The hard left is on the march and in no mood to stop

by Atul Hatwal

The first skirmish is over. The unions have drawn blood. On Tuesday, Progress released its statement describing a series of changes to its internal operation. They were all reasonable changes, but this was never about reforming Progress.

If this row had truly been about the governance of pressure groups active within Labour, then a lot of other organisations would have been in the frame.

The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) for one. Founded in 2004 (though bearing the name of an illustrious forbear), the LRC is open to non-Labour party members, affiliated to such sage organisations as the New Communist Party and Permanent Revolution and has the primary purpose of taking control of Labour party constituency parties to help shift national policy so far to the left, the 1983 manifesto would look Blairite.

Nothing to see here guv. No scrutiny needed at all.

No, this was never about the “acceptable standards of democracy, governance and transparency” trumpeted by the ASLEF motion targeting Progress that is still in the process of being submitted to Labour conference.

It’s one of the hallmarks of how far the party has stepped through the hard left’s looking glass that so many Labour commentators have just accepted the assumption that Progress were a problem.

Following Tuesday’s statement,peace with  honour” was the description used by Mark Ferguson at Labour List. Why not go the whole hog, wave a bit of paper about and proclaim “peace in our time”.

In actual fact, there’s no need. “Peace with honour” were the words used by Chamberlain to describe his thoroughly successful jaunt to Munich, when talking to reporters on the doorstep of Number 10.

Strange how that phrase sprang to mind.

Because this was never about the alleged substance of the issue, Progress’ statement will not be the end of the conflict. Why should it? The unions and left have just won a significant victory. Why stop here? The limits of their power have clearly not been reached.

If the unions are serious about their political strategy, and ensuring their policies are adopted by the Labour party, it would be madness to stop now. With each victory, the centre of gravity in the party is shifted further left.

MPs mindful of promotion tack towards the new middle. Future leadership candidates such as Yvette Cooper and Chuka Umunna will carefully calibrate their positions so nothing in their personal platform precludes union backing.

And the capacity of the Labour party to return to a centrist position will become ever more difficult as the political gap between where we are today and where the public will be at the next election, becomes unbridgeable.

In January, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband both made public interventions supporting spending restraint. The party leadership came out strongly, albeit briefly, backing the current public sector pay cap.

It feels like a different era.

Since then, the words “public sector pay cap” have not been uttered by any shadow cabinet member.  If challenged, what odds on either Miliband or Balls breaking the seal?

It’s likely they would use various verbal constructions and phrases to avoid saying those specific words.

In January, when Len McCluskey savaged Ed Miliband on public sector pay restraint, the Labour leader’s office put out a statement saying, “Len McCluskey is entitled to his views, but he is wrong.”

Hard to see anything like that happening now.

This is why denouement of the battle over Progress is not the end. More like the end of the beginning.

Next, the union tanks will rumble onto a more substantial target. Not just a pressure group but most likely a politician.

Someone who represents a centrist position, a figure who’s humbling will send an unmistakeable signal on the direction of the party.

Their identity hardly matters. A cassus belli will be manufactured, as over Progress.

This is the ineluctable logic of the union position. Only through conflict and victory can the unions anchor the party on the left. Sound strategy. Clause 4 in reverse.

The hard left’s troops are on the march.

Atul Hatwal is editor at Uncut

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45 Responses to “The hard left is on the march and in no mood to stop”

  1. Clint Spencer says:

    Mark Ferguson is a a self confessed blinkered Tribalist. He is a pawn of the Unions and frothing at the mouth lefty. He wouldn’t know how to be objective if it smacked him in the face.

    All you have to do is say is Osborne, Boris or Bankers and he turns into a ranting schoolboy.

    Mark Ferguson is a tool in the Union propaganda machine, nearly all of LabourLists funding comes from the Unions. He pi$$es me off as he holds Labour back, just look at the commentators on LL, the intellect displayed reflects the poor quality of the material he publishes.

