We Need a Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory

There is no doubt that Owen Jones’s column in the Independent is an asset for the left, reaching a wide audience. His latest proposal is modest but correctly calibrated I think. After reflecting on the seemingly terminal crisis in the far left group, the SWP, Owen suggests that the era of the Leninist sects is over, and the need for a new networked form of politics is clear:

If we could agree on some key principles, and avoid creating a new battleground for ultra-left sects, we could give the angry and the frustrated a home. We could link together workers facing falling wages while their tax credits are cut; unemployed people demonised by a cynical media and political establishment; crusaders against the mass tax avoidance of the wealthy; sick and disabled people having basic support stripped away; campaigners against crippling cuts to our public services; young people facing a future of debt, joblessness and falling living standards; and trade unions standing their ground in the onslaught against workers’ rights.

Such a network would push real alternatives to the failure of austerity that would have to be listened to; and create political space for policies that otherwise does not exist. Faced with a more courageous, coherent challenge to the Tory project, the Labour leadership would face pressure that would not – for a change – come from the right.

It is easier to discuss such an idea in a newspaper than put it into practice, but it is a mystery that such a network does not already exist. Though fraught with difficulties – never underestimate the ability of the left to miss an opportunity – the appetite is certainly there. Our country’s greatest movement consists of those screaming with exasperation at their TV sets. Time to break the isolation of those who want an alternative to the bleak future currently on offer. The era of the SWP and its kind is over; a new movement is waiting to be born.

Within a few days, over 800 people hit the “strongly agree” button with a further 100 plus agreeing, it was tweeted 360 times and recommended 1700 times of Facebook. The potential is there.

The Internet certainly provides a mechanism for reaching a wide audience, my fellow Socialist Unity blogger, John Wight, has received over 8000 people clicking “like” on his excellent recent article about Tory attacks on the unemployed on Huffington Post. Tens of thousands of people read the debate which took place on Socialist Unity after the scandal of the SWP’s handling of a rape complaint was revealed.

But how do we go beyond the limitations of the Internet? The think tank CLASS is obviously a heavyweight addition to the left’s capacity to generate policy and ideas, backed as it is by UNITE and GMB; but it provides little opportunity for engagement by grassroots activists.

Ideas are not themselves enough unless linked with effective political activism that leads to social change. However, activism requires a shared political project. The political landscape is dominated by the fact that the only credible alternative government in Westminster is Labour; however the Labour Party no longer commands the authority that it used to among social-justice activists. Indeed, the so far inability or reluctance by Labour’s front bench to effectively oppose the austerity narrative, and propose an alternative economic policy for growth is highly problematic. The left in the party needs to have an organisational counterwieght to Progress, which needs a footprint in the PLP and in the shadow cabinet, and of course backing from unions. Those raw ingredients do exist. But it also requires a structure that individual party members can join, and we need to make it actually happen.

The election cannot be ignored, because Labour Party members cannot engage with any political network that will directly lead to electoral challenges to Labour. The paradox though is that Labour is likely to fight the election on a manifesto that will not inspire the activist left.

The important argument to win is that the formation of a Labour government is necessary, and should be campaigned for even by those with no particular alliegance to Labour, because it will provide a much better political context for the left, and also will be more favourable to working people, and the unions.

However, a political campaign by the left for a Labour government need not be limited to the policies of the Labour manifesto. What is needed, as has happened in the past when Labour is in opposition, is bold thinking about what a Labour government could do. How we can recast British society to be more fair, just and sustainable.

What we need is a socialist campaign for a Labour victory.

108 comments on “We Need a Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory

  1. mark wright on said:

    I certainly wont be campaigning for a labour victory, replacing one capitalist party with another is no progression to me. Labour has already said it will have to make tough decisions i.e make cuts if re elected. Lets be under no illusion labour will betray for as long as its wedded to the market, which currently demands austerity. We need a new workers party, Standing anti cuts candidates is entirely necessary. In france the left front stood and forced Holland to talk left due to their presense. Labour will not shift left or stand for socialist policies without pressure from below, at present that is not there. After every labour gov defeat there has always been a echo inside the party from activists and workers and a attempt to shift to the left. This has not happened this time labour is a dieing shell of its former self.

  2. ‘my fellow Socialist Unity blogger, John Wight, has received over 8000 people clicking “like” on his excellent recent article about Tory attacks on the unemployed on Huffington Post.’

    Actually Andy it’s just under 5000 who’ve clicked the ‘like’ button on the article so far, but thanks anyway.

    I think it would be hard for anyone whose politics are rooted in reality to argue with your analysis. But there remains a battle to win within Labour to turn it back towards a base whose support weakened and declined significantly throughout the past decade or so of New Labour. How do you see this happening?

    I also agree with Owen Jones that the left in Britain needs to transcend the straitjacket and limitations of Leninism if it’s to progress.

    Ultimately, and as the history of the left has proved beyond doubt, practice is inextricably linked to objectives. If your objective is socialist revolution then your practice will inevitably reflect this. Leninism is inherently sectarian in its conceit and messianic devotion to a romantic and infantile conception of the working class.

    It has been interesting following the contortions of the so-called SWP opposition faction. They clearly fail to grasp that the crisis within their organisation is not merely down to a failed understanding and practice of democratic centralism. It is down to the entire concept of democratic centralism and the mistake of basing their political activity on an organisational model which bears no relation to the environment in which they are operating.

  3. prianikoff on said:

    A good start would be for Labour councillors to sign this statement:-

    Councillors Against the Cuts

    “We are a new network of local councillors formed to support the fight against cuts. We believe that instead of implementing the Coalition’s cuts, councils and councillors should refuse to do so and help workers and communities organise in resistance.

    We are pledged to vote against all cuts to services and jobs, increases in rents and charges, and increases in council tax.

    We do not accept that cuts are “necessary”: there is plenty of money in society, but it is in the wrong hands. Taxing the rich and business, taking the wealth of the banks and cutting Trident are all rich sources of funds.

    We stand in solidarity with anti-cuts campaigns, with people defending their local services and with the broader community, tenants and residents, our children, disabled people, pensioners etc., in defence of the living standards and rights of the most vulnerable people in society as the Coalition government attacks them.

    We are working with a network of local government workers and other trade unionists to fight for this policy to be adopted and campaigned for in the unions and labour movement. We believe that close links are needed between Labour councillors and the unions in the public sector whether they are Labour-affiliated or not. We believe that, with the confidence that unions are behind them, many more councillors can be encouraged to refuse to implement cuts — and with the knowledge that councillors will support them unequivocally, many more trade unionists will be prepared to fight back against cuts.

    Most of us are Labour councillors and our campaign is sponsored by the Labour Representation Committee, but we are open to all left and labour movement councillors willing to pledge to vote against/refuse to implement cuts.

