“I’m not sure there’s been anything like this in Harrogate before,” were the introductory words used by Paul Whitmore, a Labour Party member involved in organising the Harrogate4Corbyn rally on 20th August.
A Harrogate Socialist Party member
Around 35 people turned out to join the rally in support of the anti-austerity policies of Jeremy Corbyn in Harrogate, predominantly Labour Party members who had been enthused by his policies.
Speakers included local anti-war activist Lindis Percy, CND chair Dave Webb. They concentrated many of their remarks on the opportunities Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership offered, and Dave in particular commented on his role in CND, particularly in opposing the renewal of Trident.
Labour Party member Rev David Wheeler, talked about the hope that many people felt Jeremy Corbyn offered. He called for a progressive alliance, with Labour needing to unite with those working class forces who agreed with its anti-austerity policies such as the Socialist Party and the Communist Party.
Socialist Party member Iain Dalton was also one of the speakers, explaining why the right-wing MPs and media had decided to try to vilify ‘revolutionaries’ and ‘Trotskyists’ – he explained how Trotsky spoke of revolutions being mass movements of people, as we are seeing in support of Jeremy Corbyn and elsewhere across Europe and even the USA.
In reality, it is Corbyn’s ability to draw this mass support, and the possibility of anti-austerity ideas being put into effect they are afraid of. The biggest mistake now, would be to capitulate to that pressure.
Instead of the bans on voting and meetings that are in effect at present, democracy should be deepened in the Labour Party including reselection of MPs and councillors and open up Labour’s structures to involve all anti-austerity forces. If right-wing MPs will not accept such democracy and choose to split away, then let them go.
He encouraged everyone there to get involved in campaigning on issues that Jeremy was raising including renationalisation of the railways, rent control, scrapping zero-hour contracts and more, as well as also joining a trade union to do that in the workplace.
Unfortunately, the organisers of the rally were put under extreme pressure to not allow Iain to speak, which we commend them for resisting. Two Owen Smith supporters did attend the rally, and loudly criticised Iain after he had finished speaking (while the final speaker was talking) saying this was an issue only for Labour Party members.
Apparently they must have missed how the whole of the capitalist establishment, including the media barons are weighing in on the side of Owen Smith. Every working class person in Britain has a stake in backing Corbyn’s anti-austerity message, rather than the return to a Labour Party not to disimmilar to the Tories which a Smith victory would open the return to.
Socialist Party members provided practical help to the rally, including use of our PA system. We were welcomed by Labour Party members there, who instictively saw the need to unite together in order to bring social change. Hopefully, this can be the beginning of working together to make a real positive difference to the lives of working people in Harrogate.