JEREMY CORBYN’S emphatic victory yesterday will fill his many supporters with joy.
With 61.8 per cent of the vote, Corbyn has received an even larger mandate to lead the biggest party in British politics than he did this time last year.
This is remarkable. Because since the Islington North MP, veteran campaigner for peace, social justice and equality and long-term Morning Star weekly columnist was first elected to lead the Labour Party a year ago, he has been under constant attack.
Before his acceptance speech was over on September 12 2015, the prime minister had warned the country that the new leader of the opposition was “a threat to our national security, our economic security and your family’s security” and a member of the shadow cabinet had resigned.
It took less than a week before generals were briefing The Times, warning the army would “not accept” Corbyn as PM and could “mutiny” if he were elected.Barely a day has gone by since without negative briefings, leaks to the media designed to undermine the party leader, or the emergence of an artificial scandal designed to drag Corbyn’s name through the mud.
This background noise has been amplified by a mass media which has been, with the exception of the Morning Star, implacably hostile to Corbyn and the new politics he represents.
Independent studies by the Media Reform Coalition and the London School of Economics have revealed a constant bias against the Labour leader.
Even Britain’s public broadcaster the BBC has joined in, shamefully orchestrating a shadow cabinet resignation live on air and stacking its shows with anti-Corbyn voices.
But despite it all, what a year we’ve had. Just look at the numbers in this year’s leadership election — 654,006 eligible voters, 505,438 votes cast, 313,209 votes cast for Corbyn — the party has tripled in size.
Even the loser, Owen Smith, received more votes than the entire membership of the Conservative Party.
As well as runaway growth, the party under Corbyn has made a real difference to people’s lives, defeating the Conservative government on a range of significant policies — from tax credit cuts to removing the personal independence payment, and from a proposed prison deal with the torturers of Saudi Arabia to a disgusting Tory bid to refuse a safe haven to unaccompanied child refugees.
It’s a stark contrast to the hopelessness and drift that characterised Labour before Corbyn became leader — when it notoriously abstained on a Welfare Bill that took money from the pockets of some of the poorest people in this country.
And it’s been rewarded electorally, with Labour winning every by-election held under Corbyn — all but one with increased majorities — and seizing the mayoralties of several major cities.
Of course it hasn’t all been great news, with Labour struggling to reverse years of decline in Scotland, for example. But the position taken by Corbyn’s critics, who blame him for every setback and deny him the credit for every advance, is palpably absurd.
Given the scale and constancy of the attacks on him — in themselves proof that the movement Corbyn leads is seen as a deadly threat by the super-rich who control our government, our media and all the institutions of the British state — Labour’s progress over the past year has been inspirational.
Our task now is to take that further. Socialists inside and outside the Labour Party and throughout the labour movement must become an army for change in our communities, on our streets and in our workplaces.
Change isn’t easy, but Corbyn’s victory yesterday should remind us all that a better world is possible, for all of us.
This article appeared in The Morning Star Sunday 25th September