Labour left rallies to Corbyn

by Daphne Liddle

SOCIALISTS and communists of many shades and positions have welcomed the decision by veteran left-wing Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn to stand for the leadership of the Labour Party so that the process of selection will have pro-working class dimension.

The number of left Labour MPs had dwindled over the last two decades and no doubt the right-wing Blairites and members of Progress, the ruling class Trojan horse faction within the party, are still hoping the left of the party will completely disappear.

All the rest of those standing so far: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Mary Creagh are right-wingers.

Burnham, currently the shadow health secretary, told an audience at accountancy giants Ernst and Young last week: “It worries me that, in some people’s eyes, Labour has become associated with giving people who don’t want to help themselves an easy ride.” He also spoke of his hope that Labour would again become “the party of work”.

Liz Kendall, the shadow care services minister, and another leadership contender, told the Guardian that she supported a welfare cap on the total amount of benefits received, arguing: “Voters in my constituency do not feel people who are not working should get more than those in work”. She also said that the public does not trust Labour on welfare, and she called for what the Guardian termed a “fundamental rethink”.

None have made any reference to the shocking impact of the Work Capability Assessment process that has seen so many genuinely very ill and disabled people sanctioned because they cannot keep up with the programmes that are supposed to make them “fit for work” — and the scores of suicides that are mounting up of claimants committing suicide when made destitute by having their benefits stopped, often for quite ridiculous reasons.

Kendall has said that she regards the party’s link with the unions as “unhealthy”. If that goes the party will have abandoned its reason for existence as the parliamentary voice of the organised working class.

John McDonnell MP has given his full support to Jeremy Corbyn and so has the Labour Representation Committee, which said: “Since Labour’s general election defeat, the Labour right has dominated analysis in the media, incomprehensibly arguing the party’s campaign was ‘too left’.

“The first weeks of the Labour leadership debate have since followed the same pattern, with candidates arguing Labour spent too much in office and failing to oppose the Tories planned cut in the benefit cap.

“Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement of his candidacy will see the Tories ideological austerity agenda challenged for what it is — a political rather than economic mission which demonises public spending and requires the poorest in society to pay for the banking crisis, while the wealthiest continue to benefit.

“Austerity has forced down wages in real terms in both the public and private sector for seven years — affecting the majority of the population.”

The RMT transport union supports Corbyn’s stance but unfortunately that union is no longer affiliated to the party.

But the giant union Unite declared its support for right-winger Burnham before Corbyn announced he would stand. We call on all Unite members and supporters to use whatever pressure they can to urge their leadership to change its mind and back Corbyn — and likewise with every other union.

And we call on everyone who can to lobby Labour MPs to back Corbyn’s nomination. He needs at least 35 nominations for his name to appear in the ballot paper and he has gained 14 already.

The Labour Representation Committee, on its website, has produced a model letter to MPs. It concludes: “Whether Jeremy is your preferred candidate or not, there is an overwhelming case for including a voice like his in this leadership contest.

“At this stage, it is not necessarily about who you are voting for — and we saw in the 2010 race how many MPs ‘lent’ their nominations to candidates in order to ensure a proper debate.

“That can be explained to both the candidate you intended to nominate and the wider electorate. In doing so, you will be putting the future of the party at the top of your list of priorities. If you agree with me that a serious debate is needed and are able to offer your support to Jeremy’s campaign ...”

The Mirror newspaper, on its website, is running a poll for who should be Labour leader. So far Jeremy Corbyn is well ahead of the rest of the field.