Tag Archives: Corbyn

Corbynism is over

Mike Macnair argues that the very aim of winning government office is misconceived and self-defeating

first published  by the Weekly Worker

Labour’s severe defeat means the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party; he has already said he will step down. The right is demanding his quick departure, in the hope that they can make a coup against the left and purge the party; the left has been pressing for a slower transition in the hope that they can salvage something. Even if the Labour left succeeds in this aim, ‘Corbynism’ as it has existed since 2015 is over.

Corbynism offered, for a while, an actual opposition which could give a voice to those who had been silenced by the insistence of ‘New Labour’ (and ‘Orange Book’ Liberalism) that only free-market solutions were possible. But that opposition has now failed as a result of Jeremy Corbyn and his allies’ commitment to attempting to form the next government – already announced in 2015. 1)Eg. Corbyn, quoted at http://labourlist.org/2015/10/jeremy-corbyn-campaigners-set-up-new-momentum-group/ (Oct 8 2015) The Labour left may survive the defeat; but it is most likely to do so if it accepts that what is on the agenda is the struggle for an opposition and a voice, not – until we have substantially rebuilt the movement – the immediate struggle for a government.

It is constitutional loyalism which lies behind Labour’s ‘governmental illness’ shared by left and right. To overcome the problem needs a disloyalist party, one which seeks in the long term to overthrow the constitution rather than to play the constitutional game. That is – a Communist Party. Such a party would still be needed if Labour could be turned into a real united front of the class by eliminating the witch-hunting operations and allowing the far left to openly affiliate to the party. It will be equally needed if – as seems likely – the right wing of the trade union leaderships put the Labour right back in the saddle and the party is thoroughly purged to prevent a repetition of 2015 in the future.


The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader created a fundamental sea-change in British politics which Labour’s defeat has not reversed – yet. The sea-change consisted in the fact that a large constituency of opposition to the claims of neoliberalism, which had been effectively silenced under Blair, found a voice.

Throughout the Blairite ascendancy the subcurrent of popular grumbling could not find open expression. The Labour left remained utterly marginal. Although the far left outside the party could play an important role in single-issue street protests, as in the anti-war movement, its division into confessional sects (and the consequent unprincipled splitting operations of the Socialist Party in the Socialist Alliance, and then of the Socialist Workers’ Party in Respect, in search of apparatus control, and the self-sterilising bureaucratism of Left Unity) prevented it from giving a political voice to the silenced constituency.

Because of this new oppositional voice, Cameron failed to do to Labour in England in 2016 what he had done to it in Scotland in 2014 – get Labour to be ‘statesmanlike’ by backing the ‘establishment’ view, and then knife them with an English-nationalist turn. So it was necessary, for Cameron’s project, to take a sharp turn to the left as the Tories have succeeded in doing under Boris Johnson.

Theresa May fairly clearly thought that a limited rhetorical shift to the left would be enough. But in the 2017 election flatly contradictory messages came from May and some of her semi-‘Red Tory’ advisers on the one hand, and from the Chancellor ‘spreadsheet Phil’ Hammond on the other; and from a media trying simultaneously to promote Tory populism against Labour ‘elitism’ while denouncing Corbyn’s very limited reform proposals as wild ultra-leftism – a story which could not possibly be persuasive. Clinging desperately to it, May came across as the ‘May-Bot’ and lost the narrow majority she had inherited.2)Cf eg. A McElvoy, ‘Is Theresa May’s mix of tax justice, born-again statism and attacks on cartel capitalism a new ‘red’ Toryism?’ The Guardian October 9 2016; and ‘How a gamble that backfired brought Theresa May to the brink’ The Guardian June 11 2017

An immediate consequence was the overthrow, by the UK Supreme Court, of Vince Cable’s abolition of the employment rights by stealth, through raising tribunal fees. The government did not, as Thatcher would have done, promptly reverse the decision by statute.3)More discussion in M Macnair, ‘Rhetoric and political realities’ Weekly Worker August 3 2017 ore, May’s “austerity is over” announcement had to be delayed until October 2018. 4)‘Theresa May declares ‘austerity is over’ after eight years of cuts and tax increases’ Independent October 3 2018 ‘Austerity’ was always really a policy of privatisations and redistribution towards the Tories’ favoured groups; 5)Cf eg C Berry, ‘Austerity is over? It never really began’ https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/austerity-ending-hypothesis/. Also, among many others, A Chakrabortty, ‘Austerity is far more than just cuts. It’s about privatising everything we own’ The Guardian May 24 2016 but the abandonment of the rhetoric was evidence that concessions had to be made, as a result of the creation of a voice for the silenced opposition.

The effects persist, in Johnson’s announcement of major infrastructure spending in the north, and in his explicit rejection of Brino by proposing a hard deadline on trade negotiations with the EU. Thus Johnson is still, even after his election victory, continuing to push Brexit-based nationalist populism.6)‘Boris Johnson plans to pour billions into Midlands and North’ Financial Times December 15 2019; ‘Brexit bill to rule out extension to transition period’ BBC News December 17 2019. A more general (if implausible) argument is made by Robert Colvile, ‘Johnson is serious about Tory transformation’ The Times December 16 2019

Concessions can be won from a Tory government – if an open opposition projects a radical alternative. A Labour government, on the other hand, might force through the most effective anti-union laws, as the 1974-79 Wilson-Callaghan government did, or privatisations and fraudulent ‘private finance initiative’ deals which cripple health and education with debt burdens, as the 1997-2010 Blair-Brown government did.


Corbyn and his associates could only see a way forward through winning a general election and forming a government. The politics of effective long-term opposition were beyond their ken – and remain beyond the horizon of most of the left. This short time-horizon and fetishism of government can be seen in three ways.

First, the Labour right have been campaigning for a Tory victory since 2015, through endless attacks on Corbyn, his allies and his authority, hoping it would allow them to regain control of the party as happened after 1983. In addition, they have been pushing endlessly for the ‘statesmanlike’ remain policy. The right’s victories in moving Labour towards remain were decisive in returning Tory MPs in traditional Labour seats. The Corbyn leadership has done hardly anything to fight this.

Any actual crack-down on the Labour right would have been met with a split and the creation of a new ‘Social Democrat Party’ – leading to electoral defeat, as in 1983 and 1987. Allowing the right freedom to campaign against the party from within, however, has led to just such a defeat – and, moreover, a severe defeat, without even the merit a split might have had of getting rid of many of the right-wingers or creating the conditions for a revival of grassroots party organisations which rightist apparatchiks have held onto and held down. In the medium-term aftermath of the 1931 split and defeat, Labour rebuilt its base. Without ousting the right and de-managerializing the left, that cannot be done.

Second, the Labour leadership has essentially adopted a policy dependent on not confronting the effective monopoly of the advertising-funded and hence corrupt media and the state’s BBC. The very late production of the manifesto – some of it quite good – and the accompanying efforts to use ‘new media’ to get the message across, were too little, too late. The leadership’s policy has been – most strikingly in relation to the ‘anti-Semitism’ defamation – to try to divert attention, and hope any issues except the NHS and ‘austerity’ will go away.

This issue is interlocked with that of the Labour right. To campaign effectively against media defamation, and to get the Corbynistas’ policy messages across, would have required reviving the actual face-to-face operations of the constituency and ward branch parties, as well as Labour working to create its own media. This would require facing down the Labour right, who remain determined to hold on to the party apparat and to keep the party dependent on the corrupt media.

Thirdly, Labour manoeuvring itself into a position where it would be seen as a remainer party was not only the work of the party right, nor even of them together with the purblind ‘left remainers’. Rather, the party leadership has been persistently seeking and demanding an early general election. It was the hope of bringing the government down through parliamentary manoeuvres which led them to support a succession of remainer procedural initiatives in which Tory remainers refused to actually bring the government down. The Labour parliamentary leadership, by stringing along with these initiatives, presented themselves over months as a mere tail to the parliamentary cretinism of the Tory and Lib Dem remainers.

The denouement of this policy arrived at the end of October, when the SNP and Lib Dems backed Johnson’s call for a general election, forcing Labour’s hand and producing an election at Johnson’s preferred time and on Johnson’s terms. 7)J Rentoul ‘Boris Johnson has got the election he wanted – thanks to Jo Swinson’ Independent October 29; ‘Blundering Swinson’s gamble on forcing poll’ The Express December 15 2019 Idiot elements of the left, like Socialist Worker, were still demanding an early election when it was entirely clear that this was Johnson’s demand. But the idiocy was prepared by the Labour leadership themselves over the past four years.

Loyalist delusions

Underlying Labour’s governmental illness is a delusion that if Labour commits to playing by the rules of the constitutional order, partial concessions to the working class can be won through forming a government. This supposition is expressed in the idea that the UK is a ‘democracy’ and that the governmentalist line is ‘democratic socialism’. 2015-19 was a demonstration of the falsity of the idea. The capitalist class does not play by the rules. Loyalty to the United States, and willingness to accept the generalised bribery regime (‘sleaze’), are demanded of British politicians by both the state core and the corrupt media. The demands are enforced by Big Lie techniques: the ‘anti-Semitism’ scandal is only a ‘Zinoviev letter’ on a larger scale. 8)‘Zinoviev letter was dirty trick by MI6’ The Guardian February 4 1999 The Liberal Democrats and the Scots nats are not potential allies of Labour, but political enemies. Concessions are won from the capitalists not by playing nice, but by the combination of carrot and stick; Corbyn and McDonnell’s policy has been all carrot and no stick.

