Why Labour Against the Witchhunt & Labour-in-Exile-Network Should Merge
With the Collapse of the Corbyn Project there is a clear choice between Building a Socialist Movement or Retreating into the Politics of Sectarianism
Starmer and Evans are conducting a scorched earth policy inside the Labour Party. They are determined to complete what Blair began, making the Labour Party safe for capitalism. That is why, on July 20th Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour-in-Exile-Network were proscribed. It is on that basis that Ken Loach, Jo Bird and many others have been expelled.
Any socialist of note, indeed anyone who sticks their head above the parapet, is likely to be expelled. But whereas the Labour Party is now a ‘hostile environment’ to socialists, racists like Trevor Philips (‘Muslims are a nation within a nation’) and Luke Stanger (‘travellers are a nasty blight on society’) are quietly readmitted to the Labour Party. Anti-racists and socialists are expelled on the pretext that they ‘undermine the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against racism’ even though Labour under Starmer has done nothing about racism.
Recent expulsions include Graham Bash, Editor of Labour Briefing with 53 years of membership, and Cllr. Jo Bird, both of whom are Jewish. Pamela Fitzpatrick, a much respected Councillor in Harrow and a member of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy has also been expelled. Pamela made a number of complaints about people like Stanger abusing and harassing her and the Labour Party’s response has been to expel the victim and readmit the abusers.
Very few politicians tell the unvarnished truth but never can there be two leaders of the two main parties, Starmer and Johnson, who suffer from truthophobia. Both of them, quite literally, have an allergic reaction to telling the truth.
As Skwawkbox noted ‘Just days after Keir Starmer told a Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) gathering that his would be a party for all Jews’, Jo Bird, a Jewish councillor in Wirral was expelled. Indeed if you are Jewish in the Labour Party you are 5 times more likely to be expelled for ‘anti-Semitism’ than if you are non-Jewish! This is the parallel universe of the Labour Right. Anti-racist Jews aren’t Jews.
The blame for this state of affairs can be laid at the feet of Jeremy Corbyn and Lansman’s Momentum. It was they who accepted the false ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative of the right-wing, that Labour was ‘overrun by anti-Semitism’. It was they who supported the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism. It was Corbyn and Lansman who supported the expulsion of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson and myself.
We are now seeing exactly what the Right meant by ‘anti-Semitism’ – a defence of the nakedly racist Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely and the expulsion of Jewish anti-racists from the Labour Party.
Hotovely was the person who, as Chair of the Knesset’s Womens Committee, invited the overtly fascist Lehava group to give testimony. Lehava, like the Jewish Nazis they are, oppose Jews and Arabs having personal/sexual relationships and they go hunting for Arabs in ‘Jewish areas’ in order to beat them up. This is the vile creature that Starmer and Angela Rayner defended.
Starmer was elected on the basis of 10 Pledges, which were based on the Corbyn Manifesto. Since his election he has abandoned every single pledge. Pledge number 1 was to reverse the Tory cuts to Corporation Tax. When the Tories did increase it Starmer opposed it!
Jo Bird spoke for many when she said that
‘I’m delighted the Labour Party has expelled me today. I’m free from fear about speaking and meeting with other people…. This racist Labour Party is dying as a vehicle for social justice.’
Ken Loach said of his expulsion that ‘it’s like leaving an abusive relationship’.
As thousands continue to stream out of the Labour Party and hundreds, if not thousands, fall foul of the witchhunt, a responsibility rests upon 2 of the 4 proscribed groups, Labour-in-Exile-Network and Labour Against the Witchhunt to organise, both those who are still inside the Labour Party and those who are now outside the party into a coherent socialist movement as opposed to a separate party.
That is why the two All Members Meetings (All Members Meeting) this Friday and Saturday of LIEN and LAW are so important and I urge people to attend. At these meetings motions will be proposed that the 2 organisations should merge. If you are not already a member of one or both groups then you should join now. You can join LIEN here and LAW here.
LIEN’s Steering Committee has voted in favour of merger or consolidation of both organisations, since LIEN was in many ways an outgrowth of LAW. At one time 3 members of the LAW SC were also on LIEN’s SC . However LAW’s Steering Committee, under the influence of Labour Party Marxists, has come out against a merger with only myself, out of 6 members, in favour of merging with LIEN.
At the LAW AMM on July 24 a motion was passed to ‘explore the merging of Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour In Exile Network’. Moved by Tina Werkmann (who has since changed her mind) the motion read:
This meeting believes that:
1. Unity is strength. While there are obvious political differences in the history of both groups, the composition of both memberships and some campaigning priorities, we believe that both groups have enough in common politically to justify a possible merger.
2. Such a merger would send out a strong signal to many of those who are feeling disheartened and politically disoriented by the current trajectory of the Labour Party.
3. It might encourage more people and groups to join our merged organisation.
4. This meeting therefore resolves to start exploring a merger process between both organisations…
At a joint LLA, LAW and LIEN members and supporters meeting on October 14 a motion moved by Tina Werkmann stated:
Unity is strength. While there are obvious political differences in the history of the three groups, the composition of their memberships and some campaigning priorities, we believe that they have enough in common politically to start bringing their forces closer together by setting up joint campaigns, joint educational events and joint meetings of the respective leaderships.
Amendment number 8 moved by me stating that
A merger of LAW and LIEN in the light of the recent proscriptions and attacks on the left in the Labour Party would be extremely welcome
was passed by 43-25. Amendment 6 by Diana Isserlis calling explicitly for a new socialist movement passed by 44-31.
Amendment 4 moved by Roger Silverman calling for
the establishment of a common transitional movement uniting socialist activists both within and outside the Labour Party
was passed by 61-15.
