- Fight this attack on democracy – Corbyn must stand in Islington North at the next election
- Don’t delay: Corbyn should immediately call a mass rally in his constituency to declare he is standing independently of Labour and launch the start of his re-election.
- Trade unions should support Corbyn. He is one of a few MPs prepared to stand on picket lines with workers – the most prominent representative of pro-working-class politics in the country. All unions, Labour-affiliated or not, should get behind him and remove all support from the Labour candidate in Islington North and any Labour candidates who don’t condemn Corbyn’s de-selection.
- Build a mass campaign to win Corbyn’s seat. Mobilise trade union members, anti-racist, LGBTQ+ rights, feminist and climate campaigners to build a huge street operation to fight for every last vote.
- Launch solidarity groups across Britain to mobilise support and take the campaign to every picket line and demonstration.
- A victory in Islington can be the springboard for launching a new left party, rooted in the real struggles of working class people, which can help mobilise and coordinate the fightback whoever occupies Downing Street.
- Labour ‘left’ MPs must back Corbyn’s stand. If the price of remaining in the Parliamentary Labour Party is silence it is not one worth paying. Any further expulsions, including of prominent left MPs should be met with resignations and a joint effort to build a new working class political alternative.
- Fight for socialist policies centred on public ownership of the major companies to end the cost of living crisis, rebuild public services and combat the climate emergency.
Photo credit: Paul McGowan
It is now confirmed that Jeremy Corbyn will be blocked from standing as a Labour Party candidate at the next general election. The Labour NEC motion passed to this effect leaves Corbyn with no recourse to appeal. This is despite overwhelming support within his local party which, at least in theory, is supposed to select its parliamentary candidate. It is in spite of his continued huge popularity within the Islington constituency he represents. But it is because of what Jeremy Corbyn as a figure continues to represent in the minds of hundreds of thousands of working-class people.
Corbynism inspired and enthused millions because it was, for the first time after decades of Blairite control of the Labour Party, a breaking through into the mainstream of an alternative to big business, pro-super-rich, capitalist politics. In the context of the current cost of living crisis, and of widespread working-class resistance in the form of the strike wave, the need for this alternative has only become more urgent.
This latest decision by Starmer represents the culmination of his ruthless purge of Labour. Through a dishonest campaign worthy of Boris Johnson, Starmer won the leadership of the party amid the confusion and demoralisation of the 2019 election defeat. While pursuing Corbyn’s old job, he promised to continue his legacy, pledging to stand “shoulder to shoulder with trade unions” and to continue the party’s support for nationalisation, trans rights, refugee and migrant rights, and much more. But no sooner had Starmer secured the leadership than his campaign to destroy every remaining vestige of Corbynism within the party began in earnest.
The vindictive symbolism of removing Corbyn from a seat that he has held since 1983 represents the final triumph of this approach. Through expulsions, victimisation, rigged candidate selections, and now this attack, Starmer has achieved for the right what Corbyn could and should have fought for via the mass democratic involvement of working-class people: the root and branch transformation of the party. It was the attempt by Corbyn and his advisors to make peace with the right – including bringing Starmer right into the heart of the Shadow Cabinet – that has paved the way for him to defeat pro-worker politics in Labour. It is not surprising that many of the most prominent and forceful advocates of this failed approach of conciliation with the Blairites – including Momentum founder Jon Lansman – are now among those publicly urging Corbyn to meekly accept this latest humiliation. Those like former shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who say ‘stay and fight’, know their campaign is doomed to fail, and risk handing the seat to the Blairites.
Starmer himself was one of the chief architects of the 2019 election defeat. His campaign against Corbyn over Brexit paralysed the Party and forced Corbyn into a fudged public position on the question. This gave the Tories the ammunition they needed to paint Labour as part of an establishment stitch-up to thwart the democratic will of the majority – and left Corbyn without any clear programme to counter such attacks. What’s more, Starmer’s wing of the party colluded in manufacturing a ‘crisis’ around the issue of anti-semitism – which the vast majority of Labour members, along with Corbyn, implacably oppose – something which has been brilliantly exposed in a series of recent documentaries produced by Al Jazeera. Yet the 2017 election – when the Labour right conducted a scandalous conspiracy to ensure Labour’s defeat – showed the real appeal of Corbyn’s policies. With Labour’s leadership temporarily given the space to cut through the fog of confusion surrounding Brexit, millions turned out enthusiastically to vote for change.
Workers movement on the march
Now, as British capitalism lurches again into a new and deeper crisis, class politics has been put back on the agenda by the audacious action of rail workers, nurses, teachers, doctors, Amazon warehouse staff, posties, paramedics, physios, civil servants and many more. Yet, when it comes to parliament, pro-worker politics has hardly been more marginal in the last century.
There is now a gaping vacuum, which means there is scope for building a new party of the left. This is especially the case if it bases itself on workers’ struggles, along with those of oppressed people. This is likely to become even more apparent if, as seems likely, Starmer’s Labour wins a majority at the next election. He will assume management of British capitalism and set about making workers foot the bill for its latest crisis, giving us no option but to organise to fight back.
What happens now with Corbyn’s seat can therefore be vital preparation for what is to come. This is about far more than one MP. If he takes a stand, and if the workers’ movement unites behind him, it could light a flame which could go on to be the spark for a whole new realignment of British politics – paving the way for the development of a new political voice for working-class people.
That is why Socialist Alternative is campaigning for Corbyn to stand independently of Labour, and will be taking motions to trade union branches around the country in the next weeks calling on him to do so, and on the union movement to stand full square behind him. We say we need to build a mass campaign to win Corbyn’s re-election and use it as a platform for launching a new left party – bringing together striking workers, climate activists, anti-racist, trans rights and feminist campaigners to fight for a society that works in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.