What is the Point of a New Left Party?

JVL Introduction

A thoughful contribution to the debate about leaving the Labour Party (and forming a new one).

Going it alone has not had a successful history – partly because of the electoral system but essentially, the author argues, from the failure to build a mass base for something different and the infighting and sectarianism that has characterised recent efforts.

Being part of the movement that is trying to change things in the Labour Party does not preclude doing things outside the party (as Don’t Leave Organise advocates).

As the author says, “If people want to leave Labour, fine. It’s up to them. It is nevertheless better if comrades stay, even if, for totally understandable reasons, they choose not to actively participate and concentrate their energies elsewhere…”

This article was originally published by A Very Public Sociologist on Sat 27 Jun 2020. Read the original here.

What is the Point of a New Left Party?

Seeing as Keir Starmer is gearing up for a confrontation with the left following Rebecca Long-Bailey’s sacking and despite what’s in the best interests of the Labour Party, debate in and outside of the party has started thinking aloud about a new one. This would be a complete waste of time, whether the objective is to replace Labour with a mass socialist party or something modest like a ‘left UKIP‘, an organisation of limited electoral appeal but viable enough to keep Labour from straying too far from left wing policies. As a wise voice points out, “If you spent the TIG years laughing at how they were going to lose their seats because the name recognition lies with Labour and not individual MPs how do you square that with the desire to have left Labour MPs break away now?” Quite. Let’s think this through.

Anyone serious about either projects must reckon with history. The old, official Communist Party failed miserably in elections, only getting three MPs elected under its name in its 70-year history and, at most, a couple of hundred councillors. It was able to build significant influence in several trade unions but this withered as trade unionism changed and went into decline. The Independent Labour Party, which disaffiliated from Labour in 1931, had three MPs elected in 1945 and gained another the following year in a by-election, but they were all swept away in 1950. Militant was later to have success in the 1980s with three MPs, but these were only elected because they were Labour candidates. The Scottish Socialist Party had six MSPs elected in 2003 off the back of the anti-war movement, but that was thanks to the list PR system used to elect half of Holyrood’s members. In 2007 these gains evaporated. And lastly George Galloway was able to get himself elected in 2005 and in the 2012 Bradford by-election as Respect’s sole MP. This is your lot – it’s gone from bad to worse since.

A question of the electoral system? Well, yes. But not the whole story. When you look at the left alternatives and formations of the last 25 years, whatever potential they had were hobbled by infighting and sectarianism. The Socialist Labour Party was strangled at birth by Arthur Scargill’s failure to, first, reach an accommodation with Militant Labour (as the Socialist Party then called itself) to break the mould of sectarian politics, and then a subsequent witch hunt against anyone not to his liking. The Socialist Alliance was destroyed by the little Lenin syndrome of each of its two main participants, as was the case with Respect and latterly, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. This was forbidden from developing any life of its own by its principal sponsor, the SP. Indeed, the two largest Trotskyist organisations on the British left have undergone profound crises of their own – the SWP has its grotesque culture of leader worship to blame, one which saw it embroiled in covering up rape and sexual assault. And the Socialist Party preferred implosion to an honest accounting of, to everyone else, its obvious fallibility. Left Unity, an attempt to cobble something together in the early years of the decade sans the SP and SWP failed thanks to the double whammy of unseriousness and playground trottery. Last of all, the Scottish Socialist Party ekes out an existence doing nothing in particular – Tommy Sheridan’s bitter legacy continues to cast its shadow.

Because these failed doesn’t mean new initiatives are predetermined to follow their path, right? The issue all these organisations share was a failure to build a mass base. The CPGB, SSP, and Respect were able to acquire some aspects of one but this did not reproduce itself as a stable constituency, nor were these organisations sufficiently rooted to the point where they could shape their base. Leadership matters, of course, but the propensity for sectarian and unaccountable petty elites to emerge grows the more insulated they are from wider struggles. Take the British far left as a case in point: the bulk of their activism is not around workplace struggles, campaigns or what not, but the reproduction of their organisations themselves through petitions and paper sales – which tends to reinforce their distance from the class they aspire to lead as opposed to merging with it. This makes building a sustainable base difficult because this work is always prioritised. If they want to begin breaking out of this ghetto, a fundamental rethink and reorientation of their politics is required – something the far left as a collective have avoided since the CPGB’s foundation.

