Independent Corbyn Wins Reelection as Labour Ends 14 Years of Destructive Tory Rule


  • July 5, 2024
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The former Labour leader issued a warning to the incoming government of Keir Starmer: “Dissent cannot be crushed without consequences.”

 

By Jake Johnson

July 05, 2024

 

Former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn won reelection as an Independent on Thursday against a candidate from his erstwhile party as Labour—despite its unpopularity under incoming Prime Minister Keir Starmer—ended 14 years of disastrous Conservative rule at the national level with a landslide victory.

 

Corbyn, who last year was banned by Labour’s governing body from running as a party candidate in the 2024 elections, kept the Islington North seat he has held since 1983 with a 7,000-plus vote margin over local Labour councillor Praful Nargund.

 

Corbyn used his victory statement to send a message to Labour, calling his win “a warning to the incoming government that dissent cannot be crushed without consequences” and “that ideas of equality, justice, and peace are eternal.”

 

“Tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we organize,” said Corbyn. “The energy we have unleashed will not go to waste. We are a movement made up of all ages, backgrounds, and faiths. A movement which can win with and for people all over the country.”

 

In 2020, Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party following the publication of a government watchdog report alleging that, under his leadership, the party failed to adequately handle antisemitism complaints. Corbyn apologized for the failures while defending himself from relentless attacks, saying at the time that “the scale of the problem was dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”

 

“Labour has won by default because of the Tories’ implosion, not because of enthusiasm for Starmer or his Tory-lite policies.”

 

Starmer was elected Labour leader in April 2020, and he has since moved to stifle the party’s left faction with what critics have described as “deeply anti-democratic” tactics.

 

Oliver Eagleton, an assistant editor at New Left Review, wrote in a New York Times op-ed earlier this week that since the inception of his leadership, Starmer has engaged in a “merciless crackdown on the mildest forms of internal dissent.”

 

“He expelled his predecessor, blocked left-wing candidates from standing for Parliament, proscribed various socialist groups, barred politicians groups, from joining picket lines and introduced antidemocratic rules for leadership elections. He has also demanded a stifling level of ideological conformity,” Eagleton wrote. “Lawmakers who criticize NATO face instant expulsion, and members who oppose Israel’s actions are cynically accused of antisemitism.”

 

“This purge has turned Labour into a mirror image of the Conservatives: obsequious toward big business, advocating austerity at home and militarism abroad,” he added. “It has also foreshadowed how Mr. Starmer would operate in Downing Street. He has said he intends to retain the Public Order Act, which places unprecedented restrictions on protests and makes it easier to lock up activists. He has described climate campaigners as ‘contemptible‘ and ‘pathetic,’ pledging to impose harsh sentences on them. He has even backed a proposal to punish protesters who vandalize monuments with 10 years in prison.”

 

Labour’s landslide victory Thursday was a reflection of widespread discontent with nearly a decade and a half of Tory rule and the deep unpopularity of Conservative leader Rishi Sunak.

 

“Fourteen years, five prime ministers, four election cycles, two U.K.-wide referendums, and a global pandemic: a lot has happened since the Conservative Party entered coalition in 2010,” The Guardian noted Thursday. “But there are other, bigger figures on voters’ minds: 7.6 million people on waiting lists for hospital treatment in England (three times the 2010 figure); 3% of Britons having to use a food bank, all while the cost of a weekly shop, household bills, and mortgage repayments is rising.”

 

The advocacy group We Deserve Better said in a statement following Thursday’s election that “this is a hollow victory for Labour, which is taking power as the most unpopular incoming government in U.K. political history, with the lowest vote share won by any single-party majority government.”

 

“It’s unprecedented for an opposition party entering government to have several of its leading politicians unseated, and to actively be losing votes across the country. Labour has won by default because of the Tories’ implosion, not because of enthusiasm for Starmer or his Tory-lite policies,” the group said. “Nationwide, Labour’s vote share is lower under Starmer than it was under Jeremy in 2017 or even Blair in 2005. The Greens have triumphed by increasing their MPs from 1 to 4; Labour was trounced by Jeremy Corbyn in a historic victory; and several other independents have unseated Labour bigwigs or come close to doing so.

 

“Labour’s heartlands are rebelling against them before they’ve even taken office,” the statement continued. “Voters have sent them a clear message on Gaza, the climate, and austerity measures. Labour will continue to haemorrhage votes to pro-Palestine and socialist independent and Green candidates if they don’t listen to their base.”

 


 

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is republished from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons license.

Read the original article.

 

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