPeace. The huge amount of traveling I did in those days took me all over the world where I was welcomed by generous and humble people from all walks of life, learning a mutual respect for their beliefs and cultures along the way. A long-term goal of competing as crew aboard one of the yachts in the Whitbread Round the World Race was finally realized when I joined the 89/90 race as sailmaker/medic on the leg between Punta del Este, Uruguay and Fremantle Australia, which proved to be the most dangerous of that race.
In mid 89 I joined the US Women’s Challenge, but when, after sailing to the UK, we still failed to get funding, I joined a vintage maxi, former Great Britain II, ‘With Integrity’. I was undeterred by the extremes of a race leg where I saw my best friend tossed into the Southern Ocean; a total of six crew were washed overboard, most were recovered alive, but one was buried at sea on that deadly leg. I returned to the US where I started organizing my own team for the next race, but I didn’t want to lead a National team; I selected talent from around the globe for an International female racing crew for Team Pro-Maxi. When Hurricane Andrew decimated South Dade, all of a sudden it would have been obscene to pitch for twelve million dollars for a yacht race with a team based next to the Florida epicenter of a disaster! We wound down the project, our team members pitched in to help with relief efforts and, as a newly qualified Wilderness EMT, I did my first stint as a Medical Volunteer, discovering a new passion for Medicine and Disaster Relief.
By then although we were a fully registered racing team, I was already battling with the race organizers after seeing Whitbread promotional video footage that included dumping a huge Kevlar sail into the Southern Ocean! As if the dumping of plastic waste were not enough, after early pledges from Whitbread not to allow any cigarette sponsors to join the race they reneged on their word and the race goals no longer fit our ideals. Our Team Pro-Maxi motto was: “A Healthy Body and Mind on a Healthy Peaceful Planet” it summed up the sentiments I still cling to today. Jeremy Corbyn is welcome to steal my motto for his project that embodies these important ideals: the “Peace and Justice Project” that was formally launched this Sunday the 17th of January. What I find so truly inspiring about this project is that it too is international and collaborative, with the input and full support of today’s key Socialist thinkers.
Just after New Year 2021, when so many in this country sank into the deepest of depressive thinking over the future, Jeremy Corbyn announced the Project. He said, “Today I’m announcing a new project for the New Year. I’m very excited about it, and I hope you will be too. Next month, we’re kicking off the Peace and Justice Project. We’re going to bring people together, for social justice, peace and human rights, in Britain and across the world. I’m telling you about it now, because I want you to be part of it. It’s been a difficult year for all of us. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and deepened the scale of injustice and inequality in our society. Its mishandling and devastating human consequences have shown the inability of our privatized, hollowed-out system to meet the challenges of our time. The Black Lives Matter movement has fuelled a global response to the scourge of racism. Wildfires across Australia, Russia, and the US have driven home the fact that none of us are safe from the climate crisis.”
Corbyn continued, “After years of endless wars, economic crisis, increasing inequality and insecurity, it’s become clear that our politics and economic systems have failed, and are in fact part of the problem. Injustices and threats at home and abroad cannot be separated. What’s happened this year has shown us how connected we all are. We need to build solidarity beyond our borders, and across communities, to solve our common problems together. The Peace and Justice Project is there to create space, hope and opportunity for those campaigning for social justice and a future that works for the many, not the few. We will work with unions and social movements to build a network of campaigners, grassroots activists, thinkers and leaders, to share experiences and generate ideas about solutions to our common problems.”
Corbyn explained how, “We will combine research and analysis with campaigning and organizing. And we can build on the popular socialist policies developed in the Labour Party over the past five years. Whether it’s Rolls-Royce workers defending their jobs in Barnoldswick, or the huge protests in India, whether it’s children going hungry here in one of the world’s richest countries, or languishing as refugees from war and crises, we will support those campaigning for peace and justice. That’s just a taster. This project won’t be a substitute for any other campaign or organization. It will be a resource and a platform to work together for progressive change. In January I’ll be able to say more, when we have our launch. I’ll be joined by some fantastic campaigners – that means you.”
