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Six months in, Jeremy Corbyn is already one of history’s great opposition leaders

Liam Young looks back at Jeremy Corbyn's first six months in post. 

By Liam Young

For all the talk of a lack of opposition to this Tory Government Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour has achieved more than your average opposition in just six months.

Before the leadership election this summer Jeremy Corbyn argued passionately against the government’s welfare bill that included severe cuts to working tax credits. As leader of the Labour party he rallied MPs to oppose the plans and defeated the Government.

On Friday, over three million families would have lost over £1000 a year in tax credit cuts. Thanks to Labour campaigning this cut was abandoned by the Tory government amid public outcry at plans to cut support for the working poor while giving to the richest in tax breaks.

Last week’s defeat of the government’s plan to cut thousands of pounds in disability benefits was also a significant victory. Jeremy Corbyn framed his budget response around this very issue and won praise for shouting above Tory attempts to drown out his call-to-arms. Forming a coalition opposed to the cuts – including the unlikely assistance of Iain Duncan Smith – led to the abandoning of this vile cut to the disabled.

The party has also moved to alter public opinion when it comes to welfare spending. An IpsosMori poll showed that over 80 per cent of people were against the government plan to cut disability benefit. Along with this the shadow chancellor has launched a new economics series that has seen packed out meetings form with people ready to listen to an economic alternative. John McDonnell’s announcement of the fiscal rule also won praise from grassroots members to economists – heralding the flexibility to borrow that makes George Osborne’s alternative bankrupt.

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The opposition has also led the way on abolishing the tampon tax, with great work from Paula Sherriff especially. While the government had been unwilling to do anything about this in the Autumn Statement, sustained pressure from the opposition coupled with public support has paved the way for the scrapping of this discriminatory tax.

As people have become more and more aware of the horrors present in the Saudi justice system, grassroots members have come to realise just how important Jeremy’s opposition to the Saudi prison deal was. While David Cameron wanted the United Kingdom to operate prisons that facilitate execution and torture, the Labour party was proud to stand by its commitment to oppose capital punishment and torture wherever such practices are found across the world.

And Labour has kept its promise to keep Sunday special. Thanks to opposition from both the party and the trades unions, workers no longer have to fear working limitless hours on Sunday’s and will be able to treasure at least some part of the week with their families. As people are working longer for less in the Tory broken economy, small victories such as these go a long way to helping working families.  

Most importantly all of Labour’s recent success has come at points where the leadership has been strong and the party united. Recent talk of splits, coups and dissent is unhelpful and only weakens the Labour party’s position. While there is still a long way to go recent polls continue to show a decline in Tory support as Labour seeks to expose the government for what it really is. Jeremy Corbyn was elected with a huge democratic mandate and he has exercised this mandate in the interest of the hard-working and the disadvantaged. We are able to do this best when we work together, combining comradeship and passion to deliver for people constantly hit by this government.

Unfortunately we have another four and a half years of this government to go. Hopefully Labour can continue to achieve similar success as the years roll on. United it is entirely possible. Perhaps we could even achieve the unthinkable and in five years time I may just be writing about Jeremy Corbyn’s first six months as Prime Minister.

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