Posts Tagged ‘Militant’

It is indeed Labour’s greatest crisis. This man should know

07/12/2017, 09:58:05 PM

by Rob Marchant

On Saturday, Labour’s Deputy Leader during the terrible 1980s, published a piece entitled “Labour’s greatest crisis. Time to fight back”. It is not a bad summary of Labour’s current troubles.

The trigger for the article was the Militant-style takeover of the Haringey party this week, providing uncomfortable echoes for those of a certain age of what happened in Liverpool and many London boroughs in the 1980s.

It is fair to judge that Hattersley, like his old colleague Kinnock – although, as he writes in his autobiography, “we were never soul-mates”, one traditional right, one soft-left – might have erred a little in their eagerness to embrace the Miliband years. Perhaps because both of them instinctively reacted against the New Labour years as evidence that the pendulum of Labour policy had swung too far towards the Tories for either to bear, they did not seem to see the creeping rise of the far left he facilitated as a real threat, more as a natural correction back to a world they understood.

They surely do now. And, as someone at the top table during the rise of Militant, it is instructive to read the former Deputy Leader’s practical comparisons of Militant and Momentum. That is, Hattersley – and no Blairite he – should surely know.

  1. In the 1980s, moderate MPs fought back. The central pillar of Hattersley’s argument is that, during those years, there was an organised resistance to Militant among the PLP. It was there on Corbyn’s election, but seems to have all but evaporated two years later.
  2. Militant “commanded less support and was active in fewer constituencies”. In the activist base at large, that is certainly true; Momentum now has a national penetration where Militant’s was in pockets, such as the London and Liverpool parties.
  3. Militant had no trade union backing. Momentum has the backing of Britain’s largest union, Unite, with the second and third, GMB and Unison, being actively organised within to achieve the same support. Within the union movement, only a few, smaller and traditionally right-wing unions such as Usdaw and Community, are resisting.

We might add to this perhaps the most obvious point: Militant did not have a leader sympathetic to them – indeed, in the end, what is Momentum, other than a fan club for Labour’s leader? – nor a Leader’s Office happy to work the voting arithmetic in the NEC towards that organisation’s goals.

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The “soft coup” might be on, but it surely ain’t from the right

24/03/2017, 06:41:00 PM

by Rob Marchant

For weeks now, the party’s left has been whispering about a “soft coup”. Ah, the old Soviet tactic, much beloved of today’s Vladimir Putin: confuse things by accusing your opponents of whatever you are up to yourself. Oh, and make them feel under attack, so they close ranks.

There is a coup going on, but it is clearly not the evil Blairites named by John McDonnell.

As revelations about Jon Lansman’s declared strategy for Momentum as an alternative power base to the party itself became public, it seems Monday night’s PLP meeting was converted into something of a showdown.

Corbyn jeered. Watson cheered. The PLP, depressed and muted for months since Corbyn’s re-election, suddenly found its voice.

And it was that same Tom Watson leading the charge – a loyalist clearly adept at unearthing the truth but in this case apparently with a couple of years’ time-lag.

(We should probably gloss over his part the plot to bring down Tony Blair; or the fact that, in the Falkirk selections debacle – in which his own parliamentary office was directly implicated, along with Unite, let us not forget – he helped lead to the change in the electoral system which let in Corbyn in the first place.)

And the revelation was that – hold the front page! – Momentum is actually organising for the takeover/destruction of the Labour Party (delete as applicable), just like Militant before it, in conjunction with that same Unite union. Where were you in 2015, Tom, when it was obvious to everyone? Or in 2013, when Unite were stitching up selections for the hard left?

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Corbyn at the Adelphi: Vintage 80s nostalgia that would deliver a vintage 80s Labour result

05/08/2015, 07:25:57 PM

by Richard Scorer

Liverpool, Saturday evening: 1100 people cram into the Adelphi ballroom to hear Jeremy Corbyn. My political identification is old Labour right, and I’m probably voting for Liz Kendall, but my Scouse in-laws are Corbyn supporters and invited me along. It was a good opportunity to see what a  Labour party led by Corbyn might look like.

First, the warm up acts, starting with the Liverpool Socialist Singers. The compere jokingly asked if anyone present wanted to sing the national anthem. This having elicited the intended booing, we were all invited to join in singing the Internationale. An interesting choice, I thought. The Internationale, not The Red Flag; at this rally, even traditional English socialism is seen as too tame .  Then we moved on to the speakers. The quality of oratory was high, the content unrepentedly hard left. The leader of the Bakers Union called for a general strike: wild applause. Paula from Unison quoted Blair’s “heart transplant” comment. Her answer to Blair:  “my arse”. It was amusing, and Paula was a powerful speaker.

