Socialist Worker

Resistance can stop the Labour vote shrinking

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2535

Corbyn needs to appeal to the movement outside Labour to pull the party leftwards

Corbyn needs to appeal to the movement outside Labour to pull the party leftwards (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he will re-launch himself as a left wing populist this year.

But his plan could be thwarted if he allows the right of his party to hold him back.

The move could help to revitalise Labour, which is performing poorly in opinion polls.

The most recent survey, by YouGov for The Times newspaper this week, showed Labour’s support at 24 percent.

But a bold programme that promises to fight for ordinary people against the rich could connect with anger in society created by years of austerity.

Promises to end austerity and radically change society led to Corbyn’s resounding victories in two Labour leadership elections.

Corbyn gave a flavour of what his re-launch could look like in a video message released last month.

Establishment

He said, “I’ve spent over 40 years in politics campaigning for a better way of doing things, standing up for people, taking on the establishment, and opposing decisions that would make us worse off.”

This is a good start—and could go much further. A strong left wing programme could include a £10 an hour minimum wage and building more council housing to end the housing crisis.

Crucially it has to involve fighting racism and defending migrants. And Corbyn should call mass meetings, rallies and demonstrations to involve ordinary people in fighting for those demands.

It should also involve fighting to leave the European Union (EU) on a left wing, anti-racist basis.

Corbyn could face opposition from Labour MPs who want to drag the party back to the right

Corbyn said in his video that Labour would not block Britain’s exit from the EU when the government triggers the Article 50 process to leave. He added, “A Brexit that protects the bankers in the City and continues to give corporate handouts to the biggest companies is not good enough.”

A left wing Brexit programme could connect with the people who voted to Leave the EU in order to hit out at the establishment.

But Corbyn could face opposition from Labour MPs who want to drag the party back to the right.

Labour faces a by-election in Copeland, Cumbria, early this year.

Labour MP Jamie Reed—from the party’s hard right—plans to resign at the end of this month. Labour’s hold on the seat is marginal—and support for the racist Ukip party there seems to be growing.

In the 2015 general election Ukip’s share of the vote in Copeland shot up from 3 percent to 16 percent.

Racism

Now some in Labour argue that stopping Ukip means standing a candidate that panders to Ukip’s racism.

Yet right wing policies have done nothing to help Labour in Copeland. With Reed as MP— and under the leaderships of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Milliband—Labour’s share of the vote there has fallen steadily.

Labour can do better if it promises a genuine alternative to austerity and racism.

The crucial way to give workers confidence—and to push back the Tories and shift the polls—is to raise the level of struggle.

The central battles are in the streets and the workplaces.


No takers for Scottish Labour

The Labour right insist that being electable means being right wing. But opinion polls in Scotland show how disastrous that can be.

Between a rock and a hard place—Kezia Dugdale stands to lose heavily in Scotland

Between a rock and a hard place—Kezia Dugdale stands to lose heavily in Scotland (Pic: Scottish Labour)


Leaked research carried out by Scottish Labour show the party faces a near-wipeout at council elections in May.

Labour is predicted to come third—behind the Tories and the Scottish National Party (SNP).

In Glasgow Labour looks set to lose control of the council, which it has controlled for 37 years, to the SNP.

Glasgow Labour councillors are spending their last days in charge attacking their own council workers (see page 19).

Labour’s support in Scotland collapsed after it lined up with the Tories to campaign for a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

Right wing Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy resigned after failing to rescue his party.

Current leader Kezia Dugdale, who has publicly attacked Corbyn, is doing no better.


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