The sad death of John Hamilton, leader of the Liverpool City Council in its titanic struggle to defend Liverpool from the ravagers of Thatcherism, has produced statements extraordinary in their inaccuracy and sanctimoniousness.
In an unbelievable re-writing of history which attempts to portray Hamilton as a reluctant moderate desperately fighting to hold the forces of Trotskyism in check, Peter Kilfoyle, Kinnock’s witchfinder general who spearheaded the witchunt in Liverpool, states John Hamilton was overwhelmed by the political forces around him. Joe Anderson, leader of the New Labour group, asserts that Hamilton wanted to resign during the 47 period but he was persuaded to stay on to prevent the Militant from completely taking over.
The opponents of the Liverpool struggle, then and now, never lose an opportunity to denigrate its very real achievements. The stand of the leaders of this movement, the heroic 47 Liverpool city councillors who achieved benefits for working-class people, is in marked contrast to the Blairites and New Labour today. The 47 not only defeated Thatcher but introduced, through the house-building programme, new jobs, sports centres, a completely new park, real improvements in living standards.
What has Blair and his New Labour cronies to offer in justification for his rule? A devastating war in Iraq, massive privatisation and the protection and enhancement of the interests of the rich. No wonder they seek to wipe out through lies and misinformation the example of the 47 for the labour movement, which is as relevant today as in the 1980s.
To put the record straight: John Hamilton was immensely proud of the achievements of that socialist council that he led in the 1980s, and was loyal to the policy of the District Labour Party and to the people who elected him. While those who bought into Kinnock’s – later Blair’s – neo-liberalism and destroyed the Labour Party’s democratic structures, he continued to defend the programme implemented by the 47.
After the closure of the District Labour Party by the right wing, John mistakenly declared his loyalty to New Labour. His reward for this act was to be incredibly and shabbily removed from the panel of candidates by the acolytes of those who now sing his praises on the ludicrous grounds that he did not have sufficient knowledge of local government.
Even Tony Benn joined in the deluge of misinformation. The Liverpool Echo quoted him saying that he greatly admired John Hamilton, going on to say ‘He was toppled as leader in 1986 by Militant and I thought that was a terrible injustice and mistake.’ This was wrong, as we had been expelled from the Party months earlier. He has apologised to me personally for this misinformation saying that he had been wrongly informed.
In fact it was Militant supporters, along with the broad left on the District Party, who reinstalled John in 1978 after he was removed as leader by a right wing coup led by Eddie Roderick, subsequently one of the scabby six and a rabid witchunter. It was Militant supporters who argued against other genuine lefts within the 47 who believed John did not give the appropriate level of leadership during the great events of 83-87 and wished him to be replaced.
If any further proof is required, I have in my possession a videotape in which John Hamilton, in an interview, records his praise of the great achievements of the 47. This serves to underline the falsehoods peddled by New Labour and their apologists.
The local media has been supplied with an accurate portrayal of events; we wait with interest to see if it is published.