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The Labour left: why we must stay

'should I stay or should I go' teeshirt from zazzle.comWhen I read Michael Chessum’s piece in the New Statesman, I felt the immediate need to respond. Not because I was outraged, but because I think he has hit on a crucial debate about where the Labour left have been and where we go next. I’m sure that virtually every socialist in the party has wondered whether it’s worth sticking with the party in recent years. Who cannot have thought about what might lie on the other side as Labour MPs failed to oppose something as basic as the Workfare Bill?

Looking further back, even more made the leap after Iraq, and while some have made the return journey since, party membership is ‘on notice’ for many of these returnees. As socialists, our loyalty to the Labour Party isn’t down to a kind of misplaced tribalism, as many of our critics would have it, but is contingent – based on our experience and a carefully considered strategic judgement of where we are of most use.

It has to be up for debate, though, and as Michael rightly points out, the idea that socialists are best positioned in the Labour Party has been challenged again by the 2015 election – with a dramatic implosion of Labour’s support in Scotland and a steady chipping away of Labour’s traditional support in the former heartlands of the North East, North West and Wales.

Alongside the Collins Review, which has sown the seeds for a potential break in the organic link between the trade unions and the party, we are clearly a further step down the line to a free-floating, Democratic-style party, despite the brief and fairly superficial optimism of Ed Miliband’s tenure and the accompanying (cautious) leftward shift on policy. So Michael is right to urge another review of our position and it is up to us, on the left of the party, to make the argument for staying.

Firstly, I think we have to be honest and analytical about how we have arrived in this position. Many analyses of the Labour left’s position treat it as an innocent victim of circumstances. That is understandable. Since New Labour’s inception, we have been faced with a seemingly unconquerable ‘machine’ – well-resourced, organised and ruthlessly efficient. However, New Labour’s conquering of the party apparatus, the Parliamentary Labour Party and the leadership didn’t happen by magic. It was preceded by a period of deep disillusionment and flight by the left, who immediately prior to the Kinnock-Blair purging of party democracy, were in their strongest position for many decades.

What happened? This isn’t really the place to go into the detail of the Bennite movement in the party, but there seems to have been a fragility about it which we maybe haven’t explored enough. In any case, what is clear is that from that point in the late 1980s, the Labour left appeared like a rabbit caught in the headlights. While some continued to plug away at internal party battles and the democratisation of the party via CLPD and the Socialist Campaign Group, the majority despaired, and previously active Labour Party socialists became members in name only.

Many others left at this point to join the Socialist Alliance, myself included – which hardly helped (I’m exercising self-criticism here). The point is, that at no point was there a united, collective, strategic opposition to Blairism in the party – and the New Labourites, never ones to look a gift horse in the mouth, consolidated their power by dominating moribund CLP’s and winning selection and selection at a canter. It was like taking sweets from a baby.

So much for the history of it. What about now? Why have we got to this crisis? Well, twenty years on from that pivotal point between ‘Old Labour’ and ‘New Labour’, we still haven’t learnt our lesson. There are still socialists in the party – of that there is no doubt. We don’t know enough about why, but it is clear that many are still members in name only, clinging on to their party cards in the “hope” that something will change. They still get angry at the leadership, exasperated at the lack of democracy and now have more opportunity to voice that discontent via social media. But our numbers are smaller and the numbers of active socialists in the party are smaller still.

Despair, once again, has set in – if it ever went away. The familiar story goes like this: we’ve been stitched up; those Blairites, they can’t be beaten; look at our leadership – how can we stick around and endorse that. What is missing is any sense that the left has contributed to this. Of course, it’s an attractive idea, to say that we’ve given it a good go and now it’s time to move on to other projects. Who can’t be seduced by a fresh start and greener grass – but that is based on the assumption that we have tried and failed.