The stick has to be threats to the constitutional order. The concessions of 1948-78 were products of Soviet tanks on the Elbe, mass communist parties in France, southern Europe and in many colonial countries, and broader mass hostility to capitalism as a result of the 1930s and 40s. As long as the capitalists think that their regime will remain undisturbed, the concessions disappear; the brief life of Labour as an opposition has produced some limited concessions.

The future of the Labour Party can go in one of two directions. The first, if unlikely, would be a break with the right and their witch-hunting and constituting Labour as a united front party of the whole workers’ movement – a party of opposition, because it could not hope to form a government at the next general election.

Such a party would need within it an affiliate party which posed socialism – not as moral values but as an actual alternative to capitalist order – and fought openly for the overthrow of the constitution. It would work continuously to discredit both British and ‘European’ nationalism, the monarchy and House of Lords, the officer corps, the sale and denial of justice through the ‘free market in legal services’, the advertising-funded media, and so on: a Communist Party, in other words. That long-term activity would undermine the manipulations of the regime which have allowed Johnson to win.

The more likely future is that the trade union leaders are conned into purging the party of leftists for the benefit of the rightwing, in the hope of a new 1997. This hope is delusional: as we have seen in Scotland in 2015 and in northern and midlands England in this election, the restoration of Blairism leads only to Pasokification and the marginalization of Labour.

But suppose it happens. The left would be motivated to try, yet again, to create a new party. But if they don’t draw the lesson of breaking with the Corbynites’ governmental illness, what they will create will inevitably be a new Syriza at best – the road to another episode of demoralization. It remains the case that what is needed and missing is a party disloyal to the constitution: a Communist Party l


  1. ↩︎
  2.   Cf eg. A McElvoy, ‘Is Theresa May’s mix of tax justice, born-again statism and attacks on cartel capitalism a new ‘red’ Toryism?’ The Guardian October 9 2016; and ‘How a gamble that backfired brought Theresa May to the brink’ The Guardian June 11 2017.↩︎
  3.   More discussion in M Macnair, ‘Rhetoric and political realities’ Weekly Worker August 3 2017.↩︎
  4.   ‘Theresa May declares ‘austerity is over’ after eight years of cuts and tax increases’ Independent October 3 2018.↩︎
  5.   Cf eg C Berry, ‘Austerity is over? It never really began’ https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/austerity-ending-hypothesis/. Also, among many others, A Chakrabortty, ‘Austerity is far more than just cuts. It’s about privatising everything we own’ The Guardian May 24 2016.↩︎
  6.   ‘Boris Johnson plans to pour billions into Midlands and North’ Financial Times December 15 2019; ‘Brexit bill to rule out extension to transition period’ BBC News December 17 2019. A more general (if implausible) argument is made by Robert Colvile, ‘Johnson is serious about Tory transformation’ The Times December 16 2019.↩︎
  7.   J Rentoul ‘Boris Johnson has got the election he wanted – thanks to Jo Swinson’ Independent October 29; ‘Blundering Swinson’s gamble on forcing poll’ The Express December 15 2019.↩︎
  8.   ‘Zinoviev letter was dirty trick by MI6’ The Guardian February 4 1999


1 Eg. Corbyn, quoted at http://labourlist.org/2015/10/jeremy-corbyn-campaigners-set-up-new-momentum-group/ (Oct 8 2015
2 Cf eg. A McElvoy, ‘Is Theresa May’s mix of tax justice, born-again statism and attacks on cartel capitalism a new ‘red’ Toryism?’ The Guardian October 9 2016; and ‘How a gamble that backfired brought Theresa May to the brink’ The Guardian June 11 2017
3 More discussion in M Macnair, ‘Rhetoric and political realities’ Weekly Worker August 3 2017
4 ‘Theresa May declares ‘austerity is over’ after eight years of cuts and tax increases’ Independent October 3 2018
5 Cf eg C Berry, ‘Austerity is over? It never really began’ https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/austerity-ending-hypothesis/. Also, among many others, A Chakrabortty, ‘Austerity is far more than just cuts. It’s about privatising everything we own’ The Guardian May 24 2016
6 ‘Boris Johnson plans to pour billions into Midlands and North’ Financial Times December 15 2019; ‘Brexit bill to rule out extension to transition period’ BBC News December 17 2019. A more general (if implausible) argument is made by Robert Colvile, ‘Johnson is serious about Tory transformation’ The Times December 16 2019
7 J Rentoul ‘Boris Johnson has got the election he wanted – thanks to Jo Swinson’ Independent October 29; ‘Blundering Swinson’s gamble on forcing poll’ The Express December 15 2019
8 ‘Zinoviev letter was dirty trick by MI6’ The Guardian February 4 1999

Let’s get trigger-happy!

The (temporary) reinstatement of Chris Williamson has riled the witch-hunters, writes Carla Roberts. Now we must ensure that the decision to introduce the reformed trigger ballot process is used to drive them out

On June 26 pro-Corbyn MP Chris Williamson was reinstated as a Labour member, following a suspension that lasted exactly four months. [UPDATE: Two days later, he was suspended again. Check out the website of Labour Against the Witchhunt on how you can protest against this]. A three-person panel from the party’s national executive committee issued him with a formal warning about his behaviour – not least his totally accurate statement that the party had been “too apologetic” over claims of anti-Semitism. But the NEC’s anti-Semitism panel declined to take things further by referring comrade Williamson to the national constitutional committee, as it had been expected to do.

Ruth Smeeth (left) with her fellow anti-Corbyn saboteurs Luciana Berger and Jess Phillips
Ruth Smeeth (left) with her fellow anti-Corbyn saboteurs Luciana Berger and Jess Phillips

Ironically, as if to demonstrate the accuracy of Williamson’s claim that the party had “given too much ground” over utterly false anti- Semitism allegations, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, who is chair of the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary group, said that he had “demonstrated a pattern of behaviour over a period of many months, seemingly seeking to intentionally undermine, marginalise and harass the British Jewish community and Jewish Labour Party members, which has continually brought the Labour Party into disrepute”.

She added:

“The fact the NEC disputes panel has today ignored the recommendations of Labour Party staff, to let him off with a slap on the wrist, is simply appalling. It’s no surprise that the Labour Party is being investigated by the EHRC for institutionalised anti-Jewish hatred. I’m truly disgusted that he’s being readmitted to the Labour Party.”

The fact that Equality and Human Rights Commission has been asked to investigate Labour for “institutionalised” anti-Semitism, and that Smeeth can make such disgraceful accusations against Williamson, clearly illustrates that the party has in fact given far too much ground to people who come out with such outrageous lies.

So does this represent a sea-change in the attitude of Jeremy Corbyn and those around him? Not necessarily. But it certainly strikes a blow against the right – at a time when general secretary Jennie Formby has just indicated that the long awaited reform of the trigger ballot process, allowing Constituency Labour Parties the possibility of deselecting their sitting MP, is now to be implemented. In another irony, comrade Williamson was before his suspension prominent in the campaign to help democratise the party by holding MPs to account.

Trigger ballots

On June 23 Formby wrote to all sitting Labour MPs “to ask you to inform the Labour Party if you wish to remain a candidate at the next general election”. MPs have until July 8 to reply. If they answer ‘no’, then a full selection process between different candidates begins (with the usual restrictions: for example, all-women short lists). If the sitting MP replies ‘yes’, however, the local CLP can organise a trigger ballot – which, after its reform agreed at last year’s conference, now gives members for the first time in almost 30 years a realistic chance of getting rid of an unsatisfactory sitting MP.

Rightwingers have already criticised the letter as the beginning of their “purge” from the party. Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, was the first to huffily declare on Twitter that he will not stand again, while Ian Austin MP tweeted: “Decision time for Labour MPs. In their hearts the vast majority know Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to lead our country, so are they really going to knock on doors and ask people to make him prime minister?” May those two careerists be followed out of the door by many, many more. We would prefer it all the vile Blairites and warmongers were booted out of the party by an active local membership, but we really do not mind if they jump ship beforehand.

Trigger ballots are needed to deal with these people

Interestingly enough, some of the most zealous Corbyn critics are keeping suspiciously quiet for the moment – among them Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge, Jess Phillips and Stella Creasy. We presume they are engaged in some form of deliberation – and splitting from the party will no doubt be one of the options they are discussing. But the embarrassing fate of Chuka Umunna and his merry band of losers will certainly have come as a strong discouragement, at least for now. Even if Watson took a very large number of MPs out behind him the chances are he would end up the same way. Given the first past the post electoral system, they would have very little chance of getting re-elected – unless they did a deal with the Liberal Democrats or Tories. And their career is very dear to these people.

So it seems that – at least in the short term – Watson and co are trying to keep their heads down in order to avoid deselection. Last week, Watson’s Future Britain group organised a meeting in parliament, entitled ‘Incumbency and campaigning’, which was designed to “give colleagues the chance to share their local strategies for preparing for trigger ballots”. We are guessing that matters like ‘How to stop seeing your position as an MP merely as a career move’ or ‘How to stop constantly knifing Jeremy Corbyn in the back’ were not high on the agenda.

