Bourgeois Labour Party – no change with Corbyn at the top

corbyn israel palestine 1
Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour Friends of Israel event

A year ago, in the summer of 2015, the Labour Party was in complete disarray and facing a deep crisis. It had lost two successive general elections in 2010 and 2015. Its defeat in 2015 was especially abject: after five years of punishing austerity for the working class at the hands of the ConDem coalition, Labour failed to prevent a Tory victory, was wiped out in Scotland and lost 24 seats overall. There had to be the semblance of change if the Party was to avoid disintegration. Corbyn’s victories in the subsequent leadership elections have enabled the social democratic left to begin a new project; sowing expectations that the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership can now fight austerity and transform itself into a socialist party capable of winning working class votes. Robert Clough argues that this is an illusion.

Corbyn’s success, announced on 24 September, came with a substantial margin over his challenger, Owen Smith, to the delight of his supporters. Overall, Corbyn won 61.8% of 506,000 votes cast, compared to 59.5% of 422,664 votes cast in 2015. While support from trade union voters increased slightly, from 57.6% in 2015 to 60.2%, votes from Party members increased substantially (49.6% to 59%). Corbyn’s second victory was never in real doubt: his ability to attract thousands to his rallies contrasted with the efforts of Smith, whose meetings sometimes struggled to get into double figures. The Labour Party machine tried its best to exclude Corbyn supporters both by preventing those who had joined the party after February 2016 from voting in the election, and by disqualifying large numbers of registered supporters, those who had paid £25 to vote in the election. Given that Labour Party figures showed that 180,000 supporters had signed up in the two-day period for registration over 19-20 July, and that 121,517 actually voted, claims that 40,000 Corbyn supporters had been prevented from voting seem justified.

 

Read more ...

Deliveroo drivers lead the way in fighting casualisation and low pay

Deliveroo

Deliveroo food delivery drivers in London are showing the way in the fight against increasingly casualised working conditions and pay cuts. On 16 August, after a week of spontaneous strikes and protests, Deliveroo management backed down from its plans to force drivers onto a new contract that would mean a huge pay cut for many. The workers’ action, carried out by predominantly migrant labourers, organised with the International Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) radical trade union and supported by the RCG, attracted huge public and media attention to the casualised labour conditions in the food delivery industry.

The British food delivery industry is valued at £9bn. Smartphone app-based companies such as tech start-ups Deliveroo and UberEATS are dominating the market through the raw exploitation of their workforces. 2016 has been a lucrative year for Deliveroo, with projected revenues of £130m on top of £200m investment from venture capital funds, including Index Ventures, Bridgepoint Capital, Accel and DST Global – a firm headed by Time magazine’s ‘Titan list’ billionaire Yuri Milner. This most recent round of funding brings Deliveroo’s total investment to $472.7m (£355m). Deliveroo has now made it onto the ‘Unicorn list’ of start-ups valued at over $1bn. UberEATS – launched in London in June this year – is a delivery start-up owned by multinational transport firm Uber; a company with a total valuation of $66bn (£49.6bn).

 

Read more ...

Haringey care workers fight low pay and poor conditions

Seventeen support workers from the London Borough of Haringey have, with the support of their union Unison, launched a court case against several care agencies and Haringey Labour Council. The workers, mainly black women, were previously employed by the agency Sevacre but are now employed by smaller agencies who took over the council contract. They are employed on zero-hours contracts and complain that their travel time between visits goes unpaid, and that the block wage they are paid for 24-hour ‘live-in’ support in their clients’ homes works out at just £3.72 per hour spent in work – less than half the minimum wage.

Across the British care sector 82% of the workforce are women. Low pay across care services has long been justified by the idea that the joy of providing care is a reward in itself, and compensates for pitifully low wages. This is seen in recruitment adverts with the question ‘Do you care?’ Beyond the obvious sexism of such a theory, it goes completely against facts, which tell us that of those who leave care jobs, 56% do not get recruited into other care roles.

