Post-Brexit thoughts – moving forward

I’ve been reticent about posting my reaction to the result in the last tumultuous days simply out of self-preservation – like so many other people, my anxiety, anger and stress have been sky high, so I withdrew from online in an attempt to manage my symptoms better and avoid the vicious bullying and name-calling until I could at least get my head together. But the times are calling…

Like many other people I can’t delude myself and celebrate the leave vote as a victory for the left and working class just yet. Yes millions of workers (and middle class people) voted to leave as an anti-establishment protest against the unbearable economic and social conditions – BUT and this is the massive, gargantuan BUT – that understandable rage has been driven and distorted by the most base racism, nationalism and in no way represents a coherent left-wing, united working class rejection of the E.U. and austerity and the capitalist economic system as a whole. Racists everywhere have been boosted by this result and now think they can say whatever hate filled xenophobic abuse they like to anyone who isn’t a so-called British national. Whilst it is true that the majority of the working class voted leave ( the AB group backed Remain by 57% to 43%, while the poorer C2DE category was almost two-thirds in favour of quitting, voting Out by 64% to 36% according to the Daily Mirror quoting ‘Lord’ Ashcroft of all people), the working class are not some homogenous mass social and economic group. Young people were much more likely to vote remain as were communities where the majority of the population are not British born, including in Cardiff, which is a city with a large working class. Nor does it take into account the majority for leave in Scotland or the sectarian nature of the vote in Northern Ireland – two major topics that indicate the escalation of national conflict at risk here and needs proper analysis which I won’t do here).

My own experience is  significant numbers of public sector workers  – of all nationalities and skin colours – voted to remain not because they are ‘soft middle class liberals’ but because of a genuine and deep seated disgust at racism and xenophobia and REAL CONCERNS over job losses and the loss of E.U. funding to the poorest areas of Wales (which is around 90% of it). That’s why we can’t help feeling that our class have just voted for their own bullets – particularly whilst the left are totally ineffective ignored (particularly hard left ‘Lexiters’ such as the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party) and the far right are triumphant.

Working class and middle class leave voters – particularly the majority who did so for nationalist, anti-immigration reasons – are about to receive a rude shock. Nationalist right wing politicians are misdirecting your rage against the most vulnerable members of your own class and are escalating morally bankrupt divide and rule poison which destroys any potential united working class movement against the system. Farage, Johnston and Gove are ruthless Etonian ruling class politicians who – newsflash – support privatisation, austerity, the bankers and the mass immiseration of the working class. They are going to let us rot and destroy each other whilst the ruling class stay in charge. I don’t think it’s okay to sneer at working class leave voters as stupid and ignorant – the E.U. is a rotten, war mongering, anti-worker, elitist institution – but so is the British parliamentary system including the house of lords, so is the monarchy and this  fantasy that Britain can return to its imperialist ‘hey day’ reveals a total ignorance of the real history of working class united struggle against racism, colonialism, imperialism and class exploitation. So whilst I don’t like to insult anyone, it has to be said that racism, bigotry and misplaced faith in Farage to save the NHS or whatever does unfortunately reveal your ignorance and that ignorance is threatening some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met – people who have fled the most appalling, traumatising conflicts in the world and / or are just trying to get a better life for themselves and their families – and I will NOT stand by and let that happen because I’m worried about challenging you. Sorry but now is the time that we must speak out – the far-right must be opposed and the left absolutely definitely now has to get its act together if there’s any hope for our class.

Not all of the leave voters did so far racist reasons, nor was it only white working class people who voted for it but the end result is that Farage and UKIP and the far-right across Europe are celebrating this as their victory, as some of us had tried to warn, and for lexiters to deny this is grossly irresponsible and represents abandoning non-British working class people – WHO ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AND ARE INSTEAD PART OF THE MOST OPPRESSED AND EXPLOITED OF THE CLASS – to an escalation of racist abuse, terror, turmoil and agonising uncertainty now over whether they can stay here. I can’t not do this; my conscience won’t allow it. I’m proud to be for real internationalism and solidarity and think our most important tasks ahead include organising to defend refugees, EU. and international ‘migrants’ (or people in my way of seeing things) and independent working class action, including strike action to protest austerity, cuts, racism and against the bosses – be they nationalist or E.U. bosses. The vote result has happened now and there’s’ no going back, I see no point in a re-run and what we urgently need is a labour movement that can get workers to reject nationalism and racism and instead advocate real European wide workers’ solidarity against the bosses and the politicians, no matter their flags.

