#j30 and the importance of staying Labour….
Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions – elation at the brilliant and brave stand taken by vast numbers of public sector workers but also immense sadness as it is becoming clear many good comrades are streaming out of the Labour Party. I have to be absolutely and totally clear; I in no way blame them; they are right to feel anger, they are right to feel the need to do something about a leadership whose degenerate and contemptible nature becomes clearer by the day. It should be in no way surprising that these comrades are admiring of the way Caroline Lucas stood on picket lines yesterday and should either consider joining the Greens or simply just leaving Labour.
When we consider the actions of Mr Miliband it is important to remember he is not a struggling worker, caught between a picket line and the desperate scramble to survive and sustain others. Accordingly, he should not be judged as if he is, he shouldn’t be shown the same level of understanding that it would be right and proper to show somebody in that situation. He is a highly-paid and privileged Member of Parliament and leader of the Labour Party and he should be judged according to the standards we set for those in that position. He had a equitable choice; he chose the wrong side. He is a traitor to the Party he leads.
Comrades within Labour who believe in it’s core values are now faced with a choice between leaving or staying and fighting. I understand those who take the former position but would argue that the latter course is the correct one. Another Labour Party exists and that one is seething with anger at its leaders betrayal of them and those on strike yesterday. Rightly so. It would be to do a great disservice to that anger and to let the leadership win to leave. Mr Miliband wants a pliant Party; one that doesn’t fight for what it believes in, one that doesn’t believe passionately in democracy and in many cases a different kind of society; be that social democracy, or red-blooded socialism. So, every comrade that leaves is letting the likes of Mr Miliband win; letting them take ownership of this Party before the really big battles have begun and been settled.
Objectively, the entire drift rightwards of Labour’s leadership has been fuelled by the decimation of the working class and the subsequent deconstruction of working class identity. It’s not right but the leadership has got away with its continued spitting on its core vote because its core vote has been demoralised and actually no longer sees itself in the way it did and since those that do are nowhere near enough to win an electoral majority the drive to the right has its own internal logic. However, the basis for this is slowly being cut away. True, working class self-identity is still marginal and the left is faced with the challenge of dealing with that; the reality is democratic socialist politics are the answer for Mr Miliband’s ‘squeezed middle’ (many of whom were on strike yesterday) and the left has to articulate its politics and appeal to people in a way that recognises this. However, objectively the tolerance level of all people, regardless of what they look in the sociological mirror and see, for the pain and privations the broken capitalist system has inflicted on them has long past breaking point. People are on the move and objectively that will send shockwaves through Labour. Blair was stable because capitalism was basically stable and relatively beneficial for enough people. Mr Miliband is conducting his drive to the right in different times.
As many people know, I am through with making what I see as futile demands that this leadership ‘change’ and want a change in leadership. However, that does not mean I do not make the same appeal to stay to those who still believe Mr Miliband is capable of change because although we differ slightly on the end-game we want basically the same things. If he does change, if he starts to lead in a way that I wont always agree with but at least can make me proud; I will be the first to acknowledge this and support it but I am not holding my breath nor do I think its right to waste energy effecting this. However, until that point, while this leadership makes me ashamed of the Party it leads I cannot in good conscience suggest it should be anything other than toppled. If you really want to p*** the leadership off do something bold and renew your Labour membership. Stay, stand and fight; that is the best way to honour the courage of the workers shown yesterday and the best way to further their struggle; by bringing it to every CLP, and raising such a crescendo of indignation that even our ignorant and undemocratic leadership cannot help but take notice.