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A morning-after speech

A ‘morning after’ speech to the post-Election Rally in Swansea

Gordon Gibson, Chair Swansea West CLP

14 December 2019

First, I want to thank the hundreds and thousands of you from inside and outside the party that mobilised for campaigning, canvassing, rallies and media work in support of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. It was a huge and inspiring effort here in South Wales with cars, train-trips and support travelling west, between constituencies and locally. Big thanks.

There were thousands out, many of them new people, inspired by Corbyn’s Labour. Not only was Jeremy popular but so were Labour’s policies

Our job now is to sustain that movement – once the dismay is harnessed, once we’ve had a rest.

The election was about Brexit.

There’s a direct correlation between Leave votes in referendum and Labour losses now, especially in the north of England.

The Labour right that spent the whole time attacking Corbyn and calling for a clear Remain campaign have been proved horribly wrong.

It was only Corbyn that resisted that, even within the party leadership. He was put under terrible pressure, from the Parliamentary Party and the media. But he has been proved right. The backstabbers have been proved wrong. Corbyn and our team may have done it better and we must discuss that rationally. But, bottom line, he was right.

Those communities in the north that voted Tory, often for the first time, are going to pay a terrible price. We must stand by them.

How have they come to their Brexit and Tory positions?

It’s called ‘alienation’, alienation from bourgeoise politics (too complex to discuss here)

It started with the defeat of the miners and communities; it festered under the Blair years and got full expression with austerity.

We used to deal with that stuff through the unions, local clubs our communities. Those were our ‘bubbles’ back then.

Now, low income households are isolated, vulnerable to the media and the tosh it spouts, not a million miles from Orwell’s 1984.

Even as the ballot boxes closed the news media had lined up renegades like Kate Hoey and John Mann. Early on, I witnessed a former Labour researcher whose sole contribution was to launch a tirade against Corbyn.

That’s why the bubbles of Social media and the unions are so important. And one reason why Corbyn’s free broadband for all was relevant. And of course collective campaigning.

The attack on socialist policies

The right, desperate to avoid admission of their erroneous complicity, is shifting ground to blame Corbyn’s socialism and Labour’s manifesto. The establishment loves this treachery. The present attack will be just as bad as it has been over the past months.

In short, Corbyn has been a breath of fresh air and the establishment has mobilised its full force to fight him – unfortunately with success.

And now?

Corbyn and Labour have built a huge movement. We must do everything to consolidate its great unity and strength.

The One Nation Tories, a term hardly heard of during the campaign, are today out with Boris in the North of England – seeking to consolidate their working class base. Their ‘one nation’ can only be English Nationalism and we should be watchful of that, for they have surely brought about the end of the United Kingdom with Scotland about to go and Ireland likely to break into sectarian strife again as the long overdue united Ireland re-emerges. We in Wales are going to have to think seriously about that too.

We already know what English Nationalism offers us and there is no doubt the extreme right will resurface, including inside an increasingly right wing Tory Party

Don’t think this is growing up from below. It is well funded. Did you see the election day banners that sprang up on the bridges in Swansea? Excellent, clearly home made ‘Defend the NHS Vote Labour’ banners, both in English and Welsh, were torn down within 24 hours and replaced with pre-printed well-funded Brexit/ UKIP / ‘Give Boris a Chance’ banners and shocking anti Corbyn printed posters. There is big money behind the right. One of Farage’s main funders Aaron Banks was also an early invitee onto TV’s post election ‘analysis’.  

So the priority is now self-organisation and unity. It will likely find expression in single issue campaigns, not least Climate Change, Extinction Rebellion, anti-racist activity, the welfare system and the NHS. In fact you can find an excellent check-list in Labour’s manifesto.

The first expressions will be on the streets but don’t underestimate the fight in and the role of the Labour Party. The next leader is a big issue. Corbyn has turned the party round – there is still a way to go but it is so important that we stay in there, stay active and fight to sustain all that he has built both inside and outside the party; to sustain the hope and inspiration that reached so many of us.

So, harness the dismay. Have a rest. Solidarity, strength, organisation. Maintain the unity and fight on. They are not going to give us social change on a plate.

Gordon Gibson

Chair, Swansea West Constituency Labour Party   

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