We have long stated that there is no fundamental difference between Blair
and Brown. That is why we welcome the decision of John McDonnell, Labour MP, to
stand for the leadership as the candidate of the left. We also reproduce John McDonnell's full statement on his stand.
Tony Blair has been on his last legs for some time. He has now become a
liability to the Labour Party and he has also lost the ability to convince the
workers of this country that his programme can solve all the accumulated
problems inherited from the Tories. He has done nothing but continue in their
Now Brown is preparing to take over. But apart from a small change in the
clique at the top of the party, this would represent no fundamental change.
With Blair or Brown as leader the Labour Party is staring defeat in the face.
Labour might scrape through with a very much reduced majority, or it could even
lose the next elections.
The ruling class of Britain
is already preparing for this scenario and preparing to bring back its "first
eleven". The only way of avoiding this is for the Labour Party to radically
change its policies and start talking about a socialist programme. If the
leaders of the Labour Party were to radically turn to the left they could
regain all the ground that Blair has lost. If the workers saw a genuine
fighting leadership they would flock back to the party.
So what is needed is to galvanise the left within the party, build a clear
point of reference on the left. The right wing of the party, the Blairites are
so cynical, that they would be prepared to see the party destroyed. They have
used it to carry out the policies dictated by big business. Once they see they
have no more use for it they will discard it like an old rag.
But whereas these people can move on to nicely paid jobs elsewhere or retire
on fat pensions, working class people do not have that option. That is why all
genuine socialists welcome the announcement today that left wing Labour MP John
McDonnell intends to put his name forward as a candidate for leader of the
party when Blair hands in his cards.
According to the BBC news website:
"The chairman of his constituency
party, Peter McDonald, told BBC News the candidacy would ensure an ‘open and
fair fight, not a coronation'."
"This is not a move against
Tony Blair – it's a move against New Labour and the way it's formed at the
moment," he said.
"We've had no debate. We in the
party have felt very disenfranchised."
(BBC News 13 July)
Socialist Appeal has long argued that the Left in the party
and in the unions needs to mobilise in an organised way against Blair and his
intended successor Brown without delay. The replacement of ‘Bomber Blair' with
‘Nuke ‘em Brown' is no change at all.
In the editorial from the current edition of Socialist
Appeal we comment as follows: "There is a rising tide of opposition to Brown's
succession. What an ideal opportunity to raise socialist policies throughout
the labour movement. The left now needs a credible candidate… the forthcoming
national conference of the LRC would be an ideal springboard for a campaign…
for a candidate committed to socialist policies."
John McDonnell has a record of consistent opposition to the
Blairite agenda, and is considered one of the most rebellious Labour MPs. Going
against the stream, he has defended the idea of nationalisation and has come out
in defence of workers' struggles, both in Britain and internationally. For
example, while Blair has backed the reactionary oligarchy in Venezuela, John
McDonnell has openly backed the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, being a member of
its national steering committee.
He would therefore represent an excellent choice and would
certainly give Brown, or any other Blairite who decides to have a go, a good
run for their money. Given the present state of the party, Brown may still be
favourite to win. The parliamentary group is dominated by Blairites (or
Brownites). The trade union vote would most likely line up behind Brown.
But, as we have said, Brown would make no fundamental
difference. Very soon the ranks of the party will be looking for someone to
save them from the disaster that impends. Brown is not the man to do that. John
A credible left candidate would allow for a serious
alternative campaign to be launched within the party. Even if it does not win
first time round it could be used to gather all the healthy left forces within
the party and prepare for the future. It would lay down a marker, give hope to
the many party and union activists (along with the countless thousands of lost
Labour voters) that the party can be reclaimed and open up a new period of
debate and challenge inside the movement on the direction it must now take.
That is why we fully back John's decision to stand. Now his
campaign must be taken into every constituency, every ward Labour Party, and
every trade union branch and workplace. The case for socialism must be made
strongly. From this we can start to rebuild the left of the Labour Party and
win back the party that was built by the workers in the first place.
is becoming increasingly apparent that Tony Blair will announce his
resignation as leader of the Labour party over the next 12 -18 months.
have argued that instead of an open democratic election for the leader
of the party, there should be a smooth transition or virtual coronation
of his successor.
This would deny party members the opportunity
of openly debating the issues facing our party and the future direction
of the country.
An election for the leader of the party will allow for a democratic debate on the future of Labour.
following increasing demands from various sections of the movement, I
have decided to declare myself as a candidate for the leadership of the
Labour party as soon as the present incumbent retires.
clear this is not a so-called 'stalking horse' candidature but a
serious challenge for the leadership of the party when a vacancy
I am standing to ensure that thousands of Labour party
members and supporters have the chance to participate in deciding not
only who should be the next leader of our party but more importantly
what policies the party should be pursuing.
There are many that
feel the party has lost its way. Many of the policies being pursued in
government have broken up the broad coalition of support Labour has
relied upon throughout its history to bring it to power.
Labour has systematically alienated section after section of our
supporters – teachers, health workers, students, pensioners, public
service workers, trade unionists and people committed to the
environment, civil liberties and peace. Spin and allegations of sleaze
are causing decent people to lose trust in our party.
is reflected in lost votes, lost elections, lost members and a Labour
prime minister having to rely upon Conservative votes in parliament to
force through legislation.
There are growing calls from across
the party for change. We need to rebuild a progressive consensus,
inspiring and giving people hope that another world is possible. We
need those who have turned away from Labour to come back home.
the first time in decades people no longer feel they have a political
voice. This campaign is a challenge to the present political consensus.
will now seek support from all sections of the movement. At next
Saturday's conference of the Labour representation committee we will
debate the policies needed by a real Labour government and the way in
which we can reinvigorate democratic participation in the party.
September this campaign will be travelling the country, convening
meetings face to face with party members, supporters and the general
public to discuss the issues facing us. We will be urging those
thousands of Labour party members who have left the party to rejoin and
those who are no longer active supporters to re-engage.
launching a campaign website today and we will use every possible means
of communication and new technology to stimulate this debate and get
our message across.
The campaign will be waged in an open, comradely and friendly manner based upon a debate on the policies not personalities.
Let the debate begin."
See also the official campaign website www.john4leader.org.uk