The formation of the Peace and Justice Project was first announced on Twitter by Jeremy Corbyn MP on 13th December 2020. Not long after his removal as the Labour whip (Corbyn is not currently allowed to sit in Parliament as a Labour Member of Parliament) by the new Labour leader, Corbyn let his supporters (and critics!) know that he was working on a new project.
According to its mission statement, the project aims “to bring people together for social and economic justice, peace, and human rights, in Britain and across the world…and back campaigns, commission reports and develop progressive networks in Britain and across the world.” As a disillusioned former member of the Labour Party, socialist, and supporter of Corbyn, this news was music to my ears.
The launch was chaired by Baroness Christine Blower, former General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers and current Labour peer (hence the ‘Baroness’ although I’m not sure why anyone on the left would publicly use the title Baroness). The first speaker was a young climate activist, Scarlett Westbrook. Scarlett spoke passionately and articulately about the need to tackle the climate emergency and disaster capitalism and the importance of a Green New Deal. Other speakers included Ronnie Kasrils (a minister of Nelson Mandela’s government), Len McCluskey (General Secretary of the Unite Trade Union), Zarah Sultana (left-wing Labour MP), Yanis Varoufakis, Noam Chomsky and, of course, Jeremy Corbyn himself.
Corbyn spoke halfway through the launch and revealed more details regarding the aims and focus of the project. The project is to have four main areas of focus:
- Economic Security – Pandemic Solidarity This project will focus on organising solidarity in communities across the UK as the impact of austerity, the pandemic, and the new recession.
- International Justice – Vaccine Equality This project will campaign for wealthier countries to use their power to support a swift COVID-19 vaccine rollout and economic recovery across the world
- Climate Justice – Green New Deal This project will be campaigning to radically decarbonise and restructure the economy for more sustainability. The aim is to form a network with other organisations to develop and campaign for a Green New Deal.
- Democratic Society – Media reform This campaign is focussed on fighting for a more just, free, and accountable media. It plans to commission research, support grassroots actions, and campaign to create a media system that is fit for the 21st Century. This system will support journalistic freedom, speak truth to power, and give voice to the voiceless. 
Personally, I found Zarah Sultana particularly inspiring. She spoke of her own political journey and Corbyn’s role in it, and of the importance of recognising and building solidarity on our shared human interests. Her dig at the current Labour leadership of “we don’t just need a competent, forensic government; we need a socialist government”, provoked a wry smile.
Yanis Varoufakis was also impressive, and realistic, when he spoke of the defeats suffered by the Left and the efficient exploitation of racism and sexual misconduct allegations by our opponents in order to neutralise the threat we pose. Yanis said that capitalism has morphed into techno-feudalism, highlighting the power of the big tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. He made the important point that progressive politics are not guaranteed to prevail, and that we need to internationalise the struggle through movements like this in order to have a chance of success. Noam Chomsky spoke of the vital importance of overcoming the environmental crisis and the threat of nuclear war internationally, or else “the human experiment is over”.
A left wing Labour member who attended the launch had this to say about it: “the strength of the meeting for me was not just the exhortations to continue to build movements, but the call for unity and solidarity both locally and internationally…it was uplifting to be among comrades where there wasn’t spurious censorship of subject matter and where there was broad agreement on the nature of the challenges facing us.”
I felt similarly. It was inspiring to see the enthusiasm for fighting the big global challenges we are collectively facing. After being so focussed on internal Labour Party struggles, it feels positive to look forward to what we can accomplish through movements and international solidarity. I have hope that the Peace and Justice Project can help link our various struggles so we can unite and overcome them, and in the closing words of Jeremy Corbyn, “create a society that is fit for the next generation.”
2 For more information on the projects, including how to get involved: https://thecorbynproject.com/projects/
3 Anonymous Labour Party member, Personal correspondence