  2. Clint Spencer says:

    How much did Ferguson publish on the take over of the party by Unite? Next to nothing, when you consider how much money Unite give him you know why. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

  3. Forlornehope says:

    It’s time that we realised that Erich Honecker’s DDR was not such a bad place after all. There was a real focus on social solidarity, no unemployment and cradle to grave care for all citizens. Yes, some level of social discipline had to be imposed on the bourgeois for this to work. You cannot spend hundreds of thousands training doctors and just have them go and sell themselves to the highest bidder. A few minor constraints have to be accepted as the price of socialism. It must be obvious to all but the most blinkered by now that capitalism has failed ordinary working people and that we must get back to the fundamentals on which the Labour Party was founded.

  4. Henrik says:

    @Genosse Forlonehope: that is one of the best pastiches of tankie rhetoric I’ve ever read. Very witty, hope everyone realises it’s a pisstake.


  5. Sandra says:


    Utterly terrifying that you actually believe that.

    Freedom of the individual is paramount for humanity to survive & prosper & progress.

    Or is your dystopian future of a jackboot stamping on a human face forever your ideal society?

    Your extremism is truly scary. Having worked in Poland prior to 1988 & a frequent visitor & witness to the crushing state oppression in East Germany all I can hope for is that you are 14 years old with no real life experience.

    Any kind of political & societal cohersion against those who do not believe what you believe is wrong – no matter what colour rosette you wear.

  6. james says:

    I’d love to see the trabant loudspeaker cars going round estates telling the `proletariat` what’s what

  7. UlyssesReturns says:

    Forlornehope – I thought you were being ironic when I started reading your post but then realised to my horror that you believed what you were writing. If insanity is doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result, what would attempting to replicate the DDR be?

  8. Elvis says:

    Forlornhope “Erich Honecker’s DDR was not such a bad place after all”. Stasi secret police, the Wall to keep your population in. Those are not “A few minor constraints (that) have to be accepted as the price of socialism.”

    With that mindset- Gulags for the Conservatives?

  9. Ayub Khan says:

    Lurch to the left and we will be the opposition for many years.

  10. Mac says:

    “It’s time that we realised that Erich Honecker’s DDR was not such a bad place after all.”

    This is a joke surely. Not such a bad place except for many of the people who lived there. 3,365,000, 19.8% of the population emigrated and the millions who couldn’t get out. It was so good they built a wall to keep people in and killed people trying to leave. It took West Germany almost 20 years to rebuild the place when these idiots were overthrown.

    “A few minor constraints have to be accepted as the price of socialism.”

    Like shooting people wanting to leave or the activities of the Stasi. Is this really what you want the Labour party to stand for?

  11. The Meissen Bison says:

    Yes, @Forlornehope, Honecker and Ulbricht before him created something truly remarkable. I visited East Germany on many occasions and the people were all really happy.

    The only fly in an otherwise near-perfect ointment was the unsightlyspectacle of countless West Germans hurling themselves against the barbed wire trying to get in.

  12. Colin says:

    Well if, as Atul says, groups like the Stalinist New Communist Party are interfering in the internal business of the Labour Party then perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to read sick apologias for totalitarian regimes on Labour websites.

    Personally, I think we need to expel hard left infiltrators like Socialist Action, Labour Briefing, Campaign Group and the like. They are red fascists who see democracy and human rights as bourgeois obstacles to their revolutionary fantasies.

    Either we tackle these wreckers and their union friends or it will be 1983 all over again.

  13. Les Abbey says:

    What charming followers you have Atul.

  14. Johnnydub says:

    Forlornehope – so a society where a wall manned by machine gunners was required to keep the people prisoner was “not such a bad place” – holy shit…

  15. RDM75 says:

    Could you tell me who the 3 biggest mass-murderers in history were? And on what side of the political spectrum would they be found???

