New polls have shown left wing Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn pushing his party to success. But right wing MPs and activists are already finding ways to drag it back to the right.
In extraordinary scenes, Corbyn spoke to a gigantic crowd from the main stage at Glastonbury festival last Saturday afternoon. He promised the crowd that “another world is possible”.
The sight of thousands at Glastonbury singing Corbyn’s name shows again how far his promise of a radically different society has taken Labour.
It would never have happened for Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown or Tony Blair—and it has dramatically revived Labour’s support.
A poll for the Sunday Times newspaper showed Labour was beating the Tories by five percentage points.
Just a few days before another poll by YouGov showed Corbyn is vastly more popular than May.
Even right wing Labour MPs and activists have been forced to admit that Corbyn’s politics and leadership are behind Labour’s new successes.
Yet at the same time those same MPs and activists are already making calls for Labour to move back to the right.
The right wing Labour faction Progress held its annual conference in London last Saturday. There were conscious displays of unity, with left wing shadow cabinet ministers Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry given prominent speaking slots.
Progress chair MP Alison McGovern talked further left than Progress MPs have done in the past. She criticised Tory cuts to public services and low inheritance tax for the richest.
Meanwhile director Richard Angell spoke of how well Labour can do when its “two wings”—left and right—work together.
But he also said, “As Labour is losing working class votes we must do all we can to reconnect.
“Be strong on national security. Show we offer solutions about no longer being left behind and show we respect—not recoil from—the values they hold dear and the work they do.”
The right is digging up the old argument that only right wing politics can win working class support.
Yet the general election showed that Labour’s support only shot back up because it broke from the right and offered a genuine alternative.
More of the same can’t win back the working class votes that Labour shed under its right wing leaders.
So it was worrying that Corbyn’s speech to the Unison union conference was less radical than his speech at Glastonbury, or even to his supporters outside the conference.
At Glastonbury Corbyn said the “politics that got out of the box” during the general election campaign “is not going back in any box”.
That same message has to be taken into the trade unions and workplaces and onto the streets and used to build a movement to force the Tories out.