The long-delayed Forde report was finally released earlier this week. Commissioned by the Labour Party as an independent inquiry into the findings of the 2020 leaked report (aka ‘LabourLeaks’), Forde confirms what many on the left have known all along.
Forde’s findings also completely vindicate Jeremy Corbyn’s own statement, which resulted in his suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) – a suspension that still stands to this day.
Corbyn correctly asserted that allegations of antisemitism were used factionally by the right wing of the Labour Party, and that the previous left leadership had been continually sabotaged by Blairite bureaucrats and right-wing MPs.
The wrecking behaviour of these gangsters began from day one of Corbyn’s time as Labour leader.
The ruling class and their agents within the party could not tolerate Labour being anything other than a safe instrument for capitalism. And they were ruthless in their mission to drive out the left insurgency, destroy the Corbyn movement, and return the Labour Party back to Blairism.
What the conclusions of the Forde report also demonstrate, however, is that – unfortunately – the left did not show the same determination in this Labour civil war. As a result, Starmer and the right wing have been able to purge the left, and regain control of the party.
It is vital that the left learn the lessons of this whole episode.
Sabotage and purges
The Forde report confirms that party staff were largely hostile to Corbyn and the left, as Corbyn’s politics were “out of step” with the “predominant political view” of the well-heeled bureaucrats at Labour HQ.
The right-controlled party apparatus denied left activists membership, and suspended and expelled thousands, as part of their vicious attack on Corbyn supporters. Amongst themselves, they referred to their hostile activities as “trot busting”.
These Blairite apparatchiks also dragged their feet and refused to cooperate with the leaders’ office. And along with the PLP, they incessantly briefed bile to the right-wing press, all in order to achieve their goal of getting rid of Corbyn by any means necessary.
This even included manoeuvres and sabotage to aid electoral defeat for party, so as to discredit the leadership and the left.
Inevitably, however, the Forde report itself is also a stitch-up. It attempts to declare a plague on both houses, implying that the left wing of the party was equally responsible for “factionalism” as the right. Yet all of the attacks described are those of the right’s against the left!
The Forde Report’s claims that “both sides” were responsible for factional aggression in the Labour Party is like saying someone who gets punched in the face is responsible for their attackers’ bruised knuckles. 1/2
— Joseph Attard (@josephattard02) July 19, 2022
The report claims that right-wing staffers and MPs did not “intentionally” seek to torpedo the party’s chances in the 2017 general election. Yet, it confirms that they did secretly divert funds away from winnable seats, and that the factional chaos they created injured Labour’s campaign.
At times, the report even downplays or cushions the vile nature of the Blairite backstabbers’ behaviour. This is an effort to excuse the actions of the Labour right, who are now firmly back in the saddle – both in the leadership of the party, and in the whole of apparatus.
For instance, it says that the quoting of certain disgusting WhatsApp messages in the LabourLeaks – messages that in some cases threatened violence – was used to “advance” the author’s own factional agenda, as the majority of messages “were perfectly acceptable”.
These scandalous messages were sent by well-paid bureaucrats and Blairites in the upper echelons of the party. One expressed hope that a Corbyn activist who suffered mental health issues would “die in a fire”. Another referred to Corbyn’s chief of staff Karie Murphy as a “bitch face cow”, who would “make a good dartboard”. And another even joked about “hanging and burning” Corbyn.
Many more messages were also explicitly sexist and racist, particularly those targeted towards left-wing Labour MP Diane Abbott. But the Forde report tries to brush these aside, dismissing LabourLeaks’ inclusion of these horrific texts as advancing an “agenda”.
This goes to show that there can be no such thing as an ‘independent’ and ‘impartial’ inquiry, from Martin Forde QC or anyone else, when the matter at hand is a struggle between opposing class forces and interests.
Smears and slanders
In truth, the response to the right wing’s shenanigans should have come years ago. The original leaked report came out as the Corbyn leadership was leaving the building – but this was too little, too late.
Even when they were in the driving seat, however, the left leaders failed to advance the struggle against the right in the party in any meaningful way. Indeed, they even hindered efforts by rank-and-file activists to do so.
Attempts by grassroots members to introduce mandatory reselection, for example, were thwarted by the leader’s office. At the same time, the left leaders pursued a policy of appeasement and conciliation, hoping to placate and pacify the right wing. In doing so, the left sadly sealed their fate.
From the then-shadow chancellor John McDonnell, to former Momentum leader Jon Lansman, to prominent journalists such as Owen Jones: all of these lefts went along with the establishment’s smear campaign – accepting the baseless allegations that Labour was institutionally antisemitic – and calling for unity and compromise with the party’s right wing.
Indeed, even after Starmer had taken over, with a McCarthyite witchhunt in full swing, and Corbyn booted from the PLP, McDonnell and co. still urged Corbyn and the left to “keep on apologising” for antisemitism.
Accusations such as antisemitism are now a common weapon in the arsenal of the establishment.
The right wing has learnt that identity politics is the soft underbelly of much of the left, and that – in the face of no resistance – political attacks can easily be hidden under the cloak of personal perceptions, “legitimate concerns” and “lived experience”.
Due to the subjectivist nature of such politics, any individual or self-proclaimed representative of the oppressed can end up making whatever accusations they like, often dressed up in inflammatory and moralistic language.
And woe betide those who dare to challenge this, or who seek to bring out the political nature of such attacks.
This was clearly demonstrated by both the Jewish Labour Movement and the Board of Deputies, both of whom declared themselves to be the only legitimate voice of Jewish people, as they launched into their attacks on Corbyn and the left.
The irony is that many of those expelled were Jewish themselves, showing in practice the absurdity of such politics.
Weakness invites aggression
Unfortunately, in general, the left consistently buckled in the face of such attacks, responding not politically, but with profuse apologies and self-flagellation.
Such defensiveness and acquiescence never satisfied the right wing, however. Indeed, displaying weakness only invited further aggression. Given an inch, the right sought to take a mile.
This weakness of the left stems from their whole reformist outlook. They believe that capitalism can be patched-up and made ‘nicer’ and ‘kinder’; and, in turn, that the capitalists themselves can be convinced to cooperate and come to an agreement with the working class.
From this flows the left reformists’ soft approach to the right wing – those who act on behalf of the ruling class inside the labour movement.
As a result of these retreats and compromises, the Corbyn movement was defeated. But the fight for socialism is far from over. In fact, it is reaching a new level of intensity on the industrial plane.
Here too, however, we see the agents of the establishment resorting to the same methods of smears and slanders; of identity-politics-based attacks, which have been proven and tested in battle.
In Unison, for example, such methods have been used by the right-wing bureaucracy, in tandem with the bosses, against the left: accusing the left-led NEC of “white privilege”, and victimising leading left activist Paul Holmes on the spurious grounds of sexism and bullying.
Unfortunately, those at the top of the Time for Real Change campaign have yielded under pressure also, making the same mistakes as the leaders of the Corbyn movement. And the right wing, smelling blood, are looking to drive home their advantage.
Storm and struggle
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Rank-and-file activists must learn the lessons laid out in the Forde report: there can be no appeasing those who are our class enemies.
The left must wage a ruthless struggle against the right wing infiltrators in our movement, and fight to transform the trade unions into weapons for the working class.
This means calling for the election of all full-time officials, accountable to members and subject to recall; for representatives to take only the salary of an average skilled worker; and for rank-and-file democracy and control over disputes.
We must prepare for the stormy period ahead. This means steeling ourselves in the ideas of Marxism, in order to toughen up and be able to withstand the attacks that will come our way.