Trotspotting: a field guide

Tom Watson is worried about ‘infiltrators’: Jim Grant of Labour Party Marxists is less than impressed with his conspiracy theories

“I was first taught to spot a Trot at 50 yards in 1965 by Mr Bert Ramelson, Yorkshire industrial organiser of the Communist Party,” Jack Straw wrote in a briefly infamous letter to the Independent1. It is a matter of some regret that Straw never passed any tips on to Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party.

In the raging civil war over Labour’s future, Watson is playing a most particular role. He is, of course, a partisan of the right, according to the current polarisation, albeit historically a muscular centrist and Brownite. Yet his role is to present a lawyerly facade; he is the ‘responsible’ guy who does what he does for the good of the party. Frankly, it was a threadbare outfit even when he became deputy, and it is even scantier now. Loyalty to the party means, so far as Watson and his like are concerned, hostility to the left. For all his ‘fixer’ credentials, Watson has screwed this one up royally: all his backroom manoeuvres, all his ‘talks’ and press briefings, and where has it gotten his colleagues? Merely back to exactly where they were last year: staring down the barrel of another humiliating defeat at the hands of ordinary members.

It is perhaps that which explains the sheer desperation of Watson’s behaviour recently – and, to return to Straw’s Stalinoid missive to the Indy, the desperation of his ‘dossier’ of evidence concerning far-left infiltration.2

Rather inevitably, given the return to public consciousness of the 2003 invasion of Iraq since the Chilcot report was published, Watson’s evidence has acquired the ‘dodgy dossier’ soubriquet; and there are certain similarities between it and the notorious ‘evidence’ of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction presented to the press and parliament in September 2002. Principally, there is the fact that much of it is simply false, deliberately or otherwise; and of the rest, everything is presented in an entirely misleading light.

Rogues’ gallery

So who are the nefarious Trots steamrollering into the Labour Party? At the top of the list – inexplicably, given that they might be the smallest of the lot – is Red Flag. Watson and his valiant team of hurried Googlers have managed to work out that RF is the continuation of Workers Power. The comrades are guilty of – shock, horror! – distributing a model motion against the manoeuvres of the parliamentary party against the leadership.

Next is Labour Party Marxists – in Watson’s view, a “project” of the CPGB, which is in turn a “Trotskyist party” (it is neither Trotskyist, nor a Party; but the distinctions probably appear theological to the intrepid Trotspotters of Brewers’ Green, for whom no doubt Maoists are Trotskyists for present purposes too, and also our handful of confused old left-communist friends who find themselves today with Labour Party cards … ). Our great crime? Arguing for global proletarian revolution, for wholesale purging of the right, for winning Labour to a full revolutionary Marxist programme? Er, no: we support reselection of MPs (something already allowed for, to some extent, in the party’s rules … ) All the rest, we thereby conclude, must be just fine by brother Watson, which is certainly a pleasant surprise! Elsewhere, Watson & co are horrified to discover our call for more people to join the unions, and more union members to engage in the life of Labour; old Tom wants none of that rubbish. The unions are quite large enough for him (especially, no doubt, as most of them are behind the leadership).

Next up is the Alliance for Workers Liberty, which is ‘guilty’ of much the same sort of stuff, so we will not belabour the point: much outrage, of course, is dedicated to AWL comrade Jill Mountford’s senior position in Momentum. Mountford was suspended from Labour membership; it is obviously quite unacceptable to Watson that Momentum does not allow Labour’s blatantly compromised Compliance Unit to determine its membership requirements. It is also worth noting that it is hardly the case that Labour is suddenly flooded with AWL members, even adjusting for the group’s size: most of those to have fallen foul of disciplinary proceedings have been Labour members for years. Their membership can hardly be blamed on Jeremy Corbyn.


The three groups aforementioned, though all tiny compared to the massive influx of new members, at least have the virtue of operating within it.

Tom Watson wants to go further, however. We can see why: there’s simply not enough Trots on that list for even the most gullible idiot to consider it an invasion. Add us all up, and there is probably a numerically greater scourge of 9/11 truthers to worry about. There is a wider Trotskyoid fringe in the Labour left that Watson could have mentioned, of course, but most of these people – like AWL members – have been hanging around for a long old time. It is still not enough.

Thus he insists on trying to rope in the two largest Trotskyist organisations in Britain – we speak of the Socialist Party in England and Wales, and the Socialist Workers Party. At this point, Watson’s document descends entirely into stupidity. For both these organisations have refused to urge people to join the Labour Party.

Thus the ‘evidence’ against SPEW, which amounts in the first instance to the fact that they claimed to help organise a few Momentum meetings, and secondly that a motion passed at Unite’s policy conference in favour of mandatory reselection was moved by a SPEW member. What, does Watson want SPEW members out of Unite now? Does Unite not get to decide its own policy? Is it not a greater concern for greaseball careerists like Watson that people were willing to vote for it?

The punchline to Tom’s tour of the British far left is the SWP. Surely not? “SWP sets up training course to infiltrate Labour”, screams the sub-headline. You can imagine the embarrassment at Weekly Worker towers, dear reader! We have been keeping close tabs on the SWP for decades; how can we have missed such a major change of course? Except, of course, that the truth is the exact opposite: the link Watson helpfully provides brings us to a list of articles in SWP publications, all of which urge readers not to join the Labour Party.3 It is as if some neo-Nazi had a headline along the lines of ‘Finally, proof that the holocaust never happened’, and then linked readers to Raul Hilberg’s Destruction of the European Jews.

There will no doubt be some who think this comparison a little gauche. Alas! What else do we have before us than a conspiracy theory quite as absurd? At least holocaust deniers, 9/11 truthers, birthers and anti-vaxxers actually believe the nonsense they peddle – which Watson surely cannot. How thick does he think his audience is?

Tom’s friends

Come to think of it, who does he think his audience is?

The memo was ostensibly for the information of Jeremy Corbyn and his ‘people’, but they are surely quite aware of the limited extent, such as it is, of Trotskyists coming to the Labour Party. Perhaps it is a last ditch appeal to wavering voters in the Labour leadership poll, suggesting that the voice they hear telling them to vote for Corbyn is the same voice that shrilly hawks them a copy of Socialist Worker outside the tube on a Saturday morning … but can there be any waverers at all?

Let us advance another, more likely hypothesis: Tom’s dossier has the same purpose as Tony Blair’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ intervention in last year’s Leader contest: that is, to raise a standard for the troops on his side. It will yield an infusion of publicity from the yellow press. It will rally the despondent among the Progress youth, and give them another absurdity to hurl at opposing forces in CLP meetings. It will remind them, like a good fighting song, of the justice of their cause and the perfidy of their enemies.

From the point of view of the ‘Trots’ – or, indeed, of anyone with an attention span north of ten seconds – such accusations as are contained therein are richly amusing. For what is the picture painted? That “they”, the Trots, are playing silly buggers, taking things over by stealth, fighting dirty, lying about their true intentions and political outlook. Remind you of anyone?

Here is the situation as it is, not as Tom Watson would like you to think it. There is an electoral contest going on, between Jeremy Corbyn, a more-or-less principled, run-of-the-mill Labour leftist of some years standing, and Owen Smith, whose politics are entirely undistinguished, and is running on the basis that he is not Jeremy Corbyn. Smith, in other words, is deliberately obfuscating his politics, since it is plain to him that he would not win on the basis that he was a jolly competent paid lobbyist for Pfizer. His supporters routinely manufacture scurrilous accusations – of physical intimidation, anti-Semitism, misogyny – against the supporters of his opponent. Those of his supporters on the National Executive Committee – including Watson – attempted to keep Corbyn off the ballot entirely, and – when that failed – aggressively gerrymandered the contest.

Now, some number among them whisper that – quelle surprise – they will not accept the result of the election if, as looks nigh on inevitable, Corbyn is returned as leader; they will instead attempt to seize the Labour Party’s name, assets and status as Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition. This may be a serious threat, or perhaps merely more mind games; either which way, the sense of entitlement is breathtaking, as is the hypocrisy of Watson, the arch-manipulator, fishing around for reds under his bed. In truth, more than 200,000 people have joined the Labour party in the last year and a half. We doubt there are 200,000 Trotskyists in the world.

Trot want?

Is there any truth to Watson’s ‘dossier’?

Well, there always is – somewhere. There certainly are some number of far-leftists in the Labour Party, and some smaller number more than there were prior to last summer. Even those who have not joined up, like SPEW, who insist on maintaining a pseudo-Labourite electoral profile even under the new conditions, will vent forth about their ‘support’ for Jeremy, which must nevertheless come from ‘outside’ … We ‘Trots’ are not so daft as not to recognise helpful movement in the Overton window.

There is another thing, which is more deeply ironic. The most immediate effect of little curveballs like Watson’s dossier is to put the Corbyn camp on the defensive (‘no, we’re not Trots, honest!’). This attitude leads to desperate attempts to be doing something, which means tacitly accepting the justice of the right’s hysterical accusations. The clearest recent example is the ‘anti-Semitism’ panic, but there have been depressingly many. Where the Corbyn inner circle go, Momentum’s unaccountable leadership clique is sure to follow – nothing must be allowed that would embarrass the leadership, and thus people are leant on to obey Jeremy’s call for a “kinder politics” (ie, do not criticise the right, do not pursue political struggle against them, and so on).

