Tag Archives: Labour Party Marxists

Babies and bathwater

Stan Keable of Labour Party Marxists thinks that Owen Jones has thrown out the democratic baby with the bureaucratic bathwater.

Owen Jones baby in bathtub
Owen Jones: should know better

Credit where credit is due: activists in the Labour Representation Committee feel justly proud when we see our very own Owen Jones on TV demolishing rightwing politicians and standing up for students, workers, unemployed and disabled people. But popularity carries the danger of populism, of tailoring demagogy to popular prejudices – saying things the bourgeois media like to hear, such as “The era of the SWP and its kind is over”, and “The era of Leninist party-building surely ended a long time ago”. The Daily Mail and the likes of Nick Cohen have gone into full attack mode against the whole of the left using such arguments.

In his now infamous article putting the boot into the crisis-ridden Socialist Workers Party (The Independent January 20), comrade Owen not only criticises its “autocratic leadership” and its lack of “any semblance of internal democracy”, but also throws out the democratic Bolshevik baby along with the bureaucratic bathwater. Freedom to form factions, with freedom of discussion in public, not just internally, was the norm for the Bolsheviks when they made the revolution in 1917, just as Bolshevik-led revolutionary Russia was the most democratic country in the world, until the revolution was isolated and crushed from without, and finally reversed from within by Stalin’s bureaucratic counterrevolution. Remember, universal suffrage in Britain, including votes for women, was only won later, in 1929.

The SWP’s crisis, and the splitting disease of the revolutionary left today, is directly related to its democratic deficit, its inherited Stalinist bureaucratic centralism. When factions are banned or restricted, when minority views are neither heard nor answered, when public dissent is forbidden, then differences must fester, undeveloped, in private. The real, effective alternative for the left is not networking, but genuine democratic centralism: ‘Freedom of expression, unity in action’. That is the only road to healing unity, to mergers in place of splits, to disciplined unity-in-action based on consent through understanding, not diktat. Only a democratically united revolutionary left can win the working class majority to socialist consciousness and to the Marxist programme for working class (majority) rule leading to human liberation. That is the democratic programme set out by Marx and Engels in the Manifesto of the Communist Party – which we should proudly defend, not shamefully forget.

In philistine fashion, comrade Owen junks history. Don’t bother learning the lessons of the Russian Revolution – the greatest achievement of the working class so far. And he advises his proposed “broad”, “networked movement of the left” to avoid being another “battleground for ultra-left sects” – implicitly denigrating the battle of ideas so necessary for our class to work out its own political strategy.

“What is missing in British politics is a broad network that unites progressive opponents of the coalition. That means those in Labour who want a proper alternative to Tory austerity – Greens, independent lefties, but also those who would not otherwise identify as political, but who are furious and frustrated.” It is “a mystery” – to comrade Owen – “that such a network does not already exist”.

But surely there is no mystery here. Everyone on the left is well aware that the disunity and consequent ineffectiveness of the anti-cuts, anti-austerity movement is a direct product of the disunity of the bureaucratic left sects. Each group attempts its own ‘broad’, ‘united’, would-be mass, front organisation. The road to effective mass action is through the struggle for organisational unity, the merging of the revolutionary left groups around the political programme of Marxism. It may seem paradoxical, but organisational unity and unity in action require freedom of opinion, not suppression of dissent. Revolutionary unity requires voluntary discipline in a democratic-centralist Marxist party, not anarchist networking.

However, again, credit where credit is due. Comrade Owen rightly directs his imagined broad left network towards the Labour Party, as it is still part of the workers’ movement: “Labour’s leaders are still to offer a genuine alternative to austerity”, but, he says, so long as the trade union link ties Labour to the working class, “there is a battle to be won in compelling the party to fight for working people”. But “compelling the party” is here limited to “pressure” rather than winning democratic control over the bureaucracy by the members. If only, he says, we had “a broad network that unites progressive opponents of the coalition … the Labour leadership would face pressure that would not – for a change – come from the right”.

The LRC, however, aims much higher than merely putting our party leadership under mass pressure, according to the ‘Aims and objectives’ section of its rules and constitution (www.l-r-c.org.uk/about/constitution). Rule 2 sets out to “restore the operation of a fully democratic Labour Party”, and rule 5 seeks to “transform the Labour Party into an organisation that reflects the interests of all sections of the working class”. As an essential part of this struggle for democratic control of the party (not merely “pressure”), rule 3 appeals to “all existing Labour Party members and to all socialists outside the Labour Party who it will encourage to join or rejoin the Labour Party”.

