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Has Labour a Future?

The flood of members from the Labour Party has reached biblical proportions. Figures are difficult to come by, not least because the chosen leaving mechanism for most people seems to be a simple cancelled direct debit. That leaves members on the database as they progress through various levels from late paying through lapsed until the data protection laws (hopefully) force their final removal. In all that time they might still find themselves counted in some quoted figures. Most of the “big beasts” of the left remain, though that could change rapidly, even though Jeremy Corbyn is under suspension. There is, indeed, a campaign to get Jeremy reinstated. During all this the clearly stated message is that members should stay and fight in or for the Labour Party, although there is probably an element of “they would say that wouldn’t they.”

For anybody still wavering, or for those hoping that the Socialist Campaign Group MPs remain within Labour, I would like them to try and answer the question that I have asked repeatedly but never received even an attempt at an answer. This is to provide a clear route map to a genuinely left wing Labour government. In order to achieve this it seems the following steps are a bare minimum.

Force a new leadership election; there is no hope with Starmer in charge.

Get a left wing candidate on the ballot against rule changes designed specifically to prevent this.

Win the ballot following rules specifically designed to prevent a repeat of Corbyn’s victory.

Win an election faced with the same media onslaught, with the same back-stabbing MPs behind you backed by the same big money as in 2019. They will not be complacent and caught napping again as they were in 2017.

Hang on to power and your principles through the shitstorm the establishment will unleash.

Does anyone seriously think this can be achieved for the next election in 4 years, or even the next? Even if this is all managed you will still be stuck in the same system as before, fighting every step of the way. All you will have accomplished in the end is to shift around some real estate in the Westminster Village.

What needs to happen cannot be done by the Labour Party which is no longer the party of the working class and the Trade Union movement. The Labour Party, like other parties around the world that come vaguely within the category “Social Democratic”, has now become the party of the educated technician/middle class. If you want the figures and detail on this you should read the excellent “Capital and Ideology” by Thomas Piketty, with further analysis in the equally excellent “The Tyranny of Merit” by Michael Sandel. Those without a university degree, and particularly those trapped in poverty, no longer have direct representation in any of the major parties. With a few notable exceptions the middle class, highly educated Labour MPs do not ring true with this part of the electorate which leave them wide open to charlatans like Trump and Farage who, despite their own background, manage to convey the “man down the pub” image that strikes a chord. Those who hope for some repetition of the 1945 Labour government should check up on the background and educational status of the MPs and the cabinet, which gave it a lot of credence as a working class party. This is not the same today (except again for those very few notable exceptions).

There is no time to wait for the vagaries of the electoral system to hopefully turn in the right direction. If the recent news about methane leakage in the Arctic is confirmed, the most pessimistic current warnings about global warming will become optimistic. The forests of the Amazon, Indonesia, Alaska and Siberia are still disappearing at an ever increasing rate. Species are being forced into new habitats and closer contact with each other and with humans. With 3000 variations of coronavirus in the bat population alone just waiting to mutate and jump species, the pandemic is set to be another of those once a century events about to become annual. Inequality is increasing at an ever greater rate promoting civil discord and unrest. Huge populations are on the move seeking sanctuary.

The only way we can force action in time is by forging a new mass movement, bringing together movements like Gilets Jaune, BLM, XR who are already almost daily achieving more real change than the Labour Party has managed in 70 years. For this they need leaders, ones that can be trusted not to turn them into personality cults and a path to autocracy.

Don’t sit there indulging in factional squabbles and beauty contests. Don’t argue about the finer points of Marxism or what Gramsci once said. Don’t start yet another debate on what is the working class now. Get out there and change something! #Solidarity.

5 thoughts on “Has Labour a Future?

  1. Excellent piece. I couldn’t agree more with your analysis. We are fiddling whilst the World literally burns. The answer of many on the left to the questions you set will be to pass a motion at conference, hope that it passes by a big enough margin to get in the manifesto, then run around like headless chickens trying to elect a government who will rip up the manifesto as soon as they are anywhere close to power. The only slight disagreement I have is that you are, in my opinion, slightly dismissive of socialist theory. I may be misreading you since you’ve clearly read theory (albeit both Pickett and Sandel are liberals) but activism without theory, whether in Labour or the grassroots movements we support such as XR, can lead to a lack of clear focus which can itself mean doing stuff becomes just a more active and fun version of passing a motion.

  2. Thanks Dave! I don’t mean to dismiss theory, just the endless discussions which, in my case, seem to have been going on without much change in content since the days of smoke-filled college rooms in the 60s. Nothing wrong with still having them of course, but right now the most important thing is action.

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