Socialist Worker

The Labour right remains a millstone around Corbyn's neck

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2557

Joan Ryan, Labour candidate in Enfield North, told constituents that only Theresa May can win

Joan Ryan, Labour candidate in Enfield North, told constituents that only Theresa May can win (Pic: Flickr/steve_w)


The Labour right have not stopped their attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, despite the signs of Labour moving forward in the polls.

John Woodcock, the candidate for Barrow where Trident submarines are constructed, began the campaign saying, “I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain's prime minister”.

More recently he said discussion about Labour and the future of Trident was unnecessary as, "The situation will never arise because Jeremy Corbyn will never be prime minister”.

Joan Ryan, a Labour candidate in north London, last week put out a leaflet undermining Corbyn.

It says that many people, “have more confidence in Theresa May as prime minister than they would have in Jeremy Corbyn”.

A reply to my defeatist, divisive Labour MP: Stop stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the back
A reply to my defeatist, divisive Labour MP: Stop stabbing Jeremy Corbyn in the back
  Read More

It adds that, “The polls are all saying that the Conservative Party will win a large majority, possible with more MPs than they have ever had before….no one thinks Theresa may will not be prime minister.”

Socialist Worker reader Adrian Hunter, who lives in Ryan’s constituency, replied to her saying that he had never felt “so angry, demoralised and disappointed!”

He wondered “are you living in a parallel universe?? Are you watching the same election campaign as the rest of us?? I don't know if you have noticed, but nobody has ANY confidence in Theresa May!"

Adrian urged Ryan to “stop stabbing Corbyn in the back, stop feeding the opposition and get behind him!”

The Labour manifesto has proved popular, but just a few hours after it was launched Frank Field told The Sun that a split from Labour is on the cards.

He said if Labour lost and Corbyn was still leader the right wing had to break away and form a separate parliamentary group.

Now some of the Blairites are bemoaning the Labour surge because it makes Corbyn's position as leader more secure. One example is Philip Collins who was once Tony Blair's chief speechwriter.

In an article in the Times yesterday he says this "could have been Labour's worst week in years".  Why? "Because The prevailing, unspoken, assumption among Labour MPs before this election began was that it would be a condensed education in political reality for their membership. The Tories would throw a lot of mud, most of which would stick. Mr Corbyn would collapse under pressure and the electorate would deliver a damning verdict. All of that may yet happen but it no longer matters.

"The surge has changed everything because it is now so much harder to argue that Mr Corbyn's brand of politics is not viable. Even if the result shows that it is not in fact viable that case is now lost, for the time being, in the Labour Party."

For the Labour right, success for Corbyn is a setback.

Some right wingers are having second thoughts.

The New Statesman magazine ran an article this week saying that “The more the public see of Corbyn, the less they buy the print narrative they’ve been sold.”

This from a publication which ran a special issue two months ago whose front cover shouted, “Wanted: an opposition. The Labour Party has collapsed”.

Editor Jason Crowley wrote, “The electorate can smell that something is seriously wrong and is recoiling, but those closest to the triumvirate of the leader, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott seem oblivious to or unconcerned by the stench of failure.”

Then the cover of the 18 May issue was “Why the Tories keep winning”.

A number of right wingers have tempered their overt criticism of Corbyn as victory begins to seem within his grasp. But they present a more insidious danger, of undermining Corbyn's campaign by neutering it of everything that makes him seem a breath of fresh air.

Pressure from Labour's right has seen Corbyn make concessions over Trident nuclear weapons and the rights of migrant workers. Both issues have come up in TV debates, and it's been left to others to make the clear arguments that until recently Corbyn would have made himself.

This drive to "moderation" is all in the name of electability. But years of right wing Labour leaderships have sown disillusionment among many working class people that has steadily lost it votes.

As Labour voters in marginal Halifax, West Yorkshire, told Socialist Worker, only Corbyn's ability to offer something different can revitalise its support.

The right wing that stands in the way of that is still a danger to any rejection of austerity, war and racism.


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