Jeremy Corbyn at Durham Miners' Gala July 2016, photo Paul Mattsson
The recent revolt of the 172 right-wing Labour MPs, and now the launch of a leadership challenge by Angela Eagle, represents an organised attempted coup against Jeremy Corbyn. This is no accident. For the majority of Labour MPs who are wholly committed to acting in the interests of big business, the anti-austerity and socialist ideas which won Jeremy Corbyn mass support and propelled him to the leadership represent a dangerous threat to the establishment. Ever since Corbyn’s election, the majority of the Labour Party’s Parliamentary machine has made it their mission to undermine Jeremy in order to recapture the Labour party for the interests of big business and capitalism.
When launching her campaign, Angela Eagle attempted to deny being a Blairite – perhaps unsurprisingly given the damning verdict of the Chilcot review last week and Blair’s toxic legacy. Incredibly, Eagle has even cynically described herself as ‘on the left’. But her record speaks for itself. Angela Eagle supported the Iraq war and opposed an investigation into it. She voted to introduce and then triple tuition fees. She abstained on a key vote on workfare in parliament. She voted to bomb Syria and supports the renewal of Trident. This stands in stark contrast to the record of Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent and principled anti-war, anti-cuts and pro-working class MP.
For students and youth, as for working class people of all ages, Corbyn’s election to the leadership of the Labour Party was a significant breakthrough. The demands Corbyn raised during his leadership campaign – for free education, a £10 an hour minimum wage, rent controls, opposition to war and imperialism – all contributed to the mass support he generated, particularly among young people. It is therefore vital that young people everywhere help organise to defend Jeremy against this Blairite coup.
The fallout of the EU referendum and the decision to leave the EU has opened up huge rifts not only in Labour, but within the ranks of the Conservative Party as well. There is a clear opportunity to challenge the Tories and the Labour and trade union movement should be on the offensive –demanding Tories out and a general election.
Corbyn has done well so far to stand firm against any attempted coup. We wholeheartedly welcome Corbyn’s statement arguing that should there be an attempt to keep him off the ballot he would be prepared to challenge that. It would have been a huge mistake to capitulate and, as some have suggested, replace Corbyn with another left candidate more able to conciliate with the right wing of Labour.
Any such attempt to artificially fuse the right and left of the party and bring Blairites in from the cold will end in failure. This battle isn’t merely a matter of polite disagreement, but is a political struggle between the 99% and big business, and moreover between the Blairites and the vast majority of the Labour Party membership who support Corbyn and the ideas he stands for.
As such Socialist Students supports the call made for an open conference of all left wing organisations, trade unions and anti austerity activists inside and outside of the Labour Party with the aim of defending Corbyn not only against the Blairites but against all the tools and methods at the disposal of British capitalism including the media, the financial institutions and the Tories. This conference could also mount a campaign for an early general election; demanding all Labour candidates stand on a clear anti austerity and socialist platform, taking the policies raised in Corbyn’s leadership campaign as a starting point.
Moreover, Socialist Students calls for Momentum Youth and Students to open its doors to the thousands of young people and students not yet members of the Labour Party; people who are thoroughly dedicated to defending Corbyn’s socialist ideas, but who still are understandably uncomfortable with supporting the pro austerity, pro war party machine which sits firmly in control of the Blairites. Alongside and as part of fighting to defend Corbyn, it is necessary to build a mass movement to oppose austerity, which means challenging capitalism and fighting to transform society along socialist lines.
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