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30 April 2017
Support for socialist programme in Labour Liverpool rally
Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool 47 and Liverpool Socialist Party
700 Jeremy Corbyn supporters packed St George's concert hall on Friday 28 April. If a rally advertised in good time had taken place on the plateau, a crowd in excess of 10,000 could have been mobilised. In the event, they cheered every radical declaration from the speakers. The more radical the declaration, the louder the ovation.
The electricity in the hall produced a surreal atmosphere, with applause, inspired by hatred for the Tories, greeting even the most insipid speeches which came from Labour's metro mayor candidate Steve Rotheram, MP for Bootle Peter Dowd and anti-Corbyn Louise Elman who grotesquely continues to be MP for Riverside. It was noticeable that Elman never mentioned Corbyn. Even king cutter Joe Anderson, Liverpool mayor, was greeted with applause.
The loudest cheers were for Margaret Greenwood MP for Wirral West who was unequivocal in her support for the Labour leader, with MEP Teresa Griffin, putative candidate for Walton constituency in the general election, following a close second. It was noticeable that Joe Anderson, who covets the same seat, gave her speech a less than enthusiastic response by clapping as though his palms were covered with super glue.
Then came John McDonnell whose entrance was greeted with rapturous applause. John first declared his pride at returning to his home city, which, he said, was the setting for some of the greatest working class struggles of this and the last century. He mentioned Thatcher's attack on the city and for a moment I thought he was poised to mention the Liverpool 47; he didn't and instead praised Anderson for his sterling work in rebuilding the city! Perhaps the word 'surreal' doesn't really do justice to the occasion.
John proceeded to outline Corbyn-Labour's programme. Correctly savaging the Tory agenda of being weak with the strong and strong with the weak, he ticked the most important boxes. A Corbyn-led Labour government would support the People against the Establishment, outlaw zero-hour contracts, repeal the anti-trade union laws, drive out the privateers from the NHS, introduce a £10-an-hour minimum wage, introduce free education at all levels, launch a crash council house building programme, establish a national investment bank and he declared that one word sums up the programme: 'Socialism'. This produced wild applause.
He drew back from using word 'nationalisation' but I have no doubt that, such was the mood for a decisive break with capitalism, a declaration to nationalise rail, energy, the banks, Royal Mail, etc, would have blown the roof of this historic venue.
The capitalists' hatred of Corbyn will intensify the closer the election date comes. The distortion and lies of the media will reach new depths. The Tory fifth column in the Parliamentary Labour Party will continue to try to sabotage a Labour victory. This can be overcome, not only by meetings in big halls, but by a campaign of mass rallies throughout the country, mobilising the working class, the youth and all those desperate to get rid of the hated Tory government.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 30 April 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.