New figures suggest that Dennis Skinner is right, and that Jeremy Corbyn’s critics in the Labour Party are wrong.
Pessimism in the ranks
The Labour Party clearly has work to do in order to win a majority in parliament. But a number of MPs on the right of the party seem to be more pessimistic than necessary in the wake of the 8 June general election.
Deputy leader Tom Watson, for example, recently argued that Labour needed to “give greater reassurance to our traditional working-class voters, some of whom left us on issues like policing and security”. If these could be kept on board, he said, Labour would have an “unbeatable” formula.
Newly appointed Shadow Justice Minister Gloria De Piero also spoke of the “need to listen to the voters who left us”. But it was former whip Graham Jones who was the most critical. He said:
How thick does this party have to be? We have not learnt the lessons from the rise of the BNP [in the 1990s]. Our core voters cannot be taken for granted… We have to talk about their concerns – counter-terrorism, nationalism, defence and community, the nuclear deterrent and patriotism… And if we fail to address it, we are finished.
Enter Dennis Skinner
In reality, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn helped to increase his party’s vote share in the 2017 general election more than any other leader since Clement Attlee. And this was in spite of a toxic New Labour legacy of essentially abandoning and ignoring working-class communities – creating a vacuum for other parties to fill; continuing financial deregulation to please wealthy elites; kick-starting the privatisation of the NHS; propping up the very structures which created the capitalist crisis of 2007–2008; and losing five million voters between 1997 and 2010.
With all this in mind, veteran MP Dennis Skinner stepped in with a response to the pessimistic voices of the Labour right. He said:
We ran a socialist campaign to a near victory. These [criticisms] are claims from rightwingers in the party.
The reason that people did not vote for Corbyn was because they believed the propaganda coming from Theresa May and the Tories that Corbyn could not win. But now they will know that Labour is on the way to victory. I have no doubt we can see a Labour government soon.
And the figures seem to prove him right.
Labour’s increasing momentum
On election night, a Labour spokesperson said:
Labour’s poll standing and Jeremy Corbyn’s standing surged as people were able to hear our message, policies and Jeremy directly.
In other words, once people stepped away from the noise of Tory cheerleaders in the corporate media, they actually liked what Corbyn and his party were saying. And for one BBC editor, the fact that so many people were clearly ignoring the smears and fearmongering in the pro-Conservative press was proof that right-wing tabloids are starting to lose their decades-long stranglehold over British politics.
But Labour’s momentum didn’t stop on 8 June. On 23 June, reports emerged that Britain now favours Corbyn over Theresa May for the post of prime minister for the first time. Labour leaders hadn’t taken the lead since 2007.
And now, Corbyn’s party has set a new record. Labour now sits at 46% according to a new YouGov poll. This is its highest ever scoring from the pollster. The party is currently ahead of the SNP in Scotland; leads in all areas of the UK except the south; and has gained both Conservative (3%) and Lib Dem (29%) voters from the general election.
What about the traditional working-class voters Labour critics speak of, though? Well, Labour has not only pulled ahead with the highest socioeconomic groups. It has also drawn level with the Conservative Party in the lowest groups.
Don’t believe the propaganda
While polling should always be taken with a pinch of salt, Labour clearly has significant momentum. And voters appear to be increasingly ignoring the Tory propaganda which claimed Corbyn’s Labour couldn’t and shouldn’t win.
After taking over a tired and stale Labour Party is disarray, Corbyn always had an electoral mountain to climb, especially in working-class communities that the party had taken for granted for far too many years. The almost universally hostile corporate media, meanwhile, threw everything it had into the ring to prevent Corbyn’s success. But it failed.
Labour critics will continue to moan. And there’s definitely still work to do. But Dennis Skinner’s right. The general election dealt a massive blow to the Tory propaganda machine, and the momentum is now very clearly with Corbyn’s Labour Party.
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Featured image via liarpoliticians/YouTube