Reflections on the Labour Party Conference – A Missed Opportunity to Deal the Right a Fatal Blow
Reflections on the Labour Party Conference – A Missed Opportunity to Deal the Right a Fatal Blow
Open Selection – Palestine – Amidst the Euphoria Very Little Has Changed
There is no doubt that the third
Labour conference under Jeremy Corbyn emphasised that amongst the CLPs the Left
is dominant. That became clear during
the vote over Open Selection when the constituencies voted almost unanimously
to back open selection and the trade unions, in a naked betrayal of their own
members, voted to keep the existing right-wing MPs in place.
Because make no mistake, the reform
of the trigger ballot process will only affect, at most a dozen MPs. Yet we face a situation where the
overwhelming majority of the PLP is hostile to Jeremy Corbyn and I would guess
that at least 50, perhaps more, will refuse to vote for Corbyn to become leader
whatever the result.
It is perhaps predictable that the
GMB, which is historically a right-wing union should want to keep the Right in
power in the PLP. UNISON, which despite
nominally supporting Corbyn has a right-wing leadership under Dave Prentis, the
most useless General Secretary any union could hope for, has a bureaucracy
which is essentially New Labour. The most ignominious role goes to Unite under
Len McLusky, a nominally left-wing trade union leader.
On the Saturday evening in the CASA,
a social centre established by the Liverpool Dockers after their sell out by
the TGWU under Bill Morris, and which today is run by the Liverpool labour
movement, there was a ceremony to unveil a plaque to the 47 Labour Councillors
who were surcharged in the mid-1980’s for refusing to set a rate.
At the meeting a questioner asked
McLuskey a question – why was the Unite delegation not supporting Open
Selection. McLuskey responded by saying how the delegation had not even met yet
and so the question was premature. What
he didn’t say was how he would vote and argue.
It is a fact that if the UNITE union had supported Open Selection then
we would have seen the back of scab MPs like Chuka Ummuna and Joan Ryan. As it is we will have a PLP hostile to its
leader. Historically the British trade union movement has always acted against
its own interests politically – it is the famous divide between politics and
economics. Politically the unions have
been led by corrupt and useless leaderships more interested in feathering their
own nests than fighting for their members’ interests.
The Palestine debate was a highlight
and no one will forget the sea of flags.
The resolution, which referred to the Nakba, the expulsion of the
Palestinian refugees in 1948 onwards, was historic. So was its call for a freeze on arms
sales. But who is responsible for
implementing this resolution? Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary
and a paid up supporter of Labour Friends of Israel. Thornberry tried and
failed to delete all references to the Palestinian refugees because their
return is anathema to the racists and Zionists since their return would mean
that Jews are a minority in the Jewish state. As it is Israel cannot afford to
grant democratic rights to the 5 million Palestinians it rules over in the West
Bank/Gaza. To admit millions more would spell an end to the Zionist racial
state and that would be anathema to everything Thornberry stands for.
The debate was chaired by Rhea
Wolfson, a Zionist and member of the Jewish Labour Movement. Wolfson cut off
Hilary Wise, a strong supporter of the motion in her prime and tried to do the
same to the proposer. She also warned Hilary to ‘be careful’ when referring to the Al Jazeera programme The Lobby which showed the role of the
Israeli Embassy and the JLM in the destabilisation of the Labour Party and
British politics. Why should one be
careful when telling the truth?
Although emotionally Labour
conference made for great theatre, practically it will have made little
difference as Labour is still wedded to the fake anti-Semitism campaign whose
prime purpose is to derail support for the Palestinians and remove Jeremy
Corbyn as leader. The mere fact that Thornberry went out of her way, in a
debate on Palestine, to speak about alleged anti-Semites in the Party is proof
of that. Anti-Semitism has nothing to do
with Palestine. The time to mention
anti-Semitism, in so far as it exists, was in a debate on racism not Palestine.
Jeremy Corbyn confirmed the token
nature of the debate when he promised to recognise Palestine on Day One of his
becoming Prime Minister. As a gesture that is fine but that is all it is. A gesture. There is no Palestinian state nor
will there ever be one. Zionism does not
recognise any other sovereignty in what it terms the Land of Israel than Jewish
sovereignty. A Land without a People for
a People Without a Land was the slogan of the Zionist movement. Recognising
a Palestinian state, as Sweden has done, will make a nice headline but will do
nothing to transform the position of the Palestinians. Only sanctions will begin to do that.