This attitude greatly benefits two groups: the first, naturally, is the right. The second is … the ‘Trots’.

For, if the official leadership of the Labour left is paralysed by timidity – if it is unable to meet even the instinctive understanding of angry Corbyn-supporting Labour members without patronising and demobilising them – then who will? We expect that more than a few will have a positive appreciation of Lev Davidovich Bronstein.

Who will provide you a model motion to get rid of your traitor MP, and pack them off to their panic room? The Trots. Who will call for militant countermeasures against any further coup attempts by the right – the occupation of party premises whose fate lies before some judge, for example? The Trots. (We would like to stress, parenthetically, that local Labour organisations ought to plan for such action starting now – the right may well be desperate enough to try something of this kind.)

Who will urge street stalls, picketing, fighting for policy at conference, setting up papers, initiative at the rank and file, rather than damping down enthusiasm wherever possible? Who will dare to suggest that you think further ahead than the next general election, or even the current Labour leader, who will need replacing at some time or another? Who will give you permission not to be held hostage by the right, and by extension Rupert Murdoch? The Trots, the Trots, the Trots!

Long may Tom Watson, and his perverse co-conspirators in the Momentum leadership, continue to do us such favours l


1. November 16, 2004.



Right’s floundering coup

Where next for the Labour right? Jim Grant considers the options

What was it Marx said about history repeating itself?

This time last year, the Weekly Worker was already confidently predicting that Jeremy Corbyn would win a crushing victory in the first round of the Labour Party leadership election. It seems odd in hindsight, but many comrades were very much more cautious, despite polling figures the three stooges must surely have viewed as impossible to overcome.

Some on the far left were engaged in spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt in order to save their own perspectives, which were crumbling to nothing before their eyes (Peter ‘Nostradamus’ Taaffe of the Socialist Party springs to mind); others, we fear, had become so utterly accustomed to defeat over the last few decades that they refused to believe it was not some sort of cruel prank.

A year passes, and we are back in the same situation. Corbyn is once again fighting a leadership battle. His opponent, Owen Smith, despite his mendacious self-presentation as a leftwinger, is actually a centre-right hack (although this time there is only one of him). And once more, unless the courts choose a perverse interpretation of the Labour’s rules (more than possible, alas), or some other rabbit is pulled out of a hat, Corbyn is on course to win a crushing victory. Nothing is moving the needle – not the gerrymandering, the fabricated accusations of harassment, nor anything else.

On the assumption – which we stress is hardly a safe one, but anyway – that the courts do not hew to a perverse interpretation of the rulebook and deny Corbyn his candidacy, then, our first goal is to make sure his victory is appropriately demonstrative. Our second, however, is to think more than two months ahead.

After all, we must assume that our enemies are doing just that: the inevitability of Smith’s defeat in anything resembling a fair fight can be more obvious to nobody than Smith himself. We must ask: what is the right’s plan B? At the moment, there are several candidates; all, it must be said, are unattractive.

Version one: the split

There is, first of all, the possibility of some kind of split.

Let us sketch out a scenario: the moment Jeremy Corbyn begins his victory speech at conference in September, the anointed leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s predominant traitor faction declares that the PLP is no longer under the discipline of ‘the Corbyn organisation’, riddled as it is with Trotskyites, anti-Semites and what have you. We will call this leader ‘Owen Smith’, although we doubt he would be suitable for the role, given his mediocrity and the energy with which he is presently pretending to be a leftwinger.

The PLP takes with it a reasonable cache of activists, if not a majority; crucially, in the Commons it dwarfs, in the short term, the official Labour Party, and becomes her majesty’s official opposition. At prime minister’s questions, it is ‘Smith’, not Corbyn, who is called upon to hold Theresa May to account, which he accomplishes by wittering on about his ancestors with a thousand-yard stare.

While attractive in the short term (and if there is one lesson to be drawn from David Cameron’s career, it is that the short term offers a dangerous attraction to today’s bourgeois politicians), the difficulty with this approach to the situation is: what happens when there is an election? To be sure, no split in the PLP has ever taken more than a small minority of it out of the party. Ramsay MacDonald took only 15 with him into the national government in 1931, and the Social Democratic Party 28 in 1981. That 28 became six after the 1983 general election. A traitor organisation of the PLP will have the support of Murdoch, but not of the unions; and it is the latter support that is measured, at the end of the day, in pounds and pence.

Both sides would be likely to suffer; but the traitor side would be likely to suffer worse. And what conclusion would ordinary members draw – that it was Corbyn’s leftism or the Blairites’ sabotage that had led them to defeat? In all likelihood, the split is good for one term only; and, while Theresa May might deny it, one term might not be all that long.

Version two: see you next year!

If an immediate split seems imprudent, our rightists could acknowledge what certainly seems to be the case: that their brave insurrection was, like the Spartacist uprising and the Paris Commune, tragically premature. The solution, then, is to wait until the time is right, and challenge Corbyn then, when he truly gets himself into a pickle. There will still be time to eject him this way before too long, and for a new leader to bed him or herself in for the next election Labour has any chance of winning.

The deficiency of this approach is obvious – if you cannot make a coup against Corbyn now, when will you be able to do so? We on the left can give our rightwing friends a few hard-learned lessons about how long it can take for an enemy to ‘discredit himself’, so long did we wait (for example) for the shine to come off Tony Blair. Insanity, according to an old saying, is characterised by repeating the same action over and over again and expecting different results.

Version three: well grubbed …

So what is left then? Only total inaction and paralysis; waiting for this leftwing fever to usurp itself.

The problem with this approach for the actual individual MPs is that it may bear fruit far too late for them; a promising career will have been mired hopelessly in the wilderness for half a decade or more, maybe. They may well rotate, disillusioned, into sensible jobs in lobbying, PR or high finance, where they will never have to pretend to be leftwing in order to attract the votes of people they truly despise again.

From the point of view of the Labour right as a historic force – the bourgeois pole of this bourgeois workers’ party – things look a little healthier. For, if nothing fundamental changes in the mode of organisation and social basis of the Labour Party, the existence of a pro-capitalist right wing, and its eventual resurgence, is guaranteed.

The Labour left, in its current moment of aberrant ascendancy, has been fortunate, in that its enemies were at first helpful in the shape of the “morons” who agreed to nominate Corbyn. It, also, is a historic force, devilishly hard to kill (it is not like Blair did not try); and a component in Corbyn’s victory and the associated tumult is surely that the right imagined that there was nothing in Labour left of Ed Miliband, and so there was no risk in putting Corbyn on the ballot … before discovering that its own internal cohesion and ability to fight for mass support had withered in the New Labour years of absolute press office diktat.

We cannot imagine that this weakness will last forever, not least because the next generation of Labour rightwingers are going to learn very quickly how to fight effectively for apparatus control, how to lie and smear and exploit the preference of the courts and bourgeois press – an experience denied to the likes of Owen Smith, who had Neil Kinnock, Blair and the rest to do the hard yards for him in advance.

What is necessary then – as this paper has repeatedly argued – is for the left to press its advantage and make war upon the right. Reselections, trigger ballots and expulsions are the order of the day; and the democratic transformation of the party, so that the PLP can be permanently subordinated to the membership. Yet this is not the left’s focus; instead, the obsession is the same as the right’s – with winning the next election. This obsession is the leash by which the left is bound to the right.

Left unchecked, it will destroy the gains made in the last year. Owen Smith will not bring things back into their ‘proper’ order, of course, but – say – Owen Jones might. His press output has been getting wobblier by the week; we read now, on the Guardian website, his idiotic plea to the remaining rump of Bernie Sanders diehards in the States to unite with Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump,1 and we wonder whether his real audience is American Democrats after all.

The right is in a bad position to win the coming battles in the Labour Party. But the left is still perfectly capable of giving victory away. Only when our political horizon is no longer circumscribed by an irrational fear of a Tory government – Labour must win at all costs – will real political change become possible; until then, despite their current weakness, we remain the hostages of the coup-makers and their friends in the press l



No safe spaces for traitors

Jeremy Corbyn not only faces the nonentity, Owen Smith, but a legal challenge in the high court. Jim Grant of Labour Party Marxists says the left must toughen up.

Writing on the Labour leadership crisis is no easy feat for a weekly paper [this article was written for Weekly Worker, July 21 – Ed.], so full is the saga with twists and turns, so leavened is the story with unconfirmed, rapidly disproven and probably maliciously spread rumours, and – in reality – so desperate and chaotically conducted is the struggle on both sides.

Nevertheless, the overall shape of events is clear, and at the moment the picture is of a determined rearguard action by the right to minimise, by fair means and (mostly) foul, the chances of a second victory for Jeremy Corbyn.

Bureaucratic outrages

We begin with the quite astonishing vigour and almost endearing lack of shame with which the right attempted to stitch up the contest in its very mechanics. Readers will be aware of the broad outlines of the story: at the end of last week’s crunch meeting of the national executive committee, after Corbyn’s status on the ballot had been confirmed and one or two naive loyalists had left, the traitor bloc found itself with a narrow majority, and an item on the agenda before it called ‘any other business’.

There, they took ‘business’ submitted to the meeting a whole 30 minutes before its beginning (according to NEC soft left Ann Black), the outcome of which was the wholesale disenfranchisement of a quarter of the party membership, the suspension of all meetings of constituency and ward branches, an eightfold increase in the registered supporter’s fee, and the constriction of the period for registration for the latter to two days. All in all, an unusually productive meeting of the NEC … Since then, we have had the suspension of Brighton and Hove District Labour Party for (let us be honest about this) daring to replace a rightwing local executive with a leftwing one at its recent annual general meeting. Whatever will Iain ‘Mugabe’ McNicol think of next?

