Tag Archives: Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

Left Labour remainers: seriously wrong to take £70,000 from George Soros

(the longer, original of this article appeared in the Weekly Worker)

The Brexit issue is a perilous territory for the workers’ movement. The most egregious consequence is the flat-out refusal of the Labour leadership to make a clear call for one ‘side’ or the other of the Brexit debate, and its particularly acute expression in official politics, the question of a second referendum. Corbyn and his immediate allies have adopted an impressively unmovable ambiguity on the issue. Once more, conference has contrived to fudge things – with an election quite possibly imminent, now is not the time to play your hand, and so they have not, instead motoring on with a compromise that commits nobody to anything.

It is a funny thing. To look at the liberal and centre-right media over the weekend, you would get an image of a tsunami of remainer opinion about to blow over the leadership. One centrist or right-wing grandee after another trooped onto the morning news shows to trumpet the need for a second referendum. We had been assured already – by a wildly optimistic reading – that the major unions were in favour of a do-over, when they had merely refused to rule out pursuing one at some later date. The Guardian has found no end of space for the left-remainer group Another Europe is Possible, presently headed up by a comrade Michael Chessum, the last president of the University of London Union before it was ushered gently into that good night, and sometime Alliance for Workers Liberty hanger-on. (The AWL, ever the idiot stepchildren of the Foreign Office, have much the same kind of attitude.)

So far as the Blairites are concerned, remainerism is a simple matter indeed – a matter of the perceived national interest. For the trade union bureaucracy, there is – in spite of Viking and Laval – a marginally kinder legal regime than the unvarnished Thatcherite hostility of the British body politic in the last three decades. Brexiteer outliers among them have their commitments based in general politics (for example, the late Bob Crow’s unrepentant Stalinism) rather than the sectionalism that preponderates by default in the union movement’s upper reaches.

Left-remainerism is a rather more peculiar phenomenon. There is a limited principled basis for it in that a clear majority of Labour members are for remain, for better or worse. The tricksy tactical outlook of the leadership, the insistence on backroom stitch-ups, is thus profoundly opportunist and amounts to a denial of democracy – hardly the most serious to have taken place this conference, alas.

Yet we do not, in fact, find the left remainers fighting out on principle at all, but precisely engaged in tactical skulduggery as well. To wit, comrade Chessum in the Guardian:

Theresa May’s Chequers proposals were dead before the Salzburg summit, killed off by her own party long before Donald Tusk stuck the knife in, but their demise leaves her stranded. The government now faces a choice between a hard border in Ireland on the one hand, and a humiliating climb-down into the EEA on the other. This is a crisis for the government but it raises questions about Labour’s position, too. If the EU won’t entertain May’s proposals, then the idea that a Jeremy Corbyn-led government could come to power and deliver a bespoke Labour Brexit before March 2019 is effectively out of the window.1

That means that “any superficially ‘left’ case for leaving the EU” is out – because the same options will be on the table. (Chessum seems oddly unaware that left-Brexitism tends towards a cliff-edge mentality.) The costs of Brexit outweigh any unfortunate details of EU state aid rules – which, anyway, “are far less restrictive than some would lead you to believe”. The answer, of course, is a second referendum, called with dogged fatuousness by its advocates a ‘people’s vote’. Committing itself to such a vote will, according to a poll Chessum brandishes, win the Labour Party 66 seats in a general election. But the benefits keep on coming!

This is a difficult time for the Corbyn project. On one flank, it faces the prospect of an SDP-style split that would fatally undermine Labour’s electoral prospects. On the other, it faces a support base that is up in arms about attempts by unions and the leadership to block open selections and enforce a higher threshold for leadership elections … By backing a referendum and endorsing a roadmap out of the nightmare of Tory Brexit, Corbyn can kill off the political pretext for a split from the Labour right. Instead of horse-trading with union leaderships and placating the parliamentary party, Corbyn can stick to his principles and make the case for democracy – in the party, and, ultimately, in the country.

The peculiarity of this view is that Chessum starts from exactly the same premises as the party and union leaderships, but draws opposite conclusions. Both proceed from the assumption that the priority is to trigger a general election in the short term in order to get Corbyn into No10. Both subordinate everything to the electoral calculations. Both want to avoid a split with the right. Yet they end up at rather different destinations; Chessum wants full-throated support for a second referendum, whereas the leadership spared no exertion to make sure nothing of that kind would be voted on by delegates at conference and to keep its determined ambiguity as intact as circumstances allow.

Within this thought universe, it has to be said that Chessum and his left-remainer chums have the worse of it. He cherry-picks one poll, ignoring the combined weight of evidence that there has been no significant shift of public opinion on whether to go ahead with Brexit, that calls for a second referendum are entirely associated with remainerism and described as treacherous in the Brexiteer galleries, that a shift to clear identification with remain would certainly cost Labour votes in its northern heartlands, and would be a serious risk in swing constituencies. At the most recent electoral test, in 2017, Corbyn and Momentum overperformed in part because they refused to be drawn on this – despite contemporary jeremiads from remainers.

By their friends …

Some clues as to the discrepancy may be found in another Guardian piece, profiling Chessum and other left remainers. Another Europe is Possible is not strictly a Labour outfit; it enjoys the support of what remains of Left Unity and the Greens. It works with Labour for a People’s Vote, whose administrator Mike Buckley tells our intrepid journos that, before these initiatives got to prominence, “there was nothing [for left-remainers] to rally behind … The people talking publicly about having another referendum, however well-intentioned they are, they are not going to gather the majority of Labour party members behind them because they are seen as being anti-Jeremy.”2

That’s rather delicately put – it is surely not unfair that the likes of Chuka Umunna and Tony Blair are “seen as being anti-Jeremy”, because they are anti-Jeremy. These comrades are delighted at the turn of events that appears to have put the latter sorts of MPs in their debt, but we wonder if the reality may be the other way around. Elsewhere, we learn that Another Europe is Possible has received a cool £70,000 from George Soros. Imagine, for a moment, the outcry that would greet this news if it was a Russian billionaire funnelling money into a British political campaign, especially given that it is clearly an act of subterfuge – billionaires, and billionaires’ friends, putting some leftwing frontmen and women up in pursuit of their interests. It is of no consequence to the Guardian, however, which breezily lets the factoid slip with no worries expressed at all; clearly it does not bother AEIP itself either.

I do not accuse Chessum and co of corruption, only of extraordinary naivete. I suspect that they do not fully understand how completely they have been roped into a political rearguard action on the part of big capital. Chessum’s article is followed by a byline identifying him as a “socialist activist”, but you would hardly know it otherwise – half of its actual prose might have been cribbed from a KPMG Powerpoint slide (“Deliver a bespoke Labour Brexit”, indeed!). He claims to be “hard left”, “hard remain”; but he is not currently even the latter, pursuing only the dishonest intermediate objective of a second referendum, dutifully recycling the official branding put on it by Soros, Blair and co. Another Europe is possible, apparently, but you would never know there was anything wrong with the current one. On Viking and Laval, on the troika’s punishment beating of Greece, on the morally repugnant attempts to bribe trouble-spot regimes to pen refugees in fetid camps for the noble aim of sparing Frau Merkel her blushes, Chessum is diplomatically silent. Until the more important matter of Brexit is sorted out, we surmise, another Europe is beneath mentioning – and the crimes of the extant incarnation must be brushed over with a grimace and a few hail Marys.

It is Chessum’s peculiar bedfellows also that, in the end, give the lie to the sagacity of his electoral advice. Suppose the left-remainers were absolutely right, and the international working class has a compelling interest in continued British membership of the European Union. It would then simply be the case that there was a commonality of interest with finance capital in making that happen – and a limited common front on that issue would be no more unprincipled than trade union support for Liberal legislation in the unions’ favour in the 19th century, or for that matter many of the electoral arrangements between the Bolsheviks and the liberal bourgeois parties in pre-revolutionary Russia.

The trouble is that this by no means implies that there is a common interest on any other matter whatsoever. In the current context, there is a particularly obvious divergence. Chessum wants a Corbyn government; Soros certainly does not, and neither do the Liberal Democrats or Tony Blair … or, if he is being honest with himself, Chuka Umunna. For them, the electoral failure of Labour is not an especially expensive price to pay for an end to the Brexit madness; for many of them, indeed, it is a positive good. Even the sitting Labour MPs can look forward, in the event of personal defeat, to the honours list, the after-dinner circuit and the lucrative corporate sinecure. No such rosy fate awaits useful idiots on the “hard left”.

So far as Brexit is concerned, it seems – after a week of frenetic activity and drama – we have arrived more or less where we were. The immediate crisis in the cabinet is over; the real players have been corralled into support for the Chequers deal, in lieu of anything better. (May is fortunate that the Daily Mail is swinging behind her and distancing itself somewhat from the ERG.) Labour has made a great show of having a vote in favour of the idea of nothing being off the table; in short, in favour of … nothing. Kier Starmer spins it his way, John McDonnell his; in the meantime, go back to your constituencies and prepare for government!

The Labour leadership is, of course, correct – as far as things go – that the only chance at breaking the deadlock is a general election. Reports of plans afoot for a snap election in November – if only contingency plans, for now – were denied by the government, but surely must reflect some reality. It will not be an attractive option unless there is a great likelihood of victory, however, and nothing is certain. If Chessum had got his way, and Labour had committed itself to remain, then the case would be very compelling to go for it and clean up; we must assume that the possibility has receded somewhat.

The grain of truth to left-remainism is, of course, that the Labour leadership’s balancing act is profoundly dishonest. Absent from the discussion is any possibility that we might actually convince anyone to change their minds. That is far too high risk an endeavour, with a snap election to win. Risky, and also slow: the ticking-time-bomb aspect of the matter leads to the abandonment of principle, the high premium on knights in shining armour, and – of course – the hysterical sense of crisis that leads well-meaning left remainers to cash George Soros’s dirty cheques.

We leftists are in this mess, in large part, because one such crisis has followed another, and the only constant has been the abiding sense that something must be done right now and there is no time for teasing out the treacherous subtleties of the issues before us. We assert, again, that a dispute that unites Michael Chessum with Tony Blair on one side, and the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain and Jacob Rees-Mogg on the other, must be posed differently altogether for the workers’ movement to make any serious purchase. For it is an argument about the relationship between the British state and a EU bureaucracy, which ignores the reality that both are in enemy hands, and that both must be destroyed, and a genuine socialist internationalism put to work replacing them.

Rhea Wolfson and Emily Thornberry: pro-Zionist sisters in arms

On Tuesday afternoon, Labour Party conference staged the absurdly titled session ‘Security at home and abroad’, which included the debate on Brexit – and Palestine. This session was, incredibly, chaired by NEC member Rhea Wolfson, a member of the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. She started the session by warning conference to stay away from “inward-looking debate which focuses on internal matters and NEC decisions. Please be careful about the language you use. Make everybody feel welcome and do not boo.”

Hilary WiseWolfson was, however, less than “welcoming” when Hilary Wise from Ealing and Acton Central CLP spoke passionately about the anti-Semitism smear campaign (Youtube video here). She stated that as a campaigner on Palestinian rights for 30 years, she had “never seen anything like the current campaign of slurs and accusations made against Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the party. I am afraid it is an orchestrated campaign and if you want to know how it works I urge you to watch ‘The Lobby’ on Al Jazeera.”

At that point Wolfson warned her: “I would ask you to be very careful. You are straying into territory here.”

Comrade Wise went on to warn quite rightly that “this campaign will only get worse and the list of people being denounced as anti-Semitic will get longer, often simply for being proponents of Palestinian rights.” Wolfson interrupted her again: “I urge you to be careful” and then went straight on to tell her abruptly: “Take your seat – your time is up now.”

After two minutes and 45 seconds, that is. All other delegates got a minimum of three minutes, with Wolfson gently requesting that they finish when their time was up. But Wolfson is not just a member of the JLM: she used her vote on the national executive committee (NEC) to send Jackie Walker to the national constitutional committee (which will in all likelihood expel her later in the year), pushed through the ‘working definition’ on Anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and has ambitions to become an MP. She will fit in well with the current PLP. Her fellow travellers in the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty must be so proud (she was – until very recently – listed as an editor of their magazine The Clarion).

