Corbyn challenge: A very welcome upheaval in British politics

 As the Labour Party prepares to send out ballot papers to the over 610,000 people registered to vote in its leadership contest,  Socialist Party executive committee member Judy Beishon answered some questions on the Socialist Party’s view of Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge so far.
Jeremy Corbyn addressing UCU strikers and supporters

Jeremy Corbyn addressing UCU strikers and supporters

Why has Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge in the Labour leadership contest been so popular?

 The Labour Party’s right-wing leaders have been astonished and horrified at the over-flowing rallies for Jeremy Corbyn around the UK over the last few weeks. Those careerist, staunch defenders of austerity can only dream about attracting such large, enthusiastic and young audiences.

Jeremy Corbyn, with his rejection of austerity, has become a lightning rod for an impressive display of mass anger at declining living standards and the plight of young people faced with poverty wages and the lack of affordable housing. His bold stand rapidly became an outlet for the pent up anger and frustration at the years of cuts, privatisation and wage restraint that have been suffered.

The more venom and dire warnings that “Anyone But Corbyn” politicians and the capitalist media have flung towards Corbyn’s campaign – including the prospect of Labour’s “oblivion” and “electoral annihilation”, the more his support has risen, such is the level of disillusionment in capitalist politics and desire for an alternative.

It also graphically reflects the point that the Socialist Party has long argued – that the population is significantly to the left of the present Labour leaders, as indicated by the polls that have showed majority support for public ownership of rail, energy and post.

John Cruddas MP used his own ‘research’ to try to argue the opposite: that the electorate rejects an anti-austerity position and the Corbynites are out of touch with reality. But the survey responses he received didn’t back this up. According to his polling, 58% of voters think “we must live within our means, so cutting the deficit is the top priority”. This doesn’t mean, however, that they think the 99% should have to pay to reduce the deficit, while the richest 1% become ever richer!

Labour didn’t lose the general election in May because Ed Miliband was ‘too left-wing’ as the right-wing media chorused, but because he was barely distinguishable from the Tories in policy. He was fully signed up to the pro-austerity mantra. Many voters in the Labour leadership contest are clearly drawing that conclusion – a YouGov poll for the Times put the most right-wing candidate, Liz Kendall, on just 8%.

Corbyn’s detractors are also repeatedly arguing that the 1983 general election defeat of then Labour leader Michael Foot was due to a left manifesto. But in reality other factors were to blame, including the political sabotage of right-wing leaders like Denis Healey and Jim Callaghan, the 1981 split from Labour to form the SDP and the aftermath of the Falklands war which enabled Margaret Thatcher to create a patriotic wave.

As well as his condemnation of austerity, Jeremy Corbyn is attracting support on a range of other issues, including his call for free education, for trade union rights, and his anti-war and anti-nuclear positions. Also, he has awakened hopes in a different type of parliamentary politics, not being a ‘career politician’ full of spin, soundbites and deception, but willing to debate ideas in an honest fashion and refusing to make personal attacks on opponents.

As he himself pointed out, it’s the mood of Greece, Spain and the US coming to Britain, following the surge of support in those countries for Syriza, Podemus and Bernie Sanders respectively. It is also the anti-austerity mood that surfaced during the independence referendum in Scotland.

Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected entry into the Labour contest has become a very welcome upheaval in British politics, but there are still a number of different possible eventual outcomes. A straight-line process from it towards genuine political representation for working class people is unfortunately not at all assured, as the experiences so far in Greece, Spain and the US also demonstrate.

To fund his policies of ending austerity, free education, council house-building, etc, Jeremy calls for tax justice, Quantitative Easing for public services rather than the banks and the establishment of a National Investment Bank to support infrastructure projects. What does the Socialist Party think of these ideas?

Firstly, the Corbyn-backing Labour MP Michael Meacher rightly said: “the Blairites have made the absolutely fundamental error of demanding that the way to reduce the deficit was by harsh and persistent cuts in benefits and public expenditure … And it’s not as though their policy, the same as the Tories’ policy, is actually working … the deficit today is still stuck at a massive £90 billion and has hardly reduced at all after five years of Osborne austerity”.

Meacher went on to say that Jeremy Corbyn “uniquely stands for making a clean break with Tory policies, above all by advocating growth as the way to pay down the deficit, not austerity”.

Left-wing MP John McDonnell elaborated in a Guardian article that a Corbyn-led government wouldn’t make cuts to “middle-and low-income earners and certainly not to the poor” but would target tax avoidance and “the subsidies paid to landlords milking the housing benefit system, to the £93 billion in subsidies to corporations, and to employers exploiting workers with low wages and leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab”.

