Public sector union GMB has become one of the first major unions to not only back Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, but also to demand that Labour MPs do likewise by giving a “clear and unambiguous” commitment not to destabilise the party. It is time for the rest of the labour movement to demand likewise from Corbyn’s opponents in Westminster.
Public sector union GMB has become one of the first major unions to not only back Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, but also to demand that Labour MPs do likewise by giving a “clear and unambiguous” commitment not to destabilise the party.
Delegates attending the union’s annual conference in Bournemouth voted unanimously to support a resolution which committed the GMB to giving full support to Corbyn and demanded the same of Labour MPs. Delegates have clearly had enough of the constant sniping about Corbyn by Blairite MPs at Westminster.
A delegate from Kirklees said that the union should be ready to withdraw funding from disloyal MPs should they continue to sabotage the battle to win the next election, a point also raised by the delegate from Pontefract. Under pressure, the union leadership backed the resolution, only adding a “qualification” over policies which could cost members their jobs. This was a reference to the union’s support for the continued production of the Trident programme, Britain’s nuclear deterrent. The way to undermine this “qualification” must be for it to be made clear that – under Labour – Britain’s nuclear industry will be nationalised and the resources turned to publically necessary projects with no loss of jobs.
Other unions and labour movement bodies should now add their voices to the call to support Corbyn being made by the GMB lay delegates in Bournemouth. Clearly, union members in the workplace – on the front-line fighting cuts and closures – are starting to realise just what role the Blairites MPs are really playing.
Two groups; one party
An article by Owen Jones in The Guardian last week reported that at Westminster there are now two groups of right-wing Labour MPs. One lot do not think Corbyn can win the next election and want him out so as to further their stalling careers. Another group, however, do not want Corbyn and Labour to win at all, as it would represent a blow to capitalism and the establishment.
This latter group would prefer Labour to lose in 2020, despite what that would mean for working class people. They are in constant contact with the Tories (with whom they have more in common) and have been caught regularly briefing the media with stories attacking Corbyn. They think Labour should be backing austerity not opposing it. Their demands are often couched in vague terms about being more relevant to “traditional” (i.e. white) working class people by pandering to reactionary rhetoric on immigration and welfare, amongst other things.
This view of working class voters is a myth built up by the Blairites and the media to give credence to their support for Tory-lite policies. Decades of failure by the system to give real support to the old industrial areas of Britain have left many working class people totally demoralised and rightly having little trust in what is being offered. The only real way forward is not to try and match the bigots who have tried to gain a base in such areas, but rather to present a clear programme of socialist policies that will tackle low pay, unemployment, slum housing and crumbling infrastructures.
Kick out the careerists!
The latest trick of the Labour Right has been to try and somehow blame Corbyn for the way the EU referendum campaign has been going, with many Labour voters showing little interest in voting at all. This reflects the failure of the establishment to come up with any decent (non-reactionary) argument for voting either In or Out.
The reason Labour voters have been less willing commit to voting on 23rd June is because the two campaigns have had little to offer them. The 11,000 workers facing the sack (and reduced pensions) following the collapse of the BHS retail chain have found nothing of benefit from either side in recent days. In fact, the same applies to all workers facing the sack or an uncertain future.
Faced with a choice between voting to stay in the EU – under the rule of the bankers and reactionary bureaucrats, and with endless austerity, anti-union and anti-migrant rules, and the support of a section of the right-wing establishment – or vote to leave the EU – and have…rule by the bankers and reactionary bureaucrats, endless austerity, anti-union and anti-migrant rules and the support of a section of the right-wing establishment – is it any wonder that voters who make up the backbone of Labour’s support are feeling rather underwhelmed by the whole referendum debate? To blame this lack of enthusiasm on Corbyn is just a sick joke. However, the Blairites are looking for any means to continue the attacks on Corbyn and, more importantly, what he represents.
The issue of who represents Labour in Westminster and in the regional and local bodies around the country – long seen as career paths for the establishment – will come more and more to the fore. The issue both of deselecting these Blairite careerists and of ensuring that Labour has working class candidates who will stand up for working class people – instead of for the City of London and big business – will not go away. This process must be linked to the need for bold socialist policies that can challenge the Tories and the system they represent.