Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why Socialists should be in the Labour Party.....


Currently there is a debate raging about whether it is the correct strategy to be in the Labour Party. There have been arguments which state that it is not and that the Labour Left is dead as a dodo. As a Labour Party member and a supporter of the John4Leader campaign I want to put forward my position which argues that Socialists should indeed be in the LP and campaigning for John McDonnell.

Comparisons have been made with the challenge to deputy leader by Tony Benn in 1981. There was a high groundswell of support for the Benn and figures (not precise) were around 40,000-80,000 militant activists who joined the LP and who were interested in the class struggle and supported an orientation to the labour movement.

My political background is the fourth international and during that historical period the IMG (International Marxist Group) took a position to work as entryists within the LP. The IMG took a long time to get into the LP in the early 1980’s. When it did it kinda fell in: the line did not change as the result of a conference decision and the IMG ended splitting over whether to go into the LP with a view to linking with the labour left. Certainly the tendency around Brian Grogan that wanted to have the membership to all get jobs in “industry” i.e. factories was extremely hostile to work in the LP.

The IMG thus paid with its political existence with its original ultra-left take on working in the LP. The take that the IMG had on the LP during the late 70’s and the very early 80’s was the usual one that it was a reformist dead end and that what was needed was something called a “revolutionary pole of attraction”…maybe this is a term from quantum mechanics it had little practical use in orientating or indeed attracting any of the many people coming into leftwing politics at the time.

Maybe, to jump a political era or two, Respect is what a revolutionary pole of attraction is like. The IMG, which prided itself, usually with a good deal of justification, as a political group that could analyse the political dynamics of a situation with Leninist objectivity fell into the trap that many who refuse to have anything to do with the LP do. This mistake is that because the LP is such disaster for the class we must keep ourselves pure and have nothing to do with it. This is the logic that has always underlined the position of the SWP towards the LP, although the SWP strangely likes to support left campaigns within the LP such as the Benn-Heffer campaign in the late 80’s and currently supports the John4leader campaign.

What the IMG and some of it’s successors came to realise was that the best place to challenge the politics of the LP was from within the LP, as Walter Wolfgang managed to do with one superbly timed word this is the best place from which to directly challenge LP whether in its equally rotten old or new varieties.

Within the LP there was a political space to argue for socialist politics. What I would also argue is that the Left did have an influence on the structure of the LP such as support for self-organisation and autonomous campaigns such as Women’s sections, Black sections and lesbian and gay rights. And the Left were light years ahead over these issues than the Left groups outside the Labour Party

The political situation is absolutely different but the arguments are the same. There isn’t the same large number of LP members with an orientation to the class struggle but that means the Left has to fight for change. Yes, that involves a hard slog and the long haul but the LP is an important springboard. If you go away from the Labour Movement you are striking out into nowhere fast. Again, look at Respect and the CNWP.

Figures show Labour's membership fell slightly in 2005 to 198,026, half the number of members in 1997. But so is Respect membership falling and why aren’t disillusioned LP members running into the arms of Respect or even the CNWP? They aren’t…

I don’t have the number regarding how many people have rejoined the LP due to the John4Leader campaign or whether it has regenerated LP activity. I can only use anecdotal evidence. On a personal level, the campaign has increased my interest and energised me into doing something positive. It is also worth reiterating that (yes, it was unofficial) 59% of TUC delegates at last year’s conference voted for John McDonnell as leader.

The Labour Party is still the bourgeois workers party but it does still have the link with the trade union movement though the Blairites would dearly love to wriggle free of that commitment (putting a cap on political donations which would include the trade unions).
That is why it is necessity to work within the trade union movement and the LP and preserve that link.

In conclusion, the question I want to ask socialists who are hostile to rejoining the LP is, what exactly are you doing instead? I get criticised for being a member of the “pro-war”, “neo-liberal” LP but I reject these politics and the politics of Blairism and many others do as well. I do feel like a political dissident in the LP but where else is there to go?

I am not simply arguing that it is the LP or nothing but there is a solid challenge to Blairism. To take a position that says the campaign is a dead end as McDonnell aint gonna win is daft as we know that BUT the John4Leader campaign can precisely act as a springboard and re-energise the Labour Left. Yes, the fallout from the Labour leadership challenge could have negative repercussions on the left but equally it could also be the start of something new. Something positive and dynamic maybe?

Why hang around outside when you could be inside fighting with other socialists and making a big noise in British politics?

54 comments:

David J said...

Why hang around outside when you could be inside fighting with other socialists and making a big noise in British politics?

Because the Labour Party is a majority social-democratic and/or neo-liberal party, not socialist. If Left movements were to win formal control of the LP, then social-democratic/neo-lib members and voters would split immediately into a new SDP or similar.

Without huge support for socialism among people in general, I don't see what use control of the LP would be.

Louisefeminista said...

David J: Did I argue that we were after control of the LP?

Matt Sellwood said...

"What exactly are you doing instead?"

Well, I'm in the Green Party, where I can democratically argue for socialist politics and not be ignored/mocked/crushed by the leadership.....

Yes, the Labour Party is much bigger and more powerful - but since the chances of socialists taking control of its gerrymandered, undemocratic levers of power are *nil*, I like my chances better in a Party I actually believe in....

Best wishes,

Matt

The Sentinel said...
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Anonymous said...

Gosh, how long did that little diatribe take 'the sentinel'. And what are you watching out for I wonder? And why did it take a 'join the Labour Party' post to bring it out? Is there some deep dark relevance to the fact that it was a pro-labout post? Is there some numerology involved I wonder?

There some right odd 'uns about, that's all I can say..

Louisefeminista said...

Anon: Who can say if there is some numerology involved....

Matt: Where is your analysis of the political forces at work?

The Sentinel said...
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The Sentinel said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dave Riley said...

Talk about a perennial question!? Any tactical approach to the LP, I guess, has to consider the experience of the CWI and more contemporarily the Grantites. What Louisefeminista doesn't spell out clearly is to what ends such a 'turn' to the LP would fulfill. What in effect will be built? Another left wing -- just a numbers faction? A milieu? And once that is 'done' what do you then do with it ? What is the tactical point of the exercise? To always...always "stay in and fight"?

We've had this debate here in Australia many times over but the experience has been that nothing viable or permanent has been built by completely immersing oneself inside the LP. It doesn't matter if its supposed to be a workers party or even a bourgeois party or whatever the labelling preferred-- the core question is: will joining the LP at this time help to create an activist party or party like formation or whatever is your preferred organizational future form?

I'm not against such a tactic in itself as maybe there are times it warrants consideration but I can't be a universal one, good for all time primarily because you pay such a huge price for the exericse , especially your ability to organize independently. If folk are joining the BLP in very large numbers because of this leadership pitch then if a hearing can be obtained, then go in after them.

