Editorial: John Lunch Sodium Haze
The Labour Party hasn’t tried to make a case for Socialism for over thirty years – that is why we have a civil war in the movement right now, being fought between people who want that case made and people who don’t. There is no middle ground and those desperate to bury the modern popular energy for Socialism are using every dirty trick in the book to win at all costs.
All of the Labour MP’s who plot endlessly against Corbyn, all of the media pundits who berate him and his supporters, all of the online portals, all of the Blue Labour spivs at Millbank and of course all of the Tories are desperate this case is not made. A rump of people in the Labour movement don’t want to even attempt to try and win any argument on behalf of Socialism – why?
For some it’s the fear of defeat. Like a group of people who haven’t bothered to perform any maintenance on a stately home for decades the task appears hopeless. It’s never honestly stated, but the defeatism is bitter and real. Better not to try and fail in the miserable climate that Labour’s thirty years of being AWOL has created; better to accept that the word Socialism can never be spoken in Britain again lest the Isle of Wight sink into the sea and troops sponsored by Rupert Murdoch put us all to death. Better to accept that the ‘middle ground’ is now where the Tories used to be and that we should gratefully vote for wishy-washy Tories wearing red rosettes.
This is despite hard evidence that people favour Socialism over Capitalism, the extraordinary surge in Labour’s membership since the arrival of a Socialist leader and the mass popularity of the Momentum movement.
A section of the crowd at Jeremy Corbyn’s rally in Liverpool – over 10,000 people turned out on a rainy weekday evening.
Young people desperate for an alternative to neoliberalism have joined Labour en masse. Labour is now bigger than all the other political parties combined. What a joy to see the energy and engagement around Corbyn’s campaign rallies – scenes not seen in UK politics for decades – but still Socialism is a dirty word to some in the Labour movement. When Owen Smith was asked if he was a Socialist he spluttered that he believed in ‘Labourism’, whatever the hell that is.
Another wildly popular Owen Smith rally beats the drum for ‘Labourism’
Some people within Labour actually have a fear of victory. What would a Labour government do if it actually campaigned and won on a socialist platform? The fearful fret about neoliberal structures and power, of being eaten alive by the right wing press and the plots of the powers that be. The fear of victory is a fear of the unknown, a fear of taking responsibility after decades of waving placards at people who don’t give a damn. The state of the nation and the world now requires that we do more.
For some it’s a fear of obsolescence. For Labour MP’s parachuted in by Tony Blair’s apparatchiks, the writing is on the wall; they will have no place in a Labour Party that has remembered democracy and socialism.
For the commentariat on the payroll at The Guardian and elsewhere, their empty corporate punditry is not needed and is rapidly being replaced by genuinely independent websites and social media anyway. Their tears for “the plight of Labour” are really tears of rage and personal desperation.
The real problem that people like Angela Eagle and Owen Smith have is that the ladder that brought them to prominence is being dismantled while they are still standing on it. Other people, like the political company Neil Kinnock and Son, see a corporate friendly Labour party as a lifelong meal ticket, a hereditary entitlement purchased by years of selling out the ideals of Socialism for personal gain.
Owen Jones wails that “it has become increasingly common in politics to reduce disagreements to bad faith” but the overwhelming majority of the criticisms hurled at Corbyn ARE in bad faith because they dishonestly campaign against the return of Socialism within the Labour Party without having the basic honesty to say so.
All this angst from the usual suspects about Corbyn’s leadership, media strategies and poll ratings is all bullshit. The real problem is not his leadership or his tactics but what he represents and the vested interests that he threatens.
Understand this above all else:
The right wing Labour MP’s , corporate sponsored commentators and the sad folks at Progress and other Blairite huddlings would rather destroy the Labour Party than allow it to follow the democratic wishes of its membership.
Their only hope now is to find some way to exclude, brow beat and bully the grassroots of the Labour Party into accepting their continued hegemony. This is why they exclude people from voting, why they smear Corbyn’s supporters as bullies, extremists, homophobes and bigots and why they shut down CLP meetings so the grass roots cannot meet. This is why you can find them colluding with the BBC and the corporate press on a daily basis to undermine Labour and its hopes for the future.
People who are ideologically opposed to Socialism are not “moderates” in the Labour party, they are its enemies – always dragging Labour ever closer to the Tories. People who campaign to subvert the democratic mandate of Labour’s membership are not “soft left” or “progressives”, they are its enemies who will exclude the membership from voting the moment they get the chance.
The Labour Party has been wholly discredited and abandoned as a voice for working class people in Scotland and was steadily being abandoned in the rest of the UK before the candidature of Jeremy Corbyn. It now faces the same stark choice it has faced since its inception – it either fights on its real principles or dies.
The Labour Party is a Socialist party, founded by Socialists to promote Socialism. Every gain and achievement that Labour has won for the working class has come from that platform. The NHS, the welfare state and every support and human resource that working class people have secured since WWII has been fought for against the implacable opposition of the Tories and the right wing media. It’s always been that way, that isn’t a reason to abandon a single principle or value, it’s simply a reason to fight harder.
The Labour Party needs a strong dose of democracy – a period of adjustment where the membership gets to revaluate who represents them and what they stand for. A large spoonful of democracy can see all the careerist Red Tory MP’s removed. All the hangers on in the spadocracy can go as well and anyone who wants to fight against Socialism can shuffle off to the Tories or the Lib Dems or form their own party – they need not be afforded the wonderful camouflage of doing it within the Labour movement.
The ridiculous and dishonest stitch up of a minority Tory-lite clique holding a Socialist political party to ransom because it dares to try and elect a Socialist leader must end. There can be no compromise in this battle – one must never negotiate with hijackers. Those who agitate for ‘unity’ under a corporate shill like Owen Smith are scuttling for cover behind weasel arguments and bully boy tactics – ignore them.
If the Labour Party cannot remember who it is – what is stands for and who it is supposed to represent – then it may as well not exist. We must have a Labour party with public figures that campaign for Socialism from a proven track record of commitment and conviction. We must never return to the swamp of buzz words, focus groups and careerist robots spewing out soundbites with vague frostings of social concern.
The Labour Party cannot win anything if it doesn’t make the argument for Socialism. If that means a civil war and some blood letting in the short-term then so be it – let’s get it over with once and for all.
The newly invigorated and hugely expanded membership must WIN this battle for Labour’s soul first and then go on to win hearts and minds in the communities they live and work in afterwards.
No political party can fight and win while it is divided against itself, while groups within the hierarchy attack the members that pay their wages. It IS A SAD SITUATION but these battles cannot be side stepped or fudged.
To all those engaged in politics and grass roots action in the UK (perhaps for the first time in their lives or after a long and sad absence) I say this – don’t give up.
Make sure that Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected and then push on to restore democracy to all aspects of the Labour Party – then for a Labour victory in 2020 that actually means something.
Don’t be put off by all the pious sermons from the media and those with a vested interest in the status quo. Their despicable attempts to smear you, to silence you and to demoralise you are all indicative of their fear. They are afraid of you because they know that you can win, they are afraid of you because they can see their own hollowness and lack of relevance being horribly exposed.
The overwhelming majority of Labour members that want a Socialist leader and a Socialist party must not allow anyone to tell them that ownership of the party belongs to a privileged few in collusion with wealth and power.
Reclaim what is rightfully yours and then present a genuine alternative to the Tories at the next election. The country is crying out for an alternative to decades of right wing vandalism. Let’s give them one.
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