Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Leaving Labour

Well, I have now cancelled my monthly subscription and left the Labour Party, something that I’ve had it in mind to do since Keir Starmer made his move against the Corbynite leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey back in June.  His stance on both the tearing down of Bristol’s Edward Colston statue and on recent Channel migrants has been unimpressive too.  That real push towards socialism which was Corbynism has been defeated, as much by sustained internal disruption by the Labour right-wing – the Owen Smith leadership challenge and so on – as by external electoral rejection.  I feel faintly like Morris when he abandoned the Socialist League in 1890, though for him it was the anarchist left rather than the traditional Labourite right which had taken over the party.

Where next, then, politically speaking?  I’m certainly not as confident as I was in the late 1990s, when I served as a Green Party city councillor, that the Greens are the right destination for someone of my views.  Back then, they definitely felt like a radical, if still rather inchoate alternative to Tony Blair and New Labour, though I even then knew that they didn’t sufficiently grasp the working-class issues that most concerned me (they seemed constitutionally incapable of using the term ‘capitalism’ as part of their political and economic analysis, for example).  These days I’m not sure what the complexion of the Green Party is – I shall have to do some investigating, locally and nationally.

There are other agencies out there doing absolutely crucial work, of course – Extinction Rebellion, the Black Lives Matter movement, and so on.  But I’m enough of a left-wing traditionalist to feel that the notion of a political party, challenging capitalism in some sort of totalising way across all fronts, remains crucial.  So the notion of leftwing intellectual work, in a non-attached mode, though attractive, won’t ultimately do either, and neither will the smallscale Leninist or Trotskyist parties that still exist (though they do good work in particular campaigns).  Morris’s great slogan ‘make socialists’ remains paramount, but what is the organisational form for doing that at the present time?  With retirement from my university coming up fast, I will at least soon have time to look around and think this issue through.  I'd rather not have to fall back on something like the Hammersmith Socialist Society of Morris’s last years.

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