Sunday, 17 April 2011

Why i dont foresee a left turn for labour

So before i start this may be a contravertial post for some who read this blog and if you are a labour member and easily offended by anything that isnt wholely in support of labour then you may be best not reading this.

Also these are all my own personal views and if you wish to challenge me to a debate i'd be happy to do so. I dont intend to upset anyone and if i do that is not my intention.

Firstly i like many last year after the genearl election as a reaction to the tories gaining power with the aid of the lib dems joined labour. So you may have views on me joining then now leaving labour a month or so ago but i will explain why here.

Now labour in opposition have always tried to play to the mass's and try to appeal to all. This time they are trying to appeal to this so called "squeezed middle" with a new leader since the departure of Gordon Brown after he was forced to stand down last summer has presented labour with a leader in Ed Miliband. I did have a vote in the leadership elections and chose Ed Balls que the critisism which i will take on the chin firmly as i was lead to believe he was the most opposed to cuts and at the time had a no cuts position i thought. I later discovered this was not the case and like all polititains was using this to gain votes from the left. It worked to a extent. I was fooled. I know how lib dem and student voters feel now to be betrayed but this was just the start of a long list of betrayels for me on a personal level.

I take aboard all the critisism thrown my way for leaving labour not even a year into my membership and not staying to fight back against the blairites but i feel like many others labour can no longer be regained by the left.

There is still a element of labour members and supporters who do genuinely believe labour is a left wing party and is socialist . Neither of these terms could be further from the truth. Yes as Tony Benn once said labour may have socialists in it but is no way a socialist party in any shape or form.

Ed Miliband labours new leader has had a slow start and i felt he wasnt making the right noises in changing the direction of the arguement on the need for cuts.

My own position is no to all cuts which i feel goes along with my socialist views and approach to politics. I dont feel the working class should have to pay a penny or loose any services that they depend on due to the mistakes of the bankers.

I should have known better really with labour. I have to admit now that although i'm very involved now i was not always into politics much at all and my decision in joining labour was probably a rushed one and one i put down to my nievity in politics and not discovering what else is out there.

I personally do not see labour party turning left at all in its attempts to regain power and reach out to disaffected voters. Let me explain why.

For many years the left in labour and the left in general have been pushed back and back. One example of this is the purge on the left by Neil Kinnock who expelled many fine comrades from Militant who later went on to form Militant labour and now the Socialist Party as they are known as today.
Any attempt by the left even when it did have more of a base in labour not like today when it is just made of idealists and centrists from the LRC who make good noises in terms of socialism and may well want things to change but do very little about helping it to happen. People in the LRC and left wing members of labour i believe are being quite misleading in their attempts to draw people and socialists back to labour. After the outrageous decision to invade Iraq in 2003 and new labours attempts for privatisation of the NHS, Royal mail with consignia we all remember that especially those in CWU and who cannot forget the way Tony Blair tried to cut the link with the trade unions with labour to move to a party much like the democrats in America today.

We can also not forget how Tony Blair and his new labour government of tories in disguise failed to untighten the anti trade unin laws imposed on the British trade union movement today from Margret Thatcher all those years ago.

Labour are a social democratic party apparently but support changing things within the capitalist system we currently live in. I feel this is reformism in all honesty and quite simply you cannot make the capitalist system fair while the few at the top have the economic power and wealth and the rest have to do the best with the rest.

This was reconfirmed to me when a recent interview with Ed Miliband on labours so called alternative to the cuts and the tories program was
“We’re not about to replace it, but there are different forms of capitalism we can have . . . My socialism is not about a blueprint for the perfect society, but it is about saying we can have a more equal, just and fair society.”

How is that even possible when your still working within the capitalist society and trying to reform it ? capitalism cannot be reformed in my view and only its over throw and a move towards a socialist society will make things truely fairer. This coupled with a worker controlled planned economy with real political democracy will lead to true fairness not this muffled version polititians like to throw about like they know the meanin of the word.