In this context, the role of Emily Thornberry at conference was interesting: As a member of the pro-Zionist Labour Friends of Israel, she is not tainted by the ‘anti-Semitism scandal’ in the Labour Party and is groomed by ‘moderates’ and some on the left alike to take over from Jeremy Corbyn (note her positive reference to fellow soft Zionist Jon Lansman in her speech).

palestine flagsAccording to Asa Winstanley of the award-winning Electronic Intifada, in an hour-long meeting, she heavily leaned on the movers of the motion on Palestine to delete any reference to the nakba (a reference to Israel’s expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians to establish a “Jewish state” in 1948) and demanded that the motion’s call for an immediate arms trade freeze be removed. But they refused on both counts and even made reference to her in their speech. Good on them! Thousands of comrades waved Palestine flags, handed out by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Labour Against the Witchhunt – a fantastic sight.

Then came Thornberry’s already infamous conference speech – well-delivered, but playing hard and fast with working class history, using references to the International Brigades and the Anti-Nazi League to support the witch-hunt against many Corbyn supporters who have been accused of anti-Semitism (most of them falsely).

“There are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed. These people stand for everything that we have always stood against and they must be kicked out of our party, the same way Oswald Mosley was kicked out of Liverpool.” Her dramatic shouts of “No pasaran, no pasaran!” tricked some people into giving her a standing ovation.

Needless to say, Rhea Wolfson made no attempt to reign in Thornberry, who was basically comparing comrades like Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth (both already expelled) and Jackie Walker, who is about to be thrown out of the party, to fascists. Thornberry is a fellow Zionist, after all.

To quote Chris Williamson MP at the fringe organised by Labour Against the Witchhunt:

“The only way you stop a playground bully is to stop running. The monster is getting bigger, the more you feed it. Stop feeding the beast! They are trying to pick us off, one by one. Which is why we need to call this campaign out for what it is: a pile of nonsense.”

Lansman and witch-hunting

Momentum has drafted a ‘Charter of members’ rights’, which promises to put an end to the deluge of unjustified suspensions from the party, writes Carla Roberts. But it does not oppose political expulsions and also leaves the compliance unit untouched

In an attempt to appear democratic, a few weeks back Momentum asked its members to “help us draft proposals for Labour Party democracy review (Corbyn review)” by submitting proposals and/or ‘nominating’ the one they preferred. The organisation’s most comprehensive proposal, the ‘Charter of members’ rights’, was not among them, we should state from the outset. It will apparently be put to an all-members’ vote shortly, but its origin remains somewhat mysterious. We will deal with it further below.

Labour Against the Witchhunt decided to submit a short version of its demands in the second of three ‘tracks’ of the review: ‘Membership involvement and participation’. For a week or so, the proposal had around 50 nominations, easily leading the field in that track.

Of course, LAW comrades were under no illusion that Momentum would actually put our proposals forward. After all, Momentum owner Jon Lansman has played a pretty despicable role in the anti-Semitism witch-hunt – for example, by throwing Jackie Walker to the wolves after she was suspended from the Labour Party on trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism. He arranged to have her removed as vice-chair of Momentum (just before he abolished all democratic structure in his coup of January 10 2017).

Another organisation involved in that sorry affair is, of course, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, whose members on the Momentum steering committee voted for comrade Walker’s removal – just before they were ‘removed’ themselves by Lansman.

Momentum-demoCottoning on to the fact that it might be politically useful to use Momentum’s “digital democracy platform”, a few days before the deadline of February 16, the AWL submitted its own proposal on the witch-hunt. This was pretty much in line with LAW’s motion – with one important omission: it does not contain any references to the anti-Semitism witch-hunt or criticism of the Labour Party’s support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. This IHRA definition, in its list of examples, conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people.

The AWL, not seeing the wood for the trees, seems unable to grasp that the hundreds of suspensions on false charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ are an integral part of the witch-hunt. Thanks to the AWL’s ‘unique selling point’ of seeing anti-Semites everywhere, it is very happy to go along with that aspect of the campaign against leftwingers in the party – see ‘When chickens come home’ Weekly Worker February 15. 1)To add a small correction to that article, we would like to point out that there seems to be some difference on the issue within the AWL. Leader Sean Matgamna continues to call for Ken Livingstone to be expelled from the Labour Party (see www.workersliberty.org/ story/2017-07-26/livingstone-and-anti-zionist- left). Meanwhile, the editorial team of the AWL paper Solidarity officially says it disagrees (see www.workersliberty see org/node/31045). Despite that it happily publishes Matgamna’s articles without any ‘correctives’ and regularly denounces Livingstone as an ‘anti-Semite’ in its pages.)

In any case, the AWL mobilised heavily on and off Facebook and its Momentum proposal quickly caught up with LAW’s motion. Just before the deadline (midnight, February 16), however, some rather mysterious events unfolded.

LAW’s and the AWL’s proposals were ahead, neck and neck, until just before 11pm, when they were suddenly both overtaken by another one, that had been lingering at a distant third. It is the rather lame proposal to raise the threshold for the Labour Party’s trigger ballot for the reselection of MPs from 50% to 66%. (At present an MP needs to win a simple majority of nominations from local party branches and affiliated trade unions and socialist societies in order to become the candidate once more).

We know that this proposal has the support of Jon Lansman – not just because it won, but because he has been raising the issue in recent interviews. This system now seems to be Jeremy Corbyn’s preferred alternative to the long-standing principle of ‘mandatory reselection’ of MPs. But this system is still disproportionally in favour of the sitting MP. Rather than allowing for a full and democratic automatic selection process before every election, a sitting MP has to be challenged. This is the wrong way round. Lansman knows that, of course. He has campaigned for mandatory selection all of his adult life. Corbyn and Lansman are wrong in thinking this will placate the right in the party.

Nevertheless, within the last half an hour or so, that proposal suddenly received more than 50 nominations, so it topped the list of nominated proposals (you can read all three further below). Maybe some Lansman loyalists suddenly remembered they had not yet voted. Or maybe Lansman did a ring-round to garner last-minute support. We may never know.

To add further to the mystery, it appears that some people already knew well before the deadline which proposal would win. In the February 16 issue of The Times (written, of course, the day before) Lucy Fisher writes: “Momentum has proposed raising the threshold [for the trigger ballot] to two thirds of nominations”. Clearly, it is enough for Jon Lansman to declare his support for something to make it official Momentum policy – Lucy Fisher got that right.

All this calls into question Momentum’s so-called ‘democracy’ once again. Anybody who believes that Jon Lansman abolished all previous structures and decision-making bodies in order to make Momentum more democratic (yes, there are people who believe this) is clearly deluded or – more realistically – hoping for a career in the Labour Party.

This episode also exposes the limits of so-called online Omov (one member, one vote). It sounds democratic, but it is anything but. For a start, very few members actually participated. There were quite a few proposals – with some comrades submitting their own rather eccentric hobby horse – but the number of ‘nominations’ for each proposal rarely managed to get into double figures. The three mentioned above were way above the rest and in the end Lansman’s proposal had garnered 114 nominations, while the AWL’s received 74 and LAW’s had 70. Out of a Momentum membership of over 20,000!

Even worse: most of the people who did participate in this fake-democratic exercise did so only because they were urged to do so by their ‘faction’ – be it LAW, AWL or the Lansmanites. Which means that a fair chunk of participants will not even have read the rest of the proposals.

The ‘factionalism’ so criticised by many Omov supporters is evidently still in full swing in Momentum – it is just a lot less transparent than it would be with a proper democratic decision-making process: for example, a conference.

Momentum Charter

Interestingly, Momentum felt obliged to send Tony Greenstein (under whose name LAW’s proposal was submitted) a message on the morning of Saturday February 17. A mere 10 hours after nominations closed, the unnamed participants of a “panel” of the Momentum national coordinating committee had already decided that some points of the LAW proposal were worthy of support and, indeed, “are covered in the ‘Charter of members’ rights’, which will be put to a ‘one member, one vote’ of Momentum members shortly”. According to the email, the charter covers these LAW demands:

that “the Chakrabarti report to be fully implemented”;

that “people accused of breaches of the rules should be given evidence against them and explained the process”;

that “membership rights should not be removed until an investigation is completed (ie, suspension should only be used as a last resort)”.

We do not know who exactly has drafted the Momentum’s charter, what kind of legal standing it would have in the Labour constitution and how indeed it would be enforced. It is presented as an amendment to the ‘membership rules’ (section A, chapter 2) in the rulebook, but also states that these “rights should be protected under Labour’s constitution” (our emphasis).

In any case, the charter does indeed contain some pretty useful and overdue stipulations. No doubt these proposals are also supported by Jeremy Corbyn, on whose behalf Jon Lansman is, of course, running Momentum.

In the point, ‘Transparency’, the charter contains, for example, the “right” of party members to “inspect the financial records of the party” and the need to give members “access to all key documents governing national and local-level party activity, including rules, standing orders, guidance notes, appendices, codes of conducts and procedures, which should be collated and made available on membersnet in clear and accessible language”.

Labour Party Rule Book - Labour-Party-2018-Rule-BookAny Labour Party member who has ever tried to get hold of the full standing orders of their Constituency Labour Party or local campaign forum will know that they are often treated as a closely guarded secret by people in control of the levers of power.

Other useful points in the charter include ‘Capacity building and skills development’, which again sound like a lot of obvious waffle – unless you try first-hand to organise a training session or education event in your CLP.

Most important is, however, the section on ‘Disciplinary justice’, which is subdivided into 12 points and forms the longest part of the document. It contains many recommendations from the Chakrabarti report and its aim is to “ensure that disciplinary matters are dealt with fairly”. It is designed to put a (middle-sized) spanner into the works of the rightwing party bureaucracy, which has suspended thousands of pro-Corbyn members on the most absurd charges. In many cases, members are not actually told what they have been suspended for. Suspensions are upheld for many months, often years, without any effort on the bureaucracy’s side to resolve them.

This section contains useful proposals on how to make the disciplinary process more open and clearly understandable, with decisions and complaints being given in writing and the need to give those complained about “a length of time the process is likely to take” (though they fail to take up LAW’s proposal to set the limit at three months). The proposals would also end the practice of some automatic and instant expulsions, which carry an automatic ban of five years, without the right to appeal (though this would probably have to be deleted from the rule book in another amendment). The proposals include:

  • “Alleged breaches of party rules shall only be investigated if the breach complained of took place within 12 months prior to the complaint” (except when it is a case of “alleged criminal conduct”).
  • There should be an “equitable time lapse, specified in the rules, for the readmission of expelled members proportionate to the gravity of their offence” (to replace the automatic five-year ban).
  • Where the NEC considers “auto-exclusion”, “the member shall be informed of the allegation in advance of the decision and have the right to make representations within a specified time scale before the decision is made, and there shall be a right of appeal”.
  • “Suspensions shall be a last resort” and should only be used “where the NEC decides that there is a prima facie case of a serious breach of party rules”; normally where the NEC is considering suspension, “the party member shall be informed of the allegation in advance of the decision and have the right to make representations within a specified timescale”.
  • “… all complainants (if any) and the person complained about shall receive a written decision on the outcome of the complaint, giving reasons”.

And then the bad

More interestingly, as always, are the points in LAW’s proposal that Jon Lansman will not support. It is highly interesting to see them spelt out in the email to Tony. The email states that the “NCC panel” (Lansman and Corbyn?) disagrees with:

The call for the replacement of the staff team charged with enforcing compliance in the Labour Party with elected representatives, on the basis that disciplinary justice does require having independent and professional people in charge of implementing disciplinary affairs. In addition, key decisions over disciplinary affairs are already taken by elected representatives: namely those on the NEC disputes committee.

They also disagree with the proposal to delete the first part of rule 2.1.4.B, as this could benefit groups which are opposed to the party.

Finally, they believe that is outside of Momentum’s remit to take a position on precise definitions of anti-Semitism.

The last of the three points is the least surprising, in that Jon Lansman and Jeremy Corbyn have made it clear that they will continue to go along with the absurd claim that the Labour Party has a huge problem with anti-Semitism. They will stick with the IHRA definition and, crucially, its widely derided list of “examples”, which conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.

