Report and Photos: The Massive March for Refugees in London – and Jeremy Corbyn’s Victory

13.9.15

A placard on the huge march in support of refugees in London on September 12, 2015, the same day that Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party (Photo: Andy Worthington).See my photos on Flickr of the huge march in London calling for more refugees to be welcomed in the UK.

For anyone not in thrall to a cruel and self-serving neo-liberal worldview, in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer until we return to some sort of feudal nightmare, yesterday was a truly inspirational day. In the morning, Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership campaign, with an astonishing 251,000 votes — 59.5% of the total, and 49% of the votes cast by full-time party members, rather than those like me who paid £3 to vote for him (and who didn’t get “purged”). Jeremy’s nearest rival, Andy Burnham, got just 19% of the vote, Yvette Cooper got 17% and Liz Kendall got just 4.5%. Read about Jeremy’s vision for the future of the Labour Party and of the UK in an exclusive article in the Observer today.

As I mentioned on Facebook just after the result was announced, “The people have spoken. It’s time for a renewed Labour Party — of the people for the people. This is the most hopeful moment for politics in the UK since before Thatcher’s baleful victory in May 1979. I’m honoured to have got to know Jeremy through his support of the We Stand With Shaker campaign, and look forward to doing whatever I can to support him and to take on and defeat this wretched Tory government.”

In May, before he entered the leadership race, Jeremy visited Washington D.C. as part of a delegation of MPs from the cross-party Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group, set up by his close friend and campaign manager John McDonnell MP last November, but working to close Guantánamo and to get Shaker Aamer released is just one of Jeremy’s — and John’s — many interests that have long coincided with my own views.

Jeremy entered the leadership race as an anti-austerity candidate, and a rank outsider, as he himself would have acknowledged, but it soon turned out that there was a huge appetite for an antidote not only to the Tory government, but also to its echo in the Labour Party, the right-wingers, or the centre-right that, to far too many people, is largely indistinguishable from the Tories.

Fundamentally honest, Jeremy also refused to play the game of the personality cult, insisting that at the campaign needed to be about the issues rather than image or spin or “branding.” His meetings around the country were packed out, and he encouraged nearly 90,000 people to become involved in the Party, and to vote for him as registered supporters, many of whom will now be joining the Party as full members.

A month ago, on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, I saw Jeremy speak at a CND event in Tavistock Square. A member of CND since he was 15, he opposes nuclear weapons, wants to scrap the insanely expensive Trident programme, and is, essentially, an anti-war candidate — a pacifist — seeking the highest office in the land, who, of course, joined the rest of us on the side of sanity when Tony Blair, New Labour, the Tories and 86% of the media took us into an illegal war in Iraq in 2003.

Jeremy’s anti-austerity stance is also an area where he is taking a necessary fight to the establishment, and where, I hope, all of us who put the needs of the people before the profits of the rapacious banks and corporations — and the Tories’ (and New Labour’s) obscene pandering to the global super-rich — will be able to get involved in making the case for radical change.

One area where change is urgently needed is to combat the rise of the precariat — those trapped in insecure, low-paid jobs without rights — and another is to urgently tackle the housing crisis, which includes an obscene housing bubble (in London and the south east in particular), private rents out of control, and social housing under threat, and which needs a massive social housebuilding programme to restore some semblance of sanity.

For anyone who wants to help, and who hasn’t already joined the Labour Party, you can do so here, to support Jeremy, who has already asked people to let him know what questions they would like him to ask David Cameron at his first Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday. Tomorrow, I expect, we will hear who is in his shadow cabinet, and very soon, I expect, we will be hearing much more about how we can get involved with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, to change politics for the better, and to begin to get some of the 15.7 million people who didn’t vote in the General Election in May to get involved in this new, resurgent socialist alternative to the dreadful neo-liberal status quo.

Yesterday was also the day that a huge march in support of refugees took place in central London — echoed elsewhere in the country — following up on the extraordinary support that has been building over recent weeks as tens of thousands of refugees have entered Europe — from Syria in particular, via Turkey,  but also from other countries ruined by war and/or brutal totalitarian regimes — Afghanistan, for example, and Eritrea, which currently has the world’s worst human rights record.