Then we have competitors. I don’t believe Keir Starmer or his people understand the composition of Labour’s base, its dynamics and movements, nor its trajectory. The Labour Together report doesn’t change that, despite the diplomatic nice words said in its direction by the leader’s office. As Keir pivots to the right and the base starts fraying, there’s an opportunity to intersect with activists and voters left high and dry. Indeed, and the Greens and Liberal Democrats (if they have any sense) are well-placed to scoop them up. They have activists, a proven (modest) record of electoral success, and are superficially attuned to the concerns of a chunk of Labour’s new core vote. The SNP shows what happens when Labour loses sight of where its base is. How can a new left party that doesn’t even exist and enjoys zero name recognition offer credible answers and be considered a good punt for the extra-Labour curious? Look at the state of the latest new left party, George Galloway’s Workers’ Party. Consciously a “patriotic” party that attempts to combine Brexity nationalism with Putin apologetics, and an undisguised (and unironic) admiration for Joe Stalin and all his works, it makes you wonder who it could possibly appeal to – apart from aged tankies nostalgic for the time before. It’s embarrassing, frankly.

Let’s park these issues to one side and consider the strongest argument from history in favour of a new workers/new left party: first past the post has locked all small parties out of parliamentary representation, but this was the case when Labour was founded. And yet Labour came to replace the Liberals as an electorally viable party of government in spite of the high bar of entry. True, true. But how did this happen? It involved alliances of convenience with the Liberals in certain seats and, oh yes, the small matter of a rising labour movement locked out of mainstream political representation. In the 2020s the situation is completely different. Trade unions aren’t barred from political entry – most of them are satisfied (at the moment) with Keir Starmer nor is there much grumbling among the now growing membership about him. And besides, the contemporary work force is highly individuated: true, we have a rising cohort of the new working class, but their institutional expression was found in Corbynism. With its dissolution, its attachment to Labour is much more conditional. Good news for a new party, then? Well, no. Because it is more diffuse and harder to organise, even with the coronavirus crisis set on polarising the UK’s political economy further. Its less conscious and confident sections are more likely to lapse into despondency and abstention than get angry and organised. We saw it happen last December, and it can happen again. In short, the conditions for a new party for the replacement of Labour are simply not there.

How about a left UKIP instead, effectively an electoral pressure group for socialism? Assuming it manages to avoid all the pitfalls outlined above, how does it move from a standing start to something that makes for sweaty palms in the leader’s office? It’s difficult to see how. UKIP’s success tapped into a consolidating (but declining cohort) of voters largely organised by the hard right press, and tapped into widespread cultural currents of racism, Empire nostalgia, and British exceptionalism. Every five years it also had a set of elections it could easily dominate as a repository of protest voting. Its threat pushed Dave and the Tories to promise the referendum and, well, here we are. What opportunities are available for a left alternative to make a nuisance of itself? Local council by-elections? Elections for the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and London? Favourable press coverage? Considering the extra-Labour left’s record of strategic ineptitude when it’s not busy fighting among itself, the chances of navigating choppier political waters and reaching the golden isle range from nil to Davey Jones’s locker.

Last of all, what is a new party for? You can look at the existing Labour left and answer this question easily: pushing socialist policies, building an infrastructure for political education and empowerment, drawing more people into politics, holding Labour’s leadership to account. Success isn’t guaranteed and it’s never a bed of roses, but it exists, has a mass influence, and tens of thousands of activists. It’s a serious endeavour and one that could retake control of Labour’s National Executive Committee this summer. Some might think it’s a waste of time, the right have won the leadership so why bother, but being part of this movement doesn’t preclude doing things outside the party. Nothing is stopping anyone giving up dull party meetings and getting stuck into workplace or community activism, for example, and many thousands are going to do just that. It is not the be-all and end-all. Compared to this, what might a new party have to offer? Judging by snippets of conversation here and the odd polemic there, those arguing for one desire a space of the like-minded where they aren’t sabotaged by their own side and feel it would be a better use of their time. That’s fair enough, but let’s not kid ourselves here. This is a project for building a social club or, at best, a sect no different from everything that has gone before.