    I’ll give you a clue on the 3rd for the dimmer of you…”National SOCIALIST”…

  16. Vercingetorix says:


    10% of the DDR population were either secret policemen or secret police informers. Hardly a ‘minor constraint’.

    My relatives who lived behind the Iron Curtain would have nothing but contempt for your idea that it wasnt “such a bad place after all”.

    Holocaust denial is a crime in many countries. I fail to understand why gulag denial like yours isnt also a crime.

  17. Phil Q says:

    Back to the future – 1983 here we come. This could rescue the Tories at the next election

  18. DaiLlDavies says:

    I am genuinely baffled why some members of the Labour Party think it is a ‘centrist’ Party and that it is been inappropriately dragged to the Left. Even Tony Blair had to concede that the Labour Party is a ‘democratic socialist’ Party and I doubt many people would recognise socialism as ‘centrist’. The Labour Party is to the left of the centre, as defined by ideological positioning. It’s underlying values probably represent a larger proportion of the British people than any other party but that still doesn’t make it ‘centrist’. If Progress members genuinely want to occupy the ideological centre that’s perfectly legitimate but they really should ask them selves whether they are trying to achieve that in the right political party.

  19. Red Rosa says:

    @Forlornhope. I read your post with some amusement. It is far too funny to be real – however if it actually is, I would recommend that the care nurses on your ward increase your medication and direct you to something more appropriate, such as the Guido Fawkes’ Blog.
    @Ayub Khan. You claim that a lurch to the left will leave us in opposition for many years.
    Do you know this for sure? 100%? No? I thought not. For 14 years a right wing Blairite New Labour did absolutely nothing for this country or its citizens. Maybe what people want is an opposition party that actually has opposite views to the present Govt, instead of looking remarkable similar.

  20. Henrik says:


    It’s heartening to watch you finally getting all that bad stuff out in the open, although I rather think you’ve left it a bit late for the bloodletting if you want a sniff of a chance for the 2015 General Election.

    Seriously, if there’s one thing history should teach you, it’s that you can be ideologically pure and leftist and in Opposition, or you can be pragmatic, flexible and centrist and in Government.

    As I’ve said before, it’s your call – I’m not going to vote for you, anyway – but, if the Left really want to make the argument, they do have to sully their purity and actually come up with some attractive and optimistic reasons why anyone who’s not a complete politics geek (i.e. 99% of the population) should vote for a hard-Left policy portfolio.

    Of course, if Genosse Forlonehope was serious – and is typical of thinking on the Left – there is no way the Left deserves to be in power. Actually, there’s no way anyone thinking that way deserves to be outside Bautzen.

  21. Daniel T Thomas says:

    Forlornehope, you are Len McCluskey and I claim my 5 pounds.

  22. Rallan says:

    Clearly there hard left are going to win this “fight” and take control of the Labour Party.

    The economic conditions are right for them to garner some limited public support, they supply Labours only financial & materiel resources, and they have aggressive support at the grass roots level.

    Bottom line, this ALREADY IS their party. They bought it, they own it, they choose the people that run it. This is not a war, it is an unstoppable process of change.

    Electability is not a priority for the unions so it’s a self sustaining change; the more hard left it becomes, the more dependent Labour will be on the unions, which moves Labour even further to the left, and so on.

    The only question is what will Progress/Blairites/Centrists do about it? Will you stay (what for?), or will you go (where?)?

  23. Red Rosa, do you honestly believe Labour did nothing in Government for the country or its citizens?

    Minimum wage
    More doctors and nurses
    Lower NHS waiting times
    Signed up to social chapter
    Massively reduced crime
    Sure Start
    Rebuilt schools with more teachers
    Long periods of economic growth
    Brokered peace in Northern Ireland
    Introduced civil partnerships
    Rise in state pension and freebies for OAPs
    Sierre Leone
    Wrote off the debt of many of the poorest countries.

