Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/449/5366
John McDonnell leadership challenge
Can the Left reclaim Labour?
THE WEAKNESS of the Left in the Labour Party, and the changed character of the Labour Party has been graphically revealed by the fact that Left MP John McDonnell could not get the support of one-fifth of Labour MPs (about 71) to mount a 'stalking horse' challenge against Blair. This is despite the depth of Labour's current crisis and disenchantment with Blair.
Indeed, it may not be possible even for McDonnell to get the 40-plus MPs he needs to bring a challenge to stop a Brown 'coronation'.
However, whether John McDonnell or another 'Left' challenger to Brown emerges - Michael Meacher and Frank Dobson are touted as possibilities - a key question needing to be addressed by the Labour Representation Conference meeting this weekend is whether a 'Left' challenge for the forces of 'True Labour' can realistically have any chance of reclaiming the Labour Party. Or should they channel the energies of the Labour movement towards building a new mass political alternative to represent working-class people?
If there is to be a serious attempt to reclaim the Labour Party by the LRC, which has the backing of many leading trade union leaders, the Left would need to inspire workers and trade unionists that there was something there worth fighting for and advancing a radical, socialist programme that workers thought had a serious chance of overturning the decades of neo-liberal privatisation and attacks on working people.
Even if such a programme is put forward by the Left, they would still have to attain a credibility in workers' eyes that they can achieve such a radical transformation of the Labour Party.
Whilst workers may wish John McDonnell good luck with his challenge most would conclude at this stage that the chances of reclaiming Labour to being a party that advances working-class interests have less chance of success than a central heating salesman in the current heatwave.
In The Socialist 20 July 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Scottish Socialist Party
Campaign for a New Workers Party