If people want to leave Labour, fine. It’s up to them. It is nevertheless better if comrades stay, even if, for totally understandable reasons, they choose not to actively participate and concentrate their energies elsewhere. This is simply a basic fact of the political situation we find ourselves in, this is our reality. A new party at best is an irrelevance, and at worst a means for disorganising the left further.

Comments (30)

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    What is TIG?

    [The Independent Group of MPs – Chuka Umunna et al- JVL web]

  • TM says:

    Yes, I agree. Whoever said this was going to be straightforward and devoid of all the nastiness the right wing and Establishment would throw at Socialists? It has been a long hard struggle but I see no alternative but to continue. Besides, don’t we need solidarity?
    I think this article paints a very sober picture of life outside the LP trying to build on the fringes. I know. I was there once.
    Nothing stays the same. How can it? Starmer is a hollow man and so is his politics.
    I want to support my comrades.

  • James Hall says:

    We know what the point of a new left party is – the question is whether it is a viable proposition, and perhaps the title of the article should have been this.

  • Linda S. says:

    You do not address the question of the large number of left-wing comrades who are being forced out of the Party by expulsion or threat thereof. Why stay in a Party that will not hesitate to bring allegations against you of such serious charges as antisemitism on the flimsiest of pretexts? Stay and be falsely branded a racist? I don’t think so.

  • DJ says:

    I believe a new left party is required. The question is when will enough other people feel circumstances dictate this?

  • dave says:

    Not as simple as this. Some of us have too much self-respect to compromise our beliefs and not least have our voices silenced. You may sneer at George Galloway, but tonight he hosted a public Zoom meeting on the capitulation to ‘antisemitism’ in Labour – this is impossible for anyone to voice in Labour now. When your party exercises political censorship you have to think hard about your integrity.

    Other small left parties may not have direct power but exercise it in other ways at local, workplace and in other contexts.

    The obvious move is to leave and rejoin when things change.

  • Brian Burden says:

    The proposed new rules for NEC elections represent, in my opinion, an undemocratic attempt to curb the authentic power of the membership, a large proportion of which joined the party as a direct result of Corbyn winning the leadership and which remains a significant force. I rely on JVL to alert readers to these manoeuvres and to advise them how best to thwart them.

  • Illinois Cook says:

    Time has never been better/riper for a new party, 10 million people voted for socialism even in Dec 19. Try a few, nothing to lose.

  • DJ says:

    The debate needs to go beyond this. We are facing a global crisis which requires serious anticapitalist solutions.

  • DJ says:

    Thank you JVL for becoming a vehicle for socialists to discuss the way forward. An internationalist perspective is required.

  • Carol Archer says:

    This article sounds all doom and gloom. Gives me no hope in any direction. Why stay in a party that doesn’t represent anywhere near what I joined for. And everything that Starmer has done has turned me away. The LP is now run in the back room by the BoD. I don’t have youth on my side to wait for whatever you think is coming by staying in solidarity with the few who are true socialist that I would trust. It sounds like being local is belittled. I see connecting locally as something akin to socialist principles which I’m already doing since the covid lockdown. I also see resistance to the many undemocratic negligent behaviours of our present so called government is essential and that’s not coming from the LP. I’ll join in with Resistance that was initiated by Chris Williamson. And I’ll see whether that offers something more akin to democratic socialism that is being offered by Starmer and his hedge fund backers.

  • David Hawkins says:

    I think we often focus two much on what we as activists think rather than the wider electorate who elect people to Parliament.
    There is a lot of anger and alienation out there but I think very few people would be prepared to vote for “socialism” but if you talked about racism, the environment, decent schools, a properly funded NHS, fairness, kindness, mutual respect then you would have an audience.
    The article didn’t mention Ken Livingstone someone who stood against the official Labour candidate and got himself elected Mayor of London. Ken is a mix of personal charisma, pragmatism and left wing politics.
    When Jeremy Corbyn was elected the right didn’t just give up and resign, they worked very hard to discredit Jeremy and I believe we have to work equally hard to discredit Starmer’s racism, hypocrisy and social conservatism.
    I think the one thing likely to give Starmer sleepless nights is the thought that right wing Labour MPs like Jess Phillips will have no Labour foot soldiers to run her campaign at the next General Election. Nothing in the Labour Party Rule Book makes it compulsory to knock on doors or distribute leaflets.
    In very bleak times the only beacon of hope for me is JVL an organisation that works exceedingly hard to promote a positive political debate. JVL thinks I should stay as a Labour Party member and I take their opinion seriously.
    One thing we can do is to work hard to get Jo Bird onto the NEC and a small but significant step and if the election is held under STV Jo should have a much better chance.

