Last year I wrote that it was not necessary for the Left to spend months in what was bound to be futile negotiations trying to cobble together some election vehicle - Why We Need A Socialist Campaign For A Labour Victory. I argued that the experience of the SCLV of 1979, provided the answer. On the one hand it could mobilise large sections of the Left and Labour Movement to oppose the Tories and the fascists by the only credible means of obtaining electoral success - a Labour Victory - whilst using that mobilisation to develop a basic minimum socialist platform around which the Left both inside and out of the LP could organise. As such it would be a basis for creating the kind of movement that will be needed, whoever wins the election. The Left has missed that opportunity, and largely it is down to its own sectarianism, and delusions of grandeur.
When I wrote that blog some sections of the Left were already engaged in discussions to create a "Son of No2EU". Given the nature of the parent, it was never likely that the Son would be much to hope for. No2EU had been a ramshackle vehicle cobbled together by the National Socialists of the British Communist Party, with the support of the Socialist Party. It had all the hallmarks of Stalinist bureaucratic organisation with the addeddd reactionary politics of Nationalism. If the antics inside the LP gave cause for concern in relation to the lack of democracy, No2EU certainly was not a better alternative. If anything the Son was worse. It was clear that many sections of the Left were not even going to be invited to take part in trying to establish it as a broad Left-wing organisation. On top of that the Stalinists decided that they would pull out in order to simply tail the LP, and that meant that the only link that existed with the Labour Movement, via Bob Crow to the RMT, simply disappeared. When TUSC was set up, it was, therefore, by general consent a half-hearted affair that even its participants seem to have little faith in.
The other offerings are if anything worse. RESPECT hardly had the right to be called "Left" to begin with. It was only the existence within it of the SWP that gave it that cover. It was from the beginning a communalist organisation, and the split with the SWP has made it nothing else. The idea that there is anything peculiarly "Left" about opposing the role of imperialism in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. should be called into question by anyone with a brain, given that such a position is being argued in the election by the BNP!
Most ridiculous is the position taken by the AWL. This is an organisation that should have known better, precisely because the original SCLV was the creation of its forerunner. But, instead of learning from its own past it has zigged and zagged all over the place in the last few years electoral activity. For example, a couple of years ago, having spent ages slagging off the SWP, it swung errattically and from out of nowhere to support Lindsey German and the SWP's Left List in the London elections. If organisations of several thousand are delusional in standing candidates in these elections, then an organisation of around 100 people is simply on another planet in standing its own candidate. It is the equivalent in political terms of vanity publishing. But, having done that the AWL, at the last minute, come up with the idea, not of an SCLV, but of a Socialist Campaign To defeat the Tories and Fascists. The cumbersone name is reflective of the cumbersome logic behind it. The AWL want socialists inside and out of the LP to come together to support "socialist candidates" where they are standing, and to vote Labour where they are not.
But, of course, the only result of these "socialist" candidates standing - and who is to say who they are - is not to prevent the election of Tories or Fascists, but to facilitate it by splitting the vote! The only good thing that can be said about that is that we know on past experience that the actual vote these "socialist" candidates will receive will be so small as to hopefully only play such a negative role in cases where the election is extremely close. If the AWL really wanted to stop the Tories and the Fascists from being elected then they would fight in every seat for a Labour Victory, and would do so whilst still arguing the need for mobilising around a socialist programme, and a fight to transform the Labour Movement. It is typical of the mentality of sectarians to proceed on the basis of these delusional politics, in which they beleive that they are todays equivalent of the Bolsheviks, or even of the Trotskyist organisations of the 1920's and 1930's. In the 1920's, Trotsky himself in explaining the basis of the United Front, explained that it could only be applied in conditions where the Labour Movement was divided in fairly even measuere between a reformist and revolutionary wing. If the revolutionaries represented only a tiny minority - in fact Trotsky spoke of the revolutionaries typically having to represent around 40% - then it was pointless them proposing a United Front, for the simple reason that there would be no reason why the real Workers Party should want to have any dealings with them. Yet, the AWL with its grand total of 100 members is so delusional that it beleives it can realistically propose such a United Front to the LP!
Moreover, if I were an ordinary LP member, perhaps a Trade Union militant, who has spent many years of my valuable time trying to secure a Labour Victory, why on Earth would I look kindly upon some insignificant sect that proposes such an alliance to me, whilst at the same time standing outside the Party, and standing its own candidates against mine????
It now seems to me that this sectarianism of the Left is so entrenched that no way forward is likely on the basis of these organisations. Their sectarianism is too entrenched, the vested interests of their leadership who have been in place longer than the Dictatorships of any of the old Stalinist regimes, are too great for them to offer a way forward. Even were they to rejoin the LP, as I have suggested in the past, its almost certain that they would simply resume the method of the Entrist tactic of the past, as merely a means of "Building The Party" from inside, and by leaching off the Workers Party. Fortunately, others on the Left appear to be coming to that realisation too. That is the conclusion that Phil came to over at the AVPS Blog - Can A New Workers Party Emerge. He is right we have to work with the Workers Party we have, but we have to work with that Party on a completely different basis than socialists have worked for the last 100 years. We have to utilise the Party as the means to promote the self-activity of the class, and not in that limited sense that the Left has viewed it of simply self-activity in the form of campaigns and mobilisations to apply pressure, demand reforms etc., but self-activity for the class to develop its own solutions, its own forms, its own organisations. In so doing we create the very changes in material conditions that enable the transformation of conscioussness, and we create the seedbed of new activists that feed into the rebuilding and renovation of the Labour Movement itself from the ground up. There is no shortcut.