The momentum behind Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign is growing despite right wing attacks.
He toured the north of England last Saturday, with a series of mass rallies in Derby, Sheffield and Manchester.
Up to 1,600 joined the rally in Manchester, there were 1,200 in Sheffield and 700 in Derby.
Mark Krantz from Manchester told Socialist Worker, “There were lots of young people and trade unionists, as well as long-standing campaigners.
“Everyone was smiling—the mood felt like an assertion of hope over fear.”
The Labour Party establishment is ramping up smears and unsuccessfully trying to outmanoeuvre Corbyn.
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair made yet another intervention in the leadership contest.
He accused Corbyn supporters of living in a “parallel universe” and warned people to reject “Alice in Wonderland” policies. It’s Blair, the war criminal, who has lost touch with reality.
People are looking for a radical alternative to austerity—and the focus across much of Britain has become the Corbyn campaign.
NUT union member Martin Sear was at the Derby rally. He told Socialist Worker, “For Derby to get 700 at a political meeting is significant.
“It was the biggest meeting since the height of the Stop the War campaign.
“It was very enthusiastic. Corbyn talked about nationalisation, looking after people who need help and getting rid of Trident.”
In Manchester speakers ripped into the Tories’ claims of building a “Northern Powerhouse” and regional devolution.
Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith said, “George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse—in reality it’s about Northern Power Cuts.
“Devo Manc is not about devolving power—it’s about devolving cuts.
“We need the kind of devolution that works—and Jeremy has an alternative programme on that.”
But this isn’t a two dog race between the Labour left and the Blairites.
Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham has spent the last week somersaulting, unable to deal with the Corbyn surge. He warned people to heed Blair’s warnings and said he could still beat Corbyn.
But Burnham has said he would work with Corbyn—hoping to neutralise a Corbyn leadership’s policies.
Last week it was hinted that Burnham would demand to be shadow chancellor.
Corbyn’s rallies look and feel like a political movement.
Actor Julie Hesmondhalgh told the Manchester rally, “I see a vibrant new movement. I see thousands of people joining the Labour Party.
“We need to build a mass movement of people who ‘give a toss about stuff’.”
Corbyn talks about the need to build the movement. But he also faced pressure to make compromises in order to make Labour more “electable”.
In fact, it is boldness and radicalism that have built his campaign—this is no time to retreat.
Guardian newspaper columnist Owen Jones is wrong to say that it’s crucial for an “image of moderation” to be built and that Labour councils must continue to make cuts.
And whatever the result on 12 September we need fighting unity on the left around action.
We cannot wait five more Tory years. And this energy can’t be allowed to dissipate into the Labour machine.
We need to build the movement outside—beginning with the 4 October demonstration at the Tory party conference.
Thanks to Jay Williams