RF Political Committee
Right wing members of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) are proposing a motion to expel members of four leftwing organisations who have opposed Keir Starmer’s leadership and the witch-hunt of anti-Zionists and Marxists.
While the total number of members is small, the proposal to ‘proscribe’ (i.e. ban) Socialist Appeal is a reference back to Neil Kinnock’s purge of the left that cleared the way for the Blairite ascendency. This point will not be lost on the media barons who have been clamouring for Starmer to drive the left out of the party altogether.
Leftwing NEC members and Momentum have both criticised the proposed ban. But they need to recognise that this is not simply a symbolic attack designed to play well in the right wing press.
We must be clear: whatever our political and tactical differences, the purge of these groups is a prelude to the final assault on the modest gains in leftwing policy made under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It is an attempt to bully socialists out of the party and intimidate those who remain into silence.
If the NEC does pass the motion, branch and constituency parties should refuse to recognise expulsions of their members. Momentum, an organisation whose membership is restricted to Labour Party members, should refuse to recognise this undemocratic purge. We should demand that affiliated trade unions withhold funds until the ban is repealed.
Thanks to the lack of national leadership by the official left—Momentum and the Socialist Campaign Group—the unelected party bureaucrats have been able to silence the membership for over a year. Whole executives have been suspended, AGMs cancelled, conference delegate elections gerrymandered. Tens of thousands at least, have left and the balance of forces has shifted dramatically in favour of the right.
Rather than the left facing another witch hunt, it is the pro-capitalist leaders of the party and its bureaucracy who should be driven out. This means Momentum must organise in the party and its affiliated unions for a decisive confrontation with Starmer. This fight has been avoided and delayed for too long – the more members who are expelled and suspended or who are demoralised into quitting, the easier it will be for Starmer to complete his transition back to New Labour.
The claim that Labour is a ‘broad church’ is a lie. Since its foundation the Labour Party has been ruled by an unelected apparatus of trade union and liberal bureaucrats united in their opposition to accountability, democracy, and socialism. A left wing is tolerated so long as it is impotent and marginalised.
But when the decisive opportunity for a confrontation with the right came in 2015-19, the Labour lefts bottled it—desperate to avoid a split in the party, they compromised and were inevitably overthrown.
In the coming struggles against job cuts, closures and evictions, Starmer will betray Labour’s working class voters at every opportunity. The Labour left must now organise to use their number to deny Starmer those opportunities, by resisting his leadership within the party, and, most importantly, by joining the protests and picket lines in resistance to the new Tory austerity.
Since Starmer has made clear he won’t fight for the radical socialist measures we need to solve this crisis, Momentum should take the lead by refounding local branches in every community to fight for a genuine socialist alternative based on class struggle, workers’ democracy and internationalism.