But these are the kind of issues that loom large in local CLPs and we doubt that many members will be fooled by any of the dumb survival ‘strategies’ Tom Watson et al come up with (perhaps most obvious among them the recent discovery of ‘women’s issues’ by the aforementioned Stella Creasy and Jess Phillips). At least we know what Future Britain is supposed to be good for, now that we have seen its first concrete policy: ‘Save your seat’.

There will probably be attempts by the right to delay and cancel meetings, so that branches cannot actually launch trigger ballots. Watson has already used that tactic to prevent his own West Bromwich East CLP from discussing the proposal to change from general-committe to all-members meetings. Apparently, there was “no urgent business”, as the CLP chair, Simon Hackett, informed members when cancelling the meeting – did we mention he happens to work for Watson? This cancellation also, outrageously, robbed members of their right to select delegates to conference (so now those rightwingers elected last year will get to go again – simple!).

It is of utmost importance that Labour Party members up and down the country start getting seriously organised for trigger ballots now, if they have not done so already. This pressure from below is also needed to ensure that the reform will be fully implemented and that the leadership does not pull back at the last moment.

This remains a real danger. CLPs have yet to receive a full timetable and written guidelines from Labour HQ. There is still the possibility that, perhaps, the devil will be in the detail.

The fact that it took almost a year to implement the rule change – and six months for Formby to produce guidelines after she was commissioned to do so “urgently” by the NEC back in January – is an indication of how controversial this reform is, even for Jeremy Corbyn and his allies. The leadership has until recently tried to avoid implementing the rule change (despite the fact that it originated from the leadership). And it has to be said that it does somewhat jar with Corbyn’s four-year-campaign of trying to appease the rightwing saboteurs in the party, rather than take them on openly.

We can only hope that he and his allies have finally understood that there can be no peace, no ‘unity’ with the right. Thousands of members have been sacrificed in this campaign, as the right has suspended, expelled and smeared as ‘anti-Semites’ many of the most ardent Corbyn supporters. It would indeed be high time for the leadership to make a bold move against the right.

In this context it is interesting that it was the NEC officers meeting on June 24 which “agreed the procedural guidelines for reselection of sitting members of parliament” – and not a full meeting of the NEC. The majority of NEC officers can be described as pro-Corbyn, with only three of the eight officers being on the right (deputy leader Tom Watson, NEC chair Wendy Nichols from Unison and Cath Speight of the GMB union, who is the chair of the national policy forum). In meetings of all 39 members of the NEC, however, Corbyn does not have an outright majority and on some issues his supposed ‘allies’ like Jon Lansman are known to have let him down (for example, over Corbyn’s unsuccessful attempt to include a ‘waiver’ when the NEC adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s so-called ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism).

It is not inconceivable that the next meeting of the full NEC in July might decide to overturn some of the decisions taken by the NEC officers. Or they might decide to delay the publication of a timetable … until it is too late, perhaps? In the snap election of 2017, CLPs were told that the sitting MP would simply remain in place, as there was “no time” for a selection process. In our view, that was a huge political mistake, as the Parliamentary Labour Party has been at the heart of the coup against Corbyn. But we are not yet certain that, despite comrade Williamson’s reinstatement, he and his allies have actually learned that lesson.


We should also remember that the reform of the trigger ballot was only moved in order to stop the far more democratic system of mandatory reselection (aka open selection) from being adopted at last year’s conference. This issue has been at the heart of the fight between the left and the right of the party for many decades.

palestine flags
CLP delegates at Labour Party conference 2018 were overwhelmingly in favour of ‘open selection’ (ie, the mandatory reselection of parliamentary candidates)

Trigger ballots were first introduced by Neil Kinnock in the early 1990s as a means of abolishing the much more democratic system of mandatory reselection (under which sitting MPs had to be specifically approved and any challenger rejected – a system which existed in the party in different forms for about 10 years previously), while simultaneously giving the system a veneer of ‘democracy’.

But, in reality, this method was always rigged: it made it almost impossible to get rid of a sitting MP, as locally affiliated unions and ‘socialist societies’ held a huge amount of power. Until last year, a democratic selection process between different candidates could only take place if a minimum of 50% of all the local Labour branches and the local affiliates voted to challenge the sitting MP. As every branch and every affiliate had a single vote each (irrespective of their membership figures), this often gave a local union bureaucrat the same power as, say, a branch with 500 members. Most of the time, these affiliates used their power to retain the sitting MP – an arrangement which often reflecting the rather cosy relationship between them. Labour members frequently did not even know if a trigger ballot had taken place in their branch – they were not really interested, as it was quite rightly not seen as any kind of useful tool in the struggle between the left and the right in the party.

But all that changed at last year’s Labour conference in Liverpool. It was the threat of the reintroduction of the eminently democratic principle of an open contest between different prospective parliamentary candidates that forced the hand of the party leadership: over 95% of all conference delegates expressed their support for the proposed rule change known as ‘open selection’. As the party’s largest union affiliate, the Unite union, had also just reconfirmed its commitment to a system of mandatory reselection, it looked like the rule change would sail through conference. The unions count for 50% of total voting at conference, despite the fact that there are far fewer union delegates present than for CLPs – without the support of at least a proportion of them, it is very difficult for any motion to be passed.

Len McCluskey and Jeremy Corbyn

Alas, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies got cold feet. Fearing that the right wing in the party would once again escalate its ongoing slow coup against him if mandatory reselection was adopted, he bottled it. Instead of supporting the campaign – started by members supportive of his leadership – the Corbyn team suggested a reform of the trigger ballot instead. The first that delegates got to see of the proposed reform was at conference itself. No meaningful debate or any amendments were possible, as the proposal was part of the reform package produced in the wake of the ‘Democracy Review’ conducted by Katy Clark, which was presented to delegates on the basis of ‘take it or leave it’.

While delegates from local CLPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of opening up the conference agenda to allow a debate on this part of the proposed reform package, Corbyn asked Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey, to vote against. And, since all other unions (apart from the three delegates of Matt Wrack’s Fire Brigades Union) followed suit, the reforms were adopted without any chance to amend them. Len McCluskey got a lot of stick for claiming afterwards that, had the rule change on open selection been tabled, he would have asked his delegates to vote in favour of it – but in reality he was largely responsible for stopping it from being tabled.

Civil war

Conference delegates in Liverpool and members at home were understandably fuming about what they quite rightly saw as a huge betrayal. As opposed to Jeremy Corbyn and his allies, they seemed very much aware of the fact that, without dramatic changes to the composition of the PLP in favour of the pro-Corbyn left, the civil war in the party would remain badly tilted against them and could not be won.

Another direct attempt to depose Corbyn is improbable – simply because there is no doubt he would win again. But, even in the unlikely event of him getting the keys to No10, this would not stop the ongoing civil war against him by the right in and outside the Labour Party. The current crop of rightwing-dominated MPs will continue to sabotage and undermine him at every possible opportunity – he will remain a prisoner constrained by a hostile PLP. He would be lucky if he could convince these rightwingers to vote even for some of the demands in his ‘moderate’ For the many, not the few manifesto.

More importantly though, what if the US and/or the ‘international community’ called on their British ally to go to war against the ‘terrorists’ in Iran or Lebanon? Or back a military coup in Venezuela? Or condemn the desperate protests of Palestinians in Gaza? If Corbyn refused to do any of those things, he could easily be outvoted by his PLP … which would quite conceivably lead to a no- confidence vote … which could spell the swift end of prime minister Corbyn.

In reality, however, we know that the ruling class would do everything in its power to prevent a Corbyn-led government from actually happening. They know that, despite his constant moves to conciliate and accommodate the Labour right, he just cannot be trusted because of his past record. And, of course, there also remains the danger of the formation of a national government ‘to sort out Brexit’ – perhaps after a snap election. No doubt, Jeremy Corbyn would not be called up for this dream team to be forged, but there are plenty of current Labour MPs who would gladly join such an endeavour.

The PLP remains the key problem for Corbyn, in other words. He cannot achieve anything much if he remains controlled by these rightwingers. The reformed trigger ballot does not make it as feasible to remove rightwing MPs as mandatory reselection would – but it makes getting rid of the biggest traitors a real possibility.

No doubt, most of the new crop of candidates selected in this process will be on what can charitably be described as the soft left of the party, with many no doubt being pushed by Momentum’s witch-finder general, Jon Lansman. In other words, these deselections can only be the first step in the campaign to radically transform Labour.

How it works

If the system is implemented, as agreed at the 2018 conference (which is not yet certain), we can look forward to the long overdue clearing out of many of the careerists, Blairites and warmongers that have been hogging Labour’s parliamentary benches for decades.

Every party member should familiarise themselves with the rules. We think it would be a good idea to hold trigger ballots everywhere, including in seats where members are happy with their MP and actually do not aim to replace them – that would show that MPs who actually represent the wishes of the local membership have nothing to fear from a democratic selection process. It would also be a step into the direction of reintroducing the much more democratic and transparent mandatory reselection of all sitting MPs.

  •  The 2018 Labour conference voted to introduce two separate trigger ballots: one for all the branches of a CLP; another for all local affiliates (trade unions, socialist societies, cooperative organisations).
  • All sitting MPs have until July 8 to reply to Jennie Formby’s question as to whether they “wish to remain a candidate at the next general election”.
  • If the sitting MP replies ‘no’, then a democratic selection process begins. If the MP replies ‘yes’, the CLP will organise two trigger ballots:
  1. Local party members will meet in their branches and will be asked to vote for or against retaining the sitting MP as the only candidate. A simple majority will decides whether the branch is counted towards a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote.
  2. Local affiliates (unions and other organisations) – most of whom will probably not hold a democratic vote on the question – will also have one vote each in the CLP.
  • If a minimum of 33% of a CLP’s branches or 33 % of the CLP’s affiliates vote ‘no’ to retaining the sitting MP, a full selection process will start – ie, a democratic contest between different candidates, including the sitting MP. Only full Labour members will have a vote in this stage of the process.