    Whether you are a councillor, local government worker, other trade unionist, anti-cuts campaigner, community activist or Labour Party activist — get involved! ”

    Initial signatories:

    Gary Wareing (Labour councillor, Drypool Ward, Hull City Council)
    Gill Kennett (Labour councillor, Holderness Ward, Hull City Council)
    Dean Kirk (Labour councillor, Derringham Ward, Hull City Council)
    Greg Marshall (Labour councillor, Beeston West ward, Broxtowe Borough Council)
    Kieran Thorpe (Leader of the Labour group and Labour councillor, Hatfield South Ward, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council)
    George Barratt (Independent/ex-Labour councillor, Mayesbrook Ward, Barking and Dagenham Borough Council)
    Mark Catterall (Labour councillor, Langfield Ward, Todmorden Town Council)
    Don Thomas (“Labour councillors against the cuts” councillor, Coxford Ward, Southampton City Council)
    Keith Morrell (“Labour councillors against the cuts” councillor, Coxford Ward, Southampton City Council)
    Nathan Morrison (Labour councillor, George Street/Harbour Ward, Aberdeen City Council)
    Richard Doran (Labour councillor, Gainsborough East Ward, West Lindsey District and Gainsborough Town Council)
    Phil Rackley (Labour councillor, St Martin’s Ward, Basildon Borough Council)
    Phil Hawkins (Labour Councillor, Riverside Ward, Cardiff Council)
    Dale Rooke (Labour Councillor, Thornwell Ward, Chepstow Town Council))

    http://councillorsagainstcuts.org/

  4. saothar on said:

    We’ve all seen this type of approach before to Labour. Seen it, done it and been failed by it. It didn’t work then–even when there was a real Left in the party, unlike today–and it certainly won’t work now. The day of the ‘Leninist sect’ may now be over, but that doesn’t mean that a Labour victory will lead to anything other than the same diet of neo-liberalism, merely served up by a different chef.

  5. Mark Perryman on said:

    Andy

    No major diagreements with what you propose. Such a campaign in and around the Labour Party – particulrly in the Trade Unions – for all but those of the ‘plague on your both houses’ school of thought would suely be a good thing.

    But Owen’s excellent article is describing somethig much broader. And not with a specifically electoralist focus either.Your point that Labour Party members cannot be involved in coalitions only applies if such a coalotion as to stand candidates . Owen makes no such suggestion and decent Labour Party already invokve themselves in all sorts of cross-paryy coalitions and campaigns.

    Where Owen’s suggesyin differs from yours is suely it seeks to connect with those outside Labour who consider themselves of the Left but not in it. It is far too early to speculte what such a network might loook like, though almost as a point of principle I would advocate abandoning all pre-existing models because they’ve plainly failed. But the audience Owen describes certainly exists, and if able to connect in some way capable of carrying some significant social weight and political impact.

    So… Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory, yes. A network for the Outside Left yes. They’re not the same but can co-exist. If the will is there.

    Mark P

  6. Mark Perryman: So… Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory, yes. A network for the Outside Left yes. They’re not the same but can co-exist. If the will is there.

    Yes…and the potential exists for an ‘outside left’ to influence the struggle within Labour to move it in a more progressive direction. In fact maybe this should be one of its primary aims.

  7. John

    I certainly agree that influencing Labour should be the happy consequence of a vibrant and public Outside Left.

    Though proclaiming this from the outset as the primary aim would inmy view be too limiting.

    Mark P

  8. Mark P: Though proclaiming this from the outset as the primary aim would inmy view be too limiting.

    What would you say should be its aim or aims? For me the concern would be forming another left of Labour organisation, movement, party etc for the sake of it.

    I know that’s not what you are proposing, but unless there is a concrete objective behind it, or it arises organically out of an existing struggle, then the danger of it leading us down the cul de sac of repeating what has already been tried and failed seems real.

    You would think the Tory cuts would be fertile ground for a mass campaign, yet so far there isn’t one. That of course is not to say there won’t be, but thus far the logic fuelling austerity has gained more traction with people than our argument against it.

  9. This is an interesting and necessary discussion.

    Owen Jones’ article says much that I agree with, including what he says about the SWP etc and TUSC, which he dismisses.

    However, a glaring ommission is any reference to Respect.

    I wouldn’t expect a particularly positve reference given his views on the Assange/ rape issue, but given that Respect is the only group (apart from the Greens and Plaid) to the left of Labour that has sufficient support to have representation in parliament, it appears a little bizarre, particularly as Galloway frequently refers to his Labour roots that there is no reference whatsoever.

  10. brainwash on said:

    There is no prospect whatsoever of any socialist influence,either inside the Labour Party or out, on the policies of the next Labour Government. Why then should there be a “socialist campaign for a Labour victory”. It may well be hard work fighting outside the Labour Party but however remote our chances they are bigger that those inside.

  11. Mark P: I certainly agree that influencing Labour should be the happy consequence of a vibrant and public Outside Left.

    But as I say in the main article: Ideas are not themselves enough unless linked with effective political activism that leads to social change.

    Social change requires the development of ideas of what a better, fairer and more sustainable society would be like; and some concept of what agency could achieve that change.

    The two parts are to a degree independent, but a social movement wanting reform does require some acknowledgement that the heavy lifting can only be achieved in the context of a labour government.

  12. It’s been long cold lonely Winter for many Socialists in England… but maybe Spring is not far away? It’s worth bearing in mind that in March Ken Loach’s new Film ‘The Spirit of ’45′ is released and could contribute to the rebuilding of resistance against the Con/Dems… as Ken says…
    “The Second World War was a struggle, perhaps the most considerable collective struggle this country has ever experienced. While others made greater sacrifices, the people of Russia for example, the determination to build a better world was as strong here as anywhere. Never again, it was believed, would we allow poverty, unemployment and the rise of fascism to disfigure our lives.

    We had won the war together; together we could win the peace. If we could plan to wage military
    campaigns, could we not plan to build houses, create a health service, transport system and to make
    goods that we needed for reconstruction?

    The central idea was common ownership, where production and services were to benefit all. The few should not get rich to the detriment of everyone else. It was a noble idea, popular and acclaimed by the majority. It was the Spirit of 1945. Maybe it is time to remember it today.”

    -Ken Loach

  13. brainwash: It may well be hard work fighting outside the Labour Party but however remote our chances they are bigger that those inside.

    Or, you might as well give up on politics altogether and keep budgerigars.

  14. brainwash: There is no prospect whatsoever of any socialist influence,either inside the Labour Party or out, on the policies of the next Labour Government.

    Let us be clear, even under Tony Blair, a Labour government acheived significant progressive reform that tangibly benefitted millions of working people.

    If you think such reform is of not interest to the left, then what exactly is the use of your politics?

  15. #11 Yes. I’d forgotten about that. But the point remains- his ommission is a flaw in the article.

    Unless of course he believes that Respect is completely finished (I would refer him to Mark Twain’s famous quip on reports of his demise).

    I mention this not to promote Respect (although I am a member)- I accept that there are a number of people who have become hostile because of the events of last year and that a number of people (some prominent (and respected-no pun) within the smallish world of the left) decided to break with the party. I also understand that this discussion would be best not diverted into a slanging match over events that have been discussed ad nauseum.

  16. mark wright: I certainly wont be campaigning for a labour victory, replacing one capitalist party with another is no progression to me. Labour has already said it will have to make tough decisions i.e make cuts if re elected. Lets be under no illusion labour will betray for as long as its wedded to the market, which currently demands austerity.

