The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 3rd March 2017

Half a loaf...

LAST week’s by-election results were obviously a bit of a disappointment for Labour. Although Labour saw off the challenge from UKIP in Stoke, it lost Copeland to the Conservatives.

There were a number of reasons for the defeat in the Cumbrian seat that Labour has held since the 1930s, not least the fact that the Labour vote has been declining steadily since 1997 following the last boundary changes, which favoured the Conservatives. It was equally clear that many former UKIP voters switched back to the Tories in a contest in which the Labour candidate wasn’t even the preferred choice of the Labour leader.

This hasn’t stopped Theresa May from gloating over Labour’s misfortune in claims repeated throughout the bourgeois media that the 6.7 per cent swing to the Conservatives was an “astounding” victory that showed that her Tory government “is working for everyone”. Whilst the lackey press have largely ignored Labour’s staunch defence of Stoke it has gone to town over the Copeland vote — unlike the more sombre comments when the Tories lost their safe seat of Richmond with a 21 per cent swing to the Liberal Democrats last year.

But the loss of Copeland has prompted the Tory media and their fifth column within the Labour Party to start braying again for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation. Discredited former Labour premier Tony Blair and Lord Peter Mandelson, another old has-been, timed their latest attempt to launch an anti-Brexit front to further undermine the Labour leader who has repeatedly said that he will respect the will of the voters who decisively rejected the European Union (EU) in the referendum last year.

Although Blair denies dismissing Corbyn as a “nutter” he has said that “the debilitation of the Labour Party is the facilitator of Brexit”. Mandelson openly brags that he’s working “every single day” to oust Corbyn.

Whether this is the beginning of another move to get rid of Corbyn by the Blairite bloc in Parliament is another matter. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell seemed to think so last weekend when he sent a circular out to Labour members warning that a second “coup” attempt was underway.

McDonnell denounced the Times and the Sun for publishing “fake news” about Jeremy Corbyn’s “resignation”, and claimed that a “soft coup was underway. It’s planned, co-ordinated and fully resourced. It is being perpetrated by an alliance between elements in the Labour Party and the Murdoch media empire, both intent on destroying Jeremy Corbyn and all that he stands for.” Though he now says he’s had second thoughts about his original remarks, there can be little doubt that powerful sections of the ruling class and their minions want Corbyn out before the next election. They are more likely to come from the pro-EU camp than Murdoch and his cohorts, who are known to favour Brexit.

The pro-EU elements of the British bourgeoisie are determined to thwart Brexit one way or another, at the timing of their own choosing, through another referendum or another government. Their problem is that the Scottish nationalists, Liberal-Democrats and Greens cannot provide a viable parliamentary bloc to reverse the Brexit vote, and every attempt to launch a broad-based pro-EU front has failed to win the mass support needed to change public opinion on the issue.

Corbyn’s replacement with a pro-EU stooge, and there are plenty of them in the Parliamentary Labour Party, would pave the way for these people to propel a new Labour leader already in their pockets into Downing Street on a “Remainer” platform.

Communists have to make sure that these dreams never come true by opposing all the manoeuvres of the Blairites and the rest of Labour’s right-wing, and standing by the labour movement and their chosen leader.