Socialist Worker

Corbyn's peace offer won’t stop Labour MPs conspiring against him

Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to compromise with the right—but that can’t save him, argues Nick Clark

Issue No. 2511

Left wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Left wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (Pic: Parti Socialiste/Éric Spiridigliozzi)

Moves to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party leadership continued this week—but rallies and some union leaders backed him up.

Labour MP Angela Eagle was again threatening to launch a leadership challenge as Socialist Worker went to press.

Meanwhile, Corbyn and some of his opponents have been rumoured to be moving towards a compromise to try and end the crisis.

Eagle suggested on Monday that she would launch a challenge if Corbyn “doesn’t take action”.

She did not explicitly say she would challenge Corbyn if he refused to step down, as some news websites reported.

But she said, “There are many people—MPs, party members up and down the country—asking me to resolve this impasse and I will if something isn’t done soon.

“I have the support to run and resolve this impasse and I will do so if Jeremy doesn’t take action.”

Eagle had been expected to challenge Corbyn towards the end of last week following a vote of no confidence in his leadership by Labour MPs.

A total of 172 Labour MPs voted for the motion of no confidence. Only 40 voted in Corbyn’s favour.

But she appeared to hold back amid reports that Labour MP Owen Smith was also preparing a challenge.

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson tried to negotiate a deal with Corbyn.

Reports emerged over the weekend suggesting that Watson and other Labour MPs had tried to encourage Corbyn to step down.

They had tried to negotiate a deal for Corbyn to “retire with dignity”, promising that a future leader would adopt some of his left wing policies.

Corbyn then wrote an article for the Sunday Mirror newspaper insisting that he wouldn’t step down, but offering to “reach out” to his opponents.


That same day Unite union leader Len McCluskey used a television interview to tell MPs that their plan to oust Corbyn “had failed”.

But he said trade unions could “bring both parties together and resolve this issue”.

“The alternative is that we’re plunged into a civil war that will be bitter and ugly and may never allow the Labour Party to reunite again.”

There was speculation that any kind of deal would involve handing over more power to Labour MPs who want to drag the party back to the right.

Making such concessions would be a mistake. Corbyn still has the overwhelming support of Labour Party members.

More than 60,000 people joined Labour in the past week, most of them to support Corbyn. And polls show he would win any new leadership election.

Both sides fear a damaging split in the party, putting pressure on the plotters to back down last week—and on Corbyn to compromise now.

But the right’s attacks won’t stop. Corbyn and the Labour left should take them head-on—including by deselecting MPs that tried to undermine him.

Unity with the right can only mean abandoning the anti-austerity, anti-war politics that inspired Corbyn’s supporters when he became leader last year.

Georgina Harrison

Georgina Harrison (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Blocked from backing Corbyn

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters in Labour found its structures made it almost impossible to support their leader.

Georgina Harrison from Lincoln said, “My Labour branch refused to even consider a motion to support Corbyn until September.

“They kept giving all kinds of bureaucratic reasons. I thought, I can’t do anything here, even as secretary.”

Georgina decided to leave Labour at the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism festival last weekend.

She said, “I kept hearing all these inspiring things. I thought, I don’t want to be in the Labour Party. I’d joined Momentum because I wanted to help people get involved in the Labour Party. But this is where it’s at.”

Dangerous backsliding on defence of migration

John McDonnell

John McDonnell (Pic: Flickr/Transition Heathrow)

Labour’s left wing shadow chancellor John McDonnell said last week that “the free movement of people, of labour, will come to an end” when Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

McDonnell became the latest prominent figure on the Labour left to backtrack on support for free movement.

He added that Labour needed to “consult with the British people on the nature of the relationship we have with regard to the free movement of people”.

McDonnell had campaigned for a Remain vote in the run-up to the referendum.

But in a speech before the referendum he said Labour would “look again at the free movement of Labour”.

Socialists should reject myths about migration and free movement. Migrants aren’t responsible for driving down wages or pressures on housing.

Immigration controls mean repression of migrant workers.

They legitimise the racist idea that some people don’t belong in Britain.

Further limitations on free movement aren’t inevitable.

Labour under a left wing leadership should fight to defend migrants—not accommodate to racist ideas.

‘It’s our party too—and we back Jeremy’

Several thousand people rallied in defence of Jeremy Corbyn in towns and cities across Britain last weekend.

Some 3,000 people turned out in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens last Friday. Thousands more rallied in Liverpool on Saturday.

Others demonstrated in Sheffield, Sunderland, Nottingham, Exeter, Penzance and Plymouth.

The rallies were angry and defiant. At the Manchester rally Hannah McCarthy from Labour left group Momentum attacked the MPs trying to get rid of Corbyn.

“People who were elected to represent us are acting outside the interest of the party membership, and going against it,” she said.

“It shows no respect for party democracy. It shows no respect for the beliefs and wishes of the party membership, who have a very different vision for what we want the party to be.”

And in Nottingham, Labour councillor Steve Battlemuch accused Labour MPs of “stabbing Jeremy in the back”.

“At this time, we should have been united and fighting against the increase in racism,” he said. “Instead, the party is fighting itself.

“I have been in this party for 33 years. It’s my party as much as anyone else’s. Our membership is increasing, our vote share is increasing, and we will support Jeremy.”

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