But once, or if, you've 'got them' what? Are they then going to leave as a block someday...for the outside 'real' McCoy? (So in the meantime, who's building that? Not Louisefeminista, she's in the LP.)

Louisefeminista said...

Ah, Dave, what is to be done eh? If you want it spelled out then here it is......I didn't think I had to spoon feed arguments.

In Britain the LP is still an organic part of the Labour movement. The whole point is that you orientate yourself to the whole labour movement.

"Any tactical approach to the LP, I guess, has to consider the experience of the CWI and more contemporarily the Grantites".

You consider this but you don't share your thoughts, Dave.

I also think you don't understand the politics of entryism, there was also different forms of entryism and the Militant for, example, were "deep entryists" and you couldn't sometimes tell the difference between them and the LP bureaucracy! Their form of entryism was to colonise small LPYS branches and to recruit them to Militant as opposed to building the Left. One comrade (active in the 4th international and the LP) was asked by a Militant supporter about why he turned up to "their branch meetings" meaning the LPYS meetings!

My experience of entryism was to build a left which will challenge the labour bureaucracy. I was involved in more struggles and there was better links with those struggles. You kick up more fuss in the LP than outside. So Dave, the question I pose to you is, what's the point of being outside the LP? In order to challenge the politics of the LP bureaucracy you have to be in the LP. The nature of the politics are expressed through the LP and you can't just be active in your trade union you have to challenge the LP bureaucracy.

You end by mentioning the "real McCoy".. Unfortunately this doesn't exist, well in the UK it doesn't.

What are these wonderful things people are doing outside the LP which I am cut-off from. I am an active trade unionist, I active in the anti-war movement (Labour Against the War and IOF), I am socialist feminist. What compromises have I made? The LP is not a democratic centralist organisation. I have organised strike action in my previous employment and I was a LP member!!!!

You gain nothing being outside the LP. It is perfectly possible to keep your class independence and be in the LP.

AN said...

But Louise - this argunment just doesn't match my recent experience, which is that what you describe as the organic links between the Labour party and the real movement (the unions - organised workers, the peace movement, pensioners, cmmunity campaigns, etc)are utterly utterley atrophied.

No one goes to ward meetings, no one goes to CLP meeting, inions don't send delgates to GMC meeitngs, few individual union activists are active memebrs, or even inactove members - even the dull time officials in the unions are often not membes now.

Also the political project of the party is neo-liberal,and the rule and constitutional changes have made the victory of neo-liberlaim irreversible.

If yoiu argument is to join the LP as way of meeitng people to overcome political isolation then I will give that argument a hearing. But even then there are better thins to do, stop the war groups, plaestine solidarity, your union, trades council, you name it.

BUt the idea that you are building aleft that can challenge the bureaucracy is complete wishfull thinking in my opinion. When will the left be ever able to challenge the bureaucracy again?

A few - very few - people have joined the party due to the mcDonnell cmapiagn, but trade union or community or black or feminist activists simply don't join the party anymore, and never will again.

Eveetine I talk to tells me that at ward level the party is dead.

Only this MOnday a mcDonnel supporting trade unions offical and labour party memebr tolf me he didn't really care of th Tories won the next election as he couldn't see a difference!

AN said...

bad type

dull union officials should have read FULL time union officals

No offence intended - hope it wasn't Freudian slip!

USpace said...

Very interesting take, nice job...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
keep the BIG lie alive

communism is the BEST
thievery by the state
.

Dave Riley said...

I've been having this argument for well over 30 years but of course in the antipodes and Louisefeminista touches all the right bases.I'm not absolute on this in that I don't dismiss the tactic out of hand but it happens that there are no Marxian currents working in the ALP here at the moment. They have all left-- except for a couple of individuals who are so embedded that they have sold their all to social democracy.

But the key "PRO" point is what you argue:"In order to challenge the politics of the LP bureaucracy you have to be in the LP. The nature of the politics are expressed through the LP and you can't just be active in your trade union you have to challenge the LP bureaucracy."

But is that actually correct? Does experience & history show that 'reform' of the labour bureaucracy happens by a route such as this?

Here in Australia the very fact that we do have a formation outside the ALP has embolden a layer -- a very slim layer perhaps -- of militants to coalesce in and around the Socialist Allliance. But to create that and strengthen it, is , I grant you, an extremely hard task -- given the overbearing weight of the ALP leadership/TU bureaucracy. But in terms of left politics this is a significant breakthrough.

Could that have happened organically INSIDE the LP? My answer would be a definite "no" as we experience first hand how that bureaucracy rules the patch it controls. Your mistake, I think, is that you identify the working class with the LP as though the LP is an organic expression of that class. So you and so many others exaggerate the working class component of the throwaway label , 'bourgeois WORKERS party' and forget that it is indeed a BOURGEOIS party.

This, I think, is a long standing Trotskyist mistake as the mantra isn't true.

That's an important distinction because you begin to presume that what you have in the LP has a potential to maybe someday consistently stand up to capital or at least the party leadership.The reality mainly pans out that opositional currents are so "loyal" to the notion that the LP is the class that they can never bring themselves to split from the LP, so in effect they are forced into a vicious spiral of craven loyalty.

But for me to urge you not to proceed would be ridiculous for the simple reason your assessment of the rest of the left is possibly correct. What is happening "out there" to get so excited about?

As for the CWI reference, I think the old Militant probably achieved the most succesful entryism in living memory world wide for an isolated Trotskyist grouping post war. But they left the LP, turned their back on it and decided not to return. Why?

Lets' avoid any easy caricatures of SP politics -- and concentrate on the fact that after so long "in" they changed their assessment of the LP and outed themselves...and ask ourselves the question: was this a good or bad thing tactically in terms of their overall strategy? Was there a point to the exercise?

The irony is that unlike here your LP has all these core past markers of a activist left -- Liverpoool council, Ken Livingstone's first mayoral campaign...even from afar we were watching. But where did it all lead? It lead to Baghdad nonetheless.Even folk like Tatchell have exited the LP for the Greens. Scargill left... Now Labor is the party of the Iraq war, brutal anti-terrorist legislation, deceit, corruption....and you say there is a move BACK to the party by progressives!

Unfortunately in your contribution you don't discuss the greens. I guess the major drawback for you in regard to them is their limited resonance amongst organised labour. But "IF" the greens can build a support base among trade unionists then the ballgame changes rather sharply I believe.

I note that among all the debates I have monitored on the British left consideration of the greens are absent from almost all of them. I find this most strange, even, rather what I'd call,"workerist". Here, if we could join the greens and be allowed to establish a bona fide left wing here we'd be in like Flynn because they occupy so much space, especially electorally.

