There’s no mystery about Corbyn’s popularity

When Jeremy Corbyn announced his candidacy for leader of the Labour Party, it was met with a huge amount of grassroots pressure to get him on the ballot. Labour MPs were inundated with emails and calls requesting that they nominate Corbyn. The only MP to take to social media to ask who her CLP and constituents wanted her to nominate had to then rephrase the question as: ‘Is there actually anyone who doesn’t want me to nominate Jeremy?’ Within days of setting up the ‘Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader’ Facebook page and simply highlighting Jeremy’s track record and his views on issues like austerity, housing, Trident, immigration, education, disability rights with a few memes, videos and articles – thousands of people had joined. That figure now stands at over 39,000. Jeremy then topped numerous polls, most notably in Labourlist and the Mirror. Moreover, the depth of support has been reflected by him securing the supporting nomination of 74 Constituency Labour Parties and receiving the backing of hundreds of Labour councillors.

Of course much of the PLP and most of the media find the levels of support for Corbyn to be ‘astonishing’ and the recent YouGov poll putting Jeremy in the lead has generated a reaction bordering on hysteria. But for many of us ordinary members in the Labour party it is no surprise at all. For all the mainstream media and New Labour grandees might gush over the ‘modernisers’ you would be actually very hard pressed to find many ordinary members of the Labour party who have any enthusiasm for pursuing austerity in the name of ‘economic credibility’, PFI, accepting the necessity of academies, or free schools, the welfare cap, taking a ‘tough line’ on immigration or whatever now passes for the so-called ‘centre ground’. But there are plenty of people in Labour who believe in opposing austerity outright, investing in a decent social security system, tax justice, building social housing, job creation, the public ownership of our railway network, schools run by local authorities and the idea that cuts and privatisation rather than immigrants are the real threat to our public services. In fact, a belief in these things is what motivates lots of people to join Labour in the first place. In other words, basic social democratic values and policies remain popular in a democratic socialist party.

For quite some time now, there has been a growing disconnect between much of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the wider party membership. This estrangement began under Blair who forced through policies which were never put to conference and had almost no support with the party membership, from PFI and academies right through to Iraq. But even in the last parliament there were occasions where many of us felt let down by the PLP. For example, while Labour activists were busy organising demonstrations against the Bedroom Tax, the leadership took more than 6 months to finally come out and say they would abolish it. And while Labour activists condemned and campaigned against the government’s illegal use of workfare, the PLP refused to take the government to task and abstained.

It’s not always easy being a socialist in the Labour party. At best you are often seen to be somewhat naïve and lacking in pragmatism. At worst you’re regarded as a ‘Trot’ and a ‘wrecker’. But as Tony Benn once said, ‘It’s very often the boat rockers who turn out to be the people who are building the craft.’

I believe that with Jeremy as leader, Labour will rediscover its timeless task: to stand up for social justice, equality and peace, provide principled, effective opposition to the Tories, offer a politics of hope and give Labour the best chance of winning in 2020.

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8 thoughts on “There’s no mystery about Corbyn’s popularity

  1. It does seem more than a bit strange that the PLP are so scared of what the members might choose. One, for the reason that surely the PLP should reflect the views of the membership, rather than vice-versa, and two for the reason that chasing the centre ground looks like a risky policy rather than a safe bet, following an election in which a centre-left Labour party got firmly rejected, and the centrist LibDems got virtually exterminated… only the Right (Cons + UKIP) and the Left (Greens, SNP) made any gains to speak of. I don’t understand why the obsession with occupying a position that doesn’t fit the party and that isn’t a vote-winner either. Bonkers.

  2. Shephen Sheach says:

    The way the press (including broadcast media) is openly attacking Corbyn and the way the Labour establishment are stating they would refuse to work with him is shocking. Yet some regard new members as entrists!! They are wanting to be represent party of the metropolitan middle class – Labour needs to be the party of the dispossessed

  3. James Hayes says:

    If Jeremy Corbyn leads the Labour Party into the political wilderness in 2020 will the “socialists” in the Labour Party concede that the British electorate are not stupid, but simply want a different direction? There is a place for Liz Kendall in the Labour Party. All truth does not lay with the “socialists”. I could never vote Conservative, but feel demonized by not supporting JC in my local CLP. For “Trot” read ,”Tory Lite”. The truth often as not is somewhere in the middle.

  4. Brilliant post. I can only wish I could still believe that you are right.

    In my view – based on my long-term analysis of the global political arena – it is not very likely. Just to name one reason: there is an almost uncanny similarity between the recent Greek Syriza/Tsipras scenario and the Labour/Corbyn hysteria. The way how Greece was betrayed and sold out by their grass-roots based Left leaves us with almost no hope that in the UK the outcome would be different. Are these novices like Tsipras and Corbyn naive beginners or shrewed and bribed pawns of establishment is an irrelevant question. Down the road there is a turning point when they turn out to be unable or unwilling to serve their constituency. In this political era where lies and manipulations prevail all mandates and all party-missions can be reversed and abandoned.

    In the meantime, on the “right” side of the deceived masses, UKIP is buying time for the establishment. As long as the system remains in place, we have next-to-zero hope that any of the parties within the system would deliver what they promise. The plan is to keep the masses calm and buying time for the bank-owned establishment to forever continue with the global bank-fraud, which pushes all countries into the illegal national debt – austerity – crisis vicious cycle.

    Full analysis and explanation on blog >
    #ThisIsACoup The World Debt Crisis, as it is happening now: a system too rigged to fail
    https://globalpoliticalanalysis.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/the-world-debt-crisis-as-it-is-happening-now-a-system-too-rigged-to-fail/

  5. Ted says:

    Corbyn flat-out isn’t Tsipras. He just isn’t. And the UK’s economic situation is nothing like Greece’s, particularly since we have our own currency. So it’s less easy to see where the ‘sell-out’ would come from. Of course there would be massive pressure and sabotage from the financial elite, but the way to deal with that it pressure from below – like in 1945.

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