The Socialist 13 July 2016 |
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Thousands mobilising to #KeepCorbyn
An all-London meeting was called at very short notice on 6 July by Momentum to organise support for Jeremy Corbyn. The chair reported that 2,000 were in the venue.
As well as Jeremy, other speakers included Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum, Diane Abbott MP, and several others. Matt Wrack made a hard-hitting speech, condemning the back-stabbing MPs and pledging full support for Corbyn in the expected leadership challenge.
Jon Lansman talked about the plans that have been made to defend Jeremy and he reported that already 100,000 have joined the Labour Party since MPs passed their motion of no confidence. Rhea Wilson, young member candidate for the Labour NEC said that the party was now reaching breaking point.
Unfortunately, Jeremy could not attend the event in person, but he recorded a short video message, where he said he stood for the redistribution of wealth and for socialist values. The meeting was unanimous in condemning the attacks on the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party, and the audience was clearly very enthusiastic to take up the fight.
One shortcoming of the meeting was that no call was made to welcome in all left forces to participate in the struggle. At a meeting of Tower Hamlets Momentum a few months ago, Jon Lansman made it clear that I and other Socialist Party members would not be welcome to participate.
I hope that in the new circumstances, now battle lines have been drawn, the need for left unity will lead to a rethink.
Another worrying feature of the contributions was that there was no recognition that the traitor Labour MPs have, by their own actions, once and for all put themselves outside the ranks of the movement. Any move to welcome them back and let bygones be bygones would be disastrous.
More than 500 people turned out for the Momentum organised Keep Corbyn rally on 7 July before marching to the Birmingham Council House in Victoria Square, where the crowd was addressed by a range of speakers. These included Labour councillors who had signed an open letter in support of Jeremy Corbyn against the Blairite coup in the Labour Party.
Ex-Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob correctly identified the need for Labour parliamentary and council candidates committed to anti-austerity policies in action not just words - to rapturous applause from the crowd and passers-by.
Socialist Party and ex-PCS executive member Kevin Greenaway took Salma Yaqoob's argument further, saying councillors should be repeating Jeremy Corbyn's policies in the council chamber - fighting funding cuts and job losses at every level.
Socialist Party members argued for an inclusive open conference of anti-austerity activists both inside and outside of the Labour Party, which was warmly received particularly from young Labour members.
Many people said they wanted to come to our meetings to find out how to defend Corbyn and his anti-austerity ideas.
Plymouth Momentum organised a rally at short notice in the city centre on 9 July to defend Jeremy Corbyn.
Momentum speakers discussed the need for openness and an embracing of Corbyn's "new kind of politics". It was disappointing therefore that Momentum Plymouth members attempted to prevent Socialist Party members from handing out leaflets.
The leaflets were calling for Corbyn to organise a conference of all left forces inside and outside the Labour Party to come together to prepare for the battles ahead.
The overwhelming majority of people were supportive of the idea, with a number of people taking handfuls of leaflets to distribute at their workplaces.
We sold more than 20 copies of the Socialist and had some excellent discussions with people who wanted to discuss a strategy to defend Corbyn.
It is by uniting, discussing and organising that we stand the best chance of defending Corbyn, building on support from inside and outside the Labour Party.
York rally photo Iain Dalton (Click to enlarge)
"Blairites out, Corbyn in," said many of the placards that set the tone at the York Momentum 'Keep Corbyn' rally on 8 July.
Over 100 people gathered in St Helen's Square, to denounce the attempted Blairite coup - in the week the Chilcot report came out which denounced Blair for launching the disastrous Iraq war.
The protest seemed to bring together lots of new people - both Labour Party members people and those not in the Labour Party but are active rank and file trade unionists, and who felt that the ideas being put forward by Corbyn were ones they could get behind.
Socialist Party member Iain Dalton was also able to address the rally, unlike recent ones in nearby Leeds (*see footnote). He offered Socialist Party support and pointed out that pressure from below was pushing most trade union leaders into backing Corbyn.
Iain also urged the need for all who support Corbyn, whether inside the Labour Party or not to come together in this campaign and that a conference of these forces could help plan out the next steps in the battle with the Blairites.
- Footnote: This sentence was amended online on 15.7.16 to remove an inaccurate reference to Socialist Party members not being able to address previous Momentum meetings in York; the participation of Socialist Party members has in fact been welcomed in York Momentum.