The march consisted of two separate events whose organisers agreed to make their two separate events into a single event — Refugees Welcome Here and Solidarity with Refugees, organised by Stand up to Racism, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the Stop the War Coalition, the Syria Solidarity Movement, the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Amnesty International, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC), Migrant Rights Network, War on Want, Movement Against Xenophobia, Unite Against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism, Black Out London, Emergency UK, Student Action for Refugees, London2Calais, the British Syrian Medical Society and Avaaz.

For my photos of the day, see my photo set on Flickr here, where I described the day as follows:

Today was a great day for the millions of us who want to see a better world, and are fed up with the existing power structure — the election, by a landslide, of Jeremy Corbyn as the new Labour Party leader, and the march in central London, which was attended by around 100,000 people in solidarity with the refugees fleeing Syria and other countries in numbers not seen since the Second World War.

The existing power structure presides over a hard-hearted and increasingly unequal vision of the UK, in which the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, austerity is cynically used by the Tories to try and destroy the state provision of almost all services, and the refugee crisis is sidelined — and all this by a government that, although it has provided significant financial aid, is only accepting 20,000 refugees, over five years and on a temporary basis, and is now gunning for war, which will only create more refugees, and trying to justify that through the disturbing extrajudicial execution of two British citizens in Syria via an RAF-led drone attack.

A link to the photos is also below:

Mr. Cameron, refugees have no choice. You do.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ was released in July 2015). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

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22 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s the link to my photos of yesterday’s huge march for refugees in London yesterday, plus my analysis of the significance of Jeremy Corbyn’s wonderful victory in the Labour leadership contest with a quarter of a million votes – nearly 60% of the vote. A truly memorable day – and the start of a project to reclaim our country from the Tories.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    After I posted a link to the photos on Facebook last night, Zareen Taj wrote:

    great photos of London rally to ‪#‎WelcomeRefugees

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Great photos, Andy

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ann – and thanks for sharing, Zareen!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    If you’re interested, please also have a look at my post on Facebook publicising the photos on Flickr. It featured a photo of my son Tyler, and got a lot of very positive comments! https://www.facebook.com/andyworthingtonUK/posts/10153682037623804?pnref=story

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Congratulations to John McDonnell MP, the tireless campaigner against injustice who led Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign and set up the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group last November, on being appointed shadow chancellor. Now we have two of our three best MPs (the other is Caroline Lucas) looking to oust Cameron and Osborne from Downing Street.
    Also appointed:
    Andy Burnham as shadow home secretary
    Hilary Benn remains shadow foreign secretary
    Lord Falconer remains shadow justice secretary
    Heidi Alexander as shadow health secretary
    Angela Eagle as shadow business secretary
    Seema Malhotra as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury
    Diane Abbott as shadow international development secretary
    Vernon Coaker as shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland
    See: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/13/jeremy-corbyn-shadow-cabinet-andy-burnham-labour

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Anjum Anwar wrote:

    Andy I remember marching with the CND – and your article certainly took me back in time! Thank you!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re most welcome, Anjum. And now we also have the wonderful John McDonnell appointed as shadow chancellor!

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s the photo I took last month of Jeremy speaking at the CND rally in Tavistock Square on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima: https://www.flickr.com/photos/andyworthington/19749179244/in/album-72157656892440282/

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Great profile of Jeremy in the Mail (of all places) by Damian McBride, former special adviser to Gordon Brown, pointing out how the poverty and multiculturalism of Jeremy’s constituency – Holloway, essentially – has informed his politics, and what a contrast that is to David Cameron’s Witney: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3232255/And-finally-best-thing-Attlee.html

    The closing lines of the article are great: “The last Labour leader to represent an inner London seat, indeed the last leader of any major party to do so, was in his 60s by the time he became Prime Minister. He was unfashionable, disdainful of the media and he stood on a platform that promoted peace and investment in public services and housing, even with the country facing massive debts. Clement Attlee went on to be Labour’s greatest Prime Minister. And while few may believe that Jeremy Corbyn can follow in his footsteps as he slips into the leader’s shoes today, one thing is for sure: He comes from the right place.”

    And in closing, why not believe Jeremy can follow in Clem Attlee’s footsteps. It’s all to fight for. Either we win, or we get crushed by the merciless greed of the Tories (and, if they were ever to regroup, the Blairites).