When comrade Owen naively offers to “all those desperate for a coherent alternative to the tragedy of austerity” his dream of a broad network free of left debate, he is really leading them up the garden path. They need the truth, not imaginary short cuts. The struggle for democracy must be fought and won in all sections of the workers’ movement. In the revolutionary left organisations, in the trade unions and in the Labour Party, the bureaucracy must be made into servants, not masters.


This article first appeared in Weekly Worker No 948, February 7 2013:  http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/948/babies-and-bathwater

LRC AGM: No short cuts to rebuilding

The November 10 AGM of the Labour Representation Committee was on balance positive. But the left is still painfully weak both organisationally and politically. Andy Gunton of Labour Party Marxists gives his assessment

Those arriving at Conway Hall were met outside by Christine Shawcroft, Lizzy Ali and Richard Price – comrades from the minority who opposed the decision to offer the Labour Briefing journal to the LRC. Flogging their own “original” LB, they declined to stay for the meeting, leaving before LRC joint chair Pete Firmin opened proceedings.

Sadly, comrade Shawcroft also has resigned her LRC membership, thankfully taking very few comrades with her. Despite that, numbers were down. There were 160 comrades compared with 180 last year. Why the organisers are claiming 200 might owe something to wishful thinking. Or was it a factional pose? The only vote to be counted on the day involved a total of just 87 comrades (for and against – with no sea of abstentions in sight). Splits, such as has occurred in LB and the LRC, might help to clarify political lines. They can, however, lead to the weak, the inexperienced, the demoralised dropping away into inactivity. And that is what seems to have happened.

The Shawcroft-Ali-Price faction is clearly rightwing. They seek an alliance with the centre of the Labour Party, crucially those in parliament. As for comrade Shawcroft’s journal, it is a vanity project for a bruised ego and exemplifies a sadly frivolous attitude to democracy and class discipline all too common on the left. That LB proper has seen subscriptions rise substantially can only but be good news. And unsurprisingly the AGM voted overwhelmingly to adopt it as the official journal of the LRC.

John McDonnell MP moved the national committee statement. He outlined the work of the LRC over the last 12 months, highlighting the LRC’s role in helping to set up Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes (Squash – www.squashcampaign.org), and challenging the “suits” in the “larger, bureaucratic unions”.

He lambasted the Labour leadership for its timidity: 85% of proposed cuts have yet to be implemented; we face a triple-dip recession; there are 3.5 million either unemployed or working part-time; and benefits are being slashed. So it is time to draw a “line in the sand” and for LRC members to set the terms of struggle in the Labour Party: “No cuts! Our class is not going to pay for their crisis.”

Comrade McDonnell called on LRC members to build up campaigns in communities to support anti-cuts councillors. It was time to target so-called ‘pay day loans’ and “bullying bailiffs”. He finished by calling for an “international struggle against capitalism” and for “systemic change”.

Veteran campaigner Tony Benn then took the stand. “The Labour Party is not a socialist party,” he told the audience. It is a “party with socialists in it”. Very true; and something those comrades who wish to ‘reclaim’ the party, as well as those who now denounce it, would do well to note.

Our party has never been a vehicle for working class power; it was founded as a voice in parliament for the trade union bureaucracy. To transform it into a genuine ‘party of labour’ requires unremitting struggle against the bureaucratic and pro-capitalist right, within the party and within the trade unions. And that requires a combative and politically educated working class. As Stan Keable of Labour Party Marxists said, moving our LPM motion, the struggle must be to “transform the Labour Party … to fight for working class interests”.

In truth, there were rather too many top-table speeches and not enough time for the real business. As a result movers of motions were restricted to three minutes, while those opposing had only two. One for and one against – that was the sum total of every debate (although the mover also had the right of reply).

Many comrades expressed frustration because amendments are not permitted at LRC conference, meaning that rather more often than not you are faced with either passing an unsatisfactory motion or leaving the LRC with no position on a pressing issue. Fortunately, however, a motion from Communist Students to accept amendments at future conferences was passed by a clear majority.

Trade union link

Moving motion 12 on the Labour Party-trade union link, Maria Exall complained that the relationship provided a transmission belt for poor Labour Party politics into the unions. The link “works in the wrong way”, she said, calling instead for “political trade unionism”.

