Corbyn’s victory, a slap in the face for the political establishment

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
28 September 2016

So, Corbyn was re-elected to the Labour party leadership for a second time - with an enlarged majority and over 60,000 more votes than last year. In the end, his supporters weren't to be intimidated - not by the media's hysterical slander, the political establishment's smear campaign, nor the frantic bureaucratic manoeuvres of the Labour Party machinery itself.

On the contrary, it seems that this unprecedented line-up of hostile forces against Corbyn only succeeded in boosting the resolve of his supporters, while prompting many others to vote for him out of disgust at his opponents.

In particular, workers who were affiliated to Labour through their unions refused to be taken in, despite (or because of?) the vocal anti-Corbyn stance adopted by a number of union leaders - of the GMB, USDAW and Community union, among others. So much so, that 20,000 more union members voted for Corbyn this time round.

A party of careerists

Among registered supporters, the Labour party machinery had put so many obstacles in front of their registration that Corbyn got fewer votes from them this time round. But he more than made up for this loss by gaining 49,000 more votes from among Labour party members - a 10% increase compared to last year, which undoubtedly reflects the anger among the rank and file caused by the heavy-handedness of the party machinery.

And with good reason! Several thousand party members were suspended - and therefore banned from taking part in the vote - under the most ridiculous pretexts, but mainly for voicing, too enthusiastically, their support for Corbyn! For instance the general secretary of the Bakers' union, was banned from the party for "tweeting" in favour of Corbyn on his phone! The Labour machinery's purge even resulted in the suspension of 3 Bristol Labour councillors, causing Labour to lose its majority on the council as a consequence!

Meanwhile, Labour party branches were banned from holding meetings during the leadership election campaign, just in case rank-and-file members in the constituencies decided to hold their MPs to account - and ask why they had been manoeuvring against Corbyn. This applied to the 172 who signed the no-confidence motion - including all those who resigned from Corbyn's shadow cabinet.

These MPs did not and do not feel accountable at all, not to the members who selected them - let alone the working class electorate who voted for them. Because if they did, they would have been obliged to support Corbyn. And so their big fear was that the membership might begin the process of "deselecting" them, so that come the next election, they would not even be candidates. In other words it was their careers, not Corbyn's policies, which were really at stake in this leadership election!

For a fighting workers' party

Leader or not, however, Corbyn will still be facing a majority of hostile MPs. What's more, and ironically, the party's conference has reinforced the Blairites' control over its leading executive body - regardless of the membership's will. So, if anything, Corbyn will have even less space for manoeuvre now.

But then, Corbyn's own view is that social changes can only be brought about within the political framework put in place by the capitalist class, through the ballot box. Never mind that this framework is there to protect the interests of this same capitalist class. Or that as long as the fat cats remain in control, their parasitism on the economy will make it impossible to get rid of the social injustices which plague society!

The capitalists (and Labour Blairites) know that Corbyn is no real threat to capitalist privilege. But for the politicians whose aim it is to run the affairs of the capitalist class in its best interests, the mere fact that he stands against any austerity measures, is unforgivable.

The war waged by the Labour party machinery against Corbyn, just for using a language which is not that of the bosses, shouldn't come as a surprise, of course. The Labour party was built as the political instrument of the union leadership, over 100 years ago. However, it was never a political instrument of the working class, capable of representing its interests, by leading its fights against the day-to-day attacks of the capitalists - let alone a party capable of leading the working class in the long-term struggle, to free society from today's rotten profit system.

The Labour party will remain what it is, with or without Corbyn at its head. That is why we need to build a workers' party which, unlike the Labour party, would not promote its members to lofty positions within the capitalists' political institutions, but would aim at overthrowing the entire system.