{The experience of the US Green Party& the afr left is also relevant. expecially the Camejo/Nader campaign)

Similarly, if a left green current developed in the greens or a socialist was elected to lead the party we'd orientate to those developments like glue.

Come to think of it, that's what is happening there....!

Even now the SA actively orientates to the greens here in preference to making overtures to the ALP-- because thats' where motion is occurring when nothing much is alive and fighting inside the ALP. In my SA branch we even have Greens members (as well as an ALP member)!

Nonetheless, I often ask myself what I'd do if I was in England and had to negotiate through the English left. I like to refer to a few of our problems here on the left as the "British disease" because the English left have done so much for sectarianism and groupuscule politics such that they are always keen to share their largesse in the colonies.

And as I've learnt in way of tactic & strategy on the far left: London sneezes and Australia catches cold.

so I sympathise with your plight....

AN said...

With regard to the compositin of the Labour Party, I did discuss the question of a bourgeois wokers party in this article:
http://www.socialistunitynetwork.co.uk/voices/prospects.htm

The description "bougeois workes party" has become fetishised, and Lenin descrribed it better at the second congress of the Comintern Lenin in August 1920 : “The Labour Party is not a political workers’ party but a thoroughly bourgeois party, because, although it consists of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst reactionaries at that who lead it in the spirit of the bourgeoisie.”

One diffrenc between then and now, is that the membership of the party no longer consists of workers, but more typicaly middle managers or public sector progessionals.

I think Dave is right that Louise is overstating the working class c0mposition of the party - signifintly its manual worker membership is almost non existant now.

AN said...

With regard to the Greens, I nearly joined the green party eighteen months ago, but I am still not convinced.

Perhaps we should ask Matt Selwood to write a guest post arguing why socialists should join the Greens.

The trouble I have is that the cuture gap between the green party and organised labour is so huge. There is an organised left in the Green party, but it seems very intellectual rather than being able to address workers in theier own alnguage, and the trad eunion work of the Green party is spasmodic and tokenistic in my observance.

I was speaking recently to the partner of a very important trade union militant who is thinking of leaving the Green party after a couple of years, becasue she feel it is not a home for her.

But I am still not sure either way, and oopen to persuasion about the greens.

AN said...

That wsn't very clear - it is the importnat trade unionmilitant who is thinking of leaving the GP, it was her partner I was speaking to.

Louisefeminista said...

AN: "bad type
dull union officials should have read FULL time union officals
No offence intended - hope it wasn't Freudian slip"!

Think dull fits the bill better anyway.
:)

Btw: comrades I will answer your comments later.

Louisefeminista said...

Dave: I don't think the Militant is a good place to start with an analysis of entryism 'cos precisely they did not engage in entryism. They colonialised quiet LP branches/LPYS in the main to recruit people not to build a left to challenge the bureaucracy.

The Militant were appalling on lesbian and gay right and women's rights. Sorry but they were. This may sound like to you I am caricaturing them but even before I became a trot I experienced their sectarian behaviour as a young LPYS/LP member. They were never involved (until they flipped over during the late 1980s)in women's sections or black sections except building the LPYS for their own recruitment drive.

What did the Militant achieve?

AN: Re: the composition of the LP. It is not about who is in the LP. Many public sector workers are what you can consider "proletarianised". The face of capitalism has changed. Given the structuire of LP and its relationship to British Poiltics. there is an obv. distortion and contradiction but it still has that connection to the TU movement.

It does express some political pressures from the TU movement tho' the bureaucracy will blunt them.. It is precisely the bureaucracy blunting these demands. New labour wants to mix neo-liberalism and to placate the demands of the working class. This is the contradiction we need to expose and to push as far as we can. We all say there is no difference between New Labour and the Tories but under Cameron things will be far far worse. That's why we need to push New Labour and to increase this pressure. It also means involving ourselves in the TU movement and that things are democratised and that MPs are held accountable. This what socialists should be doing and it is political process and an ongoing strategy. Therefore, what's your excuse as you haven't given me any viable alternative (oh and btw: being a LP member doesn't counterpose me being involved in single issue campaigns!)I am not giving this snapshot view of the LP but a long-term analysis.

But we want to build upon those pressures. The more people getting involved the more credible force we will have. A force which is embarassing to New and Old Labour would be something that raises the challenges i.e. the Walter Wolfgang affect. What affect are you having outside the LP?

You criticise the LP for being a bourgeois party then I ask you, does the Greens express any working class politics at all? Where is their connection to the Labour movement?

Dave Riley said...

With this troll on board this discussion is impossible to nuance. (Can I suggest you switch to moderation?)

On the Miltant: I'm not interested in their positions as I know what they are like. I'm referring to their tactics --and in terms of tactics they were in for yonks and IT IS a worthy question to ask: what did they achieve? But you see, you cannot compare yourself to them because you join as an individual. But where tactical aspects were in play, the Militant is an example of that immersion in the LP regardless of whether you consider it entryism or not. I think they did in fact notch up a few browny points through that orientation and it is salient to study their achievements and failures for being so long "INSIDE." But being in also emant thay they payed a price for not being outside--and you need only compare the history of the SWP to that of the Militant.

On the Greens: You ask:"You criticise the LP for being a bourgeois party then I ask you, does the Greens express any working class politics at all? Where is their connection to the Labour movement?" Again we come to the context of not considering the Greens as an international political phenomenon. They are generally, as much as we can stick a label on them, a middle class("pb") party. OK, thats' the case. But the first question compared to the LP is where is the political & dynamic motion heading -- is it towards the LP or towards the Greens? Theres' this self destructive determination on the British far left to ignore the greens because of rationales you have expressed here. Sure, they don't have 'formal' links with the trade union movement (AND its bureaucracy !) but for the moment, the Greens don't run the British capitalist state, do they?They are not the 'establishment'. So you have to nod to the class difference -- if that is your want.(Are their connections to the working class any more richer than the SWP's or the SPs or any number of outfits on the far left?) Similarly their program/platform has to be ten on to the LP's --surely? -- in way of radical positions --even objectively anti capitalist. Do you not think that relevant to your 'choice'? I bet they have a better line on LGBT too. But all you can see is the LP's formal link with the trade unions...

You need to step back for a moment and consider the Greens' history say here in Australia or the United States especially the political significance of the Nader/Camejo campaigns for the presidency there. [Camejo 's journey to the Greens in the context of the failure of regroupment initiatives in the US is a very instructive story and maybe is relevant to where you lot are at now. I also point out that among other left outfits, the US ISO --ex IST --have an active orientation to the US Green Party. So this suggestion on my part isn't an obscene one.]

