Tony Greenstein | 17 April 2023 | Post Views:

Labour is Dead as a Party Representing The Working Class and Oppressed

Ken Loach on Slippery Starmer

I had a personal and political reason for knowing that Starmer was lying when he stood as a Corbyn continuity candidate for the Labour leadership. That he should have jettisoned his 10 Pledges so quickly was no surprise whatsoever. That he should have called himself a Zionist ‘without qualification’ was also no surprise. Racism and Starmer go together like Laurel and Hardy.

On February 18th, hours after I had been expelled, Starmer welcomed my expulsion with one word – ‘good’. A man of few words and even fewer ideas.

Keeping Starmer in his Shadow Cabinet, despite his personal responsibility for what has happened to Julian Assange, his proposal to gaol those guilty of over claiming benefits for 10 years (not tax dodgers of course) and his refusal to prosecute police murderers such as the killer of Ian Tomlinson, should have given him ample warning of Starmer’s Brutus like treachery.

Below is an article which I largely agree with, from Adam Johannes, a Welsh socialist. It is clear that despite the Tories self-imploding over the summer with Liz Truss’s 44 day leadership, the shortest in history, Starmer has failed to capitalise on it.

Thornberry attacks the Crown Prosecution Service under Starmer for its failure to prosecute Jimmy Savile

Sunak has now stabilised the Tory government and Starmer has nothing to say, hence his childish ad accusing him of not wanting to gaol child abusers when it was he who refused to prosecute Jimmy Savile. Starmer himself has never denied his part in the decision not to prosecute Savile.

Starmer represents the British state in all its ugliness and hypocrisy. He is, as I wrote, two months before he was elected leader, ‘the candidate that the Deep State & the British Establishment want you to vote for.’

For me the key was Starmer’s pivotal role in the persecution of Julian Assange, whose only crime was the revelation of American war crimes in the illegal Iraq War. Starmer also ensured that thousands of CPS files were destroyed.

Corbyn made many mistakes during his leadership but the key one was appeasing those who were out to destroy him. Instead of calling out Israel’s supporters in the Jewish Labour Movement he tried to work with them.

Corbyn failed to understand the nature of the attack on him and took these attacks as if they had been made in good faith. In particular he accepted the ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative.

As Asa Winstanley made clear, The Jewish Labour Movement had been refounded precisely in order to destroy Corbyn. Yet, as the Labour Leaked Report revealed (p. 306)

Jeremy Corbyn himself and members of his staff team requested to GLU that particular antisemitism cases be dealt with. In 2017 LOTO staff chased for action on high-profile antisemitism cases Ken Livingstone, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth, stressing that these cases were of great concern to Jewish stakeholders and that resolving them was essential to “rebuilding trust between the Labour Party and the Jewish community”.

Well we were all expelled or forced out of the Labour Party yet was trust rebuilt? Yet instead of realising his mistake Corbyn went on trying to appease the Zionists. Chris Williamson, his most faithful supporter in Parliament was thrown to the wolves. Jennie Formby boasted about how many socialists she had expelled compared to Iain McNicol.

The crowning mistake was at the Labour Party Conference in 2018 when Corbyn opposed reselection. I spoke with Chris Williamson at the Labour Against the Witchhunt fringe meeting and I said to him after the meeting that by taking this decision, and persuading Len McLuskey of UNITE to oppose it, Corbyn had driven the final nail into the coffin of the Corbyn Project.

Tony Benn and Jon Lansman

In one sense Corbyn and Tony Benn before him represented the fatal weakness of the Labour Left. In Benn’s famous phrase an airplane needs two wings to fly. This is of course true but when it has two pilots determined to fly in different directions that is a disaster.

The Labour left had little or no imagination and could never imagine life without the pro-war, pro-capitalist Labour Right. In practice what this meant was that the Labour Left abandoned all hope of socialism and put its faith in minor reforms to capitalism. The history of the Labour Left is a history of retreat, ideological confusion and betrayal.

This has now reached its logical end point with a Socialist Campaign Group that has, to all intent and purposes, abandoned any criticism of Starmer or his policy of faithfully following every twist and turn of US foreign policy.

John McDonnell and the SCG support the United States’s proxy war in Ukraine. Just as McDonnell, perhaps the most pathetic of the leaders of the Labour left there has ever been, praising Starmer’s do nothing, see nothing, say nothing refusal to criticise Boris Johnson over the COVID pandemic.

However Corbyn can make amends. To paraphrase Shakespeare, nothing would become Corbyn so much as his leaving of the Labour Party to stand as a socialist independent. The question is whether he will take that step and lead the fight against Starmer and for a new socialist formation.

I agree with Adam Johannes.  Because Starmer has refused to oppose the Tories on economic affairs, civil liberties, racism or indeed anything substantive, the Labour Party today is by no means guaranteed to win the next election.

Dido Harding – only qualification was marriage to a Tory MP

The refusal of Starmer and Streeting to support striking workers, including the nurses and junior doctors is particularly shameful. ‘There is no money’ they repeat in Tory fashion. But there was £37 billion for a failed COVID test and trace system run by Dido Harding. of which there  is no trace other than to say it went to Tory cronies.

There were billions of pounds for a VIP channel for COVID contracts that even the High Court declared unlawful. It is capitalism that prefers to reward ruling class crooks rather than pay ordinary workers that is the problem and the problem with the Labour Left is that they have never opposed a market economy or capitalism.

