Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/975/26608

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 December 2017

Editorial of the Socialist issue 975

Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

Momentum leadership not put forward strategy to defeat Blairites

Communities won't take any more excuses from councillors

Lobbying Haringey council, 3.7.17, photo Chris Newby

Lobbying Haringey council, 3.7.17, photo Chris Newby   (Click to enlarge)

Labour's "moderates" are being forced out. "An atmosphere of intimidation" has been created. "Bullying campaigns" are being organised. These are just a few examples of the capitalist media's recent 'reporting' on the activities of the Corbyn-supporting organisation Momentum. The pretence which followed June's general election - that there is 'one united Labour party', as columnist Owen Jones put it in a tweet - has been utterly exposed.

The backdrop to this is the lead-up to the 2018 local elections and the selection process for the candidates who will wear a red rosette. Local government remains a bastion of Labour's right. Labour councillors have dutifully administered brutal Tory austerity. They have closed libraries, sacked staff, cut pay, and privatised services. This has often been in the face of organised opposition from community campaigns and trade unions. The so-called moderates are those who have viciously and remorselessly attacked working class people.

'Moderates' in Birmingham council have recently been defeated by the courageous action of bin workers, fighting off the council's threat of over 100 redundancies and attempts to blackmail workers into accepting 5,000 a year pay cuts. This victory came after a lengthy battle in which the council spent over 6 million trying to break the Unite union - including through the courts. It is difficult to think of a better example of "bullying" than threatening people with the sack unless they are prepared to accept a staggeringly large pay cut.

In Haringey, 'moderates' have been trying to ram through the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) - an unprecedented privatisation of public assets. Under the plans, existing estates housing thousands of families are set to be demolished, with no guarantee residents will be able to return. This is a Labour council consciously hitting the accelerator on gentrification and social cleansing.

In some areas, local Corbyn supporters and anti-austerity campaigners have organised to try to select candidates for the elections who will act differently. This has nothing to do with intimidation. In fact, it is basic democracy. As the Socialist Party has argued consistently, Labour members and trade unions should have the right to decide who represents the party at elections.

Councils can fight

If Labour is to be an anti-austerity party, as Corbyn has argued it should, this needs to apply at all levels - in deeds, not just words. Where the Labour Party is in power in local councils, there exists an opportunity to put 'Corbynism' into practice in the here and now.

Councillors have a choice - they can act as a defence against Tory cuts, or they can be May's little helpers. If they were prepared to use their reserves and borrowing powers, they could resist the cuts onslaught, while building a mass movement that could force the Tories to call an election. Corbyn should pledge now that he would support any councils that do this.

Newcastle Corbyn rally, June 2017, photo E. Brunskill

Newcastle Corbyn rally, June 2017, photo E. Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

With the government in deep crisis, and with the Labour Party now boasting an anti-austerity leader and a substantial poll lead, this choice has never looked starker. Imagine the effect if Labour councils around the country collectively declared that they would not be prepared to implement cuts. Even if only one council did so, it could act as a lightning conductor for the seething discontent within society.

This is a government on the edge of a cliff - if it faced opposition from local councils, backed up by a mass movement, it could rapidly be pushed off.

But while this approach, long advocated by the Socialist Party, has won support from campaigns and trade unions such as Unite, it has absolutely not been the approach adopted by Momentum's national leadership. While the organisation has been credited with the deselection of the majority of the pro-HDV councillors in Haringey, the truth is this was a campaign by local Labour members who organised vigorously, without any direct involvement by national Momentum. And while there have been a few victories for the left in other areas, the reality is that in the vast majority of cases so far, existing, pro-austerity councillors have been selected.

In fact, far from organising a fightback against the right, the approach of Momentum's leadership has instead been to put a lid on discussion about council cuts. Jon Lansman, the organisation's self-appointed leader, has intervened to shut down democracy within the group, imposing a wholly top-down structure, precisely to ensure that questions like cuts and reselection are taken off the table for discussion.

This has included effectively handing control of Momentum's membership policy to Labour's right-wing compliance unit, by making membership of the party a requirement for involvement. Those excluded and expelled for holding socialist views and activism - including Socialist Party members - are de facto expelled from Momentum.

Two parties in one

This is symptomatic of a wider political strategy, which unfortunately Corbyn also bears some responsibility for. This has been characterised by an attempt to deny that there is a fundamental distinction between the pro-cuts, pro-war, Blairite Labour Party of the past, and the huge influx of working class and young people who joined to back Corbyn. Labour is really 'two parties in one'. On the one hand there is a fledgling anti-austerity party. On the other, there is the Blairite rump that dominates Labour in the parliamentary party and in local government. By and large, it will be this right-wing rump standing in May.

