The Tory government is hanging on by the finger nails. They are weak, divided on Brexit and bouncing from crisis to crisis. The latest blow saw Amber Rudd forced to step down as Home Secretary in the wake of the Windrush scandal, which saw British Afro-Caribbean people who came to the UK decades ago as children denied benefits and services and even threatened with deportation. May & Co could be forced from power by a Labour party united around a left programme, linking up with mass movements in the streets.
Unfortunately, however, many Labour MPs are much more interested in trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, seizing any opportunity to attack him rather than taking on the Tories. This reflects the reality that Labour remains two parties in one, with Corbyn and the mass of the membership on one side and the right-wing Blairites which dominate the parliamentary party, local councils and party bureaucracy on the other.
Having hoped a crushing defeat at the last general election would see him off, the Blairites were temporarily silenced by the historic turnaround achieved through the enthusiasm among workers and young people for Corbyn’s manifesto ‘for the many, not the few.’ The right-wing could no longer simply dismiss Corbyn as unelectable or his policies as unpopular. But these pro-capitalist ideologues did not abandon their desire to snuff out the left-wing resurgence in Labour and make it safe again for the ruling class.
Corbyn – a lifelong anti-racist activist – has been attacked by the Tories, the press and the Blairites for being soft on anti-semitism within the Labour Party, preposterously being blamed for anti-semitic remarks made on completely unofficial Facebook groups over which he has no control. Anti-semitism and all forms of racism are abhorrent and must be challenged wherever they exist, including in the Labour Party. However, the Blairite MPs who have unjustly attacked Corbyn on this issue do so entirely for their own, cynical ends. Some right-wing Jewish groups also wish to equate criticism of the Israeli state’s oppression of the Palestinian people with anti-semitism in order to shut down debate, as has been pointed out by left-wing Jewish groups such as Jewdas.
The Labour left should have called out this offensive for what it was. The Daily Mail – a newspaper which promotes racism and xenophobia and has historically been supportive of fascism – does not give a damn about anti-semitism faced by ordinary Jewish people. For the Tories to accuse Corbyn of racism is laughable, particularly in the wake of the Windrush scandal. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted congratulations to the far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on his re-election. Both historically and today, it has been the labour and trade union movement – especially its fighting left – which has been to the fore in challenging the racism promoted by the right. Unfortunately, the dominant forces in the Labour left went on the retreat and made damaging apologies and concessions in the face of this cynical onslaught.
Blairites back Tory militarism against Corbyn
The Blairites lined up behind Theresa May in the wake of the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, remonstrating with Corbyn for asking for evidence that Russia was to blame, accusing him of being soft of national security. They were subsequently left red-faced when the UK’s chemical weapons at Porton Down said they were unable to pinpoint the source of the attack. They then supported May’s bombing of Syria, aimed at distracting from her woes at home, again without evidence the Assad regime had carried out a chemical weapons attack (see page 7) and without Parliamentary approval. In their desire to find ways to damage Corbyn’s leadership, Labour’s right-wing are resurrecting the tradition of Tony Blair’s ‘dodgy dossier’ which was used to justify the invasion of Iraq, leading to untold suffering which continues to tear apart the Middle East today.
Left must democratise and transform the party
There can be no peaceful co-existence between Corbyn and his supporters and the Blairite right-wing, except through capitulation of the left. The two sides stand for fundamentally different interests and visions of the kind of society they want to build. Rather than searching in vain for unity with the Blairites, the Labour left should press home their advantage in the form of the mass support for Corbyn’s policies amongst the party’s rank-and-file. That would mean democratising the party from top to bottom, including giving local membership an automatic right to choose their candidates at election time, allowing Blairites to be removed from their ensconced positions and replaced with people who support Corbyn’s policies.
By Daniel Waldron