Momentum: For Labour MPs to oust the inspiring Jeremy Corbyn would be a slap in the face for members

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Momentum

 

A quarter of a million people voted for Jeremy Corbyn in last summer’s leadership election. That’s well over 1,000 members for every Labour MP, and 10,000 members for every coup plotter identified so far. There has been no sign that this opinion has shifted; Corbyn wins every internal poll put to him, in some cases in bigger majorities than last September, as does his shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

There is also every indication that this support comes from long-time Labour members, rather than those who signed up to vote for Corbyn last summer.

To oust him is therefore a slap in the face to Labour’s members; the people who make our party into the transformative force in our society that it is.

I first joined the Labour party when was 15, and spent week-in, week-out on the doorstep, working towards a Labour government. However, increasingly I became aware Labour was failing to connect with its membership and the wider electorate. Corbyn’s entry into the leadership was extremely inspiring as he unashamedly stood for everything I felt the Labour party should be about, fighting for the rights of the most marginalised within our society.

But politics is about far more than expressions of feeling; and if I thought that Jeremy was unelectable, or bad for British politics, then I would set my feeling aside and reluctantly argue for him to go, for the sake of opposing the Tories.

However, every bit of evidence suggests that a Corbyn-type figure is the only person to pull Labour out of the decline it has been in for several years, following the loss of three million voters under Blair, the hollowing out of its membership and two miserable election defeats.

He has nearly doubled our membership. He has got behind huge grassroots campaigns that have been previously ignored, appointed more diverse and socially representative top teams than ever before, helped force multiple Tory u-turns including on tax credits and benefits, and either survived or triumphed in every electoral test put to Labour under his leadership.

Jeremy’s EU campaign struck the perfect balance: consistent with his previous criticisms of the EU, acknowledging the general public mood that the EU is not a perfect institution, and yet setting out on the grounds of workers’ rights and economic stability why we should stay. He was statistically the most present In spokesperson in the media, and had other MPs got behind his position rather than lining up with Tories in the Stronger In campaign (as if that was going to convince anyone), Labour In may have gone better.

As it was, his campaign was not enough to overcome the barriers presented by a well-resourced Out campaign and the neglect of parts of the country by parties across the spectrum. This is something we all need to take lessons from – but it is not sober reflection that the coup plotters are interested in. It is power. As a Daily Telegraph scoop from a month ago demonstrates, the events of the last 48 hours were planned along.

This is worth reiterating. Not only have a tiny number of plotters hijacked the party and plunged it into crisis in the midst of economic shocks, Tory divisions, a surge in racist attacks and all the other chaos surrounding Brexit; they meant to do so all along.

During the leadership contest last year, Liz Kendall rightly pointed out that “country comes first” in response to a point from an opponent that the party’s interest came first. The coup attempt shows that some Labour MPs have sadly forgotten this principle.

They know that the membership still back its leader, and therefore Westminster bubble parlour games can achieve nothing – and yet they continue to divide our movement at a time when it is more important than ever that we speak united, with one voice.

Regardless, I still believe that the Labour family has more in common than that which divides us, and so in good faith I will be joining those gathering to lobby parliamentarians from across the party to express their disagreement in a respectful and comradely way, and to get behind our leadership throughout this challenging and unpredictable period.

Sophie Nazemi is a Momentum organiser and co-chair of Kings College Labour Society. She was a pro-EU activist, organising the Yes To Europe rally last week.

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