The landslide victory of 59.5 per cent (higher than Tony Blair received in 1994) and the 251,417 votes for Jeremy Corbyn was due to a deep opposition to austerity, Blairite policies and the status quo. It represents a huge mandate to fight the attacks on the working class by capitalism.
Labour Members, £3 registered supporters, and affiliated supporters from the trade unions made up the more than 400,000 people who voted.
The Daily Mirror, which is pro-Labour, supported Andy Burnham’s campaign as well as some union leaderships. Some Unite branches and union leaderships were forced to change their support from Burnham to Corbyn because of pressure from the rank and file. Many meetings held by Corbyn across the country were 1,000 plus and very enthusiastic for a new Labour Party and many wanted: a party that would fight austerity and not implement it, one that would not support war against other countries or immigrants, and one that would oppose the anti-trade union laws, support nationalisation and public services.
After Corbyn became leader another 40,000 joined the Labour Party increasing the membership to 352,000. And certainly some of these are taking their first political step to fight for their rights.
But the Labour party is a party dominated by bourgeois policies and the right wing, but because of individual membership and union affiliation workers are also present. The Labour party was built by the trade unions and the working class, but since 1914 and over many decades it degenerated into New Labour and is therefore a bourgeois-workers party, dominated by the right-wing and the trade union bureaucracy.
Under the pro-Blair leaders Labour party membership had fallen drastically as had their general election votes. So, they introduced the £3 supporter’s fee and with the union link it meant Corbyn supporters and the rank and file of many trade unions could participate in the election.
The size of his victory makes a right wing rebellion against the new leader very difficult and some of the main commentators on Labour’s right-wing are advising the opposition not to walk away, but to participate in the leadership and wait for their chance.
Why did this fight take place inside the Labour Party? The answer is because no alternative such as Syriza (Greece) or Podemos (Spain) exists that destroyed other social-democratic parties in Europe. Neither TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) or Left Unity are seen as a mass alternative.
Those who voted for Corbyn want something more. The very wide opposition to Tory, Lib-Dem and Miliband’s Labour solution of making the working class and the vulnerable pay for the establishment crisis has begun to find a national voice and shows that if the Labour Party had had an anti-austerity programme they could probably have won the last general election.
Corbyn – a minority in Labour’s leadership
Corbyn had minority support of only 20 MPs out of 232 MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party. His shadow cabinet of 31 MPs has only three Corbyn supporters. The rest supported Burham (9), Cooper (9) and Kendall (1), not declared who they voted for but others were involved in the Miliband shadow Cabinet and two Lords and a member of the privy council were also chosen.
The privy council, which Corbyn, accepting a tradition of the ruling class from 1659 when the monarch was restored, has joined. “Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council”, is an unelected body of advisers to the Sovereign. Its membership is mainly senior politicians who are (or have been) members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords, and it also includes church, military and police leaders.
The Parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour shadow cabinet does not reflect the feeling for Corbyn in the ranks. It does show that it is possible to organise a struggle and win against the pro-austerity Blairite forces. It is a blow against the right wing of the party because the victory is the electoral reflection of the desire to fight austerity by workers and youth.
If a right wing candidate had won, Labour would have lost even more credibility. So, contradictorily while the right wing was beaten, at the same time, it is their salvation. And therefore Jeremy Corbyn saved the Labour party from further decline.
The Labour Party is under the control of Labour MPs and the trade union bureaucracy, and has deep links with the establishment. Corbyn is a leader of a party he does not control. Pro-austerity policies govern in all local councils where Labour are in control. Even where Labour councillors who switched mid-election and said they supported Corbyn, have voted for council cuts over the last four years.
To match the demands of his voters, Corbyn has to fight the pro-austerity MPs and policies inside the Labour Party, if he does not the support he received will have been in vain.
The world crisis continues
The Economist warns the Tories against complacency and says, “The populism and discontent that brought him the leadership will not just subside…There is nothing to celebrate about Mr Corbyn’s elevation. For Britain, it is a grave misfortune.” 19, September.
They say, “Only in the time warp of Mr Corbyn’s hard-left fraternity could a programme of renationalisation and enhanced trade-union activism be the solution to inequality”. But in this attack they acknowledge that inequality has rapidly increased.
Alarmingly for capitalists the Economist also says, “Yet the leader of the opposition is one Tory meltdown away from power.”
