Monday, February 05, 2007

Guest post - Socialism and the Labour Party

John Angliss has written a guest post for Stroppyblog on why he is joining the Labour Party.
The purpose of guest posts is to create debate and discussion . They are the opinion and views of the poster and I may or may not agree with them.

So comments please and no table thumping Mr Denham ! Be nice.
For more of his posts pop over to 'You see it is simply a very young boy's record' (aka The Dave Osler appreciation society).

Over to John ...

Socialism and the Labour Party

Let me start off by saying what an honour it is to be posting on one of the foremost Jim Denham themed blogs in the country. Long may it continue!

The Labour Party - why join? It isn't in a good state. "New" Labour is about restricting liberties, war, sensationalism and privatisation. Old Labour collapsed under the weight of economic crisis and Thatcherite spin. New Labour took over due to economic crisis, scandal and Blairite spin. It has been widely predicted that it will shortly be lost to waves of scandal and Cameronite spin. Since the parties have become tweedlered and tweedlegreen, what reason is there to take sides?
First, the Labour Party may well be salvageable, but the discourse about its future must begin now. There must be a new set of ideas ready to take over when the electorate rejects these ones. They must be informed by current events - a rejection both of the latter-day Old Labour which purveyed unthinking statism and New Labour which uses that flaw as a base for war and repression (more on this later).

Second, the British system of first-past-the-post means that realistically no fourth party is going to get a look in: if you want to make a difference, you have to join one of the big three. The AWL, SWP, SSP etc. are more campaigning institutions rather than genuine threats to power in Britain. Where they stand against left-wing Labour MPs in some constituencies, they can actually bugger both parties chances of getting in. These parties have moreover always had to be broad churches, with room for some large differences of opinion. Whether one would say that about some of these fringe parties is questionable.

Third, the option of apathy is no way out. Being holier-than-thou outside the system is fun, but doesn't achieve much. Theorists often spend their lives criticising people who are actually doing things. The difference is that however despondent the latter become in the face of criticism, the critics are the ones who cannot hope to achieve anything progressive. End of.

Fourth, the Labour Party has a long tradition of being the left party. We must not forget that the entryists are Blair's cronies rather than our own. Here are a few reminders that once, leftists were in charge:

"The Peace which Labour demands is a Peace of International Co-operation."- 1918 manifesto ( )

"The Labour Party stands for the destruction of all war-time measures in restraint of civil or industrial liberty, the repeal of the Defence of the Realm Act, the complete abolition of Conscription, and the release of all political prisoners. It stands for free citizenship, a Free Parliament, for Free Speech, and against the domination of the Press by sinister political influences."- 1918 manifesto.

"The Labour Party is the Women's Party".- 1918 manifesto.

"[We are for] an International Conference (including Germany on terms of equality) to deal with the Revision of the Versailles Treaty, especially Reparations and Debts; and the resumption of free economic and diplomatic relations with Russia. This will pave the way for Disarmament, the only security for the nations."- 1923 manifesto.

"It urges them to refuse to make this General Election squabbleed partisan squablle about mean and huckstering policies."- 1923 manifesto .

Unfortunately, we can't kid ourselves that in the event that a left-winger like McDonnell takes charge, they will have any more support from the electorate. Old Labourism is dead. Long live socialism! We must trump the Tories in their populist stand for sovereignty from Europe by pursuing sovereignty from both Europe and America, in order to allow Britain to be closer to the whole world.We must cultivate senses of identity both for those who are descended from Celts and for those who have just arrived: but they shouldn't be nationalistic, racist and bland, and they needn't be identical throughout Britain.We must fuse a return to social liberalism with healthy respect for religion and culture. And we must found a health and education policy upon these objectives - reversing the trend of money flowing out into the private sector, regulating professionals only where regulation is necessary, smashing the binding bureaucratic structures and returning to a situation where there is no discrimination between rich and poor.

The Labour Party is malleable - it's only composed of humans. There was a coup, but the counter-coup is just beginning. If you're in the party, you can help change Britain's direction. That's an opportunity an individual voter rarely gets. If you really want things to change in Britain, the best way is not to join a party which talks a lot and does little - it's to join a left party in power and make it better. So comrades, come rally?