Have we? Really? Maybe a tiny activist core – but once again, there has been no sustained, strategic approach to coalition building within the party, to challenging the Blairites over selections and to shaking things up in our CLPs. Where that has happened, it has been sporadic and normally led by the unions – but many ordinary party members, socialists included, have sat back and let this happen around us. This is not to individualise blame – and neither is it about berating good people for “not doing enough”. Of course, it’s a natural reaction to withdraw when faced by such seemingly overwhelming odds, but we do need to take collective responsibility if we are going to turn this situation round.

But should we even bother? The ground is changing, isn’t it? Maybe we’re just clinging onto the wreckage. This is what Michael seems to be arguing. It is true that socialists tend to stick to tried and tested means and only realise far too late that the world has moved on. To me, there are three main arguments against leaving the Labour Party and starting again:

Firstly, Michael puts an awful lot of store by the prospects of a Unite split from the Labour Party. Agreed, that would change the landscape considerably, but there’s ample evidence that it won’t happen like that – and there’s an argument that a right-wing shift in the leadership of the party might nudge Unite and others in the direction of serious alliances with the party left at grassroots level.

Our society appears to be in turmoil, with the old certainties disappearing quickly. That leads us to think that institutional change can and will come quickly too, but trade unions are by their nature not risk-takers, and the main unions will stick to Labour while there is a chance that they can influence the leadership and the policy of the party.

If a Progressite were to win the leadership, that again might shift the situation considerably, but (a) I don’t think that will happen and (b) it won’t inevitably lead to a split – after all, the big unions stayed in during the Blair years and were in some cases the biggest cheerleaders. Even where the leadership has changed, and talks more of a left game, the organisation is fundamentally the same.

Secondly, he talks about the left turning outwards towards grassroots campaigning, and how that might reinvigorate those campaigns and the Labour left itself. Of course that is important. Only during the Bedroom Tax protests did we see large numbers of Labour Party members out on the streets. But that will only take us so far. We have to take the campaigning inside CLPs, not just to mobilise a sleeping membership, but to challenge the depoliticisation and anti-democratic nature of many local parties.

This is some challenge, but it is something which has almost disappeared from the armoury of the Labour left during the last two decades. Where we have seen a tentative resurgence in campaigning CLPs, they have quite often managed to secure the selection of solid, left-wing candidates (witness the anti-austerity letter signed by 10 new Labour MPs). Again, I absolutely agree – without that ‘revolution from below’ in the party, we are just treading water, but with a well thought out and executed organising strategy within the party, “fading” away is not an inevitability. But we can’t expect to change the Labour Party without taking part in the Labour Party.

Thirdly, the elephant in the room. I’m talking about our good friend, the dysfunctional ‘outside’ left. I very much don’t mean that in a name-calling, derogatory way. I’ve been honest about the Labour left’s deficiencies, but I think it’s equally important to point out that the British left outside of the Labour Party has not offered a coherent, credible alternative to the Labour Party at any point in the last thirty years. From the Socialist Alliance, the Socialist Labour Party, Respect right through to TUSC – not a single initiative has taken off in what have been incredibly favourable conditions for the building of an alternative workers party.

Having tried my hand outside the party, I’m now almost convinced that they are not capable of building that alternative. That is what marks us out from Greece or Spain – we have, for historical reasons, been landed with a left that works in silos, which is often sectarian and obsessed with the minutiae of past battles and ideological purity. Not every part of it, of course, but enough of it to wreck every attempt to build ‘left unity’ (small case). I don’t say this with any joy, but I think it’s a reality that we are faced with.

So despite our massive challenges in building a Labour left, they are dwarfed by the enormous task of pulling together a Syriza-like left in the UK. The phrase herding cats springs to mind. If all this history and experience can be broken, and something solid can be built and gain some purchase amongst the working class, again we are in different territory.

Maybe, as Michael Chessum suggests, the prospect of the unions pitching into a new party could be the way in which the game changes. Again, I think that is misunderstanding the motivations of the larger unions. You can’t simply graft a social democratic union politics onto one of the various political projects that have started their lives as either the possessions of a Trotskyist political party or a chaotic bringing together of various shades of anarchism, communism, green and socialists.

