Can the left survive outside the Labour Party? Is it time to form a new socialist party?
Can the left survive outside the Labour Party? Is it time to form a new socialist party?
Can the left survive outside the Labour Party? Is it time to form a new socialist party?
Einstein remarked that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Is that also true of the Labour left?
The Left in the Labour Party is facing an existential crisis. Can it survive? Does it have a future in a party where democracy has been abolished? Where guilt-by-association is the modus operandi and where McCarthyism is the rule how can it operate other than by subterfuge?
The launch meeting of LAW – from right to left – Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover, Jackie Walker and Ken Loach
Tomorrow Labour Against the Witchhunt, which was proscribed by Starmer’s minions on 10 July, will debate these and other questions at an All Members Meeting.
If you are a member you are welcome to participate and if you are not then you can still join and participate.
I have submitted a strategy paper which raises these and other questions. It is clear that Starmer is intent on purging the left from the Labour Party. Unfortunately the left is still divided into those who are considering doing something and those who believe, like Dickens’ McCawber, that ‘something will come up’. The largest organisation Momentum, which can barely be called on the left, has simply refused to fight the witchhunt. It believes that by keeping its head down it can avoid being targeted.
The proscription of LAW, Labour-in-Exile-Network, Socialist Appeal and Chris Williamson’s Resist is the beginning not the end. Almost certainly next on the list is the Labour Representation Committee, whose President is John McDonnell. Already many members of its Executive, such as Pete Firmin and Graham Bash, have been expelled or given notice of auto exclusion.
Jennie Formby on Twitter today forgets that she began the ball rolling and Starmer picked it up from her
But organisations such as the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy have done their best not to fight the witchhunt, despite a number of their own members having been targeted. CLPD is particularly invidious in this respect. When Pete Willsman, its veteran representative on the NEC was suspended, the CLPD completely disowned him even though he was setup by a far-Right Israeli racist. And this happened under Corbyn and Formby not Starmer.
CLPD has effectively been dead for many years. Its heyday was in the early 1980s with the Benn for Deputy Campaign and the campaign to elect the Labour leader (prior to 1981 the leader had been elected by the Parliamentary Labour Party).
LAW fringe meeting at Liverpool Labour Conference 2018 with Chris Williamson speaking and the late Militant Councillor Terry Mulhearn
Labour Left 4 Socialism
A new organisation, Labour Left for Socialism (formerly Don’t Leave Organise) made up a number of groups, including the Bakers Union (whose President Ian Hodson is on the brink of expulsion) and the Fire Brigades Union, whose President Matt Wrack is Chair of the LRC and also a candidate for expulsion, issued a statement ‘Labour Left Rallies To Reclaim Party As Democratic Force For Socialist Transformation’.
Unfortunately this is not true. Sectarians around the CLPD and Socialist Action, the undercover group that does not declare its presence, insisted on inserting a weasel worded clause which reads:
We stand firmly against proscriptions, and stand in solidarity with every grouping that is proscribed solely for holding socialist views.
In other words it was only preparedto support Socialist Appeal, which was that part of Militant years ago which stayed inside the Labour Party. It doesn’t therefore support LAW or LIEN which were proscribed for opposing the ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt. It is for that reason that LAW, although signing up to the statement, found its name left off the initial signatories.
Momentum which was part of the DLO has since walked out. Presumably the idea of fighting anything that Starmer does is too much for those who have inherited the mantle of Lansman. It was hoped that the victory of Forward Momentum over Lansman’s Momentum Renewal meant that Momentum might revert to a more activist stance but this has not proven to be the case. If anything things have gotten worse.
As it is Momentum is haemorrhaging members and an organisation which once boasted over 40,000 members is now believed to have less than 15,000 paying members, only a fraction of whom are now active. SE National Coordinating Group member Phil Clarke recently called a Brighton & Hove Momentum Zoom meeting. There was an attendance of 33, one of whom was me! In the days when we had physical meetings we would regularly get 60-70 and sometimes over a hundred attending. Zoom meetings tend to attract more not less people and at one time Brighton had some 1,500 supporters so if Brighton is anything to go by the organisation is in serious decline.