    Which doesn’t prevent you from contributing to a debate about what you think a Labour government should be doing.

  17. John asks for aims and purpose.

    Andy suggests that ideas ae not enough, there needs to be leverage too.

    I would link the two. To my mind the current state of anyting resembling the Left, in and out of Labour, is so weak and fagmented that to talk of anything resembling organisation is dangerously premature. Of course this is reflected too in the almost non-existent resistance to the cuts yet we canot simply wish this into existence. down thr road follows yet another small but neffectual campaign ‘front’ of the sort we have plenty of already.

    Instead I favour a brutally realistic yet ambitious aim. To create the kind of space where the Outside Left can come together. have a conversation, engage with the key writers and thinkers developing left ideas, here and abroad, learn, acquire the skils to popularise wherever we feel appropriate to do so. No such space, home, exists today. Online clucktivism isn’t enough, by asembling, participating we become the basis of what Negri and Hardt calls a multitude. No preconditions, just the commitment to be part of it.

    Mark P

  18. There is absolutely no hope for a socialist Labour Party. Absolutely none. People here have talked of problems with the organisation of the SWP and how these produce a certain politics. Try using that logic (as Ralph Miliband did) on the Labour Party. Result; no socialism.

  19. saothar on said:

    Andy Newman: Let us be clear, even under Tony Blair, a Labour government acheived significant progressive reform that tangibly benefitted millions of working people.

    Let us also be clear that whatever mild reforms Labour did enact were accompanied with an acceleration of the privatisation of the NHS, absolutely nothing by way of the provision of council housing, the introduction of student tuition fees, and the academy system in education.

    We should be further clear that Labour were in power in a time of capitalist growth, and that the present Labour Party leaders have pointed out that, if they had won in 2010 they would also have introduced swingeing spending cuts–to a degree largely indistinguishable from the Tories.

    But, yes, let’s all campaign for Red Ed

  20. treborc on said:

    I have to say these days, even I do not believe in socialism, I’m sure if Miliband thought New Labour would win him an election he’d be Tony Blair mark 2 in seconds.

    Labour and the Tories are basically playing a game the game is power, and sadly I doubt if Labour won tomorrow the people of this country would see much difference.

  21. John: I also agree with Owen Jones that the left in Britain needs to transcend the straitjacket and limitations of Leninism if it’s to progress.
    If by this John means that the left in Britain cannot and should not be defined as such only if it accepts Leninist organisational forms and the politics that flow from it, then I agree with him.
    One of the problems of this general discussion is the tendency to measure everyone against an impossible yardstick of political acceptability. So anti fascists are deemed beyond the Pale if they have a sympathy for Isreal, or a secular fatwa is issued against anti war Muslims if they have conservative views on the role of women.
    It makes you wonder who the playschool revolutionaries think will build a socialist society.

  22. Manzil on said:

    A socialist campaign for a Labour victory – what does this mean in concrete terms?

    For a Labour government with a socialist programme? No. Labour to power with socialist policies? No. Vote Labour with no illusions? No. Vote Labour and get ready to fight? No.

    Presumably, what is actually meant is for socialists to fight for a Labour government. That’s it. Join the Labour Party, campaign for Labour candidates (or the good ones, anyway), door knock and attend CLPs and telephone canvass… and… oh Christ I’ve bored myself to death.

    No, thank you. I’ve done that before, and life’s too short.

    I shall probably end up voting Labour at the next election. In spite of what they’re doing in my city council, I shall probably even vote for them at the next local elections. FFS, I voted (twice!) for Labour police commissioners – both of whom were defeated, so I don’t have that on my conscience at least, unlike the Labour MP and three Labour councillors I helped to elect. I am not an ultra-left sectarian who sees no difference between a Labour and a Tory government. Nor do I have illusions about the electoral preparedness of the left.

    But I will not spend what limited time and resources I have on, objectively, playing the exact same role as some Progress-subscribing, networking hack.

    Nor will I condescend to patronise this ‘networked politics’ rubbish. I’ve never seen it actually change anything and it denotes a fundamentally liberal perspective.

    Owen Jones is a thoroughly personable and sincere comrade. But his positive contribution to left-wing politics is unarguably derived from his media profile, which cannot be emulated by others who choose to join the Labour Party. He is not a model.

    The model for ‘inside left’ politics, rather, resides in the demoralised, unorganised and thoroughly directionless members of the LRC, Socialist Appeal etc. I know who pass resolutions at their GCs and, for all their pretense of serious and comradely concern, crow about how the SWP somehow reaffirms their decision to, in my own area, campaign for Southampton’s millionaire developer Labour group leader.

    No, sod that.

    Wider structural changes may generate the preconditions for a resurgence of militant working-class politics, but without people putting in the physical and mental effort it will not remain anything but a potential force. And effort in the Labour Party is in that sense wasted effort.

    Labour is still a massive organisation. It doesn’t need our help (nor does it deserve our derision). Its success or failure in the next period, and the nature of that result – the terms of its victory/defeat, its policies and direction – will likely be determined by forces extraneous to the internal life of the party, by the development of the class struggle and the degree to which the labour movement is able to mobilise against austerity.

    Labourism follows in the wake of the organised working class, it does not lead it. It never has, it never will. It is instrumentally and structurally incapable of doing so.

    Good luck to Labour comrades fighting the good fight, but I would rather try to box our way out of the corner than pretend I enjoy leaning on the ropes.

  23. Michael Rosen: There is absolutely no hope for a socialist Labour Party. Absolutely none.

    However, there is a prospect of a Labour government, and the left can help to shape what that Labour government will do.

    Unless you think that the left’s ideas are so bankrupt and impractical that we could never convince anyone else to follow them

  24. The reality is that as long as substantial numbers of people who aspire to the basic policies that a socialist government would hopefully implement continue to support (if not continue to be members of) the Labour Party, and as long as key sections of the Trade Union movement remain wedded to Labour, a significant outside labour party will not be built.

    And none of that will change until we have a Labour government, so pointing out the limitations in Labour on one level is beside the point. It’s not about having illusions in Labour or whether you really believe that Labour would be no better at than the Coalition (of course given the decline in the Lib Dems that should in reality read better at all than the Tories). Some will believe that, others won’t- it isn’t a key point of divide in the real world.

  25. Manzil on said:

    Vanya,

    If not pointing out the limitations of the Labour Party and of social democracy leads to the complete disarming, demobilisation and disorganisation of the radical left, its subsumation into campaigning for people who are not ‘limited’ advocates of the working class but our enemies, it is not besides the point.

  26. Nick Parker on said:

    It always surprises me that the Labour left have such a lack of strategic thought about how to reclaim the party. Back in the 70s and 80s, there was mandatory re-selection of MPs etc. But now there’s nothing. What would be done with traitors like Lord Hutton, Frank Field, Alan Milburn, et al? There’s not even a hint of the need for a purge of reactionary elements, or moves to democratise conference. Not to mention the woeful failure of attempts to get John McDonnell onto the leadership ticket. For all the complaints about TUSC et al, at least they’re succeeding in getting a genuine anti-cuts message out to the electorate, which is more than can be said for the Labour Left who are hamstrung by the austerity-lite policies of the party in which they’re voluntarily imprisoned. If Labour form the next government and continue austerity, I think the political situation that will open up for a left challenge to Labour will be much sharper than 1997-2010. I for one salute TUSC for keeping the red flag flying in preparation for the stormy period ahead.

