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A tonic for the troops: A warning to the plotters

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The day began with feelings of solidarity, determination and just a hint of resignation. A heady brew of betrayal and backstabbing, mixed with a potent concoction of media manipulation, had left more than a whiff of despair in the air. I’m used to treading the road least travelled. As one of yesterday’s speakers, a survivor of the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, put it so passionately “I know what it’s like to fight against lies and for justice.”

For me and the proud citizens of my city this is now seared into our DNA. But still, as I met my father at Central Station, both of us were utterly convinced that another stitch up was on the cards. Worse still, we feared that this time enough muck had been raked to demoralise those who had swept the Labour leader to power just ten months ago.

We met another friend and made our way to the assembly point, each of us puzzled by the choice of location. Surely there were bigger and better places to hold a rally. Was this confirmation of our fears? Did the organisers lack confidence  in a turnout too? I bemoaned the Unions. It’s great for them to cheer us on from the sidelines. Why aren’t they front and centre organising this. Imagine how many would turn out to support Corbyn, if they issued the clarion call.

It’s 11:45 and we arrive at BBC Radio Merseyside on Hanover Street. There’s a few hundred people there. My heart sinks, convinced the campaign of vitriol had hit its mark and sapped our movement of its energy and commitment. Text message exchanges earlier in the week had suggested a few who had supported Jeremy last Autumn were now wavering. It wasn’t that people disagreed with him, nor that they didn’t believe in him. Instead it was this morale crushing sense that he just couldn’t win. The odds seemed insurmountable.

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We make our way into the centre of the crowd, waiting for the speakers to start. All around us are homemade placards. Some are just pieces of cardboard strapped to a plank of wood, messages lovingly inscribed in Biro or marker pen. “We Remain In Support Of Jeremy Corbyn” said one; “You’ll Never Walker Alone” another. People had made their own banners, wanting to send their own personal messages of solidarity.

I didn’t see any ‘Socialist Worker’ or ‘Militant’ placards. Though they would have been equally welcome as far as I am concerned, perhaps their absence was symbol of the emergence of a new movement. The torch, it seems, has passed to a newly awakened group; less organised, not as slick perhaps, but no less passionate or committed. How tragic would it be if this spirit of optimism and hope was trodden underfoot by 177 MP’s in their desperate rush to take back control from the people?

The speeches start, punctuated by loud cheers and applause. All the time the crowd is growing in size. From the centre it’s difficult to gauge, so I lift my phone above my head and take a series of pictures from different angles. What I’d captured was several hundred people crammed into the space outside the BBC’s Radio Merseyside station. It may have been more.

So densely packed were we that a second demonstration had formed on the opposite side of the road. They couldn’t hear the speeches so they had taken to singing “Jeremy Corbyn, we’ll support you evermore.” The weather doesn’t know what to do. First rain then burning sunshine. The crowd roar their approval as a message from Corbyn is read out “I am going absolutely nowhere”.

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I can feel my spirits lifting. The organisers are clearly taken aback by the size of the support and someone declares “We are marching to Church Street and we are going to take our message to the people there!” More cheers and we’re moving. The sense of spontaneity is palpable and I’m feeling like I’m part of something special, unpredictable and powerful.

We make our way down a side street. I can see the huge buildings of ‘Liverpool One’ ahead and the crowd turning right onto Paradise Street. I blink, because it seems to have swelled in size, I can’t believe how many people have joined in; coming out of shops and marching with us. I look behind and the crowd stretches back to Hanover Street. This is an enormous show of support.

Passers by and tourists stop to film us on their mobile phones. Chants of “Corbyn IN! Tories OUT!” fill the air. Now our heads are held high. The conspirators can throw whatever they like at us. We’ve seen through their lies. The media can twist and contort his message all they like, we’re no longer listening to them.

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We turn into Church Street and I am completely taken aback. The place is gridlocked from one side to the other. A few shoppers moan about not being able to get into ‘Primark’ or ‘Marks and Spencer’ but overall the mood is carnival like and the demonstration has now completely taken over the streets. To my right a choir, who had taken up residence outside ‘Forever 21’ were singing ‘The Internationale’. My heart soared.

The movement comes to a halt at the top of the street and yet more speakers stand up to deliver one message of defiance after another. Some had clearly never spoken in public before, but the raw passion in their voices more than made up for their inexperience and the crowd approved. Thunderous applause greeted one man who declared that this was his first demonstration, but he had to do something to support the only politician he had ever been able to believe in.

I remembered a conversation I’d had many moons ago with an old comrade. We were members of the Labour Left in the 80’s and early nineties. We were musing on how our resistance to the then Thatcher government was in retreat. We were full of idealism and anger and my friend remarked “You know it may not be us that delivers Socialism.” At the time it was a depressing thought. We had expended so much energy campaigning and fighting. To think we would fail and that it would be left to another generation to take up the fight was hard to bare.

