Image: Anti-fascists chasing the fash out of Cardiff, autumn 2014 (photo by Sa Kollantai) We live in hyper-real times where we are so distracted by our little ‘black mirrors’ that we spend more time absorbed by our screens than actually … Continue reading
13/07/16 update: Corbyn wins NEC vote to be on ballot paper, fake left Owen Smith also announces he’s standing – new introduction written to reflect new developments
So the good news is that Corbyn won the NEC vote and will be able to stand; a comfort for his supporters but all the barriers in his way remain: the right are now changing the rules so that only those who can afford £25 can now vote – a measure designed deliberately to exclude the majority of Corbyn’s working class supporters from voting, whilst both Eagle and now Owen Smith (too gutless to admit it to his constitutency Labour Party meeting last Friday) has announced that he’s standing as the laughably ‘soft left’ candidate (read pro austerity and war) candidate,with the right led Welsh Labour Party quickly abandoning their pseudo support of Corbyn.The right are also mobilising their own supporters to join Labour to vote him out. Corbyn may well survive the vote in September, and yes the NEC are up for re-election soon, but he will still have the problem of the Parliamentary Labour Party and no way for Constituency Labour Party members to reselect their m.p.s. Worse, many CLP members of the Labour Party are not socialist by any means (despite the many genuine left wingers who have joined to support Corbyn) and are anti-Corbyn, hence the confidence of Eagle and Smith to both stand, fully backed as there are by a Labour Party machinery that is determined to use all potential means possible to stop Corbyn, just like the Democratic Party has managed to do against Bernie Sanders.
That’s why I remain convinced that whilst Corbyn is admirable in his determination to keep on fighting, his overall mission to ‘reclaim’ Labour, including somehow keeping the right Machievellian elitist politicians and convincing them to introduce nicer, peaceful pro worker measures whilst keeping the capitalist system is not going to succeed and would in any case require a split. It’s calculated dishonesty on Eagle and Smith’s part to claim they are for ‘unity’- they want to crush the left and are responsible for the impoverishment of the working class and the poisenous growth of racism.
So Eagle, the right wing, so called ‘unity’ candidate has announced that she’s standing and it looks likely that the Labour Party NEC will rule Corbyn ineligible to stand – a disgraceful yet despairingly predictable development from the Labour Party capitalist loving right wing. Corbyn’s legal team are arguing that he is eligilble to stand as the incumbant and so far Corbyn is standing firm, refusing to stand down.
But the split is getting closer, now that even Len McClusky, Unite General Secretary and firm Corbyn supporter has even finally appeared to recgonise this, after the negiotations with Tom Watson, Deputy Labour Party leader and coup leader have so far failed to led to Corbyn resigning. That’s good news that Corbyn hasn’t capitulated yet, but his contiuned concessions to the right wing, not least his repeated pleas for ‘unity’ as a party are alarming – unity with the Labour right can not be achieved without compromising the objective interests of the working class.
Corbyn is not calling for the reselection of m.p.s to enable rank and file party members to remove these undemocratic, careerist, frequently war mongering, rich and elitists coup supporting m.p.s who offer nothing but lies and empty promises to Labour Party members, and worse, to the working class as a whole. I’m thinking of Blairite snakes such as Owen Smith, my own m.p. (lucky me!), the m.p. for Pontypridd and an m.p. named in the press last week as another possible so called ‘unity’ candidate. According to a local source of mine, Smith was promising his local consitutiency members just this Friday night that he is a ‘left winger’ but still thinks Corbyn should stand down. Politicians like Smith who vote for war and austerity are dishonest, manipulative and are the enemies of the workers movement.
It increasingly looks like there will now be some kind of high court battle ensuing between Labour right and the Corbynistas. Meanwhile Teresa May – the rabidly reactionary new Tory P.M. who’s just taken control of the country following the ahem left-wing victory of Brexit – is confident about bringing on a general election, according to some of the Tabloids today, knowing that the Labour Party is ripping itself apart. The sooner Corbyn and the left split away from the impossible to win battle of ‘reclaiming’ the second bosses party and help form a genuine working class organisation free of war criminals, investment bankers and corporations the better. If only, that is. Corbyn and his many supposedly hard left supporters who cling to the Labour Party no matter what are unwilling to let go of the redundant promises of the project of social democracy – that is the fantasy that parliament can be used to introduce gradual and permanent reforms, with the capitalist class peacefully accepting this until socialism is achieved ………. in a couple of decades from now, maybe? Except that’s been the promise for over a century and it’s been crushed every single time from the outbreak of WW1 to the inability of Syriza in Greece to ‘negiotiate’ with the E.U., IMF and World Bank etc.
