Jeremy Corbyn Isn’t Progressive Enough – We Must Stand by Sex Workers

Corbyn’s views on sex work are completely out of date – like much of his socialism.

Once again Corbyn is proving that he just isn’t the leader needed for this century. Jeremy Corbyn has backed the ‘Nordic Model’ which sees those who purchase sex criminalised. This is a huge blow to the idea that Corbyn is progressive, at least when it’s to do with anything beyond class.

This is a huge mistake, and one where anti-feminists will be rubbing their hands with glee. Sex workers are routinely smeared and denied a voice when it comes to their own work. Corbyn seems further still to be playing into that, implying that sex workers are “victims” (although he could be referring specifically to trafficked victims or people forced into the industry, the language is muddied). However, this is an area Corbyn should be absolutely clear on and the only sure thing is that Corbyn has spent far too much time in his life following dogma than evidence. All he had to do was visit Amnesty International to see why human rights organisations support protecting sex workers through full decriminalisation.

Not all of Corbyn’s policies are wrong. He’s right on economic inequality but only from a white perspective, he’s good on disability and he is standing by trans women in the party. However, these actions are also combined with a sluggish attitude towards anti-Semitism (the party doesn’t need endless inquiries, it needs action). As well as an absolute refusal to address the realities of climate change by refusing to whip the Heathrow vote and a vague sense that Labour does not understand inequality when it isn’t specifically related to working class white people.

“Labour does not understand inequality when it isn’t specifically related to working class white people”

The electorate is being failed by politics that actively oppress some of the most marginalised people in society. The Tories have a disastrous legacy, to the extent that many abandoned voting for other parties in favour of voting for Corbyn in the hope to kick May out of power. People should not face the choice between throwing some marginalised people under the bus – like sex workers – as a way to save other marginalised people – like disabled people. There is an intersection and we should show solidarity across the board, but this is something that Corbyn repeatedly fails to understand and refuses to acknowledge.

Labour don’t surprise in their disappointment anymore. It is time for a new movement. We need a Labour that understands multiple issues of oppression, not just that wages are too low and renting is too expensive. This isn’t just bad politics from Corbyn, it’s lazy and oppressive politics. Sex workers deserve better.

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