These policies and measures, including those mentioned in the question above, would all significantly help in a left government’s programme to improve the living standards of the majority of people and would be hugely popular – bailing out public services rather than banks!

The Socialist Party believes that in addition it will be necessary for the workers’ movement to pursue the path that Jeremy Corbyn has touched on in his welcome comments on re-nationalising rail and energy companies and bringing back some form of Clause 4, part 4 of the Labour Party constitution, which was abolished by Tony Blair. That clause called for the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.

It would be necessary to take into public ownership the main corporations and banks that dominate the economy and place them under democratic workers’ control and management, to begin to transform society along socialist lines. The capitalist system, due to its inbuilt contradictions and today’s level of crisis, is incapable of delivering a sustained increase in living standards for all. Nor can it end the environmental degradation it is inflicting.

How can Jeremy’s campaign help defeat austerity?

His campaign is already aiding the fight against austerity by prominently putting forward an anti-austerity position – rarely seen before now in the big-business owned media. It is also very significant that the two largest trade unions in the country, Unison and Unite, along with other unions, have backed Corbyn’s position, indicating the powerful forces that could be mobilised in national anti-austerity industrial action.

And action is precisely what’s needed! Vital services are being slashed and privatised, Working Tax Credits will be drastically reduced, along with a myriad of other attacks on working class and middle class people, who can’t sit back for another five years while the Tories push on with their brutal onslaught.

In the surge of support for Jeremy Corbyn, the union leaders have a glimpse of the wide layer in society – especially in this case young people – who would enthusiastically support coordinated trade union action against austerity if it were called.

The Tory government is in reality very weak, elected by less than a quarter of the electorate. Many workers’ disputes have already broken out around the country since the general election, including by the London tube workers. A one-day general strike, with further action if necessary, would attract massive support which could bring about a halt to the cuts agenda and an early general election.

This action would be taking place with the certainty that there are developments on the political front leading in the direction of the creation of a new mass workers’ party.

450 councillors have signed up to support Jeremy – what does the Socialist Party say to them?

There are 7,087 Labour councillors in Britain, so only 6% of them – 450 – have backed Jeremy Corbyn. The number of Labour councillors in Labour-led councils who have refused to vote to pass on the government’s savage cuts is still barely more than a handful. So the 450 backing Jeremy Corbyn are mainly Labour councillors in councils led by other parties and those in Labour-led councils who ‘oppose’ cuts but argue they have ‘no choice’ but to pass them on.

Some of the platform speakers at ‘Jeremy for Leader’ rallies have been councillors who are in that latter category. For example, during the London rally on 3 August, Haringey councillor Emine Ibrahim said that councillors like herself “didn’t want to be … dragged into council chambers across the country to implement the cuts that we are forced to by the Tory government”.

But no one is forcing councillors to impose cuts and they can’t be fined for doing so. The Socialist Party calls on them to take a real stand of resistance to austerity by refusing to vote for cuts and by helping to build a mass campaign in their area in defence of jobs and services. Notwithstanding the change of Labour’s leader, TUSC will still need to stand candidates in next May’s local elections against Labour councillors who are making cuts.

What should Jeremy do as Labour’s leader?

The number of people registered to vote in the Labour leadership contest reached over 610,000, with polls indicating that Corbyn could win decisively. Over a quarter of those voting signed up to the list in the final 24 hours before the registration deadline, in a dramatic end surge.

It appears that the right-wing dominated Labour Party machine will try to weight the result against Corbyn by voiding the votes of anyone they deem as ‘infiltrators’, but this is unlikely to alter the outcome decisively. Even the Electoral Reform Society waded in and called for a delay in the ballots being issued.

The media is also making last-ditch attempts to influence the result, including the Daily Mirror urging a first preference vote for Andy Burnham and second for Yvette Cooper.

A Corbyn victory would be very welcome. He will face immediate testing challenges, as he’ll be surrounded in Labour’s parliamentary party and HQ by hostile, pro-big business politicians – only a small minority of them are left-wing. They will put up strong opposition; a number of Labour MPs and leaders are already plotting how they could remove him from office.

For example, Simon Danczuk MP declared: “Am I going to put up with some crazy left-wing policies that he is putting forward and traipse through the voting lobby to support him? It’s not going to happen, is it? So I would give him about 12 months if he does become leader”.

