After Corbyn What Next for the Left – Should Socialists Stay In the Labour Party?
After Corbyn What Next for the Left – Should Socialists Stay In the Labour Party?
After Corbyn What Next for the Left – Should Socialists Stay In the Labour Party?
The Labour Left Alliance Seems Determined to Repeat Every Mistake of the British Left in a Flickering Replay of the Past 50 Years I have been ‘Suspended’ for Dissent
The victory of Keir Starmer represents a massive political defeat for the Left. Anyone who believes it is just a passing episode or that we can bed down and live with him is fooling themselves. Starmer is a class enemy as surely is Boris Johnson.
Starmer is no ‘unity’ candidate. He is the candidate of a hard Right out for blood. When they say ‘anti-Semitism’ what they mean is what Joe McCarthy meant when he said ‘communism’. ‘Anti-Semitism is the new Communism’. Except there is no one around to do what Joseph Welch, the army prosecutor did, when he asked McCarthy ‘Do you have you left no sense of decency?”
Starmer is the man who prosecuted Julian Assange. He is the man who prosecuted women for making false allegations when their assailants were acquitted of rape, thus putting them through a second trauma. He is the man who protected Metropolitan Police officers who killed Ian Tomlinson. He is the man who was first to welcome my own expulsion. His membership of the shadowy Trilateral Commission, alongside war criminal Henry Kissinger and the late Jeffrey Epstein says all you need to know.
There will be a new and far more extensive witchhunt. According to Siobhan McDonagh anti-capitalism is anti-Semitic, presumably because being a Jew and a capitalist are synonymous! As the Zionist leaders stated 3 days ago:
Keir Starmer has already achieved in four days more than his predecessor in four years in addressing antisemitism within the Labour Party.
The clear and obvious question that poses itself is this:
Is there a place inside the Labour Party for socialists?
There is no easy answer to this. One of the most remarkable things about the Corbyn phenomenon is how little it is understood by the Marxist left. This was why it came as much of a shock to the Left as the Right when Corbyn nearly won the 2017 General Election. My blog was one of the very few to have predicted it.
The Corbyn Phenomenon represented a mass upsurge against both the legacy of New Labour and the effects of 5 years of austerity. Ed Miliband’s austerity-lite policies offered no alternative. Anyone who remembers the Edstone and the mugs with Immigration Controls on them knew that he was no socialist. Yet he was still too left for Blair who spoke of how a “traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result”.
Cameron won a small majority in the 2015 election due to the collapse in the Lib Dem vote, which allowed the Tories to gain a small majority with just 36.9% of the vote. This produced a popular reaction and wave of disillusionment which led to Corbyn’s election.
New Labour had become convinced that the way to permanently defeat the left was to open the leadership vote to every single member rather than having the trade union barons fix things
Their solution was an American-style primary system whereby anyone, on payment of a fee, could vote. Blair and his acolytes had always wanted Labour to become another party of capitalism like the American Democrats. Their assumption was that the Left would always be unpopular.
But the best laid plans of men and mice can go awry. Corbyn needed to gain 15% of the parliamentary Party, about 35 nominations. Many MPs, including the self-style ‘moron’ Margaret Backett, ‘lent’ him their nomination in order that it could be shown that it was a genuine contest rather than a beauty contest between Corbyn and his opponents who all represented a continuation of New Labour.
My own son, then aged 13 and thousands of others bombarded Labour MPs on social media with the demand that they lend Corbyn their nomination. The rest is history. From 200-1 outsider Corbyn won by 60%.
When it became clear that Corbyn would win the flack began. At first there was a demand to stop the contest! We were told there were thousands of Trotskyist infiltrators. British Trotskyism would have difficulty filling a modest sized church hall. The whole point of having registered supporters was in order to allow non-Labour Party members to vote. It seems that they were the wrong kind!
Then began the attacks. John Mann accused Corbyn of having ignored child abuse in Islington care homes as MP. In fact the Leader of the Council at the time was Margaret Hodge who was a party to a deliberate cover up by the Council.
The ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign began with an article in August 2015 in the Daily Mail accusing Corbyn of having consorted with a holocaust denier, Paul Eisen. Soon after the now bankrupt Jewish Chronicle took over with a series of questions to Corbyn. Of course it didn’t want answers.
We had the spectacle of the right-wing press and their Labour collaborators suddenly becoming interested in the fight against anti-Semitism. Of course all other forms of racism were kosher. The Sun and Mail even hired Katie Hopkins (‘refugees are cockroaches’).
Last February Chris Williamson MP was suspended after the vilest distortion of what he had said:
“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
Yet what did the ‘i’ and other papers do? They omitted any reference to the ‘scourge’ of anti-Semitism. In order to prove ‘anti-Semitism’ the mass media and the Zionists had to twist and distort everthing we said.