  27. Nick Parker: There’s not even a hint of the need for a purge of reactionary elements, or moves to democratise conference.

    That isn’t true.

    Nick Parker: Not to mention the woeful failure of attempts to get John McDonnell onto the leadership ticket

    A woeful candidate

  28. “a socialist campaign for a Labour victory” is hardly an un-tried project. The hope of socialists influencing the way a Labour government behaves from within is even more forlorn now than it was in the past. As innovative thinking goes, it’s probably up there with ‘rebuild the fourth international’ or ‘build the party! sell the paper!’

  29. #29
    Your response still indicates a little bit of vanguardim.

    People will draw their own conclusions whatever we or others say, and what we say will make little difference. Your own earlier indication of what you will be doing is based on a personal preferance for what you want to do with your time rather than a suggestion that your way is best.

    The problem is that there isn’t in the real world a preferable alternative to a Labour government, so it’s not really about sowing illusions. Clearly I won’t myself be calling for a vote for Labour in EVERY constituency, but will only do otherwise where there’s a viable alternative.

    And of course, it’s not a good idea for people to campaign for any election candidate (left or right) as an alternative to spending that time doing practical work fighting austerity on the ground.

  30. George Hallam on said:

    Now let’s start talking about the mass campaign that’s developing in Lewisham.

    The last thing Lewisham needs is a Labour government.

    At the moment Labour Party members are actually getting out on the streets. The council is behind the campaign.

    Does anyone imagine that they’d be be doing that if there was a Labour government?

    http://www.savelewishamhospita

    (actually it was only 10,000, but that is 5 percent of the adult population of Lewisham).

    And let’s not forget Britain’s fastest growing political party.
    http://www.peoplebeforeprofit….

  31. Nick Parker on said:

    #31 Andy, who would you purge? How would you democratise the party? For all McDonnell’s limitations, he is head and shoulders a superior left candidate for leader than the Miliband scab.

  32. redcogs on said:

    Michael Rosen is correct. Why would any socialist waste their energy on promoting capitalist Labour’s free market austerity politics? The swp may be inwardly collapsing, and the rest of the Left, including those of no affiliation, may be pretty well inconsequential, but in terms of their collective experience and memory they represent a rich seam of talent, with many individuals who could surely be drawn into supporting one broad anti capitalist left of Labour party initiative.

    The conditions of precarious capitalisms across the globe help us, the socialist argument remains inspirational and necessary, but we know that we shout with far too many fragmented voices, meanwhile the moneyed class and their lackeyshits laugh at our pathetic antics.

    No one appears to know what the necessary factors might be before we see a coalescence of socialists (i certainly have no idea), and it seems to remain true that we all find it easier to identify the many weaknesses of actually existing organisation/s..

    But i try to keep the ‘faith’, and would be willing to be part of an organisation that rejected privilege, was adequately democratic (ie, could properly control its inevitably egotistical leadership), and shunned any temptation towards the type of centralist bullying that has been so debilitating for the socialist left.

    Andy Newman’s call is nothing more than an invitation to the prisoners to assist in the construction of better prison camps.

  33. Manzil on said:

    #33

    A trace of vanguardism! I shall have to report to the self-criticism circle.

    But Vanya, there is a difference between us, as individuals, explaining what we think is best – and conceding the unobjectionable point that supporting Labour is, generally speaking, the only practicable option when you walk into the polling station – and what Andy is doing in essentially inferring from the current situation an argument that there is not, nor will there ever be an alternative.

    Consider his comment at #34. Where has anything, where have I, suggested there is a better, realisable alternative at the next election to a Labour government?

    But it doesn’t follow on from that there never will be, nor does it explain how voluntarily entering the straightjacket of Labour (“no – all of them”) and atomising ourselves into the activist base of the LP, is going to aid Andy’s strategy even on its own terms (improving Labour at the same time as putting ourself at its disposal). Leveraging Labour to the left is frankly not going to come about through anything but the medium of the trade unions’ apparatus.

    And for those of us who believe a socialist alternative IS possible, that straight-jacket is more damaging than the positive net contribution we could make through Labour membership.

    Mark P’s approach to the ‘outside left’ at #19, which as a Respect member (I think?) I would assume you broadly share, would be snuffed out by following in Andy’s footsteps. He is engaged in an entirely different project – even if the broad immediate outcome (a Labour government and hopefully, in historic terms, a fairly decent one) is the same, the way we approach it is entirely different.

  34. George Hallam on said:

    Michael Rosen: There is absolutely no hope for a socialist Labour Party. Absolutely none.

    The stereotype German (or American) sees a situation is as serious, but not hopeless.

    The stereotype Austrian (or Brit) will regard the same situation as hopeless, but not serious.

  35. Nick Parker: How would you democratise the party?

    There are a number of concrete measures that CLPD, for example, is promoting for refrom of the party rules; there is some progress, for example the Local campiagn Forums are better structures that the Local Government Committees.

    Nick Parker: For all McDonnell’s limitations

    yes, he is too left wing to be taken seriously

  36. Manzil: Leveraging Labour to the left is frankly not going to come about through anything but the medium of the trade unions’ apparatus.

    But to use that leverage to its maximum advantage, trade union activists need to be party members

  37. Nick Parker: who would you purge?

    I wouldn’t “purge” anyone. It is a broad party, I just want the left to advance in influence

    I would like to see parliamentary selections favour more candidates determined to protect and advance the interests of working people.

  38. Manzil: what Andy is doing in essentially inferring from the current situation an argument that there is not, nor will there ever be an alternative.

    I don’t thnk he necessarally is.

    As for MarkP’s #19 clearly an outside left initiative would be snuffed out if everyone on the left joined the Labour Party.

    But that clearly is no more going to happen at the moment than every socialist in the Labour Party leaving it.

    There have been enough people around advocating both policies for long enough as it is. My view is that significant numbers are going to do neither as a result of someone telling them, unless it’s someone with significant weight. and sufficient forces behind them.

  39. Nick Parker on said:

    #40 Could you be more specific about these democratic changes? What aspects of McDonnell’s position do you oppose?

  40. saothar on said:

    Moving Labour to the Left? Where have you been for the last 20 years? Labour are not even a reformist party any more. That belongs to a different era.

    The Labour party, for all its multitude of failings, did once believe that the free market, although in its eyes the best means of securing national economic prosperity, was also basically a creator of sharp inequalities and poverty, and also extremely inefficient in certain sectors. Thus, it needed to be off-set by robust state intervention, in the form of nationalisation of some sectors of the economy, which would allow for a more rational control, and a welfare state that would protect people from the expected and inevitable failures of the market.

    Nowadays, Labour is wholly committed to the market. It does not view the state in the same fashion as it once did, but has for some time regarded its main function as an agency that can remove obstacles towards capitalist accumulation. In short, the party is a free-market, neo-liberal organisation–no different in programme from the Tories, whatever the difference in membership.