The biggest responsibility for the fact that the far-right nationalists and their corporate allies in the mass media were able to distort and twist what could have been a class conscious, internationalist leave campaign lies with the long term strategic failures of the labour movement as a whole, going back decades. The long term betrayals of social democracy by sowing illusions in reforming capitalism, class compromise in the name of ‘partnership with the employers’ and supporting the national bourgeois against independent working class unity across borders, as well as the more recent  specific betrayals of the trade unions and the Labour Party in the U.K. (and everwhere else of course) in failing to build a mass movement against the cuts and austerity has led to this desperate situation where working class people, rightly raging at the system, have mistakenly turned to the elitist, capitalist led far-right and this has been a long term process culminating in the absolute rabid and deeply frightening anti-immigrant mood popularly whipped up by short sighted and dangerous politicians from both the Tories AND Labour. We need to recognise this urgently if we are to turn the anger of the masses around from this dangerous racist and nationalist course to an actual international, socialist outlook. Our key responsibility now is to work out how we are to intervene and rebuild the left once more as a real mass movement of the working class around Europe and beyond.

EU or GB? A plague on both your houses!

Cardiff Marxist Group

I will be abstaining in the EU referendum taking place this month. A vote for EU Austerity and Capital versus Great British Austerity and Capital is not a choice I want any part of. The entire basis of the referendum is based around a faction struggle between capitalists grounded in appeals to nationalist populism. Neither option will provide any kind of victory to the working class, in fact one way or the other, we’ll lose.

Most on the left seem completely split over the issue with various arguments called up in favour of leave, remain and abstain. All have some good arguments as well as bad.

Those arguing to leave highlight the reactionary nature of the EU as an institution, that it is in no  way shape or form a friend of workers (the fact that the TUC argues it is, is testament to their pathetic capitulations). It is responsible for deposing…

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Michael Crick, Peter Taaffe and me Part 2

 

Part 2

It has taken me a long time to be in the right headspace to write publicly again about my experiences of the Socialist Party but now the healing powers of time and distance, combined with a new political situation following the election of Corbyn last summer and now the impending EU referendum in a toxic climate of growing racism, poverty and mass suffering directly resulting from the ongoing capitalist economic crisis compels me to write.

In part 1 I promised to address the following points:

Why I left the Socialist Party in 2013 (you can also read my resignation letter – still with the original typos – elsewhere on my ) I want to write about this experience in the light of the knowledge I have gained as a socialist feminist activist since then.

Why Michael Crick is accurate about the cultic and atheistic religious  practices of the party, drawing on both my own and many other ex members’ experiences and what is more important, why these organisation features are directly detrimental to the task of building a  real mass working class revolutionary organisation.

What mass socialist party / organisation I advocate instead and how I imagine such an organisation might work with present Socialist Party members today.

I am very concerned about the situation facing our class today and I think the left is singularly failing to develop a serious, well thought out strategy on how we can take on  the system with the class behind us and with us, not relying on our own, narrow networks of activists as if this can substitute itself for a real mass movement. The left is short- termist in the extreme and incredibly shallow in its enthusiasm for populist soft left characters, who usually get there because they have the loudest mouths. Politics is a dirty business.

It’s  important to remember the lessons of Syriza in Greece = a left wing government which tries to work within the capitalist paradigm and does not build a mass working class movement to take on the bosses and the capitalist class in its entirety has proved itself impotent whilst the Greek working class is starved and punished by the bosses institutions of the E.U. etc. It’s important to recognise that neither right wing nationalists or the E.U are the friends of working class people. Both sides loathe the masses and have nothing but contempt for us. This is why I don’t want to vote for either side in the upcoming EU referendum. I reject both but funnily enough, european socialism and unity against the bosses (no matter their flag) is not on offer on the ballot. Like millions of others in Britain I am totally disenfranchised by the capitalist system.