The unions aren’t going to go for that. What they would want is a party with parliamentary credibility, with basic social democratic credentials, with a working class base, with the potential to make policy which would create jobs, house people, protect the welfare state and workers’ rights. In other words, the Labour Party we are fighting for – not as an end in itself, but as a huge step on the road to a more socialistic society.

Of course Michael and others are right to raise this debate. It’s essential to the way we view our tasks ahead. But what is often missing is a sober analysis of where we’ve gone wrong as a left. If we’re honest, collectively we’ve done what we always criticise as futile: we’ve shouted at the telly a lot, but we haven’t organised – not seriously and strategically. It’s as idownload (4)f we’ve excluded the Party itself from our sound analysis that in society, power cedes nothing without a demand. We can no longer sit back. We have to get together and build a serious, organised, engaged and thinking Labour left, one that leaves behind some of the false walls that have divided us.

That is what Red Labour (now 20,000 strong on Facebook and with 40 plus local groups) is all about. I think it would be a disaster to leave the Labour Party, but not as much of a disaster as waiting for something to change, like the proverbial boiling frog, slowly being cooked to death.


  1. Gavin Williams says:

    I resigned from the Labour Party in the 90s because of a number of reasons , both organisational and ideological. I am a socialist before i am Labour. I have thought about not voting Labour, but still do, but believe as others do that the Progress group are too centre right and could easily belong to a different party. If the constituencies could feed into the policy process once again it would give socialists still in the party a bit of a voice which they haven’t had for 20 years

    1. Billericaydickie says:

      What you are saying Mike, as far as I can see, is that the party has to accommodate its policies to what you want. It’s not going to happen and the logo Red Labour Red Britain sums up the problem for the left. The electorate have rejected the whole concept and will continue to do so.

    2. John P Reid says:

      The constituents?,meant you think that a lot of them have centre right views

      come to some of the Essex labour parties, from Mike Gapes and Wes streeting, to Thurrock,they’re so right wing they make me look like A commie,.

      1. Gavin Williams says:

        not the constituents but the Progress group, there are (believe it or not ) still some socialists hanging on in the constituencies waiting for a new left wing messiah

        1. John P Reid says:

          As you’re not a. R her, don’t know how you know what constituencies talk about at meetings?

          But they don’t harbor for some far left party, most are moderates.

          1. Gavin Williams says:

            My wife is still a member, I am not, but i do know some socialists keeping their heads down

  2. Mike says:

    A good analysis, but building a Labour left will be difficult whoever wins the leadership, especially as the left doesn’t have a candidate and is therefore struggling to challenge the dominant narrative that Labour needs to move more to the right to be electable. If building a Labour left means anything at this juncture, it’s got to centre on connecting the branches and CLPs to social movements that will have no option over the next 5 years but to fight. The real pressure for the Party to come up with distinctive, non- Tory policies that can inspire people to vote it is likely to come from outside rather than inside for the foreseeable future. But I agree: if prospects for the Labour left look bleak, those of the outside left look even worse. What we really need right now is a network of like-minded activists across the anti-austerity spectrum, regardless of political party and electoral strategy.

  3. robert says:

    Lets wait and see but I do think now the members can now ask for a vote on leaving, that’s Union members.lets see whom ends up winning this leadership contest.


    If the left stay, they must insist on fielding their own candidate.
    Even Burnham has let us down. He has stated that he will back the cap on welfare even though some experts believe that it will plunge 40,000 children into poverty. He says that we need to clamp down on people who want something for nothing.
    The candidates at the moment would be to the right of Edward Heath, well to the right and even more right wing than Thatcher.

    1. Robert says:

      Does make you wonder you know the saying better the devil you know. Although today Thatcher may well be seen as to the center ground she was seen as being to the right, but then we had Blair, which pushed Thatcher more to the center left.

      Heath could have ended the welfare state or council housing or the NHS at any time he did not.

