Labour MP Paul Goggins has died. How should socialists respond?
In the first place we need to remember who he is. And I confess I had to go onto google to remind me who he was. The fact condolensces were offered by some of the Labour left suggests he wasn’t one of the worst of the Blairites. Had he been, I know I’d have remembered who he is. The fact he was so warmly praised by every Tory and Ulster Unionist suggests he wasn’t one of the more left-wing MPs. Then again, had he been he would have registered in my memory. What is so appalling about Labour is that with a handful of exceptions, they only MPs who make any mark are those whose public interventions make us detest them, or at best make us despair at their incompetence. It wasn’t always like that.
According to his wikipedia entry, Paul Goggins voted against gay marriage, one of the few Labour MPs who did that: http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/02/05/the-list-of-shame-all-the-mps-who-voted-against-equalmarriage/. This makes me feel less uneasy about breaking the social contract when people die. Other things being equal, it is best for critics to keep their mouths shut, and to allow family and friends to grieve. Only in exceptional circumstances can a case be made for breaking this taboo. And the death of Paul Goggins does fall into this special category.
I am not going to say anything against this individual, other than marking on what I learnt from wikipedia about his voting against gay marriage. Nevertheless, I am going to raise an issue Ed Miliband will wish I didn’t. There will be a by-election as a consequence of this death. Socialists need to prepare for this. I make no apologies for presenting my thoughts to as wide an audience as I can even at this early stage. Bad taste? That case can be made. But we are at war, and rules of taste have to go out of the window. The war I am refering to is the class war. This is not a war declared by the 99%. No, it is a war championed by the overpaid glove puppets at Newsnight, Daily Politics, Channel Four News, Skypapers, etc, etc, etc.
Owen Jones is one of Labour’s left who has tweeted his personal condolenscences to Paul Goggins family, making no reference to his voting against gay marriage nor any other issues that will divide Owen and the rest of the left from the man whose death has created a by-election. Owen may wish no one discussed the by-election, but sooner or later, he has to climb off the fence. Which side are you on, Comrade Owen Jones?
Yesterday I had a very fruitful debate with Salman Shaheen about his positive reference to TUSC in his interview on RT.COM‘s Going Underground. We agreed to differ about some issues, but he is clearly as keen as I am on stopping Left Unity splitting the anti-capitalist vote. Within hours of our very fraternal debate of these issues, it is time to put our money where our mouths are. There has to be a single anti-capitalist candidate in this by-election. Only sectarians want to have a disunited campaign in a very rare by-election.
I am on the same side as Salman on an important issue of strategy and tactics. When it comes to first-past-the-post, parliamentary arithmetic has to be entered as a factor into the equation. However, this expresses itself with force almost always only during general elections. By-elections lifts the anxiety from the voters that by voting for the candidate we most want, we could end up with the one we least want. Owen Jones has a decision to make. Is he going to surrender to Ed Miliband? Will he allow the Labour leader to intimidate him into lying to the voters about the infinitesmally small difference between Labour’s front bench and the Tories?
The fact that Miliband’s front bench are fully paid up members of Tony Blair’s anti-Clause Four tendency reduces them to irrelevance on almost every issue. What these clowns provide us with is shadow boxing by glove puppets of asset strippers like Ineos.
Will Owen campaign for yet another Blairite who crosses picket lines? Would he not prefer a massive protest vote packing the ballot boxes of a socialist committed to accepting the pay of an average worker? Someone who wants to put people before profit? Someone who will expose the bastards who blame the victims of David Cameron’s incompetent and corrupt government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich? Would he not prefer socialists to be breathing down Ed Miliband’s neck, alerting him to how outraged we are at his betrayals and cowardice?
Socialists need voices of real dissent at Westminster. We need those who will call a spade a spade, and a Tory MP a lying, corrupt piece of shit. We need class warriors who will fight for our class the way Tories fight for theirs.
Left Unity and TUSC have to get together to make it happen. Negotiations have to start today.