Tony Blair, whose latest desperate plea was to say that even those who hate him (ie Blair) should not vote for Corbyn, gave a glimpse of the underhand methods the right will go to against the left when he said: “The party is walking eyes shut, arms outstretched over the cliff’s edge …. This is not a moment to refrain from disturbing the serenity of the walk …. It is a moment for a rugby tackle, if that were possible.”

However, Labour’s right may feel forced to tolerate Corbyn for a period of time if he wins the leadership ballot by a very high margin – while plotting a hundred ways to undermine him and manoeuvre towards a new leadership election and a “moderate” leader.

Jeremy Corbyn rightly would like to head a party that acts on the basis of rank and file democracy and involvement in decision-making; he has stated that party policy should be decided on that basis.

But the Labour Party has had much of its democratic structure destroyed; for instance the annual conference was turned into a showpiece for the media and big business rather than being maintained as a forum for genuine discussion and democratic decision-making. The character of the party as a political voice of the organised working class in the trade union movement was also stripped away.

So Corbyn would face massive obstacles in trying to lead the party for any length of time in a left-wing direction, not just from within the party but also from the senior ranks of the civil service, the pro-capitalist media and from virtually the entire ruling class of Britain.

To counter these pressures he would need organised back-up from the working class in the trade union movement, anti-cuts campaigns and left organisations. He would need to call an open conference of this support base – including of those who voted for him – to discuss how his left programme can be delivered and developed further.

Could a Corbyn-led Labour Party be transformed back into a party that stands primarily for workers’ interests? It’s not impossible that the right-wing could decide to leave to form a new party and the Labour Party could then as a whole turn leftwards. It would effectively need to become a new party itself in many ways, as a result of the changes that would be needed to democratise it and attract new young people and trade unionists into activity in its ranks.

Corbyn has adopted an open approach by ‘welcoming back’ members who have returned to the party and he has spoken of the need to welcome back unions that have disaffiliated from Labour.

However, if the road to such a transformation is blocked by those in the party hierarchy who are not willing to be part of a turn to the left, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters shouldn’t return to being prisoners of that situation but should help build a new mass workers’ party outside of Labour. They could draw on the support of the many thousands who have been enthused by the Jeremy for Leader campaign and come together with the thousands of socialist and trade union activists outside Labour, including those in TUSC.

Meanwhile Labour would continue to implement Tory policies and the process of it being increasingly dismissed by working class people would continue.

Learning from the experiences and lessons of the new left formations in countries like Greece, Spain, Brazil and Germany, a new party in Britain could quickly take on flesh as a combative force acting in workers’ interests, both electorally and in campaigns and struggles. In whatever way the scenario inside Labour develops, great opportunities will open up in this country for the development of workers’ political representation.

INTERESTED IN MORE INFOrmation OR JOINING THE SOCIALISTS?…GET IN TOUCH!

Labour leadership contest: Corbyn’s support shows anti-austerity message is popular

Editorial from the Socialist Newspaper from the 28th July:

Labour leadership contest:  

Corbyn’s support shows anti-austerity message is popular

corb

Jeremy Corbyn, photo David Hunt, Wikimedia Commons

Panic is gripping the right-wing clique that dominates the Labour Party, at the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn becoming the next Labour leader.

Even some in the Tory Party, despite enjoying watching civil war unfold within the Labour Party, are now frightened about what it will mean if Corbyn actually wins. One cabinet member is reported as worrying that Corbyn’s leadership “would drag the overall debate to the left and the tiny risk of his victory would be a catastrophe for Britain” (Guardian 27 July 2015).

For decades barely a whisper of the views of the majority of working-class people – far to the left of any of the establishment parties – has been heard in Westminster.

For example, opinion polls consistently show big majorities for renationalisation of privatised companies. One YouGov poll in 2013 showed 68%, 67% and 66% support respectively for renationalisation of the energy companies, the Royal Mail and the railway companies.

Yet Labour – just like the Tories and the Lib-Dems – has refused to promise any renationalisation. On the contrary, in office it massively expanded the role of the private sector in the NHS and other parts of the public sector.

Even former World Bank economist Joseph Stiglitz, who is no socialist, commented that he was not surprised at Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity given the “demand for a strong anti-austerity movement around increased concern about inequality”.

He went on: “The bottom 90% of the economy has seen stagnation for a third of a century…It’s just very hard to say these centre-left parties – with emphasis on ‘centre’ – have been able to deliver for most people. Their economic models have not delivered and their message is not working.”