 

Read more ...

Communists and the Trade Union Movement

workers demonstrating

Published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 141 February/March 1998

The defeat of the Liverpool dockers and the isolation of the Hillingdon Hospital strikers point to two conclusions. The first is that the trade union leadership is actively preventing any struggle against the Labour government. The second is that the left is powerless to do anything about it. Yet almost all the left believe that unions will play a crucial role in organising working class resistance, and that it is the job of socialists to transform these organisations into ones which can fight for working class interests. They say that the central strategy for socialists is to build 'rank and file' movements as a means of organising trade union members against their bureaucratic leaderships and through this process capture the trade unions for working class struggle.

 

Read more ...

Corbyn and the Labour Party: divisions deepen

Jeremy Corbyn

Events within the Labour Party are driving it towards a split. The attempt to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader has pitted the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party against the majority of the Party’s membership. The vast majority of Labour MPs never supported Corbyn, and have wanted to get rid of him at the earliest opportunity. Following the defeat of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, Shadow Cabinet members resigned en masse over the weekend of 25/26 June, and on 28 June Labour MPs voted no confidence in Corbyn by 172 votes to 40. A fresh leadership election is now underway with former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith as Corbyn’s sole challenger. Robert Clough reports.

 

Read more ...

Corbyn and the Labour Party: divisions deepen

Jeremy Corbyn

Events within the Labour Party are driving it towards a split. The attempt to depose Jeremy Corbyn as leader has pitted the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party against the majority of the Party’s membership. The vast majority of Labour MPs never supported Corbyn, and have wanted to get rid of him at the earliest opportunity. Following the defeat of the Remain campaign in the EU referendum, shadow cabinet members resigned en masse over the weekend of 25/26 June, and on 28 June Labour MPs voted no confidence in Corbyn by 172 votes to 40. A fresh leadership election has been called and two former shadow cabinet members have decided to challenge Corbyn: Angela Eagle and Owen Smith. Neither is likely to win unless further legal attempts to exclude Corbyn from the ballot are successful.

 

Read more ...

Labour: ‘not racist enough’

Jon Cruddas' review of labour's performance at the 2015 election
Jon Cruddas' review of labour's performance at the 2015 election

In FRFI 250, we reported on attempts by Labour Party Zionists to organise a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. However, their calculation that Labour would perform disastrously in the local elections at the beginning of May proved incorrect. The results were sufficient to make Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn – the vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party – postpone attempts to depose him. Instead they will use the newly-published Cruddas report into Labour’s performance in the 2015 general election to force Corbyn to make substantial concessions over immigration and welfare to appeal to the most backward sections of the working class. Robert Clough reports.

 

Read more ...

Labour left crumbles in the face of Zionist attacks

In the run-up to the May local and mayoral elections, right-wing pro-Zionist Labour MPs intensified their assault on Jeremy Corbyn’s position as Labour Party leader. They accused him of being too slow in dealing with what they claimed to be widespread anti-Semitism within the Party. They wanted to use a poor performance by Labour in the elections to unseat him. The fact that Labour did better than anticipated may stay their hand for the moment. However, these reactionaries will continue to cynically abuse the history of the Holocaust, and ruthlessly manipulate any pro-Palestine statement, tweet or Facebook posting by any Labour Party member to ‘prove’ the existence of a left-wing anti-Jewish hate campaign. That the key figures involved are, with few exceptions, members of the pro-Zionist Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) should be no surprise. The Zionists are arguing that any criticism of Israel is motivated by anti-Semitism and they are invoking the Holocaust in their support. Yet far from being a force fighting racism, Zionism was founded on the premise that anti-Semitism could never be defeated, and from its establishment counterposed an equally racist ideology. Robert Clough reports.

 

Read more ...