Fortunately one of the blessings of age is perspective. I can see now that he was absolutely right. We had our shot and came up short, but here we were again. Socialism may still be an aspiration, but we have a movement that is once again championing its cause. It might not be us, or the unions leading it this time, but we are being dragged along joyously in its wake. It’s a marvellous feeling, a tonic for the troops and a warning to the plotters. It is us who have the momentum now.

12 Comments »

  1. Just wonderful to read this, heartwarming too. I wish I had been there to see such support for a man of great integrity, the only party leader who told the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeff
    What a great piece. I felt such emotion whilst reading it. From the late sixties onwards we’ve been waiting for true Socialism. In Jeremy we have it in us to
    make a change.
    Keep the faith

    Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful read Jeff. We at the socialist party where there in support and solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, and all those within labour who are continuing to support him and socialism within the labour party.

    It was a truly wonderful show of support.

    On man came by saying ‘And they said socialism is dead, I have waited 35 years for this day’

    I overhead a police officer saying ‘no trouble, the people here are salt of the Earth’

    It lightened my heart in such troubling times to hear singing and chanting, great and empowering talks (the ones I could hear).

    I talked to many lovely people, and a few passers by who were receptive and interested.

    Saturday for me showed socialism most certainly is not dead, and it will keep going no matter what is done to discredit it, socialism is in it for the long haul, not just the here and now and after years of feeling it was gone it is such a great feeling to see so many involved xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great Sara and thanks for the comments. It was brilliant to see a mixture of old and new faces in the crowd yesterday and this seemed to be a genuine grass roots movement. I did see you guys selling papers and it was great that you were there supporting Labour Party members in their struggle for socialism and party democracy. Unity is strength

      Like

  4. ‘Fortunately one of the blessings of age is perspective. I can see now that he was absolutely right. We had our shot and came up short, but here we were again. Socialism my still be an aspiration, but we have a movement that is once again championing its cause. It might not be us, or the unions leading it this time, but we are being dragged along joyously in its wake. It’s a marvellous feeling, a tonic for the troops and a warning to the plotters. It is us who have the momentum now’
    You made me cry Jeff. I feel the same. I spent my teens and twenties fighting and I feel a mixture of weariness and sadness that we are still having the same arguments. But then I read your words and I see that you are right, maybe this IS the time. Solidarity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many people have commented on how emotional the piece is. I must say that’s how I felt yesterday and writing it was like reliving it. We can all take heart from each other and your comments have given us a lift. Thank you.

      Like

  5. Hey Jeff, I caught a snippet of your post in a twitpic, and you inspired me to write a widely circulated posting to diverse Facebook groups (and my own timeline) as follows – from one old 80s revolutionary activist to another, thank you so much for such a psyche-uplifting eye-witness report. In solidarity, we WILL #KeepCorbyn!

    TO THE STREETS!
    Mon 04 Jul 2016

    Q. When was the last time we common people took to the streets in our tens of thousands to demonstrate our very public support for a very singular British politician in his hour of peril?

    After a weekend of #KeepCorbyn rallies throughout the land, the relentless and increasingly desperate pro-1%er mainstream media attacks against Jeremy Corbyn may well be, to a very large part, falling on deaf ears. When ALL the ideological propagandist forces of the British ruling class are massing against one man, from Mirror and Guardian to Express and Mail, via BBC, ITV, and Sky – then we are (for the most part) smart enough to cry, “ENOUGH! We smell a feckin rat!”, and disbelieve/disregard such blatantly partisan “news” sources as class war weapons controlled by our contemptible class enemies.

    This grand snippet of eyewitness reportage from Liverpool gives a lovely feeling for the resurgence of working class solidarity we’re seeing being played out on our streets. When the boss class sharks we so thoroughly despise are all ganging up to pick on, bully, and intimidate one man, in a feeding frenzy orgy of bitterness and lies, then we are obliged, by our collective social conscience, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in ‘We Shall NOT Be Moved!’ rock-solid support of our brother in need, Jeremy Corbyn.

    Sources:
    ● ‘A tonic for the troops: A warning to the plotters’, Sun 03 Jul 2016
    » https://jeffgoulding.com/2016/07/03/a-tonic-for-the-troops-a-warning-to-the-plotters/

    ● ‘Thousands attend Liverpool rally in support of Jeremy Corbyn’, Sat 02 Jul 2016
    – Liverpool Echo report, including ‘Walk on, with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone’ video
    » http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/thousands-attend-liverpool-rally-support-11558159

    • from » https://www.facebook.com/tim.dalinian.jones/posts/10209365948722276

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Tim for your kind words and for sharing my work. Your own post is excellent and full of the same anger and passion that I attempt to convey in my own work. We are completely on the same page – I’ll get myself over to your blog and check out more of your writing. Thanks for sharing. Solidarity

      Liked by 1 person

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