Socialist Worker

Corbyn and McDonnell challenge the Labour right

by Nick Clark and Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2503

Jeremy Corbyn on todays housing demonstration

Jeremy Corbyn on today's housing demonstration (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell have hit back against their critics from the right of the party.

Labour’s left wing leadership has come under pressure from some Labour figures to move to the right following last week’s elections. Newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan said yesterday that Corbyn had to get Labour “back into the habit of winning elections.”

But speaking to Socialist Worker today, Saturday, on a housing protest in north London, Corbyn said, “We are getting back to the business of winning elections. He won one.”

He added, “I was in Bristol last Saturday. I’ve been there a lot of times campaigning with Marvin Rees who won the election for mayor. It was an incredible result and I’m pleased that we’re getting back to winning elections.”

McDonnell backed Corbyn up. He told Socialist Worker, “We haven’t lost the habit of winning elections. We won elections last week.”

McDonnell had been speaking at a meeting hosted by the Fast Food Rights campaign in central London. He told the meeting that Labour’s election results last week were “the best results we’ve had in four years.

“We won every mayoral seat around the country. Some people are saying that’s because we’ve tried to appeal to all, a wider range. It’s because people, particularly in our cities now, are radicalised.

“In London, despite the Islamophobic campaign waged by Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan won. Why did he win? Because London is now a radical city. We’ve got a huge number of new members of the Labour Party as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign, who mobilised and got the votes out. The potential there is absolutely enourmous.”

Conference

McDonnell also hit out at the right wing Labour MPs who had attacked Corbyn for refusing to allow McDonald’s to have a stand at Labour conference.

“Jeremy said, send the cheque back, we’re not having that,” he told the meeting. “He got savaged by a small number of Labour MPs. I found that extraordinary.”

Corbyn also spoke at the conference of right wing Labour faction Progress this afternoon. He told Socialist Worker he was going to the conference to “show that as the elected leader of the party I’m prepared to go anywhere to make my case.

“I was invited and I’ll go there and make my pitch as to what I think the Labour movement should be about.”

McDonnell also said that the Labour leadership should use “whatever platform we can.”

But he added that he and Corbyn were “changing the Labour Party not just into an electoral machine, but also a social movement.”

He told Socialist Worker, “The Labour party was founded on the basis of being a social movement that also had to take state power through elections. And that’s exactly what we’re changing the Labour party into.

“We’ve doubled our membership. We’ve got a Labour Party membership rank and file now that campaigns in their communities. They’re taking up the issues that working people want them to address.”

McDonnell later joined a protest that blocked the road outside the Topshop on Oxford Circus. The protest was calling for a living wage for cleaners at Topshop and an end to victimisation.


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