Corbyn finished his introduction to the project by reminding us to, “sign up to our launch event now, the information is just about to come on the screen. I hope we’re going to build something important together. This year, many of us have felt powerless in the face of forces beyond our control. It doesn’t have to be like that. Things can, and they will, change.” The Project has been steadily gaining support in the build up to yesterday’s official launch, but don’t hold your breath waiting to hear about this on the BBC or see an article in the tabloids… On the Peace and Justice Project’s Website their “Mission Statement” is: “To bring people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, in Britain and across the world. The Peace and Justice Project will back campaigns, commission reports and develop progressive networks in Britain and across the world. The Peace and Justice Project will work with labour and social movements and provide platforms to those campaigning for change for the many, not the few.”
Elaborating on what the Peace and Justice project aims to accomplish under the heading, “What we do” they say, “We bring people together to tackle the causes of injustice and build a decent society. We produce research and analysis, build networks and coalitions, and lead people-powered campaigns. The world we live in is more connected than ever; and we recognise that working for peace and justice at home and overseas cannot be separated. Our work fits broadly in the following areas.” The Peace and Justice Project is seperated into four broad goals.
The first under the heading, “Economic security,” pledges to, “We challenge the skewed distribution of wealth and power at home and overseas, and the ways it manifests including tax dodging, privatisation, low pay, and restrictions on workers’ rights. We build practical solidarity with the people and communities this economy is rigged against, whilst making the argument for a new and just system.” The second goal under the heading of, “Global justice,” pledges to, “We campaign for a peaceful world, where nations and international institutions end, not uphold, systems of exploitation. We highlight and tackle issues including the arms trade and militarism, human rights, refugee protection, global inequality and resource extraction.”
The third goal covers, “Democratic society,” pledging to, “We campaign for a society in which power as well as wealth is shared. We work for a world where people are free from oppression, can exercise the right to self-determination, and possess genuine control over the social, political and economic institutions and technologies that shape our lives.” The fourth main topic focuses on, “Climate justice” pledging to, “…Campaign for urgent action on the climate emergency and highlight how climate change exacerbating existing injustices including class, race, the global division of power, conflict and refugee crises, and the treatment of indigenous peoples.”
This was Jeremy Corbyn’s full speech at the Peace and Justice Project launch. It was delivered during an online rally held on Sunday the 17th of January; Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the launch of the Peace and Justice Project in this online rally said:
“I want to start with a huge thank you. Thank you to everybody taking part today. People have tuned in from all across the UK, communities big and small, and from countries all over the world. Our coming together across borders, backgrounds, and experiences has never been more important. That’s what we want to do with this project: unite the local, the national, and the global. So welcome and thank you, all of you, for your endless determination to make a more peaceful and just world, for the many, not the few. It is your hope, your commitment, your passion that powers our movement.
You, those who came before you, and those who will come after you in the struggle for peace and justice, are the motor of change in history. It may not always seem that way, in the face of defeats and setbacks. But movements transform the world. Look at those movements that fought for liberation from slavery, the vote, equality for women, civil rights, freedom from colonialism, for the eight hour working day, for the right to organise, for our NHS, for socialism. They were scorned. They were beaten back. They often thought they had lost and they were defeated many times. But look who changed the world. Who do we remember? Do you remember Sylvia Pankhurst, or the Home Secretary who put her in prison for demanding votes for women? That’s why we are all here. Because the struggle for peace and justice is needed today more than ever. Things can and they will change, and it’s our job to do it.
As we live through the second major global crisis in a dozen years we see the scale of the task but also know that we have the solutions and are better organised and prepared than when the financial crisis hit in 2008. The pandemic is intensifying three deep, connected, and global crises: the climate emergency, an economy that generates inequality and insecurity faster than prosperity and freedom, and a global order that holds back the vast majority of our planet’s people, and is dangerously breaking down. 2020 was the hottest year on record. The wealth of the richest rose astronomically while the majority suffered. And a global response to the pandemic was held back by authoritarian nationalist leaders, and the drive for corporate mega profits.
