Over the weekend, the Daily Mirror, the Guardian, and others confirmed the rumours. As we reported previously, Labour’s NEC (national executive committee) are meeting tomorrow to discuss proscribing Socialist Appeal alongside three other left-wing organisations.
This has caused uproar online from across the rank and file of the Labour Party, as well as from prominent figures in the labour movement.
Activists and leading lefts alike are rightfully disgusted that the party leadership is choosing to attack grassroots organisations and members simply for being socialist – especially at a time when this criminal Tory government is endangering lives.
Outrage and anger
In response to this scandalous news, Ian Hodson, President of the BFAWU (bakers, food, and allied workers’ union), has stated that there is “no justification for banning Socialist Appeal”.
Best wishes and solidarity, absolutely no justification for banning Socalist Appeal— Ian Hodson (@IanBFAWU) July 16, 2021
“Comrades, the attempt to ban Socialist Appeal and other groups, with the aim of expelling them from the party is an absolute disgrace,” Hodson continued in a further message of support.
“At the same time as expelling good socialists, Starmer is welcoming former Tories with open arms and shifting the party to the right. We must not allow them to get away with this purge. My union is totally opposed to bans and proscriptions and the return to McCarthyite thought control.” – In solidarity, Ian Hodson, President BFAWU
Hodson is correct. Socialist Appeal has always supported the Labour Party and its candidates. We are not a separate party, but a tendency within the Labour Party and the wider labour movement, organising socialist activists around Marxist ideas.
Momentum has also released a statement opposing the planned proscriptions. “At a time when the Tory government is allowing the pandemic to rip through the country, the Labour leadership has once again turned inwards,” the left-wing organisation remarks. “The proposed auto-expulsion of members…only strengthens the Tories.”
Our statement on the Party Leadership's proposed use of proscription and the auto-expulsion of members. pic.twitter.com/g2cipMTWYx— Momentum 🌹 (@PeoplesMomentum) July 19, 2021
“We will not sit quietly as a small and detached clique attempts to drive Momentum and the broader left out,” the statement continues. “The many crises of the 21st century – from COVID-19 to climate change – demand a socialist response, and we will not shrink from campaigning for it, inside Labour and in the country.”
We 100% agree!
Left-wing journalist Owen Jones, meanwhile, has highlighted that the main target of these proscriptions is Socialist Appeal. “With no inspiring vision to offer the country,” Jones correctly asserts, “the Labour leadership has settled on kicking the left and nothing else.”
The main target of this purge is Socialist Appeal, whose members have been active in the Labour Party for decades, and weren’t even purged under Tony Blair.— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) July 17, 2021
With no inspiring vision to offer the country, the Labour leadership has settled on kicking the left and nothing else.
Similarly, Laura Pidcock, national secretary for the People’s Assembly and left-wing Labour NEC member, has come out against the proposed bans. “Tuesday’s NEC should be about how we use every resource the party has to fight this government,” the former MP stated.
For the avoidance of any doubt, I will be voting against any such proposals. That is if the chair allows a full discussion and vote.— Laura Pidcock (@LauraPidcock) July 18, 2021
Rule or ruin
Jones and Pidcock are correct. Instead of attacking the Tories, Starmer is exerting all his energies in attacking the left, starting with the most militant activists – the Marxist tendency.
There is no chance of Starmer ‘changing direction’ or providing any ‘vision’, however. A leopard cannot change its spots.
Starmer and the Labour right wing are agents of the ruling class. Their number one aim is to purge the left and make the Labour Party a safe pair of hands for capitalism – even if that means driving the party into the ground.
The proscription of Socialist Appeal is just the start. The right will not stop until the party is emptied of its left-wing membership. For these Blairites, it is rule or ruin.
Local Momentum and Labour left groups have also published messages of support and solidarity.
Sheffield Labour Left (SLL), for example, have issued a statement condemning the right-wing’s proscription proposal. Furthermore, SLL state that: “The work that supporters of Socialist Appeal have done to promote socialist ideas within the party and their expression of no confidence in the current leadership – that is the real reason for the proposed proscription.”
Bootle for Socialism, in Liverpool, have also posted a statement of solidarity, saying they stand “shoulder to shoulder with our comrades in Socialist Appeal”. And Momentum Hammersmith and Fulham have published a solidarity message.
Elsewhere, in a letter sent to left NEC members, Tower Hamlets Momentum correctly say:
“Much of the right wing are demanding that, after Socialist Appeal, Momentum should be next. If we let this pass, then others will follow…We need to push back hard with the broadest campaign.”
Labour lefts in Ealing, London, have also highlighted the hypocrisy of this right-wing move.
