Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2021

Editorial of the Socialist issue 1118

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party

Joe Biden, photo Michael Stokes/CC

Joe Biden, photo Michael Stokes/CC   (Click to enlarge)

With Trump gone, capitalist governments worldwide are queuing up to establish friendly relations with Joe Biden, the new US president. While it is a bit awkward for Boris Johnson, who was once described by Biden as Trump's "physical and emotional clone", it is clear that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer thinks he can gain kudos by praising the new presidency to the skies.

He has been joined by Lisa Nandy, shadow foreign secretary, who described Biden as a "woke guy" who "is an inspiration for Labour", who "mentioned the trans community in his victory speech" and "defended the Black Lives Matter movement". After Trump's reactionary, divisive, blatantly sexist and racist presidency, there is undoubtedly widespread relief among workers and young people that he has gone. However, the lavish praise Starmer and co. are heaping on Biden is yet another indication of their desperation to show the capitalist class that - unlike the previous leader Jeremy Corbyn - they can be relied on to defend the interests of the elite.

Billionaire's candidate

Biden was the chosen candidate of the big majority of Wall Street and the billionaires in the US. He got, for example, more than twice as much as Trump in donations from billionaires. His party, the Democrats, has been a party of big business throughout its history and, given the crisis in the Republican Party, is now their favoured choice.

It's true that there is a left wing of the Democrats, as shown by Bernie Sanders running for the Democratic nomination for the second time, describing himself as a 'democratic socialist' and calling for 'political revolution'. However, the Democratic establishment was determined to prevent Sanders winning the nomination, coming behind Biden as - above all - the means of defeating Bernie. Mistakenly, instead of running as an independent as a step towards the development of a workers' party in the US, Sanders then backed Biden.

For Starmer and his ilk Biden is a model. He has a long history of bipartisanship - meaning working together with the Republicans. He has a history of arguing for what would now be called austerity, repeatedly arguing for cuts to welfare. For example, in a speech to the Senate in 1995, he declared: "When I argued that we should freeze federal spending, I meant Social Security as well. I meant Medicare and Medicaid. I meant veterans' benefits. I meant every single solitary thing in the government." He was also one of those Democrats who, like Blair in Britain, backed to the hilt Bush's launching of the Iraq war.

In sharp contrast to Trump, Biden is preaching unity and making pro-trans rights and anti-racist statements, which will be widely welcomed. But that does not mean his government will act in the interests of working-class Americans of any race, gender or sexuality, including on the issues of police brutality, which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement.

Not only Republicans, but also Democrats have stepped up racist policing measures. Biden, for example, drafted the 1994 crime bill, which expanded mass imprisonment of black people. Hopes that Kamala Harris's election as vice-president will lead to a fundamentally different approach by this presidency are not backed up by experience.

Of course, for many black and Asian workers in the US and around the world, it is encouraging to see a woman with Indian and Jamaican parents as vice-president of the most powerful capitalist country on the planet, which was built on slavery, racism and colonial exploitation. However, Harris was California's attorney general when the Black Lives Matter movement erupted in 2014 and did not take action against a number of police killings on her watch.

Three years later, in the final year in office of Barack Obama - the first black US president - there were still over 1,000 police killings, with black men nine times likelier to be killed than other Americans. Against the background of a capitalist system in crisis, poverty among black workers increased while Obama was in power. Between 2007 and 2016, with Obama in office for most of that time, the average wealth of the bottom 99% of Americans dropped by $4,500, with African Americans worst affected.

Biden is coming to power during a new, even deeper, crisis for world and US capitalism. At this stage he is proposing a bigger bailout package than Obama put forward in 2009; not because he is more radical, but because that meets the needs of the capitalist class at this stage, in order to bail out their system. The Johnson government, and all states around the world who can afford to, have carried out similar measures. However, Biden's package - even if it is passed without amendment - will not be enough to prevent misery for millions of working-class Americans.

