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Labour must fight back

From Mick Piggott

Monday, 25 October 2010

Cllr Tim Swift has rightly pointed out some of the disastrous effects of the government cuts. He has also rightly committed to stand up for the vulnerable and to do all that can be done to safeguard our community.

However, Labour needs to go much further than this. Labour should take a lead in fighting back against these appalling Tory policies.

Unfortunately it is true that the party has been seriously compromised by its own policies while in power. As Tim says, 'to get this country through the biggest global depression since the 1920s Labour borrowed to make sure we got through the storm without people losing their jobs and homes'. Apparently 85% of the deficit that the ConDems are making us all pay for was spent in bailing out the banks. No way was the debt caused by so-called 'dole scroungers', as is believed by the sadly misinformed. I believe that if the Labour government had adopted a socialist policy of nationalising the banks, ending this abominable bonus culture, and seized back most of the wealth ripped off from society by the very rich, we would not be in this mess.

This is not a poor country! New Labour has always argued against socialist policies because they have been perceived as being vote losers. The capitalist press would inevitably go into hysterical overdrive if the Labour government committed itself to socialist solutions to the crisis; and of course, Labour has for years been terrified of the propaganda power of the media. But I believe that in a time of severe crisis, Labour can fight back and convince the electorate that socialism is the best course to take. The postwar Labour government did quite a good job of doing just that - for instance, they created the NHS against enormous opposition from the Tories and their media. In the developing crisis after 2007, adopting the policies which the ConDems are now continuing and pursuing in a more extreme form was not the way to go!

The change in the Labour leadership presents a tremendous opportunity for the party to jettison its failed policies and change direction. It could make a fresh start by giving a lead to the fight-back. It should be pointed out that most of the electorate did not vote for this government's vicious attacks on us, hitting the poorest the hardest. The Lib Dems' role has, clearly, been treacherous. Few will be surprised at the Tory attacks; the Tories do what they always do. But presumably nobody who voted Lib Dem anticipated that it would be the Lib Dems themselves who made the Tory attacks possible. Without the craven backing of Clegg & co, a minority Tory government would have had great difficulty in causing the pain that they are inflicting on us.

So in accepting that the government has no mandate for what they are doing, it is legitimate to bring it to an end as soon as possible. We can't wait five years until the next general election; we need to start working towards bringing this illegitimate government down now.

Many people are very, very angry about the direction things are going. As the cuts bite deeper and deeper, that anger will spread and deepen. People will want to come out on the streets in protest. If Labour fails to seize the opportunity to lead, it will be lost.

So far there has been next to nothing from anyone in the leaderships of the general labour movement. Disappointingly, Ed Miliband has failed to make any kind of inspiring speech attacking the Tories and their treacherous collaborators. Alan Johnson's reply to Osborne's disgusting performance was pathetic. Can we expect any better from the trade union movement? Probably not. At the 20th July TUC general council meeting there was a call to organise a national demonstration for 23rd October, the Saturday after Osborne's speech. This was rejected on the grounds that this would not give enough time to organise the members! Incredible! And now the TUC has called for a demo - in March next year! Any further comment on their so-called 'lead' would be superfluous.

Of course, Labour does not have a monopoly of the broad progressive left. There are many former members who are now outside the party: the flight in disgust was well under way following the Iraq invasion. There are many who would see themselves as being progressive and broadly 'liberal' who may or may not have voted for the Lib Dems. There are Greens, and other people with no party affiliations, who would support a fight against the Tories. I believe there will be no shortage of decent people who are not prepared to just roll over and let the government kick them in the teeth. We all need to mobilise against the ConDems.

I would dearly love the Labour party to play a leading role in the resistance.

From Jim C

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The latest ICM poll in the Guardian gives the Tories 39% to Labour's 36%. The LibDems get 16% (a big fall since the election) - with the 'others' on 9%. The figures are based on a survey taken after the CSR announcements last week.

Not much real and widespread support across the nation for the 'fight back' you want, I suspect.

From Peter Robson

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hi, interesting as the article is we all know that the labour party, whether 'new' labour or 'old' labour has totally abandoned the working class and left them to the 'monster' that is capitalism. Indeed, was it not Mandelson that said he was comfortable with people making lots and lots of money? Be under no illusion folks, they haven't changed! Osborne/ Clegg/ Mandelson!

Clearly, working class people live in horrific times and now with the spending review announced last week, are left in no uncertain terms that these policies are not only ideologiocal but also vicious to say the least.

I could say more and I will say more, but at this juncture people who know us know that we fight and campaign for people in the Halifax distirict and will be running a stall this coming Saturday (30th October 2010) in Hebden Bridge from 11am in the square. Come along and say hello, it would be good to meet you all!