    The real question is if the old Labour Party, with its social-democratic conception of the market and the state was useless as a means of securing socialist transformation, what hope is there in this present-day neo-liberal incarnation?

  41. Manzil on said:

    Anyone else having trouble with comments not appearing? I don’t mean going into moderation – the site just refreshes to the page exactly as it was before you submitted the comment?

    Or is it my poxy college intranet? (Most likely.)

  42. Mark P on said:

    Vanya

    Thanks.

    Look in my view there is absolutely nothing wrong with what Andy is advocating. It doesn’t particularly appeal to me personally but if there is a constituency for it in and around Labour, particularly if the Trade Unions would seriously back it, a good thing.

    Meanwhile there are those like me, on the Outside Left, ecumenical with our influences and traditions, flexible on who we vote for, wthout any kind of place to have a conversation, exchange ideas. Thats the space I’m more interested in and that I read into Owen Jones’ excellent piece.

    Mark P

  43. Mark P: Meanwhile there are those like me, on the Outside Left, ecumenical with our influences and traditions, flexible on who we vote for, wthout any kind of place to have a conversation, exchange ideas. Thats the space I’m more interested in and that I read into Owen Jones’ excellent piece.

    That is a conversation, not a political movement calibrated to actually acheive social change.

  44. Mark P on said:

    Andy

    You’re not necessarily wrong. Though it would be a more meaningful beginning than most initiatives which claim they are going to achieve social change.

    We can both name endless parties, groups, campaigns who promise the earth and achieve diddly squat despite the huge efforts they commit.

    I’d prefer a realisable ambition. Achieve that and then choose to move on, or not.

    Mark P

  45. Being outside the Labour Party is one thing, hardly the end of life as we know. Being outside the working class is something else.
    There is absolutely no prospect of Labour morphing into (back into??) a truly federal party of the working class and joining it as an individual member entails precisely the sort of commitment that Andy accepts, including working for whatever candidate the party apparatus throws up.
    However, working to ensure that the limited existing trade union role in Labour Party affairs is focused on winning serious commitments to worthwhile governmental policies and influencing the selection of candidates who can properly reflect the interests of the working class is a good thing that should attract the support of everyone on the left.
    It is even conceivable that such an approach would pay off in changing the nature of the beast, and even winning back Labour’s lost millions.
    In fact, words and deeds that are opposed to such a united approach really would demonstrate paid up membership of the Outside Left.

  46. Nick Wright: Being outside the Labour Party is one thing, hardly the end of life as we know. Being outside the working class is something else.

    Nick, as ever, nails it.

  47. Nick Wright: However, working to ensure that the limited existing trade union role in Labour Party affairs is focused on winning serious commitments to worthwhile governmental policies and influencing the selection of candidates who can properly reflect the interests of the working class is a good thing that should attract the support of everyone on the left.
    It is even conceivable that such an approach would pay off in changing the nature of the beast, and even winning back Labour’s lost millions.

    Quite so; and note that seeking to develop and promote those sorts of progressive policies and influence Labour does not require people to be members of the party, just to have a realsitic orinetation towards it, as of course the Morning Star does

  48. I personally find the idea of working, as part of the radical left, within the modern day moribund Labour party as utterly obtuse.

    To me, and many others, New Labour stands for illegal wars and the continued propping up of the rich through its capitalistic enterprising as well as being riddled with rich champagne socialists such as Harriet Harman.

    In these current times, the Left should be prospering, like the Front de Gauche under Melenchon in the French presidential elections and Syriza in Greece. Clearly the Left in the UK needs to rally together, and soon, but that simply cannot be under the guise of the Labour party.

    I could never bring myself to campaign for a political party which supports the very economic system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer whilst spending its taxpayers money on massacring hundreds of thousands of people under WMD and “humanitarian” (and I use the term loosely) camouflage.

    I’d much rather work within a genuinely radical left party such as Respect, which as mentioned above, was making real electoral progress before the split.

  49. Sam S: I’d much rather work within a genuinely radical left party such as Respect, which as mentioned above, was making real electoral progress before the split.

    Was Respect in a position to form a parlaimentary majority?

  50. Andy Newman: Was Respect in a position to form a parlaimentary majority?

    Certainly not.

    But does that mean we should give up on it?

    Because if the likes of me and you give up on the hope of a radical left solution then we resign both ourselves and the rest of the working class to an endless continuity of New Labour/Tory/New Labour/Tory.

  51. #54 But there are many who will work within the Labour Party whether you or I like it or not.

    And there’s no point talking about a British equivalent to the FdG or Syriza (either of which I would be a member of if I lived in France or Greece), unless you look at the specifics of how those formations came about, in terms of the specific situations and the common features.

    The reality is that both Greece and France have had than one mass working class/ socialist party national electoral impact for decades, whereas in Britain we have really only had the Labour Party (leaving aside whether the LP can still be said to be either).

    Furthermore, the PdG has at its core one of those parties – the PCF and is supplemented by large numbers of former SP members, while SYRIZA’s largest component is what used to be a significant proto-Euro-Com split from the KKE.

    As I have pointed out previously, the nearest we have had to a mass electoral alternative to Labour in recent years have all had their origins from people splitting from Labour. Unfortunately for those projects, not enough people did split, in terms of numbers or weight for them to get very far.

    Respect (essential spring-board the expulsion of Galloway from the Labour Party) has to demonstrate whether it can still progress in spite of the recent problems. It has (twice) secured Galloway’s election to parliament, and I certainly intend to continue to work for that to be built on wherever that looks like a viable option.

    But please also bear in mind that Respect and Galloway made it clear in both the last general election and in Scotland when Galloway stood for the Assembly, that we would give critical support to a Labour governmemt and even enter it if an acceptable minimum programme could be agreed to.

    Similarly in France, the PdG (who Galloway advocated a vote for) asked for a second preferance vote for the PS.

  52. Andy Newman: eeking to develop and promote those sorts of progressive policies and influence Labour does not require people to be members of the party, just to have a realsitic orinetation towards it,

    Realism is a two edged sword.
    Whenever the balance of forces inside the Labour Party begins to threaten the party’s role as guarantor of capitalist stability the pressure to destabilise it become intense. examples, Ramsey McDonald and the National government split, the SDP split.
    The aim being to buttress the unwritten constitutional principle that no party that threatens the essential foundations of private property should enter government.
    It is absolutely clear that we are nowhere near this situation. In fact, such is the decay of Labour’s organic connection with the working class that its capacity to incorporate the working class in the system itself is compromised.
    What strikes me about contributions both from what I might call, as unpejoratively as possible, the ‘ultra left’ and the Labour Party loyalists is the completely abstract nature of the competing conceptions of socialism or of their route map towards it.
    I don’t mean a fully worked out guide but some idea of what might be the forces needed to reach this goal, what might be the nature of the forces opposed and what might they do. What might be appropriate counter strategies.

