The result of the election on 8 June will decide the fate of left wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. If Labour loses, it will surely be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.
The party will go into the general election after its worst polling in at least a decade.
An opinion poll released this Tuesday—the day that May called the election—gave the Tories an 18 point lead.
The polling is real and cannot be ignored.
But the real question is what has caused the collapse in Labour’s support—and what can turn it round.
The Labour right has always blamed Corbyn and the left.
Right wing Middlesbrough MP Tom Blenkinsop, who has already said he won’t stand for re-election, blamed Corbyn for a council by-election defeat in his constituency last week.
He said Labour had lost “due to the leader’s name being mentioned on the doorstep as the reason why residents were not voting Labour”.
If Labour loses the general election MPs such as Blenkinsop will claim they were right all along.
They will demand a right wing leader who will pull Labour back towards support for austerity, racism and war. They would lead Labour to disaster.
The collapse in Labour’s support began long before Corbyn’s leadership.
Labour was booted out of government in 2010 after 13 years of a right wing, warmongering leadership.
In Scotland siding with the Tories against independence has gutted Labour’s support. It means socialists there will often back left candidates other than Labour.
In government Labour also failed to defend working class people’s jobs, wages and living standards at a time when they were under attack.
In many cases, it even helped those attacks through—and lost five million votes in the process.
It can’t win back those votes through a pale imitation of Tory policies, as previous leader Ed Miliband found out in 2015.
On the other hand, a series of left wing policies announced by Corbyn over the past few weeks show an alternative.
Policies such as a £10 an hour minimum wage and raising the top rate of tax all had a common theme.
They attacked the richest in society not workers—and proved hugely popular.
Yet Labour won’t simply win by replacing Corbyn but keeping his policies, as some on its “soft left” claim.
The right have shown they will never tolerate a left wing Labour Party no matter who its leader is.
They have worked hard to undermine and attack Corbyn at every turn, even when that has accelerated the collapse of Labour’s support.
Nor will it simply take placing demands on the right to unite behind Corbyn to see Labour win the election.
Labour’s crisis has come at a time when the level of class struggle is at its lowest point for decades.
We want Labour to win the election—and win with Corbyn as leader.
But we also want a much bigger fight in the streets and workplaces against the racists and the rich.
We want that type of struggle that gives a sense that society can change—and that the Tories can be beaten.