Some 2,000 people turned out for a rally to elect Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour Party in central London on Monday of this week.
Almost an hour before the rally was due to start a queue of people stretched right around the Camden Centre, where it was being held.
The massive event followed rallies of some 1,500 people in Liverpool 1,000 in Birmingham and hundreds more in towns and cities around Britain.
The idea that thousands of people might cram into Labour Party meetings in search of a political alternative would have been almost unimaginable just a few months ago.
But Corbyn’s campaign has tapped into the deep seated anger and desire for some kind of change felt by hundreds of thousands of people.
Many of those at the rallies said they had come because Corbyn represented something different to mainstream politics.
Viktor was at a London rally. He told Socialist Worker, “I’m 21 and I’ve never voted. This is the first political event I’ve ever been to.
“It’s refreshing to see a politician that actually seems to care.”
Danielle said, “My family has always been Labour.
“But over the last few years I’ve been voting Green or even Lib Dem when the whole Cleggmania fiasco was going on. But Corbyn really seems to be bringing Labour back to what it was.”
Corbyn spoke to Socialist Worker after one rally. He said, “This groundswell of support has come from hope.
“It’s like the Stop the War movement in 2003. That was a movement against the Iraq war. But this is a groundswell that’s for something.
“It’s for the kind of society that people want to live in. This is a movement that isn’t going to go away.”
The rallies do have the feel of a movement. Many of those around Corbyn’s campaign were on the anti-Tory protests that exploded all around the country after the election in May.
Danielle said, “I’m going to protest at the Tory Party conference. And I was on the big anti-austerity march in June.”
Around 500 people were left on the street outside the Camden rally, even after two overflow rooms were filled.
Corbyn spoke to them from on top of a fire engine provided by the FBU union.
He has has won the support of the majority of the trade unions and his campaign gains more popularity every time the right attack it.
Britain’s second biggest union, Unison, along with transport union TSSA and the communications union the CWU also voted to back his campaign last week.
CWU general secretary Dave Ward referred to Blairites in the Labour Party as a “virus” and declared “Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote.”
Corbyn has also won the most constituency Labour Parties—152. Andy Burnham won 111, Yvette Cooper finished on 106 and Liz Kendall won a mere 18.
Corbyn is now pitching his campaign to beat the Tories in 2020 in response to those who dismiss him as a vote-loser for Labour.
Burnham accused Corbyn supporters of playing “a dangerous game”.
The right have held their grip on the Labour Party for over two decades. They are dismayed to see it apparently being shattered in only a matter of weeks.
Corbyn’s campaign is generating an enthusiasm for politics that looks a lot like the Yes campaign in Scotland.
But there the political alternative people looked to was outside Labour. Corbyn’s campaign sees it focused inside the party.
He wants people to “stay together to defend what we’ve got” after the election. But he has already stated that he would include Blairite opponents in any shadow cabinet.
But many of the thousands of Corbyn campaigners won’t want to be limited by a project that looks to maintaining the unity within the Labour Party.
The lessons of Syriza in Greece show the problems of simply looking to win change through parliament.
We need to organise to make the most of the potential for this mood to be translated into a fightback and mass protests against the Tories in workplaces and on the streets.
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Eight week strike over Covid payment
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