Only a handful of Labour MPs – including Jeremy Corbyn – have put forward such ‘dangerous’ ideas as opposition to austerity, or call for the abolition of student tuition fees or for the repeal of the anti-trade union laws.

Up until now they have been drowned out by the baying of the Blairites. This was summed up by the leadership election before Jeremy Corbyn’s late entrance, with all three candidates competing to show who was the most ‘business friendly’.

Wave of support

Now – having scraped onto the ballot paper after being ‘lent’ nominations by right-wing MPs – Jeremy Corbyn has got a platform for an anti-austerity programme. The result has been a tidal wave of enthusiasm for his candidacy. The right wing MPs who nominated him to ‘broaden the contest’ are bitterly regretting their actions.

One of them, Margaret Beckett, accepted the accusation that she had been a ‘moron’. Young people and trade unionists, excited about anti-austerity ideas are the worst nightmare of the Blairites.

They have dedicated decades to stamping socialist ideas out of the Labour Party, beginning with the witch-hunt against the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party).

Now the anti-austerity voice of the majority is in danger of bursting their Westminster bubble. To try to stop this, the Labour right is scrabbling around to try to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn is defeated.

In this they have the full and vocal support of the capitalist media and behind it the capitalist class.

They are using every tool at their disposal to try to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. However, so far all their efforts are backfiring.

One of the lines of attack is to suggest that the Labour Party is supposedly being infiltrated by “Militant Tendency types”.

According to the Daily Mail chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party John Cryer MP has claimed that “Militant supporters are using the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) to pay the £3 voting fee.” This is wholly inaccurate.

TUSC

The Socialist Party wishes Jeremy Corbyn well in the Labour leadership election. However, we are part of TUSC along with the transport workers’ union, the RMT, and many other socialists and trade unionists.

TUSC stood over 700 candidates in the elections which took place on 7 May 2015, aiming to begin to create the basis for a new – 100% anti-austerity – party of the working class.

We are not encouraging TUSC supporters to join the Labour Party, but rather to continue to build TUSC.

The existence of TUSC has, however, assisted Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership bid. It was made clear at the Unite NEC, a Labour-affiliated union, for example, that one of the reasons for its decision to back Jeremy Corbyn was that if it didn’t, TUSC supporters campaigning for a new party may succeed as a result of the increasing discontent of Unite members with Labour’s anti-worker policies.

The people being decried as ‘infiltrators’ are overwhelmingly young people new to politics and also older workers previously disillusioned by Labour’s transformation into a capitalist party.

Labour lost the general election not for being too left wing, as all the other Labour leadership candidates claim, but for not being left wing enough.

Millions of ‘traditional Labour’ voters did not vote, or voted for other parties, because they could not stomach Labour’s ‘austerity-lite’ programme.

Now, faced with further vicious attacks on working class people by this Tory government, Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature has kindled a hope that Labour could become a voice in defence of all those under the cosh.

His campaign programme is actually quite limited, merely calling for ‘meaningful regulation of the banking sector’ rather than for nationalisation of the banks under democratic control, for example.

Nonetheless he has enthused many with his clear call for abolition of student fees and to reinstate the student grant, his promise to repeal anti-trade union laws and other pledges.

In a concerted attempt to frighten Corbyn supporters out of voting for him, the Labour right is claiming that left-wing ideas will never win an election.

The Militant is being held up as a bogeyman whose ideas would have consigned the Labour Party to un-electability.

Militant’s Liverpool record

Yet the history of the Militant Tendency demonstrates exactly the opposite. The Militant Tendency played a central role in the ‘city that dared to fight’; the 1983-87 heroic struggle of Liverpool City Council against Thatcher’s government.

The council refused to implement cuts, and demanded the return of the money stolen from the council by the Tories. It was able to mobilise working class people Liverpool in support of its stance, with massive demonstrations and city-wide strike action.

As a result of standing up to the Tories in 1984 it won £60 million from the Tories. Liverpool City Council’s achievements included the building of 5,000 council houses, six new leisure centres, four new colleges and six new nurseries.

Today Labour councils up and down the country are dutifully implementing Tory cuts; imagine how popular a council that took the ‘Liverpool Road’ would be? If a swathe of councils took the same stand the resulting movement would have the potential to end Tory austerity.

And the ‘Liverpool Road’ was popular back then as well. The legacy of the Liverpool struggle was, for many years, a consistently higher Labour vote in Liverpool than other cities.

