Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Keep The Bosses' Courts Out

The fact that in the last couple of weeks the courts have come out with decisions that favoured the Corbyn wing of the party does not change the principle that we should keep the bosses' courts out of the internal affairs of the labour movement.  Allowing the courts to be arbiters of our rules and practices is no different than allowing an employer to have a veto over who workers in a workplace can elect as their shop steward, or other union official, or how they should organise themselves.

The decision of the Blair-right rump on the NEC to try to prevent members from voting, to raise the supporters fee to £25 and allow only two days for registration, as well as the decision to close down branches and CLP's for the next few months, were clearly bureaucratic manoeuvres designed to limit the chances of Corbyn being reelected.  However, not only have those attempts clearly failed, but they have backfired.  They have been seen by members, and even members of the public, for what they were, and have fuelled even greater support for Corbyn, who looks set to win now by a huge margin.

The best response to the shenanigans of the Blair-rights has been the clean slate of Corbyn supporters for the six CLP positions on the new NEC, and further such advances are likely in the next few weeks.  For the first time in living memory, the potential exists for the Labour Party to become not just a Workers' Party, in the sense that it is the party that workers look to for solutions, that they vote for, and associate with, but a Workers Party that more accurately itself reflects workers real objective interests.

The tired old Blair-rights, like John MCTiernan, look like fish out of water, whenever they appear on TV, as they are now clearly living in a world they do not understand, without realising that the world has changed dramatically.  McTiernan, on Newsnight, claimed that a Corbyn Labour Party committed to opposing Trident and austerity, could never sell itself on the doorstep.  He seems not to have realised that, in the last elections, in Scotland, 80% of the votes cast went to parties that opposed Trident, and opposed austerity; he seems not to have noticed that in 2015, the party that most closely reflects his ideas - the Liberals - got annihilated, and is now as politically putrefied as his own political ideology; he seems not to have noticed that those with similar ideas to his own, in Greece, Spain, Portugal have either already been destroyed as a political force, as with Pasok, or have given way to new social democratic forces, such as Podemos or the Left Bloc.  In Greece, Syriza won an overwhelming majority, and despite being forced into making serious concessions, still managed to win the subsequent elections.

It is not the social-democratic ideas that Corbyn is advancing in the Labour Party that is the cause of Labour's recent drop in the polls, to the extent they can in any case be believed, but the continual vicious attacks on the party itself being conducted by the likes of McTiernan and the old Blair-rights, along with the soft left elements that have been drawn in behind them.  Whatever, criticisms the Blair-rights might have of the principled opposition that people like Corbyn made in the past of the policies being pursued by Blair, Brown or Miliband, they can not accuse him of ever attacking the party itself, or of continually running to the Tory press to make personal criticisms of those leaders, as the Blair-rights are doing now.  In fact, that was always the practice of those elements within the party, as reflected in the continual machiavellian schemes of Blair-rights against Brownites, and vice versa, even though politically they were clones.

But, that shows that once this election is out of the way, and as Corbyn supporters have a majority on the NEC, it will be time for a reckoning.  The Blair-rights and soft lefts were given every opportunity. But, they have used that opportunity to simply attack the party, its members and its leader for their own personal ends.  Its clear that their intention is to continue to do so, after they have lost yet again. They intend to continue to snipe and whittle away at the party, and to run one leadership election attempt after another.  They are organised around various organs, but its clear that they are operating as a party within a party.

Everyone knows they have discussed the potential for a split, for setting up their own parliamentary groups, for trying to take hold of the party's name, and assets and so on.  The party simply cannot allow them to continue to undermine it in that way.  The party conference is a perfect opportunity to expose them, and call them out, to leave them nowhere to run.  It should be the start of removing them from our midst and thereby stop them causing further damage ahead of next year's local elections.

We should begin the process of deselecting Blair-right and soft left MP's, and selecting a new cadre of MP's that reflect the current ideas of the party.  We need to begin to start selecting candidates for next year's local elections that reflect the party's current values, and positions of opposing austerity, and local parties and those candidates should begin now building campaigns against austerity, together with local unions.  In the early mid 1980's, I was part of organising a local Labour Movement Conference in Stoke, that brought together the Trades Council, other Trades Union bodies, the District Labour Party, and CLP's to oppose the Tories spending cuts, and develop an alternative agenda.  We should organise such local labour movement conferences to oppose austerity, in each area, and forge them together into a national labour movement campaign, aiming for a huge anti-austerity demonstration at the start of next year, and a strategy to be adopted by Labour Councils to provide positive alternatives based on workers self-activity.

In the early 1980's, Michael Foot began by organising a series of such large demonstrations and mobilisations against the Tories, and Labour's standing in the polls soared to over 50%.  It was only when Foot began to back track, and when the SDP traitors split the vote, that Labour's position slid.  But, today, no one believes that the Blair-rights have any future as a separate party.  As soon as their destructive influence is removed, and the party can focus on moving forward, using its now huge membership base, for such mobilisations, large numbers of people will begin to swing behind it. That indeed, is what the Tories and Blair-rights fear.

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