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After Corbyn’s victory – a new hope

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Thousands cheer Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide election as Labour Party leader, reports Nick Clark
Issue 2471
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Refugees Are Welcome protest in London last Saturday (Pic: Socialist Worker)
Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Refugees Are Welcome protest in London last Saturday (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Outside the Labour leadership special conference where the result was announced, Corbyn supporter Sally Parrott was almost lost for words.

“I feel fucking wonderful,” was all she could tell Socialist Worker—and that summed up the mood.

Another supporter, a school student, said, “I’m absolutely ecstatic. I hope the whole party will unite around him and we can start to take on the Tories.”

And Claire, who was coming out of the conference, told Socialist Worker, “I feel really happy. After living through Thatcher and the false dawn of Tony Blair, there’s real hope.”

Corbyn’s spectacular victory was built on the back of a widespread desire for change and a break from old politics.

Tens of thousands of people turned out to see Corbyn at campaign rallies across Britain in the run-up to the vote.

More than 100,000 people registered as Labour supporters, and thousands more joined the party—most of them to vote for Corbyn.

Corbyn’s huge support was reflected in the election result.

A total of 121,751 Labour members cast their vote for Corbyn, while 88,449 registered supporters and 41,217 affiliated union members did the same.

In all three categories Corbyn took more than twice as many votes as his closest rival, Andy Burnham.


Corbyn’s acceptance speech at the conference on Saturday spoke to this mood.

He said, “The Tories have used the economic crisis of 2008 to impose a terrible burden on the poorest people in this country—those that have seen their wages frozen or cut, those that can’t afford to even sustain themselves properly, those that rely on food banks to get by.

“It is not right, it is not necessary, and it has got to change.”

Corbyn was set to speak at TUC conference in Brighton as Socialist Worker went to press.

His first move as leader was to speak at a demonstration to support refugees (see page 4). In his first debate in parliament he told Labour MPs to vote against the Tory trade union bill (see page 7)

But Corbyn will be under pressure from Labour figures to his right to back away from some of his more radical policies, such as scrapping the Trident missile system.

Others will do all they can to undermine him.

Within seconds of his election some right wing MPs said they would refuse to join Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.

And failed leadership hopefuls Chukka Umunna and Tristram Hunt set up a new faction inside the party—Labour for the Common Good.


Some 30,000 people had joined Labour since Corbyn’s victory by Tuesday morning.

One Labour supporter told Socialist Worker on Saturday, “I was purged—but now I’m going to try and join because Corbyn’s going to need all the support he can get.”

Another, Rita Sharma, said, “There’s such a feeling for Jeremy that it’ll be impossible for them to get him out. 

“He’s got so much support they’ll be shooting themselves in the foot.”

But it will take more than trying to change the Labour Party from within to bring the kind of change that Corbyn’s election represents. 

Another supporter, 20 year old kitchen porter Joe Dillion, told Socialist Worker, “Now we need to build a movement. That’s what it’s about.”

And speaking at a fringe meeting at the TUC congress, PCS union leader Mark Serwotka said, “We can’t get that through just Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in parliament.

“We can use it to popularise our message against austerity and have it allied to the type of movement we want to see.

“We still have the ability to stop austerity in its tracks and topple the government.”

Are dangers lurking in the broad shadow cabinet?

For the first time women are the majority in the shadow cabinet.

And Jeremy Corbyn’s appointment of left wing MP John McDonnell as shadow chancellor led to howls of vitriol from the right. 

Corbyn reportedly had to face down even some of his own supporters in the choice. They thought it would scupper attempts to bring more right wing MPs on board. 

But Corbyn faces opposition from the vast majority of the parliamentary party. 

Several shadow ministers resigned at the news of his election. 

“Good riddance to the MPs that left,” RMT union delegate Chris Davidson told Socialist Worker at TUC conference. 

“Jeremy couldn’t do anything other than appoint John McDonnell as chancellor, because he’s always supported the union members.”

