AWL statement: Fight for a Labour victory!

April 18, 2017 at 3:21 pm (AWL, campaigning, elections, labour party, posted by JD)

Statement issued today (18/04/2017) by the Alliance for Workers Liberty:

Left-wing activists, and those who are not yet activists, should throw themselves into campaigning for a Labour victory in the 8 June General Election.

Workers’ Liberty members, including those expelled from Labour by the party bureaucracy, will be out campaigning. If you’d like to work with us on that, get in touch. Whether or not you’re a Labour Party member, you should get active campaigning; if you haven’t joined, now is the time to do it.

We understand that many of those enthused by Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaigns feel disappointed or frustrated by how things have gone. Moreover the circumstances of the election are daunting; and the possibility of Corbyn being replaced with a more right-wing leader if Labour loses is depressing.

Don’t get depressed – organise! Things are difficult, but we don’t know the outcome, either in terms of the election result or of how things will unfold in the Labour Party. Even if Labour does lose the election, the margin is no small matter. Even helping to prevent a huge Tory landslide is a goal worth fighting for.

We need to maximise campaigning. Campaigning should not be counterposed to democratic organising or political debate. With most local Labour Parties shutting down for the duration, Momentum groups should continue to meet – or start meeting again – and use the election to rally and organise people for campaigning, and to discuss Labour’s programme and our political demands.

Socialists should continue to make the case for radical anti-capitalist policies like expropriating the banks. Meanwhile the left should argue for Labour to emphasise the best, boldest, most radical of its existing policies and campaign for them vigorously.

Over the last 18 months Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and the party itself have proposed left-wing policies such as rail renationalisation, free education, council house-building, a £10 an hour minimum wage, reversing NHS privatisation – but not campaigned for them in a sustained way. This is an opportunity to begin doing so. We should also argue for Labour to campaign for left-wing policies agreed by its conference but not yet taken up, like public provision of social care and restoring the right to strike in solidarity with other workers.

In an election pitched by the Tories as a referendum on Brexit, Labour needs a clear policy on that. We can’t help but notice that Jeremy Corbyn’s statement responding to Theresa May’s announcement did not mention the issue! There is a real danger that the Liberal Democrats will succeed in pitching themselves as the main opposition to the Tories, with Labour caught looking incoherent in the middle.

Even on the basis of its existing policy, Labour could argue for opposition to the Tories’ Brexit plans, for defence of free movement and migrants’ rights, for remaining in the single market. We should fight for this. Otherwise Labour will go into the election echoing, or scarcely contesting, the Tories’ main message.

Beyond individual policies, we need to fight for the idea that socialist – indeed all left-wing and democratic – politics is about politically convincing and persuading people, shifting the political consensus. During Corbyn’s first Labour leadership contest, we argued that:

“…a left-wing Labour Party could and would have to inform, shape, educate and re-educate ‘public opinion’. That is what a proper opposition party does. A serious political party is not, should not be, what the Blair-Thatcherite Labour Party now is – an election machine to install venal careerists in ministerial office… The ideas, norms, consequences and ideology of market capitalism have not been contested by the political labour movement. All that can now be changed…”

We think it is a mistake for Labour to vote in Parliament for an election now. No democratic principle obliges us to accept the Tories calling a snap election at a moment chosen to suit them – before things get sticky with Brexit – and when Labour still needs time to do the necessary job of re-educating a public trained for decades now in bleak, no-hope, no-options conservative thinking.

Seeking to educate and shift public opinion, rather than manoeuvring cleverly or not-so-cleverly, is what Corbyn has not done – not just because it is difficult, but for want of trying. A movement that fights hard to do that should remain our minimal goal. Organising and mobilising as hard as we can for a Labour victory on 8 June is the best starting point for that.

15 Comments

  1. Mick said,

    Oh, bring it on. Labour only has a below-20% approval rating and the student union faction in the captain’s cabin of the party make even Red Ed look grounded in the real world.

    Jeremy Corbyn takes the limelight to focus local elections on national issues, like free school dinners for every kid, then sees even strong Labour areas vanish from him. And below him, every faction of Labour is outmoded, out of touch and going for each others’ jugulars. That is, when not being proved frauds on the policies, such as sending their own kids to the same posh schools they want to stop for the rest of the nation’s children.

