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Jeremy Corbyn rallies support – but gives ground to the Labour right

This article is over 6 years, 11 months old
Mobilisations bring success but bitter Labour MPs still want more concessions, reports Nick Clark
Issue 2563
Theres huge support for Jeremy Corbyn - and conceding to the right would undermine it
There’s huge support for Jeremy Corbyn – and conceding to the right would undermine it (Pic: Neil Terry)

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was out campaigning and speaking to big rallies and meetings last week in an effort to increase the pressure on the Tories.

Corbyn spoke to crowds along the south coast in Southampton, Bournemouth and the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival. He continued in the combative tone he struck at the Durham Miners Gala earlier this month.

Hundreds turned out to see him in Southampton Itchen—a Tory seat. His message to them was that Labour can win a general election “whenever it is called”.

He attacked the Tories’ “zombie government” and said, “If the Conservatives are unable to govern, they should step aside. Labour is no longer just the official opposition, we are a government in waiting.”

The speeches last weekend were part of a programme of general election style rallies to be held in Tory marginal constituencies across Britain.

They aim to replicate the huge events that drew in thousands of people to Labour’s successful campaign in last month’s general election. Corbyn was set to hold another rally in Telford, West Midlands, on Thursday.

Mass mobilisation should be at the core of a campaign to drive the Tories out of office. Yet some right wing Labour Party MPs clearly hate Corbyn’s recent success.


Blairite grandee Alan Johnson admitted last week that he was disappointed Labour did so well in the general election because it meant Corbyn couldn’t be unseated.

He went on to attack Corbyn’s supporters—who include the majority of Labour members—as a “narrow sectarian left”.

Other MPs are trying to make Corbyn tone down his left wing politics and adopt more right wing policies.

They still argue that Labour can only win if it moves back towards the “centre”.

MP Gloria De Piero said this week that the debates at Labour’s upcoming annual conference should “reflect not only the broad range of opinion within our own party, but also the views of the people we seek to serve.”

That’s a coded way of saying the politics on show should be further to the right than the majority of Labour’s members. It’s a rejection of the left wing manifesto that won popular support.

The pressure on Corbyn to accommodate to the right and prove that Labour is “fit to govern” will increase as Labour comes closer to office.

A sign of this came on Sunday when Corbyn’s ally shadow chancellor John McDonnell rowed back from the left’s position of abolishing student debt.

He told an interview that it is now an “ambition”, not a “promise”.

But concessions will never satisfy right wingers, who will constantly push Corbyn for more until they can get rid of him.

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