Thursday, November 5, 2015

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Do Not Hinder Us

Mick Hall calls on the Left not to hinder Jeremy Corbyn in his leadership of the British Labour Party. Mick Hall is a Marxist blogger @ Organized Rage.

If some on the British left feel they cannot help those who support the Corbyn Labour Party, at least do not hinder us.
 

"Your country needs you comrades"
 
Below, WBS who Blogs at the Irish award winning web site The Cedar Lounge Revolution, mentions an Irish Times article about an electoral pact to enter into a vote transfer arrangement between parties like Sinn Féin and others, and Independent TDs who sit in the Irish parliament, who have signed up to the Right2Change policy principles, a left-wing platform.

This got me thinking about the UK left's response to Jeremy Corbyn's victory in the LP leadership contest and how some on the non labour left have responded to it. Most have responded positively, although the two largest organisation the SWP and SP have refused to dissolve their organisations and fold the membership into the Corbyn LP. Insisting on keeping their own structures which makes such a coming together with Labour impossible, others have joined the Labour Party.*

Which brings to mind the discussions Che Guevara had with the Cuban Communist Party leaders, whom he was trying to persuade to join Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement in the insurgency then taking place. While individual communists had agreed join the guerrilla army the leadership refused to commit the party to it for much the same reason as the SWP/SP leaderships today refuse to commit to Corbyn Labour.

Exasperated with their refusal to risk their organisation by joining the revolution, Che told them bluntly, "You people do not even believe you can govern better than Batista, let alone have faith in the victory of the revolution."

The same could be said of some of the British left today, instead of seeing the massive opportunity Jeremy's victory opens up, they believe they can carry on in the old mode of doing politics which basically boils down to the workers united will never be defeated round of protests, demonstrations and meetings. Insisting every ideological T is crossed, and every i dotted, before they give their unconditional support. Even more damaging as happened recently is their belief they have a right to condemn publicly appointments the Corbynites make.**

The prize should be obvious to all leftists; the election in 2020 of a left wing Labour government the likes of which this Nation has not seen since 1945. Whether it will be revolutionary or reformist matters not a jot, hopefully in all probability it will be a bit of both. What we all need to do is play a long game and keep our eyes on the prize, Those who have been on the non Labour Party left and are going to work within, or closely with the LP, need to be less judgemental about political differences, especially with those on the LP left. We need to stick to the issues we can agree upon which are considerable since Jeremy took the helm. I'm not suggesting differences should be buried completely, but it wouldn't hurt if we acted more cautiously when we express them. For have no doubt our enemies will make hay with them if they are expressed publicly in a hostile manner.

This will be difficult but not impossible for some comrades who have belonged to groups in which the cut and thrust of debate have often been driven by a frozen ideology. This is especially true of some who have become almost religious in their political beliefs. If they cannot hold their tongues perhaps they should leave it to those who can. As Tito telegraphed Stalin during WW2, “If you cannot help us, at least do not hinder us."


* Momentum the new grassroots network may eventually bring many of the members of these groups, along with others into the fold.

** The Seumas Milne's appointment


Sinn Féin to agree pact with left-wing parties and Independents

Sinn Féin will announce this week that it has signed up to a number of broad policy principles drafted by those behind the anti-water charges movement and ask its supporters to transfer to others who support the initiative.

And:

Party sources say supporters will be asked to continue their preferences for other parties and Independents who have signed up to the Right2Change policy principles. One source also said Sinn Féin signing up to this approach will create a “new dynamic” for the election.

The party believes those who sign up to the Right2Change approach will offer the electorate a left-wing proposition not available from any other parties or alliances
.

Though:

However, Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy has said he will not ask supporters to transfer to Sinn Féin.

And:

While Sinn Féin is expected to ask its voters to transfer to others in the Right2Change movement others signing up to the principles are divided on whether they will reciprocate Sinn Féin’s transfer offer.


“It’s up to the People Before Profit and AAA,” said a Sinn Féin source.

To be honest such a voting pact, however unwieldy open and partial, is probably as good as it gets (Sinn Féin is quoted as saying that R2C's goals are 'aims rather than definitive commitments'. Still, this does place SF as explicitly seeking left votes and I wonder what implications that might have electorally.


By WBS

8 comments :

AM said...

This seems to be a call for less scrutiny of the current Labour Party leadership by people on the Left. The Left and society is badly served by a culture that frowns on dissent. The value of dissent being open and in public is that politics do not belong to the elites like Corbyn, that the public can hear the arguments and make up their own mind. This seeming reversion to the old vanguardist way of doing business will simply reinforce the trends towards authoritarianism and away from democracy.

The SWP (and I can hardly be accused of having any sympathy for them given their wholesale abandonment of the Tony Cliff perspective on clerical fascism) should be absolutely free to critique the Labour Party leadership. If it is not critiqued how long would it take for it slide back into its old BLP form?

AM said...

Why wouldn't anybody have the right to publicly condemn appointments Corbyn makes? What would be the consequences of that being extended to government?

