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The Collapse of the Labour Right

In calling out Jon Lansman and Momentum publicly for the temerity of, you know, organising, Tom Watson has made a fool of himself. Worse than that, in attacking a mooted alliance between Momentum and Unite he has gone so far as to suggest there is something improper about unions seeking to maximise their influence in the Labour Party. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump away from questioning the legitimacy of trade unions acting politically at all, and that’s a very dangerous game. Understandably, Len McCluskey has replied in his inimitable style and the war of words continue via social media, while spilling out continually into Unite’s own bad-tempered general secretary election, and potentially damaging Labour’s own council and mayoral campaigns.

Tom Watson is frequently attacked by Corbyn supporters as disingenuous and hypocritical because, let’s make no bones about it, his criticisms of them often are. From the Brownist machinations against His Blairness, to the minor skirmishes with Progress during the Miliband years, and now in the era of Corbynism, Tom has acquired and assiduously cultivated a cloak-and-dagger reputation. He is the fixer to end all fixers, the puppet master that has the party bureaucracy dancing along with his manipulations. While he is responsible and accountable for his actions, Tom is a product and heir to a tradition that has long cast a shadow over the Labour Party, and one coming to its end. I am talking about the old Labour trade union right.

Packing meetings, nobbling selections, stitching up internal elections, blocking and suppressing opponents, elevating bad faith to the status of performance art – all lovingly narrated in Uncle John Golding’s The Hammer of the Left – are, or were the old right’s stock-in-trade. I say were because while the culture of shenanigans is very much part of the party’s make up, it is increasingly getting more difficult to pull off. There are three reasons for this. First, there is much greater visibility than previously. Cases of egregious bad behaviour, especially in these factionally charged times, can get publicity. And lots of it. That damages the party politically, and this behaviour impinges on the second factor: the membership. Typically dismissed as keyboard warriors who’ve never seen doorsteps outside Google Images, in reality the massive 2015-16 intake are no more or less active than the majority of “old” party card holders. They turn up at meetings. They turn up and campaign. Abuses of democracy and process can serve to mobilise and strengthen their determination to stick with the leader and his programme (after all, that is the basis of Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal). In effect, the membership, which remains majority Jez, make the discharge of bureaucratic chicanery more difficult and more expensive, politically, for those who indulge it.

And the last point is the virtual disappearance of the trade union right. The fixers of old had one foot in the PLP and the party machinery, and another in the trade unions. While workplace organisation was much stronger and consequently more militant than present before 1979, its concomitant was a quiescent bureaucracy uninterested in rocking the boat too much in the wider party. While nostalgics write of the transmission belt unions provided from the works’ canteen to Westminster’s terrace, worker MPs, with some exceptions, packed bureaucratic habits of thought alongside their underwear and Sunday best as they made their journey to Parliament. Likewise trade union officialdom reinforced exactly the same sensibility as they engaged in party structures. Keep things on an even keel, anything for a quiet life. The unions wouldn’t intervene too overtly or too consistently in “high politics” provided Labour delivered the policies and in return they were expected to pacify and discipline their memberships at the party’s behest. The relationship gave trade union leaders and senior officials direct access to ministers and Number 10, and an input into policy, but led to combustible politics as the 1975-79 Labour government shows. Upon Blair’s election as Labour leader in 1994, the relationship became increasingly one-sided as the years wore on. The unions were still expected to rein in industrial action, and in return, well, the Tories will be kept out.

This was an unsustainable situation. Readers may recall from the period of the late 90s on how unions slowly but surely turned left. General secretaries preaching the virtues of “partnership” and cooperation were replaced one-by-one by a clutch of officials collectively dubbed the awkward squad. Politically speaking, they were all well within the envelope of big tent trade unionism but to greater and lesser degrees they took more uncompromising stances with regard to members’ interests. This firmed up even further after Brown’s defeat and the dawning of the Tory/LibDem coalition. First, most affiliated unions organised (haphazardly, it has to be said) for Ed Miliband and were for the most part later forced by active members into stumping for Jeremy Corbyn. Meanwhile, trade union officialdom has almost been entirely replaced by a layer or organisers who were lay members during the New Labour years and, in some cases, would have participated in disputes Blair and Brown oversaw. This is particularly the case with the Communication Workers’ Union and the monomaniacal attempts by a Labour government to soften Royal Mail up for privatisation. The overall result is a shift in trade union bureaucracies and powerful lay committees to range from the soft left to Corbynism in political composition. Only USDAW and wee Community remain largely unaffected.