Momentum held its third and most
anodyne World Transformed festival in Liverpool’s Big E. Banned from the WTF
was Labour Against the Witchhunt, Free Speech on Israel and of course Jackie
Walker’s film premiere The Lynching. The world may have been transformed but it’s
still under the domination of multi-millionaire property developer Jon Lansman!
Labour Against the Witchhunt held a
very successful and packed public meeting on the Sunday which was addressed by
Alexei Sayle, Chris Williamson, Jo Bird of JVL and Bob Walker of the Garston 3
and myself. Below are the transcripts of
the speeches from Chris Williamson and myself on behalf of LAW.
The JVL meeting on the Monday was
once again packed out and was addressed by Matt Wrack of the FBU who emphasised
the rise of the far-Right in Britain and Europe. It is noticeable that the Jewish Labour Movement
which held a lunchtime meeting on the Sunday, was completely unconcerned about
the Football Lads Alliance or Tommy Robinson. Fascism and genuine anti-Semites
don’t disturb them at all. The only
‘anti-Semitism’ that worries them is opposition to Israel and Zionism and we
had the absurdity of that most detestable of all Zionist MPs, Luciana Berger,
apparently going around with a police escort to protect her from fellow
Suffice to say the Jewish
Chronicle and the Jewish
News singled me out wherever I spoke and the Zionists, such believers in
free speech, ritually called for the withdrawal of the whip from Chris
Williamson. When Margaret Hodge was even threatened with disciplinary proceedings
they cried free speech but when the heat is off they are continually seeking to
clamp down on the speech of their opponents of course.
My fear from this conference is that
by voting against open selection conference has made it more difficult for Corbyn
to become Prime Minister. McLuskey and
Unite’s delegation should hang their heads in shame.
Transcript Labour Against the Witchhunt Meeting 23rd September
Comrades, Tony Mulhearn of
the Liverpool 47 made mention of that ghost from the past, Lord Larry
Whitty. I remember him well when he came
down to Brighton to personally handle my disciplinary case. This was in 1992 in the wake of Labour’s
defeat in the 1992 General Election which everybody had expected Labour to win.
He put the charges to me and I said that if anyone needed to be expelled it was
Neil Kinnock for his remarks and display at the Sheffield Rally for those who
remember that infamous rally which symbolised the loss of that election.
I agree with Tony
entirely. The Left needs to go on the
offensive and we need to call out this witchhunt for what it is. Because even
if the Labour Party is a broad church, even the broadest church does not
tolerate atheists within it. The atheists in our party are the people who don’t
believe in socialism and never have believed in socialism.
Now I was expelled as part
of the anti-Semitism witchhunt and it makes sense that if you are going to
expel people because of anti-Semitism you expel Jewish people! There is a
certain logic to that! And Jackie Walker is due to be chopped and Cyril
Chilson, the son of Holocaust survivors who were in the concentration camps has
The reason for this is very
obvious. Because whatever else this
witchhunt is about it is not about anti-Semitism. That is the one thing we should take home
from this meeting.
It is perfectly
understandable why we have this witchhunt. If you think about it. You don’t have to be paranoid or to believe
in conspiracies. When Jeremy Thorpe, (much laughter), that was a Freudian slip!
When Jeremy Corbyn was even in danger of being elected as Leader back in the
summer of 2015 already the smears started in the Daily Mail and the Jewish Chronicle
about him associating with holocaust deniers.
The campaign ran from there.
If we have any doubts about
the question of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party we only have to look at the
people who are most concerned about it.
The Daily Mail, the Sun, The Telegraph, The Times. The very papers that
employ people like Katie Hopkins, who believes that refugees are cockroaches.
They are the people who are most concerned about anti-Semitism in the Labour
Party. So we should be quite clear, the anti-Semitism witchhunt has nothing at
all to do with anti-Semitism. And if it’s not to do with anti-Semitism, what is
We were told throughout the
2 years I was suspended that it wasn’t about Israel. It really was about hatred of Jews. We were
also told that ‘no, we don’t think that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite’. It’s just everybody who’s around him.
Well starting about March
this year, before the local elections, they changed their tune. It was Jeremy
himself who was anti-Semitic. And they started digging up all his old speeches
and they started reading into them things with no reasonable person could possibly find.