But we have both the ideas and the power, when we come together, to overcome these crises and build a world of peace and justice. What our movement does today will be felt for generations to come. Our role in the Peace and Justice Project will be to champion those ideas and support the movements that can turn those ideas into reality. Because if you refuse to argue for your side, our opponents win by default. Many of the ideas we need to make the 2020s better than the 2010s were developed in and around the Labour Party in recent years, by outstanding thinkers but more importantly by demands of our movements, and the skills, knowledge and needs of the communities affected. We will build on those policies and ideas, taking them further, adapting them to the post pandemic world, alongside movements, experts, and with you, so that our movement can turn the dial away from conflict and inequality, and towards peace and justice.
As we launch today, we will focus on four areas of work and we want you and the movements you’re involved in to take part. First, a Green New Deal, paid for by the wealthy and big polluters, that supports our planet, and a new economy that produces good quality unionised jobs as standard. Labour’s 2019 manifesto programme is arguably the most developed Green agenda in the world, combining radical decarbonisation with an enormous good jobs programme in every part of the UK and we will take it further, because that’s what the future of our planet demands. We will commission new research, thinking, and policy that can be used by movements, communities, and parties around the world to build a Global Green New Deal. But we won’t do this to movements, we will do it with movements. So we will convene regular meetings with climate activists, with community groups, and with trade unions to develop our programme of work.
If your organisation wants to help shape our work and join our meetings, please get in touch with us. And if you want to be part of the campaign we will build in the run up to the vital COP26 meetings in Glasgow in November. Please go to our website at thecorbynproject.com/action and sign up. The second area of our work is economic security, with the immediate task of supporting people in the pandemic recession. We will advance the policies that would make the effects of a recession so much less severe for millions of people. Policies that give people things they can always rely on; publicly owned and properly funded public services, high quality, affordable transport, cheap bills from public providers, a huge expansion of social housing, security of tenure for the private rented sector, protections against fire and rehire to drive down wages and conditions, rights at work from day one for all workers.
But the most important thing is to help people now. So we are asking our supporters, you, to link up locally and address this economic emergency together. That may involve working with food banks, mutual aid groups., social organisations, or trade unions to support communities in this difficult period while campaigning for a more decent and just economy. Please go to our website and sign up. In the coming days we will put you in touch with other supporters in your area with concrete actions you can take together to help people get through this difficult, isolated time.
The third area of our work is international justice. I’ve spent my life campaigning for peace and for justice and human rights all over the world. And this Project will carry on that work. We will campaign against the merchants of death in the arms trade and against war. The UK government is complicit in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, through its arming, training, and support for the Saudi-led coalition. We will do all we can to help bring this already six year long war to an end and support the people of Yemen who have been so brutalised. And we will continue to be utterly committed to the support and protection of the victims of war, refugees seeking a place of safety. Peace and diplomacy is the answer to war and conflict.
But as with economic security, an urgent priority is to address the injustices and iniquities of Covid. Some rich countries have acquired enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over, while nine out of ten people in poor countries will not receive a vaccine this year. If the Covid emergency has taught us anything, it is just how connected we all are and that global problems can’t be fully addressed by local solutions. If vaccines are to end the pandemic, 60% of the world must be inoculated to achieve herd immunity. Yet a combination of vaccine nationalism, and the irrational placing of profit ahead of public health is thwarting the global solidarity and coordinated action needed to roll out Coronavirus vaccines to the entire world.
There are already a number of excellent organisations working in this area, and we will add our weight to them to speed up global roll out, to reduce the costs for people around the world, and argue for a more rational system, where public health comes before profit or beggar thy neighbour nationalism. Please go to our website and sign up to this campaign to find out more as it develops. And while you are there, please add your name to an incredibly important petition to the UK government that we’ve created. It calls on the UK government to use its power in the World Trade Organisation to support Indian and South African efforts to allow poorer countries to access vaccines without paying enormous mark ups to big pharmaceutical companies. Please go to our website, or check social media, and sign the petition.