You can see where this leads. When it comes to affiliated trade union input into Labour, basically the material base for a union-backed Labour right has withered away. Because Blairism, as a variant of liberalism believed its own Third Way waffle and failed to understand the labour movement. It simultaneously set about undermining the electoral coalition it built in the country, while negligently and blindly destroying its own allies on the trade union right in the party. While unions are not monoliths, they are not disposed to be the guarantor of machine politics any longer, especially as it tries and stymies their influence. And so the material base for that has largely shrunk to party positions – lay and staff – elected office, and whatever can me mustered via Labour First, Progress, and the affiliated societies. In this context, more trade union participation represents a threat. Hence the overt hostility shown Len McCluskey, who has long promised more Unite input into the party, is far from an irrational dislike.

Once placed in this context, the anonymous briefings to the press, the moaning at PLP meetings, the compliance unit and its doings, the studied refusal to fight the leadership politically, the bizarre criticisms levelled at Momentum as a Corbyn proxy and Unite, and the utterly counter-productive behaviour makes sense. They are, effectively, the last gasps of a gravely weakened tradition lacking a discernible way of coming back. If they want to retake the Labour Party and become relevant again, a massive rethink is needed. But for as long as they’re unwilling to even understand why there are where they are (apart from one brave and largely unacknowledged exception), they’re stuck. If not doomed.

47 Comments

  1. jeffrey davies says:

    last grasp hmm the peasants are sick of blairites tom who and his greedie ways yet to rid the party of them has they are the last gast of blairs dream of the little tory party its time to show em the door

  2. Bill says:

    We must be clear our objective is to take the party over by entirely democratic means. Remove those that impede the leadership and membership. Sack Watson. Put up working class candidates end corruption and place the blame for where Labour is in the polls and tge steady decline of the Labour Vote on the antics of Watson and Co.

  3. JohnP says:

    Phil’s article, whilst celebrating the demise of the Tom Watson, or Alan Johnson, type of old , trade union-based Right Winger – totally fails to see that the entire Blair/Brown/Mandelson, Progress organised 30 year agenda was precisely to replace this old type of guaranteed supporter of the (Butskellite era , mixed economy) capitalist status quo with a radically new type of guaranteed supporter of the newer, now neoliberal, post “Thatcher revolution” shrink/privatise the state, status quo. This new PLP Right was created via the parachuted in middle class careerist Oxbridge types. These new Right wingers (often claiming to be “centre ground”) in the main never went near a trades union, but went straight from Oxbridge, to a Labour Party research job, or a charity role, or a role in the European Parliament gravy train to a safe Labour seat – then a ministerial post. And many of them are of course the scions of the Labour Party “aristocracy”. A brief look at Stephen Kinnock’s effortless rise to Parliament via his family connections gives a good flavour of the new PLP majority Right and Centre.

    Unlike the old , trade union-based Right, who at least usually had some grounding in Labour Movement values , and weren’t hostile to the idea of state led planning, or nationalisation, the new PLP neoliberal, firmly middle class, career politician majority are entirely bought in to the neoliberal agenda – and the toxic idea that “Parliamentary politics” is just a necessary stage in ones career – building up corrupt “favours” with ones Big Business backers, ready for that cushy post Parliamentary payoff ,via a sinecure board position , or newspaper column, or a host of other payback gifts.

    The reason Phil BC isn’t interested in examining this new, careerist Labour Right cancer in the Party, which will fight against any Left radical agenda in our Party to the death (of our Party) , is possibly because he is exactly of this career wannabe Labour politician type himself ! A supporter of Yvette Cooper in 2015, assistant to Tristram Hunt, and supporter and worker for the ghastly right winger Gareth Snell. And now distinctly doing a bit of “Leftish posing” in his recent posts to fit in with the current Corbynite Labour membership Zeitgeist. A useful pose to adopt when considering future hustings when applying to be a Labour candidate, when Corbynites will increasingly be in the majority in the selections.

    There is no basis for optimism that the old style Tom Watson Right Winger are dying out – the PLP is still entirely packed out with an even MORE pernicious type of even more corrupt, pro neoliberal capitalism, type of MP. Until , or unless, the Labour Left get to grips with this “enemy within”, and in the Party Machine itself, the Labour Party cannot adopt the radical Left policy agenda it needs to win back mass working class support.

