Labour Party

Labour: arrogance and a new dullness

I flagged in Solidarity 563 that the agenda for Labour Connected [the on-line event, 19-22 September, replacing Labour Party conference], portrayed one-way traffic to members instead of discussion with members. There were then late amendments to insert Member Discussions following the Policy Panels, which I concede is some further attempt at participation. However, seeing that even the Lib Dems will apparently be voting on policy at their virtual conference and Labour are not, this should be an embarrassment to Labour. For a new brand of pseudo-conference we have been "treated" to a new slogan...

The "MP for India"

This is part four of a series. For the other articles, see here. "I pay homage to the British spirit of hypocritical statesmanship... We are debating here as if the [viciously repressive] Bengal ordinances were never promulgated, as if the shooting of Bombay operatives during the cotton strike had never taken place, as if a great strike of thousands of railway workers is not even now going on in the Punjab, with men starving … as if a great controversy is not raging, not only with the people of India but with people all over the world, whether British Imperialism, whatever its past history, is...

Shapurji Saklatvala: a series of articles

A series of articles in Solidarity about Shapurji Saklatvala (1874-1936), the revolutionary socialist activist and fighter for Indian independence who became Labour's first "BAME" MP. (Pictured above speaking in Hyde Park, demanding the release of the Reichstag fire suspects in Germany, 1933.) • Labour's first "BAME" MP • "Battersea versus the British Empire" • A tribune of the working class • The "MP for India"

Labour avoids politics

To dispel any illusion that Labour Party members are seen as more than foot soldiers and a source of funding by the people that run it, see the agenda for 2020 Connected, the online event on 19-22 September replacing the postponed National Conference and Women’s Conference. The agenda gives the appearance of a political party at pains to avoid politics. The “National” days have 24 training sessions and only 9 policy panels. The policy panels are only one hour long, and will likely consist of “the great and good” talking to us, not with us. The “Women’s” Connected day has tried for more...

Johnson heads for disaster Brexit

Brexit is destructive. It means higher borders between countries, and a drive by the British government to slip down from EU-agreed social standards to what will suit getting a trade deal with the USA. That’s true for any Brexit, and even more true for the “no deal” Brexit the Tories are edging towards. Also, the moment of Brexit is bound to bring turmoil and dislocation. Even if you think that will be passing, and worth it in the long run, those will be complications which should be avoided when trying to devise virus-control policies in the depths of winter. Since the Tories have a large...

Manctopia? Remaking Manchester for capital

The population of city centre Manchester is set to double in the next five years. 105 complexes of flats are planned. Already tower blocks, usually of little architectural merit, are being built on any available land regardless of the effects on the local environment. Where the land is not free, historic buildings are often demolished or left to rot until they become impossible to save. Until the 1990s, few people lived in the city centre. Now it is becoming “Manc-hattan”. A number of traditionally working-class areas on the fringes of the city centre are being redeveloped as part of a plan to...

A tribune of the working class

This is part three of a series. For the other articles, see here. In rapidly shifting post-war conditions, as Labour displaced the Liberals as Britain’s second party, there were three general elections in 1922-24. Chosen as the standard-bearer of a strong and radical local labour movement, Indian revolutionary socialist Shapurji Saklatvala was elected Labour MP for Battersea North in 1922; narrowly lost it to his right-wing Liberal opponent in 1923; and won it back in 1924, as a Communist candidate with local Labour backing. Saklatvala was Labour’s first “BAME” MP, but not the first MP with...

Left politics without the activists

Gabriel Pogrund’s and Patrick Maguire’s book Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn is not really about the politics of the Corbyn Labour Party leadership, but about the “politics” in the sense of corridor chat, text-message exchanges, and WhatsApp groups at the top of the party hierarchy. Tellingly, it doesn’t mention the failure of the Labour Party in that period to promote any real ongoing political campaigns outside the general elections of 2017 and 2019. Either the authors take it as obvious that political parties won’t do political campaigning, or they picked up no argument or...

Tories lurch towards No Deal

Boris Johnson, according to the Financial Times on 7 September, is planning legislation (to be published 9 September) which will contradict the Withdrawal Agreement already signed with the European Union on state aid to industrial bosses and on trade checks between Britain and Northern Ireland. And Johnson said on 6 September that if he doesn’t get an outline deal on free trade post-Brexit with the EU by 15 October, then he will “move on”. In other words, to a “no-deal” Brexit. We can’t judge how much Johnson is bluffing to try to spook the EU into last-minute concessions, and how much he...

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