Socialists and the Labour Party: letter to Charlie Kimber

September 27, 2015 at 9:23 pm (AWL, labour party, posted by JD, reformism, SWP)

The Labour Party

This first appeared in the AWL’s paper, Solidarity; Charlie Kimber is National Secretary, Socialist Workers Party:

Dear Charlie Kimber,

I am responding to your “Letter to a Jeremy Corbyn supporter” (8 September), and subsequent statements by your organisation in which you basically tell “The tens of thousands of people who cheered Jeremy at his rallies [who] are a sign of the potential for a mass movement against austerity” that they are wasting their time.

You say, the Labour Party leadership are so right wing and the unions will only back Corbyn if he can win the next election so there is, “no point spending four years striving to get Corbyn into office just to see him destroyed.”

I don’t share your analysis. While not destroying them, the effect of Corbyn’s campaign has been a disaster for the Parliamentary Labour Party and the trade union leaderships who have worked hard to maintain the wall between what Labour does politically and the rest of the labour movement.

Yes, his candidacy was a fluke and the Labour Party left is woefully unprepared for the fight against the right, both inside and outside the party. It is an indication of the weakness of whole left over decades, but we have to start from where we are and make the most of this chance.

Even in your worst case scenario and Corbyn is “destroyed” in four years time, the revolutionaries in the Labour Party will still have been struggling alongside hundreds of thousands of others for that period. People can learn from defeat as much as from victory; but to learn from either revolutionaries need to go through the struggle and having done so will get a much more receptive hearing than if you are one of those revolutionaries who remained on the sidelines as a spectator.

There is then the possibility of raising the movement to a higher political level but only if there are enough revolutionaries trying to spread that message.

For all your talk about the undoubted necessity for struggle you back away from the political struggle within the Labour Party to move it to the left. “The real danger is that Corbyn supporters are plunged into internal party struggles…” Except that this lack of internal party struggle is precisely what has made the Labour Party the top-down neo-liberal supporting organisation it is today.

The struggle inside the party can be a part of the more general struggle to rouse our class against the Tories. If “…resistance… [is] … the best route towards political radicalisation” why doesn’t that apply inside the structures of the hundreds of thousands strong Labour Party as well?

Your dismissal of the need for internal party struggles illustrates the operational mindset of the SWP’s leadership who can just tell the membership what to do without having to “waste” all that time on debate and democracy. Happily there are Corbyn supporters who understand that a healthy political organisation cannot be built be decree or decide what to do in the “… struggles at work and in working class areas” by diktat.

Socialists should be encouraging Corbyn’s supporters to flood into the Labour Party, get organised and tear down the wall before the Parliamentary Party has time to rebuild it.

You say, “We should all support [Corbyn] against the Labour right”; if you’re serious about that then join the Party and encourage your members and supporters to do the same.

Bob Anthony

8 Comments

  1. Simon said,

    Please don’t ask members of the SWP to join the Labour Party.
    These are the people who stayed in the SWP despite all the disgusting rape apologism.

  2. Steven Johnston said,

    SWP, a group created by MI5 to turn workers away from socialism and protect capitalism.

    • charliethechulo said,

      You’re joking aren’t you?

      • jschulman said,

        I hope he is, because the joke made me chuckle. What’s the largest socialist group in the UK? Ex-members of the SWP!

      • Steven Johnston said,

      • Jim Denham said,

        A not very accurate history of the SWP … but saner than the suggestion that they were created “by MI5 to turn workers away from socialism.”

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Steven my recollections of the SWP and WRP during the early seventies is they were a middle class bunch and some student types that told a good story about Marx and so on. I did on one occasion suggest to a SWP member that it would be a good idea to get a job amongst working class people too much laughter. This was in an offfice rented by them in Queen St Glasgow.

      • Political tourist said,

        Was that before you left Scotland?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: