BRITAIN, ELECTIONS 2024: FORWARD TO PERMANENT POPULAR FORUMS – On 23 May, the Sunak Conservative government announced a snap parliamentary election for 4 July, leaving six weeks for the campaign. The arch Blairite Peter Mandelson (now Lord for services rendered) says that Sunak wanted quick elections to put a stop to the soaring popularity of far-right Farage and his Reform Party.

There is also the fact that the economic and political situation simply goes from bad to worse.

In the constituency of Labour Keir Starmer, Popular Forums have appeared which now call themselves Citizens’ Assemblies. The ex-Labour candidate, now standing against Starmer himself, promises to have the Assemblies continuing to function after the 4 July elections.

There are dozens of anti-Starmer platforms in the country:

After the 2008-10 financial crisis, 14 years of Tory governments were dedicated to making the general population pay for the bank bailout of more than £137 billion. The Tories are quite hated in the country and there is no chance of them winning this election. Labour is going to return to government, but its Manifesto is no better than that of the Tories.

On 11 April, the Labour leader Keir Starmer said to the press for the third time that, in office, he will authorise the firing of nuclear missiles ‘should the country be under threat’. On 3 June, Starmer spoke of Labour as “the Party of national security committed to 2.5% of GDP spending on defence”. 

Starmer supports the sale of British arms to Israel and bans all pro-Palestinian debates in the Party. His government will not nationalise water because recompensing the shareholders would be too expensive. Now that he has expelled most of the socialist left from the Labour Party without debate, he tells high finance imperialism that it can, in future, “trust the Labour Party to stick to serious defence policy”. 

In the country as a whole, dozens of anti-Starmer organisations have appeared. These are often composed of ex-Labour Party members forced to call themselves ‘independents’ by the fact that they now stand against what used to be their Party. Another reason for them being ‘independent’ is that, once ejected from the Labour apparatus, they find no pre-prepared socialist alternative to welcome and support them. Some comrades still look up to Jeremy Corbyn for ways to create an alternative. 

Other comrades tend to reject both the Starmer’s leadership and the Labour Party. But in general, the line between hostility to Starmer and anger at the Labour Party is not well defined. This, and political variations between comrades, could explain why the dozens of anti-Starmer platforms have not wished to meet nationally before the election. 

The political differences within these new anti-Starmer’s organisations are far from overcome by the many sorts of communists, socialists, Trotskyists and others that they come in contact with. But then, the ex-Labour candidates have the opportunity to drop their ‘independent’ badge, and stand as socialists, communists or trade unionists if they like. The Communists (CPB) will stand 14 candidates; the Socialist Party (SP) 40 candidates, the Workers Party Britain (WPB) 152 candidates. Anti-war Counterfire, the Greens and others are also standing in their own Party names.

Which sectors are involved in the anti-Starmer platforms?

Here are some of the new and older electoral platforms. “We Deserve Better” was initiated by the Guardian columnist Owen Jones. It presents ‘independent’ candidates in Worthing and Manchester, one of them with origins in Momentum. “No Ceasefire No Vote” was set up by ‘independent’ (ex-Labour) councillors; it is supported by the StopTheWar Coalition as well as by George Galloway and Craig Murray.  “The Muslim Vote” is supported by 10 Muslim civil society organisations training especially for these elections. 

Andrew Feinstein canvassing to unseat Keir Starmer in his Holborn & St Pancras constituency, June 2024.

The platform called “Collective” was launched in the Holborn & St Pancras constituency by a former ANC South African MP, Andrew Feinstein. Because he is an ex-Labour member, he was led to stand as an ‘independent’, like Corbyn. Holborn & St Pancras is Keir Starmer’s very own constituency. The hope is that Andrew will win, and unseat Mr Starmer (Sir). Even if this does not happen, the experience is very rich. Andrew has helped set up Peoples Forums in that area of London, which are now called Citizens Assemblies.

Andrew Feinstein is committed to keeping the Assemblies going. He says about them: “we will continue beyond election day. We can lead the country to a more democratic, more engaged and more prosperous future”. His electoral Manifesto was derived from the Assemblies’ discussions:

. MPs must relate transparently with their constituents.

. Water must be nationalised and polluters punished.

. Hospital departments must not be closed through lack of government funding.

. More adequate rubbish disposals.

. More mental Health services.

. Vacant lands and empty properties to be used for housing.

. If he is elected, Andrew will discuss with the Assemblies “before all major votes”. 