  53. Vanya: Furthermore, the PdG has at its core one of those parties – the PCF and is supplemented by large numbers of former SP members,

    Err no. A quite small number of former Socialist party members. The Parti de Gauche is very thin on the ground.
    A goodly number voted for the Front in the first round of the presidential election (rather fewer than people thought).
    The PCF which stills counts near enough 100,000 members is the only truly national force but it is probable that there are more former PCF members in the PS than former PS members in the PdG

  54. Labour cannot be trusted to stand by the people when it matters, Tony Blair is a war criminal and should be in jail, and Ed Miliband has the warmth and charm of a unflushed toilet, the unemployed and the working class will never be united under Labour because the party can no longer be trusted to look after our interests, What is required is a new party with new ideas and a leader with a pair of balls…

  55. Uncle Albert on said:

    Labour is likely to fight the election on a manifesto that will not inspire the activist left.

    And if they know they have the vote of the activist left why would they go to the trouble of attempting to inspire it?

    But if the proposed campaign went swimmingly and, say, both Owen and Andy became PPCs for safe Labour seats, what then? The whole of the parliamentary left would be able to celebrate their victory around one small table in a House of Commons tea room.

    Until there is transparency and accountability within the L.P. there’s little point in joining.

  56. CJB: warmth and charm of a unflushed toilet

    I’ve met a few people with excellent politics whose personality was far worse than that.

    CJB: What is required is a new party with new ideas and a leader with a pair of balls…

    Well that rules out 50% of the population as leader then.

  57. Nick Parker on said:

    I’m amazed at the touching idealism of so-called realists like Andy. He “would like to see parliamentary selections favour more candidates determined to protect and advance the interests of working people.” Yet when this was a reality in the early 1980s, the Labour right (egged on by the Tories and Liberals) crushed this movement. Yet he doesn’t have any strategy for preventing this from happening in the 2010s when the undemocratic structure available to the right-wing bureaucratic machine which controls the Labour Party is so much more powerful than in the 1980s.

  58. Uncle Albert: And if they know they have the vote of the activist left why would they go to the trouble of attempting to inspire it?

    Another question is of course whether they are bothered if the activist left vote for them or not.

  59. Vanya: CJB: warmth and charm of a unflushed toilet

    I’ve met a few people with excellent politics whose personality was far worse than that.

    Vanya i totally agree, but unfortunately we live in a society were the vast amount off people don’t vote for polices or mandates and wish to remain ignorant, but are voting because of what they hear on the news or from reading printed toilet paper otherwise known as The Sun, I personally believe that someone with charisma is needed to attract the masses before they will generally listen to anything, its one thing for people on the left being aware of what is going on in regards to politics, when the majority of the people don’t understand or want to understand the realities of the current situation.

  60. CJB: What is required is a new party with new ideas and a leader with a pair of balls

    I think many of you are rather missing the point.

    What we need to discuss is what programme of government we would like to see.

    “no cuts” for example, is not a programme of government. What should a left government actually do?

    The process of elaborating credible alternative ideas would strengthen the possibility of them being adopted by Labour, but there is nothing to prevent other political parties proposing them as well. Even the very fact of a debate about alternative polices opening in the unions would encourage resistnce to the athusterity aganda.

    I get the impression that many of you contributing to this debate have no greater amobition that a raft of purist candidtes losing their deposits. Eevn if you have no faith that Labour could itself deliver progressive policies, why does that stop you participating in a debate about what sort of polices we would like to see from an incoming government?

  61. Nick Parker: I’m amazed at the touching idealism of so-ccalled realists like Andy. He “would like to see parliamentary selections favour more candidates determined to protect and advance the interests of working people.”

    The process is contestable, I fail to see how refusing to engage with the selection process helps you. We win some, we lose some.

    I think your problem is that you have an exaggerated expectation about what you think Labour can achieve, and assume I have the same high expectation.

  62. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: “no cuts” for example, is not a programme of government. What should a left government actually do?

    The People’s Charter seems fairly reasonable. Unfortunately, it includes the proposition to ‘protect and improve our public services – no cuts’, so presumably that’s ruled out of order!

    Which is a shame, given its endorsement by the TUC and a whole raft of trade unions. And in quite innocuous language gets to the heart of how the left should respond to the crisis: democratic public ownership of the banks, building societies and insurance companies.

    There seems to be some confusion though. The Charter is precisely what a left government would do. It also true that it has no chance under a Labour government. What does that tell us?

    I feel what you’re actually saying is, “‘no cuts’ for example, is not a programme of a Labour government. What should a Labour government actually do?”, which is an entirely different proposition.

    Truth be told, I don’t even have faith that the NHS counter-reforms won’t be withdrawn only to see their replacement by something equally noxious, a la Blair and the internal market. I don’t know what the hell Labour are actually committed to, let alone what they could be forced into supporting.

    I know it won’t be me that forces them to act. It will be mass action and pressure (or even mass apathy!) from the millions who look to Labour and will find it wanting.

  63. The “seemingly terminal crisis” in the SWP (and I agree with that prognosis, by the way) in no way validates the equally failed strategy of unconditional support for Labour. The result of which is that the Labour leadership takes left-wing, trade union, and working class support for granted and think they can do whatever they want as far as we’re concerned. Labour needs to give us a better reason than “at least we’re not the Tories”.

    And above all, have you forgotten about Afghanistan and Iraq? That isn’t a historical question.

    What we need is mass-based left-wing party that actually represents the left and working class interests, that has certain basic principles (anti-imperialism, for example) that we should all be able to agree on without getting bogged down in our various interpretations of Russian history. Is there some part of that to disagree with? Does it sound even remotely like Labour? How do we get a party WORTH actively supporting?

  64. Nick Wright: What might be appropriate counter strategies.

    Well, one might be for the large trades unions that contribute funding to the LP to make good on threats to “hold them to account.” It’s as simple as turning off a tap. THEN you would have their attention. Also agree with CJB; a leader who’s actually had their hands dirty,with some fire in the belly (as opposed to those who’ve climbed the ladder of policy wonksmanship)would be someone both activists and ordinary working-class people could be inspired by.

  65. Also, “no cuts” is a perfectly valid argument provided you can say where else the money should come from. Which isn’t difficult. PCS and Stop the War could give you a few suggestions if you’re struggling.

    That Labour won’t make that argument says more about Miliband et al than it does about “no cuts.”

  66. Omar: Well, one might be for the large trades unions that contribute funding to the LP to make good on threats to “hold them to account.”

    I was thinking more about what might be a counter strategy to extra parliamentary resistance to a governmental programme that included the main demands of – for instance– the Peoples Charter.
    The issue here is not blackmailing Labour into supporting union policies (a self-mutilating strategy if there ever was one) but mobilising the class and social forces that could ensure that such a programme was carried out

  67. PJ Rose on said:

    However, a political campaign by the left for a Labour government need not be limited to the policies of the Labour manifesto. What is needed, as has happened in the past when Labour is in opposition, is bold thinking about what a Labour government could do. How we can recast British society to be more fair, just and sustainable.

