Dave Nellist belongs in Labour. He knows that. So does Jeremy Corbyn. Why are we waiting?
Everybody knows that Dave Nellist has zero interest in leading TUSC into splitting the anti-Tory vote under any first-past-the-post elections when Jeremy Corbyn is Labour’s leader. Corbyn has long been engaged in a mass recruitment of exactly the people who would once have happily cast a protest vote for TUSC, so there is no space for both parties, not today and – if the left has anything to do with it – not ever. The interests of Corbyn’s base and TUSC’s coincide. So, why exactly are we waiting?
TUSC did once have a powerful trade union affiliate – the RMT – and they support Jeremy Corbyn. All trade unions humiliated by corrupt war criminal Tony Blair are desperately trying to be part of the Labour Party family. There is no future for TUSC outside Labour, so long as there exists the unqualified right to join. Can the Blairites seize the latter proviso to keep the genuine left divided? Clearly, that is what general secretary Iain McNicol wants, but he is held in contempt by most members, so spineless he tried, unsuccessfully, to deny members their right to elect Corbyn the leader.
Keeping the real left divided is what most Labour MPs want. Their tragedy, alas, is that the members and Labour Party voters overwhelmingly want the left to unite.
A mere 6% of Labour voters cast a vote for the local candidate. On the contrary, the PLP know they owe their jobs to the attractive power of the party leader. Dislodge him they cannot. They wasted a full two years sabotaging Labour 24-7 – on television and radio – only keeping their heads down (mostly keeping their heads down) in the final month before the general election. That single month, unbelievably, was all Jeremy Corbyn needed to defuse the effects of this sabotage.
Jeremy Corbyn didn’t quite win. Nevertheless, within a mere month, he reduced Theresa May’s allegedly impregnable 20% opinion poll lead to practically nothing. This despite bias on an unprecedented scale from all five of the broadcaster networks. Tories have descended into civil war as a consequence of the loss of their majority when they’d prepared themselves for a landslide victory of maybe one hundred or more seats. With no way out, stuck with a laughing stock Prime Minister who is in no doubt that she is detested by all her MPs but unable to dump her. They can’t dump their leader because all those who voted Tory did so to award her a personal mandate. Should Tory MPs now dump this most presidential of presidential Prime Ministers, they’d have little option but to call a second snap election. And that election would take place in the wake of an inevitably bloody leadership contests.
Tory MPs are now stuck with each other, blatantly briefing against each other, with hoards of their younger members warning the so-called big beasts wanting the top job that they’re unwilling to acccept any of them, which further explains why Theresa May has a base to hold her in office for several months yet: the younger MPs need time to raise their profile before the members get to vote on their next leader.
This so-called party of gorvernment is in meltdown. And it is in hock to a tiny reactionary party, one that doesn’t even accept Theresa May’s version of Brexit. Labour is set to draw ever more members, activists and voters. So, why are we waiting for TUSC to join Labour?
Is there any good reason for TUSC to boycott Labour? In my opinion, there are no good reasons, but I will address one or two of the bad ones.
Firstly, Jeremy Corbyn has few MPs he can rely on. Of the PLP, Dennis Skinner is the most loyal on the backbenches, with Diane Abbott his most trustworthy front bencher. Unfortunately, most of the so-called ‘Corbynite’ MPs are so in name only, most seemingly desperate to appease PLP colleagues who, alas, are overwhelmingly Blairite.
So-called Corbynite MPs seem to have already surrendered to Corbyn’s enemies and now merely desire to get their names on the ballot paper when Corbyn eventually retires. Alternatively, if they don’t expect to get the top job, they want at least to be part of the front bench when one of their colleagues takes over, relegating the Corbyn era to a footnote in the party’s history. So these Corbynites refuse to defend Corbyn as he deserves to be defended, by means of deselection if that’s the only alternative.
The reality is most of the PLP have no intention of becoming the servants of their members. They dismiss the membership as an unavoidable evil, irritating, good for nothing other than being wheeled out at the last minute to canvass for them come election time. Give us yer money and then shut the **** up. Such Blairites know their days are numbered and are barely disguising their bid to set up a new party within a party, with Chuka Umunna their current shop steward.
TUSC can’t call for a mass purge of the PLP because everything depends on the CLPs. Should members reach an accommodation with a sitting MP, then, like it or not, the left has to accept this. But by joining Labour, TUSC can participate in debates and MPs sabotaging Jeremy Corbyn will find it hard to get away with this. So, why are we waiting?
Since Jeremy Corbyn may be toppled before the PLP becomes more representative of members, would it not be better for TUSC to bide its time? Absolutely not. By standing on the sidelines, TUSC would contribute to the likelihood of the left losing its grip on Labour and a return to Blairism. TUSC would be blamed by voters if we lose this golden opportunity. TUSC’s ambitions should not be limited to picking up a few pieces after the Jeremy Corbyn experiment dies. No. TUSC needs to be a key player in this experiment.
What are the limits of Jeremy Corbyn’s experiment? Who knows. What I am proposing is Marxists joining Britain’s broad church of the left a mere three months before the hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution, the key lesson of which is – allegedly – is the indispensability of a democratic centralist vanguard party to get a socialist society. What I am proposing, therefore, seems to be a betrayal of ‘Leninism’ and ‘Trotskyism’. And, to be frank, I guess it is. However, neither of those Marxists proposed splitting the parties of the Second International until after the betrayal of international socialism by their leaders during the imperialist first world war. Lenin and Trotsky were as enthusiastic as was Rosa Luxemburg in dismissing those who defended such splits as ultra-leftist sectarians. It is for very similar reasons that I think it is ultra leftism to boycott Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
If Jeremy Corbyn manages to convince Labour’s members to allow all Marxists to join, then a split by Blairites may become inevitable. But that won’t be our fault, nor will it be his. We fight for the maximum unity of all the exploited and oppressed. If MPs prefer to climb into bed with Philip Hammond, Vince Cable, Alastair Campbell, George Osborne, William Hague and David Cameron, that’s their right. But I know how Labour voters will vote. And it won’t be for those openly discussing dumping democracy in the letters pages of the Financial Times or protecting agent provocateur police spy rapists and serial killers like Special Branch’s Bob Lambert and Freddie Scappaticci.
Is there a parliamentary road to socialism? To offer an unequivocal ‘NO!’ will probably be enough to stop Jeremy Corbyn getting Marxists past the McCarthyite gate keepers. But that’s not why I am prepared to hedge my bets on this one. Marx and Engels did think it was possible. You can’t answer this question in a 140 character tweet. Nor can you in five-minute interviews with a hostile, vastly overpaid Tory bully working to corrupt democracy for the BBC, SKY News, Channel4 News, ITV or C5. Nor has this question even been much discussed by those who split from the second international to set up the third. Time to consider this question, and I don’t think TUSC should fear being put on the spot about this. Whatever this question is, it’s hardly a key question for today. It is one we can safely put on the backburner as Marxists and non-Marxists alike unite to elect Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, unite with our co-thinkers around the world, becoming the champions of the exploited and oppressed everywhere, fighting to turn swords into ploughshares, and helping the rich anti-democratic parasites of the world have their ill-gotten gains returned to their victims.
Workers of the world unite.