Anti-Semitism is quite
simply really. If you go and look in the Oxford English Dictionary it tells you
what it is in 6 words. An anti-Semite is someone who is hostile to or
prejudiced against Jews. It’s not a
great formula really. If you ask the man
or woman on the Clapham Omnibus, which is the legal test of the reasonable
person, what anti-Semitism is and they will tell you. It’s someone who doesn’t like Jews. You don’t
need an International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of over 500
words to tell you what anti-Semitism is.
Unless, unless you are
trying to conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and opposition to the
Israeli state. If that’s what you want to do then you probably do need 500
words to do it and that of course is what the IHRA is about. They tell you it’s
been internationally approved. In fact it has been adopted by 9 countries. But
who are the 31countries who form part of the IHRA? There’s Hungary, Poland, the
Czech Republic, Slovakia, Rumania – all countries with anti-Semitic or
Viktor Orban, who’s just
visited Israel. He’s an honoured guest
of Benjamin Netanyahu. He visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum and
he was picketed by Holocaust survivors. You won’t read that in the British
press of course. Orban had a general election earlier this year. His main
target was George Soros, a survivor of the Hungarian Holocaust. A figure who is
demonised by the American Right. He ran a nakedly anti-Semitic campaign but
Israel has no objection to that.
If you look at the far-Right
throughout Europe, including in Britain, they are in favour of Zionism, they
support Israel. Whether it is the EDL or Tommy Robinson, who’s a great fan of
them or Marine Le Pen, virtually every fascist group in Europe supports Israel
and Zionism. Not only in Europe but of course in America. The neo-Nazi founder
of the American Right, Richard Spencer, describes himself as a White Zionist. That is of course understandable. What is
there not to like about Israel if you are on the far-Right?
At this moment Netanyahu,
with the support of the Israeli Labour Party, is trying to deport 40,000
African refugees. Why? Because they’re
not white and they’re not Jewish. If
that’s not racism I really don’t know what racism means. And yet the Jewish Labour Movement, the representatives
of the Israeli Labour Party inside the British Labour Party, supports their
deportation. There is no disagreement between the Israeli Labour Party and
Likud over this.
I have to say, and this is
not the policy of LAW, but it’s certainly my own personal opinion, that the
Jewish Labour Movement along with the Labour Friends of Israel, should have
nothing to do with the British Labour Party.
Yes they were affiliated in 1920. And the Labour Party had a pretty
rotten record of supporting the British Empire. It’s about time that we
jettisoned that legacy.
Because South Africa under
Apartheid and Israel go together. There is no fundamental difference which is
why when the Apartheid State was in existence its best friend was the Israeli
state. It was under the Israeli Labour
government, that John Vorster, the South Africa Prime Minister was invited to
Israel. And for those who don’t know, Vorster was interned during the war
because he was a supporter of the Nazis.
So the idea that opposition
to Israel or opposition to Zionism is somehow anti-Semitic is for the birds.
Because historically the greatest opposition to Zionism came from Jewish
people. We are the ‘wrong sort of
Only last week 29 Orthodox
Rabbis signed a statement supporting Jeremy Corbyn. You might be forgiven for
not having read about it in the British press.
For some reason the BBC didn’t carry the news. Because it is
inconvenient to their narrative to do so. So we should be absolutely clear
about it. This anti-Semitism witchhunt is about something else. We all know what it’s about.
It must have been a great
shock, not only to people in Israel but in Washington and probably MI5 when
someone who doesn’t support NATO, been anti-American, hates their foreign
policy was elected leader of the Labour Party. They immediately scrabbled
around for something with which to attack him.
Now one think you can attack
Jeremy for is his opposition to austerity. But that’s probably not going to be
very popular. That’s why they picked on
the idea of anti-Semitism. Most people don’t want to be considered anti-Semites
because they know the history of the Holocaust.
What happened to the Jews and their extermination. That is why anti-Semitism is being used to
attack the Left in the Labour Party. We have to reject that.
Anti-Semitism is a form of
racism. Those supporting the anti-Semitism witchhunt don’t have a particularly
good record. Like Chuka Ummuna for example. Chuka is very concerned about
anti-Semitism, believe you me. So is Frank Field. These are the people who
didn’t vote against the 2014 Immigration Act.
