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After Corbyn’s victory, a new hope

By: 
Nick Clark

September 16, 2015

Everyone who hates austerity, racism and war was celebrating the news of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party last Saturday.

Outside the Labour leadership special conference where the result was announced, Corbyn supporter Sally Parrott was almost lost for words. “I feel fucking wonderful,” was all she could tell Socialist Worker—and that summed up the mood.

Another supporter, a school student, said, “I’m absolutely ecstatic. I hope the whole party will unite around him and we can start to take on the Tories.” And Claire, who was coming out of the conference, told Socialist Worker, “I feel really happy. After living through Thatcher and the false dawn of Tony Blair, there’s real hope.”

Corbyn’s spectacular victory was built on the back of a widespread desire for change and a break from old politics. Tens of thousands of people turned out to see Corbyn at campaign rallies across Britain in the run-up to the vote. More than 100,000 people registered as Labour supporters, and thousands more joined the party—most of them to vote for Corbyn.

Corbyn’s huge support was reflected in the election result. A total of 121,751 Labour members cast their vote for Corbyn, while 88,449 registered supporters and 41,217 affiliated union members did the same. In all three categories Corbyn took more than twice as many votes as his closest rival, Andy Burnham.

Mood

Corbyn’s acceptance speech at the conference on Saturday spoke to this mood. He said, “The Tories have used the economic crisis of 2008 to impose a terrible burden on the poorest people in this country—those that have seen their wages frozen or cut, those that can’t afford to even sustain themselves properly, those that rely on food banks to get by. It is not right, it is not necessary, and it has got to change.”

Corbyn was set to speak at TUC conference in Brighton as Socialist Worker went to press. His first move as leader was to speak at a demonstration to support refugees. In his first debate in parliament he told Labour MPs to vote against the Tory trade union bill.

But Corbyn will be under pressure from Labour figures to his right to back away from some of his more radical policies, such as scrapping the Trident missile system. Others will do all they can to undermine him. Within seconds of his election some right wing MPs said they would refuse to join Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. And failed leadership hopefuls Chukka Umunna and Tristram Hunt set up a new faction inside the party—Labour for the Common Good.

Joined

Some 30,000 people had joined Labour since Corbyn’s victory by Tuesday morning. One Labour supporter told Socialist Worker on Saturday, “I was purged—but now I’m going to try and join because Corbyn’s going to need all the support he can get.” Another, Rita Sharma, said, “There’s such a feeling for Jeremy that it’ll be impossible for them to get him out. He’s got so much support they’ll be shooting themselves in the foot.”

But it will take more than trying to change the Labour Party from within to bring the kind of change that Corbyn’s election represents. Another supporter, 20 year old kitchen porter Joe Dillion, told Socialist Worker, “Now we need to build a movement. That’s what it’s about.”

And speaking at a fringe meeting at the TUC congress, PCS union leader Mark Serwotka said, “We can’t get that through just Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in parliament. We can use it to popularise our message against austerity and have it allied to the type of movement we want to see. We still have the ability to stop austerity in its tracks and topple the government.”

This is shared from Socialist Worker (UK)

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