As the vote gets underway and particularly if Corbyn wins, what the movement does remains crucial argues Chris Nineham

The Corbyn surge is now creating unprecedented levels of panic amongst the Labour establishment as more than 100,000 new people have signed up to vote in the last 24 hours before the election, mostly from the unions. 

Attempts to paint him as unelectable appear to have failed. Now the Labour right have launched a new assault, crying foul over mass infiltration, warning of the breakup of the party and predicting annihilatioon in the polls. Calls from some quarters of suspending the ballot, threats of non – cooperation or even right wing splits if he wins, amount to a strategy of tension, designed to terrify Labour members and supporters into voting for someone they don’t agree with.

We need to keep up the support for Corbyn during the weeks of the ballot and continue to counter the smears, insults and idiocies being thrown at him mainly by figures who would probably be more respected if they bowed out of public life altogether.  

Personal abuse belittling Corbyn’s stature and track record from Tony Blair is particularly counterproductive, as even senior Labour figures are privately admitting. Trying to stop the ballot at this stage would be incendiary. But the left needs to be prepared. This level of panic and pandemonium should make it crystal clear that at least a section of the right are not prepared to co-habit with Corbyn and that serious moves against him may emerge sooner rather than later. Corbyn’s support in the Parliamentary Labour Party is limited. Calls for unity across the party look like they will go unheeded.

As Corbyn himself makes clear, the launchpad for his spectacular campaign has been the protest movements. The huge rallies around the country have electrified the contest and formed the most effective possible response to claims of unelectability. As the vote gets underway and particularly if Corbyn wins, what the movement does remains crucial. 

The government are planning a vote for escalating the bombing of Syria in the week after the election. We need to make sure that in the run up to the vote that there is a high profile popular campaign of opposition to the bombing with lobbying, petitioning and protest. It is a sign of progress on the issue that Andy Burnham has already raised question marks over the bombing.The Stop the War Coalition is calling for a week of campaigning from September 7. 

Most important, protests are planned at the Tory Party Conference starting just 21 days after the result is announced. These need to be big and dynamic enough to make an impact nationally. The TUC-led demonstration on the 4 October is crucial but the plan is for protests to continue right through the conference so that the massive public opposition to austerity and war are continuously in the public eye.

This is the context in which Corbyn stands the best chance of averting or withstanding attacks and pushing ahead with his agenda. A massive mobilisation in Manchester is also the key to keeping the movement mobilised. And this matters. We need to be ready to launch a popular campaign to defend Corbyn. 

Chris Nineham

Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.

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