      We cannot even blame the banking crises on the attack on the poor, Blair stated it will a min wage of £3.20 and the hiring Unum Provident and ATOS

  5. Dave Walsh says:

    “But we can’t expect to change the Labour Party without taking part in the Labour Party.” – Yep, I swallowed that, for the best part of twenty years. Then I walked around London with a million others, trying to stop a war that wasn’t necessary and was without end. Blair looked at me and said “Thanks for knocking on all those doors, thanks for delivering all those leaflets, thanks for helping to get all those unsuitable candidates elected to Council etc. I think you are wrong about this war thing, keep up the good work”. So I left. Nothing I have seen since 2003 will get me back, Labour is dead, let’s not spend ten years trying to breathe life into a corpse, let’s try something different.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Pretty much

    2. Billericaydickie says:

      Dave. Get rid of the whole thing about wars, illegal or otherwise. The electorate associate anyone with your attitude with disrespect for the armed forces regard for which has never been higher. You also sound like Galloway and look whats happened to him.

      1. Rod says:

        There is high regard for the forces but only detestation for the politicians who betrayed them.

        1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          Pretty much

      2. Dave walsh says:

        Galloway eh? I’m off to buy a hat and scarf.

  6. John P Reid says:

    Sandra Crawford, as Mrs Thatcher had the higher rate of tax at 60p for her first 9 years, to get the Ciuntry out of the debt, that the Wislon government got us into, by spending 15 years of money in the 8 months of 1974′ desperate to do enough to buy the electorate too win the Oct 1974 election, and seeing as privatization wasn’t mentioned in the 1979 Tory election, a Thatcher was never that right wing,

    This article says in straight face that Kinnock purged Democracy, this is from union block votes, imposing policies, that the public massively rejected, then the union bosses blamed Kinnock for losing, and then there were Militant!!

    O.k labour didn’t oppose a few of the Coalitions policies,but labour under Ed was well to the left of new labour, we just had our worse ever defeat.

    I have to question that new labour aren’t socialists, or that old labour could be defined Asa far left of the party,who thought Ed miliband was too right wing,

    Union membership defined as working class, most of the unions that still find labour are public sector workers, most are middle class and democracy, aren’t you forgetting Falkirk.
    If define Blue labour as right wing old labour of the Callghan,a john smith view,and want to keep the union link,at all costs,

    As 4 of the 6 on the NEC are from the far left,with the other two not being neccasarily open the right, I’d say that the left have organized and the right, look at the deputy, 7 fairly centre right candidates all arguing,

    As most on. The far left,left labour for other groups ,maybe the reason no left group ever took off ,was because, dare I say it, no one ,wants a far left party.

    1. Dave Walsh says:

      Agreed, a far left party is doomed under first past the post. Better to have PR with 20% of the vote and perpetual coalition that can make inroads in key areas like housing, welfare and education as our ‘red lines’. There’s millions of people who can’t aspire – the Labour party was formed to protect them, not to keep school fees down to manageable levels. As I said, we need a different take on what happens next. The current leadership election is guaranteed to deliver just one thing – another Tory government in 2020

      1. Robert says:

        But if labour won in 2020 it would be progress so let be honest why not let the Tories do it.

        1. Rod says:


          All the leadership candidates are falling over each other in the scramble to be the most pro-business candidates. And all candidates have said there should be a role for the private sector in the NHS. Even Burnham, who is judged by some to be the ‘Left’ candidate, is refusing trade union help.

          Yet the CLPD aficionados of this blog will shortly be claiming that the struggle for socialism will begin once the LP has won the 2020 general election.

          In the meantime we will be told that we must support whichever candidate wins the leadership.

          1. John P Reid says:

            Have any leadership candidates said they support the Tories 40% of union members must vote yes, for a strike, even Bradshaw?

          2. Robert says:

            Andy Burnham has moved to bury his reputation as the left-wing candidate by calling for Labour to take a tougher line on welfare.

            The Labour leadership contender said the party had given the perception it would give an “easy ride” to some people on benefits.

            “Labour does need to win back those people who have that feeling about us,” he said.

            Mr Burnham also hinted he could back some of the Tories’s planned £12billion welfare cuts, including the further reduction in the benefit cap from £26,000 to £23,000.