In solidarity!

From Susan Press

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

It is complete nonsense to say that Labour has abandoned the working-class. Or that, in the sense we are now facing thanks to the Coalition of Con-men, that it ever did.

New Labour had awful people like Mandelson, "intensely relaxed about the filthy rich" etc etc . But they brought in tax credits, SureStart, working tax credits, devolution for Scotland and Wales, and the minimum wage. In the 1990s Labour built hundreds of hospitals and schools - incorrectly in my view with PFI but they still got built.

We all know New Labour's day is over. Most of us in the Labour Party are pretty glad about that. But Labour must now come up with an alternative far more radical than that so far than that proposed by Ed Miliband. We face a long hard struggle.

But get real Peter. Even the most modest of radical measures will be blocked by this Coalition. Look at last week's Lawful Industrial Action Bill proposed by John McDonnell. It was shamefully filibustered out by the Tories with the help of their new chums in the Liberal Democrats.
87 Labour MPs were ready to back it. Not enough I know. But more MPs on the side of the working-class than any other party has got.
Above all, which Party still retains a link with and represents the trade union movement with Parliamentary groups of affiliated and non-affilated unions. Only Labour.

I would like to know what kind of alternative Peter Robson is proposing? At a time when the working-class faces the greatest attack we have seen since the 1930s, thousands are re-joining Labour to join the fight and wisely so It is only from within that we can make things more radical.

Carp from the sidelines if you must but those on the far left who said there was no difference between labour and the Tories are now seeing how wrong they were.

The sight of the Tories and Lib Dems cheering on cuts was one of the most nauseating things I have ever witnessed at Westminster.

Worse, many people voted Lib Dem to keep the Tories out - and helped Cameron to power. Join Labour - and help us beat them next time and in the meantime fight the cuts the ConDems are inflicting.

From Peter Robson

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Was it not the masses that only recently in the Barnsley and Doncaster areas of Yorkshire, a so called labour 'heartland' abandoned Labour and voted for the BNP in their droves returning a European member of parliament. Maybe for some people there is political amnesia, but let's have some balance please! Our organisation campaigns in these areas and what was evident was that the working class people of Wombwell etc did vote for a fascist organisation due to Labour's policies, not all of them, but a significant amount to cause concern. I seem to remeber 120.000 in the region in total! That is one of the real issues!

Labour may have brought in tax credits, but they also brought in very relaxed banking regulations for the 'filthy rich' to prosper and we now see the result of this everywhere, with attacks on working people and their conditions at work that have not been seen for decades. Yes, we do have a minimum wage Sue but it is nowhere near a working wage as you know, with still 1 in 3 children living in poverty in the uk after years of a labour government. I bet Mandelson and his cronies are comfortable with that too! It was also a burgeoning Smith/Blair then Brown government that was very 'comfortable' with attacks on students with tuition fees and loans while these universities built their empires predicated upon debt.

You are right, the most radical measures will be blocked because class conscoiusness has to rise and we can see how far this has moved to the right when a 'con-demed' govt is in power and labour offering no alternative at all.

However, after saying that, there was an excellent response to the TUC demo in Sheffield on Saturday with students and the public joining in along the march. Regarding McDonnells bill, this was blocked beacuse hardly any Labour MP's bothered to turn up or maybe they were at their newly acquired holiday homes in the med?

That aside, I respect that your views are on the left, I have tried fighting within the labour party with militant, it didn't work then and wouldn't work now, as it has been invaded by capitalists sadly!

From Susan Press

Thursday, 28 October 2010

So what exactly is your "group" Peter?

I am guessing probably the Socialist Party but if not then another left group no doubt ideologically pure but out in the wilderness.

I really don't think 87 Labour MPs suporting the McDonnell Bill can be termed "hardly any." It is 87 times more than the Greens or any Party to the far left of Labour can muster.

No-one suggests Labour is perfect but it's the best we have got in the face of the most reactionary Govt since Thatcher - backed by the Lib Dems. As many voters are beginning to realise.....

Your days in Militant should have taught you that in times of crisis people turn to the mass organisations of the working-class - and that is not the ultra left but the trade union movement and Labour.

From Mick Piggott

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Who Is Peter Robson? He writes 'people who know us' but I have no idea who he is. He mentions his stall in Hebden on Saturday so I'll get along if I can and find out. But it would have been interesting, even helpful, if he had said where he is coming from. Which obviously isn't in the Labour Party.