Kinnock, then leader of the Labour Party, launched a vicious witch-hunt against Militant and Liverpool City Council.

In reality, this was part of the drive to transform Labour into one more party of big-business, virtually indistinguishable from the Tories and Liberals.

It was justified, however, by the need to be ‘electable’. Yet in the 1987 general election, Labour nationally inched ahead, condemning workers to another five years of the Tories. Meanwhile in Liverpool Labour’s vote increased by 9.5% compared to 1983, the biggest swing to Labour in the history of the city.

These events were followed by the battle against the poll tax, where Militant supporters led an extremely popular 18 million-strong mass non-payment movement, which not only led to the abolition of the tax but also to the resignation of Thatcher.

If the Labour leadership had supported the non-payment movement they could have won the 1992 general election. Instead, disastrously, Labour councils were sending non-payers to prison.

As Militant supporters were expelled from the Labour Party we warned that this was the thin end of the wedge, and that the end result would be the expulsion of socialist ideas and the voice of the organised working-class from the party.

This is what has taken place over the succeeding decades. The right has strengthened its political grip on the party, while the democratic structures of the Labour Party – which allowed the organised working class in the trade unions to influence the party – have been destroyed.

Leadership election

It is highly ironic that an unintended consequence of the latest undemocratic rule changes, implemented under Miliband, is the current situation. The Labour leadership has become a virtual lottery in which any individual – Labour supporter or not – can potentially vote.

The result is people signing up for £3 to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. We do not support this electoral system, which is more akin to a US-style ‘primary’ than to a democratic election of a party leader.

Usually this system means that the membership of a party is dissolved into broader layers of the population, who are more influenced by the pro-capitalist propaganda from the mainstream media.

On this occasion however, despite the efforts of the capitalist press, given the groundswell of support for Corbyn, and the extreme weakness of the other candidates, it is possible he could win.

If this happens it would be a real step forward. It would mean, in effect, the formation of a new party.

Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters would face open revolt from the right-wing that dominates the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Labour machine, which would be totally unwilling to accept his leadership.

Of the 232 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party only nine are members of the Socialist Campaign Group to which Jeremy Corbyn belongs.

Already Labour MPs are threatening to trigger another contest immediately in order to get Jeremy Corbyn ‘out by Christmas’.

Far from respecting democracy the Blairites, as Bertolt Brecht put it, want to dissolve the electorate and get a new one!

In this situation Jeremy Corbyn would need to stand firm and mobilise the maximum possible support from across the workers’ movement.

We would encourage him to organise a conference of all those who have voted for him, plus the many trade unions – including non-affiliated unions like the RMT, PCS and FBU – which support a fighting anti-austerity programme.

The Socialist Party would participate in such a conference and would encourage other TUSC supporters to do the same. The ensuing battle could result in the pro-capitalist elements being ejected from or leaving the Labour Party.

However, given the class character of the Labour Party today – it is more likely that such a struggle would result in the right clinging onto the machine and forcing out the democratically elected leader and his supporters.

Whatever the outcome the basis would be created for a significant, clearly anti-austerity, and potentially very popular new party.

If, on the other hand, one of the three Blairite horrors wins the election we would urge Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters to draw all the necessary conclusions from their experience.

While anti-austerity ideas are viewed with disdain by the Labour Party machine, they are very popular among workers and young people.

A political voice for those ideas is urgently needed. The Socialist Party, along with others in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, has been campaigning to prepare the ground for the creation of such a party.

If Jeremy was defeated in the Labour leadership election but was then to call for his voters to join him in building a new party – with a clear anti-cuts, socialist programme – it could very quickly gain momentum.

Whatever the outcome of the election, the single most important feature of it is that anti-austerity young people and workers are beginning to find a political voice. This is an important step forward which will be vital in the coming struggles against the Tory government.

….For Further reading the The article below was posted by the Socialist Party on 17th July….

Support for Corbyn’s anti-austerity message rattles Labour machine

“Jeremy Corbyn ‘on course to come top’ in the Labour leadership election” declared the New Statesman on 15 July, 2015.

Following leaked polling which suggested that Corbyn was ahead of all three of his Blairite rivals, the Daily Telegraph published an article on how its readers could ‘doom’ Labourby paying the nominal £3 fee to become a Labour supporter and voting for Corbyn.

No doubt if, as is possible, Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership contest, the pro-capitalist majority of the parliamentary Labour Party will try to blame it on readers of the Daily Torygraph.

