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