    So you’re basically arguing for wishful thinking? This issue is quite simple: not only does the Labour Party under Miliband-Balls present no opposition to austerity , neoliberalism and imperialism, but it is actually incapable of doing so. Those who argue otherwise are of course perfectly entitled to do so, but they shouldn’t pretend that in doing so they are furthering the cause of socialism , something which the Labour Party is fundamentally opposed to. In fact, those who vote for the Labour Party wll be explicitly complicit, given Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, if and when a future Labour Government , no doubt under Miliband , decides to invade or bomb another country. Voting Labour is a dirty transaction. Perfectly suitable for Newman.

  68. Nick Wright,

    I don’t think McCluskey ,Serwotka et al have been merely vocal about union policies, Nick, but about all of the effects of the austerity consensus, in which Labour has , so far, been complicit. As for galvanising class and social forces, as I said, however “un-Marxist” it may be , a solidly social-democratic leader with some charisma (e.g. NOT Milliband) can possibly be that galvanising force.

  69. Omar,

    Further if the unions could put some money towards groups like UK Uncut, giving them the resources to campaign door-to-door , that could help build the extra-parliamentary labour/social activist bridge needed while presenting the case for non-austerity alternatives in a more direct manner.

  70. 1) There’s a good reply to Jones from Luke Cooper of the Anti Capitalist Initiative here:
    http://anticapitalists.org/2013/01/21/inspiring-hope-in-a-radical-alternative-owen-jones-and-the-strategy-of-low-horizons/

    2) There was a previous organisation called the ‘Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory’ launched in 1978 during the dog-days of Callaghan’s government, as I’m sure the author is aware. It launched a paper called ‘Socialist Organiser’ … the rest, as they say, is history.

  71. Nick Parker on said:

    #69 Andy makes a good point about how socialists should articulate a programme for government.

    What demands should be placed upon Labour for 2015?

    In the 70s, the Wilson Government repealed the housing law protested against by the Clay Cross councillors.

    Socialists now should demand policies such as:

    The repeal of the Health and Social Care Act;

    A mass council house building programme;

    The cancellation/re-nationalisation of PFI contracts;

    The right to an employment tribunal from day one in the job;

    Legal action to shut down the blacklisters;

    The reversal of funding cuts to local authority and civil services;

    The abolition of the anti-union laws;

    The nationalisation of the banks.

    Having just looked through that list, the idea that anyone could realistically imagine a Labour Government implementing them is laughable (with the exception of the NHS demand and they’d keep all the bits privatised anyway!).

  72. Karl Stewart on said:

    I’m not an admirer of Owen Jones – he took an appalling position in support of the CIA smear campaign against Julian Assange – so I am in general reflexively opposed to his utterances.

    But even allowing for my inherent bias against him, I still don’t see what it is in this article that has impressed people, or indeed anyone?

    He’s basically saying there should be a broad network of various people on the left to do….what exactly?

    There isn’t really even an idea here is there?

    I do think it is of course it will be a good thing if the type of tightly organised, strictly controlled, stifling internal regime that has characterised so much of the non-Labour left has had its day.

    But it’s a massive over-reaction to that if we abandon any form of internal structure and organisation altogether.

    Of course it’s always good to communicate, to discuss and to swap ideas etc, but to propose that this should completely replace organisation itself is utter nonsense.

  73. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    This is Labour’s thinking when they get into power at the next General Election:
    “Stephen Timms, the shadow employment minister who also chairs the report’s advisory panel, said: “We certainly want, on the election of the next Labour government, the smaller community organisations, including faith-based organisations without a doubt, to be able to contribute in areas like welfare to work.” “ (article below)

    If the Labour supporters here honestly think that a Labour Government will be any different from the ConDem’s then they live in the land of the delusional, whether there is a ‘Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory’ or not. That is why Mr Newman is saying ‘no cuts’ is an option in any programme because the Labour Party apparatus, from MPs, Leadership, Bureaucracy through to the paid councillors, will be implementing cuts on the social fabric of the British working, and middle, class. Also any Labour Party member who will campaign within the Labour Party and get ‘supporters’ around them for a ‘Socialist Campaign’ will be suspended and/or expelled. The Labour Party today is no different from the SWP just ask the Southampton Labour Councillors and the other Labour Councillors who have gone against the Labour Party when they have been asked to implement cuts.

    On the Owen Jones article I find it is nothing new on his part in his support for Labour and what can we do about the Attacks and Austerity programme. I consider he is wrong that the “era of the SWP and its kind is over; a new movement is waiting to be born.”, in fact did not the SWP say that 13 years ago with the anti-capitalist movement and see the Parties like the Socialist Party and the SWP are still here. Albeit the SWP are in crisis which will have repercussion on them, but possessing as it does an apparatus and members, it will, in all probability continue in existence. Nevertheless, it has been considerably weakened and its reputation has been further tarnished amongst politically aware left workers. Owen Jones said last November in a debate at the Socialist Party’s political weekend school that he would like a Left Party, like TUSC, because that was what the debate was about working class political representation, to the left of the Labour Party because it would force them to put pro-socialist policies on their agenda and wished the trade unionists and socialist well in their task. Yet he pours cold water on that view now!

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/get-religious-groups-on-board-with-work-programme-think-tank-urges-

  74. Karl Stewart: Of course it’s always good to communicate, to discuss and to swap ideas etc, but to propose that this should completely replace organisation itself is utter nonsense.

    Yes – it’s not even really something I find objectionable; it’s just odd.

    For instance, my SP branches (where I live and where I study) spend most of their time coordinating activities between our members in different areas, workplaces, sectors, unions etc.

    Now I don’t think the only alternative to anarchy is the bureaucratic top-down approach the left generally slides into, but this stuff does take time, effort, organisation and so on.

    And from contact with comrades in the CP and SWP (mainly through the trades council and joint union work but also various other activities) they seem to focus on the same sort of thing.

    What does OJ think that political model is, if not a ‘network’ that attempts to ‘link together workers’?

    There’s always been such a network. It’s called the labour movement.

  75. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 85, well I apologies Mr Newman because it looks like I have been taken off moderation. Thank you for that, comradely, Jimmy Haddow.

  76. Post 85, well I apologies Mr Newman because it looks like I have been taken off moderation. Thank you for that, comradely, Jimmy Haddow.

    And now you’re back in it.

    Fraternally, tony.

    What is so hard for people to grasp about not mentioning private emails in public forums?

  77. Ronnie Williams on said:

    mark wright:
    I certainly wont becampaigning for a labour victory, replacing one capitalistparty with another is no progression to me. Labour has already said it will have to make tough decisions i.e make cuts if re elected. Lets be under no illusion labour will betray for as long as its wedded to the market, which currently demands austerity. We need a new workers party, Standing anti cuts candidates is entirely necessary. In france the left front stood and forced Holland to talk leftdue to their presense. Labour will not shift left or stand for socialist policies without pressure from below, at present that is not there. After every labour gov defeat there has always been a echo inside the party from activistsand workers and a attempt to shift to the left. This has not happened this time labour is a dieingshell of its former self.

    A party which introduced tuition fees, waged an illegal and immoral war againstt the people of Iraq after subjecting those people to a blokade of food and medecine, sold arms to tyranical regimes, sent the SAS to train Uribe’s death squads in Colombia, which shut down schools and hospitals here and allowd rendition flights is not getting my vote. Well said Mark Wright.