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      A bit hard on PBC.But I do object to John’s tendency to exaggerate – e.g. ‘the PLP is still entirely packed out withan even more pernicious type of even more corrupt, pro neoliberalcapitalism type of MP’.i.e. the vast majority.
      This is just not so. Last year, on the basis of a New Statesman article, I made some notes on how the PLP might be reasonably divided up in terms of broad political orientation.With about 230 MPs I thought this would give us:
      Hard Left 20, Soft Left 60, Pragmatic Centre 70, Traditional Right 40, Neo Liberal Right 40. Yes, none but the Hard Left support JC, but the rest should not be bracketed as the same as John does. Yes of course there are those who are primarily careerists, and those who remain wedded to capitalism, but there are large numbers who are neither.

      1. JohnP says:

        If only your “analysis” and categorisation of the PLP had any basis in anything but wishful thinking, Peter. Who the supposed 20 “hard Left” are for a start , I have no idea. It certainly doesn’t include Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell for a start. Mildly reformist social democratic Left Keynsians certainly, but “Hard Left ? No Peter.

        This is the wishful thinking-based Old Guard Labour Left categorisation methodology which had one of the key NEC operators in the anti Corbyn Coup, and expulsions in 2016 , Ann Black, included on the Left’s NEC candidate slate ! And still, many Labour Lefties will try to defend this blatant ally of the Right.

        The divisions and sub-sets in the PLP, and wider Party Machine bear no relation at all to Peter’s ludicrously over-optimistic claims. Peter , and his co-thinkers have spent so much time trying to “win over” the supposed “soft Left” before the Corbyn Leadership victory, and the subsequent 2016 PLP coup, that the harsh reality that , with a very few exceptions, maybe no more than 50 MP’s, the PLP is unreformably hostile to the adoption by Labour of an even mildly radical Left policy turn, escapes them.

        That is why the retreat from the essential policy of wide-ranging deselection battles immediately following the 2015 Corbyn victory, and the utter failure to develop a clear Left policy platform, has left the Labour Party in severe danger of being electorally destroyed by the PLP majority’s active sabotage over the last 18 months.

        We shall see who is “exaggerating” about the nature of the PLP overwhelming majority over the next year. I confidently predict, unfortunately, that it is Peter, with his wishful-thinking based subdivisions of the PLP, who will prove to have been “exaggerating”.

      2. C MacMackin says:

        Peter, do you have a link to the New Statesman article or your analysis? I’d be interested to read it.

        John, whatever you think about Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s economic policy (or lack thereof) they are the remains of what, in the 1980s, was called the Hard Left. Corbyn has been a member of the Socialist Campaign Group since that time and it is this set of MPs which are what people normally mean when referring to the Hard Left. By all means criticise them for their lack of coherence on economics (and, given that they lived through the collapse of the post-war settlement and were allies of those who saw it for the structural crisis that it was, I find their approach to economics shockingly poor), but I feel like it is disingenuous to claim that there are no Hard Left MPs. It’s just that, over the years, the organs of the Labour Left have become vestigial.

        I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen Peter’s work behind the numbers he gives, but I do wonder if he might be giving too much credit to a great many MPs. By this I don’t, necessarily, mean that he thinks many are more left-wing than they are, but rather that I’m not sure if they are even ideologically aware enough to be placed on the spectrum Peter lays out. It is hardly an ideal bunch, but I suspect it would be impractical, as a strategy, to deselect all of them before 2020. For good or for ill, we’re going to have to try to work with the bulk of them for the time being. If they do try to, e.g., actively undermine the democratic formation of policy by the membership (assuming such a process ever begins) then I will absolutely join John in fighting against them.

        As for John’s comments about Ann Black, I agree that she should not have been on the left-slate for the NEC. This is not because she was disloyal to Cobyn, per-se, but because I think voting to suspend CLP meetings and use secret ballots within that NEC meeting go fundamentally against the project of greater party democracy. I gather that she has often been very good about communication with the grassroots and has otherwise been quite a good representative, so it will be a shame to lose someone like that. All of that said, I don’t think that disqualifies her from the Soft Left, who have a long history of accommodating the Right of the party. After all, that was in large part what represented their break from the Hard Left in the first place. This is not a defense of Ann Black, but rather a criticism of the tendency which she exemplifies.