For example, if a CLP has 10 branches and 10 affiliates, either four LP branches or four affiliated organisations have to vote ‘no’ when asked if they want to retain the sitting MP in order to trigger a full selection process.

All-members-meetings or General Committees?

Labour First, the LRC and the CLPD all vigorously oppose all-members meetings, while Momentum is in favour. But it really is a question of tactics, argues Carla Roberts 

A rule change snuck through at last year’s Labour conference has led to some rather heated debates. It allows Constituency Labour Parties to switch easily from a delegate-based general committee (GC) to an all-members meeting format (AMM) – and vice versa. A number of CLPs have recently used the rule to abandon their GC and establish meetings where every single member can show up and vote. Many more CLPs are in line to follow soon, as it is immensely popular, seen by many as a measure to support the Corbyn leadership.

Critics warn, however, that the AMM structure “undermines the rules of trade unions, abandons the spirit of collectivism and breaks the principle of representative democracy that Labour has held dear for a century”. This could have been written by the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) or the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD), which both oppose the rule. But it is actually part of an article by Matt Pound, organiser of Labour’s most rightwing faction, Labour First. Something that unites the extreme right of the Labour Party with traditional Labour left organisations certainly deserves a closer examination.

At the 2018 conference, few people paid much attention to this rule change. That was mainly down to the fact that delegates and visitors had little time to study in full detail the proposals contained within the Democracy Review: the party’s national executive committee, meeting a week before conference, had gutted the document of most of the constitutional changes originally proposed by Katy Clark (ie, Jeremy Corbyn and his allies). The first that delegates saw of the proposed rule change was on the morning of the first full day of conference: it was one of the 57 such proposals presented over 35 pages in the report of the conference arrangements committee (CAC). A travesty of the kind of democracy we need in the workers’ movement.

The focus at conference was very much on the proposals to reduce the nominations needed to stand in any leadership election and, crucially, the question of how parliamentary candidates are selected. While the vast majority of delegates were clearly in favour of the reintroduction of a system of mandatory reselection of all candidates (aka open selection), the NEC pushed for a far less democratic reform of the trigger ballot instead.

Now even this reform seems too radical for the NEC to actually implement. In January, Jennie Formby was commissioned to produce guidelines and a timetable, without which no such ballots can take place. But then Chuka Umunna and co split from the party and the leadership got cold feet. Despite the fact that the departure of Umunna et al can hardly be described as unfortunate, the mere possibility of further splits, perhaps led by Tom Watson, is regarded as a threat by Corbyn. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, he still seems to believe that he can win over the right.

In our view, the sooner those saboteurs in the Parliamentary Labour Party are gone, the better. As long as they dominate the PLP, Corbyn has very little chance of doing anything. More importantly, we need to get rid of the right if we actually want to be able to make some of the radical and democratic changes that are so desperately needed to transform the party into a powerful weapon of the working class.

However, it seems that this is not the only one of its own rule changes that the NEC has had second thoughts about.

For decades, CLPs were organised exclusively on the basis of the general committee, which is still how about half of them operate today (we are guessing here, as there are no official figures on this): local Labour branches elect delegates according to their membership figures, while trade unions and socialist societies can send one delegate for each of the branches that is affiliated locally. Trade unions have made full use of this rule, affiliating several of their branches, even if they do not actually meet or do anything – it seems that sometimes such branches have been set up explicitly for this sole purpose.

For example, since Corbyn’s election, the GMB has made huge efforts to affiliate at least one of its branches to every single Labour branch in the country, while the Jewish Labour Movement is trying to affiliate to every CLP. The purpose is clear: to oppose the left at every opportunity and support those MPs and local politicians who support the affiliate’s particular political agenda. The GC structure gives affiliates a good deal of power.

This started to change under Tony Blair in the late 1990s. Proposals to introduce all-members meetings were presented as a way to “empower the members”, when in reality they were part of the efforts to curtail the power of the unions throughout the party. Understandably, the unions strongly opposed the proposals – in this they were supported by Tony Benn and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD).

In 2012, Ed Miliband introduced reforms that allowed a CLP to switch between CG and AMM at its annual general meeting, where the change to the local constitution was subject to a two-thirds majority vote. This was mainly down to the fact that under Tony Blair the Labour Party not only lost tens of thousands of members; but many of those who had retained their membership did not bother showing up at meetings any more. Most CLP meetings were poorly attended, boring and utterly uninviting (yes, they were even worse than today’s).

The survey carried out by Katy Clark at the beginning of the Democracy Review in 2018 showed that, out of the 208 CLPs who participated, 141 already had an all-members structure, while 67 were based on a general committee. She reported that, “In general, in most cities” CLPs tend to have a GC structure, while “in some areas where there are AMM structures” no local branches exist.1)http://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Democracy-Review_.pdf, p33


According to the rule change passed at the 2018 conference then, any party unit (ie, either a branch or an affiliated organisation) can move a motion proposing to change the method of organisation – ie, to switch either to AMM or GC (the Labour Party rulebook actually allows for alternative methods beyond that, but that is very uncommon). A special CLP meeting then has to be called, in which all local members and delegates of affiliated organisations can participate. The decision to switch now requires only a simple majority of all those present. 2)Labour Party rule book 2019, clause IV, point 1.C (p40)

The vast majority of union delegates at conference 2018 – as always, under strict orders from their leaderships – voted in favour of this rule change, as part of the NEC’s tame reform package. However, it seems that it then started to slowly dawn on the unions that this was, in fact, potentially a rule change that could reform them out of any meaningful existence, when it comes to CLPs.

And it is true: in all-members meetings, the role and power of a delegate from a local union is dramatically reduced, compared to their role in a delegate-based GC. In fact, a union delegate has the same rights and voting power as any local party member, when previously a single union delegate could hold as much power as a whole Labour branch.

In November 2018, two months after conference, Unions Together (previously the Trade Union and Labour Partly Liaison Organisation – TULO), which represents the 12 affiliated unions, came out against the rule change in a short statement:

Trade unions support delegate-based structures for CLPs, because they allow TU branches that have affiliated to a CLP to be formally represented and take part in the CLP’s decision-making processes. All-member meetings do not allow affiliated TUs to be represented in CLP decision-making, and this weakens the relationship between the party and the unions at the local level.

We also believe that the unions are playing a part in delaying the implementation of the reformed trigger ballot, as this would further reduce their power in the party. For the first time, the trigger ballot has been split into two – one for all organisations affiliated to the CLP and one for all branches. That means Labour members can choose to challenge the sitting MP (if one third of all local branches vote in favour of doing so) and cannot be blocked by delegates from local affiliates. However, affiliated organisations are unlikely to initiate a trigger ballot. Their role in this process has tended to be mainly a negative one – ie, often it has been local union bureaucrats who have voted against challenging a sitting MP.

This does rather beg the question as to how, firstly, those two rule changes made it into Katy Clark’s Democracy Review and then, secondly, got past the NEC, which gutted it of many other suggestions. After all, 13 of the 39 members of the NEC are representatives from the affiliated unions, with a couple of other members (like treasurer Diana Holland) having been ‘seconded’ by them. They represent a hugely important bloc and usually vote together (just as they do at conference). Did they simply take their eye off the ball?

And who had been pushing for these changes in the first place? Katy Clark was working closely with Jeremy Corbyn – did they really set out to take on the unions? Yes, the union bloc has often acted as a barrier to progressive change in the party. But the biggest affiliate is still Unite and Len McCluskey remains a loyal supporter of Corbyn. Corbyn and Clark surely would not have pushed for these two changes without McCluskey’s say-so.

Perhaps this move indicates a split within the unions between those who support Corbyn and those who are currently led by rightwingers, such as the GMB, Unison and Community. That would be very welcome indeed. But we are guessing here. As is unfortunately often the case in the labour movement, these arguments are not fought out in the open, in front of the membership, but treated like a dirty secret and kept away from the working class.

We do know, however, that a certain Jon Lansman has certainly set out to curb the power of the unions in the party – no doubt in order to increase his own. The less power the unions have, the larger Momentum looms. This became most obvious when his then ally, Christine Shawcroft (whom he made director of Momentum on January 10 2017: ie, the day of his coup within the organisation), publicly supported his short-lived campaign to run against Unite’s Jennie Formby for the position of general secretary:

I was supporting Jon Lansman for general secretary before today’s NEC subcommittee meetings, but after today I am even more determined. Only someone from his tradition will support the rights of rank-and-file members in the CLPs. It is time to support disaffiliation of the unions from the Labour Party.

The reason she gave for that last comment was because they “always stick it to the rank-and-file members, time after time after time.”

Shawcroft clearly thought she was doing Lansman a favour by repeating what he had no doubt been going on about behind the scenes. Our Jon, however, was not best pleased and – despite dumping her like a hot potato straightaway (like he has done with so many former political friends and allies) – he was forced to withdraw his candidacy.