  • David McNiven says:

    I understand the Corbyn membership bounce was over 200,000, of whom I was one.
    The Greens have 48,000.
    The maths aren’t complicated. We join the Greens – they’re already closer to us than we or they are to Starmer’s Labour and if we can nudge them to the left by force of argument, so much the better.
    They’d get mass membership and canvassers, we’d get some insulation from MSM vitriol.
    Finding a leader of Corbyn’s calibre is key though and I know of none.

  • Stephen Williams says:

    I’m not resigning because that’s what the bigots want. However, I’m doing nothing to protect my membership by toeing the line. Every communication I receive from the party is responded to with clear statements regarding Palestine, my Shadow Cabinet MP is not spared my reflections on Starmer, I make on-line comments under my own name- as here- I participate in on-line discussions where I speak and write openly about evil influences within the party. I’m a foot-soldier in the party and so far, no one has taken any notice. But I’m aware that one day, maybe someone will.
    Bluntly, I don’t care. But one one thing I shall not do is to hold my tongue to protect my membership.

  • Paul Steele says:

    I think you need a second part to this article – what is the point of the Labour Party? People who joined for the message of hope now see MPs who denied them that hope promoted. To pick just one line above – “I don’t believe Keir Starmer or his people understand the composition of Labour’s base, its dynamics and movements, nor its trajectory.” Keir Starmer or his people did not need to understand the composition of Labour’s base, its dynamics etc to become leader of the party. How does Don’t Leave Organise reach those who have already left the party? How many have already left?

  • Nicola Litsa Aris says:

    Entirely agree with Dave’s comment. I’m off to resign my membership now but am concerned I might not be able to continue to be a JVL member? Apart from this article I have agreed with almost everything in all that you publish. Thank you and stay safe.

  • Linda S sums it up with her comment ,why should you stay in a party that will not allow you to criticise Israel for its malpractices in any form .I have joined Georges party because I cannot stay in a party that call you an antisemite for criticising Israel for doing things that are against international law and labour will still not call them out for it ,Starmer will destroy the party and leave room for something else in the future.

  • David Townsend says:

    I agree with dave. I left Labour last week, primarily because it is absolutely *not* what it says on the tin. I am a democratic socialist; Labour isn’t.

    It had the opportunity to regain its socialist roots under Corbyn but the PLP and others in central office ensured that didn’t happen. The sacking of RLB on the pretext of an antiseptic trope was simply the last straw.

    The other major marker for me was the continued antipathy of Scottish Labour to Scottish Independence, despite somewhere in the region of 50% of Scottish Labour supporters backing Independence, and last week’s statement from Starmer in support of the Union. Along with many other Scottish Labour members, I was effectively disenfranchised by Labour’s position. At least I have a political home in Scotland that ticks the majority of my boxes.

    And therein lies the problem for those in England. Labour needs the Scottish vote in order to get anywhere near Westminster government. And it has lost the Scottish vote. It was all but wiped out in Scotland in the 2019 GE, and it stands in third place in Holyrood. The SNP is likely to wipe the board in the first tier votes in next year’s Holyrood elections and Labour is likely to lose ground in the second tier (list) votes to parties that support Independence. Labour can’t win in Westminster without Scotland and Starmer will never become PM.

    I don’t see the point in supporting a slightly kinder neoliberal party. And I don’t think there’s anything to lose in seeking a genuine democratic socialist alternative.

  • Martin Read says:

    Any new left party, and certainly there’s plenty of room here, comes up against the same issue, the immense power of the MSM and other vested interests to work against and to grossly misrepresent ‘the message.’ More recent election results, together with the consequences of the arguable witch-hunt within the Labour Party, both seem to point a justifiably accusitory finger at these sources. The means to convey an uncorrupted message is vital, yet continues to be denied.

  • Ted Clement-Evans says:

    Dear JVL,

    I do not think you should be so pessimistic about the formation of new party. My own conclusion is that the present Labour needs to shake itself about and form a resurgence of the wonderful values of the old Labour Party.

