JEREMY Corbyn MP, leader of the Labour Party, said yesterday on the Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland by-elections results that ‘Labour’s victory in Stoke is a decisive rejection of UKIP’s politics of division and dishonesty. But our message was not enough to win through in Copeland.
‘In both campaigns, Labour listened to thousands of voters on the doorstep. Both constituencies, like so many in Britain, have been let down by the political establishment. To win power to rebuild and transform Britain, Labour will go further to reconnect with voters, and break with the failed political consensus.’
In fact, the Tories won a seat in Copeland beating Labour in an area it represented for more than 80 years. Trudy Harrison won with 13,748 votes to Labour’s Gillian Troughton’s 11,601, with a turnout of 51%.
Labour’s Gareth Snell held Stoke-on-Trent Central with 7,853 beating UKIP leader Paul Nuttall who got 5,233, on a turnout of 37%. Both seats had been awash with Labour canvassers and, in a situation where there is a life or death battle for the NHS currently being slaughtered by the Tories, they failed to get more than minimal turnouts.
What overshadowed the by-elections was first of all that they were not forced – Tristan Hunt resigned the Stoke seat for a better job, and deliberately left the seat with right wingers in the Labour Party saying that this was the best way to get rid of Corbyn by allowing UKIP to take over.
In Copeland, the sitting MP Jamie Reed resigned to join the nuclear industry, making sure that everybody knew that he was opposed to Corbyn’s position on nuclear power. With a mass phalanx of right-wing Labour MPs applauding, the scene was set. After losing two attempts to remove Corbyn – one by mass shadow cabinet resignations and another by an open leadership challenge – the plan now was to lose the by-elections and for Corbyn to be sacked in the aftermath.
In fact, it is the right-wing attempt to remove Corbyn at all costs and to prevent Brexit that has discredited the Labour Party, to the point where millions of workers consider that Labour is no longer a socialist party of any kind and cannot resolve the crisis of capitalism as it affects workers with wage cuts, sackings, savage NHS cuts and closures and now millions of workers who have no legal protection at work.
It is in this situation of capitalist crisis, with the breakdown of working class support for the Labour Party and the determination of Labour’s right wing to break up the Labour Party entirely, if that were the price to be paid for defeating the workers’ choice of Brexit, that a massive Labour campaign in Stoke on Trent only achieved a 37% turnout!
Just a few weeks ago, workers were aghast to see Tony Blair brought back from the dead to call on one and all and particularly Labour MPs to rise up and stop Brexit by defying the referendum result. When an ex-Labour PM and warmonger like Blair can make that kind of call to his pals in the Labour Party right wing, then workers reason that the Labour Party is no longer the force for reforming capitalism that it was from 1945-1951.
Many workers now consider that the Labour Party is clinically dead. Many go even further to say that the House of Commons, the Lords and the Supreme Court Judiciary are all anti-working class to a man and a woman. This is the reason for the low turn-out in Stoke on Trent that turned out en masse for the Brexit referendum vote!
This is the reason that, despite the massive attacks on the NHS, many more workers did not come out to vote Labour in Copeland to defend the health service – they are no longer sure that Labour would be any different, and the reluctance of Corbyn to discipline the pro-capitalist right-wing phalanx of MPs only confirms their hardening opinion.
The fact is that the masses of the workers and the youth not only doubt the ‘reformist zeal’ of the Labour Party, after the Blair-Brown experience, and the determination of the Labour Right to smash Corbyn – they are also growing more contemptuous of the House of Commons and the House of Lords by the day, especially when these bodies display their contempt for Brexit and the people’s choice.
The reality is that as the masses begin to see through the Labour Party and its fake reformism, and also see through the parliamentary and judicial system, they are becoming conscious that the class struggle will be more and more fought out on the streets through massive demonstrations and strikes leading to a general strike in the UK.
Workers will defend their jobs, their living standards and the NHS. Since they are unable to do these things as they once thought through the Labour Party, they will do it on the streets in explosions of mass anger and through general strikes.
In this centenary year of the Russian revolution, a year after the Brexit referendum, what the UK working class needs is not cretinous would-be reformism, controlled by Labour’s rabid right-wing MPs, but the building up of the revolutionary party and a revolutionary leadership in the trades unions and in the working class as a whole.
This must provide real leadership for the working class to take the power through a socialist revolution that establishes a workers state and socialism.