I wont go into my critisisms of Ed Miliband personally here but i dont believe he is against cuts and his apearance on the big TUC demo on March 26th was just insulting quite frankly when his party support the need for cuts and would be carrying out cuts right now if they had won the election last year.
In recent months labour has tried to appeal to disaffected lib dem voters who feel betrayed also after Nick Clegg sold them out to the tories to join the coalition. It would appear especially after one of the four labour MP's who quit the party back in 1981 David owen who left over not being prepared to accept decisions on the EU, on nuclear weapons and on the structure of the party, and so he left The SDP is a lot like labour and new labour especially so we may end up seeing a party in the shape of that in the years to come under Ed Miliband he did always say one of his great politics inspirations is Roy Jenkins. Says alot about where he wants to take labour now.

As for the labour left argueing that there will always be a place for the left and socialists in labour while the trade union link is kept ensuring a link to the working class is a vaild arguement it doesnt stand up when the leadership for years has repeatably ignored the union link and appeared to take the unions funding and said thanks very much leaving the unions with their hands ringing. You do have to question what the unions get out of the labour link these days as it certainly isnt much or anything near a voice if you ask me.

Ed Miliband won't be taking Labour into general, or principled, opposition to the cuts. In his first TV interview as Labour leader, shortly after the shadow cabinet was named, he warned he would not support public sector strikes over pensions, and that industrial action would alienate the wider public and undermine Labour's efforts to fight other spending cuts.

"I don't think we should be talking about industrial action. I think it is very premature to be talking about that", he said. Didn't take long, did it?

So when would be the 'right time' for Labour to respond? When would supporting workers and communities resisting the cuts be the "right thing to do"?

The election of Ed Miliband and his shadow cabinet, even if containing many of 'the Next Generation', has not fundamentally reversed the direction that Labour has taken over the last 20 years. Labour is a party now happy to manage the market economy, and accept all its limitations, even if that means being embroiled in the sacking of thousands of workers across the country.

The coming cuts battles will be the catalyst in town after town, for the idea and building of a new party, firmly rooted in the organisations and communities of working people. The idea will grow that, let down by the three main parties, working people need their own party that will properly defend the idea of public services and public ownership against the current common agenda which accepts that the victims of the recession further punished, rather than the culprits.

The weakness of the labour left to even get their own superstar as some on the labour left like to call John McDonald, on to last years leadership ballot and not recieve 33 nominations faling short and Diane Abbot then taking the token left candidate on the ballot is another clear sign the left within labour is dead and beyond repair and must be abandoned and a new workers party formed.
Diane Abbotts record as a labour left winger doesnt look great.

Through the wonders of Google, I came up with this word to describe her: 'tergiversant' (to change sides or loyalties; apostatise to be evasive or ambiguous; equivocate). Like most Labour MPs she puts herself and her career above all else.

On her own website, after pointing out that in 1987 she made history by becoming the first black woman to be elected to the British parliament, it egotistically states: "She has since built a distinguished career as a parliamentarian, broadcaster and commentator".

Last summer she wrote an article supporting Gordon Brown as party leader, whilst in 2007 she was listed as a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and supported McDonnell in the last leadership election. She is not listed as supporting the 'People's Charter'.

She opposed the 'Blair wars' yet voted against an inquiry.
Today in 2011 she has now been part of the strong majority in the commons who voted for western intervention in Libya against Cornel Gadaffi so how left is she really ?
She also most notably sent her son to a private school to the outrage of many of her Hackney constituents. When questioned about this she replied: "In 2001, when my son was facing secondary transfer, the average numbers of boys nationally getting five GCSE A-Cs was 42%. In Hackney the average number of black boys getting the same result was 9%. And the school in Hackney that we were actually offered was so poor that it closed shortly afterwards.

But since then: a Labour government has poured money into Hackney schools; a series of excellent academies has opened in the borough; attainment levels overall in Hackney have gone up. So if he was transferring to secondary school now, I would not face the same dilemma." So she presumably supports academies.