Corbyn’s failure to confront the Fake Anti-Semitism Campaign
If Jeremy Corbyn and those around him had understood that the fake anti-Semitism was about as genuine as a 9 bob note then Labour might be in government now. Instead Corbyn and McDonnell spent their time fighting the left and appeasing the Right. This culminated in the decision to oppose Open Selection, the only means of removing the scab Right in the PLP.
It was or should have been obvious that anti-Semitism was being weaponised. Even before Corbyn was elected, in August 2015, the Daily Mail ran a story about Corbyn being associated with a holocaust denier, Paul Eisen. That story disappeared but other fake stories came and went, always without any discernible victims. Indeed one of the most remarkable things about the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations is that there never were any Jewish victims.
Graham Bash – Jewish member over 50 years in the Labour Party – on the brink of expulsion – this is what Starmer’s ‘antisemitism’ campaign has led to
At least not unless you consider those 2 Zionist harridans – Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth. Not forgetting of course Ella Rose, the Israeli Embassy employee who became Director of the Jewish Labour Movement and a potential Oscar winner when she starred in Panorama’s Is Labour Anti-Semitic?
Why anti-Semitism? Because it gave a certain moral righteousness to the Labour Right that they otherwise would have lacked if they had attacked Corbyn for opposing austerity. To some extent they ran with ‘terrorism’ but ‘anti-Semitism’ made the racists of the Labour Right feel good. After all who doesn’t want to oppose anti-Semitism?
July 10th Picket of Labour NEC which proscribed 4 organisations
If Corbyn and his advisers had had their wits about them they would have sussed out the Board of Deputies immediately.
In its 250 year history the Board has never opposed anti-Semitism. It has always urged caution. When Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists began organising in the Jewish East End of London in the 1930s the Board urged that Jews turn the other cheek.
The only ‘anti-racist’ demonstration that the Board has ever organised was in March 2018 and that was against Jeremy Corbyn! And who attended it? Those well known anti-racists Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party and Norman Tebbit, famous for his cricket test for Indians and Pakistanis.
The fact is that Zionism has never opposed anti-Semitism for the simple reason that they and the antisemites both agree that Jews do not belong in the countries they are living. As the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl observed in his Diaries (pp. 83/4), ‘The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies,”
When the fascists attempted to march through the East End of London in October 1936 the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Chronicle told them to stay indoors!
When Moseley decided, in October 1936 to march through the East End he was opposed by thousands of Jewish and non Jewish workers. Estimates range from 100,000 upwards. They were organised by the Communist Party, the Independent Labour Party and the Jewish Peoples Council. The Board of Deputies (& the Labour Party) were vehemently opposed. The Board told Jews to stay indoors and keep their heads down. As Harriet Sherwood observed:
The Jewish Board of Deputies and the Labour party were against confrontation. “Jews are urgently warned to keep away from the route of the Blackshirt march and from their meetings,” said the Jewish Chronicle. “Jews who, however innocently, become involved in any possible disorders will be actively helping antisemitism and Jew-baiting. Unless you want to help the Jew-baiters, keep away.”
Of course a party of nearly 600K members would have a few anti-Semites in it. It had a hell of a lot more Islamaphobes in it too but no one seemed to be bothered about that. It also had, statistically some paedophiles in it but no one suggested it had a paedophile problem.
There was a time that the Labour Party had an antisemitism problem. It was a problem of the Labour Right. Herbert Morrison, Labour Home Secretary during the war and grandfather of Peter Mandelson, was both a fervent Zionist and an anti-Semite. He also did his best to keep Jewish refugees from the Nazis out of Britain.
In October 1942 Morrison received a delegation of eminent churchmen and public figures such as Eleanor Rathbone and Lord Astor, asking him for visas for 2,000 Jewish children and the elderly in Vichy France. Morrison refused. Apparently anti-Semitism ‘was just under the pavement.’ A month later the Nazis overran Vichy France and these Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Morrison was said to doubt that there was a holocaust.[i]
On 31 December 1942 Morrison made it clear that although the Home Office might take a limited number of refugees ‘he could not, however, agree that the door should be opened to the entry of uncategorised Jews.’ [ii] Morrison believed that if the Jews were allowed to remain in Britain after the war ‘they might be an explosive element in the country, especially if the economic situation deteriorated.’[iii] In other words Morrisson’s real fear was of communist Jews.
