A recent poll of Labour Party
members, published in the Sunday Times (see http://www.yougov.com/)
shows why the New Labour clique around Gordon Brown were determined to keep
left challenger John McDonnell off the ballot paper.
On a sample taken of Party
members and levy paying Trade Unionists, the survey shows that both are
significantly to the left of the leadership and in light of this it is
unsurprising that the careerists running for Deputy have suddenly found their
68 % of party member and 75 % of
levy payers want Brown to publicly distance himself from Bush's Middle East
policy. On the domestic front, 66 % and 75 % would back a new higher rate of
income tax for those earning over £ 100,000 a year. The Blairite public
services agenda does not appear popular with 58 % and 67 % wanting a ‘drastic
rethink/slowdown' of ‘reforms' carried out in Health, Education and other
services. Nor surprisingly 58 % and 66
% would back renationalisation of the railways and there is a clear lack of
support for renewal of Trident which only receives 37 % and 38 % in the poll.
Of course statistics can be used
to prove anything. The Brown camp would point to the poll's finding that their
man garnered an impressive 82 % and 74 % against Mc Donnell's 18 % and 26 %.
But this does not reveal the full picture. There has been a rise in McDonnell's
support over the last month from 9 % and 10 %. And this was despite a virtual
media blackout. Had the PLP machinery allowed a contest it is arguable this
would have risen still further. All sorts of tricks were used, including
phoning one MP in the small hours, as the deadline for nominations approached
with threats that his career would be over if he didn't nominate Brown immediately!
Sectarians point to this as proof
that the Labour Party is finished, that the Capitalist carpet-baggers have won.
This shows a lack of faith in the power of working people to effect change.
Brown was nominated by the largest Trade Unions. Pressure from those union
leaders would have ensured a contest. The socialists outside Labour argue that
the unions have no influence over the Labour Party or Brown, so that must mean
it is time to leave Labour.
The reason Trade Union leaders
have no influence over the Party or Brown is that they are not prepared to
wield the power that stands behind them in the millions of trade union members.
These unions could have forced their sponsored MPs to put the interests of
working people before their immediate career concerns and nominate McDonnell.
But the union leaders were not prepared to. The pressure from the trade union
rank and file has not yet reaches a stage where this can happen at present but
it is bound to do so in the future. The language being used by the deputy
leadership candidates shows what will happen if there is a real groundswell in
the unions and wider society.
Even Harriet Harman, who is
probably one of the safest candidates for the Brown camp sees fit in her
election statement to tell members how she ‘has fought for progressive
causes…championed the rights of working people, fighting alongside trade unions
to win advances that have changed people's lives for the better'. This is
coming from one of two candidates without a single nomination by a union (the
other is Hilary Benn). In her address, she has to go back as far as the 1979
Grunwick dispute citing her work as a lawyer to bolster her point.
Her appeal to Labour's
traditional supporters is clearly an attempt to assure she wins the contest
which will, unlike the real contest, be decided by members. Though undoubtedly
motivated by career considerations this points towards the potential for major
change inside the Party if and when pressure is brought to bear from below. The
language being used in the candidates campaign material suggests that Labour
MPs are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is a real possibility that
the Party could lose the next election. For some this means losing their
careers and all the trappings that go with life as an MP.
Under certain conditions a seed
will grow. The New Labourites think that they have seen off the left in the
Party, perhaps for the last time. And many on the left outside the Party seem
to agree with them! This is because they fail to understand the processes at
work. The McDonnell campaign is a point of reference for a left opposition
which under certain conditions is bound to develop in the future. Like a seed
it will grow and our critics on the right and left will be left with no
Socialist Appeal stands for:
No to Blairism! For a Labour government with a bold
socialist programme! Labour must break with big business and Tory economic
policies. Vote Labour and fight to reclaim the party.
A national minimum wage of at least two-thirds of the
average wage. £8.00 an hour as a step toward this goal, with no exemptions.
Full employment! No redundancies. The right to a job
or decent benefits. For a 32 hour week without loss of pay. No compulsory
overtime. For voluntary retirement at 55 with a decent full pension for all.
No more sell offs. Reverse the Tories privatisation
scandal. Renationalise all the privatised industries and utilities under
democratic workers control and management. No compensation for the fat cats,
only those in genuine need.
The repeal of all Tory anti-union laws. Full
employment rights for all from day one. For the right to strike, the right to
union representation and collective bargaining.
Action to protect our environmemt. Only public
ownership of the land, and major industries, petro-chemical enterprises, food
companies, energy and transport, can form the basis of a genuine socialist
approach to the environment.
A fully funded and fully comprehensive education system
under local democratic control. Keep big business out of our schools and
colleges. Free access for all to further and higher education. Scrap tuition
fees. No to student loans. For a living grant for all over 16 in education or
The outlawing of all forms of discrimination. Equal
pay for equal work. Invest in quality childcare facilities available to all.
Scrap all racist immigration and asylum controls. Abolish the Criminal Justice
The reversal of the Tories' cuts in the health service.
Abolish private health care. For a National Health Service. Free to all at the
point of need, based on the nationalisation of the big drug companies that
squeeze their profits out of the health of working people.
Reclaim the Labour party! Defeat Blairism! Fight for
Party democracy and socialist policies. For workers' MPs on workers' wages.
The abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords.
Full economic powers for the Scottish parliament and the Welsh assembly,
enabling them to introduce socialist measures in the interests of working
No to sectarianism. For a Socialist Ireland linked by
a voluntary federation to a Socialist Britain.
Break with the anarchy of the capitalist free market.
Labour to immediately take over the "commanding heights of the economy." Nationalise the big monopolies, banks and
financial institutions that dominate our lives. Compensation to be paid only on
the basis of need. All nationalised enterprises to be run under workers control
and management and integrated through a democratic socialist plan of
Socialist internationalism. No to the bosses European
Union. Yes to a socialist united states of Europe, as part of a world socialist