Labour Party conference: campaigning to reinstate socialist ideas

Many Labour conference attendees cheered Socialist Party proposals to deselect Blairites, photo Scottow (Creative Commons)

Many Labour conference attendees cheered Socialist Party proposals to deselect Blairites, photo Scottow (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Mark Best

When Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership re-election victory was announced, members of the Socialist Party were on the streets of Liverpool engaging with Labour Party conference delegates, visitors and the public.

Leaflets containing the socialist ideas required to fight the right-wing Blairites were enthusiastically taken. These ideas – introducing mandatory reselection of MPs, only giving the Labour whip to those MPs who pledge to fight austerity, democratising the Labour Party by restoring trade union rights, readmitting expelled and excluded socialists, and allowing socialist and anti-austerity organisations, including the Socialist Party, to affiliate – struck a chord. The call for deselection was met by people cheering “kick them out!”

We heard horror stories about the disdain some right-wing Labour MPs have for their working class constituents. One reported that a Liverpool MP refused to speak to a class of 12 year olds because their questions couldn’t be agreed in advance!

While many other groups – among them Momentum, an organisation set up to support Jeremy Corbyn – were present at the conference, none were putting forward the programme required to defeat the Labour right and refound a party for the 99%. There was either a preaching of unity with the Blairite plotters or a lack of saying what is needed to defeat them.

At a Momentum fringe meeting – ‘The World Transformed’ – there were many references made to the city’s proud history of fighting back. Shamefully, there was no mention of the successful mass movement the Militant-led Liverpool city council led against Thatcher’s cuts in the 1980s. That socialist council with the support of thousands of working class people took on the Tories and won, building over 5,000 council houses and securing over 10,000 jobs.

As we go to press Merseyside Socialist Party is hosting a meeting with speakers including Tony Mulhearn – one of the Liverpool 47 councillors who were expelled from Labour for defying the Tories – and Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party national organiser.

This meeting will draw out the key lessons from the Liverpool council struggle to show how the Tories cuts today can be fought and also how to defeat the Blairites.