The fourth area we are working on is building a truly democratic society. Democracy is so much more than voting once every four or five years, and sometimes with the choice restricted to parties which agree on many fundamental things. We want to see democracy dramatically extended into our communities, our workplaces, our public institutions. There’s a simple principle: if something has significant power over our lives, we should have some collective say over it. One vital area, and the one this Project will start with, is the media. We want a powerful and influential media, but one that puts power and influence in the hands of the majority, not hoards it in the hands of the few. A truly free media would expose truth and challenge the powerful.
But right now, much of the media isn’t very free at all. The influence of billionaires and their interests is huge, and the power of the tech giants has mushroomed. And it might be about to get worse, with two new TV stations being set up with the backing of enormous private wealth, competing to out – Fox News each other. The media isn’t something just like the weather that we complain about but can’t change. To advance peace and justice, we need to democratise the media so that real journalism, that seeks truth and challenges power, is supported over misinformation and falsehood.
The Peace and Justice Project will work with academics, experts, journalists and media workers, to develop research and policies for change that our movement can rally around. I laid out some ideas in a speech to the Edinburgh TV festival in 2018 but there’s much more we can do. We are going to start by taking on Rupert Murdoch and his plans to re-enter the UK television market. Unlike his last attempt to buyout Sky, this time there’s no one stopping him. We need an urgent Parliamentary commission to protect our news media from oligarchy and monopoly control. We have started a petition for this Parliamentary commission on our website. I hope you’ll go to our website and sign up to our campaign for media democracy and sign the petition.
As you can see, we have so much to do. We might look around us now. and think things look bleak with the climate crisis, the pandemic, the continued rule of billionaires and their political playthings, and the frightening rise of the far right and renewed racism. But history is a funny thing. It doesn’t flow in straight lines. And movements can give us hope like the incredible Black Lives Matter movement did last year and will continue to do. Because they show us that the rule of the Few over the Many rests on very shaky ground. Those with a grip on power fight harder to make it seem inevitable that they will be in charge forever than they do trying to make the system work.
A dozen years ago, the financial crisis began to expose their weakness. Now it is all of us, the many, that are assembling the ideas and the movements to change the world. The Peace and Justice Project is part of that effort, alongside so many others. Because it isn’t just about one organisation, one movement, one group of people. Our greatest strength is that we are many but we come together in unity, in hope, in love, to demand peace, and social justice, for all. I hope you’ll join us. Thank you.” There is a Link to Join; it says: “We’re building a community of campaigners for peace and justice. Join our network and you’ll get access to news and new research, invitations to our events and campaigns, and opportunities to connect with leading campaigners across the world.” Alternative Media is increasingly giving voice to the progressive Socialist Left and the Green agenda, but we spent an entire decade cowered by the Tory austerity cosh, so we must work hard to purge Tory buzzwords and PR spin phrases from popular use!
We cannot repeat that damaging mistake as we will not eradicate Boris Johnson’s ‘Lev…up’ lie, (LUL) with a persuasive argument disproving this shallow con trick; far more effective to change the narrative, creating an honest and accurate phrase that represents the reality of the Tory agenda of, ‘Decimating Down!’ To combat the divisive far-Right obsession over Nationalism; assert tolerant values as a, ‘Peaceful, Patriot of the Planet’ to eliminate toxic ‘othering.’ If the progressive Left had promoted a fair democratization of ‘Freedom of Movement,’ not based on Corporate access to cheap labour, but offering equal opportunities through Collaborative Circular Migration on a global scale, in mutually beneficial partnerships, the principal argument for Brexit would have evaporated. We lost so much ground buying into the ‘borrowed votes’ lie in the Covert 2019 Rigged Election, but now we must pull together, Protest, Challenge, Investigate to Expose the Corruption that stole our Democracy: I hope this Peace and Justice Program will help. DO NOT MOVE ON!