“Blairite organisations such as Labour First and 'Progressive Britain' (rebranded from Progress) are allowed to operate openly.
“Socialist groups who campaign exclusively for Labour are called 'poisonous extremists', out of line with party values. Meanwhile, Islamophobes like Trevor Phillips, and the likes of Peter Mandelson – who openly called for voters to support other parties in the last general election – are welcomed with open arms.”
And many more ordinary workers, Labour members, trade unionists, and grassroots activists have expressed solidarity with Socialist Appeal comrades too. Such solidarity and unity is vital in resisting this purge.
I've met a fair few folks from @socialist_app, one of the "poisonous" groups Starmer's seeking to oust, and they've been nothing but warm, educational, and energetic.— aka. "Druid" Class (@Spice8Rack) July 17, 2021
Individual shadow cabinet members have more "poison" in them than everyone in that org combined. https://t.co/3RH48W8T2I
I have some good comrades in Socialist Appeal. They have as much right to be Labour Party members as I do.— Heather Mendick (@helensclegel) July 17, 2021
Socialist in! Starmer out!
The whole left must continue to mobilise and fight this purge. In the immediate term, activists can:
- Sign and share this statement in defence of the left
- Sign the petition against bans and proscriptions
- Join the rally outside tomorrow’s Labour NEC meeting
Unfortunately, however, given the current balance of forces on the NEC, the move to proscribe Socialist Appeal and others is likely to pass tomorrow.
So alongside the very welcome messages of solidarity, we also call on activists to pass the model motion below in CLPs across the country. This should be submitted as an emergency, if necessary.
Where possible, this should also be put forward as the CLP’s motion to the upcoming Labour conference. The call must be: Reverse all proscriptions and exclusions! Let the members decide! Socialists in, Starmer out!
Above all, we implore you to join us: to build the forces of Marxism; to build the Marxist tendency; to build the Marxist voice of Labour and youth. Defy the Labour right wing, and join us in the struggle for socialism!
This CLP is outraged by the NEC decision to proscribe Socialist Appeal and three other left-wing organisations.
This follows an ongoing campaign by Keir Starmer and David Evans against the left-wing membership. Members have been suspended and expelled, including NEC member Howard Beckett and former leader Jeremy Corbyn; and party democracy has been suppressed.
This CLP believes such McCarthyite methods are being adopted in order to attack and shut out Marxists and socialists from the party. This purge of the left by Starmer’s leadership is an attempt to reverse the socialist policies brought in under Corbyn, and to make the party a safe pair of hands for capitalism.
This CLP declares its solidarity with Socialist Appeal and the other organisations being targeted. An injury to one is an injury to all.
This CLP demands that all proscriptions and unjust exclusions are reversed, and that the attacks on rank-and-file members and party democracy are halted immediately.
Instead of attacking its own members, the party leadership should be using all of its efforts to fight this criminal Tory government on the basis of bold socialist policies.
Petition: Defend the left – Against all bans and proscriptions!
Sign this petition from Defend the Left here.
Instead of opposing the reactionary Tory government, the Labour leadership is turning its fire against many of its most committed members.
The July 20 meeting of the Labour Party NEC is set to proscribe a number of left-wing groups, including Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile Network and Socialist Appeal. The motion includes a proposal to investigate yet more groups for possible proscription.
Apparently, the motion states that membership of the groups is “incompatible with membership of the Labour Party”. The rule book already allows for the exclusion of members who campaign against the Labour Party. These organisations do not do that.
The same cannot be said for right-wing factions within the party that consistently and openly campaigned against Labour under Corbyn’s leadership. Yet none of those groups are threatened with proscription.
This is just the latest salvo in the right’s full-blown attack on what remains of the pro-Corbyn left in the Labour Party.
It follows the denial to Corbyn himself of the Labour Whip for more than eight months. It follows the silencing of free speech and democracy across the party with whole branches and CLPs being suspended and whole areas of discussion being suppressed, including legitimate expressions of no confidence in the leadership. Expressions of solidarity with Palestinians have been ruled out of order on the basis of unfounded antisemitism claims. Expulsion is no way to deal with political disagreements.
We should be debating how to end draconian anti-trade union laws, reverse privatisation in the NHS and education, combat racism and discrimination, defend our right to protest, resist fire-and-rehire and cuts in benefits, and many more issues of grave concern to the trade union and labour movement.
We urge everyone who wants to build a united, fighting opposition to the Tories to join together against the attempt by the right to reintroduce a list of proscribed organisations. No doubt, other socialist groups will be added to the list, should this first round of proscriptions go through without a hitch.