The Immigration Act which led to the Windrush scandal.
The government admits to 70
but there could be hundreds of Black
British people, who’ve been here for over a half a century, were deported. Yet
the Labour Party sat on its hands in Parliament with the exception of 8 MPs,
amongst whom were Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
So we should be quite clear
about the attack against Corbyn and the Labour Party. We have to stand up and
to have some courage to rebut the allegations. I’m sorry that Jeremy and John
and others have adopted the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism. It was a
fundamental mistake. They have made a rod for their own backs.
When John says that if you
don’t support a Jewish state that is racist, with the greatest respect, I
disagree. There are religious states and religious states. Britain is a
Christian state nominally. The Queen is the head of the Church of England. But
you know if I want to go and buy a house no one says to me ‘Sorry Tony you can’t, because you’re not Christian.’ But in Israel 93% of the land is owned or
controlled by the Jewish National Fund and Arabs cannot lease,
rent or buy that land.
That is what apartheid is.
Land ownership and separation. You don’t have to have, as in South Africa, a
Group Areas Act, the fundamental apparatus of discrimination is there. That is
why Israel is different. It is not a religious state. It is a state that bases
its citizenship rights on race and nationality.
If you are of the Jewish religion you are also a Jewish national in
Israel and ironically I have more rights in Israel than a Palestinian who lives
and their and has lived there for generations.
I will wind up to say
this. We have to continue this campaign.
The Campaign against the witchhunt is a campaign for the future of the Labour
Party and for socialism. So I do hope that people here will not simply attend
this meeting, important though it is, but you will join Labour Against the
Witchhunt because we have a vital task. The Right is on the offensive and we
have to throw them back. Because if we don’t we will be defeated. I’m sorry
that Open Selection didn’t carry the day today but there’s always the fight
tomorrow. It’s quite clear in my mind that we have to get rid of a large number
of Labour MPs who will not vote for Jeremy.
Chris Williamson MP
Tony, we may have lost the
Open Selection battle today but we will ultimately win the war because there is
overwhelming massive support for greater democracy in this party. As I keep saying, quoting Ed Miliband, Ed
said, and you may have heard me say this before, if we trusted the members more
when we were in government between 1997 and 2010 we wouldn’t have made as many
mistakes. We wouldn’t have gone to war in Iraq. We wouldn’t have introduced
tuition fees. We wouldn’t have cut benefits for some of the poorest people in
our country. So I think listening to the
members, putting the members centre stage is absolutely the right thing to do.
I apologise for being here
late but I was speaking over at the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and I
also had the privilege there of meeting Valerie Wise. You remember Valerie Wise
Tony because she was the author of the minority report on the NEC opposing the
expulsions back in the 1980’s. So it was a great privilege to meet Valerie, a
former GLC member alongside Ken Livingstone at the time.
Yes Neil Kinnock. What can I say?! I was at that conference actually in 1985,
despite my youthful appearance I am 62, and as I keep saying it’s because I am
a vegan. And vegans are going to inherit the earth! (Applause and laughter)
Remember you heard it here first. The vegans are going to inherit the Earth!
In 1985 I was at that
conference and I was absolutely appalled and I didn’t know some of the inside
story which Tony (Mulhearn) has just spoken about tonight.
But how despicable when you
are brought in to their confidential, you are told about tactics which are being used, we know what
they were doing anyway, they weren’t seeking to throw workers on the dole. I
mean that Council had done everything they could to support workers’ rights, to
invest in the local economy, to build, how many council houses was it?
Tony Mulhearn: 5,000 council houses.
Chris Williamson: 5,000 council houses.
You know what? The 5,000 council houses that were built in Liverpool during
that time were nearly as many council houses as were built in total through the
entire country from 1997 to 2010. That’s
a scandal. We built social housing so-called, housing association dwellings,
but in terms of council houses I think the number was of the order of 7,000 or
so. So that record stands on its own
Yes I was at that conference
and Kinnock was obsessed with Militant, expelling people from the Party on the
basis that this was going to make us electable.
The previous year he had refused to stand shoulder to shoulder with the
greatest industrial dispute we’ve seen in this country since the General Strike
in order to make Labour more respectable.
We couldn’t have a Labour
leader standing on the picket line, with miners! That would never do would it?
