The Socialist 1 February 2012 |
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What is the point of Labour MPs?
Recently, one acerbic political TV commentator, noting the lack-lustre response of the Labour leadership to the current crisis, asked: "What is the point of Labour?" To that cutting remark we might add more specifically, "And what is the point of Labour MPs?"
On 28 January I attended a lively local protest about the sacking of 24 library workers and the consequent cutbacks to the service - all part of £65 million worth of cuts passed on from the coalition government via the local Labour majority councillors.
On my way home I came across the local Labour MP, Stella Creasy. I engaged her in conversation.
She had a stall and a table with some tins of food, called a food bank. The MP was inviting mostly poor people in this poor area to part with some of their meagre shopping, so that it could be donated to the even poorer!
What is this if not Victorian-style do-gooding? Don't address why people are poor and confront the system that makes them poor, just collect food and feel better.
This same MP was also highlighting pernicious loan sharks - the scourge of the working poor. Fair enough. But her advice was to go to a credit union instead. And of course, while pursuing the relatively little fish in the money business, the truly greedy inner workings of speculators, bond traders and bankers are left unexposed and unchallenged by Labour.
She declared herself even unwilling to contemplate putting up any kind of fight against government cuts, saying if we did that, we would get Eric Pickles, the Tory minister, running council services - and did we want that?
Well, is there a difference to those 24 sacked workers that Labour is wielding the axe rather than Tories?
No, the problem is that this MP and all 37 local Labour councillors have Eric Pickles in their head. They have internalised defeat. They are doing exactly what Mr Pickles wants them to do.
There is no point to Labour MPs. Now is time to develop a mass electoral alternative whose representatives can both articulate workers' anger and lead a fight to stop even greater jobs slaughter.