Many people will draw the conclusion that if they weren't removed in the selection process, the Blairite cutters and privatisers should be removed at the ballot box - and that it's much better that anti-cuts Corbyn-supporters stand than that the anger against the Blairites goes to benefit the Lib Dems or even Tories waiting in the wings. Where this is the case, socialists, anti-cuts campaigners and trade unionists will have every right to provide an electoral challenge to them by standing candidates who are willing to say no to austerity: in words, but also in deeds.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 13 December 2017:


What we think

Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy


International socialist news and analysis

A world in crisis, ripe for revolution

Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian conflict

110 years ago: massacre at Santa Maria school in Chile - commemorate 21 December 1907


Socialist Party news and analysis

Save our NHS

Two in five 'right to buy' homes now for let

Retail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

Uni market 'failure', two-year degrees - end cuts, scrap fees!

Them & Us


Socialist Party workplace news

Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

Strikers rally in Liverpool

Unite day of action against blacklisting

Brighton victory

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

Teachers strike in Sheffield

Newham anti-academies strikes


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

South London health bosses' cover-up

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting


Christmas Quiz

The Socialist's 2017 quiz


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 December 2017   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Labour:

triangleCorbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangleWe must fight all council cuts!

trianglePacked Newham meeting against academies

triangleNo to the Woolwich monster block

triangleCardiff Socialist Party: Why Labour and Plaid councils must set no-cuts budgets

Democracy:

triangleStop repression in Hong Kong and China

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

triangleRussia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangleStrike against Madrid's 'state of emergency'!

Momentum:

triangleBlairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

triangleLabour council Blairites deselected

triangleAnti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness

Councillors:

triangleNewham academy strikes spread to Cumberland school

triangleBradford protest against children's service cuts

Cuts:

triangleNHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

Austerity:

triangleTunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity

Council:

triangleOpinion: foster care is work - carers deserve workers' rights

Labour Party:

triangleSustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

Government:

triangleUndercover policing legal challenge

Anti-austerity:

triangleOutrage against 'monster block' plan

Trade unions:

triangleStrikers rally in Liverpool

Elections:

trianglePCS union 2018 elections - nominate the left slate for a continued fighting leadership

Socialist Party:

triangleTeesside Socialist Party: 'Fake' Trump! What's really going on in the US?

Haringey:

triangleBlairite council 'all ears' to rich property developers

Candidates:

triangleTrade Unionist and Socialist Coalition conference

Right-wing:

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

Working class:

triangleWidening wealth gap, increase in poverty...make the fat cats pay

Local government:

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

General election:

triangleCabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's impotence

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

17/1/18

Labour

Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

17/1/18

Trump

Victory! Trump's UK visit cancelled by fear of protests

17/1/18

NHS

NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

15/1/18

Carillion

Carillion crisis: demand action to save jobs and services

10/1/18

Tories

Cabinet chaos as shambolic reshuffle underlines Theresa May's impotence

10/1/18

NHS

Sustained mass movement needed to stop Tories wrecking our NHS

10/1/18

Education

Bigot Toby Young quits - now scrap the new uni regulator driving privatisation

10/1/18

Them & Us

Them & Us

10/1/18

Teachers

Teacher recruitment falls by a third - cut workload, not funding

3/1/18

Fire service

Fire service victory

3/1/18

Fares

Rail: fares up, bosses' pay up - delays and cancellations up

3/1/18

Higher Education

Mobilise against rip-off executive pay

3/1/18

Virgin

NHS in winter crisis as Branson creams off 1bn

3/1/18

Homes

Thousands live in tents and sheds - seize empty homes

3/1/18

Fat cats

Widening wealth gap, increase in poverty...make the fat cats pay

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle17 Jan Corbyn's Labour needs 100% anti-cuts strategy and fight for democracy

triangle17 Jan NHS crisis: under pressure from all angles - end cuts and sell-offs!

triangle17 Jan We must fight all council cuts!

triangle16 Jan Home care workers to strike

triangle15 Jan Carillion crisis: Demand action to save jobs and services

triangle12 Jan Outrage against 'monster block' plan

triangle12 Jan Mini-strike wave continues and intensifies

More ...

triangle23 Jan Bristol North Socialist Party: 'You can't have capitalism without racism' - was Malcolm X correct?

triangle23 Jan Cardiff West Socialist Party: How the Poll Tax was beaten

triangle24 Jan Caerphilly Socialist Party: The Carillion scandal

triangle24 Jan Cardiff Central Socialist Party: Carillion collapse - Watershed moment for public services

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2