It might upset a few of the bankers, the industrialists. I think he did in January reluctantly stand
alongside a number of pickets but that was a seminal moment in this movement’s
The Tory government had
declared war on the brigade of guards of the labour movement and Neil Kinnock
abandoned them. And where did it get us? It got us an election result that was
nearly as bad as 1983 when we were decimated.
And what we need to do and what we are doing now is put forward a
hopeful socialist vision for our country.
That’s why people are rallying to
us. That’s why people were rallying, much to the chagrin of some people, to
what Labour in Liverpool were doing all those years ago.
And so while Kinnock was
expelling people, refusing to stand on the picket lines and losing elections he
was obviously missing a trick. And then Neil has the temerity to lecture us
about being electable.
How many people heard that
recording that was made? It was when I was taking a 2 year sabbatical from the
Houses of Parliament, when I lost my seat in 2015, because we didn’t have a
decent programme really to inspire people to vote for us but I heard that
recording when Neil said ‘dammit, this is our party’ as if it belonged to the
Absolutely not. The PLP is
less than 0.04% of the total membership of our party. Our movement, our party is
all of you and all of the other grassroots members outside of this conference.
Up and down this country. That’s the
labour movement. That’s the Labour Party. Not a bunch of privileged
parliamentarians sitting in Parliament.
And when they go on about oh
it’s a job and they want to make me redundant.
It’s ain’t a job mate. If you want a job go and work on a building site like
I did or work in the City or something.
Being an MP is a privilege.
You are there as a representative. A representative of this Party and the
people that elected you. And far too many people, I regret to say, forget that.
And they get obsessed with this Westminster bubble. And then they get embroiled
in all this nonsense about all these extremists coming in and joining the
Isn’t it terrible that we
are the biggest left-of-centre political party in Western Europe. Somehow that
is seen as being terrible. We’ve got into this absurd scenario where we are
expelling people and suspending people left, right and centre (audience uproar
– corrects himself) it’s left, left and left. That’s almost as bad as the
Jeremy Thorpe slip. I remember him actually. He was going to change the face of
British politics but never quite got round to it.
I absolutely think that
we’ve got to stand together in solidarity and call out this for what it
is. It’s just a cover and all the
speakers have made that point very eloquently. This is about bullying. In a way
we are living in the pages of George Orwell’s 1984. Good is bad, Black is White, we have a
Ministry of Truth and the rest of it. It’s McCarthyism and McCarthyism came to
an end when people called it out for what it was. A pile of bloody nonsense at the end of the
This is not to excuse in any
sense, shape or form any form of bigotry whether it is anti-Semitism,
Islamaphobia or any other form of bigotry or racism. Of course that is an evil, appalling and you
call it out wherever it genuinely exists.
Of course we should do that but lets remember some of us, despite my
youthful appearance, was around in the 1970’s like Jeremy, on the streets,
confronting the anti-Semites, the racists in the National Front in the
Anti-Nazi League, I don’ want to be ageist but I’m not going to take … only
about 11 stone … but we were there, Jeremy was there and being demonised in
this way is utterly disgusting and repugnant and what the …. he (Marc
Wadsworth was showing Nelson Mandela round this country when he gave us the
privilege of visiting the United Kingdom.
Marc worked with the family of Stephen Lawrence, the kid who was killed.
He was there supporting the Lawrence family and he has been demonised as a
Now I went along with Marc
to the hearing of the National Constitutional Committee, otherwise known as the
National Kangaroo Court. I was
threatened by certain individuals that I would be expelled from the party for
referring to it as a kangaroo court.
[22.39] But what else can you call it? Tony has been through it so he
knows what it’s like.
But in Marc’s case I was
there. I gave a witness statement and
spoke on his behalf. You know when Marc
rang me that night and said he’s going to a second day I said ‘what?’. I said what have they got to talk about? The only evidence that they have was that
video of Marc at the Chakrabarti press conference, people must have seen
it. Look what he said. He pointed out that an MP was liaising with a
Tory reporter on the Telegraph and passing information. Just making an observation about that and
then went on to talk about we’ve got to
do better, be serious about diversity in our party, look around this room I’m
about the only Black face in this room.
That was the kind of point he was generally making.