Nor do I share Peter Taaffe and the SP’s optimism about what a ‘no’ result on June 23rd would entail. They see it as a chance to bring down Cameron and imagine that it will led to some kind of mass movement to overthrow the government – a profound misreading of the situation in Britain today in my view. The labour movement is weak and class struggle here is possibly the lowest it’s ever been whilst the far and populist racist right are in the ascendancy, as a result of the historic failiure of the left to offer a credible alternative to the right in the first place.

Whilst it is true that some genuine and very long standing socialists and trade unionists support Corbyn and certainly not all of them are careerists and are instead principled working class fighters in South Wales, the right in Labour remain in charge in Wales and are determined to implement the Tories cuts and accept the logic of the market and maintain the status quo and their inflated, removed  lifestyles of m.p.s, a.m.s, councillors and union officials alike whilst ruling out strike action and defiance of the anti union laws.

Whilst there are strikes taking place in Britain, the overall level of struggle is very low.  Life is just getting worse for most of us, clinging desperately to day to day survival as we are. I don’t think the working class here has the class consciousness and confidence RIGHT NOW to unite in mass struggle against capitalism and reject the evil of racism against immigrants. British nationalism is dividing the working class here extremely effectively. This is the danger we are in and it’s vital that we are able to make a realistic assessment of where we are if we as a movement are ever able to develop an effective strategy to build a mass movement against capitalism on an international basis.

Although working class people are correct in rejecting the European Union as an elitist, bureaucratic club of the European bosses (dominated by Germany and France), it is equally mistaken to fall for the divide and rule tactics of the racist UKIP and the Brexit Tories led by Boris Johnston. We need working class unity against both sections of the capitalist club fighting it out for power in this referendum of no choice. The so-called democratic parliamentary system which gives us this referendum is based on lies on all sides and ensures that working class people will always remain powerless and exploited whilst the rich stay in charge, whatever the results.

In the first part of this article, I promised to elaborate on why I left the party when it would appear that we  are roughly on the same side, even though there are the differences I have outlined so far. If I was a member of the Socialist Party now, I would be unable to express any differences of opinion that I have with the leadership regarding their analysis of current events, their programmatic demands and campaigns on say the European Union, for instance. The leadership argue that debate must be internal but when a decision agreed then everyone must publicly advocate that position publically. There are countless ex-Militant and Socialist Party members not only in Britain but in many countries of the world where their international organisation, the Committee for a Workers’ International, has or has had a presence who have been victims to this policy of ‘democratic centralism’.

For example, In the last 2 years comrades have been forced out for daring to contradict the leadership’s analysis of the causes of the capitalist economic crisis and putting forward their own marxian analysis and denounced for seeking factional rights in the organisation as is their right to do so according to the party constitution; it is an absurd situation which indicates the level of control and censorship the leadership maintains over its members in order to maintain their positions. What is valued most in the organisation is unquestioning and unthinking loyalty to the leadership around Taaffe at all costs.  Loyal members parrot the E.C.’s arguments and refuse to consider any of the evidence staring right in front of them that indicates that the E.C. MIGHT NOT BE 100 PERCENT RIGHT about something (say choosing to defend known domestic abusers in their organisation rather than supporting the survivors – in the sincere and honest opinions of a number of former members and independent activists from around the world) because they are ‘busy’ organising the ‘revolution’. Newer members of the organisation are duped and brain washed, just as I was for the many years I stayed in the organisation.

Many of the older and more experienced members – often otherwise good socialist campaigners – are afriad of change and do not want to be forced out of their little socialist church where everything is safe and the leaders do the thinking for you. Unfortunately group delusion on this scale does not prepare you well for actual events, for life, is not black and white and socialists are as weak, fallible and flawed as anyone else  and that is the truth. Our movement has the right and the duty to admit mistakes and do our best to make our organisations as inclusive of the most oppressed sections of the working class, not least women and people of colour as possible and open up to the working class – we are not living under the Tsarist dictatorship, this is Britain in 2016!

