Left-wing Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn’s success in getting the MPs’ nominations necessary to stand for party leader is very good news.
Whatever the Labour right’s calculations in not putting the pressure on to block his nomination, it undoubtedly reflects the outpouring of grassroots enthusiasm for his candidacy across the labour movement.
We do not agree with Corbyn on everything. His stance on many international issues is part of the “anti-American above all” politics widespread in many parts of the left. His stance on Europe is more internationalist than many on the Labour left, but it could be less equivocal.
None of the candidates have a good record on international issues. Given half a chance in government they would be cosying up to the Saudi regime. Corbyn is the only candidate to oppose British militarism, nuclear weapons, and so on.
We will continue to openly criticise Corbyn during the campaign and seek debate on the issues where we disagree.
At the same time, Corbyn’s campaign represents a principled, clearly left-wing alternative to the various shades of Blairism on issues like cuts, the NHS, taxing the rich, the banks, anti-union laws — and migrants’ rights.
Corbyn’s campaign gives socialists the opportunity to build up, mobilise and politically educate the labour movement and left as energetically as we can.
The crucial thing is the Labour Party affiliated unions, not just because they represent a big pool of potential voters, but because raising support for Corbyn gives us a mechanism and platform to challenge the union leaders and bureaucracy about their lack of fight.
Unlike all the other candidates, including Andy Burnham, Corbyn stands for union-backed policies; unlike the others, he is a champion of trade unionism and workers’ struggles.
To their immense credit, the Bakers’ Union and the transport union TSSA backed the campaign before Corbyn got on the ballot paper. Activists in Unite should demand to know why their left-talking leaders are still not backing Corbyn — and organise to put pressure on them to do so.
Activists in Unison have already initiated a Unison for Corbyn campaign, and are having him to speak at Unison national delegate conference in Glasgow this week. There are moves among Young Labour and student free education activists to set up a youth wing of the campaign.
Whether it’s committees in particular unions or local meetings to set up campaign groups, the left should be building this fight — and using it to increase working-class confidence, strengthen our networks and spread class-struggle socialist ideas. That’s what Workers’ Liberty will be doing — get in touch if you want to help.