Socialist Worker

The right wants Labour to be party for the bosses

Issue No. 2644

Thousands joinrf

Corbyn's rallies have drawn thousands, but the Labour right have always hounded him  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Politicians, the media and TV personalities are gunning for Jeremy Corbyn.

They think the slur that Corbyn has made Labour a safe place for antisemites is their best chance of forcing him out.

The right has hounded Corbyn since he was elected Labour leader in 2015. He has been accused of being a terrorist sympathiser, unpatriotic, and a Marxist.

The extreme hostility to Corbyn comes from his record of opposing imperialism and standing up for working class people.

This kind of politics goes against the interests of the British state and the bosses—and they are scared that it’s popular.

Hundreds of thousands of people joined Labour after Corbyn’s election. Many people disillusioned with mainstream politics saw him as representing something radically different.

But despite the change in membership, and Corbyn’s rhetoric, the fundamental nature of Labour remains the same.

It is a reformist party based on managing capitalism, not on overthrowing it. The focus is on elections. And party structures give right wing MPs more say than members.


For the Russian revolutionary Lenin, Labour is a “capitalist workers party”. He could have been anticipating Labour deputy leader Tom Watson when he described what this meant.

“While made up of workers it is led by reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that, who act quite in the spirit of the bourgeoisie,” he said.

Corbyn is Labour’s most left wing leader. But his election hasn’t been enough to overcome the right in the party.

And its focus on elections has seen Corbyn make concessions in the name of holding Labour together.

Labour can’t be relied on to fight for ordinary people. But we should care about what happens in the party because it has a wider impact.

When the leader of a mainstream party denounces the system as “rigged against the many to protect the interests of the few” it means something.

This rhetoric makes it easier to raise radical and socialist ideas. A defeat for Corbyn would be seen as a defeat for these ideas.

Those arguing for public ownership or higher taxes for the rich would be more easily dismissed as “extreme” and unpopular.

Everyone on the left would feel the defeat, in or out of Labour. There would be a big risk of demoralisation. And the right would feel more confident to go on the offensive.

Ring wingers who oppose Corbyn want Labour to return to being an unquestionably safe party for the bosses.

Socialists should defend Corbyn against them. But we need to go beyond Labour to push back the right and win a better system

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