Worryingly, they also want to keep rule 2.1.4.B in place, according to which “a member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or unit of the party … shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member”. We wonder if they think that the punishment of auto-exclusion for that particular crime, with an automatic ban from membership of five years, should remain in place?

This rule has been applied in an entirely one-sided way against leftwingers only – among them supporters of Socialist Appeal, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and Labour Party Marxists. Groups such as Progress and Labour First (also not affiliated to the party) remain untouched and can continue to operate freely and in a highly organised fashion. And what about supporters of the Stop the War Coalition or Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament? Aren’t they also examples of a “political organisation”? This rule clearly should go. The Labour Party would be positively transformed by allowing members of left groups – who are often the most educated and most dedicated in the party, doing most of the grunt work on the ground – to operate freely in the party.

Most worryingly though, Lansman and Corbyn want to keep the compliance unit in place. True, the NEC disputes committee looks over all cases. But the investigations, suspensions and expulsions are all instigated and driven by the unelected compliance unit, which is firmly in the hands of general secretary and anti-Corbyn witch-hunter general Iain McNicol.

Even if there is a plan to replace the man with a leftwinger at some point in the future, it would still mean that this important body remains in the murky shadows and can continue to operate without any accountability. It is not democratic if the members cannot replace it.

LAW logo high resLAW proposal

The witch-hunt and disciplinary procedures – Chakrabarti
Submitted by Tony Greenstein

The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute: they have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change.

We believe that the party should end these practices, and that:

  • the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report should be implemented immediately;
  • all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated;
  • an accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
  • membership rights should not be removed until disciplinary procedures have been completed;
  • disciplinary procedures should include consultation with the member’s CLP and branch;
  • disciplinary procedures should be time-limited. Charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped;
  • the first part of rule 2.1.4.B (‘Exclusions’) should be deleted: it currently bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party”;
  • the party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which, in its list of examples, conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
  • the party should immediately abolish the ‘compliance/disputes unit’. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.

AWL proposal

Reverse and prevent unjust expulsions and suspensions – for a transparent, accountable disciplinary system and a pluralist political culture
Submitted by Ed Whitby

The vast majority of the many expulsions and suspensions since 2015 have been politically unjustified/unjust and violated natural justice. They have prevented and discouraged new members with valuable skills and talents from getting involved, created a culture of intimidation in parts of the party, and wasted valuable resources on such persecution – all weakening our ability to take on the Tories and campaign to change society.

Therefore we propose:

  • The Chakrabarti report’s recommendations should be implemented.
  • The first part of rule 2.1.4.B – auto-exclusion for any member who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party” – should be scrapped, as per the rule change already going to conference this year (https://stopthelabourpurge.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/urgent). All Labour supporters should be welcome in Labour: membership of particular Labour-supporting organisations or previous leftwing activity should be irrelevant.
  • The practice of auto-exclusion should be abolished. Everyone should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty and get a proper procedure, including advance notice of charges, the right to evidence submitted against them and the identity of the accuser/s, consultation with their CLP and branch, a full hearing, and the right to an appeal. Membership rights should not be removed until procedures are completed. This should apply retroactively to those denied these rights.
  • Responsibility for these issues should be transferred from the ‘governance and legal unit’ (previously compliance unit) to elected bodies and officials

Jon Lansman proposal

A democratic selection process for the 21st century
Submitted by Dan Iley Williamson

At present, the Labour Party does not have a democratic selection procedure for selecting its parliamentary candidates. The current ‘trigger ballot’ system allows for the possibility of sitting MPs to be automatically reselected, even when they lack the support of the majority of their local members; and, if members do want an input into candidate selections, it forces them to organise on a solely negative basis. I propose replacing the ‘trigger ballot’ system with the following democratic procedure:

  • If a sitting MP has indicated that they wish to stand for re-election, the NEC shall agree a timetable for a selection process for that constituency, candidates shall be invited to express interest in the selection and a shortlisting committee shall be appointed in line with procedural guidance to be issued by the NEC.
  • Party units and affiliates may each make a single nomination of a candidate.
  • If the sitting MP receives both (i) nominations from party branches with a combined membership of more than two-thirds of the CLP membership, and (ii) nominations submitted by more than two-thirds of the affiliates and party units other than branches submitting nominations, then the sitting MP shall be automatically reselected.
  • Where the sitting MP is not automatically reselected, the shortlisting committee shall present a shortlist of nominated candidates to all members of the CLP entitled to vote. That shortlist must reflect the requirements of the NEC to ensure that candidates are representative of our society, it must include the sitting MP and it must be subject to the requirement that any candidate who has received nominations either from party branches with a combined membership of more than one half of the CLP membership or from more than half of the affiliates and party units other than branches making nominations shall be included, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

This democratic selection procedure ensures that to be reselected MPs must have the support of their local members. By ensuring a nominations process, this rule change allows both sitting MPs and potential candidates to seek out nominations from local units and affiliates, thereby increasing the accountability between members and MPs. The process allows MPs to get automatically reselected if they have the clear support of members and trade union affiliates, whilst at the same time offering other candidates a fair chance of getting a guaranteed place on the shortlist.


1 To add a small correction to that article, we would like to point out that there seems to be some difference on the issue within the AWL. Leader Sean Matgamna continues to call for Ken Livingstone to be expelled from the Labour Party (see www.workersliberty.org/ story/2017-07-26/livingstone-and-anti-zionist- left). Meanwhile, the editorial team of the AWL paper Solidarity officially says it disagrees (see www.workersliberty see org/node/31045). Despite that it happily publishes Matgamna’s articles without any ‘correctives’ and regularly denounces Livingstone as an ‘anti-Semite’ in its pages.

Witch-hunts: When chickens come home…

Jeremy Newmark is in deep trouble, Ann Black has been dropped by Jon Lansman and AWL members have been declared ‘unwelcome’ by London Young Labour, reports Carla Roberts

Imagine the following: a well-known Corbyn supporter is accused of “misusing” tens of thousands of pounds of a charity he is running in order to go on holiday with his family, leases a “46,000 luxury car” and awards his wife contracts worth £36,000. General secretary Iain McNicol and his compliance unit would have acted with speed … and with some not inconsiderable glee.

Of course, we are talking about Jeremy Newmark, until recently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement and, as we go to press, still a full Labour Party member and a Hertsmere councillor. Unlike many of the pro-Palestinian campaigners, of course, that he and the Jewish Labour Movement have successfully managed to get suspended from the party on the flimsiest of accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’.

The enthusiasm with which the pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle has attacked Newmark is quite breathtaking – after all, it has given him and the Jewish Labour Movement many a platform to attack pro-Palestinians and anti-Zionists. But clearly, a good story beats religion. JC alleges that Newmark’s financial dealings with the Jewish Leadership Council were – how shall we put it? – somewhat suspect. And, when awkward questions were asked, Newmark agreed to resign from his position as chief executive for “health reasons”. Not that his health stopped him from being leader of the JLM, a Labour councillor and running as the parliamentary candidate in Finchley and Golders Green (he just failed to become an MP).

Not the job of socialists to appeal to the witch-hunter general Iain McNicol
Not the job of socialists to appeal to the witch-hunter general Iain McNicol

We need not point out the hypocrisy in the different treatments that Newmark and Corbyn supporters have been receiving – not just from the compliance unit, but also the bourgeois media. Apart from a couple of articles in The Times, there is an eerie silence. But it is not the job of socialists to appeal to McNicol to discipline fellow Labour Party members (after all, we want McNicol sacked and many of the disciplinary offences he so freely wields abolished).

And, of course, we believe in the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. But, firstly, that does not go for the dozens, if not hundreds, who remain suspended and expelled from the party for a wide range of ‘crimes’ – including being rude on the internet or being an alleged supporter of a Marxist group. And, secondly, from reading the allegations in JC there appears to be damning evidence against Newmark, which would at the very least warrant an investigation. McNicol’s claim that the issue is “private” is quite frankly breathtaking. Even the Jewish Labour Movement had the sense to agree with Newmark that he should resign.

There are lessons here. The Momentum leader, Jon Lansman, has previously boasted that “I work closely with Jeremy [Newmark]” and explained how he took the advice of the JLM before ‘demoting’ Jackie Walker from her position of vice-chair of Momentum.

And, in the mistaken belief that he could shield himself from the accusations of being soft on anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn has given the JLM in effect a free hand to wreak havoc with its ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ campaign. Shamefully, Corbyn has silently stood by, allowing pretty much any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be branded as evidence of anti-Semitism. All in the empty hope that he will finally have given the right wing in the party enough scalps to shut up and let him lead.

NEC elections

Jon Lansman has given up all pretence of leftwing candidates for the national executive committee being chosen by some kind of semi-democratic decision-making between various groups under the umbrella of the mysterious ‘Centre Left Grassroots Alliance’ (CLGA). Once upon a time, this might have been a real attempt to get together left Labour organisations in order to discuss joint candidates – but even then it was always done firmly behind closed doors.

Now Jon Lansman, who literally owns Momentum, seems to be in sole charge. Last year, the CLGA managed to agree on three NEC candidates within a matter of days, in a much-ridiculed process, where – surprise, surprise – Lansman was one of those chosen.

For the 2018 elections, it looked as if a similar process would be employed. Nominations on the Momentum website opened on January 8, ended on January 14 and by January 18 the Momentum candidates were supposed be chosen by a panel from its national coordinating group to then go to the CLGA. Momentum’s website still states: “Please note that because Momentum is only one out of a number of organisations which has input into the CLGA, gaining the support of Momentum does not guarantee getting the final support of the CLGA for these elections.”

But somewhere along the line Lansman thought, ‘Nah, why bother?’ On February 9, the final list of the nine candidates supported by Momentum only was leaked to the Huffington Post – before the rest of the CLGA could pretend to have a say on the matter. It took another week before he informed Momentum members, via email on February 15. We understand that, at the heart of this, is the fact that Jon Lansman and his old comrade in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, Pete Willsman, have fallen out over the matter of Ann Black.

We could already gather from NEC veteran Willsman’s latest email report (sent out on January 31) that something fishy was going on. In a minor point he says that at the last Labour NEC meeting “Ann Black, in her usual reasoned way,” argued against a particular oversight and that, “as usual, Ann’s reasonable arguments carried the day”.

Ann Black
Ann Black

Yes, that is the same Ann Black who has played a despicable role in sidelining Corbyn supporters in the run-up to the leadership elections. The same Ann Black, who as long-serving chair of the disputes panel played a key role in keeping the witch-hunt against the left alive. Her replacement by Christine Shawcroft was long overdue.

But not for comrade Willsman, apparently. We understand that he has been arguing vehemently that she be included once again on the CLGA slate. But he was narrowly outvoted by the CLPD executive. However, comrade Willsman did not budge on the issue and kept on insisting she be nominated.

Anyway, Jon Lansman did what he does best: went nuclear. He announced nine candidates supported by Momentum – not including Ann Black. Nevertheless, “I shall be standing as a candidate for the NEC, on the centre-left platform that I have supported for the past 18 years,” she told the Huffington Post. Doubtless, Black’s politics have not changed much in 18 years, but it is a sign of the weakness of the Labour left that it ever supported her in the first place.

Current NEC members Claudia Webbe, Rachel Garnham, Yasmine Dar, Pete Willsman, Darren Williams and, of course, Jon Lansman himself, are featured on the new slate. The newcomers backed by Lansman are Huda Elmi (Momentum national coordinating group), Nav Mishra (a Momentum regional organiser) and Anne Henderson (assistant secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress). All nine are virtual shoo-ins for the 2018 NEC elections, some major political earthquake notwithstanding.

One person missing from the Momentum slate, however, is Rhea Wolfson, an entirely forgettable member of the NEC, had it not been for her proud membership of the Jewish Labour Movement (she also sits on the editorial board of the AWL-sponsored magazine The Clarion). Unfortunately, her departure is voluntary and not the result of a campaign of the pro-Palestinian left. She appears to harbour ambitions of becoming an MP – which is, we understand, the main reason for not throwing her hat in the ring again.

Victims and perpetrators

AWL members were amongst the first victims of the anti-left witch-hunt in the Labour Party, when, just after the publication of Tom Watson’s ‘dodgy dossier’, a dozen or so members and supporters were expelled from Labour. And yet the group has itself been giving encouragement to the witch-hunt against leftwingers in its own way.

Its participation in the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ campaign is not of the same calibre as that waged by the JLM and the ‘Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’, which systematically, and with a lot of technical know-how and money, scroll through Facebook and Twitter accounts to catch out members for using particular words.

For one thing, the AWL lacks the numbers and finance for that type of campaign. It represents more the type of busybody who would report their neighbour to the East German Stasi for watching West German TV. In the worldview of AWL leader Sean Matgamna (who, like others in their leadership, open declares himself a Zionist), pretty much anybody on the “fake left” who has the audacity to criticise Israel is an anti-Semite.

AWL guru Sean Matgamna
AWL guru Sean Matgamna

AWL members on the (then) Momentum steering committee joined Jon Lansman in voting for the removal of Jackie Walker as national vice-chair – in fact they enabled the man to go one further a few weeks later and abolish the steering committee and all democratic structures with it in the now infamous Lansman coup of January 10 2017. AWL leader Sean Matgamna continues to call for Ken Livingstone to be expelled from the Labour Party for making factually slightly wrong, but politically entirely correct, statements about the collaboration of Nazis and Zionist leaders in the 1930s. [The editorial team of their paper Solidarity seems to disagree about calling for his expulsion, but they happily print Sean’s articles without critiquing his call and regularly denounce him as an anti-Semite in their pages].

It joined with the JLM and the rightwing media hysteria in condemning Moshé Machover’s article, ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’, in Labour Party Marxists, which led to his expulsion (after a massive campaign within the party he was subsequently reinstated three weeks later). “Overnight, Machover’s article became a cause célèbre for left anti-Semites (and anti-Semites in general)”, states the AWL in its paper, Solidarity.

Displaying its ignorance and lack of basic sense of solidarity with a victim of Iain McNicol’s compliance unit, the AWL claims in an official statement that the article was carried in a leaflet, which

was distributed at a fringe meeting of the rightwing Labour First faction, in a stunt obviously designed to catch the eye of the Labour right and provoke expulsions to generate publicity for themselves … We restate our opposition to the existence of this rulebook clause, and its usage to justify summary expulsions, including in this case. But we have no sympathy with the leaflet stunt, and no desire to defend it as an exercise of democratic rights.

This deeply problematic statement also shows that the AWL must have been asleep throughout conference last year – otherwise they would have noticed that comrade Machover’s article was carried in our A3-size newspaper (not a leaflet) and it was widely distributed every day at various fringe events, as well as at conference itself. Jeremy Newmark – who was almost as outraged as the AWL about the article – picked it up on the first morning outside the main conference entrance – and then telephoned various journalists, who were keen to cover the story. But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good smear.

At the AGM of London Young Labour on February 3, the AWL once again played this bizarre double role. The meeting adopted a truly contemptuous motion submitted by the AWL-backed Labour Campaign for Free Movement – and then voted in favour of one that comes close to calling for the expulsion of AWL members from the youth wing.

The motion submitted by LCFM starts by stating, rather problematically, that “we have recently seen a rise in racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic hate crime” and that “Muslim and Jewish women are disproportionately targeted in terms of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”.

It does not quote the source of these claims, but chances are the AWL has joined a range of bourgeois journalists in adopting in an entirely uncritical way the claims made in the ‘Report on anti-Semitic incidents’, which is published twice a year by the pro-Zionist charity, Community Security Trust (a charity “known to have links to Israel’s Mossad spy agency”, as the award-winning Electronic Intifada states).

The motion goes on to make some utterly forgettable, non-controversial demands (“it is essential that we stand up for the rights of everyone in this country to practise their faith and be safe from hate”), which, incidentally, do not include the call for free movement beyond what exists across the EU today.

Bizarrely though, the LCFM motion commits London Young Labour to:

8. Work alongside the Jewish Labour Movement, Labour Muslims, Sikhs for Labour and other faith groups to address the systemic hate faced by those who identify into these groups, both within and outside of our movement.

9. Run training with Hope Not Hate on how to tackle bigotry and xenophobia in society.

Point 8 does not just support the clearly untrue claim of there being a huge ‘anti-Semitism problem’ in the Labour Party. It commits the organisation to work with the disgraced JLM, which has played such a deplorable role in the witch-hunt of pro-Palestinian Corbyn supporters.

Hope Not Hate, while not playing an active part in the witch-hunt, is a rightwing version of the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Stand Up To Racism’. For example, the anti-Corbyn MP, Ruth Smeeth, was a director of Hope not Hate for many years – she also worked for the Community Security Trust mentioned above. Nice bedfellows indeed.

The same Young Labour event then went on to adopt a motion in response to recent allegations made by a former (then 16-year-old) AWL member of sexual misconduct by another member. The motion claims that the event was then “covered up by the AWL student organiser”. The details are quite well known by now. They are unpleasant, but not of such a level of seriousness to warrant that

the presence of AWL members/supporters at London Young Labour organising and social spaces is unacceptable and unwelcome until they carry out a formal, open transparent investigation. The processes of this investigation must be ones in which the survivor has confidence, and the processes and outcomes of the investigation must centre the needs of survivors of sexual violence. (see full statement below)

A group of young pro-Lansmanites seems to behind this motion (who would have thought that such a tendency would ever exist?). AWL members are quite right to smell “a witch-hunt against Workers’ Liberty”:

The cynical use of this important issue, by some, ultimately is a means of silencing political opponents. It is a danger to the entire left. It will not end with Workers’ Liberty. It can, and will, be used against anyone else seen not to have ‘the right line’ on any number of issues. It creates a movement within which reasoned discussion of political differences becomes impossible.

Like, say, the issue of opposing Zionism, perhaps? The words ‘kettle’, ‘black’ and ‘pot’ spring to mind.

‘Sexual violence’ and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty

London Young Labour notes:

1. In January 2018, it emerged the AWL had covered up the sexual abuse of a child, who had been offered drinks by AWL members despite being under 18. The sexual assault was covered up by the AWL’s student organiser, and the AWL member in question faced no disciplinary action or expulsion from the AWL.

2. The victim was subjected to a campaign of smears and harassment, which included ablist remarks hurled at him on the street and slanderous complaints made to his employer.

3. A statement on the AWL website confirmed the allegations of the victim’s statement, but deflected blame to “online trolling”.

London Young Labour believes:

1. Sexual violence is not confined to one tendency or political leaning, but certain structures and organising tactics – such as the AWL’s secretive, top-down structures – are more likely to enable and mask abuse of all kinds.

2. Sexual violence pushes out women and other marginalised groups from our party.

3. As an organisation, LYL must also take into account that the survivor of this assault was underage. The AWL members had bought him drinks and got him drunk, which is an incredibly serious breach of safeguarding.

4. Sexual violence must not be tolerated within our organisation and neither must apologism for sexual abuse.

London Young Labour resolves:

1. To make clear that the presence of AWL members/supporters at London Young Labour organising and social spaces is unacceptable and unwelcome until they carry out a formal, open, transparent investigation. The processes of this investigation must be ones in which the survivor has confidence, and the processes and outcomes of the investigation must centre on the needs of survivors of sexual violence.

2. To carry out research into our own processes and policies and make sure they adequately support survivors of sexual violence.

Red Pages @ LP conference: Monday, September 25

Click here to download the September 25 issue of Red Pages in PDF format.

Articles in today’s issue:

  • Brexit: To debate or not to debate?
  • We need a positive vision for Europe, not a pro-business one
  • Protest against Iain McNicol
  • Labour First rally: all about Marxism
  • Conference Arrangements Committee: Death throes of the right
  • Success! NPF document on Israel/Palestine is amended

Brexit: To debate or not to debate?

Comrades should be wary of the ‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement’: many of its leading lights do notsupport the free movement of labour

If the anti-Semitism furore in the party has shown one thing, it illustrates that the developing fault lines between left and right in the party produce some strange configurations.

Conference has been seeing an odd debate/non-debate around Brexit. The Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) and Momentum really did not want this thorny question discussed at conference and urged delegates not to choose the issue in Sunday’s priorities ballot. (This decides which ‘themes’ are allocated time for discussion).

The CLPD argued that, “it serves no purpose to debate the different views on Brexit at this stage. The NEC’s statement and the plenary session on Monday morning are quite enough at the moment. We should try and limit the damage the right can inflict upon conference”, as Barry Gray said at the CLPD fringe meeting on Saturday.

Ranged against them, you have the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (in formal terms, also on the left) who sided with none other than Labour First’s Luke Akehurst to urge delegates to vote in favour of a Brexit debate.

As a general principle, Marxists argue that organisations in the workers’ movement should be able to have frank and transparent discussions on any issue, even uncomfortable ones. Political differences should not be viewed as a problem per se. A thinking organisation will always have disputes, and it is almost always right to argue them out publicly.

We need to be concrete, however. Labour First and Akehurst wanted this issue discussed because they perceive Corbyn and the left are vulnerable on it. For instance, at the Labour First rally on Sunday, the CLP delegates in the audience were strongly urged to give their first vote in the priorities ballot to a debate on Brexit. Apart from any other considerations, it was given this importance by LF because Momentum is politically fractured on the issue, with deep disagreements between its “Stalinist” and “Trotskyist” factions. (LPM comrades who braved the wrath of the angry rightists at this gathering report that our organisation also warranted a few mentions from the platform. None complimentary – though we would have been mortally offended if any were, of course.)

So, the right has correctly identified Europe as one of Jeremy’s weak spots. While the Labour leader has been reasonably successful in simply standing back and giving the Tory government sufficient Brexit rope to hang itself, the Labour Party’s position is hardly coherent or convincing. Thus, Labour First, Progress and the whole rightwing gang in the party are jostling for a chance to attack Corbyn on the issue and show him up for the benefit of their allies in the yellow press. Concretely, therefore, the demand for a debate on Brexit is a rightwing tactic, another attempt to beat up Corbyn and his allies. 

Balance of forces

Thankfully, they have not succeeded: during Sunday’s priorities ballot, conference voted overwhelmingly to follow the advice given by CLPD and Momentum. Contemporary motions on Brexit will not be discussed, after that subject received 72,000 CLP votes. As a comparison: The NHS and housing received 187,000 votes each, social care 145,000 and the railways 120,000. This gives a useful snapshot of the balance of forces at this year’s conference. 

Mindful of this background, it may seem strange that an ostensibly left organisation like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty should prioritise building a campaign (‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement’) that offers platforms to the likes of Tulip Siddiq (who in January resigned as a shadow minister following Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to impose a three-line whip on Labour MPs to vote in favour of triggering Article 50) and Clive Lewis MP, who has of course spoken out against free movement.

In response to Jeremy Corbyn stating publicly that he saw “no need” to curb immigration or impose more controls, Lewis said: “We have to acknowledge that free movement of labour hasn’t worked for a lot of people. It hasn’t worked for many of the people in this country, where they’ve been undercut, who feel insecure, who feel they’re not getting any of the benefits that immigration has clearly had in our economy.” 

Now, it would be foolish in the extreme to argue – in the manner of a sect like the Socialist Worker Party – that mass immigration always and everywhere brings unalloyed economic benefits and social harmony to indigenous working class communities. However, this in no way implies that we should oppose the right of working people to free movement; to be able to seek a life for themselves and their families in any part of the world they choose. 

Voluntary unity

The key is unity, won from below. We need to fight for the integration of migrants into the culture of struggle of a native working class (a reciprocal process of learning, of course), into common organisation and unity against our class enemies. 

This voluntary, combative unity is a million miles away from what the likes of Clive Lewis advocate when they call for obligatory union membership for migrant workers (as a precondition of their right to enter the country) to stop them “undercutting wages” – a proposal motivated, he admits, by his core concern to “have an impact on the number of people coming to this country”, to “make it more difficult for employers to bring people in” and thus to push companies to “begin to take people more often from this country”. Fairly bog-standard Brit nationalism masquerading as ‘internationalism’, in other words.

The very fact of the AWL’s involvement in the ‘Labour Campaign for Free Movement’ should set alarm bells ringing for Labour comrades. This is an organisation infamous for arguing against the right of Palestinian people to free movement – concretely the right to return to areas they were forcibly ejected from by the colonialist Israeli state.

Among their leaders are people who are happy to call themselves “Zionists” and this softness on reaction saw them support the purging of Jackie Walker as vice-chair of Momentum. Their ‘fellow traveller’ on the Labour Party NEC, Rhea Wholfson, voted to refer Jackie Walker’s case to Iain McNicol’s compliance unit – and happily speaks at meetings organised by the Jewish Labour Movement, an affiliate to the World Labour Zionist Movement, a loyal supporter of the state of Israel and home to many of those who have been so keen to save the Labour Party from its ‘unelectable’ leader.

This campaign needs to be given a very wide berth. As with every other issue and debate in the Labour Party these days, context is everything.


We need a positive vision for Europe, not a pro-business one

Keir Starmer has succeeded in getting the shadow cabinet to come out in favour of staying in the single market (though in an interview on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, Jeremy Corbyn seemed to backtrack somewhat from this again). Still, there remains a striking paradox. On Europe, Labour is articulating the interests of big capital. Not that big capital will reciprocate and back the Labour Party. It is, after all, led by Jeremy Corbyn: pro-trade union, pacifistic and a friend of all manner of unacceptable leftists.

For the sake of appearances, Keir Starmer pays lip service to the 2016 referendum result. There is no wish to alienate the minority of Labour voters who backed ‘leave’. More through luck than judgement, ambiguity served the party well during the general election campaign. The contradiction between Corbyn’s historical hostility towards the EU – now represented in the Commons by the Dennis Skinner-Kelvin Hopkins rump – and the mass of Labour’s pro-‘remain’ members and voters resulted in a fudge.

However, instead of getting embroiled in the argument about what is and what is not in the ‘national interest’ – eg, staying in the single market versus leaving the single market – Labour needs a class perspective. We should have no illusions in the European Union. It is a bosses’ club, it is by treaty committed to neoliberalism and it is by law anti-working class (note the European Court of Justice and its Viking, Laval and Rüffert judgements). But nor should we have any illusions in a so-called Lexit perspective.

On the contrary the EU should be seen as a site of struggle. We should aim to unite the working class in the EU in order to end the rule of capital and establish socialism on a continental scale. That would be the biggest contribution we can make to the global struggle for human liberation.


LPMers happily joined the 30 or so protestors outside Labour Party conference this morning to demand that general secretary Ian McNicol should resign (actually, he should be sacked!). Not only is McNicol responsible for the suspensions and expulsions of thousands of leftwing Labour Party members, he is also in the frame for attempts to sabotage Labour’s electoral challenge in June’s snap election. He and other right wingers were clearly hoping for a Labour result so dire that Jeremy Corbyn would have to fall on his sword. Thus, many CLPs were woefully under-resourced and a large number received not a single penny. (For example, Sheffield Hallam, where the pro-Corbyn left managed to oust Lib Dem luminary Nick Clegg and win the first ever Labour MP in the constituency, received precisely zip from either the region or HQ).

The rightwing response to the protest was predictable. Johanna Baxter expressed to conference her tremulous outrage at this protest and railed that a demo against “an employee of the party should not be allowed”. Deservedly, she was booed.

Of course, the issue wasn’t really Ian McNicol’s employment rights, but Baxter’s solidarity with his politics. Before she was booted off the NEC last year, she managed to use the then wafer-thin right wing majority on the NEC to push through changes to give Wales and Scotland two extra NEC seats. This was not prompted by democratic concerns around regional devolution. No, Baxter was confident that the vacancies would be filled by supporters of the right in the party.

Subsequently, of course, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has resigned and been replaced (temporarily) by leftwing deputy leader Alex Rowley. This produced a small left NEC majority. In turn, this was enough to push through the ‘Corbyn review’ and expand the CLP representation from six to nine, producing a leftwing majority on our leading body for the near future. Clearly, the right is in some pain. Happy days!

Labour First rally: all about Marxism

The crowd at the Labour First rally on Sunday afternoon was a pretty riled up bunch. Luke Akehurst and his mates are clearly feeling under pressure from left-wing delegates at this year’s Labour Party conference … and they are not handling the stress at all well. The chair launched an attack on LPM as “not real Labour” – unlike the rows of Tory-lite manikins in the hall, for whom genuine Labour principles are as expendable as autumn leaves. Furthermore, our very name is a “a contradiction in terms” – a short course in dialectics might clear up any confusion.

The ever-delightful John Mann MP scowled at our comrades, but didn’t deign to speak to them – presumably because there were no cameras nearby. However, he did prevail upon a minion to pick up a copy of the latest issue of Labour Party Marxists Bulletin.

Not surprisingly, given the general election result and Jeremy’s huge spike in popularity and profile, Luke Akehurst and his chums didn’t attack Corbyn directly. Instead, they concentrated their attacks on his supporters – the organised Corbynistas particularly. These were “Stalinists” who “fetishise military dictatorships” like Venezuela and Cuba. The June poll was run down, however – “We have even fewer seats than under Neil Kinnock”, Chris Leslie MP complained. He went on to illustrate his encyclopaedic ignorance of Marxism, which he dismissed as a “destructive, hate filled ideology”. In comments that must have shocked many in the audience, he also revealed that Marxism is “revolutionary” and wants to “overturn capitalism” (well spotted).

Akehurst suggested that the Labour Party should “purge the Anti-Semites” (for this, read “the left”) and “stand up to the bullies” (that is, “silence all criticism of the right”). Pretty classic -and pathetic – tactics of bureaucrats who are politically incapable of answering critics and are aware the game is moving away from them. For instance, in one of his more honest moments, Akehurst had to acknowledge that the right’s forces are now too weak to “stop the McDonnell amendment”.

Conference Arrangements Committee:
Death throes of the right

The Conference Arrangements Committee reported two records: there have never been so many delegates at Labour Party conference – almost 1,200. And over 1,000 of these are first timers. Of course, that reflects the tremendous sea change within the party. But it also presents the left with a problem. We have the numbers, but we do not have the organisation yet to halt the undemocratic shenanigans by the right.

Take the CAC, which is still dominated by the old guard. Their report on Sunday morning provoked angry responses from conference floor. Two disputed issues should really have led to votes being taken to refer the report back; but the left was not organised enough to see this challenge through.

First was the CAC’s sneaky move to provide time for London mayor Sadiq Khan to address conference, although this is clearly not within the CAC’s remit. The NEC had previously decided not to allow any of the city mayors to speak, to give more space for delegates to contribute. Once the CAC had made its invitation public, the NEC caved in, presumably for fear of media ridicule and scathing headlines. If Khan uses his allotted time to undermine Corbyn or belittle the scale of the party’s achievement in June, then we trust delegates will not be shy about voicing disapproval.

The other issue is related to the CAC’s implementation of last year’s rule change to allow the partial reference back of National Policy Forum documents. Any delegate can now challenge part of the NPF’s (extremely long-winded) documents and demand that the issue is revisited by the body. Of course, if the chair is happy with a challenge, s/he will simply “ask conference if the reference back is agreed”, as it says in the CAC report.

However, if the chair is not happy about the issue in dispute, then it will be up the person chairing that session to decide if a vote is conducted by show of hands or by a card vote.

The difference between the two is crucial. The unions and other affiliates have 300 delegates at conference, the CLPs have sent 1,200. But in a card vote, the affiliates’ vote counts for 50% of the total vote, ditto the CLPs’ vote (which is then further divided according to how many members a CLP has). Roughly, a union delegate’s vote counts four times as much as the vote of a CLP delegate – and that can make all the difference in a dispute.

This chair’s discretion over the format of voting is within the current rules, but normal practice in recent years – when it comes to reference back of a CAC report, composite motions etc – has been to allow any delegate to make a call for a card vote, which the chair is then obliged accept.

This posed almost no problem in the Blairite period of the party: real disputes were absent from conference floor, which had become a tedious, stage-managed affair. The election of Jeremy Corbyn has changed all that. Last year, a huge row broke out at conference over the NEC’s “reform package” that snuck in two additional NEC seats for the leaders of Welsh and Scottish Labour. Delegates were on their feet, shouting “card vote, card vote” – but the chair simply refused and declared that the hand vote had “clearly won”. In a card vote, the result would have gone the other way, as the unions were firmly against the addition of two right wingers.

This shows how important it is for the left to show its muscle in every party arena – including the middle layers of the party bureaucracy, of which the CAC is a part. Yes, Momentum and CLPD successfully campaigned for two leftwingers, Billy Hayes and Seema Chandwani, to be elected onto the committee by direct ballot of the membership. But the CAC is made up of seven members, five of whom will be elected by other methods. Therefore, we are not entirely confident that the left will actually be running next year’s conference.

Success! NPF document on Israel/Palestine is amended

The National Policy Forum is a relic of the dark days of Blairism; a body Blair established to outsource the party’s policy-making. When it published its dire, 90-page annual report in June, Palestine campaigners quickly noticed a glaring omission. The 2017 election manifesto called for an end to Israel’s blockade, illegal occupation and settlements. But these basic democratic demands had been dropped from the NPF document, along with the pledge that “A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

Had conference supported this document, it would have overridden the pledges in the manifesto, as conference is – at least on paper – the sovereign decision-making body of the party. This omission was no ‘oversight’. Campaigners went into overdrive; LPM joined others calling on delegates to refer back this section of the document.

But page 14 of yesterday’s Conference Arrangements Committee report includes, without explanation, this small paragraph:
“The following text, as agreed in the Labour Party Manifesto 2017, is now included in the National Policy Forum Annual Report 2017. On page 56, column 2, line 43, add:

‘There can be no military solution to this conflict and all sides must avoid taking action that would make peace harder to achieve. That means both an end to the blockade, occupation and settlements, and an end to rocket and terror attacks. Labour will continue to press for an immediate return to meaningful negotiations leading to a diplomatic resolution. A Labour government would immediately recognise the state of Palestine.’”

It is not the kind of programme we would write on the Middle East (there is clearly a tendency to equate the violence of the oppressor state Israel with the struggle of the oppressed Palestinian people – note the mention of “rocket attacks”). But a return to the original formulation is a victory against those (like the Jewish Labour Movement) who want us to take the side of the Israeli state. The fact that the JLM has perversely been given the ‘best practice award’ by Ian McNicol serves as a reminder of how well connected this organisation is to the party bureaucracy.

Humpty Dumpty and ‘anti-Semitism’

The Jewish Labour Movement claims its rule change has been adopted by the Labour Party NEC, Kat Gugino begs to differ

On September 18, The Guardian claimed that Corbyn would be “backing” a rule change to this year’s Labour Party conference, moved by the Jewish Labour Movement.1)The Guardian September 18 Lo and behold, on September 19, the Jewish Chronicle joyfully reported that the Labour Party’s national executive committee, meeting earlier in the day, “unanimously” passed the JLM’s proposal.2)www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/labour- executive-gives-backing-to-new-measures-on- antisemitism-1.444751 Leftwing NEC member Darren Williams, however, writes on social media that “we approved an NEC rule change on dealing with prejudiced views and behaviour that avoided the more draconian approach favoured by the Jewish Labour Movement”. So who is telling the truth?

Well, that depends on who you ask and what question you ask. Clearly, the JLM’s fingerprints are all over the NEC compromise formulation (see below for the full text). The Jewish Chronicle quotes in its article “a spokesman from Jeremy Corbyn” as saying: “Jeremy thanks all those involved with drafting this motion, including the Jewish Labour Movement and Shami Chakrabarti.”

It is true, however, that the original JLM motion was not accepted. Tony Greenstein, a frequent writer in the Weekly Worker, believes the new formulation might simply represent a “pyrrhic victory” for the JLM. And he is right that one of the key aspects of the original motion was rejected: the JLM wanted a “hate incident” to be “defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation” (our emphasis).

This was a rather clumsy attempt by the JLM to misuse the recommendations of the MacPherson report, established after the killing of Stephen Lawrence, which found the police to be “institutionally racist”. MacPherson recommended that when a victim or someone else perceives an attack or hate incident as racially motivated, then the police must record it as such.