Momentum is, as far as we can see, the only Labour organisation that is supporting the move towards AMMs. True, among the pro-Corbyn membership this is considered ‘common sense’ – after all, the members should be in charge, right? Many local members who are pushing for AMMs are undoubtedly on the left and are doing so out of a real desire to support Corbyn’s leadership and break the ongoing hold of the right over many CLPs. In many areas, the same old bureaucracy has been running things for years and seems to have an unbreakable hold over the branches.

Local branch meetings, which select the CLP delegates, are often so boring and bureaucratic, without any debates or real life to them, that many of those inspired by Corbyn turn up once – and cannot bring themselves to go again. It is very difficult to turn around a rightwing branch that has been run by the same local clique for decades; it takes patient work and a huge amount of effort to organise the local left.

Pros and cons

The AMM structure does seem the easier way to turn things around. After all, CLP meetings are larger, you only have to attend a meeting once a month and they are more likely to feature a political discussion of some sort. It is much easier to persuade disconnected, atomised Corbyn supporters to come to a monthly AMM. This is, of course, exactly the reason why Labour First opposes the move (although Matt Pound tries to pretend that it has to do with its concern for the “gender balance” of CLP delegates, which would not be guaranteed in AMMs). In other words, in some areas it can be a good idea to push for AMMs – especially in smaller CLPs.

But there are very good reasons to be critical of them too:

  •  AMMs can further atomise the membership. The average size of a CLP is 850 members, but the actual local membership figures vary massively. In a small CLP, an AMM structure can allow you to meet and organise with other lefties when there might not be many or any in your branch (if there even is a branch). But in CLPs with many hundreds of members, AMMs can easily become too big to allow for any real democratic debate or decision-making. If the chair is on the right, they may not be willing to call in somebody from the left to speak, for example, making discussions very one-sided. The AGM is likely to turn into a huge jamboree, where members are supposed to vote for candidates that many might not have even heard of. This structure has the potential to make the CLP executive incredibly powerful and almost untouchable for the rest of the year. Not surprisingly, in some areas it is the local right that argues in favour of AMMs. Any AMM that involves more than, say, 70 members is clearly too big.
  • AMMs undermine representative democracy. Jon Lansman is a big fan of ‘digital democracy’ and online decision-making using ‘One member, one vote’. That should tell you why real democrats must oppose it. These methods might look democratic on paper, but dig a little deeper and you will find that they are designed to keep members atomised and the leadership all-powerful. CLP delegates, like conference delegates, are – at least in theory – accountable to the people who elected them. They are supposed to represent and argue for a particular political point of view. Good delegates report back on how they voted and are then faced with criticism or support, which allows for good political debate and the education of the whole membership.
  • AMM structures can demobilise the membership. They may make it more difficult for members to get involved in the day-to-day decision-making within the party. If you go to an AMM, you do not need to get involved in the local branch structures, you do not need to stand for delegate elections, you do not need to defend your voting records or your point of view. But we need our comrades to learn how to run things, to take charge, to organise and to be accountable and hold others to account. This is a crucial part of training our side up to run society in the not-so-distant future.
  • AMM structures weaken the trade union link. This is where the LRC focuses its criticism: It “seriously dilutes the input of union delegates into CLPs, a dangerous step … With some on the left even questioning the union-party link at any level, it is incumbent on socialists to argue for retaining that link, while taking up the cudgels for democratisation of that union input.”

While LRC comrades are wrong to elevate support for GC structures into a principle, they are quite right to raise the need to campaign for the “democratisation of the union input”, as they put it. In fact, the whole union movement – just like the Labour Party itself – is in need of a radical, democratic transformation. Many delegates from affiliated unions and socialist societies are playing such a negative role – for example, by supporting the local rightwing MP or stopping the CLP from supporting progressive campaigns – that many Corbyn supporters are understandably tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This issue really underlines how weak the left is in its campaign to democratise the unions. This is visibly demonstrated by the fact that both the CLPD and LRC have managed merely to come out against AMMs: they are not in a position to campaign against it.

Attitude towards the current Labour leadership

  1. Our position on the Corbyn leadership of the Labour Party was worked out in advance – that is, well before his actual election – and with far greater foresight and precision than any other campaign, committee, group or party on the left. We are committed to the complete transformation of the Labour Party, forging it into a permanent united front of the working class and equipping it with solid Marxist principles and a tried and tested Marxist leadership.
  2. Whatever the idiot rightwing press, Tory ERGers and Tom Watson’s Future Britain say, Corbyn is no Marxist. He is, in fact, a sincere, but weak, badly advised, dithering left reformist. True, Corbyn and his closest allies have a record of opposing imperialist wars and adventures, standing in solidarity with striking workers and voting against Tory attacks on migrants, democratic rights and public services.
  3. However, since his election it has become abundantly clear what the class character of a Corbyn government would be. The Corbyn leadership is committed to reversing austerity, increasing the economic role of the state, repealing some anti-trade union laws and introducing a few minor constitutional reforms. At best that amounts to an illusory attempt to run British capitalism in the interests of the working class. Meanwhile, in the name of For the many, not the few, wage-slavery continues, Britain remains a monarchy, subject to judge-made law, one of the Five Eyes, a core imperialist power, a member of Nato and armed with US-controlled nuclear weapons. To call such a programme “socialist” is to violate the commonly accepted language of the left.
  4. At present, even such a modest change of course is totally unacceptable to the capitalist class. The biggest fear is that a Corbyn-led government would trigger a crisis of expectations and unleash a wave of class struggles. The Labour right would therefore act to prevent the formation of such a government. Associated with that probability there lies the possibility of the monarch calling another candidate for prime minister for an audience at Buckingham Palace. That could result in the formation of a national government.
  5. Nonetheless, a Corbyn-led government cannot be categorically ruled out. But, if it happened, we should expect constitutional and anti-constitutional moves by the privy council, the army, the deep state, etc. Those on the left who downplay such threats, whatever their subjective intentions, constitute themselves as agents of a criminal complacency.
  6. Conceivably, the ruling class could reconcile itself to a Corbyn-led government. But only if: (a) it further denounces its own past and further waters down its own programme; and/or (b) in the event of a dangerous upsurge in popular protests, a major downturn in the world economy or a crash caused by a no-deal Brexit, which temporarily necessitated a left Labour government to serve as the best means of mass deception.
  7. The collapse before the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt in the Labour Party is a telling warning sign. The appeasement of the Labour right, the failure to challenge blatant lies, the willingness to see good socialists investigated, suspended, sacked, expelled and publicly traduced cannot be excused. And, where Jeremy Corbyn has been silent, John McDonnell has actually given succour to the witch-hunt. Then there is the truly appalling role played by Jon Lansman and his Momentum organisation – praised by the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. Note: to their everlasting shame Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott supported Lansman’s anti-democratic coup in Momentum.
  8. If the Labour leadership is unable to show elementary solidarity with those targeted by a totally cynical witch-hunt, if the Labour leadership calculates that the bigger cause is served by taking such a course, it has betrayed not only its past: it has betrayed its future. Giving them a platform in the left press, treating them as prestigious sponsors, calling such people ‘comrades’ is no longer in any way acceptable.
  9. We should defend the Corbyn leadership against Tom Watson and Future Britain, the liberal and rightwing media, the Tories, the deep state, etc. By that we mean, first and foremost, defending the conditions in the Labour Party which allow for the rooting of socialist consciousness and the further spread of Marxist ideas.
  10. Our task is to fully empower the Labour Party’s mass membership, open eyes as to the real nature of the Corbyn leadership and bring about the circumstances whereby the Labour Party is thoroughly purged of the pro-capitalist right and the leadership is won by real, not supposed, Marxists.

TIG: Getting trigger happy

What does the formation of the so-called Independent Group and the suspension of Chris Williamson tell us about the balance of forces? William Sarsfield gives his view

The Independent Group (TIG) has the potential to grow, despite its initial small numbers, its chaotic launch and the absence of policy. Over the coming weeks and months, we can expect money to flow its way, major news outlets to corral behind it and further defections from the venal majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, who have attempted unsuccessfully to thwart and derail the leadership of Corbyn from day one.

TIG currently stands at around 8% in some opinion polls – not huge, but not statistically insignificant either. Moreover, we hear murmurs from Chuka Umunna that up to a third of Labour MPs have expressed some sympathy for the venture. Others may well be in political solidarity in the abstract, but are holding back for fear of the damage a split from Labour may do to their own parliamentary careers.

That said, it is worthwhile underlining just how poor this launch was. Despite the obvious fact that this small splinter from Labour (plus its even smaller Tory cohort) had been quite some time coming, there has been glaring lack of basic spadework. So, despite its relatively long gestation period, there are no books, pamphlets, recruitment videos that let us into the Weltanschauung of these intrepid mould-breakers. Indeed, journalists at the group’s launch reported it was a struggle to find coherent ideas strung together coming from the individual TIGers, let alone the group as a collective.

This underlines that this new organisation has little in the way of political gravitas. It is responsive, short-termist and very much of the political moment – specifically, Brexit; the ‘anti-Semitism contagion’ that apparently continues to rip through Labour’s ranks; and the intensely uncomfortable fact of who the current Labour leader is – his history, links, his ‘unpatriotic’ baggage, etc. For the three Tory TIGers – Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen – the key issue was obviously Brexit, of course.