            He said there was a feeling on the doorstep during the election that Labour wanted “to be soft on people who want something for nothing.”

  7. David Ellis says:

    The problem with the Labour Left is that it has only ever been a training ground for the Labour Right. It will sit quietly behind the next New Labour clone for five years as he or she tries to out manoeuvre the Tories from the right and say nothing as the party becomes as Pasoked in England and Wales as it has been in Scotland. It will watch and do nothing as The Greens and UKIP and maybe even the Lib Dems dismember the Labour Party and eradicate socialism from the vocabulary.

    Left Labour MPs should be rejecting the whip and forming their own bloc with their own leader in Parliament that will oppose this government on an anti-austerity programme. It should bloc with the SNP where possible on anti-austerity issues and launch a campaign to vote OUT in the EU referendum that it can use to mobilise mass support behind a socialist programme.

    It will do none of these things. The tiny New Labour clique with its own revenue sources and connections to the state that dominates the party has them well trained.

    1. James Martin says:

      David, the reactionary nationalists of the SNP have a fake opportunist approach to austerity – just ask Scottish PCS members who have faced exactly the same attacks from the Scottish SNP government as they have from Tory Westminster. So you are asking the Labour left to block with those to our non-socialist right – and since when was such opportunist popular frontism ever a success? Also of course the SNP are very much pro-EU, so would not support your very recent conversion to opposing EU membership (and as you keep refusing to answer I will ask again – a few months ago you were very vocal against those of us whop opposed the EU, so what was it that made you flip-flop on this issue?).

      1. David Ellis says:

        You are just a sectarian. I said they should bloc with them on matters of anti-austerity. If the SNP are false anti-austerians then that tactic of engagement will soon expose them. But at least the SNP are anti-austerity even if false. New Labour are worse than the Tories on welfare destruction now and the Left MPs are in the same party let alone in a short term alliance.

        On the question of the EU the Left must of course vote OUT in complete contradistinction to the SNP’s support for it.

        1. James Martin says:

          Since when has sectarianism been defined as refusing to block with class enemies David? You, on the other hand, are clearly opportunist in your conversion to stalinist popular frontism.

          1. David Ellis says:


            by the way a popular front is when you subordinate your proletarian policy to that of the liberal bourgeoisie. I am proposing that they should work with the SNP only on matters of anti-austerity. That is a united front which would work for the Labour Party on other matters such as voting to stay in the neo liberal EU or for Cameron’s reforms they should clearly differentiate themselves from the SNP.

  8. James Martin says:

    Interesting article that raises some good questions, although I disagree with some of the assumptions.

    My own starting point for why the left (both inside and outside the Party) is so historically small now is to look at how we become socialists in the first place. Yes, sometimes it is an intellectual conversion after reading a book, but for most people it is as a result of experience and events. The current left is very old in its make up (and I include myself here), but that is because there has not been a large national struggle that pulls in large numbers of people into activism sine the great miners strike and poll tax rebellions – and both of those were essentially defensive in nature. You need to go back even further to find a time when mass struggles led to significant victories.

    Those struggle will come again, but for now (and with the exception of Scotland) there has been little or nothing on a large scale to draw young people towards trade union and socialist related struggles that in turn make them into activists and members of left organisations, and even in Scotland in the absence of actual class struggle (there is no more strikes north of the border as south) the activism has been pulled into a reactionary cross-class nationalist (and working class dividing) orbit.

    As a result those left organisations that exist inside or outside the Party have been surviving on ever diminishing returns and depending largely on ageing and recycled activists rather than fresh layers.

    The result of all this is that we have developed a situation where, for example, radical youth from Muslim immigrant communities are getting pulled towards reactionary clerical-fascism rather than towards socialism (and at the same time we traditional socialists are doing little or nothing to counter this – even to the extent that there are no widespread solidarity campaigns for those on the front line against Islamic-fascism like the Kurdish socialist YPG forces).

    It is our luck (and nothing more) that our own local fascists are so hopelessly divided that we have not seen a renewed far-right threat in this country.

