Introduction by Roger Annis, June 30, 2016
The following editorial and related news is reprinted from The Canary, an alternative media outlet in Britain founded in 2015. The Canary is speaking out boldly against the attempt underway by the right-wing in the British Labour Party to oust the popular Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership of the party.
An estimated 10,000 people rallied in central London on June 27 to oppose the inner-party coup against Corbyn and to support his left-wing, anti-austerity program. Hundreds of thousands of people across Britain are acting in countless ways to voice the same message. They are rallying, signing petitions, joining the Labour Party and taking action in their Party-affiliated trade unions and community organizations.
The Labour Party right wing is using the pretext of the Brexit referendum of June 23 to wage its plot against Corbyn. It accuses him and his fellow MPs of being half-hearted in their campaigning on the ‘Remain’ side in the Brexit referendum.
As the writers being featured on ‘A Socialist In Canada’ argue, Jeremy Corbyn and other progressives in Britain were wrong to campaign for ‘Remain’. The European Union is an imperialist, pro-war and pro-austerity institution. It cannot be reformed and made democratic and accountable. (See: ‘Why socialists should support a British exit‘, by Neil Davidson (Scotland), June 20, 2016.)
But more discussion and reasoned debate is urgently needed because the working class in Britain finds itself is deeply divided over the issue. One of the outcomes, if not goals, of the anti-Corbyn drive by the Labour Party right wing is precisely to cut short any such discussion. That is one reason among others to oppose their coup plotting and to support Jeremy Corbyn’s continued leadership of the Labour Party.
The Labour coup is unravelling fast, and unwittingly hands the party back to those who built it
Editorial, by Kerry-anne Mendoza, The Canary, June 29, 2016
Jeremy Corbyn has lost a vote of no confidence, with Labour MPs voting 172-40 against him remaining as leader of the party. But celebrating MPs might wish to put the champagne back in the fridge, because this is more likely the beginning of their end, not Corbyn’s.
When Jeremy Corbyn first stood for leader of the party, these MPs told us he didn’t stand a chance. He won [September 2015] with the greatest landslide of any Labour leader in history, including Tony Blair.
In the days after his election, these same politicians told us the party was doomed. Instead, membership of the party doubled, Labour put in a solid performance in the local elections, and pulled ahead in the polls.
This week, they’re saying that Corbyn is unelectable and moving to replace him with another faceless, soulless Blairbot like Yvette Cooper.
Once more, all the signs are suggesting this Westminster cabal is so far removed from the opinion of much of the country that it is almost laughable.
First, there was a massive show of support for Corbyn by Labour members. A petition called “A vote of confidence for Jeremy Corbyn after the Brexit vote” has gathered more than 230,000 signatures in the last five days and continues to rise rapidly.
A hastily convened confidence rally outside parliament on June 27 saw more than 10,000 supporters pack out Parliament Square at a moment’s notice to back the Labour leader. [See video of speakers at June 27 rally here. Jeremy Corbyn speaks at 10′ mark.] Call me crazy, but I can’t think of a single one of the mutinous MPs who could garner that level of reaction. If all of them disappeared in a puff of smoke overnight, it’s likely the country would scarcely notice their absence.
Next came the unions. The leaders of the 12 strongest unions in the United Kingdom wrote a letter of support following the attempted coup, stating:
The Prime Minister’s resignation has triggered a Tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good, the Tory party is plunging into a period of argument and infighting. In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity.
It should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers’ rights under threat, and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the backdoor.
The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MPs not to engage in any such indulgence.
Thirdly, came Corbyn himself – who has not only refused to stand down, but confirms he will stand again if the coup by Labour MPs is successful, confident the Labour Party membership can reassert their authority over a belligerent Parliamentary Labour Party.
But most significantly in all this is the massive upsurge in membership of Momentum – the people’s movement to steer Labour left from within. People are joining in their droves to make sure they can back Corbyn in a new leadership challenge.
This is where the rioja liberals of the party – those who lament the plight of working class Britain with moist eyes over a glass of red wine yet react with nothing short of revulsion at the idea of that same working class holding any power within the party – have their day of reckoning with the working classes who built the party and want it back.
A canny move by Corbyn would be to make this an all-or-nothing battle – if he wins, each of those MPs who voted against him should be deselected. If Corbyn stands a chance in the next election, he needs a party behind him with support, not knives.
Clement Attlee could never have built the NHS, the first social housing programmes, and our state education system or nationalised swathes of industry if the benches behind him, and even the chairs in his own cabinet, were filled with people ideologically opposed to that mission.
For Labour to provide an anti-austerity platform in the next election and provide the left wing answer to austerity, it needs anti-austerity, unashamedly left wing MPs. For it to represent working class concerns, it needs working class MPs.
This unwelcome and unrequested intervention by the Labour mutineers presents the party membership with a chance to restock those benches with MPs that look, sound and think like the voters they will need next time round. Butchers, bakers, entrepreneurs, teachers, social workers, public defenders, journalists, carers, the staff of the NHS, office workers, call centre workers, bus and train drivers – an influx of new and fresh voices, a break from career MPs.
Imagine that at the next election? The stale, dry offering of the Conservative party, versus a movement of, and by, the true face of Britain. An open movement, working alongside Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP. There is a chance here, a very big chance, to hand the Labour party back to those who built it. Take it.
Kerry-anne Mendoza is Editor-in-Chief of The Canary. She is known for creating one of the UK’s top independent political blogs (Scriptonite Daily), for authoring the 2015 best-seller Austerity: The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economy, and for her Middle East reporting. Watch a February 2015 interview with Kerry-anne Mendoza here on RT.com, beginning at 15′ mark. Subscription information to The Canary here.
Corbyn supporters march on UK parliament, Press TV, June 27, 2016 (with photos)
Jeremy Corbyn is most popular among voters from all parties, poll suggests, The Guardian, June 30, 2016
‘This isn’t Labour vs Corbyn, it’s the Establishment vs Democracy – and it’s time to pick a side’, commentary on The Canary, June 30, 2016
‘Approximately 10,000 people flooded London’s Parliament Square during a parliamentary meeting between Labour MPs who decided to hold a no confidence vote against Corbyn…’
Here’s what the Labour coup has to offer, and it would plunge the party into electoral oblivion, commentary on The Canary, June 29, 2016
UN committee declares the UK’s austerity policies in breach of international human rights obligations, by Anna Laszkiewicz, The New Statesman, June 29, 2016
Labour Party gains 60,000 new members in one week following attempted coup against Corbyn, Rachael Pells, The Independent, June 30, 2016
‘At least 60,000 new people have joined the Labour party in the past week amid delays to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership challenge. The figure, said to be one of the fastest increases in membership of any British political party in history, follows MPs’ attempt to launch a coup against the Labour leader…’