Now I don't want to suggest that there are universal tactics that you should pursue because I say so. But I do relate to discussion about social democracy primarily because the long term Trot position -- roots I share with you -- is dead wrong as it projected this crude dualist schema about these formations as though their formal links to organized labour was the essential excuse for embracing them unconditionally. The LP and the Tories are bourgeois parties plain and simple.You need to start with that premiss and not get distracted by the dialectical contradiction Lenin referred to ...in passing. The key description of these LP formations is that they are Liberal Bourgeois Parties. Their essential role is to run the bourgeois state in the same way that the Dems and Republicans serve in the USA. That doesn't mean that because there has been traditional adherence to LPs by the wc that you don't relate to the LP with more nuance and consideration than you do the Tories. I'm not advocating Third Period Stalinism here. AND I'm not against joining the LP just so long as it doesn't screw up your loyalties because there can be times when IF the motion is toward LP -- then you merge with that.

So what I'm saying is that your proffered entryism package isn't a universalist tactic good for all time that is above and beyond specific & concrete circumstances. The irony is that EVERY person who calls themselves a "socialist" I have known INSIDE the ALP here always wanted to get me to join them INSIDE so they would have more fodder for the numbers game because thats' what in the end it always came down to.

Dave Riley said...

One further point... My guess is that now that Socialist Resistance has caught up with the reality of RESPECT they are in the same position as you ...

Whither? What is to be done? That would be a shared dilemma on the far left I'd guess.

AN said...

You are coming close to convincing me over the Greens, Dave!

With regard to the Greens being an international phenomenon then I would observe that where there is a viable hard left alternative - Scotland, and especially germany, then the Greens are less left-wing themselves. The success of Die Gruene in Berlin-Brandenburg was in my opiniom a right wing vote, for a neo-liberal party.

However the experience of the US Green party is very very importnat, and far too little discussed in the British left.

With regard to Louise's position. The question is how do we achieve socialism - now to a certain degree none of us knows - but we do know, after 100+ years experience that it will not come through, via or in any way connected with the Labour party. If the left had a serious chance of winning control or even major influence in the LP, theh we would have to relate to it, and maybe join. BUt that histroical optioon was effectively lost in 1981, and I think Louise has done a very good service by locating this argument in comparison with the rise of Bennism, and the turn into the LP then (personally I left the SWP to join the LP in 1980, becasye with a mass politicisation of workers joining the LP, that was clearly the place to be)

But the long term strategic goal must always be how do we replace the Labour party with a mass organisation that promotes the interests of the working class and not the bosses.

this has to be our goal, ebacsue if we ever wish to see socialism (or at least our childeen to see it) we either have to change the LP into a vehicle that can help deliver it, or replace the LP. As it cannot be changed then it must be replaced.

As the elder Cato ended every speech, to the point of obsession: Carthago delenda est!

Dave Riley said...

I don't want to wring anyone's neck over the question of the greens. I don't see them as a preference if something else is on the go -- thats' why we do the Socialist Alliance thing here obviously and the greens here aren't necessary an easy milieu for active left politics as they are so electoralist and don't foster activism (although they vary from state to state in that regard). But they have to be seen as part of the pot...that's my point.

The core thrust has to be a Left/Green thing anyway whichever way you pull it together as the main game, and this comes back to Louisefeminista, is to 'transcend' the LP(easier said than done, of course) by recognising the political opportunity presented by the decline of social democracy as an historical current.

That's lesson NUMBER ONE.

You refer, Andy,to the cultural problem vis a vis the greens and the wc -- but that's just as true of the far left outfits in a different sense but a significant factor to the same degree nonetheless. The greens in fact would be in many ways more welcoming than say these far left outfits. So the proviso has to be seen in that context as anything outside the parameters of social democracy will tend to be viewed as 'foreign'.

But I need to point out that as the greens rose up here it was tried -- that is the DSP here tried -- to become part of that process. But the very undemocratic top down way the Greens were formed here -- top down and around the marker of who owned the Green electoral registration patent -- was very soon packaged with an proscription clause followed by a purge.

So I'm not suggesting an orientation like that isn't fraught with difficulty. I'm also not equating an orientation to the Greens with that to the LP for the reasons I pointed out in regard to whose the bourgeois outfit and who's not. But you have to see beyond that to the historical significance of the greens and here the major problem with them is (a) they don't have an activist orientation being generally very parliamentarist and (b) no left wing has consolidated (despite the number, for example, of marxian party type exers in their ranks and once upon a time environmentalist activists). The greens tend to function as a retirement home for marxian exers.That in itself is significant albeit also offering its own problems.

So you look more broadly and try to understand the dynamic as it unfolds in other countries and merge that with what you want to do in yours. I think the main game has to be galvanising a conscious left wing which has a determined struggle perspective in any outfit you may become part of . I think that's as true of the SSP as it is of the SA here or the greens anywhere. Thats' why it was mistake of the UL to fold, I feel.

I don't really think thats' a viable option in LPs at the present time primarily because capitalism doesn't need such a left liberal feint like social democracy. That's what New Labour is all about isn't it? And New Labour is modelled on the ALP here because the whole process is in sync with the neoliberalism pandemic and its kin. The whole wc thing is almost peripheral.

If you miss that point, you will surely flounder.Fortunately I think most of the far left begrudgingly recognises that by default even if they cannot bring themselves to spell it out.

Thats' what being a Marxist is about isn't it, comprehending change? And to suggest there is a timeless formula that can be applied to these outfits is shallow and crude politics indeed -- but that hasn't stopped so much of the far left still being held hostage to the formulation.(This is also why they miss the significance of the greens -- workerism perhps?)

Our problem is -- to put it frankly -- is that the split in the SSP (and I guess the failure of RESPECT to thrive)proves how determined the far left outfits are to stay in the groupuscule mode of competing programs. There's this entrenched rigidity that is so very tragic to have to experience and to watch.

Jim Cannon's most famous saying is that the art of politics is deciding what to do next. And thats' so very true now. But really it's not about Louisefeminista joining the LP or Andy Newman deciding to join the greens.. It's really about getting a consensus among a layer of like minded socialists about what direction to take because you don't have the luxury of an organisation to format your decision making and resolve your perspectives.

Even the New Zealanders have a small but gregarious outfit to facilitate that -- the SW grouping which is trying to drive the Charter process.

So if "Carthage must be destroyed" you are still going to need legionaries

Dave Riley said...

I don't want to wring anyone's neck over the question of the greens. I don't see them as a preference if something else is on the go -- thats' why we do the Socialist Alliance thing here obviously and the greens here aren't necessary an easy milieu for active left politics as they are so electoralist and don't foster activism (although they vary from state to state in that regard). But they have to be seen as part of the pot...that's my point.

The core thrust has to be a Left/Green thing anyway whichever way you pull it together as the main game, and this comes back to Louisefeminista, is to 'transcend' the LP(easier said than done, of course) by recognising the political opportunity presented by the decline of social democracy as an historical current.