    Things will change as big events and struggles will happen again. But for now we can only fight with what we have.

  9. Sue says:

    this idea does appeal to me and I wish it would happen? But basically isn’t this what Militant were trying to achieve and they all got expelled from the party? I’d love a left wing group to form in the party and try to sort out the dreadful lack of democracy within the party. But is it really likely to happen? Likely to be possible? Because whereas the massive organisation of Progress is accepted within the party I bet a left wing version would not be tolerated.

  10. David Pavett says:

    This is a welcome debate (both this article and the one it is a response to).

    I agree that, despite all the claims of campaigning groups to the contrary, Labour has moved over recent decades in a clear rightwards direction both in terms of policy and in terms of party organisation (i.e. shutting down genuine democratic debate). As Ben Sellars says:

    … we are clearly a further step down the line to a free-floating, Democratic-style party

    and, in discussing those decades

    The point is, that at no point was there a united, collective, strategic opposition to Blairism in the party …no sustained, strategic approach to coalition building within the party

    But the arguments against leaving seem to me decidedly weak i.e. (1) it is unlikely that the TUs will break with the Party, (2) sporadic grassroot activity needs to be changed into systematic work inside CLPs to transform Party politics and practice, (3) the left outside the Party isn’t up to much and is as fragmented as that inside the Party.

    Only the third of these keeps me inside the fold. Pinning political hopes on the TUs seems to me to be a council of despair. The TUs are by inclination conservative/cautious, as Ben Sellars says, their role is oppositional and is never likely to lead the way to a new politics. If the TU cave-in over the Collins Report and the NPF anti-austerity motion last July does not convince members about that then I don’t know what will.

    Given the incredibly weak and fragmented state of the left both inside and outside the Labour Party perhaps the most important questions should not be about ‘in or out’. As a Labour Party member I find any attempts to join with others to influence events mostly doomed to failure and destined to be entirely forgotten. But then I know that it is exactly the same outside the Labour Party. Protesting is necessary and can convince us that our blood is still circulating but it is a long way from being enough. The problem is that as soon as one tries to move on to more positive grounds the fragmented state of the left becomes painfully obvious. We have no common narrative, no clearly defined common objectives and no common analysis of the problems of our society.

    Instead of developing a coherent analysis of the key issues around which a unifying debate could develop most of the left prefers to stay in its comfort zones of oppositional stances (sometimes idiotically so) and peripheral issues. Look no further than Left Futures for evidence. Attempts to start discussions about economic matters gain consistently low responses (often just a handful of responses if that). An article on dealing with executive pay gets two responses while one on Derek Hatton (who?) gets 26.

    So, like many, I suspect, I am in the Labour Party without any feelings of loyalty towards it. It is in fact a truly pathetic organisation manipulated by a bunch of control freaks who can direct even its feeble efforts at democratic debate. I believe that capitalist society can only be properly understood as a phase of human organisation which needs to be replaced by a superior socialist form of society. Even when Labour supports policies which contradict this narrative, e.g. in support of a non-privatised NHS, there is no theoretical understanding of what this means at the level of political philosophy.

    I would leave the Labour Party in an instant if I recognised a non-sectarian, genuinely democratic and clear sighted socialist alternative with an understanding of how to put over its policies to people not yet convinced of the need for a socialist alternative. I see no such organisation. And for me that’s it. There can be no definitive answer as to whether staying in the Labour Party is a good idea or not. It depends on many things. Is the Labour Party capable of self-transformation? I doubt it but history is fully of surprises and long-term prediction is a foolish game. Could imaginable changes of circumstances render the Labour Party almost totally ineffective as an electoral force? Scotland tells us that this is so. Even the increasingly spoken of issue of electoral reform could lead to changes that would transform the political landscape (not considered by either Ben Sellers and only touched on by Michael Chessum) So, I will remain in the Party while looking around for alternatives and contributing my little bit to left-wing debate. In the meantime I would recommend giving up romantic illusions about trade union politics and spending a bit more time in coming to terms with the issues that divide the left (they are not in short supply).