The response from the Labour leadership has once again been extremely disappointing. Publicly, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have bent over backwards to conciliate – and not just by jumping onto the ‘second referendum’ bandwagon. There has been talk of not enough support offered to Luciana Berger MP – effectively putting two fingers up to the rank and file of her Constituency Labour Party, Wavertree, who were threatened with suspension by Labour deputy leader Tom Watson for having the temerity to discuss two motions of no-confidence in the woman.

It may seem a paradox, but objectively the TIG departure reflects the growing strength of the left in the party. The Labour right views the past three-plus years of Corbyn’s leadership as a disaster. Frustration levels have mounted, as every ploy to get rid of this turbulent priest have come to naught.

Early on, we had the plotting of the unctuous Hilary Benn to organise mass resignations from the shadow cabinet following the EU referendum, which came to nothing. Then the wretched Margaret Hodge and sidekick Ann Coffey (a founding member of TIG, of course) tabled a motion of no confidence in the Labour leader in June 2016 – again over his performance in the EU campaign. It was carried by the PLP by 172 votes to 40, but, when it came to the membership, Corbyn was re-elected with an increased majority.


For Camilla Cavendish – a former advisor to Cameron and now a Financial Times columnist – the establishment of TIG is to be warmly welcomed, primarily as it precipitates the disintegration of the rigid, class-based political architecture of the two-party system. This is regarded as an especially necessary corrective, given what she sees as the appalling rise of runaway ‘anti-Semitism’ and ‘bullying’ in today’s Labour Party. Despite this all this, she huffs with an impressive degree of faux incomprehension that Corbyn still has the temerity to make “claims” to have the membership on his side.

Of course, there have also been (partially successful) attempts to tame Corbyn – a stratagem that sporadically ran alongside the ‘anti-Semitism’ provocation. All too frequently, both Corbyn and McDonnell have buckled under this pressure and made important – and totally unprincipled – concessions to the right. The latest example being, of course, the suspension of left Labour MP Chris Williamson. After putting up some token resistance Corbyn caved in to the demands of the Labour Parliamentary Committee (made up of 3 Labour peers, five senior Labour MPs, Tom Watson and John Cryer, chair of the PLP). Meeting on the Wednesday afternoon it unanimously demanded his scalp.

However, the right wing of the PLP will now calculate, correctly, that the real danger emanates not from the leader’s office, but from below, in the form of an overwhelmingly pro-Corbyn left in the CLPs, invested with new powers to hold their MPs to account and challenge their assumed right to a ‘job for life’. Specifically, delegates scored an important, if partial, democratic victory at last year’s Labour conference in Liverpool, which enhanced the ability of members to pursue successful trigger ballots to replace sitting MPs. Constituency parties now have far more leeway to call their recalcitrant rightwing MPs to order and get shot of them if needed. The simplified and more democratic provision of trigger ballots could well turn out to be the biggest recruiting tool for TIG, as more MPs jump before they are pushed.

The threat of deselection was clearly the deciding factor for some of the TIG founders … and it is a nightmare scenario that will be playing on the minds many rightwing MPs still parked on the Labour benches. The hoi-polloi – the chumps who should be content with knocking on doors and handing out the leaflets – now have the potential to put an end to the glittering careers of these professional politicians. The nerve of it!

Inevitably, there are qualifications to this good news. It would not be a shock if the central Labour apparatus – in keeping with the quite wretched conciliatory culture promoted by Corbyn and McDonnell – put pressure on local CLPs to drop trigger ballots aimed at replacing local rightist MPs. According to The Guardian, “Labour could delay the start of deselection battles that party sources fear may prompt further resignations.” After all, “We don’t want to further antagonise” (February 26).

For an indicator of the way the political wind blows on this, we must wait for the appearance of a document outlining how and when the newly reformed trigger ballot provisions can be fired up in local CLPs. General secretary Jennie Formby was commissioned at Labour’s January 22 national executive committee meeting to produce a ‘trigger ballot manual’, with the recommendation that it is produced in short order. NEC member Darren Williams confirmed that this was supposed to be published in February. The delay is worrying.

The overwhelming majority of active Labour Party members are now quite clearly to the left and – although there has been a worrying lack of detail from the central apparatus around Jennie Formby – these new provisions are at least somewhere in the pipeline. Across the country, groups of eager left CLP members are keen to get cracking. So, we anticipate more ‘centrists’ bailing out or being given the heave-ho by their members – either way, fingers crossed that their days are numbered …

The key problem for the Labour left is that this objective strength on the ground has yet to translate into a coherent form as a united, national organisation with an ambitious political programme – not simply to purge the existing pro-capitalist right, but for the root-and-branch remaking of the Labour Party, the abolition of the bans and proscriptions on working class organisations, and the radical refounding of Labour as a genuine party of the working class, influenced by the world view of Marxism.

This fight is still hampered not simply by the left’s lack of vision, but also by the fact that Momentum (for the moment) still ‘squats’ the space where a fighting organisation ought to operate. Undoubtedly, Momentum’s lustre faded pretty damn quick and recent scab comments from the organisation’s CEO – Jon Lansman – will no doubt further disillusion many members, if not the few who rely on the organisation for employment. Disillusionment is not a mobilising force, however. (As numerous comrades have commented, Momentum itself is essentially an online mobilising tool these days, as well as a flag of convenience for Lansman to run up when he wants to spout crap.)

Left organisation

The Labour left needs to build a national organisation which embodies a political independence from the current leadership of our party, not simply forms of organisational autonomy as the vast majority of the existing left organisations in Labour restrict themselves to. Perforce, such an organisation would be an open, multi-tendency alliance. Thus, transparency and democracy would be vital components (as it should be in all working class formations) and this culture would demand an explicit statement of our aims and clear perspectives on how to fight the battle. This would find expression in our attitude to Corbyn, McDonnell and their team – we offer them support to the extent that they fight for the interests of our class as a whole; we would criticise and censure them when they renege on that duty.

As an aside, Labour Party Marxists supporters are putting forward exactly such an amendment to the AGM of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. Motion 1 – the “work programme” put forward by CLPD secretary Pete Willsman – states: “Full support to the party leader at all times.” This is a crass and misguided approach that smacks of religion. Instead, we think this should be changed to: “We will defend Jeremy Corbyn from any further coups and acts of sabotage. We will support him where he fights for the thorough democratisation of the Labour Party and wider society. But we will also criticise him when and where necessary – for example, over his silence when it comes to the witch-hunt against his supporters in the Labour Party.”

Meanwhile, and paradoxically, Emily Thornberry has launched the most vociferous attack on TIG, telling a Labour rally that she would “rather die” than leave the party, that the quitters are “cuddling up to the Tories” and if they ever found the courage to stand in a by-election, Labour would “crush” them. This might be little more than an exercise in positioning – a chance for Thornberry, the Zionist, to buff up her left street-fighting credentials, perhaps. We can make educated guesses, but we really do not know ….

Anti-Zionism and self-censorship

The witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the left is still in full swing – and spreading across society, reports Carla Roberts 

Who would have thought we would ever be relieved to read an attack on Jeremy Corbyn? We are talking about the recent uproar over his “scruffy” attire on Remembrance Sunday – where he, would you believe it, wore a jacket with a hood! This kind of low-level bad publicity looks as quaint as the “donkey jacket” that then Labour leader Michael Foot was wearing in 1981 (and which turned out to be a £250 coat from Harrods). There are even rumours that Corbyn wore it on purpose – perhaps to get some kind of short reprieve from the far more serious, political campaign against him and the Labour left.

Alas, it did not last long. Just in the last couple of weeks, the witch-hunt against Corbyn and the left has been ratcheted up:

* Scotland Yard launched a well-publicised investigation against some members of the Labour Party for alleged anti-Semitic comments.

* Chris Williamson MP was de-invited by Sheffield Labour Students after complaints by the Jewish Student Society that he was “encouraging a culture of anti-Semitism”.

* Most bourgeois newspapers breathlessly reported that a Labour Party branch in Stockton-on-Tees “voted down a motion on the Pittsburgh synagogue attack”, because “there was too much focus on ‘anti-Semitism this, anti-Semitism that’”.  Far from being voted down by the left (which all the articles imply), this was actually opposed by the ‘moderates’ – perhaps because they resented the idea in the same motion that there was a need for ‘anti-Semitism training’, which the mover had previously suggested should be delivered by the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. Incredibly, the proposer of the motion thought it was a good idea to publicise his branch’s non-adoption far and wide. Of course, the right jumped on it and predictably used it to batter Corbyn some more. The technical term here is ‘useful idiot’.

* The Labour Party’s national constitutional committee has just expelled Mike Sivier (see below) – apparently explaining that their lack of evidence against him were “technicalities” and that “it’s about the impact in the public domain” and “about perception … It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”

* Scottish Labour Party member Peter Gregson is under investigation for producing a petition that states: “Israel is a racist endeavour.”

* A council worker in Dudley was suspended from work for publishing the same phrase online, while advertising a lobby of Dudley Labour MP Ian Austin’s surgery.

Of course, these are just the cases, allegations and ‘scandals’ that make it into the public. We know of plenty more cases of Labour members currently being investigated on the most absurd allegations (and not just to do with anti-Semitism).