The Corbynista’s programme is impossible to achieve; social democracy is responsible for the ruling class maintaining control over the so called workers party in the first place. Even now Corbyn and McDonell are still maintaining that they want to achieve ‘unity’ with the right. There is no plan to deselect the right-wing m.p.s. Momentum is not a socialist organisation – it aims to better manage the capitalist system through Keynesian policies of job investment of growth – to be acheived with the permission of the markets and multinational firms undergoing never ending ‘profit’ crisis and now the impact of Brexit – excuse me if I’m sceptical. Keynes was firmly in favour of capitalism and had nothing but contempt for working class people.
The responsibility of Labour as a ruling class party and the wider mistakes of the labour movement
The Labour Party that Corbyn and his supporters (admittedly growing in size) want to ‘reclaim’ is the second eleven of the ruling class and however well-intentioned many left winger members and supporters of the Labour party are, unfortunately you are trying to persuade an important section of the ruling class to voluntarily give up their immense priviledges and rule in favour of a fictitious workers’ democracy within the party, which they never have and never will do. Nor will the Parliamentary Labour Party or the wider Labour Party bureaucracy accept you as a representative in this party unless you give up on your principles (like refusing to pass austerity budgets as an elected councillor, for example). There’s a reason why hard left ex-Trotskyist types are not welcome. The Labour right wing have learnt from their mistakes with Militant’s infilitration years ago. There’s a reason why PLP coup leader Tom Watson praised Michael Crick’s recent new edition of his 1986 investigative book into Militant as an ‘essential guide for Labour Party activists’ today. The Labour Party are determined to crush the left and will do everything and anything to do so. They have a country to lord it over. The danger is that for socialists to survive such a hostile, alien environment they must hide their politics – and by doing so, end up selling out. All the indications so far is that is exactly what is happening.
But first, let’s go back to 2007 and the Brown Labour government’s handling of the economic crash. Prior to the Tory election of 2010, Labour ‘achieved’ for the working class 1) a massive decline in working class people’s living standards 2) privatisation of key public sector services 3) the further demonisation of those on benefits, Muslims, non British born migrants and council estate residents generally and a conscious ramping up of British nationalism – with British flags decorated on our streets and T.V. screens (thanks BBC for your continual indoctrination) 4) growing unemployment, under employment and rise of agency working and insecure contracts 5) a massive housing crisis 6) bailing out to the banks whilst transferring the ‘costs’ onto our backs 7) disastrous, murderous foreign policy – Libya, Yemen, Syria, Palestine – creating the desperate conditions which forces people from these and many other countries to flee their homes and countries and attempt to seek sanctuary elsewhere, including Britain of course. Only for Labour Party m.p.s to blame them for the economic, social and political problems they themselves have created through their policies, votes and actions in parliament and bombs. Seemingly endless bombs in a growing list of countries around the world (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, need I go on?).
As a ‘trusted responsible party of government’, funded by numerous multinationals, media barons and war mongers (arms companies, the Israeli lobby) it has always been in Labour’s interests to divide and rule – Labour are as responsible for this as the Tories.
Why is it that the right are taking advantage of the capitalist political crisis and the left is divided, impotent and workers’ confidence is at an all time low?
The main responsibility for the growth in far-right, nationalist and xenophobic ideas lies with the failures of the labour movement itself. The trade unions have proved themselves impotent, tied as they are to the Labour Party and run and controlled by over-paid bureaucrats who enjoy all the privileges and trappings of power and self-appointed ‘left’ leaders motivated primarily by their own egos and maintaining their own positions of power rather than a genuine desire to democratise the unions and lead a real uprising from below. They want to drink fancy red wine at dinner parties with the politicians and the bureaucrats whilst congratulating each other on how clever and cultured they are and have no connection with the working class, say a handful of union reps but even most of these are full time officials. This is my own experience of Cardiff People’s Assembly, for example.