That's lesson NUMBER ONE.

You refer, Andy,to the cultural problem vis a vis the greens and the wc -- but that's just as true of the far left outfits in a different sense but a significant factor to the same degree nonetheless. The greens in fact would be in many ways more welcoming than say these far left outfits. So the proviso has to be seen in that context as anything outside the parameters of social democracy will tend to be viewed as 'foreign'.

But I need to point out that as the greens rose up here it was tried -- that is the DSP here tried -- to become part of that process. But the very undemocratic top down way the Greens were formed here -- top down and around the marker of who owned the Green electoral registration patent -- was very soon packaged with an proscription clause followed by a purge.

So I'm not suggesting an orientation like that isn't fraught with difficulty. I'm also not equating an orientation to the Greens with that to the LP for the reasons I pointed out in regard to whose the bourgeois outfit and who's not. But you have to see beyond that to the historical significance of the greens and here the major problem with them is (a) they don't have an activist orientation being generally very parliamentarist and (b) no left wing has consolidated (despite the number, for example, of marxian party type exers in their ranks and once upon a time environmentalist activists). The greens tend to function as a retirement home for marxian exers.That in itself is significant albeit also offering its own problems.

So you look more broadly and try to understand the dynamic as it unfolds in other countries and merge that with what you want to do in yours. I think the main game has to be galvanising a conscious left wing which has a determined struggle perspective in any outfit you may become part of . I think that's as true of the SSP as it is of the SA here or the greens anywhere. Thats' why it was mistake of the UL to fold, I feel.

I don't really think thats' a viable option in LPs at the present time primarily because capitalism doesn't need such a left liberal feint like social democracy. That's what New Labour is all about isn't it? And New Labour is modelled on the ALP here because the whole process is in sync with the neoliberalism pandemic and its kin. The whole wc thing is almost peripheral.

If you miss that point, you will surely flounder.Fortunately I think most of the far left begrudgingly recognises that by default even if they cannot bring themselves to spell it out.

Thats' what being a Marxist is about isn't it, comprehending change? And to suggest there is a timeless formula that can be applied to these outfits is shallow and crude politics indeed -- but that hasn't stopped so much of the far left still being held hostage to the formulation.(This is also why they miss the significance of the greens -- workerism perhps?)

Our problem is -- to put it frankly -- is that the split in the SSP (and I guess the failure of RESPECT to thrive)proves how determined the far left outfits are to stay in the groupuscule mode of competing programs. There's this entrenched rigidity that is so very tragic to have to experience and to watch.

Jim Cannon's most famous saying is that the art of politics is deciding what to do next. And thats' so very true now. But really it's not about Louisefeminista joining the LP or Andy Newman deciding to join the greens.. It's really about getting a consensus among a layer of like minded socialists about what direction to take because you don't have the luxury of an organisation to format your decision making and resolve your perspectives.

Even the New Zealanders have a small but gregarious outfit to facilitate that -- the SW grouping which is trying to drive the Charter process.

So if "Carthage must be destroyed" you are still going to need legionaries

Anonymous said...

Firstly, it is simply not true to say that the Green Party has the same implantation in the unions as the far left.

In fact, despite their relative small size, both SWP & SP have people on trade union execs. and have some influence at all levels of the trade union movement. How many members of the Green Party have positions in the labour movement? And even where you might have a Green Party member who is an active trade unionist, they act as an individual not as a member of the Green Party intervening in the labour movement in order to build a current of rank and file activists.

Secondly, on the question of socialists in the Labour Party. I think the first thing to say, is after the war, at all levels of society working class people are breaking from Labour in a way that has never happened before. By orientating yourself to the Labour Party you cut yourself off from the most radicalised sections of society. I can't imagine anyone under 25 interested in left wing politics having any interest in joining Labour. For example, young Muslims are not interested in the war party. Many school students who walked out of school against the war (some of whom will probably be the next generation of trade unionists) don't see the Labour Party as relevant.

Also, at one time, marxists could openly be marxists within the Labour Party. It is now impossible to openly argue for marxist politics in the Labour Party.

Once being outside the Labour Party might have cut you off from a layer of militants, now to be inside the Labour Party more effectively cuts you off from the most radicalised sections of the class.

Personally, I'm a member of Respect, but I think the ideal would be a broad party where Arthur Scargill, Dave Nellist, John Rees, George Galloway, Bob Crow, Caroline Lucas etc. would all be part of it. Such a party would have to not recreate Labour, and couldn't be reformist (but would have to not be explicitly revolutionary). One way to do this would be on the basis of "transitional demands" in the old trotskyist sense of reasonable demands based on existing struggles that nevertheless to be realised would challenge the existing set-up.

aj

Louisefeminista said...

AJ: "Such a party would have to not recreate Labour, and couldn't be reformist (but would have to not be explicitly revolutionary)"

Then what is it then? Centrist? But you can't predict what will happen. You don't know what will happen in a certain political situation. Where will the pressures be? If there was a massive (I mean massive) upsurge in the class struggle then it will be comparatively easy to build workers party, but it will still have the contradictions.

Btw: there are SP and SWP members on various TU executives but believe me they haven't always played a very good role.

On the issue of the Greens. I think there has been more of a debate and discussion on the Greens based in the States. But over here, the Greens don't have that same organic connection or implantation to the labour movement as the LP.

"But the long term strategic goal must always be how do we replace the Labour party with a mass organisation that promotes the interests of the working class and not the bosses".

AN: Yes, I agree with the above but the question still remains, how? It is about who we engage with and the struggles involved. The best way of challenging the LP is being involved in it. There have been a whole series of left-wing organisations but not one of them worked. Where is the evidence that this works? Yes, if the WC was breaking with reformism and they would go for a party well to the left. But those political conditions are not happening.

Pinkie said...

What I think advocates of joining the Labour Party must show is that there are effective democratic means for influencing policy.

My understanding is that the voice of ordinary members, branches, areas etc (or however the party is organised) has been massively weakened with policy making power solely at the centre, if not at the whim of the current leader. (Not that the democratic voice of the party ever mattered much in practice.)

Under Blair it seems that the party has been transformed from one which, at least notionally, went into elections on the basis of policies agreed by active part members to a party with politics determined at the centre with members as useful tools for ensuring the election of the centre's chosen candidates. To the average member or voter there may not be much of a difference, but to an activist wishing to influence the party the change is massive.

Were I to join the Labour Party what could I actually do?

Louisefeminista said...

Pinkie: Er, off the top of my head you could involved yourself in Labour Against the War, Labour Left Briefing, Labour CND and trade union work which would involve putting political pressure on the Labour bureaucracy.