Understandable sentiments, clearly born of frustration with the lack of democracy within the party. But the problem with our party historically was precisely that its politics bore the stamp of “political trade unionism”, rather than the reverse. Blairism represented a clear break with this, symbolised by the formal abandonment of the old clause four. That some of the affiliated unions are now fighting back, picking on the openly pro-capitalist Progress faction, is, of course, to be welcomed. But clearly it is not enough if we want to see a socialist Labour Party.

The vision of a pure trade unionism free of party politics emerged again during the debate over motion 3, which sought to commit the LRC to democracy and grassroots organisation in the unions and to support various campaigns, such as the Grass Roots Alliance in Unite. Speaking in support of the motion, comrade Keable called for democracy in the workers’ movement, while Steve Ballard demanded the “emancipation of the trade unions”.

Jon Rogers fired the first shot in opposition. He was followed by Tony Lyons: apparently it is “not within the remit of the LRC to intervene in trade unions”. A ridiculous position, which cedes control of these important bastions of working class defence to the bureaucracy.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty’s Vicky Morris regretted that, while she could support “the vast majority of what’s in the motion”, the LRC should not commit to support the Grass Roots Left in opposition to other groups in Unite. But pride of place went to Thomas Butler. He took the stand to oppose motion 10; not because of its content, but because of the organisation behind it. In what amounted to the call for its expulsion, he declared the LRC affiliation of the Stalinite New Communist Party a problem: a problem for him, and a problem for his union, Unite. Unite would not affiliate to the LRC while it played host to the likes of the NCP.

In the end motion 3 fell.

Fighting cuts

Jenny Lennox chaired the panel discussion involving Labour councillors, with Andrea Oates from Broxstowe opening. Describing herself as an “anti-cuts councillor”, she told the meeting she had been personally affected by cutbacks and expressed her “frustration with the Labour Party passing on Tory cuts”. Arguing also against rent rises, she had stood on an explicitly anti-cuts platform. But she felt isolated: “There’s not a lot of support out there,” she admitted.

Fellow Broxstowe councillor Greg Marshall told comrades that Labour councillors in nearby Nottingham were implementing cuts. However, he and comrade Oates had the support of their party branch and local trades council, and were holding regular stalls in the town.

Preston councillor Matthew Brown outlined his Proudhonist vision of council-owned, income-generating wind farms, cooperatives and worker-owned businesses creating “alternatives to capitalism locally”. (While cooperatives are something our movement should seek to develop in the process of forming our class into a future ruling class, municipal utopias are no response to the current crisis.)

Unsurprisingly, the spectre of Eric Pickles loomed large. Council chamber colleagues of Gary Waring (Hull) warned him that, should they fail to make cuts, “Pickles will step in and do the job”. Islington’s Charlynne Pullen demanded we adopt a “realist position”; Labour councillors cannot “abdicate responsibility”. Islington had brought services back in-house, implemented the Boris Johnston-touted living wage and set up a ‘fairness commission’. “And made cuts,” came a heckle from the audience.

The subsequent debate focused on motion 1, with most calling on comrades to back it. Jackie Walker from Lewisham implored comrades to “support each other and not fight among ourselves”. The AWL’s Pete Radcliff said anti-cuts Labour councillors needed to be organised and visible, that councillors and trade unions must be brought together: “the LRC should take a lead in this”.

Councillor George Barrett from Barking and Dagenham spoke of his expulsion from the Labour Party last year for standing up against cuts. We need an organisation of anti-cuts Labour councillors, he said. Dan Jeffery, a councillor from Southampton, expressed sympathy with those who called on individual councillors to make a stand, but organisation was needed. Pete Firmin recounted the experience of Lambeth councillor Kingsley Abrams, who had taken a public stance against cuts. He had reluctantly taken the whip and abandoned his opposition after pressure had been applied by Unite.

Opposition came from Ted Knight. “I do not find it difficult to vote against cuts,” he told comrades. Labour councillors should “lock Pickles out of their town halls”. There are “no two ways” to oppose cuts, he said.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack opened the session on ‘Fighting back industrially’. In a wide-ranging speech he gave an accurate and honest appraisal of where we are and what we need to do. “Workplace organisation has been thrown back in the last 20 to 30 years,” he reckoned. It was not sufficient to make demands of union tops “without organisation on the ground”. He castigated the left for its fragmentation, correctly calling for a single anti-cuts organisation. But to think austerity can be defeated in Britain alone is “naive”, he warned. We require international organisation to defeat austerity, and we need to discuss what drives it. According to comrade Wrack, the “labour movement has been overly modest”; we are “failing in our task.” The crisis raised questions about what sort of society we want to live in. We need to raise the demand for “a different sort of society.”

