The rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament Square.
The reactionary fall out from the Brexit vote continues to tear through society. The Labour membership and the Labour left are now under the most sustained attack seen since the Bevan-Gaitskell clashes of the 1950s. The Labour Party is in a state of civil war – the mass rally of 10,000 Corbyn supporters outside Parliament felt like a battle cry of the rank and file against a cynical, mendacious coup by the Bitterites.
Their claim is that Corbyn is unelectable. Between back-handed compliments that he is, in the words of the sacked Hilary Benn, ‘a good man, a principled man’, the right wing narrative is that Corbyn is an electoral liability for the party. This narrative is spun out in the media – a example of how sinister elites try to turn a claim into a reality. What was the old adage about lies repeated often enough? They try to prove their lie through a coordinated set of resignations from the shadow cabinet. This plan was revealed in the Telegraph two weeks before the referendum – it is not a spontaneous display of anger, it is a premeditated coup against the Labour left.
But the tremendous display of support for Corbyn across many parts of the Labour Party and from the trade unions reveals the class divide at work here.
Here are some facts about Labour under Jeremy Corbyn that you aren’t seeing in the Mirror or the Guardian.
Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership with the biggest mandate from party members that any leaders has ever won – 59% – more than all the other candidates put together.
Labour’s membership has increased dramatically under his leadership – over 380,000 members.
Labour has won 4 by elections since he became leader, Oldham West, Sheffield Brightside, Ogmore & Tooting. Oldham West, Tooting and Sheffield Brightside saw Labour win on an increased majority.
Labour won London Mayor with Corbyn as leader. Sadiq Khan won with the largest personal vote a single politician has ever received in Britain, 1.3 million. It was also the first election of a Muslim candidate to a western capital city. Labour also won Mayoral elections in Salford, Liverpool, Bristol.
In the local elections in 2016 Labour’s performance was as good as 2001, when Labour won a second landslide in the general elections. Labour has repeatedly been ahead of the Tories in the polls since the start of 2016.
Labour under Corbyn has helped fight off cuts to tax credits and disabled people’s PIP payments – scoring significant blows against the Tories austerity agenda.
Whilst the Brexit vote was very disappointing, Labour delivered 63% of its 2015 voters to vote Remain in the EU referendum. Compared to the SNP’s vote of 64% of their voters and 70% of Liberal Democrat voters, Labour didn’t perform qualitatively worse. David Cameron and the Tories couldn’t even deliver a majority of their voters – only 42% voted to Remain.
Even if the right wing’s arguments were true that Corbyn doesn’t ‘look’ like a leader or doesn’t ‘get his message across in the media’, it just means that Labour is doing exceptionally anyway. Imagine how well Labour would do if its MPs were loyal to their members and leader and Labour could present a united campaign, unhindered by in-fighting?
If the coup plotters stand a moderate left candidate in a leadership battle, Labour members should not be tricked into supporting them as some kind of unity candidate. They would be a front for the disruptive coup plotters.
Corbyn has been with the left since the start, dedicating his life to the movements of resistance and hope that have battled it out against the forces of reaction for the last 30 years. If Corbyn is defeated then the triangulation of the party back towards soft-austerity, social liberalism and migrant-bashing is guaranteed. That way lies oblivion.
Simon Hardy is a Labour Party member and a member of Lambeth Momentum.