Raising the banner: Time for change.

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Image based on the Painting: Raising the banner Heliy Mikhailovich Korzhev, 1960

In the last few weeks, we’ve seen a number of new groups and more established ones on the political left calling on members to stay in the Labour Party.  I understand that tribal loyalty.  I dedicated 44 years of my life to fighting for and serving the Labour Party.  But the party is over and it’s time to think about building something new, something different, something that can actually offer meaningful change.

The shocking exposé about senior figures inside the Labour Party working to sabotage the party’s election prospects and targeting allies of Jeremy Corbyn, has left supporters feeling disgusted and demoralised. 

After losing four elections in a row, Labour is now facing an existential crisis.  Sir Keir Starmer represents a lurch back to the days when Labour embraced neoliberalism, when Tony Blair made a Faustian pact with Murdoch’s empire and Clause IV was jettisoned, thereby expunging any commitment to socialism.

Jeremy Corbyn was the perfect antidote to the neoliberal political duopoly in England and Wales between Labour and the Conservatives, which represented two sides of the same coin. 

The electorate had become increasingly cynical and millions simply gave up on politics altogether by refusing to vote.

Labour’s inability to mark out a sufficiently alternative and distinctive political programme to the Conservatives has already seen the party all but wiped out in Scotland.  Even Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership failed to win back Scottish voters who had previously been lifelong Labour supporters.

The cold hard truth is that before Jeremy Corbyn, Labour was on the road to Pasokification and Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership has put it on that road again.  Lightning never strikes twice in the same place and Labour’s structures are so loaded that electing another socialist leader is just a pipe dream. 

Jeremy Corbyn only made it onto the ballot paper by accident, but the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) are not going to make that “mistake” again and Labour MPs are the gatekeepers to the leadership ballot.  Jeremy missed the opportunity to bring the PLP to heel at the 2018 conference by failing to back the membership’s desire to extend party democracy and make MPs accountable.

We now know for certain that the PLP is an unaccountable law unto itself.  Most Labour MPs never accepted Jeremy’s leadership, so they made his job in parliament impossible.  My efforts to make MPs answerable to members through open selections, saw them combining with the saboteurs in the bureaucracy and the NEC to force me out.  The High Court’s ruling that my suspension was unlawful was subverted by party bureaucrats concocting more spurious ‘evidence’ to suspend me again.

The last five years prove that the party does not belong to its members.  It’s owned by a triumvirate of the PLP, bureaucracy and NEC who behave as if they are masters and grassroots members are their servants.  Recent history shows that when these characters don’t get their own way, they will stop at nothing to work against the party’s interests.  The leaked document vividly illustrates this point.  It quotes party officials, who were overseeing the witch hunt, boasting about creating a “new stasi system” to trawl through social media posts.  They explicitly targeted groups, such as ‘JeremyCorbyn4PM’, ‘Momentum’ and ‘Young Greens’ in order to “catch people on the left.”

I appreciate people’s desire to stay and fight inside the Labour Party, but they have literally no means of winning.  Even when Jeremy Corbyn led the party with hundreds of thousands of grassroots members behind him, the party was still controlled by the forces that systematically dismantled and then destroyed the Corbyn project.  It therefore begs the question, what is the point of socialists investing time and energy trying to reform a party that is organisationally designed to frustrate democracy and block socialism? 

Sir Keir Starmer is even a member of the dubious Trilateral Commission, established in 1973 by liberal internationalists who were concerned by what they described as “an excess of democracy.”  They objected to people getting organised and entering the political arena because that imposed too much pressure on the state.  They wanted a passive depoliticised population instead where state institutions concentrated on the “indoctrination of the young.”  What hope is there for the party when the leader belongs to such an anti-democratic cadre?

So, rather than flogging a dead horse, I think we would do better to focus our energies on developing extra-parliamentary activities.  Even when we have had Labour governments, our ‘democratic’ system of governance has consistently failed to ensure the fruits of the UK’s economic achievements are equitably shared amongst all its citizens.  

The truth is representative democracy has been failing us ever since the franchise was extended in 1918.  Those who wax lyrical about parliamentary democracy should explain how, in the world’s fifth biggest economy, 14 million people are living in poverty, precarious employment is endemic, and thousands have to sleep on the streets.

That is why I am working with others to create a new grassroots movement to build capacity in communities and raise political consciousness.  It might seem like a mountain to climb, but it has been done before in this country and abroad.  We should draw inspiration from groups like the cooperative pioneers and the Black Panther Party. 

They developed practical solutions to address the consequences of state failure caused by the colonisation of mainstream political parties by a hostile ideology.

We can still utilise those ideas and apply them in the twenty first century.  Implementing grassroots socialism by putting energy into creating new initiatives such as worker cooperatives, neighbourhood action groups, public arts projects and community radio platforms etc is an achievable goal.  Whereas experience shows us that attempting to deliver political change by rescuing the Labour Party from the clutches of the anti-democratic neoliberals is nothing short of mission impossible.

Chris Williamson

3 COMMENTS

  1. I want to join a left wing party at the moment I am a labour member only of jc I need a alternative true left wing party

  2. Probably like Phillip I am looking for a political movement to support which is genuinely progressive. It really doesn’t matter what is called – but must recognise planetary boundaries balanced with human fairness, education and health. Economic productivity is a difficult one, and some one who has any ideas on how to balance economics with ecology is definitely going to get my attention.

  3. With an extreme right wing Tory government we need an equally powerful left wing socialist opposition and we do not have one a political coup has been allowed to happen and we now have Sir establishment who I do not trust to hold this government to account and I do not feel he represents the working class people I joined the Labour Party because JC inspired me we can not let that great movement that JC stood for die we need that now more then ever FIGHT BACK The Labour Party has made a step to the right too far

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