Again, what is striking about this is the sheer brazenness of the gerrymandering – so overt that it would shame 1950s Ulster Unionists or the Putin regime. Above all, it demonstrates that a substantial, dominant faction of the Labour Party apparatus has taken the side of the right in this whole farrago – something, of course, we already knew from the endless leaks of confidential data from the compliance unit to such friends of the labour movement as The Daily Telegraph and the Tory muckraker, Guido Fawkes.

Their opponents are: the bulk of the trade union bureaucracy, perhaps surprisingly (with the exception of the GMB, whose leadership is playing its usual scab role over Trident); and the hundreds of thousands of Labour members either attracted by Corbyn’s campaign and victory last year or sick to the back teeth of the contempt in which Blairites, Brownites and the like held the rank and file, as its numbers dwindled to historic lows, and – evidently – all the more so now those members are getting assertive.

Choosing a ‘leader’

The ‘anyone but Corbyn’ part of the coup has been proceeding with ruthless single-mindedness, in spite of the probably fatal setback of failing to keep the incumbent off the ballot – the latest legal challenge notwithstanding (see below). However, the ‘who exactly other than Corbyn’ part has been rather more tortuous. This is hardly surprising – it is, after all, a coup that has been launched on the principle of naked, apolitical careerism, the principle of opposition to principle.

Indeed, so far as the ridiculous Angela Eagle/Owen Smith business has been concerned, we have been here before, when both Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper pitched themselves as the only reasonable challenger to Corbyn last summer, but were unable to resolve their differences, since only their national insurance numbers actually differed. (We note, parenthetically, that Burnham has rather remarkably taken the high road and refused to join in the coup, although this may be merely to enhance his chances of being selected as Labour’s mayoral candidate in Greater Manchester.)

At least it is over now – Smith has the support of the Parliamentary Labour Party. His pitch was that he was the ‘soft left’, and that – being a relatively fresh face, having entered the Commons in 2010 – he would be better able to win over Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters (translation: he is not tainted by the Iraq debacle as obviously as Eagle). Enough of his co-conspirators in the PLP agreed for him to get 25 more PLP nominations than Angela Eagle (18 more overall, including MEPs). Indeed, the fact that nobody had heard of him until a couple of weeks ago is a distinct advantage – especially given that he is on record (as of 2006) as having supported, in vague terms, “the tradition of leftwing engagement to remove dictators”, while ducking the question of Iraq specifically (he voted for military action in Libya in 2011, however, which turned out just great); the carving off of parts of the NHS for the private sector; and PFI hospitals and academies.1 He was also, before formal involvement in politics, a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer.

Of course, he now accepts he was wrong on most of these things – how could he not? Who would vote for some Blairite nonentity under these circumstances? In any case, we hope that voters in the coming election have the elementary intelligence to at least look the guy up on Wikipedia before

Of course, he now accepts he was wrong on most of these things – how could he not? Who would vote for some Blairite nonentity under these circumstances? In any case, we hope that voters in the coming election have the elementary intelligence to at least look the guy up on Wikipedia before they take his assurances of honest ‘soft leftism’ as good coin. He is a possibly reformed Blairite – but a traitor like the rest of them.

Help! I’m being oppressed

The other tactic being deployed is the multiplication of accusations of ‘bullying’ and ‘harassment’. The suspension of Brighton and Hove appears to be on the basis that the outgoing officials considered the manner and comprehensiveness of their defeat a form of harassment; the interdiction of CLP meetings and suchlike across the board is supposedly a preventative measure against the excessive rancour and bile-spitting of Jeremy’s rabid Red Guards.

There are two explanations for this offensive: the first is that we are dealing with a flood of crocodile tears, the assiduous cultivation of a spurious victimhood, cynically designed to delegitimise wholly justified anger at the traitorous actions of the PLP majority. The second is, well, just the opposite: these people are genuinely put out by feeling a little pressure, and simply cannot imagine what they have done to deserve it. Both seem to be true, one way or the other; we cannot imagine Angela Eagle (who is, according to her own account, a ‘tough’ sort) is really in fear of her life. On the other hand, there is NEC nonentity Johanna Baxter, whose account of the Big Day collapsed into peals of sobbing at the memory of potentially being denied a secret ballot for NEC decisions. She looks for all the world like somebody in the midst of a breakdown, which, of course, was not enough to stop the media exploiting her misery to paint Corbyn supporters as – in the words of the Mirror’s Carole Malone – “Lenin-style bully boys who’d send women to the gulag”.2

In reality, the ‘honest’ trauma of Baxter and (perhaps) other ‘short-beaked pigeons’ of the Blair generation is exactly the same as the fabricated fear of more serious politicians – in both cases, what is not accepted is accountability. Both Baxter and Eagle, and Smith, and Hilary Benn, are conspirators against the clearly expressed will of their party. They have seized, as factional property, the principal means of disciplinary procedure. The only means available to ordinary members to hold their MPs to account are the very ones decried as ‘intimidation’ by the MPs – open ballots, verbal censure, and above all deselection and trigger ballots (of which we expect there would have been a good few, if CLP meetings had not been suspended).

Making omelettes, breaking eggs

This is, unfortunately, an acute weak spot of the left, which has become in the main consumed by fatuous victimology over the past few years. This paper has argued repeatedly that ‘safe spaces’ and the interpretation of everything through the prism of preventing harassment is in fact a form of politics ultimately in service of the bureaucracy as a caste in society at large. The illusion that is possible to ‘do politics differently’, for a definition of the same that means we are all going to be terribly nice to each other or else, is one promoted heavily by the likes of Momentum, as with almost all leftwing political movements that present themselves as ‘new’.

In doing so, the leadership of the Corbyn movement has disarmed its rank and file, holding back on deselection, collapsing disgracefully over the fabricated ‘anti-Semitism’ scandal – need we go on? In truth, politics is war by peaceful means. Whatever else we may think of the traitors, they at least understand this: thus, their tactics are not constrained unduly by high-minded attention to moral principle, focusing merely on the effective application of force.

It had looked as though Corbyn would come out the other side of all this victorious. The plotters had lost the initiative, and had more or less been dragged, kicking and screaming, into an electoral contest, which the latest available data suggests they could lose by a demonstratively punishing margin. But now, of course, there is the previously half-expected legal challenge to the NEC decision to include Corbyn on the ballot. This has been brought by former Labour parliamentary candidate Michael Foster, who subsequently became a substantial donor to party funds, and both McNicol and Corbyn himself will be the defendants.

Of course, it is useful for the PLP right that this challenge has been mounted by someone not directly involved in the battle. If it was successful then they could claim that they would have preferred Corbyn to have been defeated in a democratic ballot … But what can you do? However, will it be successful? That is very dubious, to say the least.3 So, assuming the challenge fails and Corbyn does indeed win the leadership contest, what will the right do then? Will Corbyn suddenly enjoy the confidence of Eagle, Smith, Benn and co, who have all hated him since day zero? What are they planning to do if he is re-elected?

The official policy of the Corbyn office in this whole period has been, in paraphrase, that “we need to unite, at this time of all times, when the Tories are in turmoil” – and, now that the Tories are no longer very much in turmoil, to fight a general election in the short term against a government with no mandate. We doubt there is much else an old-fashioned party leader’s office can say at a time like this.

Yet it is plain that it presents a fantasy, at best of rhetorical value (‘they started it’) and the principal dynamic is towards a split, and thus an ugly battle over every inch of political territory from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides. Unity between the PLP as it exists and the membership it holds in such hatred and contempt is, at this point, impossible. There is merely victory, if we are bold, or defeat, if we allow ourselves to be disarmed.

2. Daily Mirror July 16.
3. See ‘Don’t rely on the courts’ Weekly Worker July 14 2016.

Time to counterattack

The Labour plotters are well organised, but weaker than they look. Jim Grant of Labour Party Marxists urges that we take the fight to them

[This article first appeared in Weekly Worker on Thursday July 7 – when Angela Eagle was dithering, hoping to launch her coup attempt with Jeremy Corbyn excluded. Now the Labour leader election is on, and the July 12 NEC meeting has, thankfully, put  Corbyn on the ballot paper. Expect a dirty campaign. Will the courts be asked to reverse that decision? If Corbyn wins, expect the PLP rightwing majority to split from the party. Good riddance. We urge all socialists to join Labour, and fight, fight and fight again to democratise the party and transform it into a permanent united front of all sections of the working class.]

Christopher Clark’s extraordinary account of the background to World War I, The sleepwalkers, begins with the story of the violent overthrow of the Serbian king Alexandar in 1903:

Shortly after two o’clock on the morning of June 11 1903, 28 officers of the Serbian army approached the main entrance of the royal palace in Belgrade. After an exchange of fire, the sentries standing guard before the building were arrested and disarmed … Finding the king’s apartments barred by a pair of heavy oaken doors, the conspirators blew them open with a carton of dynamite. The charge was so strong that the doors were torn from their hinges and thrown across the antechamber inside, killing the royal adjutant behind them …

The [royal] couple were cut down in a hail of shots at point-blank range … An orgy of gratuitous violence followed. The corpses were stabbed with swords, torn with a bayonet, partially disembowelled and hacked with an axe, until they were mutilated beyond recognition.1

We bring this to readers’ attention not only to commend the book, which is an illuminating popular introduction to its subject, but to point out some of the essential features of a successful coup. One has to act swiftly and decisively, leaving no room for doubt. The outcome must be spectacular. Superior numbers must be ensured wherever the spilling of blood is likely. And, while coups are often foretold long in advance, it is a good idea to retain the element of surprise.

