This last few weeks have seen massive rallies addressed by Labour leadership candidate, Jeremy Corbyn. Venues have often not been big enough to accommodate everybody that's wanted to attend.
The popularity of Corbyn's campaign has left many so-called political experts scratching their heads as they try to explain it. To TUSC supporters it's obvious - trade-unionists, the working class in general and large sections of the middle class too, are crying out for an end to austerity. With all respect to Jeremy, I don't think his lead in the opinion polls is so much down to his personal qualities (although the fact that he uses public transport and claims the least MP's expenses certainly helps many to feel he's 'one of us') as to the fact that at last they can see the prospect of a fightback against cuts.
I hadn't expected Corbyn to get the number of nominations (35) required to make it onto the ballot for Labour leader. With only hours to go it looked like that prediction would be correct; Corbyn doesn't have the support of his own party's MPs and looked like he would come up short as John Mcdonnell had twice previously. But so confident were the Labour leadership of the dominance of their position in the Party that Labour MPs who have said publicly that they won't vote for Corbyn, we're persuaded to nominate him in order to "have a debate". Rival candidate, Andy Burnham, who had hopes of being the candidate backed by the unions, even encouraged some of his supporters in Parliament to lend Corbyn their nominations for this purpose. How they must be regretting that now!
Now Corbyn leads in all opinion polls, has secured the most constituency nominations and those of of many of the most important trade unions. He could win, although his current lead is no guarantee - he might have to get near an absolute majority on first preference votes alone as the other candidates are much closer to each other in political outlook and the majority of their second preference votes would be expected to transfer to each other.
The Labour hierarchy have been thrown into panic by the very possibility of a Corbyn win and seem to release daily stories of Corbyn supporters consisting of 'far left' and even Tory infiltrators. In one interview, acting leader, Harriet Harman, said that Labour chiefs were listening in to the conversations of new activists. I know where the Murdoch press leads, Labour normally follows but surely she didn't mean Labour was intending to engage in News Of The World style phone-tapping? She has also announced she is ordering Labour Party workers to "copy and paste" names of all new party supporters and to send them to their constituency MP's to be vetted for "known troublemakers". The article, in the Guardian, went on to say that many Labour MPs were saying of the people that had signed up to support Corbyn, that for many, their "more natural home is in the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition" - at last something we can all agree on!
Every day now I read stories about how us "Hard Left" types have infiltrated Labour to vote for Corbyn. Nobody who knows me would call me 'hard' but if they mean principled socialists are joining Labour, then the fact that they can be called infiltrators shows just how far from its roots Labour has moved. Labour's socialist founders would be amazed at the party they set-up to provide political representation for workers and trade unionists, looking to block socialists from joining/registering as supporters, on the grounds that their aims and values are opposed to Labour's.
The majority of TUSC supporters would be barred from joining Labour or registering as supporters, even if we wanted to. MP Simon Danczuk, who has been the subject of speculation in the past, regarding intentions to defect to UKIP, wants to deny a vote to around a quarter of new supporters in his constituency.
But the reason why most of us aren't registering as Labour supporters is we don't think that it is possible to reclaim Labour for socialism or even make it into a weapon for fighting austerity. The Party machine is openly discussing the pros and cons of stopping the election or some other method of robbing Corbyn of victory (it's already been claimed that up to 1,200 people joining or registering as supporters have been turned down) versus simply using the Party machine to isolate and contain him should he win.
For TUSC supporters, the level of support for Corbyn shows how popular the ideas and policies we put forward in the election in May can be if given a fair airing.
We will defend Corbyn against the attacks of the right-wing press but the worst attacks on him and his campaign are coming from inside his own party. Attempts to appease the Labour right by inviting the Blairites into his cabinet or heaping praise on Miliband and even Blair, will not work but will confuse and even alienate, his own supporters.
This week Corbyn has been in Wales and seemed to accept the myth of the "red water" between England and Wales put about by Welsh Labour. Many of us in Wales experience 2 sets of Labour hands - the Labour Welsh Government and our Labour councils - wielding the Tories' axe for them. Welsh Labour, including those AMs and councillors who say they back Corbyn, are just a conveyor belt for Tory cuts.
These people are worse than useless as allies but to the tens of thousands of Corbyn supporters who genuinely want to fight austerity, TUSC supporters will campaign shoulder to shoulder with you. All we ask is that if and when you find the path to fighting cuts inside Labour impossibly blocked you take your place in your 'natural home' - TUSC.