Workers have suffered

It was the misery suffered by the working and middle class in the last economic crisis that created the vacuum into which the racist right populism of Trump stepped. Today, in the short term, Biden may have a breathing space as he is 'given a chance'. But, by acting in the interests of capitalism, against the background of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, he will further fuel the divisions and anger in US society which, if there is no alternative, can be harnessed by the right. A mass workers' party is urgently needed, putting forward a socialist programme, which could begin to cut across the reactionary racism of Trumpism.

The same is true in Britain. The Labour shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, has driven home Starmer's intentions. In her lecture to the City University of London she insisted that a Labour government would be governed by "pragmatism not dogmatism", and would be "responsible". Nationalisation was not mentioned once, and she committed to not even attempt to interfere with the 'independent' functioning of the Bank of England.

If a Starmerite Labour government was to come to power, it could not be clearer that it would act in the interests of capitalism, and enrage all those who suffered as a result, potentially leaving a space for the right. Socialists and left trade unions have a responsibility to learn the lessons of the US and - rather than leave the working-class majority with a choice of different brands of pro-big business politicians - fight for the establishment of a mass workers' party.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £


Your message: 


In The Socialist 27 January 2021:


Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

Poverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Fees frozen at £9,250 a year, fight for free education

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader


Schools: 'We have to fight for everything'

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"

What we think

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party

Workplace news

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Low-paid hospital workers strike


Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Health worker cooperation in the face of the pandemic

Arab Spring

Ten years since the 'Arab Spring'


TUSC is up and running for May elections

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently


Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!

International socialist news and analysis

Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime


TV Review: It's a Sin

TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain


Home   |   The Socialist 27 January 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleOaks Park school: Redbridge Labour council backs strike-breaking bullies

triangleGoodlord dispute: Labour's leadership weasled out of backing strike action

trianglePutting socialism on the map in Chichester

triangleWe need a new political party for workers and youth

triangleEquity protest to save arts centre forces talks from Newham Council


triangleWeetabix - workers have had enough

triangleSolidarity to the striking workers at Charité and Vivantes hospitals in Berlin

triangleClick here for a report. Speakers included: Sharon Graham - newly-elected Unite gen sec; Sarah Woolley - BFAWU gen sec; Carmel Gates - Nipsa gen sec (designate); Joe Simpson - POA deputy gen sec; Joe Kirby - RMT NEC & offshore worker

triangleUnite young and old to defend the pensions triple lock

The Socialist:

triangleWhy I joined the Socialist Party

triangleObituary: Roger Henshaw, comrade and class fighter

triangleSocialist Party national council - members enthused by excellent in-person meeting


triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: United struggle against racism and oppression

triangleFighting fund target reached: Help us continue to raise our banner and programme


triangleThe street I live on


triangleNuclear Folly: A New History of the Cuban Missile Crisis


triangleKeep fascists out of Portland: Build a mass movement to fight the right


triangleUS: "We've had to build a huge culture of resistance"


triangleUSA in crisis - the need for a socialist alternative

Black Lives Matter:

triangleNews in brief


triangleSocialist Party national youth meeting

Jeremy Corbyn:

triangleGoodlord strikers fight fire and rehire as part of day of action

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis


The Socialist

We need a new political party for workers and youth


Universal Credit

Hands off the uplift



What's behind the worker shortages, and what can be done about it?



Deaths of despair: Health crisis - capitalism in the dock


Climate change

Climate change, capitalism, and the struggle for socialism



Take the wealth off the super-rich to fund: NHS and social care, pay and benefit rises



Social care plans: A sticking plaster instead of surgery



Unite young and old to defend the pensions triple lock



Union action needed to make schools Covid safe


Trade union

A pivotal moment for the trade union movement



NHS and social care - make the rich pay, not the workers



Workers shouldn't pay for health and social care plans



End service cuts and care charges


Care Homes

Families demand rights for care home residents



Fighting NEU leadership needed to tackle school funding crisis

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021