“Let’s get Jeremy reinstated in the party, because the common enemy is the Tories.”Ian Lavery MP
By the Arise Volunteer Team
Last Monday, tens of thousands tuned in across multiple platforms to join the online ‘Reinstate Jeremy Corbyn – Unite to fight the Tories’ rally. The event was chaired by Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the co-chair of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.
After offering Jon Trickett’s apologies she introduced the first speaker of the evening, the secretary of the Campaign Group, Richard Burgon. The MP for Leeds East emphasised that ‘our communities are being hit by the greatest health crisis in generations and the deepest economic fallout in decades so a top priority for the whole labour movement must be to unite to force the government to change track; another must be to unite to fight the racism and scapegoating of Black and Jewish communities that history shows us will soar across society as the economic crisis deepens’.
‘Instead we now face division in the party with the former Labour Party leader suspended, demoralising many members, who the party needs to be active in their communities in the fight against the Tories.’
He highlighted the importance of unity, explaining that ‘unity means that the Labour Party remains a party of socialists, social democrats and train unions’, adding that ‘This attack on Jeremy will be interpreted by many as an act of disunity – an attempt to drive socialists out of the party. That would weaken the movement as a whole’.
The next speaker, Apsana Begum, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse, outlined the significance of the last five years for ordinary members of the party. She said, ‘we need to think about what happened as a result of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership… countless members up and down the country finally found policies and commitments that really made sense to them’.
She emphasised the importance of having socialist MPs like Jeremy Corbyn to represent members, citing the left’s opposition to two government Bills – the Overseas Operations Bill and the Covert Human intelligence Sources, or “Spycops”, Bill – that provide impunity for human rights abuses, as examples.
Closing her speech, she said ‘it’s important that we stand up for Jeremy because he has stood up for us time and time again’.
Like Begum, the next speaker, Ian Lavery MP, said ‘I stand firmly behind Jeremy Corbyn, because Jeremy Corbyn stood behind me – he stood behind my community’, pointing to Jeremy Corbyn’s role in the 1984-85 miners strike and the support he showed for picketers and the NUM.
Lavery also argued about the importance of the 2017 and 2019 manifestos, which fuelled people’s hopes and aspirations and caused the party’s membership to reach nearly 600,000. He said, ‘what we’ve achieved in the last five years has change the political landscape’.
He concluded by stressing the importance of staying in the Labour Party; ‘the left have been fighting for generations, in fact for centuries – that’s why it destroys me when people say the answer to this is to abandon the struggle and leave the party’
‘Let’s get Jeremy reinstated in the party, because the common enemy is the Tories’.
John McDonnell spoke next and echoed Richard Burgon’s calls for unity, arguing that ‘this is a complete and utter distraction from what we should be doing… I’ve got people who are losing their homes, people who are flooding the food banks already, and at the same time there’s a level of insecurity I’ve not know since the 1980s, and in the midst of this the Labour Party’s reaction is to completely distract us by suspending Jeremy’.
‘I don’t know of someone who has committed more years of their life to antiracism than Jeremy Corbyn, and it isn’t just in this country; it’s globally’, he argued. ‘He’s got a global reputation as a defender of human rights’.
Like Lavery, McDonnell emphasised the importance of staying with Labour, and insisted that ‘the battle that’s going to come within the Labour Party is the battle of ideas. We can win, not just to preserve the last two manifestos – we’ve got to be much more radical than that – but you need the numbers and people arguing for those ideas within the party’.
The final speaker was Diane Abbott who said, ‘this is more than about one person; it’s about the movement, it’s about the left and it’s about us being strong enough to fight for and defend those communities which depend on a strong Labour Party’.
‘We’re seeing the worst medical pandemic that we’ve seen in my lifetime, we have in Britain – here – the highest death toll in Europe, we have an economic crisis going alongside that – people losing their jobs, businesses closing and there’s going to be more of that – there was never a greater need for a strong Labour Party and a strong Labour Party needs to reinstate Jeremy Corbyn’.
She argued that it was vital we learnt the correct lessons from the recent electoral success of the democrats in the US: ‘some people are saying that the lesson of Joe Biden’s victory is that the party needs to move to the right. On the contrary, it was left wing progressives that made Biden’s victory possible… it was the big cities – the Atlantas, the Philadeliphias – where grassroots activist turned out the vote in unprecedented numbers’.
She emphasised the importance of a political platform that gives people hope, and said that the key lesson of Biden’s victory was that ‘without those policies and without the grassroots, we can’t win in 2024’.
As Bell Ribeiro-Addy closed the meeting, those listening were in little doubt – to quote Richard Burgon, ‘the way forward is clear: readmit Jeremy and unite to fight the Tories’.