By Charlie Kimber
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Jeremy Corbyn will stand against Labour in Islington North

A victory for Corbyn would be a bloody nose for Keir Starmer and the Labour Party
Issue 2907

Jeremy Corbyn is standing as an independent

Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will stand as an independent in his Islington North constituency at the 4 July general election.

On Friday Corbyn said, “I believe in democracy, I want our political parties to be democratic. But members of Islington North Labour have been denied the right to choose their own candidate. And alongside that, the community as a whole has been disempowered because of that. 

So we have to stand up, we have to stand up and say we’re not taking it anymore—we will assert our rights. That’s why I’m standing to be an independent candidate for the people.” 

He called for a “fundamental redistribution of power and wealth”, public ownership of utilities, rent controls and NHS funding. “These fundamental demands are not being presented by the official opposition at the moment,” he said. 

“Yet they are the demands of millions of people. We need a politics that represents an alternative to the horrible, corrupt arid years of this Tory government—whoever the prime minister is, I’ll be holding them to account.” 

Socialist Worker welcomes Corbyn’s decision. His victory would be a slap in the face for Keir Starmer who has excluded Corbyn from the parliamentary party and blocked him from being Labour’s candidate. It would be a win over Gaza and Labour’s relentlessly mainstream, pro-boss campaign. 

Corbyn will now be expelled from Labour, but this is far more of a badge of honour than the fruits of office that remain available to those who “stay and fight” inside Starmer’s party.

We urge our supporters to be involved in Corbyn’s campaign. One Labour Party insider gruffly told the media that they believe “left wingers who have ‘scores to settle’ with Starmer’s operation will flood the area in a bid to get Corbyn re-elected”.

We hope that comes true. And we hope Corbyn’s vision is not just to find a way back to Labour. Corbyn has been the MP for the constituency since 1983. In 2019, standing as the Labour Party leader, Corbyn secured 64 percent of the vote and a 26,188 vote majority.

Corbyn’s candidacy poses a sharp choice for left Labour MPs. They can campaign for Corbyn and be disowned and expelled by Starmer, or they can shamefacedly back away from confrontation and hope to keep their seats.

Most will surrender without a second thought. Just before Corbyn declared, former shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said Corbyn would still have “a lot of very personal support” if he stood as an Independent. McDonnell said he was still hoping leader Starmer would have a “Damascene conversation” and allow Corbyn to run as a Labour candidate. That was never going to happen.

The Green Party will oppose Corbyn with its candidate, Sheridan Kates, a software engineer, campaigning on Gaza, the cost of living, housing and the environment. In other words he will seek to take votes directly from Corbyn.

Socialist Worker wishes that Corbyn had raised a rebellion much earlier.

His candidacy will not now be the basis for a national confrontation with rightward-moving Labour. It will most probably be an individual action—important, deserving of support and far better than nothing—but not a systematic alternative.

If he had been serious about confronting Starmer, Corbyn would have declared he was standing when he spoke in front of close to a million people on the 11 November 2023 demonstration for Palestine. 

Within three months he would have had a national network grouped around support for the Palestinians and a variant of Labour’s manifestos in 2017 and 2019. Such a Labour Party Mark 2 would have been far short of what is needed, but it would have upset Starmer and become much more of a focus for a broad alternative.

Socialist Worker will call for a vote for Corbyn and other independent and socialist candidates who combined the rage over Gaza with a fightback over oppression and exploitation.

But for us, parliament and elections have never been the most important thing. Labourism is the problem—obsessed with electoral calculation, centred on parliament and looking to change within the system.

Strikes, demonstrations and revolts from below—such as we are seeing over Palestine—have always been more important.

  • Labour’s investigation into Diane Abbott’s comments about racism, which has lasted more than a year, will be completed by 4 June, Keir Starmer said on Friday.

It means Abbott’s future in the party will be decided on the same day as Labour’s deadline for its final candidate selections.

A message to Labour hopefuls in Islington

Dear Councillor Moema,

As someone who has voted for Labour councillors—including you—in the past, I am writing to let you know that as a result of your deciding to seek the Labour nomination against Jeremy Corbyn for Islington North in the upcoming general election, I shall not be voting for you in the future.

I taught in Islington for nearly 30 years, 14 of them as assistant and then joint secretary of Islington NUT (now NEU) union. I am utterly disgusted at you—and other short-listed candidates—for standing against one of the most consistent, socialist, anti-racist, internationalist, honest and overwhelmingly respected MPs in Britain—Jeremy Corbyn.

I know from experience as a teacher and a trade unionist that Jeremy has an outstanding record of standing up for local working people, especially those who are the victims of discrimination.

I will do all that I can to support his campaign and  I have every confidence that he will succeed.

I will persuade as many of my neighbours as possible to vote against you in future council elections should you get the Labour nomination and then, I hope, be defeated.

Yours, in disgust,

Ken Muller

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