In that sense, the JLM has failed in its outrageous attempt to enshrine in the party’s rules that the Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic! The NEC formulation enshrines the need for at least some kind of evidence: “any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice”. The JLM also failed in their attempt to explicitly enshrine the disciplining of members for comments or actions made in “private”.

If successful, the motion would have handed Iain McNicol and the compliance unit a devastatingly effective witch-hunting app: members could have been explicitly punished on the basis of what others perceive to be their motivation for specific comments or actions, not what is was actually done or stated.

JLM threats

Take the following threat from the JLM that we have received via a bourgeois journalist. Lucy Fisher, senior political correspondent of The Times, wrote to us on September 18:

“I was hoping to talk to someone at Labour Party Marxists about your conference voting guide, which we propose to report on tomorrow. The Jewish Labour Movement has expressed concern about lines in the document such as:

“‘This is supported by the Jewish Labour Movement, which already tells you that you should oppose without even having to read it.’

“‘The motion starts from the premise that the party has an “anti-Semitism problem”, which is palpably untrue.’

“‘This motion puts anti-Semitism (and cleverly, Islamophobia and racism) above the right to express opinions.’

“The chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement [presumably Jeremy Newmark] has said the document provides ‘an indication of the scale of the problem’ of anti-Semitism in Labour and has called on Labour to establish who is involved in your group, take action to discipline those involved and remove any representative platform from the group at conference.”

As you would expect from a reporter who works for a newspaper hostile to the left, Lucy has forgotten the word “probably” in the first sentence and is quoting half-sentences from our guide – and those entirely out of context. Still, even then, anybody apart from Jeremy Newark will struggle to find anything “anti- Semitic” in the above sentences.

Had Newmark had his way, then the mere fact that he feels we are acting out of “hostility or prejudice” would have been enough to see LPM members sent to the compliance unit. As the NEC formulation stands, this will not be enough.

Thinking bad things

Of course, Newmark is right: we are hostile to the Jewish Labour Movement. The JLM is, of course, an affiliate to the World Labour Zionist Movement, a loyal supporter of the state of Israel and home to many of those who have been so keen to save the Labour Party from its ‘unelectable’ leader.

Unfortunately, we are seeing yet another compromise that has characterised much of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Clearly, Corbyn and his allies seem to believe that they can pacify saboteurs and achieve ‘party unity’ by giving ground on these sorts of issues. This is dangerously naive. The outcome of the Chakrabarti enquiry showed the opposite to be true. The witch-hunters’ appetite will grow in the eating.

The worst excesses of the JLM motion (which, worryingly, also successfully went through six CLPs) have been removed, yes. But the fact remains that the NEC – and Corbyn – now seem to accept, albeit implicitly, the premise that Labour does indeed have an anti-Semitism problem. That is palpably untrue. It clearly does have an anti-left witch-hunt problem, as the suspensions of Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and others clearly demonstrate. No doubt there are a minuscule number of individual members who hold anti- Semitic views – most of whom you would expect to belong to the party right, by the way. Labour is not some chemically pure ideological sect of a few hundred acolytes. We are a mass movement and therefore, to varying levels, may find in our ranks trace elements of some irrational minority prejudices that exist in wider society. The party – or, more specifically, the Labour left – has no more of an institutional anti-Semitism ‘problem’ than we have a problem with paranoid notions that 9/11 was an inside job or that shape- shifting space lizards run the world.3)All genuine manifestations of the poison of anti- Semitism must be fought vigorously. However,
it accounts for a small very small percentage
of ‘hate crimes’ in this country. The House of Commons home affairs committee published an October 2016 report, ‘Anti-Semitism in the UK’, noting that anti-Semitic hate crimes, however defined, total 1.4% of all racially inspired attacks. In the first half of the year there had been a rise
of 11% in anti-Semitic incidents, compared with 2015. Numerically, this rise was from 500 to 557. However, 24% of the total – 133 incidents in all – were on social media. And social media accounted for 44 out of the increase of 57

Clearly, the huge scale of the ‘scandal’ that broke over members in 2016 (and still reverberates) is actually in inverse proportion to the real size of the problem itself. Even at the height of the feverish hunt for ‘anti-Semites’, the NEC only ‘identified’ and took action against a grand total of 18 members.4)Labour List May 4 2016 Quite a few (like MP Naz Shah) were fully reinstated. Others, like Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker, should be fully reinstated – nothing they said was even vaguely anti-Semitic.

In truth, we are in Alice in Wonderland territory here – or rather, Humpty Dumpty’s corner of it and his fast and loose approach to semantics.5)“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
 Sections of the right of the party – with quite stomach-churning cynicism – have attempted to rebrand as ‘anti- Semitism’ even the discussion of some sensitive, but real facts of Zionism’s relationship with the early Nazi regime and the left’s critical stance on the Israeli state’s savage oppression of the Palestinian people.

The latter is a particularly smart move on behalf of the witch-hunters. With a few dishonourable exceptions,6)The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, for instance the Labour left is highly critical of the Israeli state’s ongoing colonial/expansionist oppression of the Palestinians and the appalling discrimination, displacement and denial of basic democratic rights that go with it. However, it is a crude and transparently false conclusion to draw from this that the left of the party wishes to see the poles of oppression simply reversed. There are different strategic approaches amongst comrades in solidarity with the Palestinian people (a single secular state, two viable state formations, etc). But a common theme of the left is the need for democratic consent of these two peoples to live side by side, sharing common, substantive democratic rights. In other words, the left in the party is overwhelmingly anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic. These two very distinct categories have been conflated for the most contemptible of reasons. In the struggle between the left and right for the soul of the party, ‘anti-Semitism’ has been “weaponised”, as Chris Williamson MP quite rightly put it.7)The Guardian September 18 It has proved to be a successful tool in the drawn-out campaign to destabilise Jeremy Corbyn. Historically, Corbyn has been an ardent supporter of Palestinian rights. Worryingly, we are not sure where he stands now. It is probably fair to say that his stance has become more ‘flexible’.

We sincerely hope he has not come around to the stance of the national policy forum. The NPF is recommending a document to this year’s conference that would dramatically change the party’s stance on the question of Israel/Palestine. The 2017 election manifesto called for an end to Israel’s blockade, illegal occupation and settlements. But these basic democratic demands have been dropped, along with the pledge that “A Labour government will immediately recognise the state of Palestine”.

We would urge delegates to vote to refer back the NPF international document.

Original rule change proposed by Jewish Labour Movement

Bury South, Chipping Barnet, Hertsmere, Jewish Labour Movement, Manchester Withington, Streatham, Warrington South, referencing: Chapter 2, Clause I, Section 8 Conditions of membership, Page 9.

After the first sentence add a new sentence: A member of the Party who uses anti-semitic, Islamophobic, racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions in public, private, online or offline, as determined by the NEC, shall be deemed to have engaged in conduct prejudicial to the Party.

Add at the end of the final sentence after “opinions”: except in instances involving antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism.

Insert new paragraph E: Where a member is responsible for a hate incident, being defined as something where the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on disability, race, religion, transgender identity, or sexual orientation, the NEC may have the right to impose the appropriate disciplinary options from the following options: [same as D]

New proposed section on ‘Conditions of Membership’ (Chapter 2, Clause 1, Section 8) new additions in [brackets]

No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. [The NEC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party.] Any dispute as to whether a member is in breach of the provisions of this sub-clause shall be determined by the NCC in accordance with Chapter 1 Clause IX above and the disciplinary rules and guidelines in Chapter 6 below. Where appropriate the NCC shall have regard to involvement in financial support for the organisation and/or the activities of any organisation declared ineligible for affiliation to the Party under Chapter 1.II.5 or 3.C above; or to the candidature of the members in opposition to an officially endorsed Labour Party candidate or the support for such candidature. The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions [, except in any instance inconsistent with the Party’s aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic.]


1 The Guardian September 18
2 www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/labour- executive-gives-backing-to-new-measures-on- antisemitism-1.444751
3 All genuine manifestations of the poison of anti- Semitism must be fought vigorously. However,
it accounts for a small very small percentage
of ‘hate crimes’ in this country. The House of Commons home affairs committee published an October 2016 report, ‘Anti-Semitism in the UK’, noting that anti-Semitic hate crimes, however defined, total 1.4% of all racially inspired attacks. In the first half of the year there had been a rise
of 11% in anti-Semitic incidents, compared with 2015. Numerically, this rise was from 500 to 557. However, 24% of the total – 133 incidents in all – were on social media. And social media accounted for 44 out of the increase of 57
4 Labour List May 4 2016
5 “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

6 The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, for instance
7 The Guardian September 18

End the bans and proscriptions

Once the Labour Party was characterised by tolerance and inclusion, all working class organisations were welcome – no longer. James Marshall of Labour Party Marxists explores the history.

We in the Labour Party are in the midst of a terrible purge. Four examples.

  •   Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union general secretary Ronnie Draper has been suspended from membership and thereby prevented from voting in the Labour leadership election. Why? An unidentified tweet.
  •   Tony Greenstein is likewise suspended. A well known Jewish anti-Zionist, he faces baseless charges of being an anti-Semite. His real crime is to oppose the state of Israel … and Labour’s pro-Zionist right wing.
  •   Then there is Jill Mountford, an executive member of Momentum. She has been expelled. Once again, why? Six years ago, in the May 2010 general election, the comrade stood for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty against Harriet Harman. A protest against the acceptance of Con-Dem austerity politics, albeit based on a stupid dismissal of the Labour Party as virtually indistinguishable from the US Democrats. However, since then comrade Mountford vows she has supported only Labour candidates.
  •   Perhaps the most ridiculous disciplinary case is Catherine Starr’s. Having shared a video clip of Dave Grohl’s band she ecstatically wrote: “I fucking love the Foo Fighters”. The thought police nabbed her under the ban on “racist, abusive or foul language, abuse against women, homophobia or anti-Semitism at meetings, on social media or in any other context.”1 Yes, using the word “fucking” in any context, can, nowadays be deemed a breach of the Labour Party’s norms of behaviour.

Unsurprisingly then, there are thousands of Drapers, Greensteins, Mountfords and Starrs. And it is clear what general secretary Iain McNicol, the compliance unit and the Labour right are up to. Create a climate where almost any leftwing public statement, past action or use of unofficial English can be branded as unacceptable, as threatening, as violating the Blairite ‘safe spaces’ policy. Then bar, ban and banish the maximum number of Jeremy Corbyn supporters. Swing things in favour of Owen Smith. True, the right’s chances of success are remote. The odds against citizen Smith are far too great. Nonetheless, this is clearly what the purge is all about.

Meanwhile, despite his massive £2.1 million donation to the Liberal Democrats in June, Lord David Sainsbury, a minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, is, at least as things stand today, free to vote in the leadership election. Nor are former Tory or Ukip members suspended or expelled. That despite their undisputed past support for non-Labour candidates. And, of course, there are those MPs who have been throwing one lying accusation after another against the left. They are Nazi stormtroopers. They are anti-Semites. They are Trot infiltrators.

The same MPs have attempted to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership at every turn. Now, having failed with the anti-Semitism campaign, they are furiously using the capitalist media to spread rumours of an imminent split and getting hold of the Labour Party’s name, offices and assets through the courts. They have gone untouched. A crime in itself.

Unlike John McDonnell we do not complain of “double standards”. We in Labour Party Marxists forthrightly oppose the suspension and expulsion of socialists, leftwingers, working class partisans. All of them, without exception, ought to be immediately reinstated. Whatever our criticisms they are assets who should be valued. It is the treacherous right, the splitters, who deserve to be purged.

There is surely nothing uncontroversial about a Marxist making such a case. After all, the ongoing civil war in the Labour Party is a concentrated manifestation of the struggle of class against class. Labour’s much expanded base faces an onslaught by the pro-capitalist apparatus of Brewer’s Green bureaucrats, MPs, MEPs, councillors, etc. Under such circumstances we Marxists are obliged to actively take sides.