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Steve Hynd wrote:

    “he encouraged nearly 90,000 people to become involved in the Party, and to vote for him as registered supporters” – so even if those people hadn’t joined and voted he’d still have won in a landslide. Awesome.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, it’s so great that Jeremy got 49% of the votes of the full members of the party, Steve​. It really was a decisive message to the centre-right, to the Blairites, that their time is over.
    Results here: http://www.labour.org.uk/blog/entry/results-of-the-labour-leadership-and-deputy-leadership-election

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Anjum Anwar wrote, in response to 8, above:

    yes, sorry do not know much about him, but to be very honest, I do not know much about much, but when people like you and Moazzam Begg support JC I follow, as I trust your judgement and Moazzam’s – very simple really!

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Both Jeremy and John have championed the causes of the poor and the oppressed for their entire political lives, Anjum. They are renowned as incredibly hard-working, diligent constituency MPs, and support every worthy cause going (along with Caroline Lucas). So, as an example, John set up the Shaker Aamer Parliamentary Group last November, and Jeremy’s a member (and he visited the US to call for Shaker’s release in May with David Davis and Andrew Mitchell – both Tories – and Andy Slaughter, the Labour MP for Hammersmith).

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Dani Taylor wrote:

    Saved to read asap. Thanks for sharing and thank you for all you do, Andy.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Dani. You’re welcome. It’s genuinely very exciting here in the UK right now, despite the horrendous anti-Corbyn bias of so much of the mainstream media.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Dani Taylor wrote:

    I see and feel the excitement!!

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s a decent profile of John McDonnell in the Guardian – although it doesn’t mention how he ran the £3bn budget in the GLC under Ken Livingstone: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/14/john-mcdonnell-corbyn-shadow-chancellor-profile

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s a great profile by Ronan Bennett from 2006, when John was hoping to stand as a Labour leadership candidate. Nine years later, ‘Honest John’ is the shadow chancellor! http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/sep/26/labourleadership.labour

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s Paul Mason on John McDonnell, and Corbynomics: http://blogs.channel4.com/paul-mason-blog/john-mcdonnell-corbynomics/4237
    And the letter by prominent economists last month endorsing his economic stance – ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition to austerity is actually mainstream economics’: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/23/jeremy-corbyns-opposition-to-austerity-is-actually-mainstream-economics
    And the Guardian’s article about that letter: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/aug/22/jeremy-corbyn-economists-backing-anti-austerity-policies-corbynomics
    And Larry Elliott’s backing for Corbyn’s stance – ‘Jeremy Corbyn is right to blame the banks, not Labour, for the financial crisis’: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/09/jeremy-corbyn-labour-overspending-did-not-cause-financial-crisis
    And a profile of Richard Murphy, who has been advising the Corbyn team: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/11/the-man-behind-corbynomics-an-accountant-from-leafy-norfolk

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    And don’t miss John McDonnell’s spectacular speech against the Tories’ latest welfare reform bill which promises £12bn more cuts to the most vulnerable people in society – “I would swim through vomit to vote against this bill. And listening to some of the nauseating speeches tonight, I might have to.”
    https://www.facebook.com/andyworthingtonUK/posts/10153687492608804?pnref=story
    Also check out here the only decent Labour MPs, the ones who voted against this wreched bill (only 48 of them – the core, I hope and expect, of Jeremy Corbyn’s renewed Labour Party): http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/21/labour-disarray-welfare-48-mps-defy-whips

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeremy Corbyn’s full shadow cabinet has now been announced. Details here: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/sep/14/jeremy-corbyn-labour-shadow-cabinet-in-full
    Additions from yesterday:
    Rosie Winterton as opposition chief whip
    Lucy Powell as shadow secretary of state for education
    Owen Smith as shadow secretary of state for work and pensions
    Maria Eagle as shadow secretary of state for defence
    Jon Trickett as shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, and shadow minister for the constitutional convention
    Lisa Nandy as shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change
    Chris Bryant as shadow leader of the House of Commons
    Lilian Greenwood as shadow secretary of state for transport
    Ian Murray as shadow secretary of state for Scotland
    Nia Griffith as shadow secretary of state for Wales
    Kerry McCarthy as shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs
    Kate Green as shadow minister for women and equalities
    Michael Dugher as shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport
    Gloria De Piero as shadow minister for young people and voter registration
    Luciana Berger as shadow minister for mental health
    Baroness Smith as shadow leader of the House of Lords
    Lord Bassam as Lords chief whip
    Catherine McKinnell as shadow attorney general
    Jonathan Ashworth as shadow minister without portfolio
    John Healey as shadow minister for housing and planning

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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