#Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 16th September 2015

On 27th February 1900, 129 delegates met in a hall on Farringdon Street. They represented organisations from the Social Democratic Federation on the far Left to several Liberal MPs on the relative Right, with over 70 socialist societies and trade unions falling somewhere between. From that meeting the Labour Party grew, born of a spectrum of opinion spanning almost the whole of the British Left.

Over the following half century that broad coalition supported a range of causes at the time considered crazy: votes for women, fighting Fascism at home and abroad when others argued compromise, universal healthcare in the form of the NHS, and a modern welfare state to tackle the ‘evil giants’ of want, squalor, disease, ignorance and unemployment.

From the sixties the party, against general opinion at the time, campaigned to free individuals from state oppression by giving women control over their own bodies through clearing the way for the Abortion Act, ending the legal ban on homosexuality and enabling couples to divorce when their marriage had irretrievably broken down.

In the 1990s we were told by business that the Minimum Wage would destabilise labour markets and usher in mass-unemployment and yet, alongside the New Deal, millions of new jobs were created in its wake.

Labour is a broad coalition of those who from the Left to the Centre believe that by working together we can create a community which works for everyone and not just the lucky few. Progress often means going a step beyond established opinion and yet such steps have been shown to be on the right side of history.

On Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Leader of the Labour Party. As Leader of that broad coalition he now gets to decide the course the party will adopt in taking that next step forwards. While some are concerned at the risk of a split, none have sought to propose one, only expressed fear of it happening.

In Crawley, Labour has an elected mandate to seek better jobs, homes and a stronger community for local residents and Labour councillors remain united in pursuing those goals.

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