THE LEFT ASSERTS ITSELF POLITICALLY IN THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY (ENGLAND, SCOTLAND AND WALES). THIS SEPTEMBER 2016, JEREMY CORBYN WAS RE-ELECTED LABOUR LEADER WITH AN INCREASED MAJORITY OF ALMOST 2%.
Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected Labour Party leader in September 2016 with 61.8% of the Labour membership vote. As he had first been elected in the summer of 2015 with 59.8%, his majority has increased by almost 2%.
All over the last 10 months, the Party’s right wing never stopped conniving with the bourgeois class and the media to force him out, or to make him abandon. It voted with the Tories for military intervention in Syria, and it abstained on crucial bills (like the Health Bill) that needed opposing. It stage-managed mass resignation of Labour Members of Parliament (MPs) and Shadow Ministers, to embarrass Corbyn and demonstrate his ‘unpopularity’ within the Party. But he did not go!
Within the Party, dubious and false accusations were launched against individual left-wing comrades by pro-Blair Labour Councillors and MPs, and this was eventually used to close the Labour Party down for 3 months. The most sordid happened when the disciplinary body of the Party’s Executive expelled, suspended and disqualified at least 200,000 militants over several months. Estimates put at 70 and perhaps 75% the Corbyn vote that might have been, if those people had voted.
All this failed spectacularly, however. Jeremy Corby held dozens of huge mass meetings across the country, Scotland and Wales included. Seeing how much the crowds supported him, he had no reason to resign. Two Trade Unions (Fire Brigade and Public Services Union) are now in the process of affiliating, or re-affiliating to Labour. In Scotland, former Labour supporters are regaining courage. The most important national Trade Unions backed Corbyn and greatly facilitated his campaign. Corbyn himself, and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, attended all the pickets and all the struggles of the working class – now permanent. Tony Blair said “I am the guy on the placard, Jeremy is the guy who holds the placard”, but this arrogant contempt got lost, and Owen Smith – Corbyn’s respectable clone – was rejected and often booed.
This new triumph for Corbyn is due to the determination of the working class and its Trade Unions’ base. It is also due to the Youth which intervenes massively through the creation of Campaigns for Jeremy and the vast Momentum movements. Above all, however, this triumph for Corbyn is due to the growing certainty in the British masses (Irish included) that the priorities of capitalism must be defeated (austerity and war) and that another society is wanted. Based on this rising state of confidence and hope, the Corbyn leadership talks freely of ‘Socialism’.
The mass mobilisations exist not only for the Corbyn’s Ten-Point programme against austerity and war (more on this later) to start being implemented, but for this programme to stimulate the working class and masses of Europe. Indeed the latter face the same problems, and develop movements resembling the one of Corbyn (like Syriza and Podemos for instance).
Here goes the article, produced before these recents events, but which is still instructive.
PROGRAMMATIC SUGGESTIONS TO J. CORBYN’S SUPPORTERS
As in any other Party, the structure and leadership of the Labour Party is determined by its programme. Its programme of ameliorating capitalism being bourgeois, the Party’s structure and leadership are bourgeois too. The Tories who pretend to need “a strong Labour opposition” want Tory-and-Labour governments to take ‘strong’ turns at keeping the working class out.
Jeremy Corbyn’s grassroots support for third-world liberation and working class’ advancement, faces the Labour leadership with the new programme of changing capitalism. To this direct challenge, the furious bourgeois structure reacts by closing the Party down for 3 months
Seven major British Trade Unions nominated Jeremy Corbyn for leader against Owen Smith. 84% of the CLPs have nominated him and the majority of the 598,000 members, supporters and affiliates support him. The mass TUC demonstrations of recent years were of his supporters.
The Corbyn’s 10-points programme puts people before profits. They are anti-capitalist inasmuch as capitalism cannot grant them. They take the Party in the direction of fighting against austerity and war. They also take the Party in the direction of standing by the side of the ex-colonies in defence of their national sovereignty against imperialism and Nato.
Those who declare J Corbyn “un-electable” and “unfit for power” are terrified by the support he gives to, and receives from the working class. In July 2016, some 60 Labour MPs abstained on the NHS Reinstatement Bill (which they should have opposed). They cosy up to the Tories in the hope of not being found “unfit for power” themselves!
The Trade Union and Labour members must control the Party
The no-confidence vote in J Corbyn by 166 Labour MPs (and the mass resignation of his Shadow Ministers) did not just strike at him; it forced the NEC to agree to the (un-ruled) challenge of newly elected J Corbyn, and this, with unprecedented support. The way the NEC suspended the Trade Unionist Ronnie Draper – and not Lord Sainsbury (in direct contravention of its own rules) – shows that the NEC is manipulated.
Who controls the Party? The General Secretary, Iain McNicol, who used the Court of Appeal to keep a £25 fee slapped on the 130,000 newest members? Or the 180,541 new supporters who registered in 48 hours flat, paid the £25 on-line, and handed over £4 million to the Party?
The principle of one-member-one-vote in the Party now demands that the Party’s decisions should be made by the members: The Labour Party Conference must decide politically. The role of the Party’s Gen Secretary & Executive (NEC) is to implement Conference decisions. Nothing else.
What can be done right now?
Twice the Party’s bourgeois apparatus resorted to courts of law against its membership: Sure sign of its waning support in the Party’s base! Sign of its growing closeness to bourgeois law! Sign also that it wants the Party membership to stay small, stymied and “power” compliant!
The ability of the working class to lead society does not depend on how many workers there are. It depends on its class ability to mobilise other classes for social transformation. Through J Corbyn, the working class reincorporates Unions into Labour, and draws new layers into Labour.
Immediate changes are wanted of course, like: No ‘suspensions’ or expulsions without mass debates with the membership. No suspensions for retrospective so-called offenses. The General Secretary cannot be left with the power to decide “as he or she sees fit”. The Compliance Unit must be replaced by Party political life, with Labour mass meetings and publications.
These questions should be directly accessible at Conference. The arbitrary closure of all the CLPs for 3 months before Conference is an abuse of power and an act of vandalism, particularly as the world conditions are becoming favourable to change, people mobilise against austerity on a European scale, and the Labour NEC is beginning to be renewed.
In the various pro-Corbyn campaigns and Constituency Labour parties, several things can already be aimed at:
- Labour-Trade Unions preparation for the repeal of the anti-Trade Union laws
- Public meetings with local councils against the Housing and Planning Act
- Monthly consultations between the NEC and the Constituencies (CLPs)
- Right of tendency for all: Unemployed, Environment, Peace, Climate, Green, anti-capitalist movements and all fraternal Workers Parties.
The social struggle is becoming as important, if not more, than the electoral and parliamentary one.
 Michael Foster went to court against the NEC to try and remove J Corbyn’s name from the ballot (failed;) and Iain McNicol resorted to the Court of Appeal to force a voting fee of £25 on all newest members. New Members: Welcome!