Yes, the LP structures have been severely weakened and so has the collective voices of members ( see my post on Trident.... 51% of constituency members voted to scrap Trident in 1997 but this was defeated due to the TU block vote... I am sure LP constituencies are much better staged managed by New Labour now).

BUT you can still pitch up a battle them, challenge them and defy them. Bloody hell, i heard Walter Wolfgang, who I have immense respect for, speak this afternoon at this conference on Trident and he is still fighting the LP bureaucracy and trying to make an impact so are other LP members who are trying to take on the politics of New Labour.

What do you say to these people, go home as they are wasting their time and wait for the mass workers party?

Louisefeminista said...

Though in saying all of this it would be highly probable that if I lived in Scotland I would be a member of the SSP. They are a force to be reckoned with, they have socialist policies, they have exceptionally strong dynamic women who describe themselves as feminists and they have MSPs. They are a good example of a socialist party which does indeed orientate towards the class struggle. I have much respect and admiration for them but alas, I don't live in Scotland!

Dave Riley said...

I grant you the implantation issue re greens versus the far left --and it would be the same here and generally, I suggest, that has a lot to do with the failure of the 'left' -- the socialist left -- to impact on the greens and mark off a presence.(Here trade union activists who had signed on with the Greens have left like Andy's anecdote about one there who was planning to leave. Also here the greens have tried to set up a trade union grouping within the party but it has more or less floundered and doesn't function much.)But that doesn't mean that the greens are sentenced to be non union in orientation.You only have to consider the various left/green formations in Europe to comprehend that potential.

But then you also beg the other question and that is IF people are looking for a home why not join the SWP or the SP or Socialist Resistance? The key thing , if we can step back from our petty squables for the moment, is to orchestrate a force that has a considered regroupment agenda.Then go out and regroup. And, as I suggested earlier, I think SR is probably at the same impasse that Louisefeminista describes her own condition.

I think it is so terribly ironic, tactics aside, that people will complain about any of these outfits' political indulgences and shibboleths and regimes, preferring instead to sign on with the party who created the Iraq war and help slaughter thousands.

So you need a sense of proportion I suggest because no matter how you dress it up the LP with this trade union talk,the British Labor Party leadership is as criminal , and as imperialistic, as George W. Bush. Thats' true isn't it? Wasn't this the core attribute of the 2nd International come 1914 that so impressed Luxembourg, Lenin et al..? So you have to have a sense of a 'line in the sand' surely and work that one through.

I don't think that precludes an orientation, but I think you can't ignore it with all this shallow talk about "bourgeois WORKERS parties" as so potent that it excuses everything else. But it is fetishes like this that underpin the tactics of the far left so often: thats' how crude the thinking can be despite all its Marxian gloss.

Can't you see that?

Louisefeminista said...

"I think it is so terribly ironic, tactics aside, that people will complain about any of these outfits' political indulgences and shibboleths and regimes, preferring instead to sign on with the party who created the Iraq war and help slaughter thousands".

Dave, you can be in the LP and not and I repeat not support war in Iraq, privatisation, neo-liberalism and so on. It is kinda insulting to the intelligence to think that socialists in the LP just go along with the "line". We don't!! Do you not think that many of us challenge and fight against the politics of New Labour. Yesterday at a meeting with Labour CND activists I witnessed so much anger at the plans of the Trident replacement. These militant activists would be appalled if you suggested that they went along with war in iraq. the challenge is still there and that's what we should be doing.

You miss the fundamental point I have been trying to make all along, entryism is a methood of challenging and confronting reformism, imperialism and neo-liberalism.

Dave Riley said...

OK. I've said my fill. I guess we need to note my very great distance. I am, of course extrapolating big time. I've also just seen the new guest post on your blog and have to concede that there is another articulating the route you are now pursuing. But in closing my 'intervention' I note Pinkie's question: "Were I to join the Labour Party what could I actually do?"

I KNOW that you can be in the LP and NOT support the war et al. But I was talking in terms of politics not individual morality. I could just as well say that I can be a member of the Tories or the US Republican Party and not support the war. But there's no political point to saying that because these outfits don't have what I am supposed to want -- ergo:a formal link to the trade unions such that this one feature is supposed to excuse everything else and facilitate the sort of politics I do or want to do.

I don't say: don't join the British Labour Party -- I'm just a far off voice of caution thats' all. For all I know this leadership thing by whatsit could be the real thing. I dDO ALSO recognize the litany of failures that have created this impasse on the far left in England. I'm glad I'm NOT there politically, you see. But I do say that I have heard each and every one of these justifications in regard to social democracy ad infinitum for well over 30 years and I'm saying they all have hairs on them.

(Can I say that?)

I'll shut up now. I'll be reading your blog for updates.

Louisefeminista said...

Dave:"I've also just seen the new guest post on your blog and have to concede that there is another articulating the route you are now pursuing".

I am not part of the blog (Stroppyblog) anylonger. You refer to in your comment above re: the guest post. I am part of the Socialist Unity Blog now and also Union Futures.

I also answered Pinkie's comments about they can do in the LP.

I have no illusions in the LP but I still think that's the place to be to challenge the bureaucracy. I don't know what will happen but this is long-term work and we are in for the long haul.

Louisefeminista said...

Another thing Dave,
I have been to conferences and meetings connected to the Labour Left and people have spoken about re-joining the LP or people they know re-joining, probably for various reasons such as wanting to see a serious challenge to Gordon Brown. Yes, all this is anecdotal and it would be interesting how many people have re-joined/joined for the first time.

But the McDonell campaign could be the start of something new and re-energising. It could potentially kick-start the Left and not to be part of it (and not just part of TU either) is utterly foolhardy.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that most of the people at the Labour CND meeting were aging activists rather than militant activists. Because the reality is that the Labour left is a rather small group of middle aged, demoralised social democrats. The various Labour Party connected fronts you mention are in reality moribund and are small numbers of grey haired white people meeting in small rooms rather than vibrant outward looking organisations.

The idea of socialists in the current period flocking to the Labour Party is bizarre, for one, if you truly fought for socialist politics in any effective way you would be expelled - as Militant were, as Galloway was. For the first time (and not only in Britain but across Europe) workers are breaking from Labour type parties and for the first time the Labour Party is not a pole of attraction for radicalised workers. Now in the late '60s, the trotskyist movement took off, partially due to disillusionment with the Pro-Vietnam war Wilson government - but that represented a small layer of people, now their is a widespread feeling among traditional Labour voters that this party no longer represents them.

Rather than trying to revive the corpse that is Labour, we should be seizing the opportunity that the collapse offers.

Louisefeminista still hasn't replied to the fact that for huge numbers of radicalised people the idea of joining Labour is an anathema

John McDonnell will be lucky to get enough signatures to stand for the leadership.

But there is also a more profound question, the Labour Left is a spent force.

