Corbyn defies wreckers

by Daphne Liddle

JEREMY Corbyn wound up the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Wednesday with a powerful speech, calling for unity and for taking the fight to the Tories.

He attacked the Tories, saying that people want change and that Theresa May’s premiership was the government of the privileged few.

Corbyn spoke of the proposed constituency boundary review as “gerrymandering” — ostensibly to save money, yet David Cameron as he resigned added 260 new peers to the House of Lords at a cost of £34 million a year.

And they co-opted the unelected business fat cat, Philip Green, into the government post of “efficiency Tsar” even though the man avoids paying his taxes.

Corbyn’s speech was full of proposals for new investment in the NHS, industry, small businesses, housing (a million new homes, at least half of them council houses), adult education and a pupil premium for schools to invest in art, music and cultural activities.

And he proposed raising corporation taxes to fund a new National Education Service, including free higher education to supply industry with better educated workers.

Investment in industry would create a million good jobs and good businesses deserve a level playing field — which means not being undercut by other businesses that do not pay their taxes.

He promised to abolish benefit sanctions and the hated Work Capability Assessment, and won big applause for this.

On immigration he said that he would use the visa levy to restore payments to local authorities taking in more migrants, in order to increase their schools, health and welfare services to meet new needs.

Corbyn spoke of the evils of the wars that Britain had been involved in promoting in the Middle East, which have resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being forced to flee their homes as refugees.

And he won a standing ovation when he said that he had been right to apologise for the War on Iraq.

It was all good socialist stuff, with little said about the right wing of the party and its increasingly desperate efforts to sabotage his leadership.

There was great applause from the conference floor and even some grudging praise from the BBC commentators for his confident delivery.

It was a good ending to the conference, and sent delegates away inspired and optimistic. But during the conference it was plain that the right wing of the party has not given up in its efforts to undermine Corbyn’s leadership.

The departing National Executive Committee (NEC) changed the rules yet again to force the inclusion of two unelected right-wing appointees on to its successor, ensuring that the new NEC will not, after all, have a majority of pro-Corbyn members. And control of that committee is key to controlling the party, how it operates and what it does.The right wing also pushed through a motion to expel any council that refused to set a legal budget — ie any council that refused to implement Tory cuts.

In other words they would have responded to the Poplar rates rebellion led by George Lansbury, one of Labour’s greatest heroes, by expelling the entire council.

And Tom Watson, who had been appointed by Corbyn as his Shadow Deputy Prime Minister, attacked Corbyn for his opposition to the policies of Tony Blair.

Outside the conference hall there were more futile attempts to raise the bogus spectre of widespread anti-Semitism inside Labour — pointing an accusing finger at the left wing.

Yet it is the left wing of the party that has turned out on the streets time and time again to oppose real neo-Nazis, Islamophobes and anti-Semites whilst the right-wingers have ignored this real threat.

So, with Corbyn’s re-election the Left in the party has gained some ground but there is still a long way to go before that party fully becomes the political voice of the organised working class — as it was created to be.

This is not surprising. The ruling class has always ensured itself a powerful presence within that party as a way of preventing the working class ever gaining real power.

For many decades the right wing — less principled and more devious than the workers — has by dirty tricks and skulduggery controlled that party. Now their control is seriously damaged they are fighting harder than ever to get back in control and they will not give up.

They are not the sort to recognise that they have been defeated in an election and that is the end of the matter, or to give way with good grace. In spite of Corbyn’s constant appeal for unity they will fight on to undermine him.