In response to the Labour right wing’s move to purge socialists from the party, solidarity motions and statements have come in from across the rank and file of the labour movement. Now the left must mobilise to drive out Starmer and the right.

In response to the Labour right wing’s move to purge socialists from the party, solidarity motions and statements have come in from across the rank and file of the labour movement. Now the left must mobilise to drive out Starmer and the right.

At Labour’s last NEC meeting, on 20 July, right-wingers disgracefully voted to proscribe Socialist Appeal and three other groups.

This open assault on the left of the party by Starmer and the right wing has provoked outrage amongst rank-and-file members.

Since then, solidarity has flooded in from across the whole labour movement.

Grassroots support

Numerous CLPs have passed motions in solidarity with Socialist Appeal and the other proscribed groups.

One of the first was Hackney South & Shoreditch CLP. They overwhelmingly passed an emergency motion the same week as the proscriptions, expressing local members’ anger towards this bureaucratic ban.

Other CLPs have since followed suit, with Harborough, Hexham, Leeds Central, North Thanet, and Sheffield Heeley all passing similar motions of solidarity. 

In Sheffield Heeley, the motion passed by 30 votes to 13. Speaking on Socialist Telly recently, local party member Martin Mayer called the proscriptions an outrageous attack on the left.

Mayer correctly highlighted that Socialist Appeal have always been “the footsoldiers alongside us campaigning in elections for Labour Party candidates.”

“Their crime appears to be that they’re advocating bold socialist policies,” Mayer continued. “And if they’re being singled out for that, then I think all of us are at risk of also being attacked.”

Indeed, having now tasted blood, the right wing has repeatedly signalled that these proscriptions are just the beginning of a wider purge.

Wantage CLP has also passed a motion of solidarity in defiance of the purge. Significantly, this has been submitted as the local party’s motion to the upcoming annual conference.

By taking this important battle to conference, the question will be posed sharply: Is the Labour Party for socialists and grassroots members? Or is it for big business and bureaucrats?

Trade unions and Labour left

Trade unionists have also spoken up against this disgraceful ban.

The #TimeForRealChange campaign in Unison – whose supporters now have a majority on the union’s NEC – has come out in defiance of the proscriptions. This is especially significant, given the weight and influence that Unison has within the Labour Party.

Unite London and Eastern Regional Committee also passed a statement in solidarity with Socialist Appeal and those proscribed. And Unite Community branches in Southampton, Coventry & Warwickshire, Tyne & Wear, and Northumberland have all passed this motion overwhelmingly too.

Many local left organisations have come out in defiance of this anti-democratic, anti-socialist purge. This includes Leeds LRC, who correctly assert that:

“Rather than finding time to proscribe members, the Labour establishment should be opposing the Tories and capitalist class as the Covid-19 health pandemic and economic crisis ruins working-class people's lives.”

The Northern England Labour Left (NELL) group have also condemned the proscriptions and purge. In an online statement, NELL noted that:

“To single out Socialist Appeal because it is organised is hypocrisy of the first order when there are many such groups in the Labour Party and always have been, from the ILP and the Fabians to Labour First and Progress.”

Internationalism

International solidarity has also been on display, showing that working-class disgust and anger towards Starmer’s actions stretches beyond Britain.

From Austria, a branch of the Young Socialists in Vorarlberg sent a video message offering support and solidarity, which can be seen below.

And these proscriptions have also been covered by left-wing Polish news site strajk.eu, who interviewed one Socialist Appeal supporter about the battles taking place inside the Labour Party.

Socialists far and wide are clearly outraged at the actions of Starmer and co.

Fight the purge!

This purge by Starmer and his gang of Blairite bureaucrats is a direct attack on the left.

The right wing is starting by decapitating the left of its most militant layers. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Starmer and the right wing will not stop until they have secured full control of the party, from top to bottom. 

Passing motions and statements of solidarity is an important first step in fighting back. But the real task ahead for grassroots activists is to mobilise and drive the right wing out of the Labour Party for good.

We need to go on the offensive against the right wing; transform the Labour Party; and take on the Tories with bold socialist policies.

This is what Socialist Appeal, the Marxist tendency in the labour movement, is organising to do. We urge all those who agree with these aims to join us in this task.