What then should we make of Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain? He grovellingly wrote to Iain McNicol to assure him that the CPB “does not engage in entryism”.1)My emphasis – see https://andrewgodsell.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/labour-suspension-appeal-process More than that, comrade Griffiths parades his spinelessness:

According to reports in The Guardian and other media outlets … Labour Party staff have produced a research paper [that] links the Communist Party to ‘entryism’ in the Labour Party. In particular, that research paper cites a report made to our party’s executive committee [that] on June 25 declared that “defending the socialist leadership of the Labour Party at all costs” should be a priority for communists. Nowhere in that executive committee report … do we propose that our members join or register with the Labour Party. “At all costs” is a rhetorical flourish that cannot, obviously, be taken literally!

So the CPB should not be taken at its word. It will not defend the Corbyn leadership “at all costs”. And, prostrating himself still further before the witch-finder general, Griffiths continues:

Should you or your staff have any evidence that Communist Party members have joined the Labour Party without renouncing their CP membership, or engaged in any similar subterfuge, please inform me, so that action can be taken against them for bringing our party into disrepute.2)https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/communist-infiltration-of-labour

Let us be clear about what is being said here: in the middle of a brutal civil war, with the Labour left facing a concerted witch-hunt, the CPB’s Robert Griffiths wants to be seen as standing shoulder to shoulder with Iain McNicol. He even offers to help McNicol out in hunting down any CPB member who has decided to become a registered Labour Party supporter. To my personal knowledge there are more than a few of them. Anyway, not to leave a shadow of doubt, Griffiths signs off “With comradely regards”. A giveaway as to where his true loyalties really lie.

Following Tom Watson’s dodgy dossier, alleging that “far-left infiltrators are taking over the Labour Party”, Griffiths issued a follow-up statement. Again this excuse for a communist leader reassures McNicol that membership of his CPB is “incompatible with membership of the Labour Party by decision of both party leaderships”.3)Morning Star August 12 2016


How exactly Griffiths’ organisation arrived at its ban on Labour Party members joining the CPB and the ban on CPB members joining the Labour Party need not concern us here. Presumably its roots lie in the constitutionalism embraced by the ‘official’ CPGB with its turn to the cross-class politics of the popular front. This was sanctioned by the 5th Congress of the Communist International in 1935 under Stalin’s direct instructions.

Yet the CPB claims to be the unbroken continuation of the ‘official’ CPGB, going back to its foundation in 1920. Nonetheless, as we shall show, it is clear that that a fundamental break occurred. No less importantly, the same can be said of the Labour Party.

From its origins our Labour Party was a federal party. A united front of all working class organisations with, yes, especially at first, decidedly limited objectives.

JH Holmes, delegate of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, moved this truly historic resolution at the 1899 TUC:

That this Congress, having regard to its decisions in former years, and with a view to securing better representation of the interests of Labour in the House of Commons, hereby instructs the Parliamentary Committee to invite the cooperation of all cooperative, socialistic, trade unions and other working class organisations to jointly cooperate on lines mutually agreed upon, in convening a special congress of representatives from such above-named organisations as may be willing to take part to devise ways and means of securing the return of an increased number of Labour members in the next parliament.4)BC Roberts The Trade Union Congress 1868-1921 London 1958, p166

His resolution was opposed by the miners’ union on the basis of impracticability, but found support from the dockers, the railway servants and shop assistants unions. After a long debate the resolution was narrowly carried by 546,000 to 434,000 votes.

The TUC’s parliamentary committee oversaw the founding conference of the Labour Representation Committee in February 1900. The 129 delegates, representing 500,000 members, finally agreed to establish a distinct Labour Party in parliament, with its own whips, policies, finances, etc.

An executive committee was also elected. It would prepare lists of candidates, administer funds and convene an annual conference. Beside representatives of affiliated trade unions, the newly formed NEC would also include the socialist societies: the Fabians, the Independent Labour Party and the Social Democratic Federation. In fact, they were allocated five out of the 12 NEC seats (one Fabian, and two each from the ILP and SDF). Given the small size of these socialist societies compared with the trade unions, it is obvious that they were treated with extreme generosity. Presumably their “advanced” views were highly regarded.5)BC Roberts The Trade Union Congress 1868-1921 London 1958, p167

True, for the likes of Keir Hardie the formation of the Labour Party marked something of a tactical retreat. He had long sought some kind of a socialist party. However, to secure an alliance with the trade unions he and other ILPers were prepared to formally limit the Labour Party to nothing more than furthering working class interests by getting “men sympathetic with the aims and demands of the labour movement” into the House of Commons.6)Quoted in R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1960, p17

The delegates of the SDF proposed that the newly established Labour Party commit itself to the “class war and having as its ultimate object the socialisation of the means of production and exchange” – a formulation rejected by a large majority. In the main the trade unions were still Liberal politically. Unfortunately, as a result of this vote, the next annual conference of the SDF voted by 54 to 14 to withdraw from the Labour Party. Many SDF leaders came to bitterly “regret the decision”.7)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p97

It should be recalled that neither Marx nor Engels had much time for the SDF nor its autocratic leader, Henry Hyndman. The SDF often took a badly conceived sectarian approach. Instead of linking up with the trade unions, it would typically stand aloof. Eg, faced with the great industrial unrest of 1910-14, Hyndman rhetorically asked: “Can anything be imagined more foolish, more harmful, more – in the widest sense of the word – unsocial than a strike?”8)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p230 Of course, it is quite possible to actively support trade unions in their struggles over wages, conditions, etc, and to patiently and steadfastly advocate radical democracy and international socialism. Indeed without doing just that there can be no hope for a mass socialist party here in Britain.

However, the SDF is too often casually dismissed by historians. Eg, Henry Pelling describes it as “a rather weedy growth in the political garden”.9)H Pelling Origins of the Labour Party Oxford 1976, p172 True, its Marxism was typically lifeless, dogmatic and with Hyndman mixed with more than a tinge of anti-Semitism. Thus for him the Boer war was instigated by “Jew financial cliques and their hangers on”.10)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p159 Yet the SDF was “the first modern socialist organisation of national importance” in Britain.11)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p8 Karl Marx disliked it, Fredrick Engels despaired of it, William Morris, John Burns, Tom Mann and Edward Aveling left it. But the SDF survived. There were various breakaways. However, they either disappeared like the Socialist League, remained impotent sects like the Socialist Party of Great Britain, or could manage little more than establishing a regional influence, as with the Socialist Labour Party on Clydeside. Meanwhile the SDF continued as the “major representative” of what passed for Marxism in this country till 1911, when it merged with a range of local socialist societies to become the British Socialist Party.12)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p8

Not that sectarianism was entirely vanquished. The first conference of the BSP voted, by an overwhelming majority, to “seek direct and independent affiliation” to the Second International.13)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p248 In other words, not through the Labour Party-dominated British section of the Second International.

However, despite that, the BSP began to overcome its Labour-phobia. Leading figures such as Henry Hyndman, J Hunter Watts and Dan Irving eventually came out in favour of affiliation. So too did Zelda Kahan for the left. Withdrawal from the Labour Party, she argued, had been a mistake. Outside the Labour Party the BSP was seen as hostile, as fault-finding, as antagonistic. Inside, the BSP would get a wider hearing and win over the “best” rank-and-file forces.14)M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p255

Affiliation was agreed, albeit by a relatively narrow majority. Efforts then began to put this into effect. The formal application for affiliation was submitted in June 1914. And in 1916 – things having been considerably delayed by the outbreak of World War I – the BSP gained affiliation to the Labour Party. Note, the BSP also in effect expelled the pro-war right wing led by Hyndman.

Labour debates

Interestingly, the International Socialist Bureau – the Brussels-based permanent executive of the Second International – meeting in October 1908, had agreed to Labour Party affiliation … and thus, given its numbers, ensured its domination of the British section. For our present purposes the exchanges between the dozen or so national party representatives gathered in Brussels are well worth revisiting.

According to the rules of the Second International, there could only be two types of affiliate organisations. Firstly, socialist parties “which recognise the class struggle”. Secondly, working class organisations “whose standpoint is that of the class struggle” (ie, trade unions).15)VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p233

During these times the Labour Party positively avoided calling itself socialist. Nor, as we have seen, did it expressly recognise the principle of the class struggle. However, despite that, the Labour Party was admitted to the August 1907 Stuttgart congress of the International. My guess would be that it had observer status. Why was it admitted? Lenin characterised the Labour Party as an “organisation of a mixed type”, standing between the two types defined in the rules. In other words, the Labour Party was part political party, part a political expression of the trade unions. Crucially, the Labour Party marked the break from Liberalism of the vitally important working class in Britain. That could only but be welcomed.

At the October 1908 meeting of the ISB, Bruce Glasier of the ILP demanded the direct recognition of the Labour Party as an affiliate. He praised the Labour Party, its growth, its parliamentary group, its organic bonds with the trade unions, etc. Objectively, he said, this signified the movement of the working class in Britain towards socialism. Meanwhile, as a typical opportunist, Glasier lambasted doctrinaire principles, formulas and catechisms.

Karl Kautsky, the Second International’s leading theoretician, replied. Kautsky emphatically dissociated himself from Glasier’s obvious contempt for principles, but wholly supported the affiliation of the Labour Party, as a party waging the class struggle in practice. He moved the following resolution:

Whereas by previous resolutions of the international congresses all organisations adopting the standpoint of the proletarian class struggle and recognising the necessity for political action have been accepted for membership, the International Bureau declares that the British Labour Party is admitted to International Socialist congresses, because, while not expressly accepting the proletarian class struggle, in practice the Labour Party conducts this struggle, and adopts its standpoint, inasmuch as the party is organised independently of the bourgeois parties.

Kautsky was backed up by the Austrians, Édouard Vaillant of the French section, and, as the voting showed, the majority of the socialist parties and groups in the smaller European countries. Opposition came first from Henry Hyndman, representing the SDF. He wanted to maintain the status quo. Until the Labour Party expressly recognised the principle of the class struggle and the aim of socialism it should not be an affiliate. He found support from Angele Roussel (the second French delegate and a follower of Jules Guesde), Ilya Rubanovich of Russia’s Socialist Revolutionary Party and Roumen Avramov, delegate of the revolutionary wing of the Bulgarian social democrats.

Lenin spoke on behalf of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. He agreed with the first part of Kautsky’s resolution. Lenin argued that it was impossible to turn down the Labour Party: ie, what he called “the parliamentary representation of the trade unions”.16)VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p234 After all, the ISB admitted trade unions, including those which had allowed themselves to be represented by bourgeois parliamentarians. But, said Lenin, “the second part of Kautsky’s resolution is wrong, because in practice the Labour Party is not a party really independent of the Liberals, and does not pursue a fully independent class policy”. Lenin therefore proposed an amendment that the end of the resolution, beginning with the word “because”, should read as follows: “because it [the Labour Party] represents the first step on the part of the really proletarian organisations of Britain towards a conscious class policy and towards a socialist workers’ party”.17)VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, pp234-35

However, Kautsky refused to accept the amendment. In his reply, he argued that the International Socialist Bureau could not adopt decisions based on “expectations”.

