As many as 66 percent of Labour Party members support Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader—despite attacks on him by Labour MPs.
A poll published on Tuesday of this week showed that almost two thirds of Labour members think Corbyn is doing “well”. That’s up from the 59 percent of people who voted for him to be leader.
The figures show the scale of the rift between ordinary Labour members and MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Most Labour MPs would like to see Corbyn ousted.
Many of them took the opportunity to hammer him in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
Corbyn had refused to say if he will give Labour MPs a free vote on any future debate in parliament on bombing Syria as Socialist Worker went to press (see pages 4&5).
But deputy leader Tom Watson undermined him by saying it was for the shadow cabinet—not the leader—to decide whether MPs would be whipped.
Meanwhile Labour MP Chuka Umunna even suggested that Corbyn’s opposition to war was a “disqualification from office”.
And former leadership rival Liz Kendall said Corbyn had “failed to rise to the challenge” after the Paris attacks.
Corbyn has even come under attack from Unison union leader Dave Prentis. Last Sunday Prentis said Labour needed to “get its act together” to win the next election.
Corbyn has started to bow under the pressure.
On Monday of last week he said that he was “not happy” with police shooting to kill suspected terrorists.The next day he said police should take whatever action is “proportionate and strictly necessary”.
In another concession to the right, Corbyn has focused his opposition to the Tories’ new cuts on those to police. And last Saturday he said Labour would “consider” Tory proposals to bomb Syria.
Tuesday’s poll showed that 33 percent of the general public support Corbyn. And Labour canvassing in Oldham West and Royton suggests that its support could be halved in the by election set to take place there on Thursday 3 December.
Oldham is a Labour stronghold—but the racist Ukip party hopes to capitalise on a poor Labour vote.
The Labour right will use this to say Corbyn’s leadership makes Labour unelectable.
Yet hundreds of thousands of people signed up to Labour to vote for Corbyn because he represented an alternative to austerity and war.
Concessions to the right will take Corbyn away from that base of support.
We need to mobilise on the ground against bombing, for a fight against the cuts and to stop the onslaught of the right.