    And they’re just off the top of my head. Yes, Labour made major mistakes in Government. But to say Labour did nothing is an insult.

  24. aragon says:

    Hard Left ?

    Opposition to public sector wage restraint … An economically illiterate policy (IMHO), is not a extreme position or exclusive to the ‘Hard Left’.

    The Unions have their own leadership and wish to advance the interests of their members, through the Labour Party. Given the history of the Labour Party, this is unsurprising.

    Political potential leaders have flexible values shock ? I don’t change my values for political advantage.

    The Labour party needs to move away from Neoliberalism, and ‘Austerity’ which is still the economic policy default for many.

    @DaiLlDavies is correct, the party and the public are to the left of centre.
    Party policy reflecting this is a necessity; not a ‘Hard Left’ conspiracy.

  25. swatantra says:

    We certainly have more to fear from hard Left entryist groups than say from centrists like Progress. One reason is that the hard Left are better organised and fanatically dedicated to their cause and not as easily put off by setbacks; they’ll always be back, given time. They do more damage to Labour than they realise, but that doesn’t concern them as they use Labour merely as a vehicle to get their exteme message across.

  26. Robin Thorpe says:

    I agree with DaiLlDavies insofar as the Labour Party is a ‘democratic socialist’ Party. I don’t necessarily think that Progress members should have to leave the Labour Party if they have decided that they share the values and objectives of the party.
    The Labour Party website has this to say about the identity of the party;

    Wherever your ideology may sit, if you are a member of the Labour Party (or it’s sister Co-operative Party) it can be said that you are joining with others to enhance equality and justice for all. The back of the Labour membership card states “The Labour Party….believes that by the strength of our common endeavor we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realize our true potential and for all of us as a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are placed in the hands of the many no the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties that we owe, and where we live together freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect”.
    Solidarity, in the context of this article, should be taken to mean unity of purpose and achieved by strategies of inclusiveness rather than repressing diversity.

  27. Robin Thorpe says:

    apologies for the missing text.
    the Labour Website says this:
    Labour has only been in government for four short periods of the 20th century. However its achievements have revolutionised the lives of the British people. The values Labour stands for today are those which have guided it throughout its existence.

    • social justice
    • strong community and strong values
    • reward for hard work
    • decency
    • rights matched by responsibilities

  28. paul barker says:

    On the article itself, well Im glad someones noticed but its a bit late. How are you going to fight back when you have nothing to threaten the hard left with ?
    The administrative methods used to purge militant cant be used in the unions & you cant threaten to split because thats what they want.
    The state of your party now is not comparable with the 1980s, you start from a lower base, 30% of the vote instead of 38%, 190,000 members instead of 400,000, debts instead of money in the bank.
    Perhaps you need to start thinking about life after labour ?

  29. Party member says:

    Forlonehope do not dispair, all is not lost. Having recently visited the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea there is one state we can emulate. Although Communism has beeen abandoned the self reliant philosophy of ‘juche’ has much to commend it and is truely socialist. It is a country uncontaminated by the evils which beset the West and increasingly the capitalist railroading China. President Kim il Sung is a hero to the people and his grandson works tirelessly to improve the lot of the workers. There is no unemployment, housing is guarenteed for all and the people are looked after from the cradle to the grave. Such is the popularity of our beloved leader, the eternal Prseident that at the last election 99.97% voted for the Parties of the people.

  30. @Forlornehope says: July 6, 2012 at 9:28 am

    “It’s time that we realised that Erich Honecker’s DDR was not such a bad place after all.”

    Please tell me you didn’t really mean that?

    I spent two months in the USSR in the summer of 1968. Was in Moscow when the tanks rolled into Prague (not that we knew anything of it – Pravda’s headline was “Great victory for Soviet diplomacy”.

    It was a hellhole. An utter hellhole.

    Hey – there’s always North Korea if you don’t like it here. Off you go.