I’m keenly aware that this is not just about my own particular story in Militant / Socialist Party history; there are many former members who lived and breathed this way of life and have their own stories to tell.  My direct experience is of the organisation in decline and well after the Militant hey days. I was a small child in the early 80s so everything I know about the organisation from that time comes second-hand. When I joined as a student at Swansea University in 2000 I was recruited by Alec Thraves, the local full timer, at the time the Welsh Secretary of the Party and to do this day member of the International Executive Committee of the CWI (Alec is named as one of the leaders in the appendixes of Crick’s book). Alec impressed me with his impassioned defence of Militant’s record and as a devoted member I immersed myself in the Militant folklore from the older comrades who had made the headlines back in the day. I also remember Alec denouncing Crick’s book as a right-wing hatchet job – I never bothered reading it as a member.

Then, when I left the party in despair and disgust in 2013 I made contact with a number of the former leaders, full timers and rank and file ex members from the 1980s up to the present day and from around the world (including Scotland, Germany, Sweden, the U.S., France and Ireland) and these comrades – many still active as socialists in the movement to different degrees – by sharing their own experiences of the organisation started to help re-educate myself and better understand how my own experience of sexism, bureaucratic centralism (always misrepresented by the SP as ‘democratic’ centralism) and political ostracism resulting from my dissidence was part of a much wider and deeply rooted long term malaise in the organisation which comes from treating marxism as a religious doctrine, exerting cultic control over members’ lives and maintaining power for the elitist high priest-like status of the leadership.

I critique Peter Taaffe and his ruling clique for their unwillingness to admit their human faillibility so it is only fair to admit my own fallibility which anyone who has ever known me can tell you about. Hopefully most people who know me though generally think well of me and that does seem to be the case. When I was challenging the leadership both internally and then later externally in early 2013 I made my own mistakes and no doubt I make mistakes now. Possibly my negative view of the strength of the working class to unite in mass struggle, as a result of the many mistakes of the left, including the Socialist Party, is too one-sided. I just know our people are suffering more than ever before and it’s always been shit under capitalism but right now the left are just not up to the tasks and responsibilities facing us and are not learning any of the main lessons of working class history so far – socialism can not be achieved through parliament and the repeated and unfortunately predicatable betrayals of all the main so-called workers’ parties including the Labour Party, the Communist Party and the two main Trotksyist organisations in Britain – both the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party and whilst it was still around, the Workers Revolutionary Party.

We are not in a position as a class by any means to take on the bosses’ class properly when the majority of the left in all its many guises to this day has massive illusions in capitalism and its main institutions including the U.K. parliamentary system, the legal system including the police and the courts and the European Union and the Socialist Party is unfortunately part of this process, despite their absurd claim to be ‘the’ revolutionary party. There is no open or public recognition that a major reason why we are in the shit today is because social democracy – the Labour Party and the trade unions – were made part of the capitalist state when they chose to support World War One and their ‘own’ capitalist class in that war over a hundred years ago, betraying workers internationalism in the struggle to unite to overthrow capitalism! The Labour Party and trade union bureaucracy have been consistent ever since in maintaining the rule of capitalism as can be demonstrated by all the major historical events of the last century including, alongside the Communist Party, selling out the 1926 General Strike which is a defeat our class here has never recovered from. We haven’t had a general strike in Britain ever since and that is the minimum which is required if we are ever to get off our knees again as a class and stop these Tory bastards and have even the opportunity to consider how we can fundamentally change society in our collective interests.

We live in communities crushed by the  Labour, trade union and CP led defeat of the miners in 84/5 and the children and the grandchildren and the great, great grandchildren of the fantastic working class fighters of both the 1980s generation and all our fore mother and fathers before it are examples of mass working class struggle that today’s generation and all those youngsters coming up behind us need to learn from a.s.ap. if we are ever going to have a chance to survive and live half decent lives again. Whilst it is great that soft left ideas are gaining mass support around Corbyn it is not because Labour will save the working class but because the class struggle is not over despite what the Blairite right think and the Corbyn phenomen is just an early, babyish in fact phase of the movement trying to rebuild itself again under this fercious attack from the ruling class. To have any chance of actual success we need to rediscover our revolutionary history and dig deeper than the official Labour movement narrative – remember these are the people who helped Crick try and smash working class socialist resistance to their system in Liverpool. For all the flaws of Militant / the Socialist Party, that doesn’t detract from the heroism of EVERY WORKING CLASS PERSON in Liverpool who fought the Tory government’s funding cuts and built jobs, homes and services in that legendary city in the early 80s.