  78. Kopend on said:

    Does anyone know how much money the SWP have? The sale proceeds of their printing business and the rumoured proceeds of that insurance policy that was bequeathed to them?

    Guessing a few £million as an order of magnitude but does anyone have a handle on it?

    Also, if it is largely held offshore, what is the tax status of the ultimate beneficiaries? Surely the SWP would always pay their “fair share” of tax?

  79. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    From the Independent today: Dave Nellist’s answer to Owen Jones article;

    New alliances on the left

    Whilst I understand his impatience, Owen Jones (“British politics urgently needs a new force”, 21 January) is far too dismissive about attempts to build an electoral alternative to the main three parties’ overlapping agenda of austerity.

    Owen does not want “another party of the left to be built”; he wants Labour to change. Yet he limits his aspirations to a “network” outside Labour to pressurise it from the left (but leaving the same politicians in post).

    His sideswipe against the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is misplaced. We know TUSC is small at the moment; Owen, however, can’t see the wood for the saplings. Yes, the average of our results, where we stood in a small number of council elections in 2011 and 2012, is only 7 per cent. This May, however, we hope to stand 400 candidates.

    We are serious about putting together a stable coalition, rooted in the organisations and communities of working-class people, that re-popularises a socialist alternative.

    Building a “network” that does not electorally challenge politicians, who only differ by the speed at which pain should be imposed on ordinary people, is simply not good enough.

    Dave Nellist

    Chair, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition London E1

  80. Karl Stewart on said:

    JimmyH quoted Dave Nellist:
    “We know TUSC is small at the moment; Owen, however, can’t see the wood for the saplings. Yes, the average of our results, where we stood in a small number of council elections in 2011 and 2012, is only 7 per cent.”

    But 21 years ago, standing as an independent left candidate against the official Labour candidate, Nellist polled 28 per cent of the vote.

    The fact is that ever since the Mils first began standing in opposition to official Labour candidates, the trajectory has been consistently downwards.

    But they use a new name every few years and then pretend every that it’s a “new” idea. They then react to their increasingly embarrassing electoral failures with words like “saplings” embryonic” etc, to suggest that they’re just starting out.

    It’s politically dishonest JimmyH.

  81. Karl Stewart,

    Politically dishonest is exactly right. I cannot express my frustration with some in my union supporting tusc. My branch has given money to a well known south Manchester SWP member-addressing our meeting at how excited he was about the latest latch up-who has stood, wait for it, as a socialist alliance candidate, a Respect candidate and a Trade union and socialist candidate-none of which are the name of the party they belong to and all over the period of only ten years. Do they think people are stupid?

  82. Uncle Albert on said:

    Karl Stewart: But they use a new name every few years and then pretend every that it’s a “new” idea.

    At least they’ve learnt something – no chance at all if they openly put forward their own ‘revolutionary’ programme – hence the concealment and reliance on novelty.

  83. Georgey Boy: some in my union supporting tusc

    Like Bob Crow? More than just ‘some’ in your union :)

    Is the CPB completely opposed to TUSC btw? I’ve been a bit unclear at their exact relationship with it.

    And I tend to agree with you and Karl btw.

  84. Manzil on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: This May, however, we hope to stand 400 candidates.

    I’m more cheered by the left candidates being stood for UNISON’s exec. That’s the sort of trade union and socialist coalition worth putting the legwork into building…

  85. Daniel Young on said:

    At the end of the day there are only two players on the court.Tories and Labour,and until the voting structure changes it will always be the case, the evil you know or, the lesser evil you know.

    Andy, understands this, and is a staunch supporter of the Labour Party and that is his right.

    As for changing Labour!s social political direction, i think will be a hard ask, however,well intended, without a clean out of past and present neo-liberal practitioners within their ranks,and sadly, it is not a condition limited to just the U.K.Labour.

    Electoral reform is where the game should be played, for elective social change.

  86. Although I agree that labour is a better choice over the Tory’s, the best of the worse so to speak, but it doesn’t change the fact that the current Labour party does not represent the ideals or views of the working class or general public anymore, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown pulled the wool over the eyes of the people, lied to us all, and carved out a healthy bank account for themselves and for the rest of their lives, as far as I can see there has been no change in Labour apart from the new party leader that talks rubbish and requires a charisma bypass, what Labour needs is a leader that knows how shit it is at the bottom of the social ladder and knows how to communicate and get the message across to ordinary everyday people…

  87. Saltley Gates on said:

    WE NEED A SOCIALIST CAMPAIGN FOR A LABOUR VICTORY

    Only one major problem Neo Liberal Labour and its membership are craven

  88. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    On 23 Jan Stoke-on-Trent Labour councillor Andy Lilley resigned from the Labour Party saying, “I cannot, nor will not support an administration that seeks to target the very people they claim to represent”

    The following day Stoke-on-Trent Unison Local Government branch decided to suspend funding of Labour locally because of their attempt to push through more cuts against workers jobs, terms and conditions. Branch secretary Clive Rushton said,

    “The Labour Party was born out of the trade union movement and is there to represent the working man. It is now attacking the working man.”

    http://www.stokesocialistparty.org.uk/2013/01/26/councillor-resigns-unison-withholds-funding/

  89. Anyway. Had a good day at SW Labour conference, good input from UNITE, GMB and other union members.

    Regular readers might be interested I am now on Regional Board.

  90. Jimmy Haddow: The following day Stoke-on-Trent Unison Local Government branch decided to suspend funding of Labour locally because of their attempt to push through more cuts against workers jobs, terms and conditions. Branch secretary Clive Rushton said,

    Far be it from me to suggest that Jimmy is feeding us pork pies, but can someone explain how this coould be true?

    For those of us outside UNISON, their funding of the Labour Party does follow an opaque process compared to GMB or UNITE, but certainly the decisions on funding are not in the hands of branches. The decisions as I understand it are in the hands of the regional Labour Link committee, to which local bracnhes can apply, but the Labour Link committee will make their own judgements, taking branch recommendations into account but not being bound by them.

    I would be interested if any UNISOn colleagues could confirm Jimmy Haddows’s story of branches directly funding the local labour Party.

  91. Morning Star reader on said:

    Vanya (97), the CPB is not affiliated to TUSC and I suspect it will not join before the next General Election if at all.
    The party continues to call for the labour movement (notably the unions) to fight to reclaim the Labour Party and, if no substantial progress can be made over the next few years, to consider re-establishing their own mass party.
    Len McCluskey is saying more or less the same thing.
    I’m pretty sure the CPB will call for a Labour victory at the next General Election, despite the Shadow Cabinet’s policies, while also backing some other left candidates as well as its own.

  92. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman,

    In so far as I understand it (I’m not in the Gormenghast and Allied Workers’ Union/UNISON either) the Stoke branches didn’t actually suspend any (non-existent) funding, that was just the local press not understanding the arcane bureaucracy of our beloved unions. Stoke UNISON appealed for a suspension to regional committee – which (I believe?) met yesterday in Birmingham and was expected to confirm the decision, although I’ve not seen the result reported anywhere.

    I was under the impression it was essentially LL’s decision though, given that contributing to the APF is optional; does anyone know if regional is able to nix this without consulting them?