The Labour right is already openly, and covertly, plotting against Jeremy Corbyn. If, as widely expected, he wins the Labour leadership the right’s campaign will only intensify and all those who support anti-austerity, anti-war and anti-racist politics will need to defend him against attack.
The attempts to undermine the Corbyn surge are not now primarily about weeding out his potential supports from the vote, even though this is widespread. There is an all-sided campaign to undermine him as the efforts to exclude voters may not be enough to prevent victory given the scale of his support.
If they can, the right will point out any part of the electorate where there is not a convincing majority in an attempt to delegitimise Corbyn’s standing. While claiming ‘unity’, it is clear they will attempt to undermine him, blocking his policies in direct coordination with the Tories. The Labour party apparatus is dominated by the right and will attempt to block him. But for now, it is possible they may not feel strong enough to block him in his choice of Shadow Cabinet.
Most importantly, the Tories will attempt to set a series of traps for the new leadership, assisted by the Labour right. How issues are handled, such as the possible vote on bombing Syria, will be important. Cameron and the Labour right want to put issues such as NATO membership on the agenda. They do not want discussion about how austerity is cutting growth and living standards, as that agenda underpins the Corbyn surge.
The right’s aim is to split the forces numbering in hundreds of thousands – the Corbyn surge into Labour – from the layer of two or three million in the unions who support his clear anti-austerity stance. The latter are the key link to the mass of voters who make the possibility of an anti-austerity Labour government a feasible project.
Jeremy Corbyn and his team have proved very adept in deflecting all these attacks so far. If he wins, these attacks will only increase in intensity and complexity. Strategically, the key issues are the victory and then survival of anti-austerity, anti-war and anti-racist leadership.
There is no room for complacency as to the outcome, so the final day of campaigning up to the noon deadline on 10 September remains focused on getting out the vote. In London, the same applies to Diane Abbott’s campaign to be Labour’s candidate for Mayor. Whatever the outcomes, the need to defend these politics will be raised to a new, higher level in the period ahead.