Amendment 3 moved by Diana Isserlis calling for a new organisation to
co-operate with forces inside and outside the Labour Party, pursue campaigns linked with the wider socialist movement, build a socialist movement including those inside and outside the Labour Party
was passed by 45-26 and Amendment 2 from me calling for the new combined organisation ‘to organise shadow CLPs to include ex-members and current members of the Labour Party’ was passed by 54-11. By way of contrast a wrecking amendment from LPM, deleting half of the motion was heavily defeated by 58-12.
The amended motion was passed by 63-11. In other words except for the hard core supporters of LPM just about everybody else agreed with the strategy of merger.
The LPM, which is the Communist Party of Great Britain, which produces the Weekly Worker. It is a small group of around 30-40 members which has stayed approximately the same size since it was formed from The Leninist over 30 years ago.
Their strategy, if it can be called that, is to form a mass revolutionary Marxist party which will, with the support of the unions, force the Labour Party into becoming a ‘united front of a special kind’. In the meantime LPM simply writes off the hundreds of thousands of people who joined the Labour Party after the victory of Jeremy Corbyn and the millions who voted for the 2017 manifesto as having the ‘wrong’ politics. There is a complete failure to understand what the Corbyn project represented and how to build on it.
LPM is therefore fiercely opposed to such a merger or indeed any attempt to build the left other than temporary alliances with already existing left groups like CLPD or LRC in the Labour Party. It dismisses all attempts to build anything outside the Labour Party as a Labour Party Mark II.
At the November 9 Steering Committee Stan Keable submitted the following motion:
The LAW steering committee resolves to withdraw from the recent joint meetings with the steering committees of Labour in Exile Network and Labour Left Alliance, and to end LAW’s participation in joint all members and supporters meetings.
The joint steering committee meetings, while nominally favouring continuing the struggle in the Labour Party, have in fact been dominated by proposals to orientate away from Labour, to give up on the struggle within Labour, and to attempt to create an alternative movement or party based on the failed politics of Corbynism, aiming to keep together the thousands of disillusioned comrades at all costs. Far from rearming and rallying the left, we believe such a project will only add to the widespread demoralization and disorientation of the Labour left that already exists.
However, we wish those comrades well, and will seek to co-operate with them wherever possible. Meanwhile, LAW has a tremendous job on its hands in fighting the ongoing witch-hunt.
Unsurprisingly at the LAW All Members Meeting this Saturday LPM will move Motion 2 which is titled: Reject liquidation of LAW! Keep the focus on Labour!
The merger or consolidation of LAW and LIEN is called ‘liquidation’ a favourite word in sections of the left. The motion is the height of unreality. It fails to take account that the atmosphere of McCarthyism and vitriol inside the Labour Party, the harassment and bullying of activists has produce a situation where over 150,000 members have simply left with thousands more likely to do so.
It is crystal clear that there is little or nothing that LAW can do to combat the present witchhunt. As Ken Loach said ‘democracy is dead inside the Labour Party.’ In a situation where Labour Party apparatchiks manipulate and make up the rules to get rid of their enemy, where nobody on the left can even become a councillor or MP anymore, it is impossible to fight the witchhunt. There are no hearings before panels anymore because there are no hearings. Thanks to Corbyn and Formby fast-track expulsions have become the norm.
In the present situation the question is whether we can build a new movement from amongst those who were part of the Corbyn movement. The LPM prefers to inhabit a sectarian ghetto of 30-40 to the more difficult task of organising with people who will not always share hard line Marxist politics.
What they are advocating, behind their talk of Solidarity with all victims of the Labour witch-hunt! Step up the fight! is nothing less than an abandonment of any fight whatsoever. Given that virtually no supporters of LPM are even inside the Labour Party their resolution is pure wind, rhetoric without any purpose.
As LIEN says on its website
The main aim of the Labour In Exile Network is to keep together all those who were mobilised and enthused to support Jeremy Corbyn for leader to continue the fight for democracy and socialism. This includes those who remain in the Labour Party, those who have been unfairly suspended or expelled in the last five years and those who have resigned from the Labour Party in despair of the party’s direction of travel under Keir Starmer and Dave Evans.
There is nothing whatsoever in this which is incompatible with the aims and purpose of LAW.
At the meetings on November 26 and 27 Esther Giles and myself will be moving a motion calling for the ‘consolidation of Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour-in-Exile-Network into one organisation’.
There will therefore be a clear choice facing members as to whether or not to continue the fight against Starmer, but not necessarily on Labour Party terrain since that has now become enemy territory.
The stance of LPM raises wider questions. How does the Marxist and anti-capitalist left build in a situation which is anything but revolutionary. Is the Bolshevik model the only one for Marxists today? Why is it that there has been no workers’ revolution since 1917? Is the working class of the West potentially revolutionary? What is the relevance of modern movements such as Black Lives Matter to revolutionary change? Does the pending climate catastrophe dictate a change in tactics and strategy?
However when you are obsessed with what dead Bolsheviks said or didn’t say a hundred years ago, such questions seem otiose.
Whatever your views please come and have your say and if you are not a member of both organisations then it’s not too late to join!
Below is an Open Letter to Members of Labour Against the Witchhunt and Labour-in-Exile-Network from Carel Buxton, Roger Silverman, Esther Giles and myself to members explaining why we think that a merger of LIEN and LAW is necessary.
William Shakespeare wrote “Merchant of Venice”; with Shylock,the Jewish Moneylender wanting “His Pound of Flesh”. An Anti-Semitic Stereotype. Would Starmer Ban Shakespeare from All UK Schools, Universities, Theatres, TV, Films, Videos and Radio for this Anti-Semitism ?