    Keir Starmer’s decision to sack Rebecca Long Bailey was unwise as it showed he is unable or not fit to unite the Labour Party. He has allied himself with what is called the right wing which, for historic reasons, is associated with Tony Blair in defending Israel’s name. Why, is mystifying as Israel is quite clearly guilty of human rights abuses on a grand scale, to say nothing of war crimes with regard to flouting of the Geneva Conventions. A reason may be that this for them is a must as Blair made Labour financially independent to a large extent through the fund raising efforts of his friend Lord Levy.

    Although the Tories have cut off Trades Union financing there is no doubt that with that same charismatic fundraising which Lord Levy employed, rank and file members can and should make the Party self-financing

    What the BBC constantly refer to as the left wing of the Party is probably the vast silent, if not gagged, majority of those who vote for Labour, who view with compassion what is happening in Palestine. This was made clear with the spectacular initial response to the Momentum alternative to the ‘right wing’. It is most unfortunate that the charismatic Jon Lansman chose to throw away the momentum he created and showed himself to be something of a Trojan Horse within the movement.

    The JVL article which prompts this email is surely correct in saying that there is a wish to form a new party, to disassociate itself from Sir Keir and what we now see he stands for. But what he stands for is not the true face of Labour.

    Rebeca Long-Bailey, who very nearly won the leadership contest, represents the real Labour movement and those who feel Sir Keir has disenfranchised them could rally around her in a True Labour Party. With the benefit of such a name it is possible that a majority of sitting MPs would wish to forget the anti-Semitism witch-hunt and relegate it to an unhappy past.

    Cannot the JVL, the Unions and the rest of us give Rebecca our support and enable her to test the water.

    Take care, Ted

  • Dave Hansell says:

    The points made in this piece are valid but represent only half of the problem which exists.

    Perhaps the most reasonable start point is to consider the answer given to the question asked in the article “What is a new Party for?”

    Firstly, the answer given “to push for socialist policies” (whatever they happen to be defined as) demonstrates a key problem of left politics in the Labour Party and around the wider Labour Movement.

    The objective is not to push for socialist policies (however defined) it is surely “to achieve socialist policies.” To have those policies implemented.

    For sure, the track record outside of the Labour Party is as stark as it is laid out in this article. However, the question needs to be also posed in relation to the Labour Party in that same context. “What is the Labour Party for?”

    Drilling down further the question needs to be also considered as to whether socialist policies can be achieved in the Labour Party from within present circumstances in the Party and the wider context?

    For sure, socialist policies have been achieved in the past – even though they have unravelled over the past four decades. However, as the author recognises “in the 2020’s the situation is completely different.”

    If we consider those objectives in terms not of a new Party or some other manifestation but of the Labour Party similar arguments can be made. What is labelled as “the left” has been attempting the objective in the Labour Party for generations and whilst it has achieved some (albeit limited) successes in the past the necessary conflict with what is labelled “the right” in the Party (and in this regard a perusal of Robin Ramsey’s analysis from the 1990’s on security service infiltration into the Labour Movement provides a sobering context) is just as sectarian and energy sapping as any left grouping outside the Party.

    From where we are now, in the 2020’s, a number of salient contextual issues present.

    Firstly, the old canard of a Parliamentary road to socialism may no longer be an adaqaute description in a context in which, for want of a better term, the right of the Party are publicly on record as having deliberately thrown an election in order to undermine any change from the rapidly shrinking Overton Window of an unsustainable and crippling status quo. And if they’ve done it once they will certainly do it again. You can safely wager everything you have on that outcome.

    In which that same combination of MP’s, careerists, paid bureaucrats, Regional Officers, long placed local cadres etc have effectively declared open season on anything and anyone defined as “on the left”. Purging members, and ditching anyone and anything which challenges current arrangements.

    The idea or notion that socialist policies can be achieved in a context in which those values and ideas are being openly jettisoned with the full knowledge that even if those attempting to achieve those socialist policies obtain majorities on various Party Unit bodies (as occurred to a certain extent during the now past Corbyn era) they will be sabotaged from within from ever achieving electoral success with those policies is hardly credible.

    The problems of sectarian infighting of small left parties or groupings are just as debilitating in attempting to achieve those objectives in this contextual reality within the Labour Party.

    Because the contextual reality, today in the 2020’s, is that the Labour Party is not the Official Opposition it is the Official Loyal Opposition. But loyal to what?