        1. Peter Rowlands says:

          CMac, no, but I will look for the article. Both you and John speak about my ‘analysis’, which I never claimed, I just made some notes based on the article and my own knowledge, such as it is.
          Yes, I was using the term’Hard Left’ as it is generally understood.The ‘Soft Left’have some ideological commitment leftwards, but have been so ground down by Thatcherism and Blairism that they have no confidence in those ideas prevailing one day, resulting in their leadership candidate Burnham, failing to promote even a mildly social democratic message, thus precipitating the rise of Corbyn. Yes, I think that there are many who lack ideological awareness, and I have categorised them as the ‘Pragmatic Centre’.OK, this is a catch – all which includes many divergent views, but the main point is they are not wedded, as John would have it, to neoliberalism or any other ideology.
          I think it’s also fair to distinguish between the neoliberal right ( Blairites) often leftish on social /cultural issues, and the traditional right, the reverse of their neoliberal counterparts, socially conservative but often quite leftish on the economy.
          How this all pans out remains to be seen, but John’s solution of mass deselections is a recipe for destructive civil war. The fight for a coherent policy offer, which we are all supporting through LF, is a more positive approach.
          I agree with you re Ann Black.

        2. Peter Rowlands says:

          CMac, I cannot find the article. David P has looked as well. I think it was New Statesman, Bush or Eaton, Aug. – Oct. Sorry.

          1. C MacMackin says:

            No problem. I was just curious. I’d probably be too busy right now writing a response to the environment and energy policy commission document to read it anyway.

  4. Richard MacKinnon says:

    PBC and the rest of the regular Labour commentators on this site are I think too close to wood to see the trees.
    Most comments and articles are an honest attempt at trying to make sense of Labour’s present predicament. But the problem is, this is done through old left/right divisions or factions. Terminology such as Blairism, Brownism, Corbynism, does not help. It sounds like playground taunts, which it is. There is too much entrenchment and animosity.
    The stakes could not be higher. The Tory opposition and impartial commentators look on in disbelief.
    Another pointless distraction with Left leaning arguments is the constant use of right/left measurement. Please note, there is no way to measure politics by a right left meter. At this point in time the meter is pointing to Theresa May, and an unchallengeable Tory government on a crusade to Brexit . There is no opposition.
    Now that may sound as if it is a far to the right position on this non existant right/left meter but I can assure you I can make a case where the present Tory government is middle of the road liberal and to the left of where some Tory MPS want to be.
    Back to Labour. If Labour really want to look credible again they need to first of all get their own house in order.
    The first thing that needs to be done is to clear out the stable. That means rid itself of the toxicity of for example trade union bosses that think they hold power within The Party. They don’t. hey run a union. OK Labour are addicted to the funding but Labour cannot be seen to be held to ransom by scary figures from the last century. Therefore McCluskey has to be made an example of. Public humiliation and expulsion. Let him go off and further humiliate himself. He is one figure that is better out of the tent.
    Next – The factions. Momentum proscribe. It is a cancer on the body Labour.
    Next – all the other silly factions, BAME, Women’s equality groups, Diversity. Gender equality. Friends of Palestine. Friends of Israel. All that stuff. Sweep it all away. If a rule change is needed, do it. Labour are experts on rule changes. All those factions are destroying Labour from within.

    That is enough for just now. But I have tons of other good ideas and I would be happy to discuss it, although as with every good consultant I don’t come cheap.

    1. John P Reid says:

      Yes ,exactly

    2. JohnP says:

      Dearie me – more tragically utterly predictable Right Wing drivel, that Mackinnon thinks is deep political wisdom. The posting name “Richard MacKinnon” must surely actually be some sort of Daily Mail ideology driven Autobot Programme, rather than a real human being, for it to be both so turgid and so predictable on every topic.

      1. John P Reid says:

        1Rushanari Ali before she dropped out of the deputy leadership said labour shouldn’t have all these factions, the whole premise of an independent black Caucus Labour Party 30 years ago was racist in its own right, so Richard saying thre shouldn’t be a BAME labour, makes sense as Richard said labour shouldn’t have,labour friends of Israel,in his post,why is that right wing, or is not going all wet all over Israel, a left wing thing now? Are yiu saying Rushanari is a Daily mail refer for not wanting factions, people should be able to go to Fabian Discussion, be in the co-op and their unions, nine of this various stuff on trying to get influence by backing the horse with the links to the media, and Len Mclusky has made a fool of himself, trying to present himself as something he’s not

        As for the right wing troll,thing,you remind me of Ken Livingstone saying everything is like hitler when he disagrees,

      2. Imran Khan says:

        Summed up most succinctly! Don’t under charge whatever you do!