    1. Robert says:

      A lot of trade unions of course have left or been kicked out, the GMB are now open to a vote on disaffiliation or so they said, seems they have now changed their minds.

      I suspect in the end it will be labour that break away, not the trade Unions and then we will see threats of courts cases and action. but it will take labour to win an election before that happens so they can brining in state funding and that should go down well..

      But lets see where the trade Union membership ends up.

  11. John Farrar says:

    I found this useful to read, I guess I’m one of those members you refer too . I was a long standing member and never convinced I was ever on the left , just a socialist it’s amazing how right stays right and left moves right as the term red Ed clearly shows . I left the party over Blairs later reforms and the war and gave it another go under Brown , Imhave been to a few meetings but it’s awful now as you point out controlled . At the last election I could not even bring myself to vote labour locally or nationally , our council has been run the same way and my MP is a leading light in progress and both seem much more concerned with power than improving people’s lives . Im still a member but keep thinking I should move to the Green Party but wonder what difference they can make in the UK . I simply want to be part of a movement that is a force for building a good society and seeks to empower people . I think the area of empowerment and political education should be at the core of any strategy , far too many people simply don’t question what is going on ,influenced by a right wing establishment and media . I often think that union money could be better targeted to raise consciousness . I guess I will hang around until,the leadership election is done before making a decision on what to do , at the moment it seems as though all candidates want to move right again , which is not good for the people that the party was founded to help and empower

  12. Chris says:

    We are all socialists in the party.

    It’s important to remember the values of the Labour movement: loyalty, discipline, solidarity. You don’t necessarily have to stay in the party forever, but it’s wrong to abandon ship the first time something happens that you don’t like.

    Plus, you have to remember that there’s nothing of value for socialists outside the party. All other socialist groups are based in Trotskyism, which is the opposite of everything we stand for.

    1. Gavin Williams says:

      I disagree that everyone in the party are socialists. The Blairites are not, the Progress group is not, they could easily belong to the Lib Dems or the One Nation Tories

      1. John P Reid says:

        And to unite the GBH drama ,militant weren’t socialist either,

      2. Sue says:

        Also Chris this isnt the first time something has happened that the left dont like! The left have stayed through thick and thin. This includes the Tony Blair years, Iraq war, the further undemocratising of the party and the expulsion of socialists from the party.

        1. John P Reid says:

          Expulsion of Socialists?, as Chris said Trotskyites weren’t socialists, expelling militant was right.

          As for undemocratising ,OMOV or even the system of selecting leaders,far more denocraticnowvthsn Union block votes

    2. David Ellis says:

      New Labour, the tiny clique that grabbed power in the party and in 20 short years have reduced it to rubble never to be rebuilt, are not socialists but cynical realists who have swallowed the neo-liberal mantra that `There Is No Alternative. Even Old Labour weren’t really socialists but social imperialists whose only task was to redistribute the crumbs of empire to the labour aristocracy to keep the social peace for capitalism. Guess what? The empire is long dead and in 2008 British capitalism dropped dead too leaving no room even for the shit bags of New Labour. Labour is finished because capitalism is finished.

  13. Peter Rowlands says:

    Leaving the Labour Party should not be a question for the left at the moment, although if Liz Kendall becomes leader it may become so.
    I am in favour of a socialist party, along the lines of a number of such parties in Europe, the best known being Die Linke in Germany. Left Unity was founded here two years ago to create a similar party, but it has made little headway.
    The reason is our electoral system, which means that a socialist party is unlikely to be able to develop until we achieve proportional representation. Because any party under our system needs a broad appeal, Labour cannot move beyond social democracy, although that still gives it quite a bit of scope for more leftish policies than were offered recently.It is not impossible for parties to grow under our system, witness the Greens and UKIP, it is securing representation which is the problem.Labour should commit itself to PR as the only way in which a viable socialist party is likely to emerge.

    1. John P Reid says:

      What of MPs who backed Ed M for leader,who are backing Liz Kendall ,like Stephen timms or Gloria De O, have they suddenly stopped being socialists,

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