The media, the political establishment and probably some in the Labour right want a UKIP victory in the Oldham West by-election on Thursday 3 December in order to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and prove left-wing politics cannot be popular.
There is a big campaign to boost UKIP and thus boost the possibility of it winning. Obviously, this campaign is not built on nothing. Socialists canvassing in Oldham confirm that right-wing and nationalist attitudes are widespread among former and current Labour voters.
UKIP already had 20 per cent of the vote in May’s election, coming second. Agitation over the Paris atrocities, Syria, etc, and attacks on Corbyn, have made things worse.
There is a big, and long-term, job for socialists and labour movement militants to educate in basic class ideas and shift the political debate. After thirty years of labour movement decline and almost as long of virtually unchallenged right-wing dominance of politics, that is a daunting task — but not impossible.
More immediately, Corbyn supporters organised in Momentum groups need to consider why the new Labour leadership has been so reactive, and campaigned relatively little on the streets even when obvious opportunities presented themselves (tax credits, the NHS). We need to discuss and organise together beyond the local level to hammer out campaigning issues and objectives for the months ahead — including demands on the Corbyn leadership about them.