Did I also mention her cosy late night - on the couch - TV slot with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo up till recently.

Many within labour on the left argue for this join labour and turn it left approach this is doomed to fail in my view and is creating false illusions of being able to change the party from within.

Of course, the fact Labour did so well in the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election has Labourites all excited that the party looks electable again so soon. Such people are not allies of those wanting to fight the coalition government's cuts. For these Labourite working class betrayers why build for a strike (harms Labour's electoral chances) or go on a demonstration - unless there is a Labour MP addressing the crowd on the need to vote Labour

As has been said, the attitude to the Labour Party and the relationship and role of socialists and revolutionaries to it is an old argument. We have the dismissive sneering of those in the Labour Party that the left outside cannot get decent votes. Well, that depends, doesn't it? The Scottish Socialist Party had six MSPs for a time and Respect had one MP before the usual left splits. I wonder where the Socialist Alliance would be today if it had stayed together. Their policies of MPs on a worker's wage and recallability are even more relevant today in the wake of the electorate's disgust over the MPs' expenses scandal.

We saw all trade union strikes condemned under Blair and Brown. Now Ed' Miliband has recently condemned any idea of unions uniting in strikes against the cuts to bring the coalition government down. This from a man whose election depended on those unions affiliated to the Labour Party and who made a pitch for the votes of workers during the leadership contest.

The gap between the rich and poor widened more under New Labour than it did under the Tory governments before them - fact. We have seen the Labour Party in government take Britain into war in Iraq despite the largest ever demonstration in British history. That dwarfed the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s. How many Labour MPs voted for war ?

We saw none of the privatised utilities brought back into public ownership - in fact we saw more privatisations - despite the pledges made against by Labour in the lead-up to the 1997 general election. Private finance initiative extortions continued under the Labour government and anti-union laws were retained. A drive towards funding by big business to move away from reliance on union funding was only set back by the cash for honours scandals!

We soon saw what happened to the promises of an 'ethical' foreign policy, of the government being 'whiter than white' and sleaze-free. We saw increasing attacks on civil liberties, the draconian and misused 'anti-terrorism' laws and a drive for compulsory ID cards - actually revoked by this coalition government! Labour got us involved in the occupation of Afghanistan, remained committed to the renewal of Trident and signed us up to the production of two aircraft carriers (destined to be without planes for 10 years).

New Labour did nothing to restrain the irresponsible gambling by the banks and finance industries and, to top it all, Brown claimed to have abolished 'boom and bust'. How many people because of those grossly irresponsible proclamations (made by a Labour leader, not a Tory) - and in the belief that property prices would forever rise - took out second mortgages or massive credit card debt?

The marketisation of the NHS and education went further under a Labour government than it did under the Tories. Privatisation of our public services were added to by attacks on final salary pension schemes. All the while most Labour MPs acted like they were to the manor born and constantly voted themselves large pay rises, pension enhancements and expenses, whilst urging restraint on the working and middle classes.

New labour were a reformist government wedded to trying to moderate capitalism. But one with a landslide majority and benefiting from a buoyant economy that produced so little gain for the working class Where was the left in the Labour Party during all this? Backing Blair, then Brown in the name of 'unity' and for a Labour victory 'to keep the Tories out' - that's where!

The Labour right have learnt enough to ensure the left will get nowhere near gaining control. Look what happened to the leadership bids of John McDonnell, a good friend of PCS. He could not even get enough nominations to stand as a candidate against Blair, and then Diane Abbott headed him off by playing the diversity card to magnificent effect: she kept John off the ballot, but not the other middle-aged, white males. A far, far cry from the Tony Benn-Eric Heffer challenge of 1982!

Internally, clause four was jettisoned and party democracy crippled, with the result that Labour conference cannot make manifesto policies; MP selection procedures were changed, allowing candidates to be imposed from above; and the Parliamentary Labour Party is not accountable to the organisation as a whole. How will the left be able to operate today? Every democratic change that the LRC argues for will be voted down if those in control (with eager media support) assert that it will hinder Labour's electoral chances.

