Socialist Worker

Jeremy Corbyn rally draws thousands on eve of Labour Party conference

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2623

Chants of Oh, Jeremy Corbyn were heard throughout the crowd

Chants of 'Oh, Jeremy Corbyn' were heard throughout the crowd (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Thousands turned out in Liverpool on Saturday evening to welcome Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the city.

The rally took place on the eve of Labour’s conference.

The crowd included people of all ages and there was an exuberant mood. Chants of, “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn,” regularly erupted among the crowd.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon told them, “Our country is thirsty for real, radical change.

“The last general election was a huge advance for socialist ideas. When we get into government, you come into government with us.”

And Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden said, “Today’s Labour leadership is creating a new narrative. There is an alternative.

“The next Labour government will build a fairer world by tackling global inequality. Another world isn’t just possible—it is in sight.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said, “This will be like no other Labour government. We are now a mass social movement.

“Our dream is a socialist in Number 10.”

McDonnell pledged to scrap university tuition fees, axe the Trade Union Act, bring in a £10 minimum wage and tax the rich.

He said Labour would “end PFI” in the NHS and reverse “most” tax cuts to corporations. He said Labour would bring rail, water, energy and Royal Mail back under government control.

And he said Labour would build a million new homes “and be proud to call most of them council homes”.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour’s changes would also be about “democracy”. “We will have democracy in the running of industries, in newspapers and at the workplace,” he said.

“Think of how we can do things differently."

Corbyn was introduced as “the next prime minister of a socialist Britain”. And several others referred to Corbyn as the next prime minister.

Electing

But he will have to fight to win a general election against attacks from the Tories, the bosses, the press and the right in his own party. And electing Corbyn certainly won’t mean Britain becomes socialist.

There was a genuine optimism among people and a mood that the left is strong, despite constant attacks from the right both inside and outside the party.

Corbyn told the crowd that the more the right attacks “the stronger we are”.

But activists did acknowledge that right wing attacks on Corbyn are damaging.

Beware the union leaders’ moves against Corbyn at Labour Party conference
Beware the union leaders’ moves against Corbyn at Labour Party conference
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Liverpool Labour member Tom Logan told Socialist Worker, “The right in Labour is definitely making it harder to get Corbyn elected.

“It can be offputting if people turn up to local Labour meetings and find people arguing with each other. It’s turning people away.”

New party member Rebecca agreed. “It’s good to have Corbyn as leader, but it can feel like local groups are run by the right,” she told Socialist Worker. “We need to change the structures so we can overcome it. But it takes time - councillors are there for four years.”

But Tom was still optimistic. “The right wing attacks are demoralising but at the moment we’re getting the better of it,” he said.

“In Liverpool Labour the left is in the ascendency. People who join now join because of Corbyn—it’s people power.”

Some supporters held Jewish Voice for Labour banners at the rally. Many want to push back attempts to silence criticism of Israel—and to defend solidarity with Palestinians.

One Corbyn supporter told Socialist Worker, “You have to keep dispelling the myths. It’s not antisemitic to oppose Israel—they are separate things.

“I am not having anyone shut my narrative down. I call the Israeli administration a murderous, toxic, apartheid system. I have the right to say that. It’s intention is to wipe out every Palestinian

There was clearly division on Brexit. A handful of Corbyn supporters showed up with EU flags, and some heckled speakers about the perils of Brexit.

But Paula Baker from the Unison union won some applause when she told the crowd, “We must be positive about leaving the EU. It will be easier for a Labour government outside the single market and state aid rules.

“We must not get sidetracked into calling for a so-called People’s Vote.”

But the pressure is on for Labour to do that at its conference this week.

The rally showed enthusiasm for left wing ideas and for a fight against the Tories. But a Labour government will come under enormous pressure to compromise. Electing Corbyn would be a slap in the face for the bosses—but it will also be the start of a huge battle about how society is run.


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