There’s no two ways about it: it hasn’t been an easy year for Jeremy Corbyn, but he’s still here, principles and all. Unfortunately for those trying undermine his position, it’s important to remember that for the second time in just over a year, the Labour Party membership, alongside affiliated members and registered supporters, has elected Corbyn as leader. This time round it’s been with an even bigger mandate – 61.8% of the vote, up from 59.5% last year.
Corbyn’s second win has proven to be against all the odds. Not for the reasons the mainstream media will give you, either. They’ll try and convince you it’s wrong for a socialist to lead an openly, historically socialist party. But from as early as his first election in September 2015, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) began setting up ways to undermine his leadership. This culminated in the “Labour coup” last June, where a lot of lesser known Labour MPs resigned from positions no one had heard of.
Call these MPs, and the non-Shadow Cabinet backbenchers who stand with them, what you will. Whether they’re described as being part of Progress, a movement like Corbyn’s Momentum, but in the opposite direction, or as Blairites, they’re simply anti-Corbyn. To call someone a Blairite merely means to be in support of Blair’s policies, and the fact that it’s an insult surely reflects on what his own Party think of him. Come on, he’s not even a war criminal.
These anti-Corbyn MPs were represented in the latest leadership contest by Owen Smith (who I’m sure will be forgotten in six months, the same way you begin to forget that the faint discolouring on your beige carpet is actually dog sick). With Labour’s “compliance unit” on their side, those with the relevant powers in the party began suspending members for one off tweets made several years ago. These tweets were along the lines of “I support the Greens”. Of course, one’s political views may change entirely in a few years, and a leap from Greens to Corbyn’s Labour isn’t surprising. What’s odd is that one teacher got banned for a tweet of that ilk, when “the Greens” in question were a team at her school’s sports day.
Corbyn won against all odds because tens of thousands of his supporters were wrongly suspended from the Party by anti-Corbyn powers that be.
But there’s no denying that the mainstream media are decidedly against him. Take Channel 4’s generally inaccurate and Ofcom rule breaking documentaries on Momentum. Or take the fact that the BBC “systematically undermined” Corbyn from the moment he became leader. Imagine how Corbyn’s position would be if it wasn’t being treated so unfairly.
Labour need unity. Not only because there is strength in unity, but because infighting disenfranchises voters, and distracts from the point. The opposition should be fighting the government on policies such as grammar schools. Other parties who [allegedly unironically] see themselves as a fit opposition, such as the SNP or the Lib Dems, will be quick to criticise Corbyn for the infighting. This falls apart when you realise that if the anti-Corbyn MPs did their job and got behind the leader their constituents had voted for, there wouldn’t be this division.
Anti-Corbyn MPs need to accept the outcome and support their leader. If they wanted so badly for Owen Smith to win, they should have lead a better campaign.
I would say that Corbyn needs to get past this and onto setting out clear policies to oppose the Tories with, but that’s already what’s happened. Last weekend’s Labour conference saw John McDonnell set out plans for a real living wage.
The grassroots support for Jeremy Corbyn needs to speak out even louder. Last year he mobilised a movement that became Momentum, and this year the same support swept his to victory. Turning up to demonstrations Corbyn has voiced support for will show support for his policies. If you don’t have time to give, now is the best time to show your support for Labour by joining the party. For students it costs as little as a pound a year. Even at its most expensive, it’s a modest price.
And for those of you who voted Owen Smith, there are some tough questions. Are you going to accept that those people in your party voted overwhelmingly for someone else? Owen Smith did, after all, say he was the “unity candidate”, so on that logic you should stick around and support the leader. Dividing the Labour Party is doomed to fail, as dividing the energy would only lead to successive Tory governments. Or maybe you should consider if you’re in the right party if you can’t get behind Corbyn – I hear Tim Farron is welcoming literally anyone now, but he might not be too keen on Blair’s fans.
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