Labour-affiliated unions will think twice about strike action against the cuts, now Miliband has argued Labour will not support them. Remind me, how many such unions called strikes under the last Labour government? What does anyone think Labour would do back in power with a massive deficit after arguing for cuts at the last general election? This will not be 1997 all over again with the cheerful optimism, seemingly justified at the time in the context of an economic boom.

There will always be those within labour who see things through rose tinted spectecles despite every betrayal. Look at the typical Labour Party membership today - either those who always justify support for Labour, no matter what the betrayals of the working class, with 'the Tories will be worse'; or those seduced by meaningless babble from Blair, Brown and now Miliband.

Those wanting to participate in the LRC and the Labour Party are aiming to engage with people whose loyalty is 'to the Labour Party, no matter how awful'. Instead we should be engaging with those disgusted with all three main political parties, not fostering illusions in Labour all over again. It is not up for change, never really was, and is even less open to socialism today.

It is, of course, far easier to mix with 'socialists' in the LRC than to engage with the mass of the working class outside the Labour Party. It is easier to stay in the Labour Party and have a pint in the bar, commiserating over every betrayal, than start a real working class party all over again. But the LRC is misleading millions of working class people into once again looking to the Labour Party rather than to a real alternative fighting for real socialism with workers faith restored in politics .

The alternative to labour

As socialists on the left we argue for the need for a new workers party.
A century ago trade unioniss and socialists came together to fight for independent political representation for the working class: the result was the Labour Party.

In the past the Labour Party, however imperfectly, provided a voice for the working class. Today, however, New Labour is a party of the giant corporations, its policies a continuation of Margaret Thatcher's attacks on the lives and living conditions of working class people.

Public services are being sold off; the occupation of Iraq has led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and over two thousand 'coalition' soldiers; democratic rights are being undermined in the name of fighting terrorism; and the Tory anti-trade union laws, the most repressive in the European Union, have been left almost completely intact.

We believe that the chance to reclaim the Labour Party has long passed and there is no point in continuing to fuel false hopes. The recent success of the new Left party in Germany, winning 8.8% of the vote and 54 MPs, gives a glimpse of the potential for a new left force. We pledge to do all in our power to bring a new workers' party into being in England and Wales.

We believe it would be wrong, at this early stage, to attempt to predetermine the structure or every aspect of a new party. That can only be decided on the basis of democratic debate leading to agreement amongst the forces involved.

However, if it is to be successful, it is crucial that a new party, and any pre-party formations, be open, democratic and welcoming to all those who want to work together against the neo-liberal onslaught on the working class. This means that all groups and individuals, provided they are in agreement with the basic aims of the party, should have the right to democratically organise and argue for their point of view.
This also reaches out to all who do good work within labour and consider themselves left wing and socialist but are feeling disenchanted by Labours neo-kliberal record of the last few decades. We will always welcome all that was good about labour into a new movement for a new workers party. We are not totally against labour for the sake of it we do recognise Labour did do some good things but it is not enough for the working class to live off concessions it needs real representation.

This approach will help ensure the new formation is attractive to trade unionists, community and environmental campaigners, and anti-war activists. Most importantly it will assist in reaching out to workers and to young people who are not yet active in struggle. In this way we can unite the strongest possible forces to build a powerful working class party that is capable of effectively opposing the anti-union laws, cuts, privatisation, environmental degradation and war.

We believe that such a party would represent a fundamental break with the big business parties which currently dominate politics, giving workers the opportunity to resist the neo-liberal capitalist agenda and fight for a socialist programme - including a living minimum wage, full trade union rights and for fully funded, democratically controlled public services.

So i hope if you are a labour member or not you have found my little piece interesting and i hope to have explained a bit more of my position at present. If you would like to discuss anything i have wrote here further do let me know and i again apoligise if i have offended anyone at all that is not my intention at all with this post.

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