This would be far from the truth. The popularity of Corbyn’s candidature reflects, above all, enthusiasm for his anti-austerity stance.

Labour lost the general election not for being too left wing, as all the other Labour leadership candidates claim, but for not being left wing enough.

Millions of ‘traditional Labour’ voters did not vote, or voted for other parties, because they could not stomach Labour’s ‘austerity-lite’ programme.

Now, faced with further vicious attacks on working class people by this Tory government, Jeremy Corbyn’s candidature has kindled a hope that Labour could become a voice in defence of all those under the cosh.

His campaign programme is actually quite limited,merely calling for ‘meaningful regulation of the banking sector’ rather than for nationalisation of the banks under democratic control, for example.

Nonetheless he has enthused many with his clear call for abolition of student fees and to reinstate the student grant, his promise to repeal anti-trade union laws and other pledges.

Signing up

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a FE cuts lobby of parliament, June 2015, photo Rob Williams

The result is a layer of people signing up to participate in the leadership election in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

One local Labour Party chair told the New Statesman that, “‘more than two thirds’ of recruits since the election are supporters of Corbyn.” Three national Labour-affiliated trade unions have given support to Corbyn, including Britain’s biggest union Unite, compared to just one (UCATT) that has supported Andy Burnham, supposedly the ‘trade union candidate’.

In addition two left non-affiliated unions – the RMT and the FBU – have backed Jeremy Corbyn. So far 65,000 members of affiliated unions are reported to have signed up to vote in the leadership contest.

No doubt, the right-wing MPs who nominated Corbyn, allowing him to scrape onto the ballot paper, are now nervously regretting their actions.

One of their major motivations was to make it easier for the leaders of the affiliated trade unions to justify remaining with Labour.

This could have proved impossible if the ‘pro-trade union option’ had been Andy Burnham – the man who was booed at GMB conference for supporting benefit cuts and launched his campaign at international tax-avoidance specialists Ernst & Young! However, in putting Corbyn on the ballot paper they underestimated the risk they were taking, not understanding the potential popularity of an anti-austerity programme.

A virtual lottery

Jeremy Corbyn addressing  UCU strikers and supporters)

It is an ironic consequence of the complete destruction of the Labour Party’s democratic structures, via which the trade union movement could express its collective voice, that the Labour leadership has become a virtual lottery in which any individual – Labour supporter or not – can potentially vote.

This is more akin to a US-style ‘primary’ than to a democratic election of a party leader. Usually this system means that the party membership is dissolved into broader, more passive layers of the population, who are more influenced by the pro-capitalist propaganda from the mainstream media.

There is no doubt that in the remaining eight weeks of the Labour leadership contest much of the capitalistmedia will crank up the anti-Corbyn propaganda to try and make sure that he loses.

However, given the groundswell of support for Corbyn, and the extreme weakness of the more right-wing candidates, this is not guaranteed to succeed.

If Corbyn was to win, however, there is no prospect of this being accepted by the right-wing pro-capitalist elements that dominate both the Labour Party machine and the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Of the 232 members of the parliamentary Labour Party only nine are members of the Socialist Campaign Group to which Jeremy Corbyn belongs.

Very probably the right would refuse to accept the result – perhaps on the basis of individual Tories having voted – and demand a new election. In whatever form it took, a civil war would erupt in the Labour Party.

A clear socialist programme needed

Corbyn and his supporters would need to stand firm against the attacks of the right, fighting for a Labour Party with a clear socialist programme – and for the recreation of its destroyed democratic structures, including for the exclusion of the openly pro-capitalist elements and the re-admittance of those socialists – including supporters of the Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party) – who were expelled as part of Labour’s transformation into a capitalist party.

If such a battle was engaged the Socialist Party would welcome it as potentially an important step on the road to solving the crisis of working-class political representation.

However – given the class character of the Labour Party today – it is more likely that such a struggle would result in the left being ejected from the party. This too, however, could create the base for a significant new workers’ party.

If, on the other hand, one of the three Blairite horrors wins the election we would urge Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters to draw all the necessary conclusions from their experience.

While anti-austerity ideas are viewed with horror by the Labour Party machine, the widespread support for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has already shown they are very popular among workers and young people.

A political voice for those ideas is urgently needed. The Socialist Party, along with others in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, has been campaigning to prepare the ground for the creation of such a party.

If Jeremy was defeated in the Labour leadership election but was then to call for his voters to join him in building a new party – with a clear anti-cuts, socialist programme – it could very quickly gain momentum.