Peter condemns the Labour Party for its failings in government, which, it is clear, were considerable. Yes, there might have been a minimum wage, Susan; but it's inadequate, and was easily afforded by the employers in spite of all their whinging about how it would drive them into bankruptcy. It is often ignored, especially in the cities: there are still sweatshops, ill-paid home workers, the exploitation of restaurant workers where restaurateurs rip off tips to subsidise inadequate wages. There are too many terrible things still going on after thirteen years of Labour government, that a decent Labour government should have tackled, but failed to do so. Add in the non-repeal of Tory anti-union legislation, and on balance, Susan, I believe the Labour government of 1997-2010 has served the working class badly. Speaking as a Labour Party member.

So why did people like me join, or re-join? If the Party's own figures can be believed, around 30,000 new members have joined up since the Party lost power. These are unlikely to be supporters of New Labour policies! I can't speak for others, but for myself; I hoped that the opportunity to influence, in a tiny way, the choice of a new generation of Labour leadership would be worth trying for. So far, admittedly, I have been disappointed with the new leaders. But really, how can Miliband go for the throats of the ConDems when his policies differ from those of the Tories only in degree, not in kind? The new Labour leadership is still hamstrung by the old!

Peter Robson gives the impression that he has completely written off the Labour Party as a whole. That would be wrong, I believe. Surely, amongst the old membership who hung on in there, remain many thousands of left-wingers who believed, or at least hoped, that Labour would emerge from its darkness? Surely, too, amongst the 30,000 new members, were many who joined to link up with like-minded people to fight the Tories, to help move the Party towards left-wing, progressive, socialist politics? Given that in its mixed history of some advances (eg the NHS) and too many regressive measures (privatisation) there is a progressive tradition that Toryism utterly lacks, to condemn the whole Labour Party as hopeless strikes me as ill-conceived. It effectively separates the left-leaning multitudes in the Party from similarly-minded progressives and socialists outside it, when what is most needed is unity in action.

Susan Press tries valiantly to defend the left-ish rump of the parliamentary Labour Party by pointing to the 87 MPs who were 'prepared' to support the McDonnell bill. The trouble with that is, it invites the very pertinent question, Where the hell were they when they were most needed, during the most reactionary days of the New Labour government? Out here, we were crying out for a powerful, principled, Left wing voice and we got nothing - not even from the good old boys (or girls) such as the formerly formidable 'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner!

Susan suggests that people like Peter are carping from the sidelines and calls for joining the Labour Party. As a Labour Party member myself I fully understand why many (or most) on the progressive/Left side of politics wouldn't want to join, given the meagre concessions and deeply reactionary policies of the party when in power. If Susan wants to write off progressives and the Left for not joining the party, she would be mistaken. If Peter writes off the Left in the Labour Party he is also mistaken. Because the crying need of the moment is unity in action by everyone to the Left of the ConDem/Mandelson/New Labour pro-capitalism, Friedman/Chicago school of 'economics' consensus.

Jim C points to Labour having 'only' 36% support and indicates that the situation is hopeless, presuming there is no fight left in the working class. But that 36% is more than a third of the electorate. This means there are literally millions of people who oppose the government's sick and evil policies. Mobilising them with us would have a tremendous impact. It would broaden opposition to the government. Huge demonstrations would strengthen all of us, on our side of politics. As the cuts bite deeper, opposition to the government WILL grow ever wider and deeper.

So please, Susan and Peter, let's have no more carping at each other. We should be shoulder to shoulder on the streets. (When's the next big demo?)

And I do believe that this vile government by the rich, for the rich, could be brought down.

From Peter Robson

Friday, 29 October 2010

I agree that the left have let themselves down many many times over the years by in-fighting and yes, carping! sadly, I can see even with groups like the Socialist Workers Party (who we are not) imploding at the moment due to their aggressive 'you are either with us or against us' stance, which does nobody any good in the long run.

Clearly, there needs to be a new workers party and the wroking class are indeed crying out for this for the reasons I have mentioned in the previous messages. Only by politicians standing on a workers platfrom and not the chancers and careerists we see now will this happen. However you dress it up, Labour is not what you want it to be, the days have long gone when you had true socialist politicians in the party, when there was a true ideology.

As I said, come and see us tomorrow and introduce yourselves, we don't bite!

In solidarity



ps Yes, I should have said, we are the Halifax Socialist Party, (it does what it says!)


From Peter Robson

Monday, 1 November 2010

Can I just say a big thank you to all the people that came up to our stall in the square on Saturday in Hebden. Not only did you engage brilliantly with us, you and your like continue to re-assure us that there is a need for a new Socialist alternative in this country! One or two lapsed Marxists a lot of ex Labour and Lib Dem from Yorkshire and Lancashire, even the odd Tory! It is really great to see people three deep wanting to know what is happening and what is going on in the world of socialism. Maybe not so much ideology as pragmatism get's the message across also. We will be back.

Halifax/Calderdale Socialist Party