The media and the Blairites wrote Corbyn off and were relishing the prospect of an electoral humiliation for Labour. Instead, Corbyn achieved the second highest number of votes for the Labour Party in 50 years. Corbyn got more votes than Miliband, Brown and Tony Blair. The latest polls put Labour 6% ahead of the Tories. There is little doubt that, if a general election was held now, Corbyn’s Labour would win a majority.
The general election result shocked the establishment. They were blind to the subterranean surge of support for Jeremy Corbyn’s radical manifesto “for the many, not the few”. This surge came from deep within a working class who have suffered 30 years of austerity and neo-liberalism. Sick of low pay, zero hour contracts, the destruction of the NHS, the neglect of their children’s education and the housing crisis, they flocked to the ballot box in their millions to back a leader who dared to stand up to the elite and say ‘enough is enough’!
The Grenfell Tower fire epitomises the stark reality of austerity, and all that is utterly rotten and despicable about capitalism. This preventable disaster symbolises the contempt that the super-rich elite have for working class people. Families wiped out in a towering inferno that resulted from putting profits before safety. The growing anger in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire could shorten the life of Theresa May’s new government and is being correctly viewed by many as a class issue.
In Northern Ireland, the DUP and Sinn Féin have further consolidated their sectarian grip on politics. They fought sectarian campaigns with the underlying message of “vote for us to get them out”. The dramatic shift to the left in British politics needs to be reflected in the North. There is no doubt that the Labour vote will be reflected in the coming months and years in struggles by working class communities against austerity and for better wages and working conditions and jobs.
“Just think if the Trades Union Congress put out that call – that we want a million on the streets of London in two weeks’ time.” This was the Shadow Chancellor, Labour’s John McDonnell, speaking to the conference of the Bakers’ Union. McDonnell has called on the trade union movement to mobilise for the People’s Assembly’s “Tories Out” national demonstration in London on 1st July. He said: “What we need now is the TUC mobilised, every union mobilised, get out on the streets…..to spread the party’s ‘for the many and not the few’ message”.
Northern Ireland will not be immune from these struggles. The Stormont parties offer nothing only sectarian division and austerity. The Socialist Party, as part of Labour Alternative, is appealing to Labour Party members and trade unionists in Northern Ireland to come together to build a new, cross-community movement to oppose sectarianism and unite Protestant and Catholic workers and young people in a struggle for a better future for all.
By Stephen Boyd