You are here:   Dispatches > Red Flags Flying Over Parliament Square
“A new kind of politics”? Jeremy Corbyn speaking in Parliament Square just hours after being elected Labour leader (Samuel Ashdown/Demotix/PA Images)

The woman standing in front of me spread her arms wide, tilted her head back and shut her eyes. She had just heard the news that Jeremy Corbyn had been elected leader of the Labour party. She let out a long yelp of joy, her voice shaking as she jumped up and down on the spot. Collecting herself, she inhaled, reached skywards and shouted at the top of her voice: “We’ve got a proper Labour party again!” before blasting a champagne cork high into the air and passing the bottle around among those who, like her, had congregated at Speakers’ Corner to listen to the results of the Labour leadership contest on a loudspeaker.

Hugs were exchanged, backs were patted, tweets were sent. “Jez we can! Jez we can!” chanted some in the crowd before someone updated the slogan: “Jez we did! Jez we did!” A bald man in a leather jacket burst into tears, his fists raised, his knuckles white.

The decision the crowd was there to celebrate — the election of the most left-wing Labour leader in history — was emphatic. Far more emphatic than most had imagined. At the start of the leadership contest, bookmakers had put Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of victory at 200-1. He would go on to win, and to do so in the first round with 59.5 per cent of the vote. He beat his rivals not only among the registered supporters many thought would skew the result towards him but among full party members and trade union members too. 

At Speakers’ Corner, though, thoughts soon turned to the future. “I can’t wait to see what the front page of the Mail is tomorrow,” said one man, nodding sagaciously. “They won’t give him a chance,” said his friend. (The next day these two would be proved right in their penetrating insight on what a conservative newspaper might make of the Labour party’s election of a far-left leader. “RED AND BURIED” read the Mail on Sunday’s headline. By way of contrast, the Morning Star, the editorial line of which is dictated by the Communist Party of Britain, was more positive: “JEREMY STORMS TO VICTORY”.

The “Tentative Victory Party for Jeremy Corbyn”, as the event I was at was titled on Facebook, coincided with a march to call on the Prime Minister to accept more refugees into Britain. This would culminate in a rally in Parliament Square where, rumour had it, the newly elected Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition would address the crowd.

The panoply of organisations that make up Britain’s far-Left were out in force. Supporters of Stop the War, of which Corbyn is a founder and national chair, were looking for new recruits at the foot of Marble Arch. Opposite, members of Counterfire, a “revolutionary socialist organisation dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism by the working class”, were competing for the attention of passers by. A young man was selling copies of the Trotskyist paper Socialist Worker. Pamphlets were thrust into the hands of the assembling crowd, petitions were waved in front of perplexed tourists and a collage of placards and flags — with messages ranging from the straightforward “Refugees welcome here” to the platitudinal “Freedom for Syria” (from whom, and by what means?) to the constructive “F— the f—ing Tories” — materialised above people’s heads as they began their walk south, towards Parliament Square.

View Full Article
November 29th, 2015
6:11 PM
Cameron and Osbourne only love the rich Chinese Communist Party. It`s dinner at the palace and lavish praise from Osbourne for a new golden age with the Chinese Communists. Communism for the rich is the new tory slogan? Cameron and Osbourne will keep the red flag flying over our new nuclear power plants and prime real estate in London. Islam`s rich are fine with the tories too. The `stalinised` capitalism of all nations is welcome at Tory HQ. It`s David and George who are the stalinist epigones here.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
More Dispatches
Popular Standpoint topics