Tony Greenstein

The Weakness of Starmer Labour and the tasks ahead

Adam Johannes

The latest opinion polls suggest that the days of a 20 point lead by Labour over the Tories are over and we could be heading for a hung parliament in the next election, which could even mean the prospect of another five years of Tory rule.

On the central faultline in British politics the cost-of-living crisis and the economy the Labour Party are not offering a sharp, clear alternative way of resolving the crisis by ending it, or any easily understood solutions to the ills that plague everyday life today: wages, benefits and pensions that don’t match rising living costs, the housing crisis, crumbling public services etc.

Labour’s plunge in the polls comes as we reach the end of round 1 of the national strike wave which offered the possibility of a national alternative narrative to the establishment on the economic crisis, but has dipped with the drive of the trade union bureaucracy for sectionalism and to settle for pay rises well below inflation, effectively a pay cut, and refusal to link individual disputes into a national programme to end the cost of living crisis.

A stronger, more political, movement of workers in the rank and file will be needed that can push for a winning strategy in the workplaces and articulate an alternative set of national policies to end the crisis, tied in with supporting campaigns against racism, climate breakdown and imperialist war etc.

The permanent dithering of Jeremy Corbyn over whether he will stand as an independent (let alone help build a left wing alternative to Labour) is also problematic, as such such an election campaign even though in one constituency would offer a possibility to give a national profile for an alternative set of national policies and exert pressure on Starmer’s Labour from the left.

One of the weaknesses of the Corbyn Project was the beginnings of a sweeping economic programme separated from fighting social movements and militant trade unionism at the base of society, it was as though it could all be done from above. One of the side-effects of the collapse of Corbynism is the beginnings of a revival of social movements and militant trade unionism that often don’t link the day-to-day battles with ‘high politics’ and a sweeping economic programme that challenges the system.

Meanwhile yesterday’s canvassers for nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy now say that all we can do is burrow away at a very local level in our renters unions and workplaces in the hope that in some far flung future we will reach the cumulative strength to articulate a national alternative, politics doesn’t progress by gradualness though, but by ‘Leaps! Leaps! Leaps!’

The Enough is Enough campaign has also been a setback for the left. The unions involved CWU, RMT, UCU, as well as Tribune and Acorn, and Zarah Sultana should be held to account, you don’t play sectarian games during a major economic crisis. Last summer as the cost-of-living crisis began to fight hundreds of thousands signed up to this sham organisation wanting to join a national mass organisation to fight back. It’s main achievement has been to derail building a national movement around the cost-of-living crisis and a national community organisation to support the national strike wave, by pretending to fill the space and thereby stopping anything actually being built to occupy the space.

The coming election will probably be the ugliest on record fought out on so-called ‘culture war’ issues in a bidding war between Tories and Labour over who can be most in the gutter in cynically using the lives of minorities, migrants and marginalised groups, and the poor, for political gain, and Labour deploying right wing tropes around being tough on crime, rather than its causes.

This is a potentially combustible mix. With no strong national left wing voice, as bitterness rips though society over rising living costs coming on top of years of austerity and neoliberalism, all kinds of dark forces may be waiting in the wings.

The left must stand with the oppressed and the scapegoated, but simply remaining in that defensive space means essentially getting bogged down on a terrain decided by the right and where the right is strongest.

What is desperately needed is HOPE a sense of a national movement in political life on the offensive with a progressive economic programme that can unify our people and cut across various cultural divides in society.

Not only repairing years of damage to the fabric of society done by forty years of Thatcherism and individualism, but offering something collective for the common good that goes beyond the welfare state consensus of 1945-1975.

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Tony Greenstein

4 Comments

  1. S McCulloch on 17/04/2023 at 11:07am

    Absolutely agree. What to do about it is the huge question??

  2. Brian Salisbury on 17/04/2023 at 1:24pm

    Starmer has done Corbyn a favour by preventing him standing as a Labour candidate. As an Independent he will be in a position to play a leading part in a Progressive Eco Socialist Alliance involving trade unions, peace, environmental campaign groups and academics. The Alliance will resist the ongoing march of neoliberalism at workplace and community level and develop and promote an Citizens Alternative Plan for the U.K. drawing upon ideas from the “ bottom up”.
    Currently the opposition to neoliberalism is considerable but fragmented: combining and coordinating an alternative vision could change the existing political and economic narrative being promoted by both the Tory’s and Labour to show that an alternative can be achieved if fought for.

  3. david verguson on 19/04/2023 at 10:05am

    Have you actually forgotten who invaded who in the Ukraine. You seem to have sided with the right win g populist Putin. You will sink the left’s credibility forever. We will go back to being told ‘get back to Russia’. What happened to solidarity against imperialism.

  4. Tony Greenstein on 24/04/2023 at 1:00pm

    No I haven’t forgotten who invaded whom. The siege of the Donbass began in 2014. The US funded a fascist coup in 2014. 14,000 had already died by the time of Putin’s invasion. I am not siding with Putin and this attempt to demonise Putin is the usual playbook. They justified the Iraq invasion by portraying it as a battle with Saddam Hussein. It is the same old story. This is about a threat to Russia not Putin. Its about global US imperialism not fucking Russian defensive action. Look at the bigger picture just for once

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