    3. Ed says:

      Utter fantasy!

      1. Imran Khan says:

        Actually the comment is down to earth and should be included among the ideas for the next Labour manifesto.

        1. ed says:

          Dream on

    4. Imran Khan says:

      Summed up most succinctly! Don’t under charge whatever you do!

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Imran,
        I will charge like a wounded Rhinoceros.

    5. ed says:

      Presumably this is a send up

  5. Danny Nicol says:

    I don’t think there has been a collapse of the Labour Right in any way, shape or form. I think there has been a collapse of the Labour Left in that it has no programme and therefore there is scant difference between Right and Left in terms of what they would do on the domestic front if elected and if they dominated a Labour cabinet.

  6. John P Reid says:

    So Tom Wataon is in the right, funny Andy Newman write here that Left futures should beck him for deputy, when yiu were backing Angela Eagle,
    Then there’s the view he’s embaressed himself, well beung 20% behind in the polls for you guys isn’t embaressimg, then there’s the fact that unions use to tell labour what to do and you accept that doing it, made labour lose, but ever since Ed miliband denounced New labour and Unite got him the leadership job, labour ,let the Tories get a overall majority again,

    1. JohnP says:

      You really need to edit your stuff before posting, John. In this particularly incoherent , mistake-filled, post you come across as a drivelling moron. I’m sure you can do better, even for a Right Wing Troll, if you just try a little harder.

      Maybe not.

      1. John P Reid says:

        Why am I right wing,and what’s a troll,anyone who doesn’t agree with what left futures now stands for,as I pointed out, Andy Newman backed Watsin for deputy,is he a troll. YOU WERE QUICK TO CRITICISE WHAT I SAID SO IT MUST HAVE MADE ENOUGH SENSE FOR YOU TO DO SO

        1. JohnP says:

          Nope, not so ; your last post, as so often, was incoherent drivel, John. It wasn’t at all clear what you were on about. I’m trying to be kind and helpful to you here, to stop you coming across constantly as an illiterate head case, who posts without thought.

          1. john P Reid says:

            calling me a head case isn’t helpful it’s bitter trolling over a few spelling mistakes

  7. David Pavett says:

    Phil B-C’s recurrent theme of the stupidity of the right (inside and outside Labour) may provide a momentary warm glow of self-satisfaction but it is not much of a basis to strengthen the embattled left leadership of the party.

    The Labour right has consolidated its hold over CLPs in London. The party machine continues to hamper left advances or even moves to greater democracy (even if rules have to be ignored in the process). The NPF continues to put out utterly pointless draft policy statements and party members are no more in charge of party policy than when Corbyn was first elected.

    The Labour right are clearly no playing a waiting game waiting for more poor election results to make Corbyn’s position untenable.

    Delivering a funeral oration for the right seems to me to be more than a little premature.

  8. Bazza says:

    Some right wing dipstick recently said every day he tries to do something to bring JC down but funny many of us on here and our dear readers perhaps every day try to do something good to help the oppressed of the World!
    Just had some great news; I am a Momentum member and 2 bourgeois socialists from the dreadful Alliance for Workers Liberty (who probably still meet secretly as The Revolutionary Communist League and have their own programme and tiny international network) have just resigned from my city local Momemtum Steering Group.
    They are not happy that the Steering Group agreed to support the new Momentum constitution and instead surpise surprise they want people to support the Grassroots Momentum Network (all the bourgeois socialists like themselves – SP, SWP and other top downers and mainly non-Labour members – the embryonic bourgeois vanguard).
    The bourgeois socialists see themselves as the vanguard and only their leadership can lead us poor unthinking working class people to socialism, they believe in the banking concept of political education – if only they can deposit their top down ready made programme into the heads of the working class they will lead us to a socialist society but perhaps we can lead ourselves in a grassroots, dottom up approach!
    They were factually correct that the Momentum meeting on a Sunday afternoon in my city (attended by about 50 members out of 1,041 members) voted 25-24 against the constitution but as a participant observer I noted one working class lass said she didn’t understand the constitution but voted against it (should have abstained) and I think I noted a bloke from outside the city also voted against it!
    Oh and there was a class divide with mainly working class labour members voting for.
    But I have to say I am impressed by the ruthlessness of the left wing democratic socialists against the ruthless bourgeois socialists who like Lenin and Trotsky (paving the way for Stalin) would take power for themselves.
    Momentum is perhaps catching up from its initial mistake in setting up for Labour members and non-members and I would argue they are correctb it should be for Labour members only and hopefully after July it should open up again.
    Just watched a very interesting documentary (parts 1 & 2) ‘The Russian Revolution in Colour’ on Yesterday (Freeview channel 19) and perhaps we left wing democratic socialists are keeping alive the spirit of the Knrondstat sailors!
    Sorry to deviate a bit but wanted to share this and JP and DP said what I would have said.