DaithiD said...

AM, they claim to champion the powerless, whilst simultaneously not trusting them enough to make their own rational choices, but then the Left have been trying to determine who has a public platform for so long it was inevitable some 'mission creep' would set in. Alienating the Corbynistas new to politics seems to be their latest hubristic endevour.

Organized Rage said...

Of course people will make their own rational choices, many did that when they elected Corbyn. By the way if anyone feels Corbyn is part of the political elites, then they haven't been paying attention about what has been going on over here for the last 30 plus decades. Plus if anyone feels I am saying there should be less scrutiny of the leadership then I have failed to explain myself.

Corbyn is six weeks or so into the leadership, he faces a totally hostile MSM, a section of the PLP who wish to annul the democratic vote which elected him, and an establishment which fears the policies he advocates and is determined to shut down any sympathetic media coverage.

On the plus side within those six weeks the LP has moved from pro austerity, albeit with a more human face than the Tories, to advocating an alternative radical policy to austerity. Cameron has had to back off from putting a bomb Syria motion before parliament. Indeed for the first time in many years a socialist alternative is gaining traction, especially amongst young people

The question which needs to be asked over these attacks on Corbyn appointments is why now and who gains. Those on the left who attacked him for appointing Simon Fletcher never said a word when Ken livingstone's made him his CoS, dito when Milne wrote articles in the Guardian.

In my view this period is about bedding Corbyn in. Criticising him publicly over pretty minor administrative issues can only help our enemies, What we have to understand is the neocons, whether Tory, LP, or LD have realised attacking Corbyn's policies may well be detrimental as it would mean airing those policies, so they have been going for the man, his judgment over appointments, dress sense, and even shagging Diane Abbott when she was young and very beautiful. Although how that compares with wanking into a dead pig's head I will leave it to others to decide who are more knowledgeable about sexual preferences than I.

AM said...

Mick,

this is just a roundabout way to bring us back to refraining from criticising Corbyn in public. They hypocrisy or inconsistency of many of those criticising him does nothing to invalidate the need for a public discussion of his or anyone else's policies.

He is very much part of the political elites; there has never been a leader of the Labour Party who wasn't. Doesn't mean he is a tosser. The suggestion of his enemies alone stand to gain from public discussion of his policies is a time honoured method for suppressing discussion. The same argument has been made on behalf of the austerity implementers in Syriza.

More openness is needed in politics not less.

Organized Rage said...

AM

You write Corbyn is very much part of the political elites; there has never been a leader of the Labour Party who wasn't. In the post war period up until Corbyn was elected that may be true, although it could be argued in the pre war years that Lansbury and Hardie were not part of the political elite of their day.

Not sure if you are suggesting all members of Parliament are part of the elite, it is not inevitable that all MPs will end up being corrupted and enticed into the British establishment. I wonder If jeremy's support for SF is clouding your judgement on him. Or maybe you know something I do not?

I first met him in the early 1980s when we were both speaking at a meeting about the north, at that time he was about to be selected as a parliamentary candidate or putting himself forward (I forget which) and I doubt few in his position would have done that. Not least because a few days before the meeting the Sun had done a centre page hatchet job on the organisers of the meeting etc.(The police shut the meeting down shortly after I began to speak, I've never had that impact before or since, but that's another story.;) What I am getting at is I have always regarded him as solid, he really is a different kettle of fish from the overwhelming majority of MP's. I may disagree with him on some things but I cannot think of a big issue on which he has not come down on what I regard as the right side. I remember the look of sheer joy on his face when we were both outside the Bailey and Jerry Conlon came rushing out the door a free man, it really was the measure of the man.

My point is the leftist I was referring to wish to surf on Corbyn's coat tales, they belong to Momentum, some even joined the LP, so there are avenues open to them to put any differences forward. As to a wider debate about all and every thing it is what is required if the process is to move forward. My beef with the issues they have chosen is they were originally set by the MSM and those they support. Any political organisation needs a certain amount of discipline, surely you would agree, it was one of the reasons I decided long ago I do not have the necessary attributes to be a decent party political politician.

In my view Coryn's election as LP leader is a massive opportunity for socialists here, to big to pass up and we need to act accordingly.

AM said...

Mick,

Corbyn's support of SF does not affect my view one way or the other even though SF by its own admission is an establishment party.

I wanted to see him win and would like to see him do well. I don't think he will. Two things will either happen: he will do what Syriza did if he gets office and no power. The acquisition of power will be determined not by the British electorate but a confluence of wider international factors and regime change in other countries. Alternatively, the men in grey suits will determine that Labour is unelectable under his leadership and they will make their move at the propitious time. And such a time always comes.

I never respond favourably to arguments that amount to silencing discussion. It should never feature in the writing of the democracy seeking left.

Organized Rage said...

"Corbyn's support of SF does not affect my view one way or the other even though SF by its own admission is an establishment party. "

AM

Touché, that made me chuckle.