It is against the 1903 efforts of Dragutin Dimitrijević and his comrades that we must measure the more recent, peaceful coup attempts in British politics. For illustrative purposes, we include Michael Gove’s undoing of Boris Johnson’s prime ministerial ambitions; sure, Boris is formally no lower in the world than he was last Wednesday, but he was the Tory heir apparent for, at a conservative estimate, the whole period between last year’s general election and last week. In a few short hours, Gove put paid to that with a truly bewildering and highly effective piece of political chicanery, which has rather left the parliamentary Conservative Party looking like a monstrous conga-line of backstabbers. Who’s next?

Our real focus, of course, is the sustained assault on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. It at least has some of the features of a successful coup. For a start, the plotters are very well organised. Our minds are cast back to June 26; after Hilary Benn more or less demanded his own sacking, things took on a remarkable rhythm, almost turgid in its regularity; an hour would pass, and another junior shadow minister would resign. Each, individually, had weighed up their options and with an agonising cry of conscience, decided to resign exactly an hour after the previous one. A suspicious mind would suggest that they planned it that way.

The shadow cabinet crisis gave way to the vote of no confidence, which went more or less to plan, and since then the pressure on Corbyn to resign has been intense. The most significant element of this part of the offensive has been the aggressive dissemination of straightforward lies in the press – Corbyn is striking a deal with this person or that; John McDonnell is about to throw him to the wolves … When the outlandish scenarios outlined failed to come to pass, the lie is not admitted – the whole thing is written up as “Jeremy changed his mind at the last minute – doesn’t he know it is not leader-like to dither?”

The whole thing is almost reminiscent of the FBI’s Cointelpro tactics. Indeed, according to a relatively fresh-faced Corbynite news website, The Canary, the whole thing has been engineered by a couple of PR firms on behalf of the Fabian Society. This, on the whole, strikes us as a little too neat, but only inasmuch as the individuals cited can have only the most tenuous connection to Fabianism; we are dealing fundamentally with a well-organised clique.2

This is a detail, of course. The thing about conspiracies is that – contra 9/11 ‘truthers’ and the like – they are blindingly bloody obvious after about five minutes. Thus, the anti-Corbyn conspirators had to act fast, and so they did for about a day and a half.

And then … nothing.

Stale tactics

Angela Eagle, who seems to have registered the domain,, two days before she supposedly lost confidence in the man she seeks to defenestrate, has become suddenly very coy. She was ready to stand – and then she wasn’t; something about Corbyn imminently standing down (one of the aforementioned pieces of made-up nonsense). She is now, magnanimously, giving Jeremy yet “more time” to do the right thing.

Yet it is looking less and less likely by the day. The plotters’ tactics have become stale. They have become so because Corbyn is confident that he will win any leadership election; and (presumably) no ‘private polling’ on the part of the plotters tells them any different. The one thing they cannot do, ironically, is actually challenge him. No doubt his standing is weaker now than it has been in recent history; but so is that of the plotters, suffering from the fact that blatant and deliberate sabotage is not a good look among those with even a homeopathic dose of party loyalty.

Things are worse even than that for the traitors. They are on two strict timetables. The first and more significant is that of Labour’s conferences. At the 2016 annual conference in September, the left will seek to ‘clarify’ the currently ambiguous rules over whether an incumbent leader is automatically on the ballot if challenged. There is a very good chance of success. There is also the small matter of the Chilcot inquiry: we cannot imagine the likes of Benn and Eagle, who voted for the disastrous imperialist adventure, are having a good time of it at the moment. (Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party has proposed this as the main issue.)

The latest rumblings are that there are formal ‘peace talks’ going on; yet the small print is quite clear. There will be no immediate resignation. While Corbyn’s Parliamentary Labour Party enemies declare that broad support in the wider membership is not enough to save him, it is quite clear that the lack of broad support they enjoy in the wider party is enough to leave them in this embarrassing position. It is as if Dimitrijević and his cohorts had paused outside the royal bedchamber, on the brink of their victory, suddenly overcome by doubt – and stayed there for three weeks. I write at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the reader, which is to say, at some remove of time into the past. You may already be coming to terms with Corbyn’s grudging resignation. If you are, there is nothing to blame for it except his own personal weakness. If he is defeated, then defeat has been snatched from the jaws of victory.

Because, even if some phoney ‘deal’ is agreed that Corbyn will resign before such and such a date, those he seeks to placate will never be stronger than they are now. For by the time Corbyn is supposed to stand down – whenever that is – there will be one or more Labour Party conferences, at which there is the possibility that the position of the left within the party can become strengthened.

At this point, it is necessary to point out that this advantage is hardly likely to just drop into our laps. The left must first understand that it has a stronger position than the relentless barrage of fabricated media hype attests, and then grasp the opportunity to exploit that position. As usual, neither of these relatively simple tasks is the gimme it ought to be.

What would pressing the advantage look like? Let us imagine, as we said before, the Serbian regicides frozen in fear at the threshold of success. What would actually have become of them? Perhaps not the spectacular disembowelling they, in reality, put upon the king; but it would not have been pretty. That is the most important lesson for all plotters of coups – make sure you win, because, if you do not, a sensible ruler will not leave you the opportunity for a do-over in a year or two.

A sensible ruler; but here we are. Maoists, in the old days, used to talk of ‘two-line struggle’, and there is something similar going on in the Labour Party today: there is the line of conciliation, of peace talks, of ‘uniting against the Tories’ and what have you, and there is the line of war, of giving no quarter to the traitors, of deselection and expulsion for all who have participated in this brazen and cynical attempt to overthrow the democracy of the party. Regular readers will be unsurprised to find Labour Party Marxists in the latter camp, and Corbyn himself in the former.

The important question is where Momentum will fall, and beyond it the Labour left at large. The Momentum line so far seems to be Corbynite in the narrow sense: for abandoning these senseless ‘squabbles’ and getting on with fighting the main enemy; but reports from meetings of the Labour left are encouraging, in that they suggest that there is at least some constituency for more radical measures. The idea that unity is possible between principled socialists and pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist careerists like Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle is risible. Only the capitulation of the socialists, or the defeat of the right, will solve the dilemma.

1. C Clark The sleepwalkers London 2012, pp3-4.

Missing from the story

Stan Keable reflects on a discussion on ‘Engels and the origins of women’s oppression’ at the Socialist Workers Party’s  annual ‘Marxism’ school, June 30 to July 4

In her talk, Celia Hutchison argued that, despite the enormous knowledge gained in anthropology since his time, Engels was right to say that the oppression of women arose with the rise of class society, and that the fight for women’s liberation and for ending all forms of oppression – national, racial, sexual, etc – is part of the class struggle for working class liberation and socialism.

But her understanding of the counterrevolution which produced class society and women’s oppression was hobbled by the complete omission of the human revolution – in which, some 200,000 years earlier, the solidarity of women and their male kin had overthrown the alpha-male bully, liberating both sexes and establishing the truly human counter-dominance culture of hunter-gatherer communism. A process described by Chris Knight in his ground-breaking Blood relations (1995). The counterrevolution kicked in maybe around 10,000 BCE with the Neolithic and the rise of cattle herding and eventually full-scale agriculture. Male dominance returned with a vengeance and soon resulted in kings, endemic warfare, slavery and the state. Without this overview of human social development, we are lost in a sea of isolated facts.

In the egalitarian culture of hunter-gatherer society, comrade Hutchison said, there was cooperation, sharing, hatred of arrogance, matrilineal descent and collective childcare. There was pairing and the right to divorce, sexual relations were “flexible” and women were “powerful” and “autonomous”.

Interestingly, comrade Hutchison also noted the phenomenon in hunter-gatherer society of “two-spirit people”, of transgender or indeterminate gender individuals, and of couples consisting of two men or two women. All this was tolerated. Monogamy was only imposed later by class society.

“We do not agree with Engels,” said comrade Hutchison, that homosexual love among men in ancient Athens was “degrading”. Strict gender definition, a woman comrade argued in discussion, was “brutally imposed”. SWP stalwart Peter Wearden crudely announced that the “purpose of this session” was “to help us fight sexism” – not a good approach to science. My suspicions of his one-dimensional ‘Marxism’ were confirmed when comrade Peter Wearden dismissed Chris Knight’s Blood relations as “feminist, not Marxist”, because it “put reproduction above production”. Actually he should try reading comrade Knight’s book … and meanwhile have another look at Engels and his Origin. After all, Engels stresses the centrality of the production and reproduction of human beings and their social relations.

How did this egalitarian society come to an end? What went wrong? Here comrade Hutchison advanced a confusing mixture of reasons for the breakdown of hunter-gatherer kinship relations and the emergence of class, developing into “full-blown class society” in the Egypt of the pharaohs “5,000 years ago”. And 10,000 years ago, in response to a drier, cooler environment developing in the Middle East, “light hoeing” horticultural work, which had been tolerable for women, gave way to “heavy agriculture”. This required an increased population, putting women under pressure to produce more children, while child-bearing women could not handle the beast-drawn plough. Women were separated from the means of production, matrilineal descent was overthrown and monogamy imposed – on women, not on men, as Engels rightly insisted.