    1. Bazza says:

      Oh and yes Momentum can now focus on supporting JC and organising around ideas in Labour to try to help us win!
      My heroes are perhaps Paulo Freire and Rosa Luxemburg, the latter because of her suggestion that the best thing that we can all bring to the table is our independent critical thinking; the former because we work out together with working class/working people who has the power and how we can get it democratically back together – a left wing democratic socialism WITH and not a top down socialism FOR!
      So organise for Conference delegates, the CAC, reforming conference, the NEC, branches, CLPs, around left wing democratic socialist ideas and getting policy actions for each of JC’s 10 policy statements.
      Then CLPs, unions and other affiliates host numerous Community Conferences to share our ideas and engage with the community.
      There is hope if we do all of this.
      Yours in solidarity!

  9. Historyintime says:

    The labour right has been dead and buried several times but it will win again, because that’s what its about. Oh, and supporting the leader providing that they too can win.

    1. Robin Edwards says:

      No, that’s metaphysics. The Labour Right is dead because capitalism is dead. It has nothing to offer. It’s only purpose now is not to win elections but to destroy the Labour Party to ensure it does not become a genuine vehicle for socialism. Right opportunist reformism can only exist when capitalism and imperialism can afford for it to exist and if that’s true for right reformism it is even more true for left reformism. These people cannot challenge capitalism especially in its death throws. They are doomed to become the enemies of the working class or simply irrelevant. The Labour Party if it does not adopt a radical revolutionary socialist programme and use it to take the struggle to the party right and capitalism itself is doomed. I reckon it’s doomed. A new political formation based in the revolutionary proletariat will arise in its place.

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Doomed. We’re all doomed.

        1. Richard MacKinnon says:

          Robin,
          Of all the commentators on this site you are the best. I love reading your stuff. More power to your fingers.
          I don’t even feel like criticising but then again it is what I am here for so when you say “The Labour Right is dead because capitalism is dead”. Could you elaborate?
          Capitalism can never die. Markets have in the past broken down but it has never prevented capitalism from functioning. Even when currencies hyper inflate and break down completely as in Germany after the war, trade still continues.
          Capitalism will find a way to continue either by using another currency (the US dollar is accepted in every country in the world) or in goods or labour. A rolex watch has in the past had the same value as a loaf of bread.
          Capitalism is indestructible. However you may be right about the Labour right.
          If you have read any of my other comments you will know that I believe The Labour Party is as near to dead as you can get.

          1. David Parry says:

            ‘Capitalism is indestructible.’

            Bollocks! No human-made system is indestructible.

          2. James Martin says:

            The economic mode of ancient slavery lasted for at least 3,000 years. Feudalism that replaced it lasted for little more than 500 years. Modern capitalism is struggling to match even feudalism, its contradictions becoming more acute, its crisis more severe, its inefficiencies and inequalities more evident. In the last century only world war destroyed enough overproduction and reset competition of the ‘market’ to allow a new sustained boom and expansion to take place following the previous role of new markets via the super-exploitation of colonialism and imperialism to do this. A new world war is an option of course, but not one that any sane person would wish to happen just to allow capitalism to limp on for another few years (assuming anyone was left to play the roles of capitalist owner and wage slave).

            Feudalism grew out of the womb of slavery before replacing it. Capitalism grew out of the womb of feudalism in the medieval towns and cities with the rise of a new merchant class before finally replacing it (helped and pushed forward by key events like the English Revolution of the 1640s and the French Revolution 150 years later). Socialism has already germinated within the womb of capitalism, and it is no accident that the most popular institution in Britain is the NHS, akin almost to a religion the largest employer in the country that provides on the basis of need and is funded by progressive taxation on means. Capitalism is no more likely to survive than slavery and feudalism that preceded it, both of them economic modes where the message of the time was that both were immortal and would last for eternity, where the assumption was made that the existence of the slave or the serf was one of nature and divinely sanctioned. In the future wage slavery will be seen by a future socialist society as a similar example of stupidity.

