LRC charts Labour transformation campaign

by New Worker correspondent

THE LABOUR Representation Committee (LRC) met last Saturday for a special general meeting to debate building the Labour movement after Jeremy Corbyn’s success in winning the Labour leadership.

In particular the meeting, which packed London’s Conway Hall, debated how to work with the new Momentum organisation to consolidate Corbyn’s victory and to carry forward the work of transforming the party into the voice of the working class — the purpose it was created for a century ago.

John McDonnell, now Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, was upbeat. He ran through a history of the events of last year, pointing out that at the beginning no one in the LRC would have thought it possible that Corbyn could win the leadership of the party.

And he thanked all those present for their role in that process.

But he reminded them that a change of leadership still left the party with an undemocratic internal structure and a Parliamentary Labour Party in which some were openly hostile to Corbyn: “We were pleased to find the majority of MPs just wanted to get on with their job and were happy to work with us but there are a few who are just waiting for a chance to bring Corbyn down.”

He pointed out that even if they did mount a leadership challenge it would mean a new vote for the Labour leadership and Corbyn’s name would be on the ballot paper and he would win again.

McDonnell spoke of the media campaign against Corbyn, the need to build Momentum through political education and to mobilise the whole working class.

“They ask are we a party of protest or a party of government? We are both. We are campaigning for all who are suffering from austerity, student fees, the housing crisis, the threat to the NHS.

“We need to develop a political competency, with trade union rights at the core.

“The Labour Representation Committee has a role at the forefront of the fight to restore Labour as a democratic party of the working class.

“Democracy inside the Labour Party was closed down by Blair, Brown and all the New Labour leaders. We have a chance to turn it into a mass movement again. Let’s seize it! Let’s not lose this opportunity!”

Also on the platform was a representative of the junior doctors, talking about their fight against the unfair and unsafe contract that the Government is trying to impose on junior doctors. He was given a standing ovation when he told the meeting that the junior doctors are refusing to accept the imposition of the new contract and intend to fight on with a new round of strikes.

And there was a representative of the Plane Stupid environmental action group, who are facing prison sentences after occupying a runway at Heathrow Airport for a couple of hours.

Liz Davies, who was once a sole left-winger on the Labour national executive committee and who left the party in despair under Tony Blair’s leadership, is now back in the party and was on the platform at last Saturday’s conference.

Other speakers included Ian Hodson of the bakers’ union BFAWU, Hilary Wainwright who is the editor of Red Pepper and Seeme Chandawi from Tottenham Constituency Labour Party.