By Adam Booth, Hackney North and Stoke Newington CLP
Despite facing a barrage of attacks since his election as Labour leader last September, Jeremy Corbyn’s support amongst Labour members has not been dented. Indeed, according to the latest figures from YouGov opinion polls, Corbyn is even more popular with the rank-and-file of the Labour Party now than at the time of his election.
This fact – along with election results for the Corbyn-led Labour Party that continue to defy the apocalyptic predictions of Corbyn’s opponents in the Establishment – mean that the Labour leader’s position at the helm of the party is assured for now, much to the chagrin of the Blairites in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
These latest YouGov figures, released on 17th May, provide a valuable insight into the real mood amongst Labour members. Whilst the Tory press and mainstream media are full of bluster, engaged in an endless onslaught of mud-slinging against Corbyn, support for the Labour leader is quietly growing and strengthening beneath the surface. Indeed, by constantly spewing out a torrent of bile and vitriol in the direction of Corbyn, the media are inadvertently undermining the public’s trust in these pivotal institutions of the Establishment.
Defying his critics
Having weathered the storm of attacks from his opponents – both inside and outside of the Labour Party – Corbyn is now in a stronger position that ever, with the opinion polls showing that there has been an increase from 66% to 72% in terms of the proportion of Labour members who believe that Jeremy Corbyn is doing well as leader of the Labour Party. (On a side-note, amongst those members who voted for Liz Kendall in the leadership election, a higher percentage believes that David Cameron is doing a good job as Prime Minister than Corbyn is doing as Labour leader! These Blairites really are in the wrong party!)
Having initially been threatened with an internal coup by right-wing MPs before even coming to power, Corbyn has continued to defy expectations and prove his critics wrong. From the impressive Labour victory in the Oldham by-election, to the vote in Parliament over the bombing of Syria, and most recently in terms of the local and regional elections: in all these cases, and more, Corbyn has come out on top, failing to provide the Blairites with the disastrous results that they had hoped to use as ammunition in their attempts to destroy the democratically-elected Labour leader.
Indeed, as the YouGov figures indicate, Labour members themselves are overall very happy with their party’s performance in the recent local and regional elections, with 67% stating that they are believe Labour did well in the elections, compared with only 11% who believed the party had done badly.
Meanwhile, the grassroots of the party is confident that Corbyn can lead Labour to victory in the 2020 general election, with 53% of members believing that Labour is on course to be in government, and 60% suggesting that Corbyn should be the man to lead Labour into the next general election. Furthermore, the membership believes that Corbyn has a better chance of securing a Labour general election victory than any other leader, with 53% stating that Labour is likely to get into government under Corbyn’s leadership, compared to only 42% who believe that Labour can win if Corbyn was to be replaced.
Here to stay
The opinion polls confirm what has already become evidently clear both to the Labour rank-and-file and to the Blairite cabal in Westminster: Corbyn is here to stay. Indeed, as key New Labour architect Peter Mandelson was recently forced to admit through gritted teeth in an interview with the New Yorker magazine, “We are in a situation now where he [Corbyn] is unelectable in the country but unassailable in the Party.” Given the ongoing crisis of splits and scandals within the Tory Party, and the ever-increasingly popularity of the anti-austerity Labour leader amongst members (and the wider public), it is likely that the arch-Blairite and “Prince of Darkness” Mandelson will prove to be only 50% correct: Corbyn is both electable and unassailable.
Indeed, the YouGov poll finds that if there were an attempt to unseat him, Corbyn would win any leadership re-election in a repeat landslide, with 64% of respondents stating that they would vote for the left-wing MP. This is a massive increase on the 49.5% of members’ votes that Corbyn received in last September’s leadership election, and is even higher than the landslide of 59.5% that Corbyn achieved when including affiliated and registered supporters.
Even if bureaucratic manoeuvres and machinations were used to keep Corbyn off the ballot paper, it is not clear that members would vote for the Blairites’ preferred candidates, with figures showing that John McDonnell – the anti-austerity Shadow Chancellor and key Corbyn ally – is more popular than right-wingers such as Hilary Benn and Chuka Umunna.
Complete the Corbyn revolution!
It is clear, therefore, that the Labour Party has been transformed by the Corbyn revolution and the tens-of-thousands of new members that have entered the party on the basis of Corbyn’s leadership and his anti-austerity, anti-war stance.
But it is also clear that this transformation is not complete. Above all, as recent events demonstrate, the Parliamentary Labour Party is still riddled with careerists and gangsters who refuse to accept the new Labour leadership and its left-wing programme. These ladies and gentlemen will never stop in their attempts to undermine and overthrow Corbyn. They have been subdued for the time being, forced to retreat and lick their wounds, but they have not yet given up. They are biding their time and will doubtless return when they feel the time is right to mount a genuine challenge.
In the meantime, the Blairites will continue to snipe from the side-lines, lobbing the occasional grenade in the direction of Corbyn and his supporters in order to cause chaos and confusion. The recent campaign of baseless allegations involving so-called “anti-Semitism” amongst the Left is one such orchestrated effort on the part of the right wing.
But even here, Corbyn’s opponents are likely to be hoist by their own petard. The Blairites’ are playing with fire, and their attempts to attack Corbyn will end up backfiring, as grassroots members grow tired of hearing a clique of right-wing MPs constantly undermining the elected leadership of their party. Indeed, the YouGov figures demonstrate this anger towards the Blairite MPs graphically: whilst 71% of Labour members believe the party is divided, 62% blame Corbyn’s critics in the PLP for this division.
Furthermore, the Labour membership can see right through the smear campaign that has being launched against Corbyn supporters, with only 5% of respondents to the YouGov poll stating that they believed the Labour Party to have any special anti-Semitism problem. Importantly, 49% of members agreed with the statement that, “the Labour Party does not have a problem with anti-Semitism and it has been created by the press and Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents to attack him”, whilst a further 35% believed that whilst there may be some anti-Semitism in the party, this issue was nevertheless being cynically used by the media and the Blairites.
Defend Corbyn! Fight for socialism!
It is only a matter of time, therefore, until there is a rank-and-file revolt against these Blairite MPs who refuse to support Corbyn, and who seem intent on doing their upmost to sabotage the elected leadership – and indeed the whole party. We say: it is time to put an end to their games! These right-wingers must either shut up or get out! Let the membership democratically decide who is to represent them in Parliament!
Finally, it should be noted that the YouGov figures also provide an interesting indication of the way forward for Corbyn in silencing his critics and leading Labour to victory. Throughout the survey, it is clear that the demographics that most strongly support the left-wing Labour leader are the freshest and most dynamic layers – those who have most recently been brought into political activity. For example, whilst 69% of those members who voted Labour in 2015 think Corbyn is doing well, the figure for members who didn’t vote Labour in the last general election is 84%. Similarly, the respective figures for pre- and post-2015 members are 61% and 85% respectively, whilst 71% of Labour supporters who haven’t yet joined the party think that Corbyn is doing well as leader.
This demonstrates the task that lies ahead for the Corbyn movement: to reach out beyond just the long-standing members of the Labour Party, and to enthuse and organise this fresh layer of new activists in order to complete the transformation that has begun inside Labour. United in the fight for a bold socialist programme, we can kick out the Tories and put an end to austerity and the misery of capitalism.