But now let’s get to the heart of why I had to finally leave  the Socialist Party – sexism on the male dominated left of which unfortunately the SP is but just one example. I’m going to be blunt for brevity. All three of the Trotskyist organisations have (or in the WRP’s case, had) major problems with women members in particular reporting experiences of sexism, abuse and cover up by powerful male leaders. So many voices – and there are many of us, although not all of us have gone public yet – can’t be discounted the way an individual can be. I will always stand with my sisters including Caroline Leneghan (please read her International Women’s Day statement from 2013 as well as my resignation letter from the SP) and many other female comrades I know personally who have shared their experiences of abuse from members of the Socialist Party with me but at this stage do not want to be named. Encouragingly other women are starting to come forward and long may this continue.Recently the CWI (the acronym of the Committee of the Workers’ International, ‘the intenrational’ of the organisation) has been rocked by domestic violence and rape cover up scandals, leading to very public splits in Sweden and in Australia.

I know that I promised to write about what working class revolutionary organisation I would like to see develop and how independent socialists, anarchists and working class revolutionaries might / could / possibly work with present day Socialist Party members who are willing to engage in a dialogue about the health of their organisation and acknowledge that problems do indeed exist and recognise the contributions of the rest of us, not least their ex members, of which we are many and growing. I will do so but in what will be part 3, where I will also return in more detail about the sexist culture of the Socialist Party and its various other unfortunate organisational characteristics, to put it far more politely than they deserve.

So, until Part 3 then,

Viva La Revolution

Sara M

06/06/16

 

Michael Crick, Peter Taaffe and me

Now, I haven’t posted on this blog for two years but that doesn’t mean I disappeared all that time. I’ve been published since in The Screaming Violets (a feminist socialist magazine),  Independent Socialist Network’s theoretical journal, the (now disbanded) International Socialist Network and the Facts for Working People blog, as well as various random articles I’ve published myself online. I’ve never really tried to get published more widely, and I suffer intermittent writer’s block, but I’ve got to a point now where I’m ready to speak my truth again and say yes this is still me – Sara Mayo – and I’m in a much, much healthier place than I was when my time with the Socialist Party had to end.

March of Militant – a review of both Crick’s book AND Peter Taaffe’s latest review of it in The Socialist. Part 1

I rarely write about politics these days. I’ve become a semi-recluse – my disengagement and frustration with the left of Britain is the highest it’s ever been. I rarely comment publically, such is my cynicism and despair, yet when I came across a review of the re-issue of Michael Crick’s 1986 classic ‘The rise of Militant’ complete with a post-Corbyn as Labour leader update – I couldn’t resist finally reading it – and now I feel compelled to review both it and Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of the Socialist Party (formerly Militant)’s response to it and offer my own analysis of the prospects of the left ‘reclaiming’ Labour from the right and the possible future of the socialist left and what role the SP might play in this.

I was a dedicated member of the SP for over 12 years (between 2000 – 2013) and always defended Militant’s record in the Labour Party, even though I’ve never joined the Labour Party and never will. I think one of the main lessons from the experience of Militant in the Labour Party is that despite the impressive achievements of Liverpool Council in defying the Tory government and securing housing etc. (details) the Labour Party as an institution can not be made into a genuine socialist party and that parliament is a hostile, ruling class institution which is fundamentally antagonistic to the interests of the working class.

Left wing politicians in parliament  get sucked into the privileged life of representative politics and whilst I respect the integrity of many Militant activists, within the organisation there is a reluctance to acknowledge, let alone address, the ego-driven and self interested personalities of leaders such as Derek Hatton and how the internal ‘democracy’ of the party prevents any accountability of the leadership to both members and the working class as a whole. Of course Crick uses the character of Hatton as a stick to beat Militant with, but it is unsatisfactory in my opinion for Peter Taaffe to refuse to acknowledge the problems and mistakes of both Hatton and the Militant leadership in his recent review of the 2016 edition of Crick’s book. Yes I admire how Militant and the Labour left around them fought so bravely for the working class but this unwillingness to admit fallibility, based on the personality cult of Peter Taaffe himself is unsettling and has pushed many marxist activists, including myself, away from the organisation.

