Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/450/5386

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 July 2006

Labour Representation conference

Hope and desperation

THE LABOUR Representation Committee (LRC) held its annual conference on 22 July. It was dominated by Labour MP John McDonnell's announcement that he will be standing for the leadership of the Labour Party when Blair finally leaves within the next 12-18 months.

Jim Horton

McDonnell's announcement takes place at a time of debate within the trade unions on the question of working-class political representation and particularly whether the unions should break with the Labour Party or help to reclaim it.

The Socialist Party does not believe it is possible to reclaim the Labour Party for the working class and calls on socialists and trade unionists to join the campaign for a new workers' party.

Historically the Labour Party was saddled with a pro-capitalist leadership but its actions were constrained by a membership rooted in the unions and a mass electoral base in the working class. Today the sickening enthusiasm of Blair and Brown for the capitalist market and the enrichment of their friends has gone well beyond the failed old Labour idea of a mixed economy. New Labour is an open party of big business, whose attacks on workers' pay and conditions have left millions politically disenfranchised.

Past gatherings of the LRC condemned Blair's polices of privatisation and cuts to public services, and his Bush-toadying foreign policy of war and destruction. But there was no clear strategy of achieving the LRC's central aim of reclaiming the Labour Party beyond calling for trade unionists to become party members.

This year, McDonnell's announcement provided a focus, with the conference effectively launching his campaign. The LRC plans to go around the country, with McDonnell and other speakers appealing to the thousands of former Labour Party members to rejoin and fight.

However, highlighting the LRC's difficulties, one delegate pleaded: "I'm not asking you to be happy about joining the Labour Party; it pains me every time I write out a cheque for my subscription".

McDonnell claimed that this was the best opportunity for the left in the Labour Party since Tony Benn's bid for deputy leader in 1981. This fails to recognise the transformation in the Labour Party that has taken place since then. Benn himself spoke at the conference and received a standing ovation. He argued explicitly that it is wrong to found a new party and instead the aim should be to 'refound' the Labour Party. He said he would like to see the RMT and FBU come back to the Labour Party.

Trade union leaders Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka and Matt Wrack all praised McDonnell's parliamentary trade union group work and endorsed his campaign. Ironically however, as Crow acknowledged, none of their unions, who back the LRC, are affiliated to the Labour Party. But unfortunately, none of them is taking the necessary bold step of giving union backing to the idea of forming a new mass workers' party.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack stated that had McDonnell been leader of the Labour Party it was unlikely the FBU would have disaffiliated. Another FBU member said that if McDonnell won the FBU should re-affiliate.

Bob Crow however, while backing McDonnell's campaign, questioned those who call on people to stay in the Labour Party and fight. Crow cited privatisation on the railways and tube as reasons why his members are not convinced about joining the Labour Party to reclaim it. Crow went on to explain that people in Barking and Dagenham were not racist but felt let down by the Tories and New Labour.

The immense hope placed in McDonnell was evident at the conference but also a sense of desperation. One delegate warned that if McDonnell is not elected, demoralisation amongst party ranks will continue.

Another delegate correctly pointed out that all the recent big movements had happened outside the Labour Party and no new generation was coming through Labour's ranks.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 27 July 2006:


Invasion of Lebanon

Bush gives green light to the Israeli onslaught

Eyewitness account from socialist in Lebanon

Thousands march against Israel's attacks on Lebanon

'The politicians and generals are dragging us into the quagmire'

When Israel occupied Lebanon (1982-2000)

No politics please, we're anti-war


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Resistance grows to NHS cuts and closures

NHS workers must organise for action

Physios protest at lack of jobs

Romsey says: "Save Our Birthing Centre"

Strike ballot at NHS Logistics


Socialist Party youth and students

Young people in revolt


Socialist Party campaigns

Class - a matter of life and death

Schools victory scored in Bury

Hope and desperation

John McDonnell's leadership bid

Militant pioneer dies

Bus drivers vote to strike

Socialist Party national trade union meeting


 

Home   |   The Socialist 27 July 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Labour Party:

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleThe end of the Tories?

triangleHousing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

triangleThe Tories must be driven out

Labour:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

triangleSwansea Socialist Party: Mother Jones - A US labour pioneer

triangleSalford Unison condemns pay cuts

FBU:

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

triangleTories weak: time for the TUC to act

triangleSurrey FBU pass no confidence motion

Unions:

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

Bob Crow:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

Mark Serwotka:

triangleNSSN lobby of the TUC 2017: rank-and-file solidarity to smash the pay cap

John McDonnell:

triangleManchester rally discussed unionisation and nationalisation

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/10/17

North West

Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

18/10/17

Democratic rights

Conference on state spies: who's watching who?

18/10/17

Leeds

Striking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

18/10/17

Royal Mail

Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

18/10/17

PCS

Balloting members on the pay cap

18/10/17

Art

'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

18/10/17

Council

Sheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

18/10/17

South West Wales

Hundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

18/10/17

NHS

Uprising to save the NHS!

18/10/17

Socialism

Can you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

18/10/17

East London

No cuts - hands off King George A&E!

18/10/17

North London

North London hospital workers fight cuts and job losses

18/10/17

BAE

Nationalise to save jobs at BAE Systems

18/10/17

Schools

Schools "can't go any further" - stop the cuts: set deficit budgets now

18/10/17

Swansea

Socialist Students 'welcome' Hillary Clinton to Swansea

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2