Since the Tories got in in 2010, the downward trajectory of organised class struggle has been the main trend here in the U.K. The betrayal of the TUC and the Labour Party loving Unison leadership in selling out the pensions dispute of 2012 – which at its peak saw the largest strikes in Britain in decades – has led to an escalation of endless attacks on workers in and out of work. The large anti-austerity protests prior to Brexit went nowhere towards building a real mass working class movement against the Tories, instead seeing ever declining numbers on protests consisting in the last few months of mainly self funded activists who don’t apparently have to go to work or worry about money(lucky them, eh?). The mainly self appointed cliques which run the People’s Assembly and anti-racist organisations such as Unite Against Fascism, co-operate with the police and other state forces to possibly even consciously neutralise any real threat to the system and ensure that working class protesters go back home and carry on wasting their time begging careerist politicians (whether they are Labour, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru etc) to solve our problems and acting as left liberal cover for a whole host of thoroughly reactionary capitalist institutions including, but not limited to, the E.U, the U.K. parliament, the Scottish parliament and the Welsh government.
The right dominated unions cower behind the anti-trade union laws and preach partnership with the employers. Even relatively militant unions like PCS – still not affiliated to Labour and correctly so – have failed to defend workers claiming benefits and have allowed their members to impose murderous sanctions against the poorest in society.Yes, there are still strikes, not least of which is the magnificent strike action of school teachers in England last week, but let’s try and have an actually realistic assessment of the strength of our forces and stop deluding ourselves that tiny hard left organisations mean anything at all to the overwhelming majority of the population. Certainly the potential for generalised strikes and protests is latent in the situation – but we have to get over a century of defeats including the horrors of the degeneration of the Russian revolution into dictatorship and murderous privledged bureacracy, the defeat of the General Strike of 1926 and of course the Miners Strike of 84/85 amongst many other defeats for the class, both here and internationally and we do not as present have any significant or influential and above all, genuine mass socialist organisation to turn any of this around. The situation is extremely alarming and millions of working class people have never heard of real trade unionism, socialism or any kind of real internationalism.
Why Corbyn and McDonell’s policies do not represent a break from administering capitalism
The historic mistakes of social democracy are many but to sum up some of the main faults: it is all about winning elections in the capitalist paradigm; going for a nationalist rather than class appeal (British jobs for British workers, for example’) to try and get a majority in parliament; then, so the fantasy goes, legislate for reforms which will eventually lead to socialism – if not now, maybe in a couple of decades, always put off indefinitely. Do we have to wait another century?!? Social demcoratic governments, including Labour in Britain, did win important reforms following WW2 – state capitalist measures to kick start the economy after the econimc annihilation of WW2. You may have noticed that these have all long disappeared and who exactly wants WW3, all to provide the capitalists with a chance to ‘grow’ again? But don’t worry, Corbyn will legislate for socialism now. Except we have to wait until 2020, when it’s unlikely he’ll have survived by then anyway, and meantime we get a Teresa May led government – the female equivalent of Donald Trump and the right can carry on whipping up racial war. No wonder the main mood in Britain right now is fear and a desperate desire to escape this rapid descent into semi-dictarial increasingyl fascistix sounding hell. Never have we needed a real mass movement of united working class opposition to all austerity, cuts and racism, building real international solidarity with the workers and the oppressed over the world.
Corbyn’s programme – it is doomed to fail
Corbyn and McDonnell want to introduce gradual reforms, but the problem is that the ruling class will not give up their powers, prestige and above all, wealth, without a fight. They would rather organise a coup to overthrow such a government that really did try to introduce any meaningful measures to seize control of the economy or intoduced significant social reforms . The reason why they haven’t / aren’t likely to do that anytime soon is that despite the protestations of the establishment, these two soft left parliamentarians are not in reality a threaten to either the state, including the Monarchy and the House of Lords or the multi-nationals and bankers. Instead all (parliamentary) guns are out for Corbyn now, aided and abetted by the polticians’ friends running the mass media. Nevertheless, it’s worth recollecting the 1970s left wing film ‘A Very British Coup’ about a left wing Labour PM who tries to introduce reforms for working class people but is overthrown by the British military top brass. Pinochet’s overthrow of Allende and his socialist government in Chile in 1973 is real. The BRITISH and Chilean ruling classes are familiar friends with an equal fear, contempt and murderous loathing of the masses.