The creation of surplus wealth, according to comrade Hutchison – following Engels – made exploitation possible, where it had been impossible in the supposed abject poverty of hunter-gatherer communism. But surely original communism would have required abundance? Certainly the communist living fossils who still inhabit the Congo jungle eat and drink as much as they want, perform necessary labour for no more than three or four hours a day and spend the rest of their time telling stories, flirting, playing games and all in all enjoying the good life. But that is, of course, missing from official SWP prehistory.

Three clause fours

We not only need to subject MPs to mandatory reselection. We need new political principles

Understandably, clause four – agreed in 1918 and then rewritten under Tony Blair in 1995 – has totemic status for partisans both of Labour’s right and left. But should the left seek to raise the 1918 Lazarus? Or should we audaciously reach out for another future?

True, the 1918 clause four (part four) 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 often fondly remembered as a defining socialist moment. But when it was first drafted – amidst the slaughter of inter-imperialist war – the calculated aim of Sidney Webb, its Fabian author, was threefold.

Firstly, clause four socialism must be implicitly anti-Marxist. Webb well knew the history of the workers’ movement in Germany. Karl Marx famously mocked various passages in the Gotha programme (1875), not least those which declared that every worker should receive a “fair distribution of the proceeds of labour” and that “the proceeds of labour belong undiminished with equal right to all members of society”.1 Contradictory and vacuous, concluded Marx. What is fair? What about replaceming the means of production? What about the expansion of production? What about those unable to work? More than that, Marx explained these and other such woolly formulations as unneeded concessions to the followers of Ferdinand Lassalle. His Workers’ programme (1862) called for “an equal right to the undiminished proceeds of labour.” Obviously Webb wanted to give clause four a distinct Lassallian coloration not out of admiration for Lassalle, but because he wanted to distance the Labour Party from Marxism.

Secondly, by adopting clause four socialism, the Labour Party could both distinguish itself from the exhausted, divided and rapidly declining Liberal Party and please the trade union bureaucracy. Since the 1890s the TUC had been drawing up various wish lists of what ought to be nationalised; eg, rails, mines, electricity, liquor and land. Clause four socialism also usefully went along with the grain of Britain’s wartime experience. There was steadily expanding state intervention in the economy. Nationalisation was, as a result, widely identified with efficiency, modernisation and beating foreign rivals. It therefore appealed to technocratically minded elements amongst the middle classes.

Thirdly, clause four socialism could be used to divert the considerable rank-and -file sympathy that existed for the Russian Revolution into safe, peaceful and exclusively constitutional channels. That did not stop prime minister David Lloyd George from declaring, in his closing speech of the 1918 general election campaign, that the “Labour Party is being run by the extreme pacifist Bolshevik group”.2


Almost needless to say, clause four was mainly for show. A red ribbon around what was the standing programme of social liberalism. Yet, even if it had been put into effect, clause four socialism remains stateist, elitist and antithetical to working class self-liberation. Capitalism without capitalists does not count amongst our goals. Railways, mines, land, electricity, etc, would pass into the hands of the British empire state.3 Capitalist owners are bought out. Eased into a comfortable retirement. But, as they vacate the field of production, a new class of state-appointed managers enters the fray. In terms of the division of labour they substitute for the capitalists. The mass of the population, meanwhile, remain exploited wage-slaves. They would be subject to the same hierarchical chain of command, the same lack of control, the same mind-numbing routine.

Marxism, by contrast, is based on an altogether different perspective. If it is to win its freedom, the working class must overthrow the existing state. But – and this is crucial – in so doing the proletariat “abolishes itself as a proletariat, abolishes all class distinctions and antagonisms, abolishes also the state as state”.4 Capitalist relations of production and the whole bureaucratic state apparatus are swept away. Every sphere of social life sees control exercised from below. All positions of command are elected or chosen by lot and are regularly rotated. Hierarchy is flattened. Alienation is overcome. What is produced and how it is produced radically alters too. Need, not exchange, is the ruling principle. And alone such an association of producers creates the benign conditions which allow for the full development of each and every individual.

Admittedly, the old clause four resulted from a far-reaching cultural shift. The Russian Revolution has already been mentioned. But there is also the 1867 Reform Act and the extension of the franchise, the considerable popularity of socialist propaganda, the growth of trade unions, the formation of the Labour Party and the horrors of World War I. Because of all this, and more, capitalism was widely considered abhorrent, outmoded and doomed. As a concomitant socialism became the common sense of the organised working class.

Of course, what the Fabians meant by socialism was a self-proclaimed extension of social liberalism. The Fabians would gradually expand social welfare provision and harness the commanding heights of the economy with a view to promoting the national interest.

In other words, the Fabians consciously sought to ameliorate the mounting contradictions between labour and capital and thus put off socialism. As Friedrich Engels damningly noted, “fear of revolution is their guiding principle”.5 And, needless to say, the years 1918-20 witnessed army mutinies, colonial uprisings, a massive strike wave and brutal Black and Tan oppression meted out in Ireland.

Interestingly, before 1918 attempts to commit the party to socialism met with mixed success. The 1900 founding conference rejected the “class war” ultimatum tabled by the Social Democratic Federation.6 Despite that, conference voted to support the “socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange”. The next year a socialistic motion moved by Bruce Glasier was defeated. In 1903 another socialistic motion fell; this time without debate. Two years later, conference passed a motion with the exact same wording. In 1907 the previous endorsement of socialism was overturned at the prompting of … Bruce Glasier. Despite that the same conference agreed to set the goal of “socialising the means of production, distribution and exchange”.7

The explanation for the seesawing doubtless lies with electoral expediency. While most in the party leadership considered themselves socialists of a kind, they were mortally afraid of losing out in the polls. What appeared acceptable to likely voters set their limits. So, instead of fearlessly presenting a bold socialist vision and building support on that basis, Sidney Webb, Arthur Henderson, Ramsay MacDonald and co chased the capricious vagaries of popularity. With the radicalisation of 1918-20, socialist declarations were considered a sure way of adding to Labour’s ranks in parliament.8 Forming a government was both a means and an end.


Nevertheless, the Blairising of clause four in 1995 was hugely symbolic. The ground had been laid by the Eurocommunists and their Marxism Today journal. Socialism was declared dead and buried, the working class a shrinking minority. Only if Labour accepted capitalism and reached out to the middle classes would it have a future. Neil Kinnock, John Smith and finally Tony Blair dragged the party ever further to the right. Out went the commitment to unilateral disarmament, out went the commitment to comprehensive education, out went the commitment to full employment, out went the commitment to repeal the Tories’ anti-trade union laws, out went the commitment to “the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange”.

By sacrificing the old clause four in the full glare of publicity Blair and his New Labour clique sought to appease the establishment, the City, the Murdoch empire, the global plutocracy. Capitalism would be absolutely safe in their hands. A New Labour government could be relied upon not even to pay lip service to a British version of state capitalism. Leftwingers such as Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Diane Abbott and Ken Livingstone protested, trade union leaders grumbled, but the April 1995 special conference voted by 65% in favour of Blair’s clause four.

Needless to say, his version is stuffed full of managerial guff and classless nonsense. Just what one would expect from the architect of New Labour. After all, one of Blair’s big ideas was to replace ‘socialism’ with ‘social-ism’. Another was communitarianism. But, of course, the media glowed with admiration. Crucially, Rupert Murdoch agreed to unleash his attack dogs. Within a few months John Major was almost universally derided as a total incompetent heading a sleaze-mired government.

Riding high in the opinion polls, Blair inaugurated a series of internal ‘reforms’. Conference was gutted. No longer could it debate issues, vote on policy or embarrass the leadership in front of the media. Instead the whole thing became a rubberstamping exercise. Then there were the tightly controlled policy forums, focus groups and the staffing of the party machine with eager young careerists (most on temporary contracts). Blair thereby asserted himself over the National Executive Committee … considerably reducing its effectiveness in the process.

Class lines

Demands for a return of the old clause four are perfectly understandable. But why go back to a Fabian past? Instead we surely need to persuade members and affiliates to take up the LPM’s pithy, implicitly Marxist alternative:

1. Labour is the federal party of the working class. We strive to bring all trade unions, cooperatives, socialist societies and leftwing groups and parties under our banner. We believe that unity brings strength.

2. Labour is committed to replacing the rule of capital with the rule of the working class. Socialism introduces a democratically planned economy, ends the ecologically ruinous cycle of production for the sake of production and moves towards a stateless, classless, moneyless society that embodies the principle, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”. Alone such benign conditions create the possibility of every individual fully realising their innate potentialities.

3. Towards that end Labour commits itself to achieving a democratic republic. The standing army, the monarchy, the House of Lords and the state sponsorship of the Church of England must go. We support a single-chamber parliament, proportional representation and annual elections.

