‘Might move to Islington North’ trends: How the left reacted to Jeremy Corbyn’s historic win

'Islington North is the place to be. Go go go!'

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally

One of the most closely watched and anticipated seats of the general election was Islington North, where the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was standing as an independent, after he was was ejected from the party due to a row over antisemitism. Scooping up almost half of the vote, Corbyn won the seat for the eleventh time. Labour’s candidate Praful Nargund finished almost 7,000 votes behind Corbyn, with 34.2 percent of the vote, compared to Corbyn’s 49.4 percent. The result ends the tradition in Islington North of voting for Labour since a by-election took place in 1937.

Under Britain’s electoral system, where a candidate or party is selected by achievement of a simple majority, running as an independent is always going to be challenging. But Corbyn’s election campaign rapidly mobilised among the left and within the North London constituency.  

Addressing a crowd during the public campaign launch for “Jeremy Corbyn: An Independent Voice for All of Us” at the end of May, Ken Loach, film director and a staunch supporter of Corbyn, spoke of the importance of the North London seat.

 “[Islington North] is the most important part of this election. If Jeremy wins, that shows our strength. If Jeremy wins, it shows we can put integrity and principle before shallow opportunism,” said Loach. 

Corbyn’s win is testimony to the level of support he has in Islington North, where he has been the MP since 1983. “As an independent with first past the post, it was a bit of a long shot, but Jeremy’s got a strong sway here. He’s loved here. Fair play to him,” said constituent Cameron McPheely.

Social media was quickly flooded with people sharing their views on the result, and a ‘Might move to Islington North’ hashtag started trending.

“Might just pack up and move to Islington North just so I can vote for Jeremy every five years,” wrote journalist Hamza.

“Islington North is the place to be. Go go go!” posted X user James Foster.

“If I lived in Islington North, I would vote for Jeremy Corbyn,” wrote Jeremy Hicks, a grassroots left supporter, and former Unite general secretary candidate.

Speaking to Sky News on the night of the election, John McDonnell, who was shadow chancellor when Corbyn was leader of the party, said that if his friend Jeremy Corbyn is elected, he will be arguing for him to be restored with the Labour whip, similar to what happened with Nye Bevan. Bevan, the architect of the NHS, who was minister of health when the health service was founded in 1948, was expelled from the Labour Party for his fierce attacks on the official Labour line. He was reinstated by Clement Attlee when Labour returned to power after the war. Given Bevan’s reputation as a left-wing firebrand, his inclusion in Attlee’s cabinet came as a shock.

Momentum, the left-wing Labour grassroots movement that was founded shortly after Corbyn’s successful campaign to be Labour leader in 2015, shared similar calls as John McDonnell.

“The people of Islington North have spoken, and they want Jeremy Corbyn to be their MP. The decision by the Labour Leadership to prevent him from being a candidate was an appalling act of self-harm which has done untold damage to the Labour Party, particularly in Islington North. Keir Starmer must now do the decent thing and reinstate Jeremy as a Labour Party member and MP,” Momentum posted on X.

Image credit: Sophie J Brown – Creative Commons

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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