Ken Livingstone

Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance


Is there a case for the left to field its own candidates for Labour’s National Executive Committee? Ken Williamson calls for the left to take courage

Only two NEC members, Christine Shawcroft and Dennis Skinner, voted against the Collins review on February 4, and one of the six Unite delegates, Martin Meyer, abstained.

This has caused some confusion on the left. The Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance has chosen a six-strong slate for the next NEC election … and some comrades cannot now countenance voting for Ann Black and Ken Livingstone because they voted for the Collins review. However, backing the slate is common sense: after all, it is the only ‘left’ show in town. And supporting the six does not – must not – mean keeping criticisms private. We need to engage the rank and file in political discussion on every issue, to develop understanding. Withdrawing support from NEC members would be churlish and sectarian – if the left cannot summon the courage to field its own candidates. Nominations are open until June 20. Indeed it would be quite legitimate for us on the left to put up NEC candidates in order to fight openly for our strategic aim of winning active mass support for the political programme of working class socialism, and rebuilding the trade unions and Labour Party on socialist lines as part of that strategy.

In point of fact, that would be the best way to critique the “progressive policies” of the CLGRA slate, which dreams of a leftwing Labour government running a reformed British capitalism (Ed Miliband’s vision), in which funding “improvements in housing, health, education, transport and state pensions” depends on getting the (British, capitalist) economy growing. An Ed Miliband government, like all previous Labour governments running capitalism, will attack our class and undermine and weaken the workers’ movement. Rebuilding our movement from its present politically weak condition must be done in opposition to a capitalist government of any stripe.