BY DAVID TATE
No sooner had the announcement been made by May of the snap general election on the 8th June than the right-wing Blairites opened up another offensive on their long running war of attrition against Jeremy Corbyn. Just after losing a council seat to the Tories in the Coulby Newham ward of Middlesbrough the sitting Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop announced that he would not be standing in the election. Blenkinsop gave as a reason irreconcilable political differences with Corbyn. Almost on que Blair’s election agent John Burton for the Sedgefield constituency also was interviewed on local ITV news where he argued that he believed that with the present leadership Labour would be out of office for thirty years. To add further injury the Bishop Auckland MP, Helen Goodman on ITV news said that the objective of the election wasn’t so much as Labour winning the general election but one of minimising the Tory gains.
As if Corbyn does not have enough political problems on his plate it is also expected that with the local elections Labour will do poorly. In the labour heartlands of the North East this could dangerously mean that many workers will simply stay away from the polls. One tragic example is the ongoing long running dispute that Durham County Council has with their teaching assistants. It looks like it will carry on in the hope that through exhaustion the teaching assistants will capitulate. One outcome of the dispute could be that many teaching assistants will be so angry against labour councillors that they will either stay away or even vote for alternatives such as the Greens. This disillusion with Labour is also seen in the Hartlepool constituency where the xenophobic, reactionary UKIP hopes to do well both in the council elections as well as the constituency.
While these parliamentary shenanigans carry on until the 8th June the lives of workers are being further devastated with job losses being announced at a small Northumbrian town Seaton Delaval where the main employer Coty who produces cosmetics for Rimmel is closing the factory with the loss of 450 jobs. Of course, we don’t have to wait and hope that Labour will be elected we can do something now which is to follow the lead of the Arriva Rail North and strike.
All these political weaknesses of Corbyn arises not through any individual failings that he has. After all, over the years Corbyn has upheld unpopular positions, as far as the Labour leadership was concerned, over Palestine, nuclear disarmament etc. The problem that Corbyn faces and many of his supporters is that they have internalised and still hold what are left reformist views which sees all change as essentially coming through parliamentary politics. This has been the hallmark of the Labour Party, left as well as right, from its inception. Whatever happens after 8th June what is certain is that the attacks by the capitalist class will carry on. Irrespective of whether the right wing of the Labour Party with their media supporters in The Guardian ensures that Corbyn loses the election on the 8th June what is certain is that workers will continue to strike and demonstrate against the continuing austerity and that there is still a need for a Marxist voice in the labour movement which offers a Marxist perspective and a Marxist programme.