Which omission?

Submitted by AWL on 3 February, 2015 - 5:48 Author: Colin Foster

From Duncan Morrison’s previous letters, I can only guess at the omission which allegedly made Jon Lansman’s article (Solidarity 343) “right-wing”.

It was either (a) that it failed to say that we should back a Labour leader contest anyway; (b) that it failed to say that the push by Blairite MPs to oust Ed Miliband proved that nothing can be done in the Labour Party; or (c) that it failed to criticise Miliband sufficiently.

Criticism (c) has some force, as I detailed earlier in this exchange. I covered criticism (a) in another previous response. On (b): no-one here disputes that things in the Labour Party are bad, but the ability of a group of Blairite MPs to get media attention is not all-decisive.

Further: (1) revolutionary papers should sometimes “decode” machinations even within the ruling class, let alone among Labour MPs. Not every article has to be a call to get out into the streets. For example, we censured the parliamentary coup which ousted Australian Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd in 2010 as a “right-wing shift”, despite disliking Rudd.

(2) I didn’t say that the MPs couldn’t topple a leader. They could do that even if the Labour Party were much more democratic than it has ever been. They can’t unilaterally decide the outcome of the ensuing leader election.

(3) Because of nomination thresholds, it is hard to run left leader challenges in the Labour Party. That is bad, but, again, not all-decisive. There have been few left challenges for leader in the whole history of the Labour Party, in lively times or in dull. Conversely, the reasonable showing of a left candidate in the recent Scottish Labour Party election does not undo the fact that the Scottish Labour Party is in worse condition than the British.

Duncan links insistence that the Labour Party and affiliated unions are hopeless with the idea that the problem can be bypassed by agitating for a workers’ government. If the mass labour movement is trammelled, then a workers’ government is more abstract and remote, not less so.

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