It was at this point, the very last stop on the journey, that Jeremy Corbyn should have spoken up and declared, unequivocally, that Chris was no anti-Semite. And when a Labour Party Panel ruled that he should be reinstated Tom Watson raised a petition of right-wing Lords and MPs demanding resuspension, which was later ruled unlawful by the High Court.
This was literally last chance saloon yet Corbyn remained silent, throwing Williamson under the bus. In so doing he ensured that he would never become Prime Minister. Arguably the point of no return had occurred at the 2018 Labour Party conference when he was responsible for the defeat of Open Selection.
Around July last year, the Labour Left Alliance was launched by Labour Against the Witchhunt, the LRC and Red Labour with a statement which has now been signed by over 2,000 supporters. The conference took place in the context of a campaign by the Zionists to ban any all opposition. ‘Israeli democracy’ had come to Britain.
In Brighton in the preceding summer the Zionists had made fevered attempts to stop Chris Williamson speaking. 3 venues were harassed or abused before we held a large open air meeting in Regency Square. You will note that the local Argus report pictures the dozen Zionists as being larger than over 150 people! For a full report see here.
Our reaction in Brighton LLA was to organise a Free Speech Centre in Brighton’s Rialto to ensure that the Zionists could not ban us
For 2 days we put on a variety of events. There was Jackie Walker’s The Witchhunt, Chris Williamson, the LRC and even a book launch for Pluto’sBad News for Labour which Waterstones cancelled at the last minute after receiving a volley of abuse and threats from the very people that Keir Starmer has got into bed with. As one of the 5 distinguished academics, Birkbeck’s Justin Schlosberg said this was book burning. As Heinrich Heine predicted, they first burn books and then they burn people.
In the wake of this successful defiance of the Zionists the LLA held a meeting on the final day of the conference. I spoke at what was clearly a polarised meeting. It was clear that there were differences between LAW and the LRC as to where the LLA were going. The LRC and Red Labour later pulled out. I made two points.
Firstly the LLA had very little time to get organised. It was clear an election was round the corner. Secondly knowing that Labour stood little chance of victory, the LLA must become an organisational bridge between the Left inside and outside the Labour Party.
At the beginning of February 2020 I became the Brighton and Hove delegate to the LLA’s Organisation Committee nationally. My first proposal was that Chris Williamson MP should be invited to speak to the Conference on 22nd February. I made the proposal twice. When I first raised it on 9th February Lee Rock, the National Organiser opposed it. No one else commented and there was just 1 ‘like’. I raised it again on 12th February. No one either supported or opposed it. A decision was taken not to invite Chris as ‘punishment’ for his standing at the election as a Socialist Independent. I still don’t know how or when this was decided.
I went to the AGM in Sheffield on February 22nd. About 130 supporters attended, however it was extremely badly organised. On the surface it seemed fine but the decisions it took and the way debate was structured were disastrous. The morning was devoted to motions and general discussion. We had the absurdity of a pro-Brexit resolution being passed with one speaker for and one against. This is not serious politics. Instead of prioritising 2-3 issues and debating them fully we had a whole series of policies approved on the nod.
The afternoon was devoted to the Constitution. This was even worse. I moved an amendment on behalf of BH arguing that the LLA
‘needs to be a bridge between socialists inside and outside the Labour Party. It is essential that the LLA abandons the sectarian traditions of the Left which has contributed to the ongoing weakness of the socialist left.
The Conference Arrangements Committee instead of giving delegates a clear choice between different proposals decided instead to salami slice every proposal and stage the debate in sections. It meant no one had any idea of what the final constitution looked like, which was a dog’s dinner. For example whilst the Constitution included policies that should be debated separately, it also said nothing about the powers of the different bodies (such as the power to open a bank account or spend money) and did not specify who was sovereign.
The Constitution does not have any provision for disciplinary action (somewhat important in view of my suspension!). And for an organisation which is claiming to be socialist it has no mention of socialism (or even capitalism) anywhere!
On 21st March I submitted a discussion paper to the Organisation Committee [OG]. It began:
The history of the Left in Britain is a history of failure. Our past is littered with failed organisations and the husks of what were once considered bright ideas…
There needs to be a debate on the left as a whole as to our relationship to the Labour Party, what is possible for socialists within it and how best we build the Left.
I warned at the end that ‘To fail to reconsider sacred nostrums is the characteristic of a sect and sects have a habit of dying off.’
Being naive I had hoped to stir up some discussion of where the LLA was going. Instead it went down like a lead balloon. Lee Rock, the National Organiser, responded alleging various mistakes and calling me dishonest no less than 4 times. I responded to Lee’s paper two days later and Lee this time replied with an 11 page paper.