4. Labour seeks to win the active backing of the majority of people and to form a government on this basis.

5. We shall work with others, in particular in the European Union, in pursuit of the aim of replacing capitalism with working class rule and socialism l
1 K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 24, London 1989, p83.
2 Quoted in R Miliband Parliamentary socialism London 1973, p64n.
3 The Fabians supported a civilising British empire. In their own words, the white dominions should be given self-government. However, “for the lower breeds” there should be a “benevolent bureaucracy” of British civil servants and military officials guiding them to “adulthood” (G Foote The Labour Party’s political thought London 1985, pp29-30).
4 K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 25, London 1987, p267.
5 K Marx and F Engels CW Vol 50, New York 2004, p83.
6 Though it had two guaranteed seats on the LRC’s leading body, the SDF disaffiliated in August 1901.
7 See RT McKenzie British political parties London 1963, pp465-71.
8 Labour gained 15 seats in the December 1918 general election, making it the fourth largest party in parliament after the Bonar Law Tories, Lloyd George’s Coalition Liberals and Sinn Fein. It had a total of 57 MPs.

Defend Corbyn

Join, get new affiliates, attend face-to-face meetings, caucus, subject MPs to mandatory reselection, transform the Labour Party from top to bottom. James Marshall outlines the Marxist programme of immediate action and long-term strategic goals

Operation Get Corbyn started even before the results of the Labour leadership election were announced. At the well publicised prompting of Peter Mandelson, Charles Clarke, David Blunkett and above all Tony Blair, the right launched a no-holds-barred struggle. Blair’s ‘Alice in wonderland’ opinion piece in The Observer had nothing to do with the former prime minister trying to swing votes in the closing two weeks of the leadership contest.1 Corbyn had already won and everyone who had an ounce of common sense knew it. No, the purpose of Blair’s article was perfectly clear. Rally the Labour right and their corporate, state and international allies … and put the wheels of Operation Get Corbyn into motion.

A direct assault was immediately discounted. Corbyn’s margin of victory made that impossible. So there had to be a campaign of slander, sabotage and spin. Corbyn was to be slowly, inexorably, pitilessly, ground down.
Operation Get Jeremy Corbyn is, undoubtedly, well financed and carefully choreographed. Alastair Campbell, the Fabian Society, Portland Communications – all have been implicated.2 Using the capitalist media, every action, every statement, every gesture … even Corbyn’s choice of clothes, is to be savaged. As the relentless psychological pressure built up and up, the calculation was that he would eventually buckle – throw in the towel and resign.

By-elections, local elections, the London and other mayoral elections have been fought with constant sniping from the right and predictions of disaster. Another strand of Operation Get Corbyn is, of course, the utterly cynical ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smearing. Dozens of loyal Labour Party members fell victim to the Compliance Unit’s witch-hunt. However, with the EU referendum result the right believed at last it could deliver the coup de grâce. Corbyn simultaneously got the blame for the narrow failure of the Remain campaign and for not pandering to the anti-immigrant sentiments of exiters. The bitter sense of disappointment felt by many, especially the young, could thereby be directed against Corbyn. To modify Abraham Lincoln’s famous adage, “You can fool some of the people, some of the time …”

Operation Get Jeremy Corbyn entered its final phase. In a late-night phone call on June 26, Hilary Benn informed Corbyn he had “lost confidence” in his leadership. Following Benn’s inevitable sacking, two thirds of the shadow cabinet subsequently resigned, along with dozens of junior shadow ministers and numerous aides and advisors. One after the other they deserted their posts and lined up to appear on eagerly awaiting TV and radio stations. Steve Bassam – Baron Bassam of Brighton, leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords – formally broke off links with Corbyn’s office. Then there was the joint letter of 57 prospective parliamentary candidates, the 600 councillors, Alan Johnson, Kezia Dugdale, Ed Miliband, Neil Kinnock, Tom Watson, etc. All played their role in Operation Get Jeremy Corbyn. Crucially, there was, of course, the Parliamentary Labour Party and the 172-40 no confidence vote.


Given this predictable outcome, it is clear that Jeremy Corbyn has been badly advised. From the beginning he had the majority of the PLP profoundly, implacably, irreconcilably set against him. He should have been told so in no uncertain terms. Instead, he had Seumas Milne’s widely over-optimistic spreadsheet. It showed just 85 MPs who could be considered “core group negatives” or “hostile”. Milne was providing misinformation. He put 19 MPs in Corbyn’s “core group”, while 56 were classified as “core group plus” and 71 as “neutral but not hostile”.3 Obviously, the 172-strong right were never reconciled to Corbyn’s stunning leadership victory.

Yet Corbyn still remains hugely popular at a rank-and-file level. Opinion polls show that in no uncertain terms. And in the week following the EU referendum result 60,000 signed up to join the Labour Party. Corbyn has also received the backing of Unite, GMB, Unison and other unions. Nevertheless, Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, promises a bruising contest. Here, at least, he is being honest. Expect, therefore, an unremitting anti-Corbyn media barrage. More ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ smears. More suspensions. More exclusions. More accusations of intimidation. More so-called revelations about the left.

But will there be a fair contest? Will Corbyn be allowed to stand? Everyone knows our rules are ambiguous. Here is the relevant section of the 2016 Labour rule book, chapter 4, clause II:

2. Election of leader and deputy leader.

A. The leader and deputy leader shall be elected separately in accordance with rule C below, unless rule E below applies.

B. Nomination

i. In the case of a vacancy for leader or deputy leader, each nomination must be supported by 15% of the Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP combined. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.

ii. Where there is no vacancy, nominations may be sought by potential challengers each year prior to the annual session of party conference. In this case any nomination must be supported by 20% of the Commons members of the PLP and members of the EPLP combined. Nominations not attaining this threshold shall be null and void.

iii. Affiliated organisations, the ALC [Association of Labour Councillors – JM], Young Labour, and CLPs and Labour MEPs may also nominate for each of the offices of leader and deputy leader. All nominees must be Commons members of the PLP.

Understandably, that is why the left has concentrated efforts on ensuring a rule change at this year’s Liverpool conference. Till then, however, doubt remains. Does a sitting leader automatically appear on the ballot paper? Do they have to pass the 20% nomination threshold of MPs?

The National Executive Committee may well decide that Jeremy Corbyn, being the incumbent, should automatically be allowed to stand, if he so wishes. Then the chances are that the right’s ‘unity’ candidate will be soundly beaten. To prevent such a totally unacceptable outcome expect the right – maybe in the form of general secretary Iain McNicol – to take matters to the courts. Needless to say, the judicial system is no friend of the working class. Remember the Taff Vale judgement (1901), the Osborne judgement (1909), the Viking, Laval, Rüffert and Luxembourg judgements (2007, 2008).

Huffington Post UK reports legal advice from Doughty Street Chambers. It concludes that B (ii) only applies to a “potential challenger”. The right, however, has “two rival legal opinions, suggesting that, because the current rules are ‘silent’ on the explicit need for nominations, he [Corbyn – JM] would indeed need nominations from MPs”.4 The precedent of Neil Kinnock securing the symbolic backing of numerous Labour MPs when faced with Tony Benn’s leadership bid back in 1988 is frequently cited (Benn was trounced, picking up 11.4% to Kinnock’s 88.6%).

Hence, we can certainly imagine a leadership contest where the right’s ‘unity’ candidate is soundly thrashed by Corbyn. What would the PLP majority do after that? On the other hand, it is quite conceivable that Corbyn fails to secure enough nominations and, thanks to a court judgement, there is only one runner – the ‘unity’ candidate of the right. What would the party’s affiliates, members and supporters do in the event that, instead of a right vs left election contest, we get the crowning of the right’s candidate?

A historic split is clearly on the cards.

Our best-case scenario is that Corbyn beats the right’s ‘unity’ candidate. Maybe then, all the 172 rebel MPs will do us a favour and go for another Social Democratic Party. Admittedly an outside possibility – but political suicide is an unattractive prospect for most of the PLP. They remain acutely aware of the sorry fate of the SDP. Moreover, unlike the early 1980s, the political centre is not enjoying a sustained revival.5 At the last general election the Lib Dems were decimated. They remain marginalised and widely despised.

Given the punishing logic of the first-past-the-post election system, it is therefore unlikely that the PLP majority will do us that favour. No, probably the right will rely on the rule-based fact that as sitting MPs they are set to be official Labour candidates in a November 2016 or February 2017 general election.

Also, well before that, expect the PLP right to elect its own, unconstitutional, leader (maybe their leadership candidate). The result: in effect two rival parties. A rightwing Labour Party with by far the biggest parliamentary presence. Then, on the other hand, a leftwing Labour Party with trade union support, but a much smaller number of MPs.

However, there is an obvious problem for the right. The Liverpool conference, or a special conference before that, can be expected to change the rules. Not only B (ii). New rules must be introduced subjecting all elected representatives, crucially MPs, to mandatory reselection. A welcome threat now coming from Len McCluskey and Unite, which we have every interest in getting into the rule book.

So, on balance, I would guess. the right is probably banking on excluding Corbyn from the ballot. It therefore expects the courts to oblige. With its ‘unity’ candidate elected by default, the right would then do everything within its power to ensure that the trade unions, the left, the majority of members and supporters are driven away. Obviously a high-risk strategy. But that shows just how desperate the right actually is.


The well-timed series of resignations by members of the shadow cabinet need to be understood not, as claimed, as a heavy-hearted response to Corbyn’s “weak role” in the EU referendum, lack of “leadership skills”, “poor response” to the Shami Chakrabarti report, etc. The right wants to split the Labour Party and establish an out-and-out bourgeois party on its ruins.