    “…a left-wing Labour Party could and would have to inform, shape, educate and re-educate ‘public opinion’. ”

    Oh! That’s beautiful! That’s just what the public want to hear, that they need to be brainwashed and shepherded into a smash-the-state mindset by a bunch of rioters and Marxist economy-ruiners. And when it fails, they know what bigoted women and white van men they are. That drives them to see the light, as well we know.

    The Tories may wield the economic scalpel a bit too liberally but they are better leaders than Labour, who actually gave us a Brexit voice – THE elephant in the left wing room which they would do well to address. Labour are also the party of wildcat strikes, sky-high taxes, begging to go back into the EU, emasculating security forces and somehow giving everyone benefits to the tune of average wages – catch free. (How on earth that won’t stop millions only working part time just to moonlight, I don’t know. You can’t run an economy on it and it will be ruined so many ways.)

    Labour’s a crock. Why should we be their guinea pigs in this political finishing school of theirs?

  2. Jim Denham said,

    “We think it is a mistake for Labour to vote in Parliament for an election now. No democratic principle obliges us to accept the Tories calling a snap election at a moment chosen to suit them”: in fairness, I don’t see that Labour could have done anything else within inviting taunts about being “frit”, etc.

    Btw: notice how close May came in her announcement to calling the opposition parties – and especially those who oppose Brexit – traitors (I think her exact words were “against the national interest” and “destabilising the country”). Eddie Maire on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, interviewing Amber Rudd, compared May’s speech to what we’ve heard from Erdogan.

    • Mick said,

      Ah yes, Erdogan. The man capable of tyranny and closing down parliament on a whim – same as Mr. Lenin did, the chap people in the Left can just love and love. No 1917 comemmoration is complete with an absence of all mention of his own tyranny even while the Duma was open.

      I think May’s assessment is pretty much bang on the money. Brexit faces a constant threat of being blocked, despite the vote. Morally speaking, the People trump Parliament and Gina Miller. The EU is all about selling out national sovereignty in direct defiance of our 17th century constitution, too. So yeah, treason.

      • Jim Denham said,

        “The EU is all about selling out national sovereignty in direct defiance of our 17th century constitution, too. So yeah, treason”: bloody hell! You are a nut-case aren’t you?

      • Mick said,

        “If they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.” – Margaret Thatcher.

        The 1649 English Constution forbids rule by foreign kingdoms or authrities, plus the 1215 Great Charter Constitution also says that our Common Law and trial by our peers are the only prime jurisdictiopns allowed.

        So yeah, nutty eh!

      • Mick said,

        It’s not easy typing with this bloody thing!

        Still, it’s better than the left, having trouble with the rest.

      • Jim Denham said,

      • Mick said,

        I really, really enjoyed that. Especially from a left routinely using the term Tory Scum and who even throw missiles at their party conference.

        It’s no less the truth. And we know the left are ruder, as they will when they probably riot again after the next Conservative victory.

        Mrs. May’s first. But the public have a history of treating ladies gently in an election. So bombast isn’t quite so important in any direction.

  3. Political Tourist said,

    We’re all doomed.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      You are Nat si.

    • Mick said,

      And how many times was Private Frazer proved wrong by the end?

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        And he was a Jock.

  4. Glasgow Working Class said,

    May could have shocked us all and said she was aboloshing the Lords. That would be one gravy train too far!
    Mr Denholm I am shocked you support the EU gravy train. You are supposed to be a socialist. Corbyn does not support the EU. I suppose Jim you supported the old TU block vote.

    • Mick said,

      Well never mind, he’s on the side of the Light Brigade anyway. It seems that Labour voters will switch to the Lib Dems. Tories should benefit from UKIP’s implosion, while the SNP will keep Labour out of Scotland, something harmful to them in a way which will affect the Tories less.

      In fact, Labour are such whackjobs that even the desperate Liberals refuse to touch them in an anti-Tory alliance! Still, a meaningless yet devious threat from a Labour-SNP pact may still loom sharp for the public to vote against. Angus Robertson whined to Theresa May that opposition parties aren’t sabateurs but they bloody well are when they block Brexit for us.

      That’s why we’re having this election at all, to stop the PC quacks from locking us into bad punishment deals.

      The Left will be PUNISHED again in June. Labour need a swing just to stand still in Parliament.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Robertson like the SNP is just an English hater. They prefer to crawl to the EU for subsidies rather than stay in the successful Union that has protected us from all would be dictators since 1707.

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