Adopted by the May 7, 2017 CPGB aggregate meeting. Published in Weekly Worker 1154.
1 – Since the summer of 2015, when Jeremy Corbyn began to look like he would win the Labour leadership election, the right wing, with the full backing of the media, has been conducting a civil war. Unlike George Lansbury and Michael Foot before him, Corbyn has hardly any support in the Parliamentary Labour Party.
2 – The mistaken response of the Corbyn leadership has been to seek to appease the right. Hence, when it came to the barring, suspension or expulsion of socialists and leftwingers, Corbyn has been content to leave things in the hands of Iain McNicol and the Victoria Street HQ.
3 – Most notoriously Corbyn adopted a totally aloof stance when it came to the campaign to equate opposition to Zionism with anti-Semitism. The Shami Chakrabarti inquiry found nothing and came out with the usual liberalistic platitudes. But Corbyn has not sought to expose the ‘anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ campaign for what it is, even though there is unanswerable proof of Israeli embassy involvement. Instead he chose to speak favourably about Israel when addressing Labour Friends of Israel.
4 – Not that this has satisfied the right. On the contrary, they smelt blood and have repeatedly pushed Corbyn to resign. Encouragingly, though, he beat the hapless Owen Smith with an increased majority. That despite the massively increased fee charged for associate membership, despite denying many new members a vote and despite purging thousands of members.
5 – Though he has a huge popular mandate in the Labour Party, Corbyn has committed himself to a programme that is barely distinguishable from Ed Miliband’s. In essence he promises to run capitalism better than the Tories and in the interests of “the many, not the few”. A tired cliché that could just as easily come from a Tory politician.
6 – That some sections of the Labour left have celebrated this as an advance shows that the election of Corbyn as Labour leader has been a case of one step forward organisationally and one step backwards politically.
7 – Yes, defend Corbyn against the attacks from Labour right and the media. But there has to be principled criticism.
8 – There has been no call for the abolition of the monarchy and House of Lords, the disestablishment of the Church of England. No call for a republic. No demands for the abolition of the standing army, a popular militia, withdrawal from Nato and decommissioning of nuclear weapons. Certainly no call for ending capitalism and establishing a socialist Europe.
9 – The same goes for the Labour Party itself. There are a few tinkering proposals. But no bold call for all leftwing groups to be allowed to affiliate, conference to be restored as the sovereign body and the drafting of a new clause four. No call for a full-spectrum labour movement media and a campaign to back up Labour’s new mass membership with a solid programme of socialist education. Indeed so determined is Team Corbyn to appease the right that the old practice of mandatory reselection of MPs – half-won in the 1980s – is now considered a dangerous embarrassment. Meanwhile, Momentum has been left under the control of one man, cynically demobilised, dumbed down and denied even the possibility of developing as any kind of democratic organisation.
10 – Because of the civil war conducted by the right (with the full backing and active connivance on the media) it is hardly surprising that, when Theresa May finally called the much expected June 8 general election, Labour was trailing far behind in the opinion polls.
11 – Too many on the left seem to believe that street demonstrations, strikes and a few populist gestures are enough to win mass support … and even take us to socialism. An obvious delusion. Winning the mass of the population to socialism cannot come about through mere economic demands. It requires mass consciousness. It requires solid mass organisation. Hence the necessity for the highest form of working class organisation. Without a mass Communist Party the fight to transform the existing labour movement, including the Labour Party, is bound to be stopped short or end in defeat.
12 – But, just like the Labourite right, the Labourite left is committed to a Labour government for the sake of a Labour government. ‘The worst Labour government is better than any Tory government,’ runs their shared slogan. In other words, managing capitalism, though it may entail vicious attacks on the working class, is preferable to resisting capitalism and organising the working class for the struggle for socialism.
13 – We call for a vote for all Labour Party candidates on June 8. However, it is reasonable to expect a substantial Tory majority, a minor Liberal Democrat revival and a continuation of Scottish National Party domination in Scotland.
14 – Under these circumstances the Labour right will be demanding that Corbyn falls on his sword. They will blame him for Labour’s poor performance. We should expect some former leftwingers to join in what will be a media-magnified chorus. However, the genuine left should put the blame squarely where it belongs. For two years the right have acted as saboteurs.
15 – The genuine left must demand that Corbyn stands firm. Through the growth of Marxist organisation, the full flowering of democracy and initiative from below, the saboteurs must be crushed.