This statement is on behalf of the majority of the Editorial Board and is endorsed by: Victor Conti, Aneurin Delmas, Steve Dobbs, Dominic Smith, Bruce Wallace, Steve White
In the last few days the Labour shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn has attempted to use the EU referendum result for Brexit as an excuse to launch a leadership challenge against the left-wing Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Benn had been contacting fellow Blairites to garner support and even phoned Corbyn directly to tell him he was unfit to govern! In response, Corbyn sacked Benn from the cabinet.
Corbyn was always historically, and correctly, opposed to the EU, and was only forced to switch to support the pro-EU camp due to his precarious position within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). Corbyn is in the unusual position of having majority support of the rank and file Labour membership, whilst the majority of the PLP are hostile, or at best indifferent, towards him.
The fact that Corbyn got on to the leadership ballot back in October was essentially an historical accident, only enabled by arrogant right-wing Labour MPs who had come to believe the Westminster, senior civil servant and establishment-backed narrative that the Left were dead, and that putting it to the ballot would settle the question once and for all. As we know, it back-fired and Corbyn won the Labour leadership with the biggest mandate in British political history across all parties! The Blairites, in conjunction with the capitalist establishment and billionaire-controlled media have been seeking to undermine Corbyn at every opportunity, from the vote on the bombing of Syria to the largely manufactured “anti-Semitism” row.
A string of Labour right-wingers have since resigned from the shadow cabinet and there are likely more to follow on Monday. By throwing the party into turmoil, they hope to trigger a leadership election, which requires 20% of Labour MPs to support such a call. The Blairites will put forward a candidate – probably just one from the ‘soft left’. The good news is that Corbyn will be on the ballot automatically.
It is absolutely vital that all class-conscious workers, trade unionists and socialists rally behind Corbyn and offer him their vote in the likely event of a leadership challenge. To do this requires joining the Labour Party as a registered supporter or member, which you can do here.
Marxist World have been supportive of Corbyn as a welcome development within the Labour Party, although we have also been critical of his reformist programme which does not go far enough to resolve the economic and social crisis that working class people face today. We have no illusions that a Corbyn Labour government in itself can bring about socialism – ultimately this rests with the working class and their prospective revolutionary leadership. However, a defeat for Corbyn would be a major blow to the organised labour movement and a victory for the ruling class, who would then effectively control the leadership of all major political parties.
It is therefore important to maximise Corbyn’s vote in the event of a leadership challenge, and we hope his vote can be increased from the 59% received back in October. Corbyn should immediately introduce mandatory reselection of all MPs and deselect all Blairite MPs in order to purge the right-wing for good, as well as abolish the shady Compliance Unit and repeal the expulsion of socialists from the Party (pending reinvestigation on a case by case basis). The Labour Party must become a United Front of the working class, for the working class.
The reason the Blairites are attempting their coup now is because the Tories are also due to hold a leadership election, with David Cameron stepping down in October over his support for the Remain campaign. The new Tory Prime Minister will likely call a General Election, and so the Blairites are petrified over the idea of a Corbyn Labour government coming to power. They would much rather destroy the Labour Party and let the Tories in – not surprising considering they are essentially Tories in red ties!
We have no illusions that the majority of the PLP would accept such a result and policy, even in the face of a potential membership revolt. Following a second Corbyn leadership victory, it is likely the PLP will attempt to use every trick in the book to expel Corbyn and his supporters, effectively regaining control of the Labour Party bureaucracy. If this occurred, we would campaign for Corbyn and his supporters to break from the newly bourgeoisified Blairite Labour Party and form a new working class and socialist party. This would also act as a rallying call for those workers who felt let down by the existing Labour Party, many of whom voted for Brexit.
Unfortunately the weakness of the Left has allowed the Right to take up the lead in the recent Brexit campaign, emboldening racism and anti-immigrant attitudes and actions. We recognise that millions of EU migrants were shamefully excluded from participating in the EU referendum. However, there is little to gain in dwelling on the rights and wrongs on the referendum or the result. Whether one supported Remain or Leave, certainly no serious socialist should be campaigning to rejoin the EU! Now, the Left needs to actively facilitate anti-fascist and community organisations to defend migrants and refugees from racist attacks, but also to cut across the anti-immigrant narrative associated with the official Leave campaign.
Moving forward from the EU referendum result, we would actively campaign for Corbyn, whether leader of the Labour Party or of a future post-Labour Left formation, to adopt a socialist programme based on solidarity with migrant workers and the working class in Europe to fight against racism and fascism, and for the socialist transformation of capitalism across the UK, Europe and internationally.