Bearing in mind that the
Chakrabarti Report was about anti-Semitism and
other forms of racism. So it was a
perfectly legitimate thing that Marc was pointing out there it seems to me. But when he got up and started speaking Kevin
Schofield, from Politics Home and a former Sun political editor shouted out
‘Anti-Semitism’ its an anti-Semitism
press conference. And at that
point all hell broke loose. All these
people shouting Marc down it was very difficult to hear what he said. But he
said nothing anti-Semitic.
But when they came to expel
him they didn’t expel him for anti-Semitism.
And I was reminded of it actually when Tony was going through some of
the charges that were read out to him. What they expelled him for was bringing
the party into disrepute.
Now what did he do? He asked
a question at a press conference. How
was that bringing the party into disrepute? I just do not accept that in any
way, shape or form. So I’ve continued to support Marc. Certain individuals have said that I
shouldn’t be doing so. But I think it’s so important that we do. Because if we don’t stand together, if we
don’t call out in justice, what are we ? I often say solidarity is really
important at all times. But it only really counts when it is difficult not when
it is easy.
I felt it important for me
to show solidarity with Marc because
he’s been dealt a terrible injustice. And the same goes for Jackie
Walker too. Whose also been dealt a terrible injustice. (applause)
(indecipherable) They have a
go at Jackie and the rest of it and I just think it’s completely unfair and
they say oh she’s a self publicist and all this and she’s doing this one woman
show. And my response is to go and see
it. It’s incredibly moving. Anyone here that has seen it will be able to bear
that out. I had a real lump in my throat listening to it because it’s about her
life story. She talks about being a victim of racism, having her windows put
through, very poor family, having to sleep with her mum because there wasn’t
enough room, the lads slept in one room with the dad and then her mum died when
she was only 7 years of age I think. And being taken into care and the Social
Services Report saying ‘Jackie has a
problem with authority’. I have a
problem with authority! (laughter) a lot of us have a problem with
authority. There’s nothing wrong with
that. It then goes on in terms of her activities with the Anti-Nazi League. Of
course the irony here is of a Black woman with a Jewish heritage married to a
Jew who they want to boot out for anti-Semitism!
For god’s sake we are in the
pages of 1984. It’s Orwellian. We’ve got
to call it out. We’ve got to call it out.
That’s not to say, just to repeat the point in case someone is
surreptitiously recording it here, it sometimes happens (!), I ain’t saying
anti-Semitism is acceptable in any way, sense , shape or form and we have to
challenge it. We have to challenge all
forms of bigotry and racism. That’s why the Labour Party or one of the reasons
why the Labour Party was established for god’s sake. We’ve got a proud heritage of standing up to
racism and bigotry.
Right back to Cable Street
where Labour Party activists, Jeremy’s mum, standing shoulder to shoulder with
the Jewish community against Oswald Moseley’s bloody fascists. And then into
the Anti Nazi League in the later generation. So we’ve got nothing to apologise
for. We may have a few wierdos on the fringes but what really gets me is that
we’ve seen people in the media, there is appalling on-line abuse, there is no
doubt about that, they are conflating on-line abuse with Labour Party
members. Saying Labour Party members are
responsible for that. Where’s the evidence for that? (27.27)
Of course if there is
evidence of that then clearly they have no place in the Labour Party. The truth
is that there isn’t very much evidence of that is there? We are a party getting
on for 600,000 now and with registered supporters well above that figure.
When you look at the stats,
anti-Semitism amongst Labour Party members is on decline with Jeremy Corbyn
became leader. It’s a cause for celebration but we should never rest until we
have driven out all forms of bigotry.
My fear is that while we are
focusing on trying to expel people like Marc Wadsworth, Tony, the next one is
Jackie Walker, Cyril Chilsom and others the elephant in the room is the
far-Right across Western Europe.
But where is the voice being
raised about that. All these people who are kicking off, allegedly about
racism, anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, in attacking Jeremy Corbyn of all
people who’s spent the summer making clear that Jeremy is not a racist. For
god’s sake that is just absurd isn’t it. At the same time as we saw 15,000
fascists on the street. I thought we’d never see the sight again.
I thought through those
years in the Anti Nazi League that we had defeated them. But as Tony Benn said
there are no final victories just as there are no final defeats. Each
generation has to fight the same battles again and again and again.
