Jeremy Corbyn has confounded his critics by taking his manifesto message directly to the people, trusting them to put aside Tory and media lies and misrepresentations when given the opportunity to judge him face to face, writes ROBERT GRIFFITHS
ALMOST 13 million people have voted for a left-wing Labour manifesto with its policies for more progressive taxation of the rich and big business, massive public investment in the NHS and other public services, public ownership of strategic industries and utilities, an expansion of employment and trade union rights and a halt to privatisation.
Furthermore, a majority of electors have rejected austerity policies. The Tories have no mandate for five months of public spending cuts, never mind another five years.
In raising Labour’s share of the poll by 10 percentage points to almost match the Tories, Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership have been vindicated.
This is a remarkable achievement in the teeth of the most vicious media campaign against the leader of a major political party in Britain in more than a century, which has even included obnoxious daily attacks in the supposedly left-of-centre Guardian newspaper.
It is an even more remarkable achievement in the wake of a two-year campaign inside the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) to slander and unseat him.
Corbyn has confounded his critics with a relentless campaign of public meetings, walkabouts, workplace visits and television appearances. He took his manifesto message directly to the people, trusting them to put aside Tory and media lies and misrepresentations when given the opportunity to judge him face to face.
His own strength of character has shown through the most scurrilous character assassination carried out in British politics since the days of Labour’s founding father, Keir Hardie.
Hardie’s ghost, like that of Aneurin Bevan, would be smiling today.
Corbyn and Labour’s campaign and policies also enthused millions of students and young people to vote, many for the first time.
Turnout among electors aged 18 to 24 jumped to 72 per cent from levels of around 40 per cent in the previous four general elections.
Workers and trade unionists also rallied to the red flag, helping to raise the overall turnout to 68 per cent — the highest since the general election that first swept Tony Blair to office in 1997.
Now the priority in the labour movement must be to unite around the Labour Party leadership and its policies, while reviewing the right-wing’s love affair with nuclear weapons.
Obviously, there was some tactical voting for Labour by some Green, Lib Dem and Plaid Cymru voters.
There were also indications that some working-class electors in Scotland are returning to class politics, without abandoning their national aspirations.
This is all the more reason to bury all the chatter about building some kind of “centre-left” alliance in British politics.
Electorally, the Labour Party already represents a “left of centre” alliance and one which does not need to be diluted to a pale pink.
Certainly, there is no case for doing anything that might rehabilitate the Lib Dems. Their share of the vote has deservedly fallen and the ejection of Nick Clegg from his seat should spare us many more of those television appearances where he misrepresents almost everything about the European Union and the positive, progressive case for leaving it.
It is now up to Lib Dem, Green, SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs to decide whether or not they want to concentrate their fire on the Tories and their policies and help ensure a fresh general election and a Labour government as soon as possible. Or they can choose to lose yet more votes next time around.
The prospects are bright. In particular, the collapse of the Ukip vote and the return of many working-class supporters to Labour vindicates Corbyn’s insistence on June 24 last year that the referendum decision — that popular sovereignty in fact — should be respected and implemented.
His was a principled stance that enraged the pro-EU fanatics in the PLP and triggered a second Labour Party leadership election — and a second overwhelming Corbyn victory.
Around half of Ukip’s deserters turned to Labour and class politics this time, accounting for at least half of the increase in Labour’s share of the poll.
This underlines the importance of Labour maintaining its principled stance in favour of leaving the EU while protecting the interests of workers and their families not only here but in Europe and internationally as well.
The SNP’s regression means that a second independence referendum is unlikely in the near future. This will give time for Nicola Sturgeon to show some respect for the result of the first.
Clearly, her attempt to corral all supporters of her party and, more broadly, of Scottish independence into the pro-EU camp was a spectacular misjudgement.
Labour should now maintain its momentum in Scotland by fully embracing progressive federalism, combining the devolution of economic powers to the nations of Britain with its own radical policies for wealth redistribution.
Finally, the Communist Party has been proved correct in its insistence that all left and progressive voters everywhere should vote Labour. In most cases, this is the approach which has enabled Labour to win seats, including in Wales where the party trounced the Tories, despite ludicrous pre-election claims that the Welsh people would be turning blue.
Britain’s Communists have also argued consistently that mass campaigning, workplace action and class politics raise people’s class consciousness, confidence and political understanding. So it has proved in two Labour Party leadership elections and now in this general election.
This same perspective will bring further advances for Labour in the new election that will be necessary in the very near future, once Theresa May resigns by popular demand.
Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party and a contributor to 21centurymanifesto