Tories Out demonstration, Manchester, October 2017. Photo: Jim Aindow Tories Out demonstration, Manchester, October 2017. Photo: Jim Aindow

It’s time to fightback against the smears aimed at sabotaging Corbyn

The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn trying to paint him as antisemitic and pushing the Labour Party into limiting criticism of Israel are persisting and intensifying. The assault on his leadership appears to be the most significant yet, and there is a danger that the project could be derailed if the right succeed.

At the same time, we have a Tory government still teetering on the brink of collapse. It’s only been two months since Theresa May tried to move up Parliament’s summer recess for fear of being forced out. The government has been utterly discredited on its austerity policies. The hostile environment that Theresa May has fostered and that came to a head with the revelations of the treatment of the Windrush generation has been met with national outrage.  Further, Brexit continues to be something Theresa May is failing to reach consensus on within her party and nationally.

The Tories have all but abandoned the manifesto they went into the 2017 general election with and they have proved that they are simply unable to govern. But the media assault on Corbyn has meant the Tories have been shielded from completely collapsing so far. Theresa May has been able to deflect the scandal of the rampant racism of her party because the establishment, spearheaded by the Labour right, have made Jeremy Corbyn the racist.

Part of the result from this is that Labour has been unable to surpass the Tories in the polls. We should recognise that the fact Labour hasn’t far fallen in the polls is a sign of the declining purchase the mainstream media have with the public, but that they haven’t increased further than the level they were at in June 2017 shows that the progress made during the election campaign has stalled, if not somewhat been rolled back.

This is in large part because the Labour right have led a truly disgusting smear campaign, but also to a lesser extent because of Labour moving away from being an energetic insurgent current to more traditional politicking, and not being as combative as some of us may have hoped it would be.

Filling in the gap left by a failing Tory government and the left under attack, and bolstered by a growing network of the international alt-right, has been the far right. The large street mobilisations of the far right gravitating around Tommy Robinson have been something unseen in Britain for a while. And the support from Steve Bannon and far-right European politicians is a new dynamic that everyone should be wary of.

For all these reasons, the need for the left to be organised and to respond to the situation in earnest and with urgency cannot be overstated. Counterfire has been producing critical analysis of the situation that has been read by tens of thousands of movement activists, our members were involved with organising the massive rally in London on 21 August in defence of Jeremy Corbyn, and we’re working to build the anti-racist movement.

Counterfire members were central to organising the 250,000 strong demonstration against Donald Trump in July. The demonstration was a testament to the breadth of the left, our ability to mobilise a broad section of the public and proof that we certainly outnumber the far-right when we are organised.

But we can – and need to – be doing so much more. At this time, we need to go on the offensive over Palestine, defend Corbyn, produce the right arguments on what we should be fighting for over Brexit, strategise on how to defeat the far-right, and help amplify the crisis for the Tories to remove them sooner rather than later.

That’s why, in this fast-moving political situation, we’re calling a national meeting on Sunday 9 September for all our members. The discussion will aim to analyse the political situation in some depth, and what role Counterfire can play in shaping how the left responds and in taking the fight to the right. We hope as many of our members as possible can attend, and if you’re a supporter, you’ll consider joining Counterfire and coming.