Contrary to a report in the gossip section of the Spectator, LAW does not pursue a strategy of calling on members to leave the Labour Party. As it states in our lead motion to our August 28 members’ meeting: “LAW remains committed to fighting against the witch-hunt and urging the left to stay and fight for party democracy and the refoundation of Labour as a united front of a special kind open to all socialist and working-class organizations. Of course we continue to accept as members not only all those who have been expelled and suspended from the party, but also those who have left the party in disgust. We will continue to campaign against the witch-hunt with forces inside and outside the Labour Party.“
Proposal by Kevin Bean, endorsed by the LAW Steering Committee and the LAW all-members’ meeting of August 28 2021
1. Whilst the exact tempo of events that will shape developments in the Labour Party in the immediate future is unclear, the broad pattern has been established over the last year or so. The Starmer leadership can be expected to continue its attacks on the left to demonstrate his acceptability to the ruling class, the media, and the United States as the captain of a safe second XI. He desperately wants to be prime minister and sees the continued purge as an essential part of his electoral strategy. The targets chosen so far – LAW, LIEN, Resist and Socialist Appeal – have been ritual sacrifices chosen because of their relative weakness, not their strength. Another aspect of Starmer’s strategy is to secure the complete surrender of the ‘official left’ of the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs and the Momentum leadership. Their cowardly evasion and ambiguous statements in the face of the intensification of the witch-hunt will not save them.
2. The expulsion of Ken Loach shows Starmer’s line of march, and it is likely that we will see the Labour conference in September used as the launch pad for further attacks. This will almost certainly take the form of a series of staged showdowns with the left, as with Kinnock or Blair, such as the expulsion of Corbyn, the proscription of Momentum or removing the whip from others in the Socialist Campaign Group.
3. Given the pathetic capitulation of the official left leadership and their endless retreats in the face of attacks, the demoralization and confusion amongst many on the left are not at all surprising. Large numbers have either resigned or lapsed into inactivity. Some comrades suggest that we should now give up the fight in the party and build a new socialist party. If such a project were to take the form of, say, a broad left amalgam of lowest common denominator consensus, or an unprincipled popular front, or, worse still, a Labour Party mark 2, it would be yet another wasted opportunity.
4. LAW remains committed to fighting against the witch-hunt and urging the left to stay and fight for party democracy and the refoundation of Labour as a united front of a special kind open to all socialist and working-class organizations. Of course we continue to accept as members not only all those who have been expelled and suspended from the party, but also those who have left the party in disgust. We will continue to campaign against the witch-hunt with forces inside and outside the Labour Party. The arguments in favour of this orientation have been well-rehearsed: the party’s links with the trade unions, its bases of support in the working class and the identification of the class with Labour as an electoral force in a first past the post voting system are valid arguments for this approach.
5. The recent growth in LAW’s membership following the NEC’s re-introduction of bans and proscriptions in July shows the potential that exists for our campaign against the witch-hunt. LAW resolves to step up our campaign by:
- intervening at Labour conference alongside other comrades on the left committed to fighting the witch-hunt;
- continuing to campaign at a grass roots level against bans and proscriptions, and countering the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smear campaign against the left;
- organizing and supporting national, regional, and local lobbies and demonstrations in support of comrades expelled and suspended as a result of the purge;
- working to build opposition to bans and proscriptions in the trade unions by making links with principled leaders, left caucuses and other currents opposed to the witch-hunt;
- winning the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs, Momentum, CLPD, etc, to adopt a militant, a principled, an unambiguous stance against the witch-hunt;
- deepening links with those outside the Labour Party who are being subjected to the bogus ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt – e.g., pro-Palestine activists, academics, student unions, trade unionists, journalists, writers, artists, comics, film-makers, etc;
- joining together with those internationally who are fighting back against the witch-hunt, e.g., in the US, Germany, the Netherlands and France;
- holding an on-line international rally against the witch-hunt;
- encouraging film makers, playwrights, academics, and serious political commentators to study, expose and fight the witch-hunt.