    Certainly not Capitalism. Because when you open up that particular tin what’s inside ‘aint what it says on the tin and hasn’t been for some time. The fundamental renewal process in which formally new enterprises which have matured beyond profitable unility and efficacy are allowed to go under to be replaced by newer dynamic enterprises has stopped.

    In its place we have Government and Central Bank unconditional support for Zombie enterprises, which produce no added value or multiplier effect, via printing vast amounts of debt to be recycled back through those zombie companies and sectors in share/stock buy backs to keep up the stock market price so CEO’s and other senior corporate management can continue trousering ever increasing multi-million pound/dollar/euro/yen bonuses.

    Whilst the UK economy is reported to have shrunk 20% in the recent quarter the UK Bond Market is at a 300 year high as the BoE, like it’s counterparts in the US, Europe and Japan, print trillions of future debt for no return. Debt which will be paid for in generations of increased austerity. Much like when Britain borrowed 40% of it’s GDP to compensate former slave owning families for their “loss” following the abolition of slavery.

    A debt not paid off until 2015 by generations of workers over a century and a half or so.

    Too many politicians of all Partys are susceptible to special interest industry lobbying seeking to set in aspic current arrangements. When loyalties exist in that maintaining that unsustainable context the question then becomes one of a Parliamentary road to democracy rather than socialism.

    That is the scale of where the context stands in the 2020’s. Failing to face up to that reality by pretending it is possible to continue business as usual as though nothing has changed is equally not a viable way forward.

  • Bill Barnett says:

    The difficulties “other things being equal” of launching a successful breakaway party don’t automatically mean that it would be wrong to try or that people shouldn’t leave Labour anyway.
    The concept of Labour as a broad church is dead on its feet as there is no common ground between Neo-Liberalism and Democratic Socialism; but the right of the party accept the Neo-Lib consensus as the arena within which to operate in order to gain power. A stable right/left coalition is not possible in these conditions. One side or the other must always dominate leading to permanent in-fighting even when there is general consensus about policies.
    This battle is necessary for the left to win as there is no prospect of permanent social gain if Labour win power on NL terms, as we saw from the Blair/Brown years.
    That Labour administration introduced many beneficial policies and the situation of the country was demonstrably better in 2010 than in 1997. However, they failed to challenge the Neo-Lib consensus and all these gains were wiped by the Tories in less than 5 years. The Tories then went even further so that many people are now significantly worse off than they were in 1997.

    Its as if that Labour Administration never happened.

    (Except for the Neo-Lib policies which the Tories have been happy to build on – Tuition fees, academization, NHS surcharge, work assessments, PFI expansion, NHS contracting out, undermining legal aid, etc. etc.)

    Starmer now offers the same approach to gaining power. It probably wont work, but even if it does the ultimate outcome will be no better.

    If there are genuine prospects of winning back power from the Right before the next election then staying is the best way forward but if chances are diminished by discriminatory rule changes or administrative practices it is hard to see any point in remaining a member of the party. More so if the Leaks inquiry is a whitewash and institutional corruption thereby condoned.
    The unlikelihood of other options succeeding is irrelevant if you have no belief that the party as it stands is capable of delivering what is needed.

  • Christina Evans says:

    I am inclined to stay a labour member. Its a shame the way things are going at the moment but I was a member before Jeremy Corbyn. He will always mean a lot to me as he spoke up for different people. I am disabled and in 2011 the Daily Express and Mail were saying essentially we were fakers just need to fill a form and get DLA. At this time it made me feel quite low as it affected the way I was treated when I went out anywhere. I feel sad that people believed the papers about us been shirkers and fakers. Jeremy Corbyn became labour leader and he defended sick and disabled people. For that he has my eternal loyalty. Yet I became a member for the party though they seemed afraid to defend us and did not defend us. I feel now a lot of people who have encountered the unfairness from the tories have a different view on things. I didnt vote for Jeremy Corbyn first time around. This country shies away from anything that is radical if thats the right word. Will the younger generation be different? I dont know. Keir Starmer is not the labour party so I will stay as a member.

  • Les Hartoo says:

    I think the article is a great explanation of where we find ourselves, and describes the historic problems we have seen with too many left alternatives being undemocratically dominated by charismatic leaders with competing egos.

