Labour Party history

"Lib-Lab" is a way backwards, not forwards

Published on: Wed, 18/03/2020 - 09:23

Sacha Ismail

Some, even on Labour’s left, advocate electoral alliances or coalitions between Labour and non-labour movement “progressive” parties — mostly, in practical terms, meaning the SNP and the Lib Dems.

From a class-struggle, socialist point of view, there are many arguments to be made against such “progressive alliances”. Here I try to draw some lessons from Labour’s history, focusing on alliances with the Liberals.

Debating “progressive alliances” with Janine Booth from Workers’ Liberty at the 2019 Labour conference fringe event The World Transformed, left Labour MP Clive Lewis cited the 1906 Lib

A Labour newspaper?

Published on: Wed, 19/02/2020 - 11:03

Keith Road

Should the labour movement have its own newspaper? That is the question posed by Richard Burgon, currently running for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

Burgon, speaking to Novara Media, said that a Labour freesheet could mimic the Evening Standard or the Metro. The various editions of the Metro currently have a total circulation of 1.4m, and the ES has about 800,000 around London. That makes them two of the most-read newspapers in the UK.

Burgon was attacked by Ian Murray, the most right-wing of those standing for the deputy leadership: “We are a party aspiring to be in government, not a

When workers beat the fascists: how the left fought the antisemites at Cable Street

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2019 - 07:14

Ruah Carlyle

IN OCTOBER 1936, the workers of East London stopped police-protected fascists marching through the
Jewish areas of the East End. The Battle of Cable Street was an epic, and is now a myth-enshrouded
event in British working-class history. The far right is on the rise in many countries. The fight against fascism may once more become a matter of life and death to the labour movement. What lessons for this work can we learn from the anti-fascist struggle in East London? Did ‘objective conditions’ and, after 1934, Establishment disapproval kill off Mosleyism, or was it direct action on the streets?

Why not tactical voting?

Published on: Wed, 06/11/2019 - 08:49

Unity and pluralism are important. Labour needs to be a coalition rather than seek to make coalitions with non-socialist parties.

It needs more member control, more trade unions affiliating. It needs to readmit the unjustly expelled socialists, many hundreds of whom were purged without a hearing or even precise charges in 2015 and 2016. It needs to recruit, involve and represent working-class people in all our diversity.

But that is different from tactical voting, or agreements to stand down, of the type which Sinn Fein and SDLP have made in Northern Ireland. (Sinn Féin will stand down in

A poundshop Lloyd George?

Published on: Wed, 18/09/2019 - 11:19

Colin Foster

“Principles mean nothing to him — never have. His mind doesn’t work that way.

“It’s both his strength and his weakness”.

That was how the Tory politician Arthur Balfour described David Lloyd George, prime minister 1916-22, a leading government minister 1906-16, and a dominant figure in Liberal Party politics for most of the first half of the 20th century.

A minister who worked with Lloyd George saw him as having an “absolute contempt for detail” but a strange capacity to improvise and “pick up the essential details of a question by conversation”.

A biographer described him as “always in a

Corbyn in the 1980s

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2019 - 08:51

Sean Matgamna

The Times of 6 July 2019 ran an article by Dominic Kennedy, "Corbyn's hard-left blueprint revealed", attacking Jeremy Corbyn for his links in the 1980s with Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity. Sean Matgamna, editor of Socialist Organiser in the period described, talked to Solidarity.

We have serious political differences with Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

But Corbyn has the record of an honorable, serious left-winger, who - unlike many others who had some association with Socialist Organiser in the 1980s - did not change his coat in the years of Blair's New Labour

Hatton’s no glory days

Published on: Wed, 27/02/2019 - 12:41

Gerry Bates

Derek Hatton used to be famous. In the mid-1980s he was the chief figure in Liverpool’s Labour council, embattled against the Tories. Formally deputy leader of the council, he was able to be the main public figure because he was promoted by the Militant group (forerunner of the Socialist Party), which then had decisive influence in the Liverpool labour movement.

His record was shameful. After a series of show mobilisations, the Liverpool council dialled down their campaign. At a crucial point in the miners’ strike, the council left the miners in the lurch. Hatton did a deal with the Tories to

A heroine of Poplar

Published on: Wed, 16/01/2019 - 11:09

Ian Townson

Minnie Lansbury was one of the rebel Labour councillors of Poplar (East London) who in 1921 forced the Tory¬Liberal coalition government to start central government payments to equalise resources between councils in poor and in well¬off areas.

Janine Booth’s biography of Lansbury is rich in detail about her life; working¬class conditions at the time; and much more. It is a solid achievement given the scarcity of material available on Lansbury to work on.

Lansbury’s parents were impoverished Jews from Poland, then part of the Russian Empire, and had fled to the East End of London to

Minnie Lansbury — a different sort of Labour councillor

Published on: Wed, 28/02/2018 - 12:35

A meeting organised by Lewisham Workers’ Liberty Wednesday 28 March, 7.30 Amersham Arms, New Cross.

Minnie Lansbury was only 32 when she died in 1922, but she had a full and inspiring life.

She was one of the Poplar Labour councillors who carried out extensive reforms in the interests of the borough’s working class and, when the council began to struggle financially, led a mass campaign for poor boroughs to receive more funding.

Defying the Tory-Liberal coalition government, she went to prison as a result along with 29 other councillors (including four other women). They won!

Before that she

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