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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 May 2015

Labour leadership contest - appealing to big business

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge

The Labour leadership contest begs the question: what is the point of the Labour Party?

Paraded before us are a series of Blairite advocates of the austerity-lite and Tory imitation that failed to inspire support in the general election and led to the party losing 4 million voters since Tony Blair took office in 1997.

Ultra-Blairite Chuka Umunna has withdrawn from the race citing media pressure on his family. What does it say about the determination to fight the Tories of this former shadow business secretary? Compare that to the thousands of young people who have already taken to the streets to take on the Tory scum (see below).

Frontrunners in the race are former health secretary under Gordon Brown, Andy Burnham; Yvette Cooper, who was Brown's work and pensions minister. Other hopefuls are reported to include Liz Kendell and Mary Creagh (who?) and Tristram Hunt - 'Mr me too' on Tory education policies.

All five went to Oxbridge, four of the five are former 'spads' (special advisors to ministers), not one opposed the Iraq war, none supports rail renationalisation (backed by a majority of the public), none opposes austerity-lite or the benefits cap.

All agree that Labour needs to be seen as the party of big business. They offer no hope whatsoever to the millions now fearful of the Tory austerity onslaught that faces us.

Burnham spoke at Unite's conference last year and is the preferred candidate of the unions. The appointment of Rachel Reeves as his campaign coordinator says everything that is needed about where he stands.

Reeves, as shadow work and pensions minister, said Labour is "not the party of people on benefits. We don't want to be seen, and we're not, the party to represent those who are out of work." And Burnham's call to arms has consisted of a harking back to 1997 and the pro-privatisation, pro-war Blair government.

Unions gagged

The trade unions, the mass organisations of the working class, who created the Labour party so they would have an independent political voice, are locked out of the process. Under Ed Miliband, changes were made to end the bloc vote of the unions and destroy the last vestiges of a working class voice in the Labour party.

Now, trade union members can sign up as 'affiliated members' to vote in the leadership contest but not have a collective voice. Any members of the public - for 3 - can participate in what is more akin to a US-style primary than a chance for the working class to put its stamp on events.

At the FBU firefighters' union conference (report page 5) a motion to discuss reaffiliation to Labour was withdrawn.

This followed a third of the conference attending a fringe meeting where Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) speakers put the case for the building of a new party that could offer a programme to the 'aspiring' working class - ie one that is 100% anti-austerity, that called for nationalisation of the banks and for democratic socialism.

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, has said that he is not considering disaffiliation for the biggest union and funder of Labour. But 200 Unite members stood as TUSC candidates and many more participated in May's elections.

The Labour leadership election, due to end on 12 September, will convince many more members that they need a new political voice that stands unapologetically for the working class.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 20 May 2015:

Socialist Party news and analysis

Cut rents not benefits

Fight back at the Tory war on youth

Stop the "elites fortifying their power"

Build a movement to defeat the government's savagery

Labour leadership contest - appealing to big business

Fight Tories' new 'anti-extremism' law

State and big business spied on activists

Ukip provocateur unmasked

Them & Us

Socialist Party workplace news

Support the National Rail walkout over pay and jobs

FBU debates how to combat Tory onslaught

All-out pay strike forces Labour council back to table

ITV production staff

Workplace news in brief

International socialist news and analysis

US: Bernie Sanders calls for 'political revolution'

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Election aftermath: anti-Tory austerity protests

Cheapskate council screws up election ballot!

Build up resources to fight the Tories

Management thrashed in academies debate

Campaign news in brief

Socialist Party comments and reviews

Russell Brand's 'The Emperor's New Clothes'

Save our 'life saver' libraries!

Tories rig exams to favour rich students


Home   |   The Socialist 20 May 2015   |   Join the Socialist Party

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Related links:

Labour Party:

triangleLiverpool Socialist Party: The Labour Party - what is its future?

triangleNon-fiction: Left Out - the inside story of Labour under Corbyn

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party: Tories and Blairites only care about corporate greed

triangleLabour payouts: unions must discuss political representation

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain


triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party: Labour moved right and left me behind

triangleWhy we joined the Socialist Party

triangleTUSC to stand in elections again against pro-austerity politicians

triangleA critical election for Unison general secretary

Big business:

triangleTesting: Tories' 5bn gift to private sector

triangleTories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety

triangleCapitalist press attacks Tory incompetence

Working class:

triangleSouth Africa: Working class unity to stop violence against women

triangleTV: The English Game - how the working class made football the people's game


triangleTrade unions must fight to put their stamp on events


triangleLincoln: Save Drill Hall


triangleCovid and the campuses


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triangleJob Support Scheme - too little, too late

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition:

triangleTime to relaunch TUSC


triangleCoronavirus news in brief

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