MPs in the Labour Party have overwhelmingly passed a motion of “no confidence” in left wing leader Jeremy Corbyn today, Tueday.
Members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) voted by 172 to 40 against their leader.
The vote means Corbyn is now under huge pressure to resign or call another leadership election.
It is the culmination of a campaign to force Corbyn out less than ten months after he was elected by hundreds of thousands of Labour members and supporters.
But a large rally outside parliament on Monday evening showed that Corbyn still enjoys huge support from Labour’s members and supporters.
And Corbyn said after the vote that he would not "betray" Labour members by resiging.
He said, "I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.
"We are a democratic party, with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour party members, trade unionists and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country."
Two thirds of Labour’s shadow cabinet resigned on Sunday and Monday. Several more shadow junior ministers and aides have joined in—bringing the number of resignations to more than 50 over the course of three days.
Other Labour MPs and candidates have joined calls for him to resign.
It came after Hilary Benn, then Labour’s shadow foreign secretary, told Corbyn early on Sunday morning that he had “lost confidence” in his leadership.
Corbyn rightly sacked Benn. But Labour MPs Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey submitted a motion of no confidence in Corbyn to the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).
It was followed up with a series of staggered and coordinated resignations.
They claim they have lost confidence in Corbyn’s ability to lead the party after the result of last week’s European Union referendum.
In reality they are outraged that their members and supporters defied them to elect a left wing leader last year.
They have been looking for an opportunity to get rid of Corbyn ever since and wrest back control of the party. The pressure to resign will be immense.
Labour MPs have huge power in the Labour Party—and the PLP vote was expected to be overwhelmingly against Corbyn.
The Mirror newspaper ramped up the pressure even further with a front page on Tuesday telling Corbyn to “go now”.
But the size of the rallies on Monday evening shows Corbyn has huge support among ordinary Labour members and supporters.
It is very likely that he would win any new leadership election.
Labour left group Momentum, which organised the London rally, said 10,000 turned out to support Corbyn.
Some 300 people were reported to have come to a similar rally in Newcastle.
Corbyn also has the support of a number of Labour MPs such as John McDonnell, Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon as well as several trade unions.
Speakers at the London rally included Matt Wrack, Dave Ward, Tosh McDonald, and Ronnie Draper, leaders of the FBU, CWU, Aslef and Bfawu unions respectively.
Corbyn was defying attempts to oust him as Socialist Worker went to press.
But mobilising the support for Corbyn in the workplaces and on the streets—and feeding it into movements against austerity and racism—will be crucial to defend him.
Everyone on the left should defend Corbyn against the right.
Thousands rally against ‘detached’ Labour MPs
The rallies this week had the feel of Corbyn’s huge public meetings during his leadership election campaign last year.
They were also angry and defiant. Chants of “Tories out—Corbyn in” rang out across Parliament Square in London and at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle city centre.
It’s incredible and appalling that just when all the attention should be on the Tories’ problems, the right has stirred up a crisis in Labour.
They fear that Corbyn’s left wing politics means he couldn’t lead a Labour Party credible enough to govern in the “national interest”—and is therefore unelectable.
That’s why they’re at odds with the Labour members who support Corbyn because they want a better world for those at the bottom of society.
Labour activist Daniel Kebede was at the Newcastle rally. He told Socialist Worker, “It was very angry. There were shouts of ‘shame on you’ whenever someone mentioned the name of a shadow cabinet minister who has resigned.
“There was a feeling that the Parliamentary Labour Party is very detached from the membership. That they just don’t know what they’re doing—that they’re in some ivory tower.”
Unions must resist the right
Several trade union general secretaries including the leaders of Unite, Unison and the GMB have come out in support of Corbyn. They have spoken at rallies and issued statements of support.
Such support is a huge boost to Corbyn.
Unions are still the Labour Party’s main funders—and union leaders wield considerable influence inside the party.
Some union leaders would have preferred to back Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper during last year’s leadership election.
Yet several union conferences this year passed motions defending Corbyn.
Union activists have to keep the pressure on their leaders to keep backing Corbyn.
And they should demand that no union money is used to sponsor MPs who have tried to force Corbyn out.
Movement that elected Corbyn needs to defend him
Corbyn was elected last year after hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members and supporters voted for him. Tens of thousands of people had turned out to hear him speak at election rallies across Britain.
Christine Campbell was one supporter at the rally in London on Monday. She told Socialist Worker, “I joined the Labour Party because of Jeremy Corbyn. But if they keep this up there won’t be a credible left wing alternative to vote for.”
Corbyn’s speech to the rally was a reminder of why so many people voted for him. He called on supporters to “stay together strong and united for the kind of world we want to live in”.
His election was a victory for everyone who wants to fight against austerity, racism and war.
That’s why everyone on the left has to defend him.