          3. JohnP says:

            Good points James, but it’s no good pointing out the relatively very historically recent appearance of the fully capitalist mode of production to dyed in the wool Tory ignoramuses like MacKinnon.

            That industrial capitalism as the dominant (but of course for most of this time still operating alongside distinctly non-capitalist peasant subsistence, feudal ,and slave-based systems at the margins) global mode of production is no more than 200 years old at the most is simply incomprehensible to Tories , who believe the current status quo is eternal and unchangeable.

            Challenge someone deeply imbued with this “capitalism is eternal” nonsense and they will naively point to the undoubted usage of precious metal money (at the margins , mainly for merchant trading) in ancient Rome (which also had some significant money lending “capitalists”), or even ancient Babylon, or medieval Europe, as “proof” that capitalism has always existed. Try and point out that slave or feudal systems operated according to very different dynamics , and the Tories just look blank. They think the past , even the Stone age, really IS as portrayed in that old cartoon of the (1950’s style USA) Flintstones !

            The sad thing is that the likes of the three hyperactive Troll on here think their constant repetition of the hoary capitalist ideological certainties propagated day in and out by the mass media shows how clever they are. In reality of course it just demonstrates how brainwashed and historically ignorant they are – useful stooges of the capitalist class.

  10. Robin Edwards says:

    George Galloway is to stand in Gorton against the machine politician picked by Labour. The idea is correct. Gorton needs an independent socialist for workers there to vote for and to challenge the party right. Unfortunately Galloway is not the man to do it. His analysis of Islamism as some kind of response to the West’s support for the Arab tyrannies is incorrect and dangerous especially as at the same time he supports one of the worst, Assad, and his backer the gangster Putin. Islamism is in fact a fascist response to the democratic aspirations of the Arab masses against those failing tyrannies which paints democracy as Western interference. It is not anti-imperialism it is anti-democracy.

    Gorton needs an independent socialist candidate that:

    Supports a socialist Brexit;
    Has a correct analysis of Islamism as a fascist response to the democratic aspirations of the masses;
    Supports a single state, secular, democratic Palestine and not Fatah or Hamas or the bogus two state peace lie of the Zionists;
    Does not support Putin;
    Has a radical programme of socialist demands;
    Is pledged not to stand in the way of the formation of a Corbyn government after a general election should the numbers be available.

  11. C MacMackin says:

    This article and David’s comments present an interesting contradiction. I think that Phil BC is right to point out the collapse of the Labour Right within much of the trade union movement and a loss of support for it among the membership. However, David is also correct to point out the Right’s continued control over the party machinary and the inability (or unwillingness) of the Left to democratise it. The Right is winning because it is much better organised. The Left is going to have to start democratically organising to reform the party. I’d hoped Momentum would do this, but it seems to be replicating the undemocratic practices of the Right and just giving them a left sheen.

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      Succinctly put.

    2. David Pavett says:

      Yes, there has been a partial collapse of the right in the TUs but there is a danger of reading too much into this. What does it tell us about support for left policies by the mass of TU members? Not a lot I suggest. Only a tiny percentage of union members are active in their union or even take an interest in its political stance.

      Add to that that union membership has declined significantly over recent decades. Add too that union influence in the Labour Party has also declined.

      So it seems to me that left leadership in the unions is not a powerful indicator of the penetration of left thinking among the population as a whole or even in the Labour Party.

      Finally, even in politics union leaders’ views tend to be circumscribed by a rather narrow view of what is in the interests of their members as we saw in union support for Trident renewal and for building a third runway at Heathrow.

      1. C MacMackin says:

        I don’t disagree. I think we’ve seen how vague even most Corbyn supporters are when it comes to what you or I would consider left-wing policy. You are quite right that the Left is not in any position of strength within the party or the TUs. I was simply pointing out that the Right isn’t either. We have an odd situation where the bulk of the party seems to want something “better” than what has come before, but doesn’t really know what that is or how to organise for it.