Political weaknesses

Two motions taken during the session on internationalism brought the political weaknesses in the LRC into sharp relief.

Motion 5 addressed events in South Africa surrounding the Marikana massacre, when striking miners were gunned down by police. Mike Phipps set the tone for the subsequent debate. While moving a separate motion, he took the opportunity to urge comrades to vote it down. He alleged that the emergency motion called for the splitting of the South African trade union centre, Cosatu. Not true.

The motion included a call for the break-up of the triple alliance, which subordinates the South African Communist Party and Cosatu to the African National Congress. It demanded that they, along with the South African Communist Party, the Young Communist League and the South African Student Congress, must “fight for the political and organisational independence of the working class”.

Opposing, Robin Hanford reminded comrades that the ANC was a member of the Socialist International and therefore a fraternal organisation of the Labour Party. How could he, he demanded angrily, go to a meeting of the SI’s youth organisation and denounce the ANC? And why not, comrade? Surely, it would be inexcusable if you did not. As one comrade correctly pointed out during the debate, the ANC government is “a capitalist government”.

Moving emergency motion 1, Gerry Downing called on comrades to defend activists in the Democratic Socialist Movement of South Africa. The DSM – the South African section of Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International – is campaigning in support of striking miners and has been targeted by elements within the SACP as a result. Accused of being linked to, or involved in, several apartheid-era atrocities, DSM details – names, addresses and photographs – have been posted on an internet forum associated with the SACP. This amounted to a hit-list and was “an invitation to assassinate DSM members”, declared comrade Downing.

There was greater controversy with motion 4 from the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group. It called for the release of political prisoners, highlighting Palestinians in Israel and Naxalites in India. However, it was the paragraphs dealing Irish republican prisoners which split the meeting.

Opposing motion 4, a comrade from Socialist Appeal warned, should we pass the motion, we would have to call for the release of those who had murdered prison officer David Black, shot while driving to work. Such actions were not part of working class tradition, he claimed. Presumably comrades from the AWL were of a similar opinion: they also voted against. Nevertheless, the motion was passed, by a margin of 52 to 35.

Broad church

The Labour Party Marxists motion was passed, almost unnoticed, it seems. Given the politics on display from the majority of comrades, this cannot be because Marxist ideas won out against reformism. The LRC majority has not abandoned its Labourite politics; it remains wedded to the forlorn hope that a Labour government, of whatever political stripe, is better than the Tories.

The LRC church is a broad one. It contains members, often councillors, who in times past would have been considered very much on the soft left of the party. They, alongside left Labourites masquerading as Marxists, and Marxists masquerading as left Labourites, form the core of the LRC.

Around Ted Knight, Graham Durham and Gerry Downing there exists an amorphous grouping of comrades whose ultimatist response to cuts – ‘General strike now!’ – is basically healthy in terms of class instincts, but refuses to acknowledge the parlous state of our class, politically and organisationally. We cannot call forth battalions which do not, as yet, exist, no matter how splendid our slogans sound. That is why our LPM motion specified that “Our key aim … is to rebuild, democratise and re-educate the entire labour movement.” There are no short cuts.

Refound Labour as a real party of labour

Peter Hain, chair of the national policy forum, was commissioned by Ed Miliband in November 2010 to write a consultation paper with the aim of reorganising the Labour Party, so that it could regain “the trust of British people”. Refounding Labour (PDF) has been widely discussed in the mainstream press, web forums and numerous Labour Party meetings. Submissions have been asked for. This is the contribution of the Labour Party Marxists

Refounding the Labour Party is long overdue. There have been too many wasted years. It is a crying shame then that Peter Hain’s consultation paper is so timid, so uninspiring. No damning critique of capitalism, no bold socialist vision, no proposals to radically democratise the party. Instead we are offered managerial, tokenistic, superficial tinkering. The continued existence of capitalism goes unquestioned. The deepest, most protracted economic crisis since the 1930s gets a mention, but no commensurate conclusions follow.