Yet Corbyn took the accusations of anti-Semitism personally instead of seeing them for what they were, part of a deliberate state destabilisation of the Labour Party. A radical, anti-imperialist pro-Palestinian leader of the Labour Party set off alarm bells not just in MI5 but in Tel Aviv and the CIA. The ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was the answer.
‘Anti-Semitism’ today is the false anti-racism of the Right. Donald Trump attacked the Squad, the group of 4 radical Black Congresswomen, for ‘anti-Semitism’ whilst at the same time telling them to ‘go home’ .
Yet instead of rebutting these accusations and seeing them as coming from the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement, eager to defend Israel, whose ‘sister’ party the Israeli Labor Party is now in coalition with the far-Right in Israel, Corbyn took them as genuine.
Corbyn, who had 30 years experience of pro-Palestine politics should have been aware of the fact that all Palestine solidarity activists are routinely accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ including Jewish anti-Zionists. I doubt there is a single Palestine solidarity activist in Britain who hasn’t been accused of anti-Semitism. Yet Corbyn and McDonnell were oblivious to this.
Corbyn believed that he could appease the apartheid animal that is Zionism. There was only one way to disarm the ‘anti-Semitism’ attacks and that was by confronting it. It is to his eternal discredit that Corbyn took the path of least resistance, betraying those of use who were his allies. In the Labour Leaked Report he and his office are quoted on page 306 and 333 thus:
Well we were all expelled but was trust rebuilt? Of course not. The Zionists simply demanded more victims and Corbyn and Formby supplied them. Formby was very proud of how many socialists she expelled. She and Corbyn were too stupid to understand that the more people you expel the more credence you give to the ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations. In essence they were running on a treadmill. The faster they ran the faster it revolved.
Corbyn apologised and apologised. Did it make him stronger or weaker? Well the answer is obvious. Just as I predicted the near victory in 2017 I also predicted the debacle of 2019.
Corbyn’s strongest supporter in Parliament, Chris Williamson was targeted by the Zionists and instead of supporting him Corbyn abandoned him. Ken Livingstone was abandoned for telling the truth that during the Nazi period the Zionists collaborated with and worked with the Nazis, especially in the 1933-39 period. This is simply a matter of historical fact. The Zionists were the right-wing nationalists of the Jewish community and they agree with the Nazis that Jews did not belong in Germany or anywhere outside Palestine.
Seamus Milne & James Schneider
If Corbyn can be forgiven for not being clued up, this is not true of either of his closest advisors, ex-public school boys Seamus Milne and James Schneider. Milne in particular must have been aware of what was happening yet he stayed silent. The suspicion must be that this scion of the ruling class was not all he seemed.
Today there is no pretence that people are being expelled for ‘anti-Semitism’. But when Starmer was first elected he promised to ‘root out’ anti-Semitism. His first action was to declare, in an interview with The Times of Israel that he was a Zionist (i.e. racist) ‘without qualification’.
When I was the first Jewish person to be expelled Starmer took to Twitter to welcome my expulsion. That was the first time that I took notice of this apology for a personality. However I was expelled under Corbyn not Starmer.
Unfortunately Corbyn and Jennie Formby welcomed Starmer to their bosom despite him having been part of the chicken coup. Because Starmer used ‘anti-Semitism’ as his pretext much of the stupid Left (Momentum and CLPD) were fooled into believing everything was fine. Andrew Scattergood, co-chair of Momentum, even came out with a statement that
“the suspension of [Jeremy Corbyn] risks politicising and undermining Labour’s response to anti-semitism.”
How more stupid can you get? The whole point of the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was to get rid of Corbyn in the first place. With a left like this it’s no wonder that Starmer has had such an easy ride.
It probably still hasn’t dawned on Scatterbrain that Jews in the Labour Party are now 5 times as likely to be expelled as non-Jews. This is the ‘fight against anti-Semitism’ yet Momentum stays silent.