For those who are interested I have supplied the links. I followed this up, not with another response to Lee but a series of 9 proposals as Lee had repeatedly asked me to do. I proposed that
1. The LLA becomes a membership organisation as well as a federal organisation of affiliated branches….
2. That the LLA has as its perspective both organising the socialist left inside the Labour Party and acting as a bridging organisation to those members who have resigned or been expelled.
Despite urging me to make concrete proposals my paper seemed to produce a personal crisis in Lee. He exploded, resigning and sending abusive messages. It was as if I was threatening his whole personality.
The Steering Committee which met on April 1stdecided, with no warning, to suspend me as a way of persuading Lee to retract his resignation, which he appears to have done (the membership not being informed of these things I can’t be certain). I responded alleging that Lee’s ‘resignation’ had been contrived with Tina, the Secretary. In order to forestall proper discussion of my proposals they had engage in a ‘dead cat strategy’ with Lee’s resignation.
Instead of deciding to discuss my proposals the SC referred them to the next conference which is in 6+ months time, if ever.
The obvious point to make is we can’t wait. Thousands of people are resigning from the Labour Party now. Any organisation worth its salt would be dealing with the problem NOW not in the distant future. If the LLA refuses to deal with what is the most serious issue facing us now then it is irrelevant.
I responded to the SC on 4th April but the main points were that:
1. The SC had no power to suspended anyone, least of all a member of the body that appointed it (OG). That is such an obvious point that it really needs no explanation.
2. The OG itself, being a network or federation, cannot suspend anyone. All they can do is ask the group they represent to send someone else.
3. Since there is no membership, everyone is a supporter by virtue of signing the original statement, how can anyone be suspended or expelled anyway?
The nominal Chair, Phil Pope has responded by denying that suspension is a disciplinary action! Despite which I have been removed from not only the OG Facebook and WhatsApp groups but ALSO the LLA’s own Organisation and Discussion Facebook Groups by Daniel Platts, even though admission to these is by virtue of signing the statement not membership of the OG.
In short the very constitution that these mini-dictators have been swearing loyalty to has been jettisoned at a moment’s notice!
It is clear that the LLA has nowhere to go and no strategy. While Starmer gets his act together do we just sit passively by whilst thousands of people exit the Labour Party or do we try to organise them? We seem to be saying, because of an ideological fetish, that if you aren’t in the Labour Party then you are irrelevant.
It is clear that the LLA has nowhere to go and no strategy for getting there. While Starmer gets his act together do we sit passively by whilst thousands of people exit the Labour Party or do we try to include them? We seem to be saying, because of an ideological fetish, that if you aren’t in the Labour Party then you are irrelevant and not wanted.
LACK OF A DEMOCRATIC CULTURE
What though is the underlying problem? How has it come about that submitting a discussion document ends up with my being suspended on trumped-up charges? Why is it that an organisation, whose founding statement states it ‘organises democratically and transparently’ and which ‘campaigns for a disciplinary process in the Labour Party which is wholly based on natural justice and due process’ suspends someone without them being either present or informed of what is happening and which simply disregards its own constitution? Is democracy only for the Labour Party?
In the internal correspondence following my submission of the document, I sent an email to Lee Rock of 23rd March in which I wrote that the way the Committee was operating was ‘the antithesis of a healthy democratic culture.’ Another member Peter B made the same point writing that the LLA ‘requires a culture of open discussion and debate, which as ever should be conducted in a comradely manner.’
On the socialist left there is a long history of a Command and Control Culture, going under the name of ‘democratic centralism’ which in practice is anything but democratic though it is certainly centralist.
One member of the OG, Peter F confessed to have being a full-time organiser for the Socialist Labour League/WRP, perhaps the most revolting organisation on the left, if it can even be called left. It was an organisation headed by one Gerry Healey, which engaged in systematic abuse of members, including rape and violence against members. Corin Redgrave, brother of Vanessa, infamously stated re Healey’s ‘accomplishments’ that “If this is the work of a rapist, let’s recruit more rapists.’
The SWP was also convulsed when the organisation tried to cover up allegations of rape and abuse by former Secretary Martin Smith. Although it was not on the scale of the WRP it was symptomatic of an underlying culture that had developed in the two largest so-called revolutionary organisations. A daughter of a friend, who worked at the SWP HQ, was summarily dismissed when she expressed her support for the women who had been raped. An article on the Socialist Unity website makes disturbing reading.
I am sure that Peter did not support Healey’s activities and probably was unaware of them. However he was a full-timer in an organisation which more resembled the mafia than a socialist organisation. It is no coincidence that Peter has been to the fore in opposing discussion and supporting summary justice.
Why do I raise this? Because what was common to both the WRP and SWP was a lack of any democratic culture or accountability. What the behaviour of the majority on the OG represents is a continuation of this tradition and a total disregard not only for its own (inadequate) constitution but for the most basic of democratic norms.