  31. Matt Buckingham says:

    Jonathan Roberts, Some of your points of achievement of New Labour are very dubious indeed!

    Minimum wage-Good

    More doctors and nurses-A few more, but an army of managers, jobsworths & bean counters which hinder & don’t help the NHS in any way at all-a huge waste of money which could be spent on patient care.

    Lower NHS waiting times-Fiddled! We had instances of people taken out of waiting areas to sit in other areas such as ambulances etc in order to massage the figures. Other manipulations of how waiting times were recorded.
    Signed up to social chapter-The EU is a disaster for the working people in this country.

    Massively reduced crime-Fiddled! Crime increased expedentially under Labour. Abolished shop lifting as a criminal offence, burglaries were only recorded if more than £400 of goods were taken! Etc- Labour did nothing to reduce crime, just changed the ways crime was recorded.

    Sure Start-Good

    Rebuilt schools with more teachers-All PFI which cost the taxpayer 7 times more than funding through direct funding-Look at NHS trusts going bust because of excessive PFI deals. Ditto with schools, only because of your mass immigration lots of kids still are being taught in bad buildings. Moreover the standard of education has fallen dramatically, despite making qualifications so easy a chimp could get 10 O’levels. Teacher moral is at rock bottom because of unruly kids.

    Long periods of economic growth-All because of a huge expansion of credit. Everyone is now broke & in debt-something old Socialists are very much against. If I give you a new credit card with a £10,000 limit on it, does that make you richer?

    Brokered peace in Northern Ireland-Good work following John Major.

    Introduced civil partnerships-So what?

    Rise in state pension and freebies for OAPs-Totally wiped out by the huge rises in Council Tax to pay for more jobsworths at Councils. Jailing those that couldn’t afford to pay. Also decimating the best pension system in the world through excessive taxation. Now nobody seems to have a decent pension.

    Sierre Leone-Good

    Kosovo-What took so long?

    Wrote off the debt of many of the poorest countries.-Very Good

    The main problem is free market capitalism is a nightmare for ordinary working people. We need capitalism with good regulation that stops excessive greed & we need to re-nationalise the utilities & public transport.

  32. Richard Fairchild says:

    Is Folornehop at teacher? He sounds very much like one I know.

  33. john P reid says:

    I’m confused wa Farlanhopes commet about the Stasi a joke or not, I’m not good at spoting Irony, but hten agian my Mum always said that she felt tony benns Comment Labour lost the 1983 election as it wasn’t left wing enough was A joke when she first heard it,

    RDM75 If you mean Stalin Mao and Hitler what side of the Political coin were they on, ,THe USSR was state run capitalism,a nd as for Hitler, Well Big business Of Volvo and Volkswagon funded him an dHis party the literal trnaslationof the party that he took over to hlep form the Nazis was actually called conservative (no I don’t think the tories are Nazis) and hs view of anationalisng things wasn’t left wing, same as Churchill nationalsing the Brewery’s and Heath nationalsing Rolls royce,So Hitler was on the right wing side of Political views,

    Rallan if the hard left take control of the Party ,I say this with no sign of Joy but the Whole of the Havering laobur party will cease to exist.

  34. anon says:


  35. Mike Homfray says:

    The fact this article has appeared at all is a sign that Labour is going in the right direction. We will have got there when the owners of this site recognise they belong in the Conservative party

  36. John P reid says:

    Mike-Watching the 79,83,87 and 1992 elections on the BBC parliament channel I notice A running theme
    From the Presenter

    1979- Tom King: This is your worse election result since the first world war
    Tony Benn “we’ve lost As it wasn’t left wing enough
    Austin Mitchell “ Ah well we lost in 1959 and won in 1964, we’ll come back and win in 1983”

    1983- Tom King: This is your worse election result since the first world war
    Tony Benn “we’ve lost As it wasn’t left wing enough
    Austin Mitchell “ Ah well we lost in 1959 and won in 1964, we’ll come back and win in 1987”

    1987- Tom King: This is your worse election result (In London) since the first world war
    Sharon Atkin “we’ve lost As it wasn’t left wing enough
    Austin Mitchell “ Ah well we lost in 1959 and won in 1964, we’ll come back and win in 1992”

    1992 Tom King, this is the 7th election that labour has got less than 40% in ,the Public haven’t forgot the Winter of discontent ,Militant the Loony left, The Trade unionism of the Miners strike and Wapping and the 1974 Manifesto.

