EXTRACT from the blog of OWEN JONES tonight:-
It’s a debate that has raged on the left since 1900,
when an alliance of trade unions and left-wing groups decided that working people needed a political voice and set up the Labour Representation Committee. Is Labour the left’s only hope, or is it a thoroughly reactionary obstacle on the glorious onwards march to socialism?
So why bother wading in to an unresolved century-old debate, you may wonder. Well, for a start the left is at a particularly critical juncture in its history. We face one of the most right-wing governments of modern times, and it is planning a dramatic re-ordering of British society with “Maoist” zeal (as Vince Cable would have it). The left as a whole still remains devoid of any coherent political response. Lefties of all stripes simply cannot ignore Labour as part of any strategy to take on the Government.
The Tories’ shock-and-awe policy programme has, understandably, brought the debate back to life with unusual intensity. Many lefties would still prefer to mate with a cheese grater than sully their wallet with a Labour party card. Tens of thousands of others have wrestled with their conscience and, like Ellie Mae, joined up despite their huge reservations.
In the face of opposition of activists like myself, the modern-day Labour Representation Committee – focal point of the Labour left – recently defeated an attempt at its Conference to water down its commitment to the Party. Meanwhile, after their man won the Labour leadership race and the Party moved closer to their political agenda, soft left pressure group Compass responded in the only rational way possible: by walking away from the Party.
You can see why some lefties might have, at best, an ambivalent attitudes towards Labour. Anyone who has ever heard Tony Benn speak will have heard one of his favourite sayings: “Labour has never been socialist, but it’s always had socialists in it.” It may surprise some of you, but Labour only declared itself ‘socialist’ in 1995 when Tony Blair revised its iconic Clause IV. That was just a sop, because instead of meaning public ownership of the economy, it now effectively meant ‘being nice to people’. ….