What should the left be doing under these unprecedented circumstances? As the right goes in for the kill, we must respond using all our energy and all the weapons at our disposal. Obviously Corbyn must be unconditionally, but critically, defended. Certainly this is no time to faint-heartedly opt out of “Labour’s internecine strife” (Owen Jones).6 Unite’s Len McCluskey has warned the right that a leadership election without Corbyn on the ballot paper will set the Labour Party “on course for a split”.7 However, that split should not come from the left. Instead, we should use our conference majority to change the rules and if necessary rerun the leadership election … with Corbyn on the ballot paper. If the right refuses to accept conference decisions the NEC should swiftly counter with some well chosen expulsions.
Hence the Labour left has five immediate tasks.

Firstly, we should support demands for a special conference. Change the rules on the leadership election, lower the threshold, confirm that the incumbent is automatically on the ballot paper. Put in place rules stipulating that all elected representatives are subject to mandatory reselection. Abolish the compliance unit. Restore full membership rights to those cynically charged with anti-Semitism. Welcome in those good socialists who have been barred from membership because, mainly out of frustration, they supported the Greens, Left Unity or the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition at the last general election.

Meanwhile, take full advantage of our current rules. The ‘trigger’ mechanism allows local party units, including both individual members and affiliated organisations, to “determine whether the constituency holds a full, open selection contest for its next candidate, in which other potential candidates are nominated, or reselects the sitting MP without such a contest”.8

Secondly, Momentum must be transformed. The inertia that paralyses us today must be replaced with … well, momentum. That can only come about through democracy, open debate and the election of and right to recall all Momentum officials. Membership lists must certainly be handed over to local branches as a matter of urgency. Without that our ability to fully mobilise our forces will be severely diminished.

Thirdly, there must be an education campaign to overcome the illusion that Facebook, Twitter, etc, are the future of politics. They are, in fact, echo chambers. We must persuade Corbyn’s Facebook, Twitter, etc, supporters that they have to become full individual Labour Party members … and then regularly attend face-to-face meetings. If you want to defend Corbyn, if you want to ensure that he stays true to his principles, if you want to transform the Labour Party, then you must use your vote to swing the NEC to the left, select and reselect MPs, MEPs, councillors, etc. Only card-carrying members can attend ward and constituency meetings and stand for officer positions. But caucus beforehand with your Momentum, Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, LPM, etc, comrades. That is what the right does with Progress, Labour First, etc. We must do the same … only better.

Fourthly, within the affiliated trade unions we must fight to win many, many more to enrol. Just over 70,000 affiliated supporters voted in the 2015 leadership election. A tiny portion of what could be. Over four million pay the political levy.9 Given that they can sign up to the Labour Party with no more than an online click, we really ought to have a million affiliated supporters as a minimum target figure.
Fifthly, every constituency, branch (ward) and other such basic units must be seized, revived and galvanised by the left. The right has done everything to make them cold, uninviting, bureaucratic and lifeless. The left must convince the sea of young new members, and the elder returnees, to drive out the right. Elect officers who defend the Corbyn leadership. Our constituencies and branches can then be made into vibrant centres of organisation, education and action. Only then can we hold wayward councillors and MPs to account.

Long term

Whatever the particular scenario, the Labour Party must be reorganised from top to bottom. That should be our overriding aim – as opposed to trying to win the next general election by concocting some rotten compromise with the right.
Organisationally and politically radical change must be put on the agenda. We need a sovereign conference. We need to subordinate MPs to the NEC. We also need to sweep away the undemocratic rules and structures put in place under Blair.

The joint policy committee, the national policy forums, the whole horrible rigmarole must go at the earliest possible opportunity. Politically we need a Marxist – not a Lassallian, not a Blairite – clause four and a programmatic commitment to working class rule and international socialism.

In terms of our history we are rightly proud of being a federal party. Trade unions, the Co-op, socialist societies, etc. Therefore securing new affiliates ought to be a priority. The Fire Brigades Union has reaffiliated. Excellent. But what about Rail, Maritime and Transport union? Let us win RMT activists to drop their misplaced support for Tusc. Instead affiliate to the Labour Party. And what about the National Union of Teachers? Why can’t we win them to affiliate? Surely we can … if we fight for hearts and minds.

What about the Public and Commercial Services union? Thankfully, Mark Serwotka, its leftwing general secretary, has at last come round to the idea. The main block to affiliation now comes in the form of opposition from the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party in England and Wales. True, PCS affiliation will run up against the Trades Disputes and Trade Union Act (1927). A piece of vicious class legislation introduced in the aftermath of the 1926 General Strike. Civil service unions were barred from affiliating to the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress. However, the Civil and Public Services Association – predecessor of PCS – reaffiliated to the TUC in 1946. Now, surely, it is time for the PCS to reaffiliate to the Labour Party.

When we in LPM moved a motion at the February 2015 AGM of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy calling for all trade unions to be encouraged to affiliate, we were met with the objection that for the PCS it would be illegal. However, as NEC member Christine Shawcroft, who was sitting next to me, said: “What does that matter?” Here comrade Shawcroft, a close ally of Corbyn, shows the exact right spirit. Force another change in the law.

Then there are the leftwing groups. They too can be brought under our banner. Labour can become the common home of every socialist organisation, cooperative and trade union – the agreed goal of our founders.10 In other words, the Labour Party can become what Leon Trotsky called a permanent united front of the working class.
We in Labour Party Marxists unapologetically take our programmatic lead from the CPGB. Since the CPGB has been demanding the right to affiliate since its foundation in 1920, we simply extend that so as to include the SWP, SPEW, Left Unity and other such organisations.

Yet, sadly, there has been a distinct lack of imagination here. Instead of a vigorous banging on the door, there has been cowardly disengagement. An approach undoubtedly designed to preserve sectarian interests and brittle reputations.
Take the SWP. An official statement admitted that SWP members “did not sign up to vote in the [Labour leadership] election”. Why did the comrades refuse to register as Labour Party supporters? After all, to have voted for Corbyn cost a mere £3 … and for levy-paying members of affiliated trade unions it was free. As the statement pathetically explains, Corbyn faces “a firestorm of opposition” from the right. There are no more than 20 MPs “who really support Corbyn”. Etc, etc.11

What ought to be a challenge to throw oneself into a pivotal battle becomes an excuse to stand aloof. Beset by splits and divisions in the 1970s and then again in the 2010s, the SWP apparatus wants nothing to do with anything that carries even the whiff of factional strife. So there is the routine call for marches, protests and strikes … as counterposed to the Labour Party, the PLP, CLPs and participating in a concentrated form of the class war. However, in rejecting any sort of front-line involvement in the Labour Party, the SWP stays true to its modern-day version of Bakuninism.

Under these circumstances we urge SWP members to organise factionally and openly revolt. At the very least, however, become a Labour Party supporter or register as a voting trade union affiliate. Many already have. A silent rebellion is better than no rebellion at all.

Then we have SPEW. Having categorically dismissed the Labour Party as an out-and-out capitalist party since the mid-1990s, it has been busily rowing … backwards. The old Militant logo was cosmetically placed on the masthead of The Socialist. Despite that, Peter Taaffe, SPEW’s founder-leader, refuses to actively engage in the Labour Party. Instead he clings to Tusc and for show calls for a labour movement conference to defend Corbyn … crucially one that is open to SPEW. A classic case of Mohammed and the mountain. Except, of course, that, whereas the Labour Party, with its affiliates and mass base, are undoubtedly a mountain, Taaffe is no Mohammed. Time and again he has proved himself a buffoon. Eg, failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union, failure to predict the period of reaction that followed, failure to predict the revival of the Labour left, etc. If his Tusc stood on something that resembled a Marxist programme, Taaffe would still be guilty of another blundering strategic error. Suffice to say, Tusc is committed to nothing but left reformism and will continue to be politically, organisationally and electorally irrelevant.

Left Unity is essentially no different. As with SPEW and the SWP, members peeled away to join the Labour Party as individuals. Undaunted, LU’s beleaguered leadership is determined to carry on as a halfway house project that merely comments on developments in the Labour Party. A detached form of politics utterly alien to the spirit and practice of Marxism.


Our PLP rebels are out-and-out traitors. They are also out-and out carreerists. Once and for all we must put an end to such types exploiting the Labour Party for their own narrow purposes. Being an MP ought to be an honour, not a way to secure a lucrative living.

A particularly potent weapon here is the demand that all our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker. A principle upheld by the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik revolution. Even the Italian Communist Party under Enrico Berlinguer applied the ‘partymax’ in the 1970s. With the PCI’s huge parliamentary fraction this proved to be a vital source of funds.

Our MPs are on a basic £67,060 annual salary. On top of that they get around £12,000 in expenses and allowances, putting them on £79,060 (yet at present Labour MPs are only obliged to pay the annual £82 parliamentarian’s subscription fee to the party). Moreover, as leader of the official opposition, Jeremy Corbyn not only gets his MP’s salary: he is entitled to an additional £73,617.12

We in LPM say, let them live on the average skilled worker’s wage – say £40,000 (plus legitimate expenses). Then, however, they must hand the balance over to the party. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott should take the lead.
The partymax would give a considerable boost to our finances. Even if we leave out Labour’s 20 MEPs from the calculation, with 229 MPs it would amount to roughly £900,000 extra. Anyway, whatever our finances, there is the basic principle. Our representatives ought to live like ordinary workers, not pampered members of the middle class.