Where to now
However we are where we are. The question is what next? The reformist left in the Labour Party, CLPD and Momentum, will be protesting their loyalty even whilst Starmer kicks them out.
However most Labour members don’t and never have accepted the fake anti-Semitism narrative. Some 120,000 at least have left the Labour Party and it is likely that another 100K or more will do so with the expulsion of Ken Loach.
It is also likely that not only will Starmer move to proscribe the LRC and CLPD and possibly even Momentum but that he will move against at least that part of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs who have at least given some indication of standing up to Starmer.
Although it is clear that many of the SCG are running for cover, 19 of them have signed a statement opposing the expulsion of Ken Loach. Which means that nearly half of them haven’t put their names to it. I emailed my own MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle to ask why he hadn’t signed but I received no response. Lloyd has been so busy retreating from previously held positions that he hasn’t had time to answer!
But if much of what passes for the Labour Left is pathetic and cowardly then much of the socialist or far left is suffering from myopia.
At the LAW AMM tomorrow the Communist Party of Great Britain/ Labour Party Marxists will put its own strategy paper to the meeting. Their argument is for fighting in the Labour Party because it is supported by the trade unions. And essentially that is the limit of their strategy. It is more a dogma and article of faith than a rational argument. There is absolutely no reason to believe that it is any longer possible to fight the witchhunt in the Labour Party. The present witchhunt is the worst since 1945 and quite possibly ever.
CLPD refused to defend their own representative on the NEC
Starmer’s distinguishing mark has been as a liar. He has all the charisma of a wet fish on a windy day. He stood as a unity candidate with a radical set of 10 pledges. It is hard to believe that his first pledge, Economic Justice, contained the promise that he would
‘Increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations. No stepping back from our core principles.
He ended up opposing the Tory increase in corporation tax! A position that New Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson endorsed. The same Alan Johnson who gave birth to the term ‘hostile environment’. Given that Starmer relied on a few rich donors to fund his campaign, including the Zionist owner of Qwik-Fit, Sir Trevor Chinn, it is amazing that many Momentum supporters like Paul Mason and Lansman poodle Laura Parker backed him.
Yet despite this the opposition to Starmer’s political move to the Right has been almost inaudible.
We cannot just focus on those remaining in the Labour Party
It is true that socialists inside the Labour Party cannot just be abandoned and nor is a strategy that encourages them to leave a useful one.
However thousands have left and it is clear that Starmer intends to continue the purge, destroying Labour Party democracy in the process. It is equally clear that Corbyn, having failed to regain the Labour whip by rowing back on what he said, is determined not to lead the fight against Starmer.
It is crystal clear that that the fight against the witchhunt will fail, not least because the trade unions are giving it their tacit support and there is no rule that Labour’s bureaucrats are not prepared to break. What then?
My own view is that we should be thinking of setting up a Socialist Movement in parallel to the Labour Party and as the precursor to an alternative party. If members of the SCG are expelled, as seems likely, then such a party could have real weight, especially if Corbyn were to join. Given that it is highly unlikely he will be allowed to stand as a Labour member at the next election it is to be hoped that for once he will take decisive action.
But regardless there is no doubt that the traditional allegiance of the working class to Labour is dissipating. The Red Wall effect may not simply confined to the North. Having lost the Scottish working class it is quite possible that Labour will also start to lose other sections, starting with the Muslim vote.
Unfortunately with the disappearance of traditional class consciousness, with the atomisation of the working class, old allegiances are also dying.
The question is whether the socialist left in the Labour Party can be bold enough to take a step outside the comfort of resolutionary socialism. There is no natural law that says that the Labour Party will continue to have the allegiance of the working class.
And that will effect our attitude to the trade unions. If I was in the Bakers Union, which is considering disaffiliation from the Labour Party I would support such a motion. Likewise in the FBU. For too long the Labour Party has taken the unions and the working class for granted. Now that Starmer wants to make Labour a safe capitalist alternative to the Tories there are serious questions that need to be asked about the future of the socialist left in Britain. And they may not involve automatic support for Labour.
For some like the CPGB there will never be a retreat from comfortable dogma and shibboleth. But the same does not need to be the case for all socialists facing the dilemma of what to do next.