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.

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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.

Corbyn won the leadership election in September 2015 on a tide of opposition to austerity. Yet he has failed to turn the Party into a force fighting austerity, choosing instead to instruct Labour-run councils to set legal budgets this year and implement savage cuts to services and jobs. The reason is simple: the Labour Party is an imperialist, racist and anti-working class party, and Corbyn cannot change that. Its purpose is to defend the interests of the British ruling class, an entirely parasitic layer whose enormous wealth is obtained through the ruthless robbery of the rest of the world principally through the City of London. A tiny proportion of this loot is directed to providing a small section of the working class with material privileges to guarantee its allegiance to British imperialism. Made up predominantly of university-educated public sector workers, this section looks to the Labour Party to defend its conditions, and along with the Labour Party saw continued EU membership as essential for this purpose. Now, in conditions of a deep and continuing capitalist crisis, the privileges of the middle classes and better off working class can only be preserved at the expense of ever-increasing numbers of impoverished working class people. (For a more comprehensive argument, see Labour: a party fit for imperialism, Larkin Publications, 2014)

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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.

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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.

The pro-Zionists have already claimed two major scalps: that of Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West, and that of former London mayor Ken Livingstone, both of whom have been suspended from the Labour Party. In a major concession to the overwhelmingly spurious LFI claims, Corbyn has announced an inquiry into the extent of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, to be led by former head of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti, who is not a Labour Party member. Apart from Livingstone and Shah, the claims of ‘widespread’ anti-Semitism relate to tweets or Facebook postings from just 16 Labour Party members over a five-year period, several selectively quoted or even deliberately misquoted. There are also unsupported allegations about anti-Semitism in Oxford University Labour Club made by a known pro-Zionist following its decision to support Israeli Apartheid Week.

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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’.

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