Our party, our society, our species face huge challenges. No-one objects to using the internet, tweeting, community campaigns or organising an annual “summer weekend” festival. Yet, given the ongoing massive cuts programme of the Con-Dem government, the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the terrible wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the drift into new ‘humanitarian’ interventions, the abject failure to counter the danger of ecological collapse, the urgent necessity for a socialist transition and a complete transformation of all existing conditions, more, much more, is needed.

There are those amongst us, of course, who fondly look back to what they imagine to be a golden age. The old clause four (part four) of our constitution committed us: “To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”

Mistakenly, this is interpreted as a sincere commitment to socialism. But when it was first adopted, in February 1918 – during the slaughter of inter-imperialist war – the idea of Sidney Webb and the Fabians was to divert the considerable sympathy that existed for the Russian Revolution into safe, constitutional, channels.

Needless to say, clause four was mainly for show. However, even if it had been taken seriously and put into practice, Fabian socialism is antithetical to working class self-liberation. Industry, banking, transport, etc, would be bureaucratically nationalised. The mass of the population, however, remain exploited wage-slaves. Capitalism without capitalists.

Nevertheless, the old clause four resulted from mass pressure. Because of World War I, because of the Russian Revolution, capitalism was widely discredited, viewed as inherently irrational, warlike, prone to constantly recurring crises. Socialism was seen as the answer. What was true of 1918 is increasingly the case in the 2010s.

There is a widespread rejection of capitalism; even in the United States an April 2009 Rasmussen poll showed only 53 percent of American adults rating capitalism “better than socialism” (www.rasmussenreports.com).

Showing how badly out of touch he is with the growing anti-capitalist mood, Peter Hain actually celebrates what he calls the “reforming” of clause four in 1994. A “hugely important political symbol”, he emphatically declares. Indeed it was.

Tony Blair and New Labour were trying to assure the establishment, the City, the Murdoch empire, the global plutocracy that capitalism would be safe in their hands. That a New Labour government would not even pay lip service to what was in fact a British nationalist version of state capitalism.

Whatever differences Peter Hain has with New Labour, he is impeccably New Labour on this score at least … meanwhile Ed Miliband flirts with Blue Labour.

Calls for a return of the old clause four are understandable, but totally misplaced. We need to go forwards, not look backwards. Labour needs to organise on the basis of an explicitly socialist, as opposed to a social democratic, neoliberal or Blue Labour programme. Only then can we fulfil our responsibilities.

That is why Labour Party Marxists advocate extreme democracy in society and throughout the labour movement, working class rule and international socialism.
Historically – in terms of membership, finances and electoral base – our party has largely relied on the working class. This has been our greatest strength; and here is the source of our hope and confidence in the future. Because of its constantly renewed social position the working class tends towards collectivist, socialistic solutions.

Despite Blairism, New Labour and the public sacrifice of the old clause four, we remain a distinctly class party. The historic relationship with the trade unions survives, there are still 2.7 million affiliated members and the working class “core vote” stood up well in the last general election.

Peter Hain is right, of course, when he points to a long-term decline of our mass base. Between 1997 and 2010 we lost five million votes.

However, there must be more to this than three terms in government, changing patterns of work and the “growth of sports and other leisure interests.” Maintaining Tory anti-trade union laws, widening inequality, Iraq and Gordon Brown’s fawning before the market, big business and the banks caused dismay and demoralisation. Our voters did not in general desert to other parties. They simply stopped voting.

We are asked how “better working class representation” can be achieved. Refounding Labour registers an aspiration to “re-create a much more organic link between the party and the trade union movement”. Underlined by Ed Miliband’s introductory statement that he does “not want to break the party up, but build it up”.

Unlike New Labour, he harbours no ambition to break the link with the trade unions. Nowadays, that would certainly result in a financial catastrophe – debt crippled our election campaign in 2010 and donations from the super-rich have almost entirely dried up. Yet, whatever the motivation, a commitment to retain the trade union link is to be welcomed.

So how to re-engage our traditional base, how to reinvigorate the relationship with the trade unions? We say the Labour Party can and must be refounded as a real party of labour. By that we mean rebuilding and thoroughly democratising the Labour Party. We want to make Labour into a common home for all workers and working class organisations – the goal of the founders of the party in 1900.

As a party we should commit ourselves to energetically campaign to revive the trade union movement. The fall from 12 million trade union members in the late 1970s to some seven million today can be reversed. Party members should take the lead in recruiting masses of new trade unionists and restoring the strength of the unions in the workplace and in society at large. Every level of the party needs to be involved. That includes our councillors and MPs.

