Socialist Worker

With Corbyn vindicated by election, we need to keep up the fight to kick Tories out

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2558

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Birmingham last week

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Birmingham last week (Pic: Geoff Dexter)


The Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn won a result in last week’s general election that proved his right wing critics wrong.

Now ordinary Labour Party supporters and members, and the left in and out of Labour, need to keep up the mobilisations that made it possible.

Newspaper pundits and right wing Labour MPs all gave apocalyptic warnings of a landslide defeat caused by Corbyn’s leadership.

They said Corbyn’s left wing politics put Labour out of touch with most working class people, who they insisted would only support right wing policies.

Instead Labour gained 30 seats and ten percentage points on its vote share. It was the biggest increase in popular support during a campaign in British electoral history.

Turnaround

It was also a massive turnaround from Labour’s defeat in the Copeland by-election in February this year.

Then Labour lost a seat it had held for 80 years. This time Labour won Canterbury and Portsmouth South—seats it has not won since they were created in 1918.

The Copeland defeat was the result of years of erosion of the Labour vote under the right leadership of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

It looked like Labour would do poorly in Theresa May’s snap election too. The right was holding Corbyn back, undermining him and demanding concessions.

Instead Corbyn campaigned on a manifesto that offered an alternative to the Tories’ austerity and a break from the austerity-lite approach of recent Labour leaders.

Promises to plough billions of pounds into the NHS and education, scrap tuition fees and tax the rich won wide support.

In particular, they won support from young people and people who previously had not voted.

Sorry

Right wing Labour politicians and media commentators fell over themselves to say how wrong and sorry they were.

Corbyn’s campaign also involved mass rallies—a strategy also ridiculed by the right until it started working. After the election Corbyn said he had spoken at 90 rallies in 60 different towns and cities.

Cecile Wright from Labour left group Momentum wrote that the rallies supported a campaign of encouraging new members to canvas and use targeted adverts on social media.

In truth the rallies were central. They meant that thousands of Corbyn’s supporters felt as if they were part of a movement to get rid of the Tories. This is not to dismiss the role of social media.

But Labour’s performance in the polls improved as Corbyn’s rallies got bigger.

And Labour’s vote share increased in many areas where rallies took place.

That’s why it’s important to keep the rallies going even after the election.

If Labour and Momentum call protests now to keep up the pressure against May’s government, it could be what finishes her off.


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