London mayoral election: no vote for Sadiq Khan

On 5 May, elections will be held for the London mayor and Greater London Assembly. The principal candidates are multi-millionaire Zac Goldsmith MP for the Tories, and Sadiq Khan MP for Labour. We say that there is no case for participating in this election, least of all calling on the working class to support Khan. The Mayor of London serves to defend and advance the interests of big business and property developers in London and has nothing to do with democracy or progress. That much is evident from the political stance of both Goldsmith and Khan.

Eton-educated Goldsmith achieved notoriety when he voted in favour of a £30 cut in Employment Support Allowance earlier this year; he was subsequently ousted as patron of a disability charity in his constituency. In an act of racial profiling, his campaign has attempted to secure support from London’s Hindu and Sikh population by writing to voters with Indian-sounding names enthusiastically endorsing India’s reactionary Prime Minister Modi. The letter ignored Modi’s role in a 2002 pogrom against Muslims in Gujerat when he was Chief Minister of the state. Goldsmith’s campaign is highlighting Khan’s Muslim background, and by describing him as ‘radical and divisive’, claims that he has links with ‘extremists’.

 

Read more ...

The Enemy Within - MI5 and the miners' strike

MAXINE WILLIAMS reviews a new account of how the British state dealt with 'the enemy within'.

On New Year's Day 1995 the few remaining coal mines in Britain passed quietly into private ownership. In the past fifteen years 200 mines have been closed, with a loss of 200,000 jobs. There are now only 7,000 miners left in Britain. Mrs Thatcher's final solution to the problem of the militant miners was to destroy their industry. It served not only as a dreadful revenge against the miners but also a terrifying warning to what remains of the organised working class.

 

Read more ...

From the second Labour Government to 1939

In his previous article in this series on the labour aristocracy, Robert Clough showed how the organisations of the labour aristocracy — the Labour Party and the trade unions — became institutionalised during the 1920s at a variety of levels, whether in administering state welfare at a local level, or being allowed to participate in governing the British Empire, as Labour was in 1924. However, the thirties were a period of transition, where the British working class was substantially re-structured in the aftermath of the slump of 1929, and where a new labour aristocracy arose, whose interests the Labour Party and trade unions sought to represent.

 

Read more ...

Labour Party: no end to its crisis as Corbyn accepts Tory cuts

On 20 January, after considerable delay, the Labour Party released the Beckett Report into its defeat at the May 2015 general election. The Report describes the mountain that Labour will have to climb if it is to win the 2020 general election. More immediately it faces council elections in May in which it is defending over 1,300 seats won at a high point in its electoral fortunes in 2012. Significant losses may trigger a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. In the meantime, however, Corbyn has instructed Labour councils to implement the massive cuts in jobs and services demanded by the Tory government from April. Those tens of thousands of people who have joined Labour since the 2015 General Election face a choice: either remain in the Labour Party or join a fight against war, austerity and racism. Robert Clough reports.

Corbyn remains isolated within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). His Shadow Cabinet reshuffle in early January led to the resignation of four members in protest at the dismissal of Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle, and Pat McFadden and Michael Dugher (Shadow Ministers for Europe and Culture respectively). Now cast as ‘authentic working class voices’, Dugher and McFadden are university graduates who had spells as Westminster-closeted special advisers (in McFadden’s case, to Tony Blair) before they became MPs: they are career politicians on £70,000 a year who have nothing to do with the working class. Dugher, a former vice chair of Labour Friends of Israel, says ‘Each time I visit Israel, my admiration for that great country grows.’

 

Read more ...

Labour Party in crisis: Momentum taking us nowhere

The crisis in the Labour Party, the depth of which was exposed by its abject defeat at the general election and by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the subsequent leadership election, shows no sign of abating. While the media pore over every word Corbyn utters and minutely scrutinise his behaviour, members of his shadow cabinet openly undermine him. The ruling class onslaught is, as expected, relentless: the aim is not just to crush Corbyn but also the very notion of fighting austerity. In response, pro-Corbyn MPs led by Clive Lewis have set up Momentum as ‘a grassroots network arising out of, and following on from the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader campaign’. However, its purpose will be to ensure that any movement against austerity, racism or war will be tied arm and leg to the Labour Party. Robert Clough reports.