Strikes must be unashamedly supported. There ought to be a binding commitment to back workers in their struggle to protect jobs, pensions and conditions. Inevitably the anti-trade union laws will have to be defied.

In parallel all trade unions ought to be encouraged to affiliate to the Labour Party, all members of the trade unions encouraged to pay the political levy to the Labour Party and join as individual members.

Unions that have either been expelled or have disaffiliated need to be welcomed back: eg, the RMT and FBU. But there are unions which have never had an organised relationship with the Labour Party: eg, PCS and NUT. Indeed of the 58 unions affiliated to the TUC only 15 are affiliated to Labour. Winning new trade union affiliates would help transform our present situation.

While Labour Party Marxists support the idea of making membership affordable for those who are students, unemployed or are on low pay, we oppose the suggestion of blurring the distinction between those who are members – with the right to elect, be elected and decide policy, etc – and those who are supporters. Membership of the Labour Party should be something to value, to be proud of.

Naturally, the fight to refound and rebuild the Labour Party cannot be separated from the fight to democratise the trade unions. All trade union officials ought to be subject to regular election and be recallable. No official should receive pay higher than the average of the membership. Moreover, rules which restrict the ability of the rank and file to organise and criticise must be swept away. They bring discredit to our movement.

Trade union votes at Labour Party conferences should be cast not by general secretaries, but proportionately, according to the political balance in each delegation. Conference cannot be dominated by four or five men in suits.

The Labour Party should be reorganised from top to bottom. All socialist and communist groups, leftwing think tanks and progressive campaigns ought to be allowed to affiliate. Towards that end the undemocratic bans and proscriptions must be rescinded. Clause two (five) must be reformulated. A whole raft of new affiliated socialist and other such organisations would not bring in hundreds of thousands of new recruits, it would though bring in many highly valuable men and women of talent and dedication. The culture of our party can that way be greatly enhanced.

The Parliamentary Labour Party has to be brought into line. We must end the situation where Labour members vote for one thing and the PLP does another. Musings about minimal parliamentary attendance and codes of conduct are a dangerous diversion. What is needed is not further measures of bureaucratic control from above, but democratic control from below.

Our ward and constituency parties will continue to wither and die if they remain under the thumb of regional organisers and are expected to act as mere transmission belts for Victoria Street. Local autonomy enlivens, educates and lays the basis for growth and national influence. All officials in the Labour Party must be subject to regular election and re-election.

Labour Party Marxists want the present post of Labour leader abolished. While our party has to fulfil the statutory requirements laid down in the thoroughly undemocratic Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, the Führerprinzip can be left to others. The leader of the Labour Party should be a nominal position. Instead of a Bonaparte with the power to appoint shadow ministers, the National Executive Committee should be responsible for electing chairs of the PLP, shadow ministers, etc.

Members are deeply alienated. The Joint Policy Committee, the National Policy Forum and the whole Partnership into Power rigmarole have demonstrably failed. Instead of reforming them they should simply be abolished. The NEC must be unambiguously responsible for drafting Labour Party manifestoes. And, of course, the NEC needs to be fully accountable to annual conference.

Annual conference must be the supreme body of the Labour Party. We need democratic debate and binding votes. Not a happy-clappy rally designed for TV producers. Make officials and shadow ministers report as humble servants. No more preening media stars, no more control-freakery, no more business lobbyists, promotions and exhibits. An authoritative, honest, no-holds barred conference would certainly guarantee an immediate increase in CLPs sending delegates to conference: numbers fell from 527 in 2002 to 444 in 2009 and only 412 in 2010 – under two thirds the total entitled to attend.
As with the trade unions, our elected representatives must be recallable by the constituency or other body that selected them. That includes Labour MPs, MEPs, MSPs, AMs, councillors, etc.

Likewise, without exception, our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker. When it comes to existing salaries, the balance should be given to the party. On current figures, that means around £40,000 from each MP (at present they are only obliged to pay the £82 parliamentarians’ subscription rate). That would give a substantial fillip to our depleted finances.

It should be a basic principle that our representatives live like workers, not pampered middle class careerists. If that was done, no longer would people say, ‘All politicians are the same’ or that they are ‘all in it for personal gain’.

Our task is refounding the Labour Party as a real party of labour: a workers’ party.