Clearly, the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left shows no sign of slowing down – in fact, it is spreading into all areas of society and, perhaps most worryingly, the workplace. Labour Party Marxists secretary Stan Keable remains sacked, having been secretly filmed by a journalist at the ‘Enough is enough’ demonstration in March 2018, when he stated that the Zionist movement had collaborated with the Nazi regime – a historically inconvenient truth.  We know of at least one other similar case. There will be more, but – not surprisingly – not everybody accused of such ‘crimes’ will want their name dragged through the mud in public and many choose to keep quiet.

This is perhaps the most worrying aspect of the witch-hunt: the silencing of debate on the left and the self-censorship.


Take the events in Sheffield: Chris Williamson MP had been invited by Sheffield Labour Students (SLS) to speak on ‘Why we need an anti-war government’. But they got cold feet when the local Jewish Society (JSoc) complained publicly that he should be banned from campus, because he “repeatedly defended, and shared platforms with, anti-Semites expelled from the Labour Party” (they mention Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone – the latter two have of course not been expelled from the party). Apparently, according to JSoc, comrade Williamson is “encouraging a culture of anti-Semitism” and his invitation was “a betrayal of Jewish students in Sheffield”. 

At first, the SLS committee – which has a clear pro-Corbyn majority – confirmed that the meeting would go ahead, though its affirmation that Williamson “has never been and is not accused of anti-Semitism through disciplinary procedures within the Labour Party” probably sounded sheepish enough to further encourage the right.

And, yes, all hell broke loose: JSoc secretary Gabe Milne publicly resigned from the Labour Party, stating that this was the “final straw”.  Needless to say, he has never been a fan of Jeremy Corbyn, to put it mildly. He seems to be a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and has re-tweeted its demand that Chris Williamson should have the Labour whip withdrawn. 

Labour Students BAME (run by the right) quickly jumped on the bandwagon, stating how “disappointed” they were over the planned event, “which can only further damage Labour’s relationship with British Jews”. Other rightwingers piled in … and then Labour Students committee saw its first resignation: Caelan Reid – who is, incredibly, also a member of the Momentum Sheffield leadership – stated that he had argued the committee should have followed JSoc’s “quite reasonably request” and that he “had hoped that the committee would listen to and accommodate the requests of a minority group”.

When Labour Students committee met again on November 2, they had been spooked enough to overturn their previous decision. In a jaw-dropping statement, they first wrote that the event was to be “indefinitely postponed” and then clarified that they will revisit the decision after “the current Scotland Yard police investigations into allegations of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party has been resolved”. They continue:

Although Chris Williamson MP is not personally implicated by these allegations, Sheffield Labour Students believes that due to the nature of the investigation calling into question the efficiency of the disciplinary procedures within the party, and the current climate within the wider movement, we do not feel that the event should take place at this moment in time. Another vote will be held after the conclusion of the investigation to determine if the event should take place.

Needless to say, Scotland Yard is unlikely to ever “resolve” this investigation. For a start, no fewer than 45 different allegations were passed to the police. After “assessing” the charges for over two months, Metropolitan police commissioner Cressida Dick announced on November 2 that “some” of the material is now being investigated, “because it appears there may have been a crime committed”.  Even the widely quoted former Met officer, Mak Chishty, managed to identify only four cases of the 45 that could be described as “potential race hate crimes” (my emphasis).

Of course, this highly political police investigation was always a cop-out, conveniently used by the remaining members of the SLS committee – as they quite rightly state, it has nothing to do with either Chris Williamson or holding a meeting on ‘Why we need an anti-war government’.

During this debacle, a total of seven members of the SLS committee resigned their position (most of them more ‘moderate’ than left, as it turns out). Credit must go to Sheffield Labour Left, which quickly took over the hosting of the event and organised a petition against the decision, which has been signed by almost 90 Sheffield Labour Party members. After Jeremy Corbyn himself, comrade Williamson must by now surely be most vilified politician in Britain – and not because he “encourages a culture of anti-Semitism”. He is in fact pretty much the only MP who has taken a principled stand on the ongoing witch-hunt that seeks to label opposition to Zionism “anti-Semitic”. A sad state of affairs indeed.

Mike Sivier

The case against Mike Sivier is intriguing, because he seems absolutely right when he claims that there is precious little evidence that supports his expulsion from the party.  Even those claiming that Sivier is clearly anti-Semitic and have written long articles about his case cannot actually produce any real proof. In a piece entitled The ballad of Mike Sivier,  the hostile author, Marlon Solomon, draws a long list of examples of Sivier’s ‘crimes’ – which basically amount to the fact that he was defending various people falsely accused of anti-Semitism.

We read, for example, that he supported Ken Livingstone’s reference to the 1933 Ha’avara agreement between the Nazi regime and the Zionist Federation of Germany (which paved the way for the migration of around 60,000 German Jews to Palestine), sided with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein and recommended that people should watch Al Jazeera’s excellent programme The lobby, which exposes how the pro-Israel lobby has helped to manufacture the anti-Semitism ‘scandal’ in the Labour Party. And that is it.

Solomon laments that (at the time of writing in January 2018) “none of the above is now considered sufficient to expel someone from the Labour Party”. Quite right – it should not be. In August, Sivier won a complaint taken to the Independent Press Standards Organisation against the Jewish Chronicle, which had falsely claimed he was a “holocaust denier”. Interestingly, back in February 2018, Labour’s national executive committee discussed Sivier’s case and voted 12-10 to lift his suspension dating back to May 2017 – under the condition that he attend so-called “anti-Semitism training”, conducted by the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement. To his credit, he refused, insisting on his innocence. The NEC, clearly at a loss, thought it best to refer this case to the national constitutional committee.

He had no chance in front of this committee, which is still dominated by the right and will continue to be so, even after its expansion from 11 to 25 members, agreed at Labour Party conference this year. While the six candidates backed by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy will probably win, they will still be in a minority – and it remains to be seen how ‘leftwing’ these six really are, in any case: Sadly, Stephen Marks of Jewish Voice for Labour is the only one who has come out against the witch-hunt. In any case, the NCC, still chaired by rightwing witch-hunter general Maggie Cousins, decided on November 13 to expel Mike Sivier – but only for 18 months. And without providing any proof of Sivier’s alleged anti-Semitism. As he writes on his blog, his requests to produce actual evidence were rebutted with “No comment”; “We’ve not provided evidence – it’s about the impact in the public domain”; and “This is about perception … It’s about how this is perceived by the Jewish community.”

In other words, he has been expelled because his refusal to receive pro-Zionist training by the JLM makes the Labour Party look bad! This expulsion is clearly a travesty and should immediately be overturned by the NEC.

Similarly ridiculous is the case of Edinburgh Labour Party member Peter Gregson, who is currently “under investigation”. We will not be surprised if Gregson is also either told to undergo the JLM’s pro-Zionism training and/or referred to the NCC. The NEC’s dispute panel, meeting on November 20, will decide his fate (and that of a large number of other cases, presumably including the absurd allegation against Lee Rock, who stands accused of having argued “in favour of masturbation at the workplace” (!) in a Facebook discussion with radical feminists in 2015, over 15 months before he joined the Labour Party.  We could make some guesses as to the kind of ‘training’ he might be offered, but maybe not).

Firstly, we should say it is to be welcomed that there have been some positive changes to the disciplinary process introduced by the new general secretary, Jennie Formby. The automatic suspensions doled out so liberally under her predecessor, Iain McNicol, seem to have stopped altogether. That is hugely important, because it allows an accused member – in theory – to retain their full membership rights. As it turns out, this is not always the case and we hear of examples where members who are merely “under investigation” have been blocked from standing for various positions, because the mere fact of the investigation against them could bring “the party into disrepute”. Full circular logic there.

Right answer

Judging by the examples of recent investigations we have seen, the accused usually receives a number of leading questions they have to answer to each piece of ‘evidence’ (usually a Facebook post or Tweet), along the lines of: “Do you accept that some people might find this offensive?” The right answer is almost always ‘yes’, naturally. And the questions are formulated in such a way as to coax the accused to apologise and, crucially, to promise never to do it again. In many such cases, the investigations then end in a rather patronising “official warning”, which will be “kept on file”.

Clearly, this method encapsulates the opposite of the culture of open debate and exchange of ideas that Marxists strive for. It is designed to shut people up. This is not just undemocratic: it is also dangerous. Rather than politically challenging wrong ideas and prejudice and thereby changing somebody’s viewpoint, this method encourages people to bottle ideas up and let them fester.

Still, it is good that at least formally the disciplinary process now seems to acknowledge the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. However, the actual reasons why investigations are launched against somebody have been expanded massively. This is particularly true since the NEC’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘working definition’ of anti-Semitism, together with all 11 examples. Only the most naive or wilfully ignorant could really have believed that the IHRA document would bring the ongoing witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left to an end. Quite the opposite: it has been used by the right to increase and widen the attacks.

Peter Gregson is a perfect case in point. Just after the NEC’s collapse over the IHRA document, he produced a petition that boldly states: “the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour”.  This refers to the most disputed of the 11 examples – and the one that Jeremy Corbyn tried to ‘neutralise’ with his unsuccessful amendment to the NEC. The petition has been signed by more than 700 people who claim to be “Labour Party members”. So far, only Gregson seems to have been charged over it. He has also been suspended by his union, the GMB – a move that he claims was orchestrated by outgoing NEC member Rhea Wolfson, a member of the JLM. We would not be surprised if that was the case.

