A police estimate of up to 10,000 demonstrators, chanting ‘Jez we can’ and clasping signs reading ‘Corbyn In, Tories Out’, gathered in Parliament Square yesterday evening (27th June) to support Jeremy Corbyn in his position as Labour Party Leader.
The event, organised by left wing, grass roots movement Momentum in just 24 hours, was in direct response to, and occurred concurrently with a Parliamentary Labour Party meeting that included discussion of a secret ballot to vote for a motion of no confidence against the Labour Party leader.
A tired but determined looking Corbyn came directly from the meeting to address the animated multitude from atop a fire engine to deafening cheers. His speech was impassioned if sweeping, addressing many of the issues that he has championed from the beginning of his campaign, including social justice and the fight against racism. He also urged his followers to remain unified and to not “let the people who wish us ill divide us”, however there was no mention of the coup and no direct denial of him standing down.
Other speakers included shadow health secretary Diane Abbott, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, newly selected shadow justice minister Richard Burgeon, general secretary of the Communication Workers’ Union Dave Ward, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union Matt Wrack and general secretary of the Bakers’ Union Ronnie Draper.
Most speakers spoke harshly of Corbyn’s challengers via a rhetoric of division that clearly stated: if you are not with us, you are against us. Mr Draper referred to the 46 Labour frontbenchers who resigned in the wake of Hilary Benn’s controversial sacking as “traitorous MPs” who “are not the Labour Party”, whilst Mr Burgeon asked the assembly “Do you want to be remembered as a fighter for socialism, as a fighter for our class? Or do you want to be remembered as somebody, one of some, who ended up trying to destroy all that we have built?”
Dennis Skinner also made a brief appearance saying that he only became aware of the rally’s existence five minutes ago and spoke of his faith in Corbyn whilst condemning those protesting his ongoing leadership. Although the atmosphere yesterday was one of unity among the ‘footsoldiers’ of the party, whether the parties MP’s will be able to rally and push their advantage following the Tories Brexit crisis is uncertain.