Given the Labour Party’s mass membership, affiliated trade unions and the huge electoral challenges before us, we urgently need to reach out to all those who are disgusted by corrupt career politicians, all those who aspire to a better world, all those who have an objective interest in ending capitalism. Towards that end we must establish our own press, radio and TV. To state the obvious, tweeting and texting have severe limits. Brilliant mediums for transmitting short, sharp, clear messages. However, when it comes to setting the agenda, educating members, debating principles and charting political strategies, they are worse than useless.

Relying on the favours of the capitalist press, radio and TV is a fool’s game. True, it worked splendidly for Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell. But, as Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband found to their cost, to live by the mainstream media is to die by the mainstream media. No, we need our own full-spectrum alternative. The established media can be used, of course. But, as shown with the anti-Corbyn coup, when things really matter, we get hardly a look in. Indeed the capitalist press, radio and TV are central to the anti-Corbyn coup. There were, of course, idiot voices to the contrary – those who wanted to court The Guardian, the Mirror, the BBC, etc.13 But, frankly, we should have anticipated the bile, the mockery, the relentless stream of lies.

Once we had the Daily Herald. Now we have nothing. Well, apart from the deadly-dull trade union house journals, the advertising sheets of the confessional sects and the Morning Star (which is still under the control of unreconstructed Stalinites).

We should aim for an opinion-forming daily paper of the labour movement and seek out trade union, cooperative, crowd and other such sources of funding. And, to succeed, we have to be brave: iconoclastic viewpoints, difficult issues, two-way arguments must be included as a matter of course. The possibility of distributing such a paper free of charge should be considered and, naturally, everything should be put up on the web without pay walls or subscription charges. We should also launch a range of internet-based TV and radio stations. The left in South Africa, Iran and the US do it … so should we. With the abundant riches of dedication, passion and ideas that exist on the left here in Britain and far beyond, the BBC, Al Jazeera, Russia Today and Sky can be bettered.


Of course, in the medium to long term, we Marxists want the abolition of the Bonapartist post of leader. But these are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. Ed Miliband abolished the fleeting practice of having the PLP elect the shadow cabinet and, understandably with the election of Corbyn, the right touted the idea of a restoration. That would have left Corbyn without John McDonnell and Diane Abbott and utterly isolated in the shadow cabinet. Thankfully Corbyn’s early pronouncements favouring such an outcome were quickly rethought. He wisely opted to keep the dictatorial powers long favoured by past Labour leaders.

Appointing the shadow chancellor was always going to be a litmus test. The more timid members of Corbyn’s inner circle were reportedly urging him to opt for someone from the centre. Instead he chose John McDonnell. Hence the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership. Offering shadow cabinet seats to the likes of Hilary Benn, Angela Eagle, Lucy Powell, Lord Falconer, Chris Bryant, Owen Smith and Lisa Nandy was always going to happen. Corbyn is a natural conciliator. And the fact of the matter is that Seumas Milne’s “core group” of 19 loyalist MPs was too small if all posts were to be filled. Unless, that is, Corbyn went for a pocket-sized shadow cabinet and even drew upon talents from outside parliament (as seen during World War II under Winston Churchill with Ernest Bevin – he was appointed minister of labour in 1940 despite not being an MP). That is what we LPMers advocated.

Nevertheless, equipped with his left-centre-right coalition, Corbyn could claim the moral high ground. He was reaching out to all sections of the party. Now, in terms of internal perceptions, it is the “hostile” and “core negative group” of MPs who, hopefully, will be squarely blamed for undertaking a completely cynical coup attempt against Corbyn that, whatever the outcome, will surely badly damage Labour’s chances in a widely expected early general election. That might play well with traditional Labour activists. Normally, they do not take kindly to anyone damaging Labour’s chances at the polls. After all, for most of them, the be-all and end-all of politics is getting elected and re-elected … even if the manifesto promises little more than managing capitalism better than the Tories. A misplaced common sense that wide swathes of the Labour left, including Corbyn and McDonnell, have thoroughly internalised.

However, the “hostile” and “core negative group” of Labour MPs have the full backing of the capitalist media, the City of London, the military-industrial complex, special branch, MI5 and their American cousins. Corbyn’s much publicised admiration for Karl Marx, his campaigning against Israel’s settlement of the West Bank, opposition to US-led imperialist wars, call to junk Trident and nuclear weapons, his commitment to increase the tax taken from transnational corporations, the banks and the mega-rich, his platonic republicanism, even his unwillingness to enthusiastically sing the royal anthem mark him out as completely unacceptable.

Of course, there is still the danger that the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership will have their agenda set for them by their futile attempt to restore PLP unity. Put another way, in what is still a coalition cabinet, the right sets the limits and therefore determines the political programme. Why? Because they were always prepared to walk. That is what Andy Burnham could still do over so-called anti-Semitism, EU negotiations, nuclear weapons, the monarchy, etc. The decision by Corbyn to kiss the hand of Elizabeth Windsor, though not to kneel, in order to gain access to the privy council was therefore highly problematic.

Staying silent, abandoning principles or putting them on the backburner in an attempt to placate the right was never a good strategy. We saw that with John McDonnell’s pusillanimous statements on Ireland, Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to defend the victims of the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt, lauding the Jewish Labour Movement, etc. Now there is the call from the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership to have a “sensible” discussion on immigration.
Following the EU referendum McDonnell says we are no longer obliged to defend the principle of the right of people to free movement (he was disgracefully backed by Unite’s general secretary, Len McCluskey). Such a course may court the working class EU exiters. But it demobilises, demoralises and drains away Corbyn’s mass base.


So, the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership faces both an enemy within the PLP and an enemy within their own reformist ideology. They seriously seem to believe that socialism can be brought about piecemeal, through a series of left and ever lefter Labour governments. In reality, though, a Labour government committed to the existing state and the existing constitutional order produces not decisive steps in the direction of socialism, but attacks on the working class … and then the election of a Tory government.

Tactically, today, Marxists are right to concentrate our fire on the 172 “core negative group” of “hostile” MPs. ‘Blairites out’ should be the common slogan on the left. Yet the majority of Labour affiliates, members and supporters still trust the Corbyn-McDonnell leadership. Despite that, they have to be presented with a programme that decisively breaks with their conciliations, compromises and concessions. Everyone on the left will have an instinctive loathing of those seeking to oust Jeremy Corbyn, who support US imperialist wars, who follow the lead of Progress, Labour First, etc. Therefore our call is to turn the tables. Purge the right and transform the Labour Party.

Naturally, real Marxists, not fake Marxists, never talk of ‘reclaiming’ the Labour Party. It has never been ours in the sense of being a “political weapon for the workers’ movement”. No, despite the electoral base and trade union affiliations, our party has been dominated throughout its entire history by career politicians and trade union bureaucrats. A distinct social stratum which in the last analysis serves not the interests of the working class, but the continuation of capitalist exploitation.
Speaking in the context of the need for the newly formed CPGB to affiliate to the Labour Party, Lenin had this to say:

[W]hether or not a party is really a political party of the workers does not depend solely upon a membership of workers, but also upon the men that lead it, and the content of its actions and its political tactics. Only this latter determines whether we really have before us a political party of the proletariat.

Regarded from this, the only correct, point of view, the Labour Party is a thoroughly bourgeois party, because, although made up of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that, who act quite in the spirit of the bourgeoisie. It is an organisation of the bourgeoisie, which exists to systematically dupe the workers with the aid of the British Noskes and Scheidemanns [the executioners of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht].14

An assessment which retains its essential purchase. But the PLP is now two parties. One is a 172-strong bourgeois party. The other is a 40-strong potential workers’ party. However, the potential workers’ party has every chance of keeping the loyalty of the affiliated trade unions, the leftwing mass membership and, albeit after a fierce fight, the working class electoral base. With Corbyn’s election in September came the chance to transform the Labour Party by attacking the right both from below and above. It was never going to be easy and not easy it has proved. But that chance still remains before us. Hence, we must ensure that Corbyn is re-elected and the right is humiliatingly defeated. Then we can regrow the PLP, not as the master, but as the servant of the labour movement. That prospect genuinely sends shivers of fear throughout the bourgeois establishment. No wonder Angela Eagle, Owen Smith, the PLP right, the Mirror, the Sun and David Cameron have been united in calling upon Jeremy Corbyn to resign.

1 The Observer August 30 2015.
3 The Guardian March 23 2016.
5 From a 2.5% historic low point the Liberal Party saw a revival in the 1970s, which saw it win 19.3% of the popular vote in the February 1974 general election.
7 The Guardian June 26 2016.
9 D Pryer Trade union political funds and levy House of Commons briefing paper No00593, August 8 2013, p8.
10 At the 1899 TUC, JH Holmes, a delegate of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, moved this resolution: “That this congress, having regard to its decisions in former years, and with a view to securing a better representation of the interests of labour in the House of Commons, hereby instructs the parliamentary committee to invite the cooperation of all cooperative, socialistic, trade unions and other working class organisations to jointly cooperate on lines mutually agreed upon, in convening a special congress of representatives from such of the above-named organisations as may be willing to take part to devise ways and means for securing the return of an increased number of labour members to the next parliament” (
11 Socialist Worker September 8 2015.
13 Eg, Owen Jones The Guardian September 16 2015.
14 VI Lenin CW Vol 31, Moscow 1977, pp257-58.