Members of the magnificent THEE FACTION tell Bob Oram why they’re organising a fundraiser for Jeremy Corbyn this Friday
THIS Friday night Union Chapel in Islington will see another huge crowd turnout to see Jeremy Corbyn in London.
There’ll be a difference though, as the most important left-wing politician for decades will appear on stage with one of the the most important political bands this country has ever produced. Thee Faction are unashamedly passionate socialists with songs of brilliant polemic, uplifting tunes and bold brassy rhythms. They’re literally trying to sing down this government and Friday will be a huge party regardless of the final leadership ballot result.
As band member Babyface says: “Everywhere he goes, Corbyn is speaking to huge crowds. While the reactionary media paint him as a relic from the politics of 1983, the youth are flocking to hear ideas new to them but which chime with their own sense of what’s right.
“People who feel the Labour Party left them behind years ago have had their party politics rejuvenated by Corbyn’s.
People who have reluctantly thrown their lot in with parties of the left which have no hope of electoral success can suddenly see that they could take an active part in a genuinely mass political party.”
According to fellow band member Thee Citizen, until Corbyn was on the ballot the whole debate about the next Labour leader was under huge pressure to swing right, to a “centre ground” disappearing under the weight of parties fighting for a place on it.
“But the electorate has rejected this. Labour voters, Scotland and Ukip showed that people want something better or just something else,” he says, “whether concrete progressive policies, or some kind of collective demonstration of identity and shared values.
“That can’t be ceded to the right, who offer people nothing but more of the same, from austerity to racism. The future is still socialism or barbarism — if Labour wants to win people back they need a vision rooted in the old-time religion, as Arthur Scargill used to say.”
What he wants is “a fighting labour movement based on reaching out to the millions alienated by mainstream politics” and he just doesn’t buy media talk about how the left’s heartland is actually disappearing.
“It isn’t, any more than the working class is, it’s just evolved with economic restructuring. Where there’s low-paid work there are low-paid workers and if they can be motivated to vote Ukip to give the political class a short-term poke in the eye, Corbyn can motivate them to think collectively and give the ruling class a long-term poke in the eye.”
Thee Faction know their limitations and so are always looking for opportunities to intervene in the struggle in ways that only a rock’n’roll band could.
They organised this gig for Corbyn because, as Babyface says: “The other leadership contenders are struggling. Not for money. They’ve got plenty of that. They’ve got lobbyists on secondment working in their offices. They’re getting donations from interests who want access to power.
“But they’re struggling for publicity because no one is inspired by them — they’re saying nothing that’s worth hearing so no-one wants to report it. Conversely, the media laps up everything Comrade Corbyn says. They write it off, of course.
But for once no-one out there is influenced by the write-offs. They’re just hungry for the policies. So the campaign has snowballed from 200/1 to evens now.
“But even a straight-talking campaign free of whistles and bells costs money. And the big consultants and privatised utility firms aren’t stepping forward to foot the bill. If the Corbyn campaign heralds a rebirth of the Labour Party as a social movement, we’re going to have to get used to that and perhaps not before time.”
Socialists and progressives are going to need to step up, he stresses, and those that can are going to need to chuck a few quid in out of faith, trust and solidarity.
That’s what this gig at Union Chapel is about. For only 15 quid Corbyn supporters get the chance to hear Owen Jones and Phyll Opoku speak, watch Ian Saville’s socialist magic, hear Robb Johnson and Thee Faction orchestrate a socialist sing-song and listen to Corbyn’s vision of a better tomorrow.
“It’s going to be a celebration of a class resurgent. And an affirmation that a war is going to be waged against austerity.
It’s going to be a night of adrenalin and analysis. And it’s going to raise lots of much-needed funds for the Corbyn campaign,” Babyface declares.
“Capital is preparing us for a whole new onslaught. That’s what austerity is. A culture change. Its mission will be complete only when we all believe that we must accept less and less in order to ensure that the ruling class trouser more and more.
“Corbyn’s leadership bid is a part of the fightback. It is a symbol of a wider resistance. But it could, if he wins, become the leadership of a wider resistance. That’s what this is about.”