  12. John P Reid says:

    Collapse of the labour party owuls be a better headline

  13. Richard MacKinnon says:

    David Parry
    March 25, 2017 at 8:58 pm.
    What is the meaining of capitalism? Trading? Barter? Selling/buying?
    David, capitalism is not unique to the human race. Animals trade with each other. Plants trade with animals.
    ‘Capitalism is indestructible’. I believe that.
    Capitalism is not a human-made system. It is part of nature.
    That is the problem with socialism and its adherents, they think like you, they think they can change nature. You cant, its bollocks.

    1. Robin Edwards says:

      Why don’t you go away you disgusting troll? Capitalism isn’t trading you gas filled cockwomble. It is wage slavery. Why come here to deify capitalism. Go and read your Daily Mail and stop bothering us fool.

  14. Richard MacKinnon says:

    A cockwomble? whats that?
    Let me try again. You seem to be quite confident with your understanding of ‘capitalism’. Can you expand on ‘wage slavery’. Can you tell us when capitalism was invented and by whom.
    I believe capitalism is a natural force of nature. From the earliest times, man and woman would instinctlively cooperate with each other, work together, trade with each other, to ensure their own and others survival.
    When our ancestors became more skilled markets developed where trading of goods took place. If you didnt have any goods to trade you sold your labour.
    The word ‘capitalism’ is a word constructed by Karl Marx. He needed a counterbalance, an antonym to his political theory: communism. He took the word ‘capital’ and made it into an ‘ism’, but it means nothing more than ‘trade’.
    Robin, I am an open minded guy. Maybe you have another explanation. I am interested in this theory of yours that capitialism = wage slavery. Slaves never got wages? Maybe you should try and enlighten me.

    1. Robin Edwards says:

      Capitalism and the capitalist class began to come to dominance in the 17th Century. It overturned the dominant feudal relations of the previous period replacing the old land based aristocracies and monarchies via national democratic revolutions that broke up the old imperialist feudal empires.

      It is based on wage slavery. That is the capitalist pays the worker for his or her labour power and their ability to reproduce that labour power but retains the surplus value the worker produces over and above what they are paid. There would be no point buying that labour power otherwise. Its use value is that it produces more than it costs. In slavery the slave was housed and fed. In capitalism the worker is given money to find those things for themself and often what they find is far inferior to what the slave could expect.

      Capitalism is dead. As Marx said no mode of production disappears into the dusting of history until it has completely exhausted all of its potential. We have reached and even passed that point with capitalism. It actually died in 2008 being unable to reproduce itself except on a rapidly declining basis. It is super monopolised, stagnant, sclerotic and bankrupt. Wealth has never been this concentrated in the entire history of human kind and that cannot be sustained. The current political economic arrangement characterised by Pax Americana have become and absolute fetter on capitalism’s further development and there are no possible alternative political economic arrangements that could replace collapsing Pax Americana and give capitalism a new lease of life. The global elites no longer have a functioning economic system to underpin their rule only violence. It is now a case as it was inferred it must eventually be a case of socialism or barbarism, socialism or a New Dark Ages, socialism or death. Even in the 30s it was still possible to point to America as a potential saviour of crisis riven capitalism and that proved to be the case. There is nothing ahead of capitalism now but a gigantic chasm. Let’s not follow it to its death.

    2. JohnP says:

      I rest my case, MacKinnon really doesn’t understand at all the fundamental differences between earlier pre-capitalist modes of production, such as the slave-based systems of Rome and Greece, or later feudal systems (which also included slave classes), and modern globalised free enterprise, profit and market-driven, capitalism . “Trading” has gone on throughout most of human history , sometimes a directly barter of goods, sometimes facilitated by an intermediary “store of exchangeable value”, ie,precious metal based money. Simple bartering and trading is not “capitalism”.

      He really DOES think that the cartoon world of the Flintstones is an accurate portrayal of all previous societies ! MacKinnon actually thinks in previous social systems people were free to “sell their labour”. Sorry, Mr ignorant, in all previous social systems most people were subsistence farming peasants or herdsmen or hunters, uninvolved in any significant trading at all, or the PROPERTY of various tiny ruling classes, as slaves, or trapped within their class-based traditional social/productive roles , as various categories of feudal peasant, tied to their feudal lord’s land. The “free” wage labourer as the dominant supplier of labour power is absolutely unique to modern capitalism (and even today the UN calculates there are 24 million slaves at work globally).

      You are simply an embarrassment with your crass ignorance about history, or socioeconomics. Go away and do a lot of reading you tiresome Tory, before posting on this website.

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