It’s up to us now to fight
that battle against the rise of the far-Right. The fascists and Tommy Robinson
and the rest of them. It’s not just Tommy Robinson. The Tory Party is going in
that direction with its links with Steve Bannon and the rest of it.
So that is the big elephant
in the room. So why are these attacks coming against us? Well other speakers have already made the
point. Because we want to transform our society. We want to create a common sense socialist
economy and society. An economy for the
many not the few. That’s not just a slogan. That will be our modus operandi. They absolutely do not
want that to happen.
Of course there is the
Israel dimension too. I often refer to Netanyahu’s apartheid regime. I’ve just
come back from New York during the international dimension of the democracy
road show where I spoke to the New York branch of Labour International. They
were unanimously in favour of mandatory reselection too.
While we were there we went
over to Ellis island and had a look at the museum there. One of the things that
really struck me and my partner in particular, she pointed it out to me, was
the story of the Native Americans, the Cherokees in that region. What we saw there, when they discovered gold
in those hills, that where they previously had a territory, were
inspected, traded with the settlers etc.
then suddenly that was put to one side. We saw the systematic destruction of
that community. Land was taken away.
In a way you know what is
happening to the Palestinians is more comparable with what happened to the
Native American. It is an absolute scandal. When you look back in history what
happened to the Native Americans? You like to think, I’ve thought it myself,
god that was appalling but surely it could never happen in the modern era. But
it is happening in the modern era. It’s happening right now in Palestine. And
we’ve got to call it out. We’ve got to be brave.
When we stand together we’re
strong, aren’t we. But if we do it individually they can pick us off. So that’s
what we’ve got to do in my opinion. We have to call that out. We have to
continue to make the case for common sense socialism. To transform our country.
To create an economy for the many not the few. To build the council houses that
we need. To invest in the public services.
To embrace the fourth industrial revolution. To make sure that we
benefit from it rather than just the few at the top.
And we can actually get to the
place where we were told, in the 1960’s do you remember we were told that we
were only going to be working for 10-15 hours a week? Automation by the 1990’s, that was what was
supposed to be happening. It never
happened but we could make it happen now through the fourth industrial
But it will take a common
sense socialist government to make it happen. And they are fighting tooth and
nail on a number of different fronts. Obviously we have the Israeli dimension
and people obviously don’t want Jeremy Corbyn in No. 10 because of that. But also because we are going to shake up
this nation, we are going to change the balance of power in this country
forever. That is the prize. And like that protest song from the 1950’s or
1960’s that inspired the civil rights campaigners in the US, it was keep your
eyes on the prize. And the prize is the transformation of our society.
Comrades we can do it by
standing together in solidarity. So it’s not about winning this election. This is about changing
the course of history. So we’re all history makers in here you know. We are not
going to just get in and carry on with a bit more neo-liberalism. We’re going
to shake it up. We are absolutely going to shake it up, turn it around. And there is support there for us.
You may have seen Giles
Brandreth going around looking for secret socialists in the safe Tory seat of
Guildford. Did anyone see that? He had a clipboard and he was going through the
policies. Do you think that we should scrap
tuition fees? Oh yes. Do you think that
we should bring rail back into public ownership? Oh yes, yes, that’s a very
good idea. He was going through others like housing and he said, well you’re a
secret socialist then mate. What do you mean? These are the promises of Jeremy
Corbyn. He shows a picture of Jeremy
Corbyn. The guy recoils in horror.
The point I’m making is that
there are really no unwinnable seats now because between 70 and 80% of the
public actually support what we are putting forward now. We could be more radical in some areas.
There’s work still to be done and John
has made that clear. At the Labour Against Austerity meeting that we will have
a more radical manifesto next time. I say radical but we are the moderates. We are the mainstream because 70-80% of the public
agree with us. So it ain’t that radical in reality. So that’s the prize
comrades. And they are trying to pick us off. They are trying to pick off the
people who are supportive of Jeremy and try to sap our strength and try to
undermine us. It’s this war of attrition. Of course they’ve got the media on
our side. What they haven’t got on their side is the numbers. We’ve got the numbers, we are many.
Let me finish with a poem. Quoting
Percy Shelley when the last verse of the Masque of Anarchy which was written in
the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre and there’s a brilliant film coming out
about that, in fact it’s being premiered somewhere around here this week I’ve
been told: Come along you can sing along
if you like!ld: Come along you can sing along if you like!