Before Theresa May made her shock announcement of a snap general election in mid April, Corbyn’s fortunes were beginning to wane. Enthusiasm was dwindling as he was gradually suffocated by the right-wing Labour MPs he had failed to fight. How long ago that now seems.
If a week is a long time in politics, then these seven weeks have truly been an age. The British political landscape, and the Labour Party in particular, has been completely transformed. The youth have become organised and conscious. The Tories have been totally exposed and massively weakened. Even if they do now form a government, the damage they have taken will be important for the future.
The Labour campaign has become a mass movement in which hundreds of thousands imbibe and attempt to put into action the words Corbyn says. It has been crowned with a series of uplifting and absolutely massive rallies all over the country, with the aim of propelling Corbyn into power.
As we reported previously, around 10,000 people massed together to hear Corbyn speak in Gateshead this week in an electric atmosphere. Such huge events not only build confidence, but they multiply themselves afterwards as the attendees speak to their friends and family who weren’t there. As a comrade from Tyneside has stated, "After yesterday's rally in Gateshead everyone in college and on the bus to and from town was chatting about it. There was a noticeable feeling of something being profoundly different."
Monday’s rally in Gateshead was followed up with an astonishing seven rallies attended by Corbyn on the final day of campaigning! Corbyn started in Glasgow, where he told the crowd that, during the course of this election, an incredible 100,000 people have joined what is already Europe’s largest party!
Corbyn arrived in London after another three rallies in the North West, Wales and Watford. By 7pm a huge crowd, several thousands strong, had assembled at a roundabout in Harrow in anticipation of Corbyn’s arrival. The crowd would intermittently break out into pro-Corbyn and anti-capitalist chants while we waited for him to speak. Reflecting the surge in confidence in the ranks of the movement, one man kept shouting ‘LANDSLIDE!!!!’ to huge cheers from the rest of the crowd.
As you can see in our video, as soon as Corbyn appeared the crowd roared with excitement, drowning Corbyn out several times! He spelled out his manifesto and how our movement has transformed British politics, shifting it to the left. He attacked the housing speculators and said Labour will build 100,000s of council houses after decades of failed housing policy introduced by Thatcher.
The enthusiasm of his campaign is entirely genuine and spontaneous. It is the product of years and years of pent up frustration, political alienation from the ‘centre ground’, growing inequality, and generally worsening conditions for workers and youth year after year. All this has finally spilled forth into a mass movement that has overwhelmed and confounded the ruling class and its mouthpieces.
This was summed up by an attendee of the rally to whom we spoke afterwards. He told us that he is confident Labour will win, because Corbyn’s campaign has “touched deep down into society, into the working class.”
Corbyn then left to attend his 90th and final rally, in front of hundreds of people in Islington - his home constituency. Football-style chants filled the air in the Union Chapel on Highbury Corner before, during and after his speech. And the electric atmosphere extended outside where hundreds more people, unable to get a seat inside, gathered in the rain to catch a glimpse of the man they hope will be the next Prime Minister. Corbyn set out his vision and ideas for a Labour government; he poked fun at the media for thinking this election was a foregone conclusion, and he attacked the Tories as the party of the billionaires and the elite. The biggest cheers were for Corbyn's quote from Percy Shelley, the great socialist poet:
"Rise like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew,
Which in sleep have fallen on you,
Ye are many - they are few"
Vote Labour! Support Corbyn! Fight for socialism!
These seven weeks have transformed Britain. There is no going back.
Come what may today, the new left-wing Labour Party must be consolidated on this basis. No more focus groups, no more MPs ashamed of its leader and restricting their campaign to purely local issues. No more pandering to a discredited and hateful media. From now on we must fight with our own strength, based on our confidence in our own ideas and the real interests of the working class.
There is a long way to go yet. This is a long fight - ultimately it is a fight against the capitalist class by millions of ordinary working class people. Forward to socialism!
On Tuesday afternoon, in the windy weather and under dark rain foreboding clouds, a small park in East Croydon was filled with people. With only a few hours notice, more than 500 people had gathered for a rally with John McDonnell and to hear the live-streamed speech of Jeremy Corbyn, speaking from a similar event in Birmingham.
The event begun with the speeches of some local Labour members. Out of those, the most applauded speaker was a young first-time voter from the BME community, who didn’t hesitate to mention the refugee crisis, Palestine, and the need for Labour to unashamedly represent the working class. The crowd reacted with cheering, proving that there’s an appetite for some real and radical policies.
John McDonnell took the stage afterwards among applause and placard waving. Clouds were still gathering above us, but people were prepared and carrying umbrellas. McDonnell stressed that more years of Tory austerity would be an absolute disaster for the NHS and for millions of people in this country. McDonnell posed the question that, whatever the result of this election, we will be asked in a couple of years time: “Who did you stand with in the 2017 election?” And we’ll be proud to give an answer.
When Corbyn appeared on the screen being streamed from Birmingham it was obvious that everyone was waiting just for him. “In this election, there is a very, very clear choice,” said Jeremy. “We have a government that doesn’t care, that is more interested in investing in homes for the wealthy, homes for the few. Let us resolve to do things differently. Invest in education, invest in health, invest in housing, invest in jobs, invest in a future for all of us.”
And people all over the country are visibly listening to his vision. Although we realise that polls have become even more unreliable in this age of the collapse of liberal establishment, one of the recent ones puts Labour only one point behind the Tories!
Corbyn’s speech: passionate and solid, can only make one laugh at the media that only two months ago were mumbling their mantra of his unelectability. His words, openly calling for a break with the status quo, are clearly resonating with the broad masses of this country, who are fed up with years of austerity and crisis.
By Piotr Kwasiborski, SOAS Marxists
Mass crowds, celebrities and pop music aren’t things that most people have come to associate with politics - but Corbyn isn’t like most politicians. Part rave, part rally, Corbyn’s final push to defeat the Tories and the Establishment was hosted live in front of thousands this Tuesday from Birmingham, and simultaneously screened to similar rallies across the country.
The mood amongst the crowd was ecstatic as people travelled from miles around (often on less than a day’s notice) to see Corbyn and show their support for the movement he is creating.
Whilst others with such a following might have spoke of track records, thanked people for their support, and then gone home as they attempted to build their pitiful political careers, Corbyn continually emphasised it was the movement, the masses, and the many, not the few, which mattered; that voting for Labour today is part of building movement, not simply putting an X in the box.
With every weapon in the arsenal of the ruling class being used against him, Corbyn’s only defence will be giving power to the people on a radical socialist platform, by convincing the masses to rise and organise for their own interests; not those of the Tories, the bosses or the bankers.
Thomas Soud, Warwick Marxists