For example, the vote in parliament on the Iraq Inquiry. Not even half of the Socialist Campaign Group voted for an inquiry into the Iraq War. Only 12 Labour MPs voted for an Iraq inquiry and several of them weren't even on the left.

The John McDonnell campaign, RESPECT, "campaign for a mass workers party", SSP/Solidarity, the Communist Party's "Left wing Programme" all in essence offer much the same programme.

But how many Labour MPs are there who support that programme? - I probably have more fingers on my right hand.

Accross the UK, left wing councillors have failed to be re-selected and replaced with Blairite candidates.

Also, in my experience, the Labour Left is deeply morally corrupt and where they have left wing positions they compartmentalise them. So they will come to anti-war meetings, but won't raise anti-war politics in their Labour Party branch. Indeed, I know of many people who were active in my Stop the War Coaliton group, are ex-IMG members, who have no qualms about canvassing for pro-war right wing Labour MPs

Louisefeminista said...

Anon: Why hide in the shadows? Have the courage of your convictions at least....

So, you can be an aging activist but not a militant one. Rather patronising, don't you think? Try telling that to the activists (aging or not)at yesterday's meeting and see what response you'd get!

WC voters deseting the LP are not voting or going to rightwing parties...Tories or BNP. The Left as a whole and this includes the Left outside of the LP have failed to catch these people despite the huge opportunity presented few years ago by the anti war movement. Yes the situation is dire in the LP but is dire outside. The politics of the LP are repellant to anybody with a leftwing atom in their body but it is still the case that the best place to challenge these politics is from within the LP and from within the Unions.

Pinkie said...

Louisefeminista:

"Pinkie: Er, off the top of my head you could involved yourself in Labour Against the War, Labour Left Briefing, Labour CND and trade union work which would involve putting political pressure on the Labour bureaucracy."

Fine, I have no doubt that there are socialists campaigning and in the ways you illustrate. But how does an ordinary member do this in an effective way in, say, a small branch with possibly frequently inquorate meetings? I am not convinced that the average Labour Party branch is a forum for political discussion,let alone effective political work (and I say this as an ex-member).

What I am convinced about is that active membership brings with it the requirement to campaign for the party at elections, local and national. Where I live that means campaigning for petty careerists whose politics are virtually indistinguishable from that of their opposition

Louisefeminista said...

But Pinkie it is not just at branch levels either. The issue about campaigning at elections or just putting pressure on your Blairite pro-war clone of an MP. I live in an area which has a Tory MP BUT come next election the boundary will have changed and I will have a pro-war Blairite clone.....

The thing is that we put pressure on these individuals as much as possible. Nobody said it was easy either. But there are other possibilities, you can always canvass for a leftie MP/councillor (there are some still out there..)I have in the past.It just seems that people are making excuses about not organising within the LP....

AN said...

You totally fail to convince ne here Louise, becasue you haven't given s single copnvincing example of something I could personally acheive through LP membership that I cannot achieve without it.
And you keep saying thisngs like: "but it is still the case that the best place to challenge these politics is from within the LP and from within the Unions. "

Well yeah,l I agree about the unions, but as the unions are a good plpace to oppose LP policies, why do we need indivudual memebrship as well?

And you simply assert that individual LP membershio is the "best place" to challenge Balirism, wiothout explaining why it is even a plce that it is possible to do that, let alone the best one!

AN said...

oh sorry - that last post sounded snippier than I intended! and everyoine had been so polite until me!

I suppose waht I am saying, is I need to hear some positive experiences reproted as evidence.

Becasue everyone I speak to tells me their expeerience in thr LP is dire.

Even some Socialist Appeal comrades admit they are only card carrying LP members as they cannot achieve anything in their wards and CLPs!

Louisefeminista said...

AN: Please read my arguments again, carefully, comrade, as I think I have explained why I am in the LP and why socialists should be there as well.

You have failed to convince me WHY I shouldn't be in the LP. All you came up with is single issue campaigns and being a member of the LP doesn't counterpose me being involved in those kind of campaigns whether it is anti-war (Labour against the War), Palestine solidarity, T&G work (includes John4Leader campaigning) and feminist activity.

You have to better than that to convince to leave the LP...

Btw: your point didn't sound snippy in the least.

Louisefeminista said...

AN and all the other comrades who oppose me: People need to build a collective challenge to Bliarism and New Labour...yes an individual would expect to acheive zilch.

A good start would be to involve yourself in Labour Left Briefing, Labour Against the War and so on. Basic examples really.....

splinteredsunrise said...

I know the Irish situation isn't directly comparable, but - any radical in Belfast worth her salt needs to have some orientation to what was the historic Sinn Fein base. Actually joining SF would militate against that because here SF doesn't have an activist base any more, just an apparatus. At cumann level the party is dead. Not to mention that the socialists who joined SF en masse in 1982 (when SF was a lot more radical) not only did not transform the party, they were themselves transformed.

Dublin is somewhat different, but even there you can have a more serious approach to SF activists without joining what is essentially a totalitarian party operating military discipline.

AN said...

It is an astute comparison SplinSunrise, beacsue it locates the argument in what we are trying to acheive.

Putting to one side such questions as the union link and armed struggle (minor differeences !!!) between the LP and SF. There is a question of a histroically progressiive electoral base, and a politica,l party that no longer articlulates the intersts or views of that base.

Standing as a socialist alliance ot socialist unity electoral candidate over the last few years has been a very educative experience for me.

Firtsly the LP's core traditional vote is elderly, and largely not voting for Blair but for Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson! These people cannot easily be engaged with, and are to be frank dradually dieing out.

The more improtnat group of Labour Voiters are the slightly younger labour supporters, in their mid thirties to late fifties, and it has been easier to relate to them on the basis of socialist polices outsode the LP than within it. In fact one of the thngs that has had a qualified impact on the LP's membership in our town, is that our leaflets sit in the historical tradition of the LP, and theirs don't!

In that way LP membership would be an imperdiment, becasue you wouldn't be ermitted to produce election leaflets based upon socialist politics.

Louisefeminista said...

AN: "In that way LP membership would be an imperdiment, becasue you wouldn't be ermitted to produce election leaflets based upon socialist politics".

Have you heard of breaking the rules? Just because you wouldn't be permitted doesn't mean you can't challenge it..... That's the whole point you challenge them.I have and haven't been expelled as yet!! Well, just cos you are told you "wouldn't be permitted to produce election leaflets" doesn't mean you shrug your shoulders and capituate, is it?

And what ground breaking numbers are voting for Socialist Unity in your area? Seriously, you are not persuading to leave if that's all you can argue for. I have no loyalty or illusions in the LP but I believe it is the place to be challenge and confront New Labour. How the hell are you doing it outside? How do you confront labourism? If there was a group confront labourism outside the LP then I would join, but alas there isn't. I am revolted by the politics of New Labour but you still have to confront these politics and expose the contradictions of the LP.