Corbyn was elected on an anti-austerity agenda—and making compromises with those who want to make cuts puts that in danger.

He is right to appoint McDonnell with his solid record. But he has also appointed right wingers and moderates, including Andy Burnham as shadow home secretary and Lucy Powell as education secretary. 

Tony Blair’s former flatmate Lord Falconer is to stay as shadow justice secretary.

Chris said, “The right want to split the party, but that’s where unions come in. We can help pull it together and need to support Jeremy and John in any way we can.”

New deputy leader Tom Watson is the ‘operator’s operator’

Tom Watson was elected deputy leader on the third count with 50 percent of the vote. During his campaign, Watson argued that Labour could win back working class voters from Ukip and the Tories by hardening its position on immigration.

He wants a bigger army, and is pro-Trident and pro-Nato.

He used to share a flat with Unite union leader Len McCluskey, and ran his campaign from a Unite office. 

But he was an official in the old AEEU engineering union—a bastion of the old Labour right.

A former chair of Labour Students, he supported Gordon Brown and was involved in attempts to oust Tony Blair. 

In the last parliament he pushed on the phone-hacking scandal. He twice resigned as a minister, and quit as Labour’s election supremo in protest at the handling of allegations that Unite had tried to fix the selection of a candidate in Falkirk.

Inside Labour he is known as the “operator’s operator”. 

A friend said, “He is easy to characterise as a gangster mafioso figure but … he is a much more sophisticated person than Tony Soprano.”

More join Labour but fewer union members take part

A total of 88,499 supporters voted for Corbyn out of the 105,000 that paid £3.

In the 1994 leadership election, won by Tony Blair, some 800,000 affiliated union members voted. 

In the 2010 leadership ballot papers were circulated to 2.7 million political levy payers, including some who were already party members. 

At that time, less than 10 percent voted—270,000.

This time ballot papers were only sent to political levy-payers who had been recruited to become registered party supporters by their union.

A total of 148,192 ballot papers were sent out to this group and 71,546 were returned. 

In 1994 nearly 800,000 union members and 170,000 members voted in the leadership election. 

In 2010 it was 250,000 union members and 127,000 party members respectively, with the ratio falling from 5:1 to 2:1.

In this election 245,520 party members voted, and only 71,546 union members—a ratio of about 3.5 to 1. This is the first time the number of union members voting is lower than party members.

By the time of the leadership result the party’s full membership had grown by 105,000 members since this year’s general election, adding to the 187,000 prior to the election. 

In the 24 hours after Corbyn won over 15,000 people joined Labour.

Sadiq Khan to run London race

Former minister Sadiq Khan  won the election to be Labour’s candidate for the London mayoral election next year, beating Blairite Tessa Jowell.

Khan was backed by unions and many Corbyn supporters, but is no left winger. He wrote a letter to Ukip supporters saying sorry for not being hard enough on immigration after last year’s local elections.

Left wing candidate Diane Abbott came third with almost 15,000 first preference votes.

Were the women ‘padlocked’ out?

The elections of Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson and Sadiq Khan led some feminist commentators to complain about the lack of women. One said it ensured the “male padlock on power” continued. 

There is a woeful lack of women in the leadership of the main political parties and the labour movement. And women who stood in the election faced sexism in the media. 

But it would have been worse for the mass of working class women if Blairite Liz Kendall or pro-austerity Yvette Cooper had been elected leader.

Right wing MPs waste no time

While Blairites such as Lord Peter Mandelson bide their time, two “Old Labour” right wingers wrote articles attacking Corbyn in the Mail on Sunday.

Expenses-guzzling former AEEU union official John Mann wrote that, “Jeremy Corbyn does not represent the values of this country or of the Labour Party”—whatever the people “in the Dog and Duck” pub think.

Professional self-publicist and serial left-baiter Simon Danczuk warned Corbyn is “on probation” and could be ousted before the 2020 election.

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