The crowd at the Momentum event, Liverpool, 24 September 2016. Photo: Chris Nineham The crowd at the Momentum event, Liverpool, 24 September 2016. Photo: Chris Nineham

Activists partied for Corbyn in Liverpool, but anger at Labour’s right is strong. Chris Nineham reports as Labour’s conference gathers

Liverpool celebrated Jeremy’s victory in style on Saturday.Poets, singers, comedians and activists from this most radical city entertained a whooping, cheering crowd at an event organised by women activists at Momentum’s A World Transformed conference. The night put a spotlight on the burning issues that have propelled Jeremy Corbyn into office. 

Rebel singer Claire Mooney kicked off with a set of protest songs celebrating the achievements of people power. Later, Daphne, an asylum seeker from East Africa spoke movingly about the importance of fighting for refugees rights, she summed up the spirit of the night when she said that she has been welcomed and loved by the ordinary people of Liverpool and that despite all the problems of being scapegoated by the authorities, the city had helped her ‘decide to fight’. 

Playwright Esther Wilson introduced an excerpt from her play about the experience of military families which testified to the misery inflicted on so many by the series of wars politicians have dragged us into. Manchester poet Steph Pike reminded us that the bankers have got off scott free despite pushing the economy off a cliff. She called on people to keep fighting and to throw themselves into the fight against austerity, ‘I want you all to descend on Birmingham next Sunday 2nd to demonstrate at the Tory Party Conference. We have got to take the fight to the Tories’. 

There was testimony from supporters of Liverpool’s heroic dockers dispute and a moving poem by Hazel Tilley documenting Granby Street residents’ recent victorious struggle against demolition. 

The mood was celebratory but also angry. There was bitterness at the purges of party members and in particular at the shutdown of democracy In Merseyside Labour and the victimisation of local activists. There was much talk about the fact that the fight has only just begun and that many obstacles remained. The evening was rounded off by a series of short speeches from team Corbyn leaders.

John McDonnell and Clive Lewis both congratulated everyone present for defying the plots and manoeuvres of labour right and the establishment. John McDonnell said ‘The 1% were trying to get the 99% back in their box. Thanks to you they failed’. To big cheers, Dawn Butler MP said ‘we have come through tough times, they tried to destroy Jeremy, they said he was weak but he has proved he is a real leader, and we, together, have proved we can win.’ 

It was a great party but the experience of the last year has made many people keenly aware of the problems posed by the right in Labour. People are frustrated with their constant sabotage. Everyone knows they are holding back the fight against the Tories. At the end of the night, London MP Kate Osamor thanked the crowd one more time and got a huge cheer when she urged people to look to the future. ‘We have to keep fighting and show that we are a party that is openly and defiantly against austerity.’ 

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.