Jeremy Corbyn has lost a Vote of No Confidence, with 172-40 Labour MPs voting 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 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 this week saw more than 10,000 supporters pack out Parliament Square at a moment’s notice to back the Labour leader. 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.
— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) June 28, 2016
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, and 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.
You can become a member of the Labour party here.
You can join Momentum, the movement to steer Labour left from within, here.
You can sign the petition to back Corbyn here.
Featured Image via Twitter
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