    My responses to those who are not convinced to stay are :-

    Nobody said you should stop saying what you think. That is the opposite of what we need now.

    And, though it may not be pleasant, every person who the right wing expel undermines their position, as the pool of people who witness this injustice grows bigger and exposes them for what they are.

    Regarding the people who do get /are expelled… I’d suggest to Chris Williamson the he rename his organisation ‘Expelled Labour’ and campaign for peace the environment and everything but keep the issue of reinstatement alive whilst doing it.

    Not long ago the Blairite faction found it hard to see any light at the end the tunnel (quite a few did leave, thank god)… and now it’s many of us in the same situation. Starmer has created a reprieve for them.

    Keir Starmer got his majority by lieing about his policy intentions, but remember the chant.. ‘We Are Many, They Are Few’.

    Stay in and we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel sooner… and next time we’ll clear out the bureaucracy who feel they can ignore the membership.

  • Dina Groden says:

    It might be the right time to launch a new party because after Coronavirus people will be disillusioned with the status quo. They might take to a party that espouses Proportional Representation and local community democracy. Similar to the end of the WW2 when people wanted complete change and did not want to go back to the old ways. Dramatic changes where welcomed by the voters who voted for Labour in droves. We must be careful not to call it a Socialist party but make it palatable to all although espousing mostly socialist themes.

  • John Slater says:

    Good article. In a sense, protecting a Corbyn led government through mass action would have been only slightly easier than forcing a Starmer government leftwards through mass action. Without it Corbyn would have faced a very British coup.

  • jenny mahimbo says:

    “The obvious move is to leave and rejoin when things change.” How will things change if those who want change…..leave?

  • Gloria Steemsonne says:

    Haven’t read this article yet, but I will and I will reply again when I have. At present my conclusions are about the fact that Labour is not radical enough and the Tories…. well say no more. This struggle against a capitalist background has been going on for years; we need a ‘revolution’. The virus has revealed so much about corruption and undemocratic nature of the system. Without a real effort to change it, the establishment will continue its grip with seductive propaganda and funding from the rich and the upper classes, who care not the slightest for working class people. This system is not democratic; it is biased against anyone else who does not fit in to the privileged classes or the establishment.

  • Eileen Stapleton says:

    I find it difficult to read comments from an unidentified author; what is she/he afraid of? What’s the hidden agenda – we can only surmise and my guess it’s a neoliberal supporter, if that’s wrong put it right.

    A suggestion to stay in the Party ‘but choose not actively participate…’ is widely off the mark of what socialists are about; that would be no different to me joining the Tories with the same philosophy – quite ridiculous.

    They ask what a new Party would be for, for me it’s about a socialist agenda which would offer the Corbyn Manifesto; a Party Constitution to deal with any right wing infiltration; a democratic approach to internal policy decisions; a return to internationalism and standing up to the global capitalist elite that is the UK, USA and Israel.

    Whilst history is crucial in order to learn from the mistakes of the past, we are living in very different times which call for very different political solutions. We can’t do this by remaining in the Labour Party; time is being wasted, we need to act now.

  • Ruth Sharratt says:

    With the discussion about whether to leave or remain in the LP it is useful to look at the founding of the Labour Party. History can teach us lessons. It was after all a new party founded in the disillusionment with the Liberals who were seen as the party for working people.
    There is a fascinating article written by Keir Hardie published in 1903.
    Federated Labor as a New Factor in British Politics
    Author(s): J. Keir Hardie
    Source: The North American Review, Vol. 177, No. 561 (Aug., 1903), pp. 233-241
    Published by: University of Northern Iowa
    Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25119435
    Have a read if you can, it’s only a few pages.
    There are clear echoes in the article of the times we live in.
    To give a flavour, the following quote is interesting:
    “As is usual at elections, great hopes and expectations had been formed as to what would happen if the Liberals were returned. In the very nature of things, it was impossible that these hopes could be realized; and, as the months slipped into years, enthusiastic Radicals, finding that their party in office was apparently as unable or as unwilling to do anything effective for Labor as their Conservative opponents had been, deserted in thousands and cast in their lot with the newly formed Independent Labor Party”
    ie the LP was founded on disillusion of the current ‘representatives ‘ of the working class.
    Plus la change, plus le meme chose.
    Now Keir Hardie was an exceptional leader, but leaders don’t make movements. Movements make leaders.

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