Even Members of Parliament from the Labour Party revolted against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and berated him for what they called his “lackluster” referendum campaign, thousands of his supporters assembled at the Parliament Square on Monday calling on him to lead the party into the next elections and after.
The contrasting attitudes to Mr. Corbyn’s leadership points to a contradiction at the heart of the Labour Party.
Holding placards, wearing red ‘Support Corbyn’ T-shirts and shouting slogans such as “Corbyn In, Tories Out”; “Keep Corbyn”; and “Corbyn for PM”, the crowd cheered as speakers depicted Mr. Corbyn as a leader who represented the real values of the Labour Party.
Grassroots support The demonstration organised by the pro-Corbyn grassroots movement ‘Momentum’ was reminiscent of the support he received during his leadership campaign.
A petition in support of him gathered over 2,00,000 signatures in a day, and organisers at the meeting announced that thousands had responded for appeals to join the Labour Party. Speakers at the rally included members of major labour unions such as the National Union of Students and the National Union of Teachers.
Labour MPs who were “staging a coup” against Mr. Corbyn were “stabbing millions of working people in the back”, Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the FBU representing fire services workers, said, adding that the referendum had “turned the world upside down”.
Only Mr. Corbyn can lead the party to re-engage with the millions who have voted for Brexit, he said. “We get ripped up by David Cameron in the EU and by Boris Johnson outside the EU.”
Mr. Corbyn was elected Labour leader in September 2015 with a majority of almost 60 per cent.
Sam Fairbairn, Secretary of the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, told the crowd: “The reason why the Right-wing in the Labour Party are so opposed to Jeremy is not because they think he’s unelectable, it’s because they know that the anti-austerity politics that Jeremy represents has a real chance of winning.”
In his address to the roaring crowd, Mr. Corbyn did not directly allude to the bruising meeting he had with his parliamentary party. Rather, he underscored the challenges that lay ahead.
The impact of Tory economic policy has resulted in “the grotesque exploitation of factory workers in zero hours contracts”, the “systematic privatisation of the NHS [National Health Service]”, and the destruction of public housing, he said. “We are an anti-austerity party and fought on an economic platform.”