Labour is heading for another coup. Those on the right of the party are resigning, but if anyone thinks they are going away completely I think that they are sadly mistaken.
At the moment there are two parliamentary by-elections coming up. I reckon there will be more resignations and more by-elections to come. Add to this those Labour councillors who have left Labour (some of whom have not resigned from their council seats) and more to follow, and we have a toxic mess for Corbyn’s Labour.
If any (or any more) elections are lost at national or local level, Corbyn will get the blame. This will lead to renewed calls for his resignation which might just work this time. And if he doesn’t resign, there will be more planned resignations from the party. At that stage the party will disintegrate and leave a path wide open for those who claim to be ‘moderates’ to form a new centre party.
It will be the end of Labour but also, perhaps even more importantly for social justice and a more equal society, the end of any hope of a left of centre political party being in power for many years.
Because the left and centre will be split into opposing factions, none of whom will be able to win enough votes to achieve power or even form a coalition.
But what is the left doing while the coup is imminent?
Well, Momentum has just had a coup of its own (see previous post) so until the dust settles there, who knows? My guess is that the movement will spend too much time trying to achieve the impossible – affiliation to the Labour Party – rather than using most of their activists’ energies in campaigning on behalf of the NHS, housing, better schools, fairer wages, and the things that potential Labour voters really care about.
If that happens, they will be useless when it comes to campaigning on behalf of Labour candidates in any upcoming General Election.
But I hope I’m wrong about this.
What has to be said is that Lansman’s coup of Momentum may well have been the result of frustration over the lack of decisions and floundering of direction made in the movement since its inception. Lansman and his supporters could argue that this was caused by infighting, leading to lack of decisions made by the steering group and NC.
I do sympathise with this, but I think it goes deeper than that.
Lansman had a plan – a good plan – to build a movement to support Jeremy Corbyn and to fill it with thousands of keen and willing activists. He didn’t want it taken over by left wing factions; he wanted a broad left movement on behalf of democratic socialism.
I get that. I applaud it.
But what Lansman also seems to suffer from is the ‘it’s my baby’ syndrome, which is why he appeared to have few qualms about taking over the movement completely when he couldn’t get his way.
And in reacting to this syndrome, rather than trusting in the wider membership, he has set back Momentum, possibly for good.
And that’s a real shame considering that all hands are needed on deck for Corbyn right now!
Then there is the upcoming election for Unite members – for the post of General Secretary.
Len McCluskey is a Corbyn supporter. He has placed Unite firmly behind Corbyn’s leadership and stood firm during the recent Labour leadership election with full support and help for Unite members to affiliate to Labour and add their vote for Corbyn.
Yes, McCluskey is not perfect (neither is Corbyn come to that), and of course his concerns are his union (and so they should be), but he provides an important bridge for the Labour Left in the fight to get a real Democratic Socialist Labour Party elected.
But what have the left done? Many of them have chosen to support Ian Allinson.
Allinson is a credible left candidate. No doubt. And his campaign, that McCluskey is wedded to the establishment and to Parliamentary issues, rather than to grass roots campaigns, has some truth (although I would argue that as Unite under McCluskey was first to set up its ‘Community’ branch for grass roots campaigns in the community, I would say that progress is being made and that it needs more action from officers at grass roots level in the workplace rather than directly blaming the General secretary), but in pushing support for Allinson, the left have done it again – they will split the left of centre vote.
If this happens, the outcome could be the right-winger, Gerard Coyne, winning by default. Then out would go any grass roots activity; out would go support for Corbyn, and in would come a politics of obeying the neoliberals rather than fighting repressive trade union legislation and working for equality and fairness in the heart of the workplace.
Then there are those factions on the left who want nothing more than to control Jeremy Corbyn.
To these groups Corbyn is their Alexander Kerensky. Kerensky was good enough to represent the Russian workers in the 1917 Duma, but was seen as ‘replaceable’ by the Bolsheviks when they forged ahead with the Revolution.
The Socialist Workers Party springs to mind here, but it isn’t the only one. SWP members are encouraged to support Corbyn but not to join the Labour Party (despite what the Labour right say, they are not being ‘infiltrated’ by the SWP). Members are to be ready to challenge from the outside. The argument goes that, even if he manages to overcome everything stacked against him and become the next PM, the establishment will not allow Corbyn to carry out nationalisation of the NHS, the Railways, or of anything else. Neither will he be allowed to make changes in foreign policy or to oppose the bankers. Sadly I agree with this part.
However, the SWP script continues, that once the people see that Corbyn is not allowed to carry out his mandate, there will be mass protests and at this point SWP members will be ready to lead the revolution on behalf of the people…
If I thought that would work, I’d consider it, but things will not work out this way.
Unrest on the streets will lead to an authoritarian crackdown and, even if the masses did revolt over Corbyn not getting his way and actually win, they would not welcome a new regime snatching power from him.
Marx was an excellent political thinker and his explanation of Capitalism and its self-destruction cannot be beaten, but a misreading of Marx and a misunderstanding of the British mindset (set that way after years of subtle indoctrination) will not bring in a socialist revolution and a dictatorship of the proletariat, followed by an egalitarian society.
It is more likely to make the British people realise just what ‘establishment’ really means. And they won’t thank us for that.
Those are just three examples of factional fighting on the left. And I haven’t even begun to mention the other issues that divide us – Israel being a major one for example. That would get even more complicated.
When I read through this rather meandering post I try not to despair. But I do ask these questions:
How is it that the ‘nasty party’ can remain strong even when there are profound differences between members? But the Labour Party under Corbyn and all those groups proclaiming to support him, cannot even offer an image of unity.
How the hell do they think that the British public feel about all this?
They see their NHS being broken up and sold off; their education system decimated at all levels; hardly anyone except high earners can afford to buy a home, or even to rent a decent one; and as they get older, they cannot retire like their parents or grandparents did – they will be forced to work into their 70s; and then there will be no elderly social care for them…
The British public do want to help put things right. They would bother to go out and vote for a party who they truly believed could put an end to all these injustices.
But they need convincing that the Labour Party will do this.
Yet, while these struggles continue within and surrounding the party, convincing the British people that Labour will make things better for them and are a real alternative to the Tories, UKIP, the Lib-Dems or any other pro-austerity party, will be almost impossible. And who could blame the British public if they are not convinced?