Jeremy Corbyn’s left wing general election campaign is inspiring trade unionists and ordinary people.
The UCU union decided at its annual congress in Brighton this week to call for a vote for Labour. Several delegates told Socialist Worker the shifting opinion polls made them more optimistic about the result.
Cristian from Leicester said, “One election expert said he had never seen a party make up the gap in the polls in such a short time.
“That’s a big achievement—especially since some in the party have been doing everything they can to undermine him.”
Tim from Leeds is a Green Party member but is arguing for Greens to stand aside in marginal seats to boost Labour’s vote.
He said, “Jeremy Corbyn is great. It’s so difficult to predict who will win, but it definitely feels like the result will be closer now.”
Gemma, a UCU rep in Birmingham, agreed. “I don’t think Theresa May will get the landslide it seemed she would,” she said.
“My partner has never been motivated to vote. But he is going to vote because he said it’s the first time someone is standing who seems like a real person.”
There was enthusiasm for Corbyn at the PCS union’s conference the week before too.
Neither union is affiliated to Labour, but several PCS members said campaigning is key to getting Theresa May out.
Steve from the East Midlands said, “The narrative has to shift if June is to be the end of May. We have a role to play in that.” And Pete from the West Midlands called on PCS reps to “get our members out onto the streets”.
The Tories attacked Corbyn for pointing out that imperialist wars fuel terrorism. But for Tim, a UCU member in London, Corbyn's comments were "refreshing".
"It's a tragedy what happened in Manchester, but it's important to discuss why it happened," he said.
Arianna, an hourly paid lecturer in Warwick, was more enthused by Corbyn than previous leaders. “I joined Labour to support Corbyn in the leadership election,” she said.
Arianna can’t vote—but said her colleagues who can are all voting for Corbyn. But she criticised Corbyn for trying to appease the right.
“The immigration part of Labour’s manifesto is awful,” she said.
“I’m an EU migrant and I am concerned at the concessions being made over freedom of movement.We need to keep pushing from the left on it.”
Chants of, “Tories out” rang out from a bloc of socialists, trade unionists and students on the Birmingham Pride march last Saturday.
In Scotland Labour’s vote collapsed after it backed up the Tories in the independence referendum in 2014.
But Corbyn drew hundreds of cheering supporters to a rally in Glasgow last Sunday.
There’s support for Labour in areas where the Tories are predicted to win too.
In Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, college students Alicia and Laurea told Socialist Worker they backed Corbyn. “We need to start taxing the rich,” said Alicia. “£80,000 is too much for people to be earning.”
Laurea was angry with May for plotting to bring back fox hunting. “It’s just something rich people do for fun,” she said.
Whatever happens on 8 June, Corbyn has enthused people who want to see a different world.
Labour's best chance is to defy rightward pull
The surges in support for Jeremy Corbyn have come when Labour is at its most “Corbynite”.
The Labour right say that “on the doorstep” it’s only possible to stabilise the vote by criticising Corbyn. That’s not true.
One person told Labour canvassers she wanted a poster for Corbyn, not the local right wing candidate.
“You’re the fifth person we’ve heard that from today,” they said.
Most people agreed with Corbyn on terrorism. A YouGov poll showed that 53 percent of people in Britain thought that British foreign policy “has been responsible, at least in part, for terrorism”.
It’s disappointing that Corbyn seemed hesitant about saying the same thing during his interview with Andrew Neil.
And it’s not helpful when shadow home secretary Diane Abbott says she no longer opposes the security services. Labour has pledged to recruit 1,000 more security staff.
These agencies that spy on people are complicit in torture. They don’t stop terrorism. And the money could be spent on services people need.
Corbyn was much better last weekend when he confidently explained why it’s right to tax the rich and big business.
Many people back Corbyn because he is saying something different. So pandering to right wing politicians won’t help his vote.
He needs to stay radical and go for broke.