The Collective presents also (and still as independents) former Labour members like Pamela Fitzpatrick and Claudia Webbe; it will present Lindsey German of Counterfire-StopTheWar, as well as Andrew Murray, Salma Yaqoob, Jamie Driscoll. Another political platform called “Transform” has roots in the Corbyn’s campaigns; along with Ken Loach, it tends to hark back to the 1945 Labour Party. The other group in London, “For the Many”, retakes aspects of the Corbyn’s manifestos. 

In all these circles, the loathing for Starmer is complete, and some look forward to “a new mass Party” to replace Labour. But the rejection of the Labour as a Party is more muted. Many still look up to Jeremy Corbyn; whether they hope to revive Labour or create a new Party is not clear. Comrades travel out of area to canvass for Corbyn in his Islington North Constituency. Polls speculate that votes for independent Corbyn may equal those for the new Labour candidate that Starmer has now chosen personally for the old Corbyn’s seat. This replacement Labour candidate is Praful Nargund, director of a private IVF clinic. It was in X-twitter, one fine morning, that the local Labour Party learnt that Nargund had become their candidate for Islington North.

Capitalism’s great debility and fear:

Although the 2017 and 2019 Corbyn’s programmes were not even against Nato, capitalism and its agents repudiated these as dangerous and unacceptable. But this shows great debility however. It shows capitalism in fear for its life. The treatment it metes out to the Corbynites suggests the existence of serious anti-capitalist danger, regardless of the mildness of the programme.

It is quite an event when the Labour apparatus that maintained the monopoly of its power over the Labour lefts during generations, suddenly jettisons the big Labour Party to retrench in a much smaller one, easy to control, aligned with capitalism. Although it was not its intention, its expulsions have freed the Labour left. The latter can now talk to itself and analyse what happened to it. It is free to stand in elections, address the population, help with the creation of Peoples Forums and Citizens Assemblies. 

As this ex-Labour left combines with the traditional left-wing parties, its representatives are no longer segregated from the ideas of social transformation – the socialist ideas, the communist ideas. The old Labour-inspired, reformist and social-democratic turn of mind no longer serves. Comrades become aware of the highly advanced world war the US and Nato are engaged in the world, against Russia and China, in Ukraine and in Palestine in particular. They realise how much this reality had been downplayed, concealed and eventually banned in the Party. The enormous resistance of the Palestinians and their heroic tenacity guides the comrades. It electrifies them. It fills them with the determination to oppose, or replace all the Starmers’ Labour candidates.

It is important that Communists, Socialists and Trotskyists are strongly involved in these elections. The mendacious Labour expulsions have educated comrades. The Labour pro-zionist and bourgeois-accommodated social-democratic ideas stand exposed for the role they play in the service of colonialism and high finance imperialism. In the confluence all the lefts (Trade Unionists included), the socialist ideas grow and motivate comrades to stand for Palestine.

As J Posadas analysed in many texts (*), the political ideas of the working class in Britain move from their Labour origins over to programmes and aims that are Socialist. Based on this idea by Posadas, it may happen, or it may not, that the passing from Labour to Socialist will require the construction of a new workers’ centre in Britain. This should depend on particular rhythms determined by world revolution as it triumphs over capitalism, whose world war is already upon us, its high finance imperialism’s tentacles diving deep into the Labour Party via the Starmer’s teams and their ‘security’ allies.

History has made of the Labour-Trade Union stage, the battleground between the contending classes: the working class and its Trade Unions on a one hand, and on the other, the capitalist class degenerating into the Nazi genocidal vortex of high finance imperialism.

The new groups and left-wing organisations that have formed for this election need to meet soon, nationally. 

In his Manifesto, Andrew Feinstein vows to help with the continuation of the Citizens’ Assemblies after the election. This is a guide for the whole country. 

Forward to the creation of Popular Forums in the places where they do not exist yet; and forward to their continuing functioning after the election. Mass meetings and all MPs to consult these Forums before all major votes in Parliament. 

The indignation of the Labour left at ultra-capitalist Starmer is shared by the working class in its daily life.

The electoral platforms that have come into being for this elections need to continue to operate, organise in the population, show Norman Thomas’ The Big Lie films, take collective decisions, seek the Trade Unions, the workers, the strikes, the population. 

One thing should be central in the Popular Forums: Britain out Nato, Nato out of Britain!

Posadists Today – 23.6.24

Feature image: Members of the Labour-affiliated Fire Brigades Trade Union (FBU) reproving their Union leaderships for having failed, over the years, to combat the policies of the Conservative governments.


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