Labour's right wing have torn up the rule book in their purge of the left. They will not stop until the left are broken and driven from the party. This is a war, and the left leadership must start acting as such.

Labour's right wing have torn up the rule book in their purge of the left. They will not stop until the left are broken and driven from the party. This is a war, and the left leadership must start acting as such.

The purge against left-wing members of the Labour Party is continuing. Keir Starmer and David Evans are showing an inflexible determination to make the Labour Party safe for big business by clamping down on socialists in its ranks, using antisemitism as an excuse.

For those of us who want a real opposition to the Tories, the best form of defence is offence. We’re ready to fight, but there’s a vacuum of leadership on the Labour Left. The result is growing confusion and even demoralisation among left-wingers at the constituency level.

The situation can be turned around, but only with a bold and unequivocal campaign to mobilise the ranks of the Labour Party around a radical socialist programme, which aims to sweep the right-wing carpetbaggers, and all those who want to ‘work constructively’ with the Tories, out of the party.

Witch hunt

The witch-hunters are currently on a right-wing joyride. Ignoring all the rules of their own party, they are busy clamping down on discussion in the party.

First. Corbyn was suspended. Even the deputy leader of the party said publicly that he hadn’t broken any rules. Next, members were suspended for passing resolutions condemning this outrageous action of the leadership. Members were then kicked out for voting no confidence in a leadership that tries to prevent members expressing their views through resolutions. Finally, party members are now being suspended for simply discussing these issues without even voting on them.

In Nottingham East, Hampstead & Kilburn, and other CLPs, party chairs and secretaries have been suspended for allowing discussion on motions expressing anger about the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn.

In Bristol West CLP the regional party office has suspended the party officers and cancelled its AGM for voting to defend Corbyn.

In Liverpool Riverside CLP, a ruling from David Evans claimed that a motion of no confidence in himself was ‘not competent business’ for the CLP to discuss.

In Chingford and Woodford Green CLP, no motions were taken but socialists were nevertheless suspended for expressing opinions on Starmer’s behaviour. One of those suspended is Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, a prominent member of Jewish Voice for Labour. Clearly the purge is not about making Jewish people ‘feel welcome’ in the party, it’s about kicking socialists out of the party.

The actions of the Labour Right are brazen, and are only thinly veiled with the issue of antisemitism. In reality they’re an attempt to make Labour a loyal prop of the British establishment, and as such left-wingers are being purged from it.

Hand wringing

Faced with this sharp attack from the Right, the leaders of the Labour Left unfortunately seem to be trying to dodge the fight.

In a podcast last month, John McDonnell urged Corbyn and the Labour party to “keep on apologising” for antisemitism in the Labour Party. The Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, in their letter asking Starmer to restore the whip to Corbyn, argued that the withdrawal of the whip “severely undermines efforts to unite” the party, as if the right wing are interested in unity.

Momentum’s national approach to this war within the party has been full of sound and fury. There have been online rallies and various statements but the Momentum National Co-ordinating Group has limited its proposals for action to a petition and letter-writing campaign to Keir Starmer.

Despite this, and despite the bureaucratic clamp down, more than 60 local Labour Parties have passed resolutions either of support for Corbyn and the restoration of the whip, or a vote of no confidence in Keir Starmer and David Evans. We need to urgently build upon this.

Starmer Out!

Starmer big businessAn unashamed, radical socialist alternative to Starmer must be presented.

We should be fighting Tory plans to make workers pay for the crisis by demanding that the rich and big business be expropriated so we can use their fantastic wealth to maintain jobs, pay, and public services. We should be preparing a mass campaign by Labour councils to defy the shattering austerity about to be inflicted on local authorities by the central government. We should be preparing, alongside the trade unions, for industrial struggle to fight the incoming cuts to jobs, pay and standards of living.

It is incumbent on the leaders of the Labour Left to put forward this programme and challenge Starmer for leadership of the Labour Party. Without a challenger, votes of no confidence in Starmer are just words on paper. But in the context of a leadership challenge such votes become rallying cries for a Left resurgence.

We should be clear from the outset that such a challenge on the basis of a radical socialist programme necessitates a complete clear out of the Labour Right from the party. Unity is not possible with these people. Measures such as mandatory reselection of party representatives, especially MPs, and the direct election of party officials, such as the general secretary, are essential.

Boldness is required

Hundreds of thousands of people who joined the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership are willing to fight. They were inspired by him to fight for a world that puts human need before profit. As the crisis of capitalism intensifies, under the impact of the pandemic, the desire to fight will grow. The measures needed to save capitalism from this crisis will be so extreme, and take such a toll on working class people, that the reformist ideas of mildly taxing the rich and borrowing money will increasingly seem inadequate.

Political radicalisation of millions of working-class people is on the order of the day. Boldness is required. Now is the time to raise the banner of socialism and wage an uncompromising struggle against the bosses, the Tories, and the Labour Right, in defence of workers and for a fundamental socialist transformation of society.