 

Read more ...

Corbyn’s victory: Labour Party in crisis

Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham

Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election shows the depth of the crisis that is engulfing the party. The size of his majority may have quelled any immediate attempt by Labour MPs to unseat him, but they are already manoeuvring to challenge him over possible British military intervention in Syria and replacing Trident, using the fact that his support in the parliamentary party is negligible. Given his determination to maintain the unity of the Labour Party, Corbyn has already been forced to make concessions. He faces an insoluble contradiction: on the one hand, large swathes of the working class will no longer vote for a pro-austerity Labour Party, while on the other hand, the ruling class and its Labour MP hirelings will not accept a future Labour government led by Corbyn. Throughout the coming period, therefore, Corbyn will have to decide which is more important: building a movement against austerity or preserving the unity of the Labour Party. The two cannot be reconciled. Robert Clough reports.

By the end of the campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party, it was no surprise, even for his most stubborn and malevolent critics, that Corbyn won. But the scale of his victory, 59.5% in the first round, was a resounding shock. Despite the dire warnings of a string of Labour Party pro-imperialist grandees, 49.6% of party members supported Corbyn, as did 83.8% of registered supporters and 57.6% of affiliated union voters. The Blairite and openly ruling class candidate Liz Kendall was utterly trounced, obtaining a miserable 4.5% of the vote. Together, the other two establishment, pro-austerity candidates, Yvette Cooper and the one-time favourite to win, Andy Burnham, shared 36%.

 

Read more ...

Corbyn’s victory: Labour Party in crisis

corbyn 0

By the end of the campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party, it was no surprise, even for his most stubborn and malevolent critics, that Jeremy Corbyn would win the election. But the scale of his victory, 59.5% in the first round, was a resounding shock. Despite the dire warnings of a string of Labour Party pro-imperialist grandees, 49.6% of party members supported Corbyn, as did 83.8% of registered supporters and 57.6% of affiliated union voters. The Blairite and openly ruling class candidate Liz Kendall was utterly trounced, obtaining a miserable 4.5% of the vote. Together, the other two establishment, pro-austerity candidates, Yvette Cooper and the one-time favourite to win, Andy Burnham, shared 36%.

The reactions were immediate. Within hours, the Conservative Party was presenting Corbyn’s politics as a threat to national security. The ruling class was outraged. Eleven shadow front bench members resigned, refusing to work with Corbyn. Their passing will not be mourned: among their number were Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, the openly reactionary shadow Works and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt and shadow business secretary Chuku Umunna, who had been a leadership candidate for 24 hours before passing the Blairite baton to Kendall. Good riddance to them. Most Labour MPs, an unprincipled bunch of frauds and self-serving careerists intent only on feathering their nests, were horrified at Corbyn’s success. 178 of them abstained in a parliamentary vote on the vicious benefit cuts announced in the July budget – they have only contempt for the plight of the poorest sections of the working class, despising them as scroungers and shirkers.

 

Read more ...

New anti-trade union law: more shackles on the unions

May 2014: FRFI supporters demonstrating against benefit sanctions at Peckham Jobcentre

The government’s proposed new and draconian anti-trade union law has horrified the Labour Party as, apart from further limiting rights to strike, the bill contains proposals which will choke off union funding for the party. The aim of the legislation is to place even more shackles on the trade union movement before further savage cuts in public spending and consequent job losses take place. The Tories also aim to take advantage of the total lack of resistance trade unions have offered over the last five years of austerity and leave nothing to chance. Taking advantage of Labour’s disarray and threatening it with bankruptcy is a bonus. Robert Clough reports.

 

Read more ...

Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.
More information Ok