Then Jeremy himself. He comes across as palpably decent, but with a touch of naivety, just like Tony Benn (who, you’ll remember, got through an entire interview with Ali G without realising that he was a fictional character). His themes were anti-austerity, anti-welfare bill and anti-war.

Austerity was never quite defined. I think in Corbyn’s mind it means any cut in public expenditure, unless it’s cutting spending on something he sees as bad, like defence. Corbyn sort of implied his economic programme has been costed: subject to bit more work by the guys in his policy team, the abolition of tuition fees would be fully paid for by an 0.2% increase in corporation tax. But really, he doesn’t think that costing a programme is necessary, because you can borrow more: “debt is now only 80% of GDP. Under the Attlee government it was 250% of GDP. And they still increased public spending, and so can we”.

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Labour is being consumed by Corbynista, ultra-left micro-sects

03/08/2015, 08:44:15 PM

by Nick Small

On Saturday I met Green party Leader Natalie Bennett at Liverpool Pride.  She was with the party’s parliamentary candidate for Liverpool Riverside.  Also with them was one of their local election candidates, who’s recently registered as a Labour Party supporter.  I said to her that I’d assumed she’d left the Green party, as I’d seen her name as a registered Labour supporter.  She replied, in front of Natalie Bennett, that she was still a Green Party member and supporter but had registered as a Labour supporter just to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

“I was a Labour voter for 30 years,” she said, “and I support Labour’s values.”

“But what about the bit about not being a supporter of any organisation opposed to the Labour Party?”, I asked.

“Erm…”, was the response.

“Natalie, ” I said, “Is this allowed under Green party rules?  Surely if you sign up to this, you’d be ineligible to stay a Green party member?”

Natalie replied in that familiar, refreshing manner I’d got to know so well from the televised debates, “It’s not something we’d recommend, but if someone wants to perjure themselves…”

On Saturday evening Jeremy Corbyn held a rally in Liverpool.  It was chaired by a man called Alec McFadden, ex-IMG, ex-Socialist Action, ex-No2EU, who’s stood against many a Labour candidate over the years.  McFadden announced to the rally that he’s applied to be a registered supporter.  Another prominent speaker at the rally was Tony Mulhearn, one of the 47 surcharged Liverpool councillors, expelled from the party 30 years ago, who’s now a leading light of TUSC.  He’s holding off rejoining, until Jeremy wins.

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Respect: the case against allowing extremists into the Labour party

19/09/2012, 07:00:31 AM

by Rob Marchant

Last week there was much speculation about whether or not Salma Yaqoob, the former leader of Respect who understandably resigned rather than share a party with George Galloway, might join the Labour Party, should she so desire. Indeed, local Labour MP Richard Burden on Thursday extended the hand of friendship, saying she would “be an asset”.

Yaqoob is a young, articulate politician about whom we know relatively little, given that she is, in terms of real administrative power, an ex-backbench Birmingham councillor and has had few years of exposure to the national media.

But as a former party leader she still has political weight and, unlike her erstwhile colleague Galloway, she has not had time to make many serious gaffes or enemies although, as Dan Hodges pointed out, describing 7/7 as a “reprisal attack” came pretty close.

On a brief examination of her party and her politics though, the vast majority of us, if we bothered to do so, would probably find that our gut reaction would be that we didn’t care very much for either.

But that is not the point. Everyone has rather been asking the wrong question: instead of asking, do we want this person in Labour, we should be asking, is it in any party’s interest to invite people in from the extremes of national politics?

In other words, a grown-up political party should not be in the business of opining on specific cases, but have a robust, general policy; some universal principles about why it would or would not want to engage with another political group’s cast-offs. Not to do this makes us look at best subjective and, at worst, cronyish – arbitrarily picking and choosing only our mates for our party, and throwing out anyone who dissents. Not a good look for a democratic party.

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John McTernan on Militant, muppets and the coalition budget

22/06/2010, 05:51:09 PM

Some commentators compare Danny Alexander to a missing member of the Sesame Street cast. While such disrespect may annoy and upset him, he’s lucky to be described in such cuddly terms. For when I listen to him and his Lib Dem colleagues, I hear echoes of something far worse and far more sinister – the Militant Tendency.

Admittedly there aren’t the hand gestures, but there is the absolute conviction of the convert to a totalising ideology. By which I mean an ideology that can offer an explanation for every woe. For Trotskyists, it’s capitalist monopolies that wreck lives; the solution: nationalisation. For the coalition, it’s debt; the solution – deep cuts in spending. (more…)

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