So my perspective on Crick’s book is that of an ex-member who is still hard left  and what is more, critical of Trotskyism and  the democratic central model. My only current involvement in political organisation is the Cardiff based Marxist discussion group, which was set up by former SP members including myself (prior to this I was a member of Left Unity for approximately two years. I left LU because of their reformist illusions in both Syriza in Greece and then in Corbyn and Labour).

Therefore, although I reject co-operation with the Labour right and privately owned press to critique Militant / SP today, I share some of Crick’s critique of Militant – particularly, the hierarchical structure, the  self-perpetuating leadership resulting from the slate system of elections, the unhealthy aspects of mind control and the cultic practices  of this party and the sexism / white-male dominance of the party – all of which Crick observed in the 1980s and I can testify remains basically true of the organisation to this day.

BUT TO REPEAT – 

I do not share Crick’s basic political support of the Labour establishment. Indeed I’m even further left to the SP in denouncing both Labour and parliament, even with Corbyn now elected.  I refuse to co-operative with the right (e.g. the Progress faction) to attack Militant / SP and since leaving the SP in 2013 I have stuck to my decision to not go to the bourgeois press as a dissident. Instead I have taken my grievances with the SP to the labour, radical feminist and anarchist movement and sought to hold them to account this way – with limited success, I must concede, as the SP’s main self-defence tactic in these cases is to suppress, isolate and ultimately ignore former members and break off groups.

The Labour right’s strategy today and the lessons of Corbyn’s election as leader what does it signify? Is the class struggle over?

Inevitably, considering Crick’s social position as a senior journalist for various establishment media companies, the book has been reissued as an instruction manual for the Labour right to try and defeat the soft left around Corbyn. This is explicit from the front cover with an endorsement from Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and one of the most prominent right wingers in the shadow cabinet, who is quoted on the 2016 re-issue of ‘Militant on the March’ recommending Crick’s book as ‘an essential must-read for all Labour activists.’ Right wing Labour Party factions such as Progress and Labour First (hypocritically, also ‘parties within parties’ like Militant were previously) were part of the 1980s witch-hunt and they too have praised the new edition. The reason why the right are scrambling to Crick again is because they made a massive miscalculation about Corbyn in the summer and ever since Corbyn’s election they are now determined, of course, to get rid of him as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

This major mistake of the right – who believed their own propaganda that their working class and middle class members and supporters are not left-wing – gave Corbyn’s group an opportunity for leadership they themselves had never thought possible. Support for left wing ideas has grown in response to the actual conditions of capitalist exploitation presented to us in the misleading language of ‘austerity’, ‘balancing the budget deficit’ and ‘unavoidable cuts’. Inevitably, and almost DESPITE the conservatism and incompetence of the left, working class and to some extent the more impoverished sections of the lower middle-class, have been forced to protest the government’s policies because of our increasingly unbearable living conditions (growing but masked unemployment, privatisation of education, benefit cuts, wage stagnation, a growing housing crisis…) . Last summer, hundreds of thousands took part in the People’s Assembly’s and the Labour and trade union aristocracy approved A to B marches against austerity and cuts.  As usual, we marched from A to B and then back home again to go to work / stay at home on the dole as if nothing had ever happened the day before. A big march might make the headlines but all of the establishment know that they have nothing to really worry about so long as the left continues in cosy partnership with the parliamentary establishment (by not organising occupations, strikes and developing a clear anti-capitalist mass movement to go outside of the parliamentary paradigm).

Therefore the Potential exists for mass mobilisation of working class again – the problem is that there is no mass organisation of the working class committed to building organised opposition to cuts and the bosses and capitalism outright. For Labour to adopt this programme (limited as it is) would require the ejection of the right / some kind of split on pro-capitalist / pro – socialist lines. The reality is that Labour – despite the election of Corbyn – is still the ‘second eleven’ of the establishment. Labour councils are actively pursuing anti-working class policies throughout the country. Now we are told – by many of the left including The People’s Assembly – to go begging once again to the Labour politicians who sell us out again and again because they believe gaining power is about propping up the existing system and helping the bosses out whilst making families and young people homeless. Soft left phrases are empty when in the council you vote for the same as the Tories and Liberals. Furthermore Labour have been selling out strikes and independent working class action pretty much since they first came to power in coalition with the Tories back in the 1920s!