    Union Boss, this is the forth election we’ve told Labour what policies to have, this is the forth election we’ve funded Labour and this is this the forth Election they’ve lost, I think we’re backing the wrong horse (without spending A seconds thought to think it may have been the Policies that the Unions told labour to have was why they lost)

    Labour M.P this is the forth election where the public haven’t voted for us, What’s wrong with them?

    When David Owen,Chris brocklebank, and about 10 other ex known labour supporters,who went to the SDP in 1981 backed the tories at the 92 election, Or Eric and George brown who Backed the Tories in 1979 ,before going to the SDP in 1981,it resulted in tories winning elections, you say that you feel the owners of this website should go from labour to the tories ,but surely that’ll lose laobur votes, you said your friend s life was so ruined by the tores that when tehy won in 1992, he commited suicide, Surely you can’t be wanting A tory victory by saying that anyone who’s on the right of the party, who’s worried about the hard left reinfultrating the party, should go to the Conservatives,

    It’s no one party its not the lefts party and it’s not the blairites, the idea that the right of the party some how seized power in 1994, neglects the fact that the right of the party was running in tin the 50’s When Gaitskell was leader, remember when the tories had to be A one nation party to win elections for fear the public wanted A centre left party and labour lost 3 elections with 48% and 46% of the vote

  37. Chris says:

    Anyone who supported the re-writing of Clause 4 under Tony Blair is a Tory agent in spirit at least. They don’t belong in our party.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t call Blair a Labour Prime Minister. A Tory in a different party is still a Tory.

  38. Ian says:

    John P Reid. In 2010 it was Blairism, Brownism, New Labour and the Middle Way/Third Way that lost the election. Please learn the lesson, the agenda has changed since 2007/8 economic crisis.

  39. Clint Spencer says:

    Mike Homfray the hypocritical toad lefty, who professes that non lefties should leave Labourlist, well whats he doing on a Blairite blog?

  40. john p reid says:

    the Gaitskellites form Healey to ,Roy hattersley ,to John Smith wanted to get rid of clause 4 in 1960 So did Dick crossman, Borwn did loose a election in 2001, but the tories didn’t win, the tories won landslides in the 80’s

  41. Forlornehope says:

    Poe’s law rules, OK!

  42. john P reid says:

    Ian the other point about 2010 is the tories had to admit they were wrong on the Poll tax, the NHS destruction during the 80’s selling council homes cheap without replacing them, that unemploymet was the price orth paying for ecenomc control they were wrong On apartied , fox hunting section 28, that povery casued crime, If it wasn’t for New labour the tories would have won by now and would still they were believe on all the issues we made them realise they were wong on,

    it would be interesting how many people read Forlonhopes orignal commet and actually agreed with him thinking it was serious.

  43. john P reid says:

    The other thing I’ve noticed about watching the ’79 and 87 elections on parlaiment channel Is tony benn and Bernie grant had 10% swings agiasnt them and Shirley williams and Paul boteng only had 1% swings agianst them, but this wasn’t due to the fact that there sort of views were costing labour millions of views or anything,smiley face, wink ,wink

  44. Will says:

    Ha ha Forlornehope, but which way round?!

  45. Robert says:

    Bloody hell, John Reid live in the future mate not the past, your history is a bit blinkered mate, then again your a right winger anyway.

    hard left what hard left. anyone who is labour left on this site is now the hard left, are you sure this is not Progress site it looks like it

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