The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16th December 2016

Rescuing Labour from Blairism

by Daphne Liddle

THE NEW Communist Party has always recognised that, despite its reformist policies, the Labour Party is a structure created by the working class, in particular by the trade unions, making it a mass party of the working class that no serious socialist or communist can dismiss or ignore. To do so would be to isolate ourselves from the organised working class in Britain.

It will not lead us to real socialism through a majority in Parliament, but its structures and members can wring concessions from the ruling class in the short term and play a part in organising the working class for the real overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a workers’ state.

We are not the only people who recognise this. The ruling class and its agents can certainly recognise it as a potential danger to their grip on power.

Workers are educated to doubt their own intellectual abilities and have little confidence in debate, whereas the middle and upper classes are educated to be confident and aspiring.

So it has been easy for the Labour Party and trades unions to become dominated by the middle class intelligentsia — people with little understanding of working class life and culture.

The ruling class has been using them to help it dismantle the basic structures of the Labour Party and to try to undermine its links with the trade unions. Tony Blair’s New Labour did a lot of damage to the structure of Labour.

Blair preached youth — “out with the old, in with the new” — “don’t listen to the old activists with experience and knowledge” — “technology is changing so fast the old ways are now irrelevant”.

And so the party gave up Clause Four — most young members didn’t even have a clue what it was about. They gave up local meetings (“who goes to meetings nowadays?”), local committees, and knocking on workers’ doors to talk to them about their lives and their needs.

The ruling class was confident they had Labour under their thumb and loosened their guard enough to let Jeremy Corbyn onto the leadership ballot paper after Ed Miliband’s disastrous failure in 2015.

Jeremy Corbyn’s success was totally unexpected. But he was an old-style Labour activist. He did speak to workers, knock on doors and keep to his social democratic principles — he caught the current of anti-Tory, anti-austerity hatred and it swept him into the leadership of a structure still dominated by Blairism.

But it could be rescued. Thousands of real workers were now joining the party, including some of the older activists who had been pushed out by Blairism.

They could fill the party and renew its structures. Corbyn, being a parliamentarist, will not try to overthrow the capitalist state. Ultimately he will compromise with it or be destroyed by it. But his working class followers, organised and confident, could just possibly really challenge capitalism.

The majority of Labour MPs, not having a clue what socialism is, were horrified and tried in vain to remove him.

But the ruling class was not going to depend on them alone. The mass of new members and supporters coming into the party were creating a new organisation, Momentum, to defend Corbyn from the bile and hatred that was being thrown at him in the media and by some Labour MPs.

The ruling class recognised Momentum as a real potential danger to them so it is hardly surprising that before it has shape or form they have been making enormous efforts to ensure that Momentum is diverted from rebuilding the vital local structures of the party.

And they are trumpeting the same Blairite slogans — “away with the old ways, in with the new” — “new technology is the way to organise” — and so on.

This is the heart of the split within Momentum and it is very important that the Blairite ideas are defeated. The proposals for organising only through a website would give all power and little accountability to the webmaster.

The power belongs with the rank and file masses but the only way they can wield that power is through collective organisation.

To quote a real oldie, the chartist leader Ernest Jones:

“Two years ago, and more, I went to prison for speaking three words. Those words were: ‘Organise — organise — organise.’ And now, after two years, and more, of incarceration, I come forward again to raise that talismanic watchword of salvation — and this day again I say: ‘Organise! Organise! Organise!’ You cheer: it is well! But that is not enough! Will you act? We’ve had cheering enough — I want action now!”