What both the right PLP and Corbyn and co at the top of the party seem to agree upon is that Labour must wait until 2020 for an election – which is catastrophic for the working class. McDonnell has said that Labour must reduce the deficit – perpetuating the lie that working class must pay for the economic crisis and that we’re all in it together. Worse, a Corbyn led government in 2020 (looking increasingly unlikely ) would be unable to solve the undoubtedly worse economic problems, subject to the IMF and World Bank and so on. Corbyn thinks he can negiotate with vultures like Merkel and co but look at Syriza’s record in Greece and the actions of Labour controlled councils up and down the country since Corbyn’s election last summer in being totally unwilling to defy bourgeious law by refusing to set cuts budgets. This is even if Corbyn gets that far. Meanwhile we all face Teresa May, more attacks on workers rights and LGBT rights, racism, recession, job losses and a massive escalation of suffering and crushing poverty. All of this will continue to fuel the far-right.
For the socialist / hard left to champion Corbyn – sticking with him AND the right in Labour – means that the opportunity to build an independent working class, anti-capitalist, internationalist organisation keeps getting lost and so we’ll be stuck in this ever spiralling downward. Something has to change alright, will the next generation of revolutionaries stand up? Sara, July 12th 2016
Right now Corbyn fever is spreading wildly -understandably so in light of the total political and economic crisis we are in right now and the Blairite, war mongering, capitalist loving vultures otherwise known as m.p.s launching their long planned and highly opportunistic coup against Corbyn and his supporters, as myself and others have predicted. Protests are being organised in many cities following the large demo outside parlianment in defence of Corbyn last week. Thinking and progressive workers are rightly outraged by this coup and latest betrayal by the Labour right and 60,00 thousand joined the party in the last week in an attempt to stop it.
But the Labour Party, by implenting austerity, cuts, homelessness, benefit cuts, whipping up racism, lining up with the political establishment to support remain, sowing illusions in the E.U., privatisation, job cuts, bombing Afghanistan, Iraq and much of the Middle East, supporting Israel and oppressing Palestinians, the list really does go on, is RESPONSIBLE for the mess we are in and many hundreds of thousands more of the working class are utterly alienated from the Labour Party still and are totally disengaged from parliamentary politics ( and I will not forgive the Labour Party for Iraq, for tuition fees, for all of their austerity, cuts and lies and do not agree with its politics. that’s why I’ve never joined and will not now either).
Many (although not all of course) working class people in South Wales, for example, have already turned to the far-right and are unaware of and / or alienated by the soft reformist liberalism of ‘socialists’ in and sniffing around the Labour Party pretending that the E.U. is a benign institution which can be reformed. It is not. The E.U. is a racist, capitalist institution. The limited workers rights it does offer comes from the achievements of the workers movement, NOT from the ‘kindness’ of right wing, dictatorial E.U. leaders. But the liberal soft left also sow illusions that the U.K. parliament can be reformed to represent workers and that capitalism can be made nicer. It can’t. Capitalism is about production for profit. That is its purpose. Class exploitation is inherent in this economic system because profit is the unpaid labour of the working class etc. Although I’m aware that I’m slipping into marxist-speak, I do honestly think many working class people deep down do have an instinctive and learnt understanding from their own experiences that our interests are seperate to the rulers, so potentially socialist internationalist working class mass consciousness can optimistic, despite the very real dangers our class are in.
The Socialist Party think the People’s Assembly demo against austerity and cuts in London on Sat 16th should make the main demand to be defend Corbyn. Whilst I think it is right to defend Corbyn in the sense of lesser evilism (obviously a naive soft left reformist is slightly more appealing than Gove or May), I don’t think this demo should be turned into support Labour demo and that the focus should stay on anti-racism and anti-austerity and all about working class people rebuilding our own organisations of struggle and not waiting for our so called ‘leaders’ to do it for us. Sure, I want the Labour right led to be defeated and know that advances the working class’ interests in the short term and in the face of no mass w/c socialist alternative to the Labour Party, but i’m far from sure that is going to happen as Corbyn and McDonnell are weak compromising centrists who want to keep ‘the party’ together at all costs and Momentum have made a lot of mistakes, including inviting these right wingers into the shadow cabinet in the first place and then dropping the demand for reselction of all m.p.s – vital if they are to win long term.
So far Corbyn hasn’t capitulated which is great and here’s a potential opportunity to bring the Blairites and capitalist war mongerers in the Labour Party to justice – they are responsible for this entire Brexit mess along with their best mates in the Tories – but I fear that trying to use parliament to achieve this is a dead end and it is better to warn people now and advocate for real working class revolution instead and be truthful about what is likely to happen rather than whip up this Corbyn as savior desperation up any further. There are no saviours, just a complex many activists suffer from (including myself in past times, silly me) The labour movement urgently needs to rebuild itself to defend the working class and poor against more austerity, job losses, worsening economic recession and cuts and the growth of the far right and racism post Brexit.
Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party need to break from the parliamentary Labour Party and help build a new working class socialist organisation – Tony Blair and all his right-wing M.P. allies must be deselected and held to account by the rank and file of the Labour party AND the wider labour movement.
Corbyn is right not to resign and must not capitulate by agreeing to not be on the ballot and supporting a ‘unity’ (read right wing pro war and pro austerity) candidate like Angela Eagle or Pontypridd m.p. Owen Smith (and my m.p.!!!! a right wing, capitalist boss type who doesn’t care about his consitituents, just like Eagle and of the other fake ‘unity’ candidates the right are currently scrambling for). Sure, I want Corbyn to survive as leader and be a prominent left-wing opposition poltician to any of those Tory bastards in a October General Election – I do understand why many workers want this – BUT IT IS NOT ENOUGH FOR US TO WIN AS A CLASS and my concern remains that Corbyn is a compromiser with the capitalist right in his party and the contradiction between the interests of the working class and the capitalist class can’t be reconciled in the name of a ‘united’ Labour Party.If Corbyn clings on and uses the Chilcot Verdict to demand that mass murderer Blair is prosecuted as a war criminal then great but Corbyn is not going to be able to bring Blair to justice through parliament – the system is set up to protect Blair and all politicians from any kind of accountability. Is Corbyn going to ask the Blairite war mongerers in elected positions in the Labour Party to leave, post surviving a leadership contest again (as is expected) – and finally initiate a process of reselecting the mp.s? The general election is very likely THIS October. I strongly suspect that the Labour Party in this election will have the same m.p.s , even if Corbyn survives, as a result of Monmentum’s mistakes so far and if that is the case I can’t vote for them, let alone join such a party
So many working class people, rightly furious at the establishment as a whole and totally unrepresented by parliament ( Corbyn is part of the parliamentary paradigm, however nice man he is) are currently getting misdirected by the right mis-channelling this anger into nationalism and xenophobia thereby dividing our class and allowing the rulers to maintain overall political and economic control. One of the good things to have come out of Brexit is at least the labour movement and thinking working class people who are internationalist in outlook realising that we need to get out on the streets to fight for our class and stop the far right gaining any more advantage than they are already gained by the leave result. But the present leaders of the anti-racist movement do not have a serious strategy and have massive illusions again in the role of the police and the state.These are the same leaders who love the Labour Party, the trade union bureacracy, sexual assault apologists in all the main parties as well as the hard-left ones (SWP and SP) and have no more strategy than organise a big march, send everyone home again and work within the ‘law’, including the anti-trade union law which Labour of course have never removed.The Labour Party don’t want us all to come out on strike.So again, this is why I’m so sceptical and concerned.
We need to stop relying on leaders and saviour figures like Corbyn or leaders of the People’s Assembly or the Socialist Party or whatever to sort it out for us and rebuild our movement from the bottom up. Our trade unions need to rebuilt / won back from the Labour Party and the trade union bureaucracy, we need community organisations which organise to look after each other and build on real working class solidarity and we need to wake up to the fact that all the parliamentary parties, both left and right, have a long history of betraying us and that parliament itself is an elitist, ruling class institution which can not be used to introduce socialism. Look at the lessons of Syriza, a new left wing, social democratic party which has capitulated to Merkel and all the european capitalist institutions including the E.U. I suspect that just as Syriza were unable to negiotate with the E.U., so will any future possible British government, including the be able to negiotate favourable exit terms. Merkel and co want to punish the U.K. now as a warning to the rest of Europe not to do the same.
There’s a lot more I want to say but think for now I’ll finish. So, yes I don’t mean to pour urine over many of my socialist friends’ current and very sincere love of championing Corbyn but I think we need to seriously re-assess this infatuation with social democracy in light of actual historical experience and try our best to better prepare the working class (with our limited numbers and resources) about what is actually happening and what we really need – a mass movement for socialist, working class internationalism that has no illusions in ruling class institutions and parties and doesn’t provide inadvertent left cover for capitalist economics 9keynesian as well as austerity), liberalism and British nationalism. Sara