I think the comparisons between LP and Sinn Fein are spurious because the dynamics are completely different because Sinn Fein, once upon a time was a radicalised anti-imperialist party (though they have thoroughly sold out over the peace process). While the LP in terms of its relationship to the state is pro-imperialist and we therefore confront these politics. I am not in the LP to show solidarity with the Bliarites but to confront them. Entryism is a hostile act remember and frankly it is about breaking people with reformism and labourism.

Pinkie said...

I think Splinteredsunrise summed things up very nicely:

"Actually joining SF would militate against that (the historic party base - my note) because here SF doesn't have an activist base any more, just an apparatus."

Substitute 'LP' for 'SF' and there you see the problem.

It's bad enough being in a Fouth International of one member. Fucking impossible to be a Fourth Internationalist entrist in the Labour Party of one member - not round my parts.

If comrades find that they can work in their local LP, great. Unfortunately in my area we have plenty of structure and no activist base (of whatever stripe).

Indeed: "Entryism is a hostile act remember and frankly it is about breaking people with reformism and labourism."

I'm just not convinced that there is a reformist etc base to be broken in my local LP - just a structure. That's the difficult bit.

I suspect my negative views of Labour Party work could be adapted for use against, oh I don't know'Respect', say.

If I were to re-join Labour I would need a lot of help.

AN said...

I comptlety agree with you Pinkie

even last year when the BNP stood against labour in one ward here, they could only get councillors (on the payroll!) out canvassing.

Whereas loads of trade unioon activists came out to leaflet with our Serchlight inspired "Swindon Together SAgainst fascism" leaflets, those samem activist were not out working for Labour.

Indeed we also had a socialist candidate i the ward, and on that basis the uniona ctivists the LP councillors and us all had to sit down together - being in the LP would have welaned our impact in the anti-facist camppaign not strengthened it.

Louisefeminista said...

Pinkie: What you need to do is step back and analyse. SF was never a reformist party it is a radicalised nationalist grouping. The LP is a social democratic party in an imperialist country so therefore it has completely different pressures and different dynamics.

Therefore you cannot substitute LP for SF (you can have a long lecture if you want about the differences...)

You also have to collectivise as much as you can. Why don't you join and get involved with something like Labour Briefing or Labour against the War.

Louisefeminista said...

AN:"being in the LP would have welaned our impact in the anti-facist camppaign not strengthened it".

Why would it weaken it?

Many labour party activists (including myself) are involved in (past and present) in campaigning against the BNP. Plenty of LP activists are fighting against fascism so don't dismiss us!

AN said...

Loiuse, ww were better off becasue we were in the anti-fascist campaign as an explicit socialist grouping, and were able to relate to the TU activist on that basis, instead of being lumbered with an identification with the neo-liberal party that is promoting a pro-privatisation, deregulation agenda.

Your argument doesn't hold water because there is considerable disjuncture between the LP and the layer of TU activists, and an even greater disjuncuture between the LP and social movement activists.

Of course there are LP activists working against fascism, or for various progressive campaigns, but that is against the overwhelming tide of history in the LP.

What you haven't answred is what is the strategic goal of being in the LP? All the things you say you can do in the LP, well you can do them outside as well! So there is no added value of LP membership.

BTW - whatever the differences between SF and LP, the situations are analogous for the comparison to be intersting and useful - as regareds the gulf between the historical progressive electoral base, and the hollowed out structire today.

And regarding the leflets in elections. Ok - in the LP you could break the rules. So enlighten me - in your CLP how many left candidates have been selected, and produced leaflets outside the party's control? How many do you know of in other parts of the country?

You say you haven't been expelled, but what have you done to warrant expulsion ;o)

IMO - the whole thing is a futile exercise, because the leaft is so so so weak in the party. You might get away with things just beacsue you are so ineffectual Millbank don't know you are there and aren't worth expelling! :o)

Louisefeminista said...

AN: "What you haven't answred is what is the strategic goal of being in the LP? All the things you say you can do in the LP, well you can do them outside as well! So there is no added value of LP membership".

I have explained the strategic goal you just haven't read it properly!

There is an added value being in the LP as it is the best place to confront labourism and the labourism of the TU movement....

"IMO - the whole thing is a futile exercise, because the leaft is so so so weak in the party. You might get away with things just beacsue you are so ineffectual Millbank don't know you are there and aren't worth expelling!"

Well, I will just carry on confronting the reactionary elements in the labour party and the trade unions and I won't stop doing it.

Well hey, I suppose some comrades are just too politically pure to sully themselves with the labour party.

Btw: there is a superficial comparison between the LP and SF and that's about it!

AN said...

I have re-read it all, nd i am still none the wiser, but perhaps i cannot see the wood for the trees.

You say you recognise that the left are not going to take over the LP, so do you think you are pulling it a little bit to the left? Or are you gathering people around you waiting for something better to come along, and then split or what?

YOu see, I do understand and to a certain degree sympathise with the CPB's position on the LP, recognising its hostorical position, and thereofre the left cannot come to power wiithout relating to it. However, the CPB are coming close to recognising that the LP has changed irrevecobly.

If the LP cannot be taken over by the left, then is it just a vehicle for promoting a few lefties into office ?(in fact Millbank won't let that happen , see the block on Mark Seddon's selection)

And you still haven't explained WHY it is the best place to confront new labour!

ARen't trhe unions a better place?

Louisefeminista said...

OK...One more time with feeling....

WHY it is the best place to confront New Labour: The LP does express some political pressures from the TU movement though the bureaucracy will blunt them.. It is precisely the bureaucracy blunting these demands. New labour wants to mix neo-liberalism and to placate the demands of the working class. And that's why you need to be in the LP as well as the TU movement in order to challenge and confront it.

Btw: AN- read up on the politics of entryism.

The LP has dramatically changed but that is all part and parcel of the contradictions and it still has that link with the labour movement. I have no illusions with the LP BUT it is still the best place to confront labourism and reformism.

AN (well, actually none of the comrades who have commented) have given me a viable alternative just work in my TU or single-issue campaigns (which I do anyway....)

AN said...

L - can you name one significant LP policy that has come from the unions in the Blair era that originated with the unions and has gone further than centre-right governments in Europe have offered?

I don't need to read up on the politics of entirsm, beacsue they are predicated on the out-dated analysis of the LP, and a no longer valid evaluation of the rlationship between the LP and the TU activist base, etc.

And on your final point, we can agree there isn't a viable alternative in England right now!

So I am not arguing you should leave the LP, but I am far from convinced by your arguments that we should join!!!

Anyway, well done for aprking a very healthy debate on this ;o)