Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The 7.5% springboard?

I see Diane Abbott - who had my first preferences in the Labour leadership election is now seeking election to the shadow cabinet (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/politics/article-23882845-diane-abbott-makes-pitch-for-shadow-cabinet-as-a-voice-for-london.do).

I know from personal experience that when a left-wing candidate comes last in an important election with 7.5% of the vote it can be quite a while before they're rehabilitated in the eyes of the establishment ;)

But who would want to be popular with such an establishment? The majority of the PLP backed the candidate of New Labour against the social democratic candidate in the final round of voting.

D'oh!

The new Leader may (be said by some to) "get it" (http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=1993) but the majority of his Parliamentary colleagues (like his brother) clearly still don't.

Over recent years we have permitted the upper echelons of our Party to be stuffed with neoliberals and careerists - just as Executive/Cabinet governance has given Council Leaders powers of patronage to rival a Prime Minister so the PLP has evolved into the tame creature that is today so disappointing.

I can hardly begin to imagine how hard it must be to be a socialist in today's PLP, where most MPs backed the Party machine against even the most timid reassertion of the Party's historic purpose.

It's as if the National Executive of a trade union could be populated by a majority prepared to do as they were told by their paid officials. (As if!)

The labour and trade union movement faces challenges unprecedented in a generation. We need to renew and rejuvenate the movement at every level to face these. Those not prepared to fight won't be welcome on our coming "journey".

In trade union elections we need to elect consistent socialists against those who seek continuity with our past inadequacy (a topic to which I shall soon return).

As for the Labour Party - it is to the selection of candidates, rather more than the election of the Shadow Cabinet, that we need now to turn our attention.

The vote for Christine Shawcroft in the Labour Party NEC elections shows a support for socialist politics far greater than the combined membership of all the socialist (and Communist) parties ostensibly to "the left" of Labour. The challenge facing the Labour left is to galvanise this support and use it to repopulate the PLP - and Council Chambers - with socialists prepared to fight for our class.

In this work - the great difficulty of which I do not underestimate - I fear that Diane's bid for shadow cabinet stardom is - at best - an irrelevance.

The fight against the ConDems will be waged in the streets and the movement will be built in the workplaces.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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