A political earthquake is shaking the Labour Party to its foundations. An unprecedented 610,000 are voting to elect a new leader. The ramifications are being felt everywhere. The mood of anger and bitterness that has built up in society was desperately searching for an outlet. In Scotland, it found the outlet in the Referendum and the rise of the SNP. Now Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader has acted like a lightning rod for this discontent. It appears to be unstoppable, with Jeremy Corbyn on course to win the Labour leadership contest.
Hysteria of the Blairite zombies
The Blairites and the rest of the Tory carpet-baggers in the Labour Party are absolutely frantic. All the old zombies from the past – Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Alastair Campbell, etc. – have all risen from the political grave to attack Jeremy Corbyn. But whatever yesterday’s New Labour dregs do or say, they only end up boosting support for Jeremy even more.
These middle class careerists, who used the party for their own personal advancement, are squealing with horror at the prospect of their pro-establishment candidates losing. Their safe MP’s seats and fat salaries are no longer safe! Their whole “project” to make the Labour Party safe for capitalism is falling apart before their very eyes - and all because they allowed Corbyn on the ballot as a “no-hoper”. That is why these “democrats” are threatening civil war if Corbyn wins.
“Oh why or why, did we let the hordes of ordinary people have a vote!” they exclaim. They had changed the rules to precisely keep the Blairites in power. That was the plan. But is has blown up in their faces.
These creatures have the cheek to talk about “infiltration”. The Blairites and their friends have been infiltrating the Labour Party for years – Tory infiltrators. Nobody vetted them, while socialists were being disgracefully expelled from the party. The SDP (Social Democratic Party, a 1981 split) traitors – who stabbed Labour in the back - were all welcomed back with open arms by Blair and co. These professional politicians were then parachuted into safe Labour seats, despite local opposition.
These are the real infiltrators – the enemies within - who should be vetted and then driven out. In fact, a Corbyn win would see many of these nonentities leave in search of another political home: the House of Lords, or a career in big business. They will join the Lord Kinnocks of this world, and the rest of this careerist gang, in the Hall of Shame, where they belong.
The Corbyn campaign has certainly opened up a Pandora’s Box. It has unleashed the enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands, understandably turned off by the Labour Party over the last 20-odd years. In the mass rallies, any mention of socialism is greeted with wild applause. The sectarian groups who wrote off the Labour Party as “finished” are rubbing their eyes in utter disbelief. All their attempts to build an alternative New Workers Party have all gone up in smoke.
Along with promises to end austerity, renationalise of the railways, and introduce a statutory living wage for all workers, etc., has come the issue of bringing back Clause IV, the Labour Party’s commitment to socialism, adopted in 1918, but abolished by the millionaire warmonger Tony Blair. Described by Blair as the “defining moment in the history of my party”, the scrapping of Clause IV represented a symbolic break with the Labour Party’s past and the arrival of the era of New Labour. They thought socialism was dead and buried. They became worshippers of big business and the establishment. For them, there was no alternative to their beloved “market”.
But after decades of privatisation, marketisation, factory closures and attacks on the working class, people have had enough of this lousy market economy. The slump of 2008 and the bailout of millionaire bankers and financiers, combined with austerity was imposed on the rest of us, became the last straw.
Corbyn told the Independent on Sunday:
“I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring Clause IV as it was originally written or it’s a different one. But we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways.”
Although under pressure his team has now backed away from this suggestion, the idea is out there. You cannot suppress an idea whose time has come. Capitalism is experiencing its worst crisis since the 1930s, possibly in its history. There has never been a better time to put forward a bold socialist alternative and do away with this crisis-ridden system.
For a workers' MP on a worker's wage!
If Jeremy Corbyn wins, he will be faced with a Parliamentary Labour Party dominated by the right wing, a product of the past retreats. They will act as a Fifth Column against a Corbyn leadership, who they regard as the thin end of the socialist wedge. The only way out of this for Jeremy Corbyn is to call an emergency conference to refound the Labour party and to bury “New” Labour once and for all.
We should bring back Annual Conference as the supreme democratic policy-making body, and not as it is now - a rubber stamp for the right-wing shadow cabinet. That means also scrapping the policy forums, which are used by the Blairites to impose their views on the membership.
We should restore the mandatory reselection of Members of Parliament, whereby all MPs must stand for periodic re-election, and not be chosen for life, as with the present system. This will mean that all MPs become truly representative of the Labour Party and its supporters.
Out with careerism! We want committed socialist fighters as our MPs and councillors. Therefore, all Labour MPs and representatives must commit to taking only the average wage of a skilled worker (about £30,000), with the remainder of their bloated £76,000 parliamentary salary paid over to the party’s campaign funds. All expenses should be vetted by the rank and file. This means having workers’ MPs on a worker’s wage! Such measures would eliminate careerism at a stroke! We want people who are dedicated to changing society, not to boosting their wage packet.
We must bring back the socialist transformation of society as a central aim of the party. We should bring back Clause IV, which was previously printed on every membership card, but was ditched by Tony Blair. What is wrong with “to secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof”? This Clause also committed the party to taking over the “commanding heights” of the economy, namely “the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”, under democratic workers’ control and management. There was never a more relevant programme in this time of capitalist crisis and austerity.
Such a bold programme would free us from the stranglehold of the market and allow us to plan the resources of the economy. This would increase our annual production by at least 20%, allowing us to pay for all the reforms and more. This would allow us to massively boost living standards and give everyone a decent and rising standard of living.
Lessons of the Greek tragedy
The continuation of capitalism will only mean endless austerity and increasing misery for working people. There is no way out for working people on a capitalist basis.
We must learn the tragic lesson of Greece and the left-wing Syriza government, which ended up capitulating to the Troika and imposing more hardship on the Greek people. In parliament, a third of Syriza MPs voted against austerity or abstained. Alex Tsipras, the party leader, had to rely upon the votes of discredited opposition parties to gain a majority for renewed austerity. This is where the acceptance of capitalism leads.
Tsipras was seen as the darling of the left everywhere. There were illusions that he could deliver his policies simply by the force of commitment. His intentions were honourable. But the road to a very warm place is paved with good intentions.
The support for Syriza’s anti-austerity stand had won a general election in January and a referendum in July. With such support, the party could have easily carried through a socialist transformation of Greece, appealing in turn for support from working people throughout Europe and worldwide. Instead the Syriza leadership capitulated. This retreat will lead to a massive backlash at a certain stage. The Greek people will not tolerate such a draconian attack.
As a Marxist tendency, we say this has enormous lessons for us in Britain. You can’t tinker with capitalism and leave the power of the major monopolies intact. The government will not dictate to the economy, but the economy will dictate to the government. That is why we need to take over the commanding heights of the economy.
Today, the fight is to get Jeremy Corbyn elected. We must prepare to fight any Blairite coup that is being prepared behind the scenes. Already, Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt are setting up an anti-Corbyn clique of Blairites, even before the result has been announced. The right wing has never been shy about organising to get their way. It is high time the left organised to cleanse the party of the right-wing careerists. But we must also fight for a bold socialist programme as the only alternative to capitalist austerity.
That is why we say:
- Vote for Jeremy Corbyn!
- Fight for Socialism!
- Join the Marxist Tendency!