Of particular interest is the reaction of Momentum owner and Labour NEC member Jon Lansman, who lost his rag when Gregson emailed him for the umpteenth time. He admitted that “declaring Israel to be a racist endeavour and challenging the NEC to expel him alongside others who signed a petition he launched may not be anti-Semitic …” But he continued: “… it is a deliberately provocative act, which is most certainly prejudicial to the interests of the party and I therefore urge the general secretary to take the appropriate action against you.”

Labour Against the Witchhunt quite rightly condemns Lansman’s intervention: “‘Provocative’ acts are the stuff of political debate. Lansman is effectively calling for the silencing of support for the Palestinian struggle against Zionism and Israel’s apartheid.” LAW, while defending Gregson against any disciplinary action, does not support the petition because it is, in parts, rather clumsily (and unfortunately) formulated.

Clearly, the NEC must halt the investigation into Peter Gregson immediately. It is exactly such unnecessary and politically charged disciplinary cases that bring the party into disrepute.


Socialist Party wants to affiliate to Labour

SPEW has written to the Labour Party asking to affiliate. Peter Manson looks at the background (reproduced from the Weekly Worker)

Those who do not read The Socialist may not be aware that the Socialist Party in England and Wales has applied to affiliate to Labour – a couple of weeks ago the SPEW weekly published correspondence on the matter between Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, and its own leader, Peter Taaffe (September 19).

This is of particular interest, since for more than two decades SPEW insisted that Labour was now just another capitalist party – like the Tories or Liberal Democrats. But in its April 6 letter to Jennie Formby, in which SPEW expressed a wish “to meet with you to discuss the possibility of our becoming an affiliate of the Labour Party”, comrade Taaffe describes the election of Jeremy Corbyn as “the first step to potentially transforming Labour into a mass workers’ party”, standing on an “anti-austerity programme”. So now “all genuinely anti-austerity forces should be encouraged to affiliate”.

While we should, of course, welcome SPEW’s application for affiliation, it is surely pertinent to ask why SPEW stresses the need for an “anti-austerity programme” above all else. It does this even though it correctly states in the same edition of The Socialist: “When the Labour Party was founded, it was a federation of different trade union and socialist organisations, coming together to fight for working class political representation”: ie, nothing so limited as merely opposing spending cuts. I will explore this in greater detail below.

Eventually, on July 27 – ie, almost four months after receiving comrade Taaffe’s original letter – Jennie Formby replied, beginning her letter, “Dear Mr Taaffe”. She pointed out that Labour rules prevent the affiliation of political organisations with “their own programme, principles and policies” – unless they have a “national agreement with the party”. Also groups which stand candidates against Labour are automatically barred: “As the Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, who stood candidates against the Labour Party in the May 2018 elections, it is ineligible for affiliation.”

In his next letter (August 23) Peter Taaffe answered the first point by saying that SPEW wanted a meeting precisely to discuss the possibility of such a “national agreement”. And, in response to the second point, he said SPEW would much prefer to be part of an anti-austerity Labour Party “rather than having to standagainst pro-austerity Labour candidates” (my emphasis). After all, while Tusc had not contested the 2017 general election, in this year’s local elections in England it stood no fewer than 111 candidates against Labour.

Following this, Jennie Formby replied rather more quickly. On August 29 – this time starting her letter “Dear Peter” – she ruled out any meeting: “Whilst the Socialist Party continues to stand candidates against the Labour Party … it will not be possible to enter into any agreement.” Therefore “there can be no discussions”.

As I have stated, it is good news that on the face of it SPEW has at last started to take Labour seriously. But obviously it needs to stop standing against Labour candidates, including those who it says are “implementing savage cuts”. As the Labour general secretary points out, while SPEW says it wants to affiliate in order to support Jeremy Corbyn and help defeat the right, “The leader of a political party is judged by their electoral success. Standing candidates against the Labour Party is damaging not only to local Labour Parties, but also to Jeremy.”

Nevertheless, Jennie Formby’s second letter appears to leave the door open to affiliation by left groups. Such a change would be highly significant, possibly marking a return to the basis upon which Labour was founded in 1900.


Let us now examine why SPEW states that what is needed is not a party of all working class formations, including both trade unions and leftwing groups, but one of all “anti-austerity forces”. This can be traced back to the changing face of Tusc itself.

Founded in 2010, Tusc was the successor to the short-lived Campaign for a New Workers’ Party, and both organisations were open in their aim – made explicit in the CNWP’s name – of establishing a new mass party to replace Labour. However, according to the ‘updated’ statement of aims on its website, Tusc was set up “with the primary goal of enabling trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand candidates against pro-austerity establishment politicians” (October 2016).

But that is being economical with the truth. SPEW was, of course, the prime mover within both the CNWP and Tusc and, in the words of central committee member Clive Heemskerk, writing in The Socialist on February 3 2010:

The Socialist Partybelieves that the Labour Party has now been totally transformed into New Labour, which bases itself completely on the brutallogic of capitalism. Previously, as a ‘capitalist workers’ party’ (aparty with pro-capitalist leaders, but with democratic structures thatallowed the working class to fight for its interests), the Labour Party always had the potential to act at leastas a check on the capitalists. The consequences of radicalising the Labour Party’s working class base was always afactor the ruling class had to take into account. Now the situation is completely different. Without the re-establishment of at least the basis of independent working class political representation, the capitalists will feel less constrained in imposing their austerity policies.

While SPEW was clear that this could not come about immediately, the ultimate aim was stated by comrade Heemskerk to be: “A new mass political vehicle for workers, a new workers’ party”. He explained:

For the Socialist Party the importance of Tusc lies above all in itspotential as a catalyst in the trade unions, both in the structures and below, for the idea of working class political representation. It can also play a role in drawing together anti-cuts campaigns, environmental campaigners, anti-racist groups, etc (my emphasis).

So campaigning against cuts, etc was most definitely seen as secondary. First and foremost was the need to lay the basis for a new workers’ party – the nature of which was made clear in the above quote: “working class political representation” primarily for the unions – in other words, a ‘Labour Party mark two’, as we in the CPGB have always called it.

How things have changed since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader. In her article, posted on the SPEW website following the May local elections, deputy general secretary Hannah Sell writes:

… the support for Corbyn has created the potential for a mass democratic party of the working class, which is desperately needed. If it is not to be squandered, it is vital that there are no more retreats, but instead the start of a determined campaign to transform Labour into a party capable of opposing austerity with socialist policies, in deeds as well as words.

Since SPEW now apparently agrees that the Labour Party itself ought to be transformed, it is unsurprising that it has dropped the call for “a new workers’ party” to replace it – Tusc was supposed to provide the basis for that, remember (always wishful thinking, of course).

So now we find that the purpose of Tusc is suddenly “to stand candidates against pro-austerity establishment politicians” – as if the original aim of “a new workers’ party” had never existed. And, I suppose, that is why comrade Taaffe feels obliged to emphasise the need for all Labour candidates to stand on an “anti-austerity programme” and for the party to welcome “all genuinely anti-austerity forces”. Only if that happened could Tusc shut up shop!

In its statement following the May 2018 election results, Tusc claimed:

This was the most selective local election stand that Tusc has taken in its eight-year history, following the general recalibration of its electoral policy after Jeremy Corbyn’s welcome victory as Labour leader in September 2015.

There was not a single Tusc candidate on May 3 standing in a direct head-to-head contest with a Labour candidate who had been a consistent public supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and his anti-austerity policies. Tusc only stood against rightwing, Blairite Labour councillors and candidates. The Labour candidates in the seats contested by Tusc included 32 councillors who had publicly backed the leadership coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn in summer 2016, signing a national open letter of support for the rightwing challenger, Owen Smith.


In a situation where Labour is still so clearly two-parties-in-one … – with many local ‘Labour’ candidates standing more ferociously against Jeremy Corbyn than they do the Tories – the task is still there to make sure that politicians of any party label who support capitalism and its inevitable austerity agenda are not left unchallenged.

So that was the position in relation to the (‘pro-austerity’) Labour right – expose them by standing against them. But what did Tusc (and SPEW itself) recommend in wards where there were pro-Corbyn candidates? The truth is, there was no call for a Labour vote anywhere – how was that supposed to aid the Corbyn wing?

What about the unions?

So has SPEW really changed its approach to Labour? For example, why do its comrades in unions like the PCS and RMT still oppose their affiliation to the party? SPEW has argued that, until the Labour right is defeated, it is just a ‘waste of money’ for the unions to spend thousands on affiliation fees. Yet, in its August 23 letter to Jennie Formby, comrade Taaffe wrote:

We see a very urgent need to organise and mobilise all those who support Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies into a mass campaign to democratise the Labour Party, allowing the hundreds of thousands who have been inspired by Jeremy’s leadership to hold to account, and to deselect, the Blairite saboteurs.

Surely, if that is the aim, the affiliation of left-led unions like the PCS and RMT could only but help the process.

Perhaps I am being cynical, but the possibility does suggest itself that the principal purpose of Tusc was always something other than its stated aims (either original or amended). Maybe SPEW wanted to work within a broader formation primarily in order to win recruits for itself? It is almost as though SPEW would actually prefer a right-led Labour Party.

However, irrespective of what SPEW is really up to, at least we should be grateful that the affiliation of left groups has been broached once more; and that the Labour general secretary – no doubt after consultation with the leadership team around Corbyn – has left the door open to that possibility.

The Labour Party rules must be changed, so that all the current bans and proscriptions are scrapped. The aim must be to transform Labour into a united front for the entire working class.