What makes the Economist so alarmist? It is the internal problems inside the Tory party which has seen sharp divisions: Osborne’s proposals for more local authority cuts (Tory council representatives led the rebuttal of new cuts that will close many services); removing tax credits for the low pay (some Tory MPs think such brutality against low paid workers will provoke anger from their electorate); and the referendum over the EU.
But their worry is also due to other factors: the world economy has not recovered from the crash of 2008; the crash in China and the world’s stock exchanges; the US central bank freezing its interest rate over concern about the fragile world economy; effects of stagnation across much of Europe.
Andy Haldane, Bank of England’s chief economist, has suggested that the UK interest should be cut again, despite all the boasting about recovery from Cameron. He said “Recent events form the latest leg of what might be called a three-part crisis trilogy. Part one of that trilogy was the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ crisis of 2008-09. Part two was the ‘euro-area’ crisis of 2011-12. And we may now be entering the early stages of part three of the trilogy, the ‘emerging market’ crisis of 2015 onward”. Brazil and Russia’s economic problems are also deepening rapidly.
Running through all of this is one simple fact that while inequality can produce political earthquakes the EU and British capitalism know only one road – to impose more inequality. The only road they can take will also make it worse for their system. The crisis of world capitalism can only bring more wars, more upheavals and more revolutions. British capitalism can continue punishing workers, but it will not solve their deep underlining problems.
We live in a world of wars and revolutions. The millions that are forced to walk through Europe are a product of capitalist brutality, which can only be explained by the way their world crisis is driving, including British, wars on the smaller nations and the peoples of this earth.
No retreat from the anti-austerity struggle
British capitalism is so dominated by the trans-nationals that they even cut the paltry subsidies for green solutions and put our future in the hands of nuclear and fracking energy projects.
While rebellions of different sectors of the population can break out over many issues, austerity and capitalism can only be stopped by the working class and revolution.
Jeremy Corbyn is no Marxist or revolutionary but the very fact that the new leader of the Labour party opposes austerity is a threat to capitalism. His position can help spark off renewed working class struggles.
Corbyn supporters want to turn the Labour Party into a combative workers party, but such a struggle cannot be carried through by reformists. Many members want a new Labour party but Labour is an establishment party and is also funded by the right wing and capitalism.
As the Tory government will not back down, the vote for Corbyn is the first sign of mass struggles to come. These will break out against the desire of union leaders, Labour’s right wing and many in Corbyn’s cabinet.
The desire to fight capitalism will lead to revolutionary conclusions and the desire for a revolutionary party, but the Labour party cannot become that. And the retreats of Corbyn and his accommodation to Labour’s pro-austerity MPs shows he will not lead that fight.
Labour party conference
How strong the pressure is from below will be tested out at the Labour conference. One issue is over nuclear capability and the retention of the Trident nuclear submarine. The deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson, and the shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, support its retention. Corbyn has to wage a fight against Trident at the conference.
There has been huge pressure from the press including the Guardian to make Corbyn toe the patriotic line, for Queen, God and Country. They say he should not speak for his political tendency alone, but for all in the Labour party.
Unfortunately such pressure has caused a retreat in his opposition to the EU and Nato. While he has said only invasion supported by the UN would be given the go ahead. The UN, however, in 1990 authorised an invasion and annexation of Iraq and agreed also to apply financial and trade sanctions against Iraq, which created a humanitarian crisis in the country but it did not support the resistance movement against Saddam Hussein. In the early 1990s it was seen as an army of occupation by Bosnians, not a peace keeping force and tried to blockade aid and arms to the Bosnian people, which they wanted to survive and defend themselves. They have has also approved military action in the Congo. It is a weapon of imperialism.
How far Corbyn will go to fight capitalism will be greatly influenced by the pro-Corbyn youth and activists (both union and community) organising to help the working class to take to the streets to: defy the anti-trade union laws; oppose the attacks on benefits and publics services; and demand that refugees are welcome into Britain.
Corbyn must win Labour and the conference to back and demand that refugees are welcome into Britain and demand that all immigrants have the right to stay and the right to work.
To fight the right wing in the shadow cabinet Corbyn has to help mobilise the working class. Pro-austerity policies in local Labour councils must be fought and full support given to all the mobilisations by workers: strikes, picket lines and occupations. That is, as Lenin, words have to become deeds. There is therefore a lot to fight for at the Labour Party conference
The International Socialist League is for building a wide anti-austerity movement against the government and all councils and at the same time we are for the construction of a revolutionary party because no other party can defeat austerity.