Despite this, some socialist groupings (including splits from the two main Trotskyist groups) are fervent Corbyn supporters and advocate re-entry into Labour to defend Corbyn and the left and as part of a mission to finally achieve the ‘reclamation’ of the Labour Party as a mass workers party with some kind of limited socialist programme, to be achieved through the ballot box. The SP and their main rival, the Socialist Workers Party, publicly but critically support Corbyn but are adopting a ‘wait and see’ sort of approach – aware perhaps that attempted re-entry into Labour is difficult because:

  • For the SP – to advocate re-entry now means abandoning the position held by them for over 20 years and which led to the split with the Grantites in the first place.
  • The Labour Party right –are not going to let Militant or any other ‘Trotskyist / communist / hard-left’ types re-enter. They are actively trying to learn from their mistakes with Militant in the 70s and 80s.
  • To maintain credibility on the hard-left. The SP are a declared revolutionary party so to retain outwardly Marxian credentials, they must distance themselves from the parliamentarism and outright reformism of Momentum.
  • The SP will never let go of their organisational and political model to appease either their right-wing or ‘soft’left critics in Labour. Taaffe / the SP  favour a federal type model -and interestingly, Taaffe, in his review of Crick’s book, also notes that the federal social democratic model is also supported by  Paul Mason(!):http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/22604k).

The Labour right are not giving up their party (and therefore their places in parliament) to mild lefts like Corbyn, without a fight. Yet Corbyn and his supporters are weak and conciliatory, attempting to ‘unite’ the party – a doomed strategy. Although Corbyn has recently defended his past of supporting Militant during the 80s witch hunt, his concessionary approach to the right so far indicates that he is unlikely to risk their wrath by encouraging the SP to re-join.

However, according to the rabidly right-wing Telegraph in just Feb this year, in a typically hysterical headline: ‘Labour civil war: Momentum’s ‘Militant-style’ blueprint for gaining influence for Jeremy Corbyn’ a leaked Momentum document includes plans for 20,000 members, eight paid time staff (all of which is perfectly within the factional traditions of the party – the Labour right only have problems with left factions, unsurprisingly) and (sic in particular) the proposal that “the National Committee may decide by resolution to admit into membership any person whom it believes has been unfairly excluded from membership of the Labour Party,” (as quoted by The Telegraph).

If Momentum were to be successful in achieving any of the above (which is unlikely given the undemocratic structures of the party and more to the point, the absolute conviction of  the Labour right and in reality many of its ‘soft’ left, that Labour must be a ‘responsible party of government’ which means in practice setting cuts budgets and maintaining the status quo), this could be the potential basis for current Socialist Party or indeed any other ‘hard lefts’ (including myself if I was so inclined – which I am not) to re-join. Indeed, a number of socialist lefts, including the Independent Socialist Network (previously a ‘faction’ of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) are committed to this entryist work in the Labour Party and talk up such ‘opportunities’.

The problem, however, is that despite the fears of the right wing media establishment and the Blairites, Momentum is weak and lacks the stomach and convictions to fight for their limited reformist programme. – in reality, their decision to stay with Labour during the Blair and Brown years reflects their devotion to parliament and willingness not to rock the boat enough to get kicked out of the party). As the SP itself has acknowledged in its newspaper, Corbyn and Momentum are not succeeding in stopping Labour implementing cuts and have no serious strategy to kick out the right (for example, http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/22197). Momentum public meetings have so far – predictably, I might add – have manoeuvred and blocked any SP intervention in meetings to determine policy, including adopting a no cuts policy at council-level.

End of Part 1

In Part 2 of this review / comment piece, I will address why I left the party  and how Crick is accurate about the cultic and atheistic religious type practices of Militant / the Socialist Party today and what mass socialist party / organisation I advocate instead and how I imagine such an organisation might work with present Socialist Party members today.