Home > General Politics, Labour Party News, Marxism > Against Sectarianism from a Labour Perspective: A Rant

Against Sectarianism from a Labour Perspective: A Rant

A couple of moments ago, Wes Streeting, who is a Labour Councillor in Redbridge, said this in a tweet:

“Not sure it’s very ‘Tony’ but surely we should support Labour’s most electorally successful leader and PM having a statue?”

Statue aside (in his words, “am I bothered”) it is so easy for some people; we’ll support our tribe come what may, and that’s that (no doubt you’ve heard the argument before; we should support Blair/Mandelson as they bring in the votes, forgetting the price the party has had to pay for that experiment). Only for anyone in the Labour Party who really cares about it, and are politically committed to boot, this will not do. Surely a nodding dog who promised everything to everyone (like Barack Obama at the start of his term) would be more electorally successful, but the Labour Party is a political party, historically it has been a political machine and a socialist one as well. While it’s trying to please everyone it is pleasing nobody; Blair may have won his pathetic game against his contemporaries in the Commons, he may have smiled at the correct moments in a PR attempt to woo the heartstrings of the electorate, but he had no political fire in his belly to win the argument for socialism (in fact, by the end I’m sure he’d rather do anything else) and therefore we in the Labour Party should not “support” him. No way.

Yesterday I played a game that my Grandad received for Christmas. One of the questions raised – aimed at a certain generation – was: “should it be absolutely right for a person to fight for their country over anything else?” I was the elephant in the room, among mostly ex-service people (my parents and grandparents included) who said no – but I stand by my answer; today more than ever nation is a tribe that can serve only as sentimental value, ideas and convictions is a dish best served political, and in an age of postmodern disdain for ideas that can guide your uttermost convictions, it is the task of the left today to fight against that current – nationalism and tribalism were bad for politics in generations previous (obviously I justify British presence in WWII, but Churchill was an imperialist, it’s an old point, unpopular and often disavowed, but it’s true) and are bad today.

But who today are really to blame? Reading the above may lead you to think I’m not myself slightly tribal to a political party, but in many ways I am, but not in the sort of way damaging to my political convictions. My own brand of Labour Party tribalism means that I think TonyBlair was a monster – and it’s because I care about the party so much that I can say this. Those who send messages, such as the one above, are more damaging to the party than they realise.

Who I blame for the rightwards trajectory of the political party I am a member of is not necessarily those rightist figures themselves – it is young members of Trotskyite splinter parties like the Socialist Workers Party (born out of the IS, and founded as the SWP in 1977). In the days during the militancy period in the 80s, people were thrown out in a Kinnock, McCarthy-esque, early New Labour drive to rid the party of socialist ideas – history denialism. There were two elements to emerge; an element who embraced the sectarianism of the left who created the far left pressure groups we know awkwardly selling papers today, and then Grantite-entryists who as best as possible worked inside the Labour Party with the intention of bringing socialists together. Younger generations inside those parties don’t face the same problems; for them the Labour Party is sinking ship composed of capitalists and warmongers. However, these people have less fire in their bellies than the right wing of the Labour Party whose socialism has died with the size of their mortgages.

While sectarian factions choose not to touch the Labour Party with bargepoles, so the right of the party become vindicated in their place, and with the slow death of New Labour, and the sloppiness of Ed Miliband, now is the time to work inside and alongside the party, not against it. Owing to the constitution of the small far left parties, and their continual relevance among young socialists as opposed to working inside the longest existing, and historically the most idea rich socialist party in the UK – the Labour Party – they are by their very nature sectarian, and therefore it is justified to shut the door on their personal vindications to the Labour right wing, while offering a place to them if they wanted, and sharing ideas where possible (like the Labour Representative Committee do with smaller parties).

About these ads
  1. December 27, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    “There were two elements to emerge; an element who embraced the sectarianism of the left who created the far left pressure groups we know awkwardly selling papers today, and then Grantite-entryists who as best as possible worked inside the Labour Party with the intention of bringing socialists together.”

    Think it is a lot more complicated than that. There were other entryists within the LP not just Militant (the split in the Militant occurred in the early 1990s… Socialist Party and Socialist Appeal). Organisations like Socialist Organiser, IMG which had become Socialist League. There was also a large number of non-aligned indie Socialists who were engaged in the class struggle (and many of those were witch hunted as it wasn’t just Trots kicked out of the LP). People who didn’t toe the Kinnockite/Hattersley line.

    “Who I blame for the rightwards trajectory of the political party I am a member of is not necessarily those rightist figures themselves – it is young members of Trotskyite splinter parties like the Socialist Workers Party”.

    Bit confused by this Carl, can you clarify that paragraph. Cheers.

    • December 28, 2010 at 12:20 am

      point one, more complicated: I implied Socialist Appeal by mentioning the Grantites, since Ted Grant was the head honcho of that faction. However, the reason I can’t name all of the splinter cells is part of the “Judean People’s Front” problem; too many, and when we start getting bogged down by indie Trots then goodness where would I start.

      point two: my dislike of the witchunt feeds into your next point; the younger generation of splinter cell members don’t face the same witchunt today, and so working alongside the LRC isn’t enough, all socialists should be conjoined in the same organisation, telling the right that they are Tory entryists, and we’re Labour
      Party’s historical necessities.

  2. Chris Baldwin
    December 28, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Most electorally successful? I know Blair won three general elections, but didn’t Harold Wilson win four?

    • December 28, 2010 at 1:06 am

      Statue for Harold Wilson in parliament then?

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers

%d bloggers like this: