I am starting to feel that Colin Foster is deliberately misunderstanding me (Solidarity 352).
In November, Solidarity chose to publish an article by Jon Lansman. The headline was “Labour needs anti-cuts policy, not a new Blairite leader”. The article said nothing about an anti-cuts policy nor how anyone might get Labour to take up such an anti-cuts policy. It said much about how a new Blairite leader would not help, but nothing about what anyone could do about it.
The article, I restate for the umpteenth time, did not tell Solidarity readers anything they didn’t know, nor argue for anything that was contentious for anyone to the left of Alan Johnson. It did not suggest any activity which readers could get involved in to either stop a leadership election or get an anti-cuts policy; it was pointless.
Colin now suggests the article “decoded” machinations among Labour MPs. The problem with this line is that the bourgeois press had already “decoded” the machinations; anyone with an interest would have been aware of the potential coup.
Lansman’s article did nothing more than say we should be against the coup, which I guess everyone to the left of Miliband who gives a stuff, is. I have continued this interchange because I think it is bad practice for our paper to carry simple commentaries, with lowest common-denominator Labour left politics.
Recognising something as a rightward shift (like the coup against Rudd in the Australian Labor Party in 2010) and then raising our own politics is not the same as running an article which says “don’t get rid of Rudd” and raises none of our own programme nor explains what activity readers can undertake to prevent the coup.
As I said before I am not in favour of a leadership contest. I do not think a plausible left challenge for the leadership is possible in the current circumstances. I do not think that nothing can be done in the Labour Party, I remain a member, I just think very little can be done and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise either to others or ourselves.
The nominations threshold of MPs for a leadership challenge is not a separate matter from the condition of the British Labour Party, it is one of the rule changes the Blairites brought in as part of their closing down of the Party’s democracy. It also affects the possibilities of achieving change by working within the party.
The question remains what is the most effective way to make propaganda to break the logjam of British politics? Are the more advanced layers of the class more easily attracted to fighting for a workers’ government or for a Labour government, with a list of slogans that are far removed from what any currently conceivable leadership of that Party would offer? We cannot work around the existing movement, but we must find ways to revolutionise and re-energise it.
Articles like Lansman’s are a hindrance to doing that whether you think it best done by a Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory or by a Campaign for a Workers’ Government.