But the main struggle was between the supporters and the opponents of Kautsky’s resolution as a whole. When it was about to be voted on, Victor Adler, the Austro-Marxist, proposed that the resolution be divided into two parts. This was done and both parts were carried by the ISB: the first with three against and one abstention, and the second with four against and one abstention. Thus Kautsky’s resolution became the agreed position. Rubanovich, the Socialist Revolutionary, abstained on both votes. Lenin also reports what Adler – who spoke after him but before Kautsky’s second speech – said: “Lenin’s proposal is tempting, but it cannot make us forget that the Labour Party is now outside the bourgeois parties. It is not for us to judge how it did this. We recognise the fact of progress.”18)VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p235

The ISB dispute over the Labour Party continued in the socialist press. Fending off charges of “heresy” from leftist critics, Kautsky elaborated his ideas in a 1909 Neue Zeitarticle, ‘Sects or class parties’. Basically he argued that, unlike Germany and other mainland European countries, a mass workers’ party in Britain is impossible without linking up with the trade unions. Unless that happened, there could be nothing but sects and small circles.19)www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1909/07/unions.htm

In the Labour Leader, the ILP’s paper, Bruce Glasier rejoiced that the ISB not only recognised the Labour Party (which was true), but also “vindicated the policy of the ILP” (which was not true). Another ILPer, giving his impression of the Brussels meeting of the ISB, complained about the absence of the “ideal and ethical aspect of socialism”. Instead we “had … the barren and uninspiring dogma of the class war”.20)Quoted in VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p238

As for Hyndman, writing in the SDF’s Justice, he expressed his anger at the ISB majority. They are “whittlers-away of principle to suit the convenience of trimmers”. “I have not the slightest doubt,” writes Hyndman, “that if the British Labour Party had been told plainly that they either had to accept socialist principles … or keep away altogether, they would very quickly have decided to bring themselves into line with the International Socialist Party.”21)Quoted in VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977ibid p239

Lenin too joined the fray. He still considered Kautsky to be wrong. By stating in his resolution that the Labour Party “does not expressly accept the proletarian class struggle”, Kautsky voiced a certain “expectation”, a certain “judgement” as to what the policy of the Labour Party is now and what that policy should be. But Kautsky expressed this indirectly, and in such a way that it amounted to an assertion which, first, is incorrect in substance, and secondly, provides a basis for opportunists in the ILP to misrepresent his ideas.

By separating in parliament (but not in terms of its whole policy) from the two bourgeois parties, the Labour Party is “taking the first step towards socialism and towards a class policy of the proletarian mass organisations”. This, Lenin optimistically stated, is not an “expectation, but a fact”. A “fact” which compelled the ISB to admit the Labour Party into the International. Putting things this way, Lenin thought, “would make hundreds of thousands of British workers, who undoubtedly respect the decisions of the International, but have not yet become full socialists, ponder once again over the question why they are regarded as having taken only the first step, and what the next steps along this road should be”.

Lenin had no intention of laying down details about those “next steps”. But they were necessary, as Kautsky acknowledged in his resolution, albeit only indirectly. However, the use of an indirect formulation made it appear that the International was “certifying that the Labour Party was in practice waging a consistent class struggle, as if it was sufficient for a workers’ organisation to form a separate labour group in parliament in order in its entire conduct to become independent of the bourgeoisie!”22)Quoted in VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977pp235-36

The International, Lenin concluded, would undoubtedly have acted wrongly had it not expressed its complete support for the vital first step forward taken by the mass of workers in forming the Labour Party. But it does not in the least follow from this that the Labour Party “can already be recognised as a party in practice independent of the bourgeoisie, as a party waging the class struggle, as a socialist party, etc”.


The October revolution in Russia found unanimous and unstinting support in the BSP. A number of its émigré comrades returned home and took up important roles in the Soviet government. Bolshevik publications were soon being translated into English: eg, Lenin’s State and revolution. Money too flowed in.

The Leeds conference of the BSP in 1918 enthusiastically declared its solidarity with the Bolsheviks and a wish to emulate their methods and achievements. And under the influence of the Bolsheviks the BSP adopted a much more active, much more agitational role in the Labour Party and the trade unions. In the words of Fred Shaw, instead of standing aloof from the “existing organisations” of the working class, we should “win them for Marxism”.23)Quoted in M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p281

Needless to say, the BSP constituted the main body that went towards the historic formation of the Communist Party of Great Britain over July 31-August 1 1920. Given BSP affiliation, and the fact that in 1918 the Labour Party introduced individual membership, there can be no doubt that the bulk of CPGBers were card-carrying members of the Labour Party. Dual membership being the norm, as it was in the Fabians and ILP.

However, instead of simply informing Arthur Henderson, the Labour Party’s secretary, that the BSP had changed its name, the CPGB, following Lenin’s advice, applied for affiliation. Lenin thought the CPGB was in a win-win situation. If affiliation was accepted, this would open up the Labour Party rank and file to communist influence. If affiliation was not accepted, this would expose the Labour leaders for what they really were: namely “reactionaries of the worst kind”.

With 20:20 foresight it would probably have been better for the CPGB to have presented itself merely as the continuation of the BSP. After all, gaining a divorce is far harder than turning down a would-be suitor. Needless to say, upholding its commitment to British imperialism and thereby fearing association with the Bolshevik revolution, the Labour apparatus, along with the trade union bureaucracy, determined that the CPGB application had to be rejected.

The “first step towards socialism and towards a class policy” was thereby thrown into reverse. Instead of being a united front of the organised working class, the leadership of the Labour Party began to cohere a tightly controlled, thoroughly respectable, explicitly anti-Marxist Labour Party.

Henderson replied to the CPGB application for affiliation by saying that he did not consider that the principles of the communists accorded with those of the Labour Party. To which the CPGB responded by asking whether the Labour Party proposed to “exclude from its ranks” all those who were committed to the “political, social and economic emancipation of the working class”. Did Henderson want to “impose acceptance of parliamentary constitutionalism as an article of faith on its affiliated societies”?24)Quoted in R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1960, p87 The latter bluntly replied that there was an “insuperable difference” between the two parties.

A good many Labour Party activists rejected Henderson’s characterisation of the CPGB as, in effect, mad, bad and dangerous to know. Nonetheless, the Labour apparatus never experienced any difficulty in mustering large majorities against CPGB affiliation. Eg, in June 1921 there was a 4,115,000 to 224,000 conference vote rejecting the CPGB.

Not that the CPGB limped on as an isolated sect. Affiliation might have been rejected, but there was still dual membership. In 1922, two CPGB members won parliamentary seats as Labour candidates: JT Walton Newbold (Motherwell and Wishaw) and Shapurji Saklatvala (Battersea North).

Subsequently, Labour’s national executive committee was forced to temporarily drop its attempt to prevent CPGB members from being elected as annual conference delegates. The June 26-29 1923 London conference had 36 CPGB members as delegates, “as against six at Edinburgh”, the previous year.25)JT Murphy, ‘The Labour Party conference’ Communist Review August 1923, Vol 4, No4: www.marxists.org/archive/murphy-jt/1923/08/labour_conf.htm Incidentally, the 1923 conference once again rejected CPGB affiliation, this time by 2,880,000 to 366,000 votes.

Nonetheless, the general election in December 1923 saw Walton Newbold (Motherwell) and Willie Gallacher (Dundee) standing as CPGB candidates. Fellow CPGBers Ellen Wilkinson (Ashton-under-Lyne), Shapurji Saklatvala (Battersea North), M Philips Price (Gloucester), William Paul (Manchester Rusholme) and Joe Vaughan (Bethnal Green SW) were official Labour candidates, while Alec Geddes (Greenock) and Aitkin Ferguson (Glasgow Kelvingrove) were unofficial Labour candidates, there being no official Labour candidate in either constituency. Despite a not inconsiderable increase in the communist vote, none were elected.26)J Klugmann History of the Communist Party of Great Britain Vol 1, London 1968, pp361-62

A ban on CPGB members standing as Labour Party candidates swiftly followed. Yet, although Labour Party organisations were instructed not to support CPGB candidates, this was met with defiance, not the connivance nowadays personified by Robert Griffiths. In the run-up to the October 1924 general election, Battersea North Labour Party overwhelmingly endorsed Shapurji Saklatvala; Joe Vaughan was unanimously endorsed by Bethnal Green SW Constituency Labour Party and William Paul similarly by the Rusholme CLP executive committee. And Saklatvala was once again elected as an MP.

The 1924 Labour Party conference decision against CPGB members continuing with dual membership was reaffirmed in 1925. And, going further, trade unions were “asked not to nominate communists as delegates to Labour organisations”.27)N Branson History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927-1941 London 1985, p5 Yet despite these assaults on the Labour Party’s founding principles, at the end of 1926 the CPGB could report that 1,544 of its 7,900 members were still individual members of the Labour Party.

Following the defeat of the 1926 General Strike, the Labour apparatus and trade union bureaucracy wanted the movement to draw the lesson that the only way to make gains would be through increased collaboration with the capitalist boss class – Mondism. As a concomitant there was a renewed drive to intimidate, to marginalise, to drive out the communists.

The struggle proved particularly sharp in London. In the capital city around half of the CPGBs members were active in their CLPs. And despite claiming that it was the communists who were “splitting the movement”, the bureaucracy strove to do just that. Battersea CLP was disaffiliated because it dared to back Saklatvala and refused to exclude CPGB members. Similar measures were taken against Bethnal Green CLP, where the communist ex-mayor, Joe Vaughan, was held in particularly high regard.

The left in the Labour Party fought back. The National Left Wing Movement was formed in December 1925. Its stated aim was not only to fight the bans on communists, it also sought to hold together disaffiliated CLPs.

The NLWM insisted it had no thought of superceding the Labour Party, but, instead, it sought to advance rank-and-file aspirations. In this the NLWM was considerably boosted by the newly established Sunday Worker. Despite being initiated, funded and edited by the CPGB, the Sunday Workerserved as the authoritative voice of the NLWM. At its height it achieved a circulation of 100,000. The NLWM’s 1925 founding conference had nearly 100 Labour Party organisations sending delegates.

Yet the right’s campaign of disaffiliations and expulsions remorselessly proceeded. The NLWM therefore found itself considerably weakened in terms of official Labour Party structures. Hence at the NLWM’s second annual conference in 1927 there were delegates from only 54 local Labour Parties and other Labour groups (representing a total of 150,000 individual party members). It should be added that militant union leaders, such as the miners’ AJ Cook, also supported the conference.

With the counterrevolution within the revolution in the Soviet Union, the CPGB was in many ways reduced to a slave of Stalin’s foreign policy. The CPGB’s attitude towards the Labour Party correspondingly changed. Leaders such as Harry Pollitt and Rajani Palme Dutt denounced the Labour Party as nothing but “a third capitalist party” (shades of Peter Taaffe and the Socialist Party in England and Wales).

As an integral part of this self-inflicted madness, in 1929 the Sunday Worker was closed and the NLWM wound up. In effect the CPGB returned to its SDF roots. Ralph Miliband regretfully comments that the CPGB’s so-called new line “brought it to the nadir of its influence”.28)R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1960, p153 Sectarianism could only but spur on the right’s witch-hunt. In 1930 the Labour Party apparatus produced its first ‘proscribed list’. Members of proscribed organisations became ineligible for individual membership of the Labour Party and CLPs were instructed not to affiliate to proscribed organisations. Needless to say, most of those organisation were closely associated with the CPGB.

However, what began with action directed against the CPGB-led National Unemployed Workers’ Movement and the National Minority Movement has now morphed into the catch-all ban on “racist, abusive or foul language, abuse against women, homophobia or anti-Semitism at meetings, on social media or in any other context”. Nowadays the Labour Party apparatus can, at a whim, expel or suspend anyone.

Surely, beginning with the Liverpool conference, it is time to put an end to the bans and proscriptions. We certainly have within our power the possibility of once again establishing the Labour Party as the united front of all working class organisations in Britain.


1 My emphasis – see https://andrewgodsell.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/labour-suspension-appeal-process
2 https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/communist-infiltration-of-labour
3 Morning Star August 12 2016
4 BC Roberts The Trade Union Congress 1868-1921 London 1958, p166
5 BC Roberts The Trade Union Congress 1868-1921 London 1958, p167
6 Quoted in R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1960, p17
7 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p97
8 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p230
9 H Pelling Origins of the Labour Party Oxford 1976, p172
10 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p159
11 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p8
12 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p8
13 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p248
14 M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p255
15 VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p233
16 VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p234
17 VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, pp234-35
18 VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p235
19 www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1909/07/unions.htm
20 Quoted in VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977, p238
21 Quoted in VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977ibid p239
22 Quoted in VI Lenin CW Vol 15, Moscow 1977pp235-36
23 Quoted in M Crick The history of the Social Democratic Federation Keel 1994, p281
24 Quoted in R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1960, p87
25 JT Murphy, ‘The Labour Party conference’ Communist Review August 1923, Vol 4, No4: www.marxists.org/archive/murphy-jt/1923/08/labour_conf.htm
26 J Klugmann History of the Communist Party of Great Britain Vol 1, London 1968, pp361-62
27 N Branson History of the Communist Party of Great Britain 1927-1941 London 1985, p5
28 R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1960, p153